Separatism in North-East India: Role of Religion Language & Script

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Item Code: NAJ393
Author: Kunal Ghosh With Vikas Kumar
Publisher: Suruchi Prakashan, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 8189622331
Pages: 270
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 310 gm
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Book Description

About the Author


Kunal Ghosh is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. A graduate of I.I.T. Kharagpur, he obtained his Ph.D. in 1973 in Aeronautics & Astronautics, from the University of Southampton, U.K. His research interests include High Speed Aerodynamics and Wind Energy. Apart from his profession, he has had an abiding interest in Religion, History and Linguistics since college days, and has authored more than 30 articles in various journals since 1980s. He was invited to speak on his theory of Religio-Linguistic Exclusion and Sectarian Nationalism by The Asiatic Society, Kolkata, in 1997. He has contributed a chapter in a book titled Understading Ambedkar (Ed G.S. Bal, Ajanta Book International, Delhi). He is a life member of Indian Academy of Social Sciences and several other professional societies in the field of engineering.


Vikas Kumar graduated in 2001 from I.I.T. Kanpur, in Metallurgical Engineering. He served in Bharat Heavy Electricals for several years. He has been interested in Humanities since undergraduate days and authored several journal papers since 2004. He is currently doing a Ph.D. in Economics in Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai.




In an informal discourse, one of my teachers who taught his students the discipline of knowledge seeking told us that the intellectual dynamism is the only ‘means of enlightenment. He asked us, “Do you know why our ancestors named this universe Jagat?” He answered it by saying, “Jagat is a derivative of a Sanskrit root and the word literally means ‘that which keeps moving’. The universe has its existence on the basis of its ability for movement or motion. Everything in this universe, from atom to galaxy, is ‘moving and dynamic except, perhaps, the lazy man’s brain.” Obviously, he was suggesting that if one wants to achieve a reasonable level of understanding and enlightenment, it is mandatory to charge one’s intellect with dynamism.


Prof. Kunal Ghosh and his student, Shri Vikas Kumar, both engineers, belong to this rare category of know/edge seekers who have not only charged their intellect with dynamism but also applied it beyond the boundaries of their respective areas of specialisation. This is evident from the articles contained in this book. As technologists, they could have confined themselves to understanding the social need for and development of relevant technologies. However, they chose additionally to be socially concerned and involved in understanding the political and linguistic dimensions of the forces at work in North-East India, and contributed academically to a context of fragmentation and isolation prevailing among the population of the area, both tribal and non-tribal.


It is not strange in Indian experience that the communities of distinct identities live in the same geographical area with a comfortable degree of ‘give and take’ and mutual involvement, within the given cultural milieu. In the Chhotanagpur belt, for instance, where populations of different racial stocks like Draon and Santhal live alongside other natives, have neutralised the linguistic differences by evolving sadri as an acceptable language of wider communication. The project ‘People of India’, conducted by the ‘Anthropological Survey of India’, reports on the ‘Intercommunity linkages’ among coexisting communities of unequal size and social status that have developed in order to achieve harmony in coexistence. Obviously, it is an outcome of social evolution and a natural answer to the need for peaceful coexistence.


The North-East has a similar demographic profile as of Chhotanagpur, in the sense, that the communities of distinct identities of ‘unequal size and “social status’ inhabit the same geographical area for centuries, if not millennia. But the social situation is different in the sense that instead of creating a context of ‘give and take’ and mutual acceptance for harmonious coexistence, the entire situation is being vitiated by mutual intolerance and rebellion. Any sensitive mind that is alive to the happenings in the surroundings should naturally get disturbed. Ghosh and his student felt disturbed. Their effort to understand why intolerance is typical of the North-East region; is it a natural outcome or a guided and nurtured culture with a view to a rule of the region by insurgent and terrorist proxy, etc., is the content of this book.


Each article deals with a question. The question is approached with the required rigour of academics. Wherever possible, it is evaluated in the context of similar experience elsewhere in the world and inferences are drawn accordingly. The authors are aware that any such academic exercise would attract debate. Hence the publication of the articles in the popular periodicals like Mainstream and New Quest which have readership of varied likes and dislikes. They have withstood the scrutiny of the readers.


