May sound suspiciously like moral policing, but it's a regimen student leaders like Zou seem more than happy to comply with. Wearied by the endless complaints of harassment and violence against them, Zou says it's time they changed their "tribal outlook" and integrated with the mainland. Zou blames his own leaders for corrupting the youth, introducing them to the high life and encouraging them to stick together and not socialise with the community they live in. "Our youth are not interested in building bridges with the people they live with. If you wear inappropriate clothes and don't speak Hindi even after living here for several years, what else do you expect? Unless you discipline yourself, how can the police protect you? Anywhere in the world, if you go around drunk when everyone else is sleeping, who will protect you?" However, such moralising is unlikely to go down well with the fiercely independent spirit of these young tribals. As a young BPO worker, Linda, asserts: "Whether my parents are here or not, it makes no difference to my lifestyle. Everybody knows what is right or wrong, we don't need anyone telling us." Linda has an unexpected supporter in sociologist Ashis Nandy. "Trying to break the stereotype by becoming different is of no use," says Nandy. "Most people in Delhi know nothing about Northeast culture. The only stereotype they have is that they are outsiders. Any foreign woman to them is fair game, and according to them the women are foreigners—lacking morality, used to sex and therefore a little more can't hurt."But that's why, Zou says, it's time that the people of the Northeast form their own lobby in Delhi. "You have the Bania lobby, the Punjabi lobby, the Jat lobby, the Bengali lobby, the south Indian lobby, the scheduled caste lobby and the Christian lobby. So why not a Northeastern lobby?"
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
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