One of the often heard comment about North East India is that it is being ignored by center, ( read New Delhi) due to its distance ( approximately 2000KM) from it. One may wonder how is that possible in this jet age and internet age where news of an earthquake in east coast of United States of America trends in India minutes after in Twitter!
And does that mean that had Calcutta ( Kolkata now a days) remained capital of India like before 1911, would North East India have got attention as much as Kashmir gets now a days ?
Most probably yes. Here are few things how geographical distant from India’s capital harm North East India:-
Information about various central schemes
Central government keep introducing various welfare scheme for all states time to time. Before these schemes are implemented, information about these schemes start doing the round in Delhi as well as neighboring states while distant states like that of North East India, either do not give due importance to such information, or simply ignore. And when the circular of implementation for such scheme reaches Secretariat, NE states start acting on it while other states nearer to Delhi are already prepared to exploit such welfare schemes!
Although such schemes are normally deliberated with participation from representatives of all states, but do we see minutes of discussions of such meetings from either ministers or government officials ? Most of the times, ministers/officials relay such information to his close groups who gear up to exploit such schemes while the general public remain unaware or significance of such news. Local news papers too seem to fail to educate and inform the general public.
My recent travel around North East India, I asked around people, how many of them are aware of DONER (Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region ), a dedicated ministry headed by a minister of cabinet rank in Union Government and its activities, it was less than 30% who has heard about it. Even in cities like Guwahati, Shillong and Jorhat, not many people were aware of such ministry or its activities!
Most probably, with more penetration of mobile phones and internet, social media like Facebook, Blogs, Twitter can help being on time information to people who require it!
Awareness about North East India in heartland of India
Another common complaint by people of North East India is that, they are often asked if they are from Nepal, China because of their Mongoloid looks. While it is also difficult to distinguish between a Kashmiri and Afghan people, still we do not hear such complaint of being asked about Kashmiri, if they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan!
IF North East was closer to New Delhi, many people would have come to know that eve Mongoloids who look like Chinese or Nepali, are also Indian and live inside Indian boundary only as many would have to travel through it to reach New Delhi, Capital of India!
Most probably, it is due to lack of information about North East India in other parts of India. Media may have also played a role here while reporting about North East India, it has majorly reported bomb blasts, terrorist activities in North East India while ignoring its people, history, festivals, literature, drama, flora and fauna, tourist destinations etc.
Both public and government agencies can spread information about North East India by various medium. In this internet age, Facebook and twitter age, it should be doable. People who have access to internet should use social media forums to spread correct and genuine information about North East India so that people from outside NE may get information and news beyond bomb blast, Bandhs or insurgency.
Only technology can reduce the physical or geographical distance! With internet, Mobile Phone reaching North East India, the communication and information gap should be bridged. Recently, we can see few ministers of Assam communicating with netizens of North East India as well as other parts of India. This is an welcome step and we hope it is beneficial for both the minister and general public.
The author asked not to publish his name.
Image Source : https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/create-livelihoods-for-artisans-in-northeast-india