Posted By: Kame Daima, Admin BODOLAND
Few years ago, as I was strolling one evening off the Marina Beach of Chennai, I was stunned to meet a couple from Golaghat district for their “extraordinariness”. They were newly married, and in reply they told me that they are on their honeymoon. I repeat extraordinary because they not only talked in broken Bodo, but the lady was in her dokhona. It made me ashamed because I was with my sister who was one of the active members of the central AABWF. But I never talked to her about it later.
It tinged me for a long time and I had a divided opinion on why some of us so adverse to our own culture and upbringing. It took not so longer to get the root causes behind when I made one of my friends who defined it in this way:
“I start talking in Bodo whenever I meet people from other community, and if that man is a bit comfortable, I finish with my tongue.”
It is what he had a love for his own upbringing. I have no idea how many non-Bodos use our language, but to be frank, in many parts of our Baksa district they communicate in the language that we use. Some of them are now using Bodo as their means of communication at their home. They even have got a full assimilation to the very fabrics of our community, and these are not by threat or condition but by and cultural exchange inter-marriages to some extent. This is what they love doing it.
Recently, reliable reports tell about some youths from parts of Udalguri districts using scissors and blades to discipline the astray girls and boys for using offensive dresses. Though we can not estimate the wrath and reaction it brings on the victim and fans, examples are there to adhere to their own choices and never to marry a Bodo!!!
Time has come to decide and take a constructive decision to reassess the reality, and it should be not to harness a donkey in dry fields. Parents and student bodies should to play a pivotal role for the upkeep and upbringing of children’s culture and tradition. Religious institutions’ role would make it more enhancing. Even implementing Bodo code of dress and assembly session in our language in schools and colleges will bring about a satisfying result.
We have to re-organize the Bodo Cultural Afad on sound footing and with the sole aim of uplifting our culture and tradition. Contradictions if any should be avoided. The Bodos from the heartland of Bodoland should shoulder this role and show a model example. Will and heart should be put together for that.
I wonder of that marginalized Bodo couple from Golaghat who put me on shame. They convey a message to love our culture and tradition. We owe a great to them with reverence.
R E G U L A R F E A T U R E S
IT’S ALMOST LIKE THEY DON’T EXIST
Serious and sustained efforts should be made to bridge the widening chasm between North-East States and the rest of the country. We must remember that our ‘friends' on both sides of the border are on the look-out for opportunities to fish in troubled waters
Ahead of the Assembly election, television viewers across the country are being bombarded day in and day out with opinion polls, surveys et al predicting the outcome of the elections in the four crucial States of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi. Though election is being held in the State of Mizoram as well, not many seem to be interested in it as it is in the remote North-East and has little significance in terms of numbers which can determine Government-formation at the Centre, post the 2014 election.
The indifference of the national media towards the election in the North-Eastern State is not only indicative of the physical distance but also the psychological distance between the so-called mainstream and the North-East. During a recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, one found that even the major roads in State capital Itanagar were worse off than roads in some far- flung districts of Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh. There were roads in holes rather than the other way round.
One was shocked to learn that there is not a single direct flight from either Delhi or any other nearby airport to this sensitive border State, which in its entirety is being claimed by neighbouring China. The only way to reach Itanagar is either by a weather-dependent chopper service provided by Pawan Hans or by an eight-hour-long drive from Guwahati. Even to reach key strategic locations in the State such as Bomdila and Tawang, one has to take a detour via Tezpur in Assam.
Work on some railway project is on but it appears to be a tardy and tedious exercise. There cannot be anything more ironic in the backdrop of all tall talks about building infrastructure to match the Chinese and what not. For the record, successive Union Governments have pumped in crores of rupees for the development of the region and the State-level leaders are often blamed for misappropriation of funds but interactions with state bureaucrats reveal how Central Government officials take their ‘cuts’ even for release of funds and during monitoring of projects. Funds allocated for many schemes get lapsed as the State is unable to garner resources to contribute its mandated contribution.
Many a scheme has guidelines which require certain number of people in villages to obtain the funds. With a small population, far lesser in density compared to many other States, most villages in Arunachal Pradesh are unable to avail of the funds. But the mandarins in Delhi have neither the time nor the inclination to spare a thought for them.
