Saturday, January 16, 2016

Is this my country?

Newslaundry recently covered CNN-IBN executive editor Anubha Bhonsle's book, Mother, Where's my Country?, a evocative look into the history of the northeast India, mainly Manipur, since its annexation into the Indian Union and imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), an act that was modeled on a colonial law to suppress the Quit India Movement by the British colonial occupiers, and which has effectively turned Manipur into a dystopic colony of India, brandied about euphemistically as the 'jewel of India'. Throughout virtually its entire existence in the Union, Manipur has been under AFSPA, and the Indian state is nothing more than the Army.

The book explains well how Irom Sharmila Chanu, the icon of the Manipuri resistance against AFSPA, has been effectively neutralized in a manner that even the British were not able to do on Mahatma Gandhi. And not just the Indian state, the Indian people and their media have ignored the region entirely - it is all eerily similar to how India was treated under British occupation. What's worse is that it has been going on for so long that it is the normal situation there - whole generations have grown up like this.

However, something has to change, eventually. It took almost a millennium for Indians to throw off foreign occupation - from the Persians to the British - and establish their own state. But something has to give. Perhaps the new, modern era, with Internet spreading ideas literally at the speed of light, and young people of the Northeast coming to the mainland and seeing what their lives could be, can bring about some change. It is all hope really, but there is only one thing that is concrete:

AFSPA is a shame on Indian democracy. All Indians are guilty of ignoring the plight of their compatriots. It must go. 

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