The North East region of India is a diverse and vibrant area inhabited by various ethnic groups for centuries.
The region is known for its natural beauty, unique culture, and delicious cuisine. However, despite its rich heritage and contributions to Indian society, North Eastern students often face ignorance and discrimination when studying or working in other parts of India.
In this article, we will explore some of the things North Eastern students are tired of hearing and the impact it has on their lives which are listed below.
"You don't look Indian."
One of the most common comments that North Eastern students hear is, "You don't look Indian". This statement is hurtful and ignorant, implying North Easterners are not part of the wider Indian community. North Eastern India is an integral part of India, and its people are proud to be Indian citizens. Just because they may look different from people in other parts of India doesn't mean they are any less Indian.
"Do you eat dogs?"
Another offensive comment North Eastern students often hear is, "Do you eat dogs?" This is a deeply offensive and untrue stereotype based on cultural ignorance. While some ethnic groups in the North East consume dog meat, it is not a common practice or universally accepted. Generalising a region's food habits based on a few community rituals is wrong.
"You are from China, right?"
Another common misconception is that they are Chinese. The people of North Eastern India are ethnically diverse and have unique cultural and linguistic identities. It is wrong to assume they are all the same or from a foreign country. These assumptions can be hurtful and create a sense of alienation and isolation for North Eastern students.
"You must be good at martial arts."
Another stereotype North Eastern students hear is that they must be good at martial arts. While martial arts are a part of some North Eastern cultures, it is not something that every person in the region practices or is proficient in. North Eastern students have unique talents and abilities, and it is wrong to assume they are all the same.
"You speak good English for an Indian."
North Eastern students who are proficient in English often hear comments like "You speak good English for an Indian". This statement is both racist and dismissive of the fact that English is the official language of India and is widely spoken across the country. North Eastern students who have learned English as a second language have worked hard to acquire this skill, and it is wrong to belittle their efforts this way.
"North East India is so beautiful; I want to visit to explore."
While it may seem harmless, the statement "North East India is so beautiful, I want to visit to explore" can frustrate North Eastern students. This statement often comes from people who have never been to the region and know little about its culture, history, and people. North Eastern students are being objectified for their region's beauty rather than being valued for their identities.
"You don't sound like you are from India."
North Eastern students often hear comments like "You don't sound like you are from India" because of the differences in the accents and dialects of the region. This statement dismisses the rich linguistic diversity within India. It can create a sense of alienation for North Eastern students who may feel like outsiders in other parts of the country.
"Can you speak your native language?"
North Eastern students are often asked to speak their native language, which can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience. While some North Eastern students may be fluent in their native language, others may not be. Additionally, asking someone to speak their native language can be seen as a way to exoticise and otherwise them rather than accepting them as a part of the wider Indian community.
"Do you know how to use chopsticks?"
Another common stereotype that North Eastern students face is that they must know how to use chopsticks. While some North Eastern cultures use chopsticks, it is not a universal practice, and assuming that all North Easterners are proficient in their use is ignorant and offensive.
"You are from a backward region."
North Eastern students often face prejudice and discrimination because their region is backward or underdeveloped. This statement is not only untrue but also dismissive of the progress that the North East has made in recent years. North Eastern students are proud of their region and its contributions to Indian society, and it is wrong to belittle their heritage in this way.
The Impact of These Comments
The impact of these comments on North Eastern students can be profound. They can create a sense of alienation and otherness, making it difficult for North Eastern students to feel like they belong in other parts of India.
Additionally, these comments can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and biases, contributing to the marginalisation of North Eastern people.
Many North Eastern students report feeling isolated and discriminated against in academic and professional settings, which can impact their mental health and well-being. Some North Eastern students have even reported experiencing physical violence or harassment due to their ethnic identity.
What Can Be Done?
Several things can be done to support North Eastern students and combat prejudice and discrimination.
- First, educating people about the rich culture, history, and contributions of the North East is essential. This can help to dispel harmful stereotypes and create a sense of understanding and empathy.
- It is essential to provide North Eastern students with a safe and inclusive environment in academic and professional settings. This can include training for teachers and employers to help them better understand North Eastern students' unique needs and experiences.
- It is essential to create more opportunities for North Eastern students to showcase their talents and contributions. This can help to promote a sense of pride and belonging and combat the feeling of otherness that North Eastern students often experience.
North Eastern students in India face a range of prejudices and stereotypes that can create a sense of alienation and otherness.
Comments like "You don't look Indian" or "Do you eat dogs?" perpetuate harmful stereotypes and create academic and professional barriers for North Eastern students.
It is essential to educate people about the rich culture and contributions of the North East and create safe and inclusive environments for North Eastern students to thrive.
Doing so can combat prejudice and discrimination and create a more inclusive and equitable India.
What is the North East region of India?
The North East region of India comprises eight states, including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura.
Why do North Eastern students face discrimination in India?
North Eastern students face discrimination in India due to stereotypes and prejudices that are perpetuated about their culture, appearance, and identity.
What are some common stereotypes about North Eastern students?
Some common stereotypes about North Eastern students include assumptions about their appearance, culture, and dietary habits.
How can we support North Eastern students in India?
We can support North Eastern students in India by educating ourselves and others about their culture and history, creating safe and inclusive environments in academic and professional settings, and promoting opportunities for them to showcase their talents and contributions.
How can we combat prejudice and discrimination against North Eastern students in India?
To combat prejudice and discrimination against North Eastern students in India, we must challenge stereotypes and biases, promote understanding and empathy, and create inclusive and equitable environments for all students. This includes taking concrete steps to address incidents of discrimination and providing resources and support for North Eastern students facing prejudice or harassment.