In the land of the rising sun, it is totally dark by 5 pm, when people are still working in offices in the mainland. Yet, they have to follow the Indian Standard Time. “Why is it that India can’t have different time zones suitable for specific regions of the country? Why is it that we are called foreigners by other Indians when we are ready to die for the country?”, asks Nikam, an engineer by education and a social worker by choice.
There cannot be anything more unfortunate that such an approach is being adopted towards the people of a State, which is claimed by China as part of ‘South Tibet’ and whose youth have never taken even to the streets, forget taking up arms, unlike their counterparts in other North-Eastern States. In fact, with scores of tribes inhabiting the State, Hindi has emerged as the lingua franca of the people who still greet each other with the ‘Jai Hind’ slogan. Can there be a greater bulwark against Chinese expansionism? Can the Indian Army get a more supportive local populace in the event of any Chinese aggression?
In Mizoram, which goes to the poll on December 4, prices of essential commodities have soared due to a large number of trucks being stranded in the National Highway 54, the State’s lifeline from the rest of the world. Prolonged repairs of the NH 54 at Kawnpui-Khamrang sector has left hundreds of trucks carrying essential commodities and other grocery items stranded causing immense hardship to the common man in this remote North-Eastern State. But the issue does not figure at all in the national media or Press conference of leaders and spokespersons of different political parties.
Misgovernance, lack of development including basic infrastructure, intermittent power supply and shortage of cooking gas, inflation, rampant corruption, teachers and other Government employees not receiving their salaries on time are among the key issues in the upcoming election in the State, which hardly find an echo in national media.
Among social issues, there is widespread concern over increasing drug addiction and HIV cases among the youth, The issue of minorities — Hmars and Brus — also known as Reangs, is also a major challenge before the State. The new land-use policy introduced by the incumbent Pu Lalthanhawla-led Congress State Government to counter the traditional jhoom cultivation is a subject of debate in the current poll.
Though the BJP is trying hard to sew up a pre-poll alliance with non-Congress political parties in the State, it has not received an enthusiastic response in this Christian-dominated State so far. There is, however, a small but growing group of people in favour of indigenous tribal culture, rather than the Western culture influenced by the Church. This segment may later evolve into a strong base for the saffron party. Nevertheless, the BJP would be coming out with a vision document for the state, prepared by its North-East Sampark Cell led by Sunil Deodhar.
In fact, more proactive in curbing poll expenses than even the Election Commission in the State is the Mizoram People’s Forum, a church-sponsored election watchdog, which has gone to the extent of even urging political parties not to employ musicians to woo voters, a move that has come in for sharp criticism from the music fraternity in the State.
Ironically, even a local cleric issuing a fatwa against an all-girls’ band in Kashmir hogs the national headlines. In the cacophony surrounding the upcoming Assembly election, the voice of the remote North-East seems to have got lost. Why is it that its issues are not raised in the national media and discussed by the intelligentsia in Delhi is a common refrain in the North-Eastern States? Are we the children of a lesser god, they ask. Unfortunately, most of the North-Eastern States, except for Assam to some extent, don’t even have a vibrant local media to highlight their problems.
Organisations such as Global Foundation for Civilisational Harmony (India), My Home India, Ekal Vidyalaya, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Ramakrishna Mission, and even the state-controlled media have been contributing their bit in raising their concerns and sentiments.
Thanks to institutions, such as the Vivekananda Kendra which runs a network of about three dozen schools across States such as Arunachal Pradesh and inculcates patriotism and other traditional and cultural values among the students, the youth in Arunachal Pradesh are not only literate but also nationalists to the core. The recent three-day ‘Vijay hi Vijay’ programme, which witnessed participation from about 500 students from far flung areas of the State at the Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya at Nirjuli, was a testimony to the monumental work being undertaken by such organisations.
But there should be more initiatives from both the civil society and the national media to bridge the ever-widening chasm between the North-East and the rest of the country. Our ‘friends’ on both sides of the border are always on the look out for opportunities to fish in troubled waters. It is important to ensure that such golden opportunities are not provided to them on a platter.
(The author is Senior Fellow and Editor at the Vivekananda International Foundation)
The blogger is a software analyst, teacher, social activist and a freelancer and writes about socio-economic, cultural and political issues of the tribes of northeast India. He can be reached in firstname.lastname@example.org and his mobile number is +919954232936
Result of the last week:
Are Bodos in need of a new student organization? Your opinion?