Ethnicity in North-East India

Topics: Assam, Nation, Manipur Pages: 6 (2103 words) Published: June 4, 2012
Emergence of Ethnicity in North-East|

Emergence of Ethnicity in North-East
Under the present bourgeoise, state of India following of capitalist mode of development, numerous conflict and tension exists in every part of the country and it has been a menace threatening the stability of the state itself. North East India which can be conveniently described as a many replica of greater India in terms of diversities of nationalities, ethnic groups, etc. is no exception to the problem. In such a diversified social set up, ethnicity play a fundamental role both in the political, social and cultural realm of the society. Etymologically, the word ethnicity is a conglomeration of two Greek words ‘ethnos’ and ‘ethnikos’ which implies the common ‘racial set up’ and cultural identity of the populations. Thus, the essence of ethnicity consists in the psychological make- up of a group of people possessing (or deem to possess) of belonging to a particular distinct race. In other words, members of the same ethnic group identify themselves with common culture, racial consciousness, cultural identity, and a belief in a common origin (often mythical) example, the folk traditions of the Garos, Khasis, the Jaintias, etc. It was David Reisman in 1953 who first used the term ‘ethnicity’ as a concept in social sciences. However, while attempting a discourse on ethnicity, it should be remember that it was no new a phenomena but it only changes its label and dimension. Also, ethnicity is not a ‘given’ but are social and political constructions of the elites to safeguard their own interests- both political and economic. While analyzing the concept of ethnicity in the post world war era, David Brown content that ethnicity is an ideology which individuals employ to resolve the insecurities arising from the power structure within which they are located. Max weber call it “a sense of specific honour while scholars like Bell and Barth suggest that ethnicity has more to do with interests plus effective ties” and as subjective process of status identification. The North-East Scenarios.

As outlined in the beginning, the North-east region of the country comprising of the seven states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh, represent one of the most diverse region in the country. The movement of the various communities to assert and protect their ethnic identity say the Khasi identity, the Naga identity or the Asomiya identity in one way or the other adheres itself to the ideology of communalism. The history of ethnic assertion in the hills goes a long way back to the 600 years of Ahom rules in the Brahmaputra valley. Since then when the Matak, Rabha and Lalung in spite of being under the same administrative set up and being culturally integrated into the Asomiya community, efforts by these communities in terms of reviving their identities distinct from the Asomiya find its manifestation in the feeling of relative deprivation. In the content of ethnic movement in North-east India, the first such kind of ethnic assertion saw its first light of the day when the sections of the elites of the Ahoms under the banner of All Assam Ahom Association to fight against the injustice done to the community by the British. Since then there has been no looking back to the phenomena of ethnic movement in the region. In fact, the process of progression and proliferation of ethnic movements- both in degree and magnitude follows a geometric path unparallel in human history. Furthermore, ethnic movement in the region belongs to the category of both ‘ethno divisional’ and ‘ethno- unificatory process’. However, more than serving as a tool for strengthening nationalism, ethnicity in the North-east threaten to destabilize the existing...
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