#NortheastMatters: Say Yes to Rishtey, No to Racism

Why are Indians from the Northeast living in mainland cities at the receiving end of racism almost every single day?

2 min read

(Many are taking to Twitter to demand a mandatory chapter on the northeastern states of India in the NCERT curriculum in an attempt to end the racial discrimination they face almost every single day at the hands of their fellow Indians. This video has been reposted from The Quint’s archives in solidarity with the #NortheastMatters trend. It was originally published on 21 March 2021.)

21 March could have been like any other day. But in a world divided by borders, colour, creed, nationality, this day is of special significance. Because it happens to be The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

On this very day in 1960 the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws".

Here in India we got a sense of how ugly and vile racism can get in 2014. On a cold January morning that year Nido Tania, a young boy from Arunachal Pradesh, was mocked at in Lajpat Nagar area of Delhi. Seven locals made fun of his coloured hair and looks. When he protested, he was beaten up. He succumbed to his injuries the next day.

People from the Northeast who live in cities in mainland India are at the receiving end of this racism almost every single day. They are taunted, laughed at, called names for their looks, dressing sense and eating habits. They are perceived as outsiders, not Indians.

It is this ‘othering’ that the new Bollywood film ‘Axone’ tackles. Written and directed by Nicholas Kharkongor, the film stars Sayani Gupta, Lin Laishram, Tenzin Dalha, Vinay Pathak and Dolly Ahluwalia.

And they have come together for this video for The Quint which has a simple message, ‘say yes to rishtey (building relationship), no to racism.’

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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