Racial Discrimination Against North East Indians on The Rise in Delhi
The issues and challenges faced by the people from North East India living in Delhi and NCR and now in other mega cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune has become a national issue and debated widely. The institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru Universities, Delhi University, Jamia, Indira Gandhi Open Universities and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai have conducted various research projects on the issues faced by the North East Indian migrants.
Now, The S. K. Women College in collaboration with Human Rights Alert, Manipur taking up the issues faced by the North East Indian communities is the need of the hour. The findings and outcome of this seminar, could become the social actor and indicator for the law enforcing agencies and government to make laws, policies and develop plan of action by Central and respective governments.
North East Support Centre & Helpline conducted a research during January and February 2011 under the title, "North East Migration and Challenges in National Capital Cities." The report of the project was released on International Women's day on 8 March 2011 and copies were made available for public access.
The study was carried out through field interviews, questionnaire and literature research methodologies. The respondents are from two sources - First, 107 respondents from field interviews and questionnaire and second from 96 victims who have reported to North East Support Centre and Helpline during 2005 - 2011.
The purpose of the study was to explore the trend of North East Indian migration and challenges faced in Delhi and NCR through an academic research project. The study recommended for law enforcing agents and concerned governments to introduce suitable laws, policies, and plan of actions and implement them to end sexual violence, racial discrimination, and challenges of human trafficking faced by North East India communities.
The North East India in National Scenario
The day MC Mary Kom fought the semi final of the women boxing at London Olympic, the anchor of NDTV Big Fight invited me for a penal discussion. I declined as I was out of Delhi. He asked, "Whether Mary Kom's medal in London Olympic create a better image on North East people at large." I said a big "NO". That is exactly happening across the nation now.
The hate rumour against the people from North East India living in mega cities has caused the panic among the entire North East communities and fled for life. The situation became worse in spite of the repeated assurance by Indian parliament and state governments.
There are invisible communal forces behind the hate rumour. The intention of the invisible communal forces was to defame the certain minority communities and provoke for a communal clash among the different communities in India. The nation has witnessed similar intentions in the past. The Hindutva forces planted bombs to defame Muslim communities.
Times of India reports that 20% of the hate rumour against the people from North East India were posted in the blogs belong to Hindutva forces.[1The hate rumour has left a deep wound that will remain unhealed for long time. There has been a massive social profiling and attack on North East people for last many years. The government machineries were not able to stop, the crimes increased, first in Delhi and NCR, now expanded to mega cities and all over the country.
Delhi has become a rape and unsafe capital for women, particularly those working at night. The case of Dhaula Kuan gang rape of 30 years old Mizo girl, an employee at BPO by five men in moving truck on midnight of November 23, 2010 had shocked the whole nation. It was not the first nor was last of the plights faced by people from North East India.
The North East Migration
The usage of term migrants to North East India living in Delhi and other cities has been criticised by some individuals, saying that how can be the same citizen of the nation be called a migrant in their own country. However, scholars use same terminology while defining the urban migration to own citizens.
The Migration at Peak
Until early 2000 AD, the majority of the people from the North East India came to Delhi for central government jobs and higher studies. The larger number of people began migrating after 2000 and increased in last five years, most to pursuit of higher studies and hunt employment opportunities. Prasant Barooah of NE Career Centre reports, "If you look at the trend analysis on North East Indian students going abroad for Higher Studies and job opportunities (2005-2009), it shows increasing trend till about 2007, but decreasing trend since 2008." However, migrating to other cities of India went high.
According to the study, over 414,850 people migrated from Northeast India to other mega cities of India during 2005 and 2010. It is 12 times growth from 34,000 populations in 2005 in the last six years. The annual average increasing number of migration is 13.62%, which is about 50,000. By now, about 500,000 people have migrated, and this will increase up to 50 lakhs migrants in next five years.
Delhi is one of the most preferred destinies for the North East migrants. It has over 200,000 North East migrants, which is 48.21%. Only 5% of migrants return to North East India after completing their studies.
