(GIST OF YOJANA) The Fallacy of Socio-Cultural Isolation [APRIL-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) The Fallacy of Socio-Cultural Isolation


The Fallacy of Socio-Cultural Isolation

Coined by British civil servant Alexander Mackenzie, the term ‘northeastern Frontier’ in the contemporary time comprised of eight Indian states viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. Alexander Mackenzie was the first to use the term ‘North-east Frontier’ to identify Assam, including the adjoining hill areas and the princely states of Manipur and Tripura in his book ‘North-east Frontier of India’ in 1884. Mackenzie said, ‘The North-east frontier of Bengal is a term used sometimes to denote a boundary line, and sometimes more generally to describe a tract. In the latter sense it embraces the whole of the hill ranges north, east, and south of the Assam Valley, as well as the western slopes of the great mountain system lying between Bengal and independent Burma, with its outlying spurs and ridges.’
Some contemporary historians of Assam talk about the region’s ‘Splendid Isolation’ from the Western World and argue that, with the introduction of English education only, the separation ended. The very idea of ‘separation, isolation, distinctiveness and differentness’ of northeast is stemmed from the impact of ‘introduction of western print culture”. Although, the Assamese dynasties of yore years had a tremendous sense of history and used to maintain Buranjis or chronological record with surprising ease and accuracy, there was lots of oral history which existed for millennia. The transition from an oral to literary culture resulted in the loss of much of the history and tradition of northeast region. With the introduction of reading and writing, the inhabitants of northeast were forced to believe that oral traditions are simply ‘stories laden with irrelevant, incoherent and falsely made up tales.’

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Therefore, deprived of their history the northeast residents were coerced to believe that the history of the region is what the American missions and British colonial invasions taught them. Anything beyond the colonially authenticated facts and written records of the westerners are hearsay and untrue construction of the past. This is the primary reason why even now many people View the northeast India as ethnically alien, religiously different and politically-socially dissimilar with the rest of India. This understanding is entirely based on ‘wrong facts, lack of understanding of the region and “crown colony” conspiracy’.
The peculiar geographic location opens the region’s border to five foreign powers namely China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. These five countries encircle the region leaving only a small land area to interact with India. Historically identified with names like Pragjyotishpura, Kamrupa and Assam, the region is steeped in Sanatan Dharma philosophy and Hindu way of living since millennia. A less known fact about Assam is that, it is the only province, among the Indian provinces, which successfully defeated Islamic invasion throughout the entire period of Islamic rule in India.

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Courtesy: Yojana