From ‘corona’ to rousing welcome Refreshing change
It is a refreshing change, but then no one knows for sure whether the change that one sees is superficial or runs deeper than what meets the eye. Part of the credit for this must surely go to the policy adopted by the Narendra Modi Government which has mandated that Union Ministers must visit the North Eastern region in turn every fortnight. From Look East Policy to Act East Policy and in the process take the North Eastern region closer to what is generally referred here as mainland India, though this may be a misnomer. Kick to life some processes which will give a more rounded understanding of taking along everyone with the idea of India as a Nation and perhaps this could be another reason why the North Eastern region nowadays find mention in the media based in the metros other than the law and order situation, which has been volatile for decades. This however should not be taken to mean that everything is hunky dory, for remember it was just last year, during the first wave of Covid when many from the North Eastern part of India suddenly became ‘corona’. And so it was that corona was added to the list of ‘names’ to identify the North East people and suddenly it morphed from Chinky, Momo, Ching-Chong Chinaman to Corona and this is where serious thoughts ought to be given on why the North East region of the country continues to be so cut off from the consciousness of majority of the people. The connotations of the term ‘chicken neck’, that strip of land that connects the North East region with the rest of the country lies, may lie dormant but it can be activated with any rabble rousing slogan. To many from the North Eastern part of the country the first wave of the Covid pandemic will be remembered for the ‘off limits for those with chinky eyes’ at many of the shops and public places in the metros of the country. How can one expect the girl who was spat upon by some hoodlums and derisively called corona at Delhi during the first wave of the pandemic, to forget the incident ? These are points which the policy makers of the country should seriously look into if the Act East Policy and the ‘visit the region every fortnight’ call is to have any tangible result.
The ‘corona’ outrage was about a year back and fast forward to the present and one suddenly sees the whole Nation rising as one to roll out the red carpet when Mirabai Chanu landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport after bagging the Silver at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. A hero from the region, the very people who were subjected to lewd comments such as ‘corona’ just some months back, and this is where one sees the change, a refreshing one at that. Not only that, Lovlina Borgohain of Assam too was accorded the red carpet welcome after she bagged a Bronze in boxing at the Olympics. More was in line for the men’s hockey team of which one player from Manipur was an important member and so too for the women’s hockey team in which two players from the region, one from Manipur and the other from Mizoram played their part in taking the team so close to a medal. The feel good factor is palpable and now is the time for the Government to take one or two steps forward and translate that feel good factor into something concrete and not let it go away for waste. Take off from the Olympics and take up concrete steps to take the North East region closer to the consciousness of the people say in Delhi or Mumbai or Bengaluru. Capitalise on the good show of the athletes at the Olympics.