North-East India is one of the most unexplored and underrated regions of the country. It comprises 8 states, namely- Assam, Arunanchal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim. The region is known for its beauty, rich biodiversity, and diverse culture. North-East India comprises an area of 262,230 square kilometers that is 8% land of the country. It has a population of over 45 million people. Everyone should be aware of this or at least have a vague idea about it, right?
We decided to hit the streets of Delhi and ask the youth what they know about North-East India as compared to other parts of India and the world. Here’s what we found!
(This video was shot in August 2017)
While most of the people we asked seemed pretty clueless, some shot us with the wackiest answers possible.
The World and North-East India
Each of them was asked to name 4 Asian countries. All of them answered the question with utmost ease. Some even went on to name more than 4 countries. But when they were asked to name the seven sister states of the North-East, one of them said “Odisha”. If that wasn’t enough, one of them went westwards and named “Punjab”. Some said that they had been to those places but failed to name them. While some others could name only three or four states.
Correct Answer: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura are known as the seven sister states of North East India.
They were asked if they knew which country’s president Donald Trump was. All of them answered correctly. One went as far as naming 4 other Presidents of the United States before Trump. But when they were asked which state’s Chief Minister Manik Sarkar was, they seemed quite clueless. No one had even heard his name.
Correct Answer: Manik Sarkar has been the Chief Minister of Tripura for the last 19 years. He is known as the ‘Poorest CM of India’ as he donates all of his salaries to his party and receives a monthly allowance of 5000 rupees in return.
They were asked if they knew which country’s capital Paris was. A prompt answer of “France” was heard from everyone. But when they were asked which state’s capital the city of Agartala was, their responses were shocking. Some were unsure about the existence of Agartala, some others thought that it was in Daman & Diu. One of them tried the craziest guesses possible- “Haryana” and “Tughlaqabad”.
Correct Answer: Agartala is the capital of Tripura
India and the North-East
They were asked to name 3 South Indian languages. All correct answers! Then they were asked to name some languages spoken in North-East India. Some of them confused it with North India and named Punjabi, Haryanvi, Nepali, Hindi, and the like. One of them coined a new language called “North-East Hindi” which was simply hilarious and at the same time quite disappointing. One of them named a religious identity instead of a language as he believed “Buddhist” was a language.
Correct Answer: The North-East has over 220 indigenous ethnic groups and the same number of languages and dialects several of which are endangered. These languages include Garo, Khasi, Assamese, Mizo, Bhutia, Lepcha, Meiteilon, Bodo, Pnar, Kokborok, etc.
We asked people if they knew what the staple diet of the North-East Indian people was. Most of them answered, “Momos” and “Thukpa” which no doubt are some of the most popular dishes from the region. Some wacky answers included, “Rajma Chawal”, “Spaghetti”, “Tandoori Chicken”, “Snakes & Lizards”, “They make a chutney out of ants”, “animals”, and what not!
Correct Answer: The staple diet of the region is pretty much similar to the rest of the country. They have rice, fish, meat, vegetables, and dairy products. Apart from that, they have a varied, diverse, exotic, and delectable cuisine that is not limited to Momos and Thukpa, although these two are some of the most popular and prominent dishes from the region. This includes dishes like Khar, Kangshoi, Iromba, Gundruk, etc.
All beautiful things seem obscure and mysterious. No wonder it’s the same for North-East India. It is difficult to ignore the rich cultural and tribal heritage of the region that includes several traditional hunting practices, folk dance, folk music, visual arts, and indigenous handicrafts. While this region is known for embracing and promoting its traditional heritage, they are also making strides in modern forms of art. Famous international music festivals such as the Hornbill Festival and the Ziro Music Festival are hosted in this region. No one in India has better adapted the rock genre in music better than the North-East Indians.
This region is known for a decent literacy rate of 79.64% which is pretty good. It is home to so many cultures but not even one of them practices the dowry system. Isn’t that simply wonderful? Apart from that this environmentally conscious region has a wide range of biodiversity, that includes several rare species of organisms, the one-horned rhinoceros being the highlight. It is also home to 127 species of orchids alone. The Kaziranga National Park in Assam is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Above all, this land is known for its extremely warm and humble populace.
North-East Indian states find themselves in the travel itineraries of almost every Indian. People dream of visiting this gorgeous region. But still, why are we so ignorant and clueless about such an integral and amazing part of our country? Ponder.