I studied classes 7th to 9th at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Happy Valley, Shillong. This was between 1980 to 1983 and Shillong was truly heaven. My friends and I walked to school many days, through tiny streams, through walking paths picking berries and not falling sick for a single day ! We walked everywhere because there were only public buses and no autos and not many cars and bikes. Appa had sold his Vespa scooter before leaving Dehu Road and since he had a slightly less hectic schedule than in Dehu Road, we got to do a lot of sight seeing.
I have very special memories of Shillong and I created some more when Krishnan and I visited Shillong again in 2003, twenty years after we had left. The streets were clogged with Maruti taxis but the place was just as quaint and lovely as ever. I lost my way trying to walk from the school back to where our house was, but managed to ask around and reached Umpling and then onto the right path. Then in 2004 I visited Zakhama where Harish and Geetu were posted. What a stunning place it was. Untouched.
We went again to Guwahati earlier this year as I was a speaker at the Womens Economic Forum and enjoyed the stay. Guwahati has become a busy place !! I have always felt connected to the North East and I have found the people from there to be honest, hard working and very open minded. I have had the chance to work with many of them both in Pizza Corner and many more of them in Aon Hewitt. In the last ten years or so, I found many of them working in the aviation and hospitality industry in all parts of India, and they continue to be honest, hard working, with a great work ethic and each one of them is thrilled to know that I have actually spent time in some North Eastern state.
In Delhi they are routinely discriminated against with derogatory names like “Chinkis” – and the girls are considered easy. Its terrible to see that and I detest it. Its one thing to joke about our different looks – the dark south Indian to the fair Punjabi to the tea “eating” Bengali but the minute it hurts their sentiments, its unacceptable. Hoping for that to change forever.
When we got our independence, Mr. Nehru had very little time to focus on the North East. Infact this article by Nitin Gokhale in 2003 is very telling – The neglected states of the nation. A small excerpt will bring home the point –
Remember neither father nor daughter had any concrete plans to develop the North East – at one point, Mr. Nehru allegedly wanted to gift away the North East !!
Now contrast this with the recent news of the Bogibeel Bridge being inaugurated by Mr. Modi.
The last two infographics are taken from this TOI article https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/bogibeel-bridge-indias-longest-rail-road-bridge-opens-in-assam/articleshow/67250512.cms
The only thing that is probably incorrect in the last infographic is the fact that it took 16 years to complete the bridge. From 2002 to 2014, in 12 years only 58% of the work got done and in 4 years the balance 42% of the work got done !! Our ex-PM Mr. ManMohan Singh was elected and re-elected from Assam to the Rajya Sabha since 1991 …. but the project never got completed. That’s the difference between Mr. Modi and all the other PMs that we have had – the ability to execute MEGA projects within their deadlines and ensuring completion.
Not just that – one central minister has visited a North Eastern state every month in the past 4.5 years. Thats dedication to the vision of integrating the North East into India fully. There are several initiatives done by this government and there will be many more to develop this neglected part of India. For just that, we should vote for Mr. Modi again and again. There is no one else who is even keen to do something for the seven sisters of the North East nor does anyone have a vision like Mr. Modi.
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