Not too long ago in October 2020 when Flipkart, the giant e-commerce company made the mistake of calling Nagaland a foreign country when a customer from Nagaland, one of the eight states in Northeast India asked a simple question, “why is Flipkart not delivering to Nagaland?”, it left many disgusted. Realizing the enormous mistake, the e-commerce giant later quickly deleted the reply following public outrage all over India and apologized. Head of the Royal house of Tripura, also the Chairman of The Indigenous progressive regional alliance, Pradyot Deb Barman took to twitter with disbelief and asked Flipkart if it was true.
Rahul Kanwal, India Today editor’s faux pas, whether or not an inadvertent slip of tongue, didn’t go down well with netizens of the Northeast. It only reinforces the truth that a lot, including the educated India’s still knows little about the eight Northeast states of India. Rahul was talking to Rupin Sharma, Director General of Nagaland Police in a primetime show “You’re in Nagaland, electricity goes off even in India.”
Rahul apologized on twitter in a reply to BJP National Spokesperson, Mmhonlumo Kikon who is also Advisor, IT, Science and Technology, Nagaland and said “This was a slip of tongue. My apologies. Was meaning to say Delhi. My bad.”
The apology, however sincere, draws the attention that it’s essential that a chapter on the Northeast is included in the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus as voiced by many including Sahashi Tharoor in his tweet, “…there is absolutely no doubt that the #NorthEastMatters. We must know our own country better.” Hima Das took to twitter “As a proud citizen of India, I want our textbooks to include all its colours and glory. So I request concerned authorities to include a chapter about NE in NCERT syllabus.”
The hash tag #NorthEastMatters #AchapterforNE demanding introduction of a chapter in national education curriculum by hundreds of thousands of Northeasterns and leading personalities from the region on Friday trended number 2 and 3 simultaneously on Twitter to draw the attention of the union government should not be treaded as a routine twitter storm. Addressing the issue on racism and prejudice against Northeasterns in India has to have effective response with long term solution at the very heart of the issue from the union government.
Northeast has been and will always be treated as second class Indian citizens until and unless a radical reform is brought in through education. The best approach to begin with, step by step, to help unravel the gigantic mystery of Northeast Indians and Northeast India is to insert a chapter in school text books about the people, its history, its rich culture and its geography.
The concerned government and NCERT should listen before an ignorant YouTuber like Paras from Ludhiana pass racist remarks against Northeast MLA; before a Hema Choudhury pass derogatory remarks against people of the Northeast; and for the unluckier ones, someone like Nido Tania who succumbed to his injury after brutally attacked in Delhi for the way he looked; Richard Loitam a Manipuri student in Bangluru, who was found dead in his hostel bed; before a verbal abuse is hurled against one of our own Northeast (Indian), before they are spat at, abused, harassed, molested and killed in cities for the way they look, eat, dress or for that matter profess.
Live and let live!