NorthEast, June 4: The recent racist remarks by a Punjabi YouTuber Paras Singh against Arunachal Pradesh has triggered a Twitter campaign and the NorthEast Student union demanded the inclusion of the “history, ethnicity, culture, lifestyle, personalities, natural resources and patriotism” of the northeastern states of India in the NCERT textbooks.
The Twitter storm is scheduled to take place from 6-8 pm on Friday.
The Twitter storm was triggered by a video uploaded by Singh, a 21-year-old YouTuber from Ludhiana, last week. In the video, he commented on former MP Ninong Ering’s appearance saying he did not “look Indian” and claimed that Arunachal Pradesh is not a part of India, but is in China.
“Educating the masses is the only viable solution to such kind of racism,” said Ashmita Bharadwaj, vice-president of Northeast Student Union (NESU) Vadodara. NESU Vadodra is the organizer of this campaign against racism geared towards northeastern states.
After NESU Vadodara reached out to universities across the eight northeastern states, over 40 of them, including Dibrugarh University, Manipur University, Mizoram University, NIT Agartala, as well as student unions in Delhi, Manipur, and other parts of the country have come on board to participate.
“Our aim is to only humbly appeal to our Central authority for an obligatory place in the NCERT textbooks for northeast India’s history, ethnicity, vibrancy, diversity, special features, eminent personalities, and contribution to India’s development,” said Bharadwaj. On being asked why NCERT, the NESU president said, “NCERT textbooks are widely used in educational institutions across the country. These books can be availed online as well as offline from every nook and corner of India and [NCERT] functions under the Central government. It has a pan-India effect.”
Prerna Das, a third-year law student from IP University, New Delhi, said, “I am glad an organization is taking the initiative of spreading awareness about a part of India which most people are not even aware of.”
“If I go to a fifth-grader, a ninth-grader or a twelfth grader and ask them about any key topic of northeastern history, their response would be the same, regardless of which class they are in. It’s not their fault, we are never taught. If the nation is serious about integrating its ‘peripheral’ areas, then changing the educational curriculum to include the northeast would be a start,” said Neha Sharma Sangma, who is a part of the Garo Student Union. “Northeast Indians facing racism in their own country is nothing new. Almost everyone I know has been subjected to some form of racial slur or discrimination because apparently, we don’t look ‘Indian enough’. I have been asked numerous times to speak in Chinese, which is almost amusing because of the level of ignorance,” she added.
The plan is to tag chief ministers, education ministers and other concerned authorities to bring the issue to their notice, Bharadwaj said. A few politicians such as K Therie, former finance minister of Nagaland, MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu from Nagaland, as well as Arunachal Pradesh’s Ninong Ering has extended their support to the Twitter storm.
Speaking to the media, Ering said, “The way forward is the introduction of the northeast to mainland India. If some kind of knowledge on the northeast is provided at the primary or even secondary level, then such instances of racism would not be there. The students want to showcase the northeast as part of India and they want to feel included. It is for a good cause.”
Talking about racism and stereotypes faced by northeasterners, he said, “The mindset has to change and the mindset should be changed in childhood. Unless and until the idea of inclusion is not there, racism will always prevail.”
In 2017, Ering had introduced a Private Member Bill ‘The Compulsory teaching of North-East culture in Educational Institutions’ in the Parliament, but it was not taken up.