The 66.35% of the North East migrants migrate for higher studies, out of which, 78.15% for graduate studies, 11.48% for Engineering/managerial, 6.80% for Research/Ph. D. and 3.57% for medical studies while 35% of migrants migrate for employment opportunities in other cities of India with 15% for Government jobs and 85% for un-organized private sectors.
There are numbers of push factors for the North East Indians to migrate to Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities. Identification of these push factors is important as it reveals the real life situation of the region that existed for years without any specific plan to address the problem. The push factors include the following.
Lack of Educational Infrastructure - the Main Push Factor
The lack of the educational infrastructure with limited choice of studies available in the North East India, is a major push factor for migration to other cities and overseas. The study finds that the lack of educational infrastructure with limited choice of education is the main push factor to the migration from the region. The educational system is badly affected. This should be a top concern for the entire region. Almost all government-run schools have failed and the high school and higher secondary education survived because of the private schools. The most affected state is Manipur where there are about 100 days without classes in a year as schools are closed due to public strikes.
Vanlalchhawna records the numbers of educational institution in the region. "As on 2002-03, there were 478 colleges for general education, 113 colleges for professional education, and 15 universities/deemed universities, 5 central universities, 4 state universities and 6 others..."[3Most of these higher educational institutions dominated by general, arts, science, and commerce. Professional schools are lacking. "The region as a whole is backward in technical and other professional studies. Medical education in the North East India is highly inadequate."[4)
The North East Council reports about the trend the higher education in the region. "... college enrolment is very low in the region, as low as 4.8 percent in Nagaland and 5.6 percent in Arunachal against the already low national average of 10 percent (Table 8.18A (a) in Annexure 8.1)... Thousands of students from the North East go to other parts of the country for higher studies, both because of the lack of professional education as well as the level of instruction and curricula in colleges and universities in the region, both of which affect their potential for employment."
The Lack of Employment Opportunities: The Push Factor
There is a lack of employment opportunity in all North East states. Government employment is small percentage and it is available only to those who have political connections or money to bribe. The educated poor, who have no political connections, do not get government jobs.
The corporate and private companies do not invest in the region but attracts the young educated generation to mega cities with employment opportunities. The English medium education offered by various private schools in North East India and the personalities of the educated unemployed youngsters, helps them to get jobs in BPO companies, hospitality industries and beauty parlours in mega cities.
The Socio-Political Crisis: The Push Factor
The socio-political unrest has affected the education, the economic, and the employment opportunities in North East India. The mushrooming of militants, bloodshed, constant public strikes, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and corrupt nature of government are major feature of socio-political unrest in the region for 50 years and more. Life in the region is a nightmare - 100 days of public strikes in a year - markets shut, schools closed, and public transportation off the road.
Two major ethnic communal conflicts occurred in state of Manipur between Naga-Kuki in 1992-09, Meitei-Pangal (Manipuri Muslim) in 1993 and Kuki-Paite. Currently communal tension is being created between Nagas and Meiteis on Manipur state integration issue. Naga-Kuki clashes left 231 villages burnt, 285 villages deserted, 6,000 houses burnt, 10,000 families affected, 15,000 school going children affected, 60,000 people internally displaced and 1,300 people killed. (7)
The consequences continue until today, the children still internally displaced are not able to return to their schools. The communal affected people migrate to other cities of India in search of livelihood and children suffer as human traffickers target them. Communal violence has become a factor for North Easterners seeking to migrate from the region.
Delhi Most Preferred Destiny: The Pull Factor
With the emerging of globalization, Delhi is the most attractive destiny for North East migrants for good educational infrastructure with multiple choices of study and employment opportunities in Central government jobs and private companies.
The major pull factor for the migration of people from North East India is the impact of globalisation. Although the push factors mentioned above have existed in the region for the last few decades, the phenomena of migrating to mega cities, particularly in search of job opportunities, did not take place until the emergence of globalisation. Globalisation opened the door of opportunities for the whole world and it has attracted the people of North East India to mega cities.
