Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Recent regional news and social media have been dominated by a YouTuber/online gamer named Paras and his distasteful tweet about Arunachal. The tweet was exposed by a few local YouTubers. Almost entire Arunachal erupted to this exposure with shock and anger, and multiple FIRs were submitted in different districts. The chorus for immediate arrest of Paras was so powerful that the state government acted swiftly. A special team of the Arunachal Pradesh Police was sent to Ludhiana to arrest and bring back Paras. Last known, Paras had reached Itanagar and has been remanded to judicial custody.
The tweet by Paras was racial, discriminatory and insulting. His tweet about a sitting MLA and former union minister indicated his lack of knowledge about Arunachal Pradesh and ignorance about the diversity of India, wherein the many races encompassed in the Indian union include Mongoloids and Tibeto-Burmans, and his insensitivity to the fact that Arunachalees are proud Indians.
Racial abuse of Mongoloids/Tibeto-Burmans happens in many parts of India. Many Arunachalees and Northeasterners serving/studying in other parts of mainland India have experienced these racial insults. Many have been called Nepali, Japanese, Indonesian, Korean, and worst of all, Chinese. Other racial slurs used are chinky, bahadur, Thapa, etc. Sometimes calls of ‘Hindi-Chini bhai bhai’ or ‘sayonara’ are also heard. Racial discrimination may also be one reason for blunting the career progression of many talented professionals from the Northeast in central services, MNCs and in fields like acting, sports, arts, music, etc.
Most of these incidents are based on lack of knowledge and lack of exposure to Mongoloids and Tibeto-Burmans belonging to India. This may have been caused by not studying about Northeast in schools due to non-inclusion in syllabi. However, racial profiling is seen in other parts of India also. Till a few years back all, south Indians were called Madrasis. Similarly, Bengali, Gujarati, Marwari, Punjabi, Bihari and Adivasi are also used.
What about the Northeast? Do we discriminate calling names like Assamese, Bodo-Kachari, Naga, Mizo, Manipuri, Khasi, Garo, Nepali, Bengali, etc? Don’t we call outsiders mayang, vai, dkhar, haring, aying and nyipak? Many readers may recall violent movements against outsiders in many parts of Northeast India.
What about us? As Arunachalees, are we also racial? Do we form and nurture clan-based organizations, tribalism, etc? Do we also discriminate based on tribe and race? Do we profile each other based on clan or tribe?
What Paras did was unpardonable and he needs to be punished as per law. But this single incident has achieved a difficult milestone. For once, all Arunachalees were united, irrespective of clan and tribe, with one identity: Arunachalees. This concept of ‘one Arunachal’, without being divided into different clans, races and tribes needs to be initiated and supported by all. A new pan-Arunachal movement should be launched to unite all clans and tribes of Arunachal into one identity. This ‘one Arunachal’ movement should be led by the youth. Do you agree? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)