Decent people never beat their own drums. So rarely they speak about themselves, but their dignified silence has often been misunderstood. Many think that those people do not have enough qualities to speak about. Thus they remain silent. Same is the case with the North-East. The region’s contribution in nation building cannot be ignored. North-East has produced many freedom fighters, scholars, sportspersons and above all law abiding citizens. The region has enriched Indian culture. Yet, unfortunately very little is being mentioned about the region when we talk about the contributions of different regions Name of the region always comes at the bottom of the list.
The very recent example of such neglect and typical mindset of mainland India was evident when the India squad for the under-17 FIFA World Cup was announced. Eight boys from the region are in the said squad. The fact that one North-Easterner has been chosen to lead the side provides the icing on the cake. But this is not the first time that such a thing has happened. The first captain of the Indian football team was a North-Easterner, which participated in London Olympics in 1948. After a couple of decades when women football was introduced and India decided to participate in an international event, the team was also led by a North-Easterner. There are many such achievements by the North-Easterners which are not often recognised. At the opening ceremony of the world cup, Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitated number of footballers who captained India. But not a single mention was made about T. Ao, under whose leadership bare-footed Indians fought bravely and made the nation proud. The year W. C. Merycom got Rajib Khel Ratna, the highest sporting award of the country; quite mysteriously names of two other sportspersons were also included in the list. The usual practice was to nominate only one sportsperson each year based on his or her performances at the international level during the previous year. Along with Mary Kom another sportsperson got the award who is famous for his exhibits in a non-Olympic sport.
The list can be made long. But that will not change the mainland’s attitude towards North-East. As a matter of fact, every North-Easterner is tired and fed up counting such neglects. Initially it angered us, but now these things have become laughing stocks for them. One cannot do much if the other firmly decides to remain ignorant. Recently the Government of India announced a package with the aim to make India famous as a sporting nation. But the package didn’t put any special emphasis on North-East. Our government may not be aware, but the entire world knows that the real sporting hub of India is the North-East. Plenty of sporting talents are available there. All the government needs to do is to nurse those talents with proper facilities and training. But it seems that the government has something different in mind. That is why it is continuing to ignore the region’s sporting talents. We all are aware how efforts were made to drop Dinko Singh, the first pugilist to win gold for India in Asian games. Like Dinko, other North-Eastern sportspersons too have to continue to with their good performances hoping one day the mainlanders will change their attitude towards the North-Eastern region and admit the region’s contribution in taking Indian sports to a new height.