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NRC and “We Don’t, So Shouldn’t You” syndrome of Mayangs

“We Don’t, So Shouldn’t You” is a fragility syndrome that many mayangs suffer from whenever people from the “north east” nation-states voice their opinion against the oppressive mayangs, the Indian state and its Acts and laws.
It is a condescending speech and a tone of voice that attempts to speak over and silence the indigenous voices, claiming moral superiority. This fragility syndrome has been identified many a times in various protest-situations and has become a mayang pattern. When the movie Mary Kom was in the making and even after its release, many from the “north east” nation-states protested against the casting of a mayang in the role of a Manipuri from the Kom community. There was no identity or cultural relevance between the mayang actor and Mary Kom. The use of prosthetic to make Priyanka Chopra “look like” Mary Kom was racist and an ideal example of “chinki face” - a mayang donning chinky look with over-emphasis on slanty eyes, which has been a racial marker and the highlight of most of the racial aggression and violence against people from the “north east” nation-states for ages.
 The capitalization on cultural misappropriation in the movie is a whole different bizzare narrative. During this time, people from the “north east” nation-states voiced their anger on different platforms, but it had received the “We Don’t, So Shouldn’t You” syndrome as response from the mayangs. When indigenous people said that we protest Priyanka Chopra playing the role of Mary Kom, the mayangs came up with responses on the lines of “We don’t protest Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi in a Hollywood movie, so shouldn’t you.” When brought up even today, their response is, “We don’t protest Saif Ali Khan playing a Sikh in Sacred Games, so shouldn’t you.” At the time of the protest against CAB in the NER, it was only the people of “north east” nation-states going out on the streets and protesting against it. Apart from those mayangs who opposed it using the Hindu-Muslim narrative (which wasn’t the main problem with CAB), the CAB-supporting mayangs resorted to responses on the lines of “We don’t protest people from other states coming to Mumbai/Delhi/Banglore and other metro cities, so shouldn’t you.” Recently, during the debate around NRC, the mainland Indians were again drawing their same go-to-for-everything Hindu-Muslim narrative and calling NRC islamophobic and Assamese xenophobic without knowing/realising the main purpose of NRC from indigenous people perspective.
To their surprise, when the NRC result came out, the majority of foreigners identified were Hindus. However, since the population identified as foreigners was 19 lakhs, they started focusing more on “NRC making poor people stateless” without knowing/realising what the indigenous people have been going through because of the huge influx of Bangladeshi Bengalis, both Hindus and Muslims.
It was at this time that some started to show “We Don’t, So Shouldn’t You” fragility syndrome with arguments on the lines of “We don’t protest for NRC in adivasi areas in India, so shouldn’t you.” In this whole set of pattern, they have always either skipped or ignored the only relevant lens through which they could see the reality, which was the indigenous-settler lens in order to see the settler colonialism. On top of it, this “We Don’t, So Shouldn’t You” fragility syndrome translates to the ‘mayangsplaining’ narrative that indigenous people are not capable of framing their own opinion and it is always the mayangs who should be guiding them to show the right path. It portrays indigenous people as a stupid bunch of people with no ability to think critically or even decide for their own good. This narrative goes back to 1950 when their beloved Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said, “So far as the two states of Manipur and Tripura are concerned, election will not be possible, for the simple reason that so far as these two states are concerned, there are hardly any local authorities existing there. Tripura is really a tribal area. Manipur is a very backward area. There are hardly any local bodies and organizations. The education status of these two states is also very backward.” It was a different kind of mayang superiority complex then, it is a different kind of mayang superiority complex now. Listening to the indigenous people is not their forte or an area of interest; “We Don’t, So Shouldn’t You” is.

Cecil Thounaojam

Cecil Thounaojam has been a freelance writer for Imphal Times and currently working as an in-house journalist for Imphal Times. He has completed MBA and worked as a copywriter for 5+ years in digital advertising agencies. Cecil is from Nongmeibung, Imphal East and he can be contacted at [email protected]

1 comment

  • P.B
    P.B Thursday, 05 September 2019 10:04 Comment Link

    I don't think Manipur has outsider and you need NRC.
    Refugees who came to Manipur way back Bangladesh partition, that too majority of them migrated to other state. Nepali who came from Nepal are also quite old.
    Rest are all floating all may go and come for livelihood.As per as Muslims are concerned you can not trace the new arrival, they mix up with the local and they have all support system to survive.
    Burmese you can not do anything, you know the reason. Yes in case you go for NRC , poor so called mayang will be in trouble in some extent. Anyway you will achieve your target.
    As per as the local indeginious you mentioned, I am against any discrimination, I don't think they are facing in other Indian state like before.
    Rest your point of view....but I love our north east brothers and sisters they have their own culture...which need to be appreciate

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