The Telegraph
Thursday , July 17 , 2014
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Panel push to bridge NE chasm
- Committee suggests taking Bollywood help

New Delhi, July 16: Beyond the debate on an anti-racism law or an IPC amendment aside, the M.P. Bezbaruah panel wants to bridge the yawning gap between Northeast and the rest of India (and the world) through an umbrella organisation — North East Centre.

“In the long run, the need for a comprehensive organisation that goes beyond all partial initiatives was strongly felt,” the committee has said. Building a comprehensive umbrella organisation is the objective.

The idea has emerged out of the many meetings the panel members had with a crosssection of people. The aim was to find a solution to the bias particularly young people from the Northeast feel in the country’s various cities.

If the government agrees, the North East Centre would be an autonomous institution built on public-private partnership model. The Centre should have a name “evocative of the rich culture and tradition of the Northeast”, the committee formed after the death of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Tania on January 29, has suggested.

The centre is projected to be a multi-faceted one with a comprehensive database and arrangement for networking. “This database centre should be immediately started by DoNER within existing facilities,” the panel has suggested.

Besides, the centre should have facilities for cultural performances, theatre and art exhibitions and function as an outreach of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

It could have products and artefacts from the National Museum.

The panel has suggested that the centre should provide facilities for voluntary registration of people from the region and create a basic profile. The centre should have link to the database facilities for 24X7 assistance to people of region in distress. It should also be linked to the Northeast cell of Delhi police as well as state bhavans.

Another long-term measure the panel has recommended is a debate on the anti-racism law that protesters have demanded. However, in the short term, amendment to the Indian Penal Code to prevent discriminatory behaviour could be taken ahead, the panel has said in the report, sources said.

“We felt that within the broad framework of our Constitution, the legal, strategic and philosophical aspects of the demand for an anti-racism law should be debated and in the long-term, a suitable decision should be taken,” the committee has reported.

The Centre is viewing a new law with caution as it could have wide-reaching implications outside and within the Northeast.

Tania was a victim of racial discrimination, protesters maintain. The student’s death after the lynching at Lajpat Nagar market had sparked a nationwide outrage.

Bezbaruah has also suggested that Bollywood films and popular soaps on TV could take in stories from the Northeast to spread awareness.

Another perception management strategy is to train teachers on what the region is about.

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