We grew up with the mentality that we are Indians. We sang the national anthem and Vande Mataram. We love our country, but when we go outside our state and when we are treated differently, we feel bad.
Avishek Numihang Rai, 28 years, Copy Editor, Gangtok
Interviewed by Joseph Colin
Why did you decide to give us an interview on identity crisis?
That is what we feel every day right? Once we reach Siliguri, we (those from Sikkim) are treated like foreigners. People look at us differently as if we belong to China or something. That is quiet disappointing.
You know Avishek, this is not just the case in North-East. I come from Kerala and I did my language courses in Pune, where I was called “madrasi” or “southie”…
I feel the same pain as you feel. Since our childhood, we grew up with the mentality that we are Indians. We sang the national anthem and Vande Mataram. We love our country, but when we go outside our state and when we are treated differently, we feel bad.
Was there a time when you were treated badly?
I can’t recall the time and place, but once I was asked where I came from. I answered Gangtok, and then added I was from Sikkim. The other person thought Sikkim was in Bangkok! I mean, what the hell was that? I then explained how Sikkim was in India, its history and how it became the 27th state of India in 1975. Its okay if he didn’t know all these things, but one should at least know the different kind of people residing in India. People always see us as Chinese.
People judge us by the accent and whether we know Hindi or not…But we are part of India man! I am not saying all people judge us. Some are well-informed and know how to treat people, but not everyone is sensitive. It is not important whether you are Indian or not, it is more important to be a human first. If you don’t have compassion, you are not human. I see many of us lack that thing. It has to be in our life. Seriously…
I would like to make a point here. This is my sixth day in Gangtok. See, I look different and my accent is different, everything is different. But I must tell you the people here were so good to me. Not once I felt out of place. I was never treated differently. And here’s the point that I am making. I was treated differently in South India, in my own neighboring state for not speaking the language. That’s the first time when I felt really sad about how we are as Indians.
Like I said, there are some people who are well-informed, but others are so ignorant. The saddest part is that the majority of people are like that. Tell me, how can we progress like this?
Do you think there is any way we, as the young generation of India, do something about this?
Main solution is educate each and everyone in India. At least one should know how many states there are in India, the different kind of people residing in India, and how they came about to be a part of India, because unless you know that there can never be unity.
The last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Love is having a genuine feeling for someone else. It could be your pet. I have a pet dog. I call him my brother. I don’t call him my dog. Shresth may be frustrated or sad but whenever I ring the doorbell , he will hug me and be all over me. That is love.