For as long as I can remember, ‘Independence Day’ has been synonymous with ‘bandh’, with each and every insurgent outfit calling for a “public boycott in protest against colonialist India” and because you’re not sure who said what, you just call your own ‘curfew’. It is a British legacy that finds every post-colonial country struggling with communal — in the original sense of ‘inter-community’ — violence. Nobody needs to be told that we, in the North-East, are still suffering from the repercussions of the arbitrary demarcation of borders that our colonial masters drew at their own sweet convenience.
Tribal peoples like the Nagas and my own tribe, the Chins, have been sadly divided by those man-made borders. My tribe of roughly 2 million people have been separated in three countries — India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, ending up as the minority of minorities everywhere. It is to the credit of India that the only instances of discrimination I have faced have been mainly from illiterate and bigoted people who, I am sure, behave the way they do because they too have been treated with the same disdain and derision by their fellow countrymen.
But still, it is grating when some seemingly intelligent and well-meaning person condescendingly asks which country I am from, whether I had to get a visa to come to Delhi, what currency do I use — or confidently tells me that he has been to some of the North-Eastern ‘states’ like Shillong, Nepal and Kohima.
So I say, never mind if India turns into a Hindu State called Hindustan or Bharatvarsha or whatever as long as this is restricted to the Hindu-dominated areas of the pre-Independence Central and United Provinces, including parts of north and west India. Because I am sick of being a resident non-Indian. Besides, the only contribution that India makes in our lives is Bollywood, paan and the rupee.