[ Amar Sangno ]
ITANAGAR, 4 Jun: Northeast India on Friday bombarded Twitter with the hashtags ‘NortheastMatters’ and ‘AChapterForNE’, which made it to the top trending topics, just after ‘ImmortalGodKabir’, on Twitter India.
Nearly 147 lakh #NortheastMatters tweets and 141 lakh #AChapterForNE tweets were posted in a span of two hours of the Twitter storm, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and Union MoS for Youth Affairs & Sports Kiren Rijiju.
The massive social media campaign was initiated by the Northeast Students’ Union of Vadodara, Gujarat, after YouTuber Paras Singh’s racial comments on Arunachal MLA Ninong Ering. The campaign has been launched to demand the inclusion of a chapter on Northeast India in the NCERT textbooks.
The Twitter storm garnered massive support from every section of the society, ranging from film artists to politicians, journalists, social media influencers, celebrities, etc, besides students and community-based organizations from the eight states of Northeast India, demanding that the region’s geography, history, ethnicity and way of life be included in the national education curriculum.
Commenting on the Twitter campaign, Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted: “Government of India must include Northeast Indian history and culture in the national curriculum. This will reinforce national integration in the true-spirit of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.”
Congress MLA Ninong Ering, who is on the centrestage of the regional social media movement, tweeted: “Today, I am joining Twitter storm not only as a representative but as a common citizen of Northeast India.”
“The world needs to know about us and learn about our history, geography culture and other aspects. Hence, I stand with the demand of inclusion of Northeast India curriculum in NCERT and other educational board like CBSE and state boards,” Ering added.
Congress MP and renowned writer Shashi Tharoor also joined the campaign, tweeting, “There is absolutely no doubt that #NortheastMatters. It is essential that a chapter on Northeast is included in the NCERT syllabus. We must know our own country better.”
NESO advisor Samujjal Bhattacharjya tweeted, “Ignorant mainlanders seem to be unaware of our existence as an inextricable part of India.
Sensitize students by adding #AChapterForNE to begin with for NortheastMatters. The land of rich heritage, exotic flora and fauna and impeccable culture of NE is more than a resource frontier alone.”
Research scholar and campaigner Prem Taba opined that the racial slur used against a sitting MLA by the YouTuber is just the tip of the iceberg.
“The prejudice and discriminatory nature that the mainland Indians have against us Northeasterners is structural. They do not have any knowledge about the multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism of NE India. They do not read or study about us in the NCERT textbooks,” he said, and added that a joint representation would be submitted to the union ministry by all the NE states.
Northeast Students’ Union of Vadodara vice president Asimta Bharadwaj thanked the campaigners for the overwhelming support.
“We are overwhelmed by the response from each and everyone. It has definitely motivated us and has made us more focused towards achieving our dream. This is the very first step, which we could cross smoothly. Now, with strong determination and head held high, we will be continuing our demands in a more legal manner,” Bharadwaj said.
Another active campaigner of the Twitter storm and a research scholar at Rajiv Gandhi University, Ceema Taku said, “It was an overwhelming experience, seeing everyone join for a cause, keeping aside our different ethnicities. However, this is only the beginning; we have miles more to go, and we will be there for the common cause.”