Several student organizations in northeast India and associations of students from the region spread across the country are planning a Twitter storm on Friday seeking inclusion of chapters about the region in National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks.
Aimed as a campaign to end racism towards people from the region and raise awareness about northeast, the move has support of civil society groups and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Congress student-wing National Students Union of India (NSUI).
The move is a reaction to a recent video posted on Youtube by Paras Singh, a youth from Punjab, in which he made racist remarks against Congress MLA from Arunachal Pradesh, Ninong Ering.
In his video, Paras, who has nearly 500,000 subscribers, had commented that Ering, a former Lok Sabha MP, doesn’t look like an Indian and even his name sounds foreign. He also said people from Arunachal Pradesh too don’t look like Indians and that the state was probably a part of China.
“The outrageous remarks made many of us think about launching a campaign seeking chapters on northeast in NCERT books so that people from the rest of India know about us, our history, culture etc. Students organizations later joined in,” said Hengam Riba, an office-bearer of North East Students Society Delhi University (NESSDU).
Following the incident the Arunachal Pradesh government registered FIR against him and Paras was arrested in Punjab. He was later brought to the northeastern state and is at present in judicial custody.
The MP Bezbaruah committee formed after the murder of Nido Tania, a 19-year old from Arunachal Pradesh in Delhi in 2014, had recommended inclusion of history and culture of northeast in NCERT books.
“Inclusion of our culture and history must be done in the curriculum. (I) had introduced a Bill on the same issue in 2017 in Lok Sabha,” Ering tweeted earlier this week. The Bill introduced by the former MP regarding teaching about northeast culture in educational institutions was not taken up.
The Twitter storm scheduled between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm on Friday with the hashtags #NortheastMatters and #AchapterforNE aims to tag chief ministers of all states in the region as well as Prime Minster Narendra Modi, union home minister Amit Shah, union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank etc. to ensure it gets maximum reach.
“Racism is an evil and needs to be uprooted and the most pre-eminent approach to achieve this is through education,” said Nagaland University Students Union (NUSU) in an appeal issued on Thursday urging all to participate in the Twitter storm on Friday.
Several prominent personalities of the region including popular Assamese singer cum actor Zubeen Garg and many news portals of the region are supporting the Twitter storm.
In a press release issued on Thursday, ABVP reiterated its demand for inclusion of various aspects of the region in NCERT and university curriculum “so that people understand the northeastern states better”.
“This is a very genuine cause and is long overdue. The NSUI, Nagaland will extend all possible help for the success of the campaign,” said a statement by Nagaland unit of NSUI on Friday.