Stereotypes about NE make people living there uncomfortable: Panel

Kolkata, January 15 (IANS): Poets, researchers, photographers from the northeastern states of India on Sunday decried the stereotypes the rest of the country have of them and said the ‘northeast’ tag attached to them often becomes a cause of discomfort.


“People residing in that part of the country are not aware of the term ‘northeast’ so much as the people who have migrated elsewhere in the country. In my case, the term was constantly hurled at me during conversations in Delhi. So much that I stopped telling people about where I am actually from,” Zubeni Lotha, a photographer from Nagaland, said at a session in Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival here.


“I think it is a tag that has got attached to us due to the idea of directional category. Even though we are at the centre of the peripheral region, we often refer to that as northeast,” said Haripriya Soibam, a poet from Assam said. “I feel I have a certain amount of discomfort with the term northeast and also a sense of belonging,” she said.


Soibam pointed out that it is not for the marginalised to tell others about what stereotypes are being carried about them and how to get rid of them.


Claiming that the educational bodies are not doing much to highlight the northeastern history and culture in the rest of the country, the panelists said there should be better government initiatives to integrate the region to the Indian mainland.


“The education body of the country is not doing much to highlight the northeastern history or culture in the text books. There are no pictures in the text books with our features on it. Amid the mention of festivals of India, there are pages full of festivals from other parts of the country but there is no festival from the northeast. I think the government should do more to integrate us,” Prasanna Gurung, a writer present in the panel, added.