Education is one of the fundamental pillars for humanity to strive; it is well known that the transmission of knowledge to fellow man and the next generation has aided in the development and flourishing of humans.It also helps to understand, and to understand your fellow man, you must know them first. It is no surprise that a large part of community behavior can be understood through their culture and history. But just how well do people know about the Indigenous? And how is one supposed to know when they aren’t taught?
When you share and show interest in the knowledge of a community, it gives them a sense of belonging and inclusion, the importance of which should not be underestimated because the feeling of seclusion challenges the unity of the people. Without knowledge of the community, it is difficult to understand people or their struggles, which makes understanding the indigenous even more difficult and unreachable.
With a country as large as India and this many communities, the country faces the difficult task of considering and including all its people and communities. But just how well does the country do to include all of its people? When knowledge about even one of the largest dynasties of the North East, the Ahom dynasty, with its 600 years of history, is cramped down to 5 lines in a textbook in school, can it really be considered sufficient? There is a long history that is still unknown to a large number of people in this country, from the original kingdom to the Burmese invasion and British rule over the North East. Very little is mentioned about the history of North East India.
There is a concerningly large lack of knowledge and erasure of literature in the North East from education and literary sites. In such an absence of knowledge, misinformation is bound to form, and so is a lack of understanding. This is concerning because the indigenous people of North East India have already been isolated in the past, and this insufficient grip on their culture and history further pushes them aside.
In a study conducted by NEIIM (Northeast India Image Managers) of over 400 working individuals not hailing from the north-eastern part of the country who work in the communication and service industries and keep a close eye on the activity in the country, it was found that these individuals knew very little about this side of the country. About 87% of people could not name all the states. To add to that, 52% had a bad perception of the North East, and 30% would never go to the North East even if it suited their best career interests. But could these people really be blamed for the absence and rarity of literature in North-East India?
It is questionable how well the country teaches its citizens about its culture because of a lack of knowledge and a negative attitude toward the North East.This lack of understanding of the community could, in turn, lead to a sense of alienation and exclusion and eventually a divide. It is therefore important to teach about communities from every angle. Some people would seem to agree as 56% of the subjects in the study feel that the government should run awareness campaigns with the use of various media forms to educate people on North East India, while 43% of the respondents believe that the education curriculum should include more information on the history, geography, culture, and economics of the region.
But things are not all dark and gloomy; in the same study from above, it was also found that an astounding 93% of people showed interest in learning more about the North East of India, which gives hope for a brighter future for education and for the North Eastern indigenous communities.
Education is not complete when parts of it are yet to be taught, and there is certainly more to be taught. There is still much to be learned and uncovered by many. The indigenous have a long history and a vast culture that is still to be shared with the world and can contribute to the country’s already vast history.
We are sharing our rich heritage through this platform, starting with the cultural preservation efforts by voices of indigenous communities themselves.