Delhi has Better Educational Environment
Delhi has much better educational environment that attracts the North East students with multiple choices of courses to study. This has attracted the young generation from North East India but only a small percentage of the population can afford to move.
Delhi has 937 Government schools and 1153 Private schools. Majority of the people from North East India migrates to Delhi for higher and professional studies. Schools in Delhi attract small number of children from North East India. The rich families can afford to send their children for high school education in Delhi. In future, more children are likely to migrate to Delhi if socio-political and education infrastructure remains in the same condition.
Delhi has recognized four Universities - University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Guru Govind Singh Indraprastha University, and Jamia Millia Islamia University. Under Delhi University, there are 82 colleges offering various fields of studies from Graduation to Ph. D. level.[10 Jawaharlal Nehru University offers Arts, Aesthetics, Biotechnology, Computer and System Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Computational and Integrative Sciences, International studies, Language Literature and Cultural Studies, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Molecular Medicine, Sanskrit Studies, Law and Governance and Nano Sciences etc.
Delhi has Better Employment Opportunities
The employment opportunities in central government jobs have attracted the educated young generation from the North East. They have to compete by taking examinations. However, obtaining positions in a central governmental department is relatively easy because many North Easterners come from Scheduled Caste and Tribe communities and qualify for reserved jobs in both in higher and lower professions.
The employment opportunities mushroomed in BPO private unorganized sectors. Shalini Verma writes, "What is still more encouraging is that although countries like Australia, China, the Philippines, and Ireland have, of late, emerged as the close competitors of India in the BPO sector, the latter is still the favoured destination."
Mark Kobayashi Hillary supports Shalini Verma, "As the National Capital Region (NCR), most of the major outsourcing firms has a presence here. NIIT and HCL Technologies are based here and BPO players Daksh, vCustomer and WiproSpectramind all have major local facilities."<#13a2fdd38cd38790__ftn13>Delhi and NCR have 7509 private sector companies in various fields.  These sectors attract the people from North East India.
The Globalisation: The Pull Factor
The globalisation opened doors to many other employment opportunities, particularly for the semi-professional and semi-skilled person. Many young boys and girls from North East India, who are semi-skilled or semi-professional, get jobs in organised and non-organised private companies like BPOs, hospitality corporations, and shopping malls. Many of these young people have appealing personalities, the ability to communicate in English, and come from a hospitality/socially oriented culture that values honesty and hard work. This makes them attractive candidates to private companies. Nevertheless, they are not without challenges when they migrate to mega cities, particularly in Delhi and NCR.
Challenges in Delhi and NCR
Unsafe Delhi for Women
Delhi has become an unsafe city with increasing crimes against women. According to Delhi police, every 18 hours, a woman is raped and every 14 hours a woman is molested in Delhi. Jagori an organization working for women in Delhi conducted a pilot research in 2009 and their findings match close to police record. Around 70% women were reported harassed on roads while around 60% men and 71% common witnesses reported that they have seen women being harassed.
Unsafe for North East Communities
North East people in Delhi and NCR continue to face racial discrimination, racial attack, abuse, rape, molestation, and killing. North East Support Centre & Helpline records 96 crimes against its people in Delhi and NCR, of which, 58% happened against women (34% molestation, 8% human trafficking, 7% beating, 4% rape, 2% attempt to rape), 26% against men, 5% murder, 6% non-payment of salary, 3% non-refund rent deposit, 1% missing person and 1% media bias. Challenges faced by North East people in Delhi have a paradigm shift from racial attack to sexual violence and sexual violence to human trafficking.
First two are not organised crimes while the last operates in organised gangs. We are not prepared to handle it. Perhaps, there is a need for separate study on the issue of human trafficking faced by the region.
Social Profiling against the North East Communities increase
The study finds 78% of North Easterners in Delhi face racial discrimination in different forms, which is slightly less compare to the 86% in 2009. The 83% of North East men and the 74% of their women face racial discrimination, while girls are victims of easy target of sexual violence in Delhi and NCR.