However, the articles are not without rejoinders. These rejoinders to Ghosh’s articles are apparently more in self-defence as a duty than an academic encounter on empirical evidence. Again to cite my teacher, he used to tell us “if you are stressing a point in an argument just because you have to do so, you are like a traditional oil miller who traverses from dawn to dusk sitting on the lever of the oil mill conducting his animal around the oil mill. He may claim to have travelled the same distance as some body that went across the continent. But the fact remains that he reached no destination and remained in the same sphere.” On the other hand, Ghosh’s replies to these rejoinders have the required academic rigour set in an encyclopedic narration that provides relevant information in its various dimensions. Similarly, the reaction of a native, who calls Ghosh an ‘outsider’, only substantiates Ghosh’s painful observations that the North-East is being guided into a mindset of mutual exclusiveness with the rest of India.


The authors have compiled the rejoinders as part of the body of the book instead of providing them as annexure as per the convention, which further establishes their academic honesty and credibility.


Turning to the core issue, the authors observe in the text that the role of ‘Script, Language and Religion’ has been vital in the prevailing restlessness of the North-East region. Perhaps, these factors can be more appropriately sequenced if they are placed in the reverse order namely Religion, Language and Script’, as indeed has been done in the title of the book. This is appropriate in the context of missionaries at work everywhere and more so in the North-East. The missionaries in India seem to have a two pronged plan for propagating their religion. The two pronged design consists of ‘popularisation and imperialism’. Popularisation is through the local language and imperialism is through the foreign script that the church introduces. It should be recalled that during the colonial conquests of Asia, Africa and Latin America (by European powers), the missionary followed immediately behind the military-political conqueror. The missionary reinforced imperialism by re-shaping the religion and culture of the colonised people. In case of established languages both language and script are adopted. The jargon of the local religion is adopted liberally like’ Sathya veda’ for Bible, ‘Durgopanishad’ for ‘sermon on the mount’ in Kannada and ‘Ayyar’ for a pastor in Tamil, In case of tinwritten, or not-so-established languages, the Roman script is the rule than exception. Even when a zealous Indian missionary Solomon Vedappan translates Bible into Car-Nicobarese, the Roman script is the choice. It is a matter of common knowledge that the dispute whether the official language of Goa, Konkani, should be written in the Roman script or Devanagari script was based on the divide between Christian and Hindu Konkani speakers. The authors see a kind of inconsistent and unpleasant authority in the popularization strategy of imparting religion through a native language and retaining the imperialistic control through the script of missionaries’ choice. The articles provide a mine of information to effectively portray the vital role of ‘Religion, Language and Script’ in the prevailing turbulent situation of the North-East.


Incidentally, the Ishanya dik, the Sanskrit for North-East direction, according to the traditional Vastu Shastra, is the direction defined for a place of prayer or worship. It appears that it is a divine irony, that Gods and missionaries are more intensely active in the North-East region of the country. But the resultant situation does not seem to be auspicious and beneficent. Religions, the native ones along with the external ones, are in conflict with each other giving rise to restlessness. If only this divine irony can be transformed into a divine harmony, Prof. Ghosh’s anxiety for mutual inclusiveness between the North-East and rest of India would be assuaged. May that happen soon.


I feel more than honoured in writing this foreword. I am not only incomparable to Prof. Ghosh in scholarship and stature but also much less exposed to the complexities of the kind he has handled here. He was kind to remain patient to secure this foreword from me in spite of delays induced by my illness. I am indeed grateful. I apologise to the readers for causing delay in the publication of this book by my default, on more than one occasion, to meet a deadline.




Religion, Linguistics and Separatism in North-East India


Christianity in the Third Millennium


Missionary View of Indian History is Short sighted


Darjeeling-Gorkha Identity is Based on False Premises


Rival Faiths, China’s India Policy and the Religious Card in Sikkim


Terrorist in North-East India get support from America


NSCN-IM and the Roots of Naga Identity:


Religion and Language - I


Religion and Language - II


Partition of Manipur, Greater Nagaland and Contrived Tangkhul-Naga Identity


The Naga Question in Manipur


Naga Question in India


Urdu, Yiddish And Sectarian Nationalism


Role of Script and Linguistic Exclusion Principle-I


Role of Script and Linguistic Exclusion Principle-II




A Missionary Angle for Everything that ails North-East India!




Poverty of Knowledge and its Ramifications on Indigenous People-I




Poverty of Knowledge and its Ramifications on Indigenous Peoples-I I




Sectarian Nationalism, Religious Fundamentalism and Language



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