Social profiling is the root cause of racial discrimination, attack, and sexual violence against men and women from North East India. It is a reflection of India's caste practices and social system as majority of North East India come from scheduled caste and tribes and ethnically Mongoloid race.
Inactiveness of Law Enforcing Agencies
Inactiveness of police officers on duty, who are biased in providing service to vulnerable men and women to racial attack and sexual violence and failing to book the perpetrators have fuelled more crimes against the North East Indian communities in Delhi and NCR.
There is reluctance to issue directive to law enforcing agencies to provide safety measurement for vulnerable North East communities. They waited and delayed until the matter became very serious.
Investment for Education and Economic Development
North East Indian states need specific investment for educational infrastructure and economic development from Union government and state governments must prioritize it. Union Government along with Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, North East Council, and state governments must seek to invest more to develop more in educational sector in the region.
The Union Government's budget of Rs 6000 crore for 2011does not have any specific designated fund for higher educational infrastructure. The budget was a peanut compare to the amounts of money sent by the poor parents from the entire North East India to their children studying outside. Over 270,000 students if calculated at the rate of Rs 5000 per month, it comes to amount Rs 1600 crore, which is the one fourth of the Union Government's budget for the region.
The nation saw the Indian parliamentarians while the North East Indian communities were fleeing from Bangalore and other cities. It was a united voice of all parties, affirming their care and concern for the community. Soon the political parties diverted the whole issue by bringing the issue of CAG report. The world will doubt that it was just a crocodile tear.
A political will from Union Government, Delhi Government, and the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) must issue directive to implement existing laws, policies, and plan of actions to end racial discrimination, sexual violence, and human trafficking challenges faced by North East communities in national capital cities. North East MP Forums must take note of the plights faced by their communities and take up the matter with concerned law enforcing agencies and governments.
The Union Home ministry's decision to include the racial discrimination under the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocity 1989 is one positive response. The North East Indian communities will need to see how this new law is implemented.
Law Enforcing Agencies
Safety preventive steps taken by Delhi police following Dhaula Kuan gang rape case, setting up night patrolling in unsafe places, CCTV camera installation, English speaker Helpline operators, women helpline and women cell at police stations and 9 points safety guidelines to BPO companies must be proactively monitored on regular basis.
The North East Support Centre and Helpline has been demanding for long time to appoint a police officer, preferably from North East India and setup up separate helpline for the community. It has been denied and delayed for years. Now, with political will, DCP Mr Robin Hibul from Arunachal Pradesh has been appointed to look into the issues and challenges faced by the community.
The Need of Cultural Sensitisation and Integration
The student communities beginning from class 10 must be sensitised about safety before they leave their home states for further study and job in mega cities. Many of the North East girls get shocked when they fall at the prey of the perpetrators.
The student communities from various cities of India kept on requesting the North East Support Centre and Helpline to extend to other cities. It was not in the position to extend. Now different North East Student Forums are setup in different cities. They will have challenges as the service to the needy and victims cannot be given by non-professional personnel.
Basic legal awareness on how to file cases and legal remedies are essential part of sensitisation. The North East Indian communities have bias conception about the case being filed. They are worried about their names included in the case, fearing that it will hamper in their career. When they lodge a complaint and case filed, it is not a case registered against their names. It must be sensitised to them.
Last, but not least, cultural integration is very important and is needed. Cultural integration with different communities is needed from all sections of Indian society. The civil societies and public's support shown this time from different corners of the nation is the sign that there are people who do not subscribe to any form of social profiling and racial attack. The cultural integration with different people will help dealing the challenges faced by the North East Indian communities.
Madhu Chandra is a social activist and research scholar based at Kakching, Manipur. He works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council ( www.indianchristians.in), Spokesperson of North East Support Centre & Helpline (www.nehelpline.net) and National Secretary of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations (www.scstconfederation.org).
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