Arunachal Pradesh, a state which witnesses the country’s first sunrise every morning, never fails at setting admirable examples for the rest of the country to follow. Being a landlocked state, and faced with an aggressive China which considers the state a part of their country, Arunachal Pradesh and its people stand firm in their resolve to remain proud Indians.
A recent example of this sentiment was portrayed by the citizens of ten border villages of Arunachal. The villages—Gette, Pugging, Likor, Palling, Singging, Angging, Zido, Ngaming, Mayung and Bishing—fall under the proposed 150km-long Yingkiong-Bishing two-lane highway that will boost connectivity in the region. This highway will transform the lives of the people of these villages. The mighty Himalayan mountains, especially along the China border, make the lives of the remote residents difficult. As such, they wholeheartedly welcome robust development in the region without any protests, keeping national and regional interest above all.
In what may be perceived as an unusual gesture, the residents of these villages have decided to forego the compensation which was to be provided by the government to them for the development of the road. According to a state government release, the villagers under the banner of ‘Yingkiong to Bishing 2-lane Highway Committee’ took a decision at a recently-held public meeting to not seek compensation for land falling under road construction so that work on the project starts early. Notably, last year, Chinese personnel were found doing track alignment construction work near Bishing. When they were confronted by Indian troops, the Chinese went back leaving their road construction equipment.
It is indeed rare to see anyone letting go of usually overvalued government compensations, especially when one’s lands are to be used for the development of the area. Yet, such a generous move on the part of these villagers speaks volumes about how they echo with the rest of the country at large, while being residents of the remotest villages of India.
One cannot imagine this kind of generous move by anyone from any other parts of the country. One of the major reasons for delay in developmental works is land acquisition and compensation. In other parts of India, including Delhi-NCR, people don’t even leave the slightest of the opportunities to earn a few bucks.
Arunachal Pradesh and its people never fail as Indians. For them, the nation is always first. One can hear the people of this state greeting each other and visitors with ‘Jai Hind’. Which other state and people can boast of following such a tradition? Also, over 90% of the people of Arunachal Pradesh can speak Hindi! Although the state is a multiplicity of many tribes, yet they find Hindi as a common binding factor and medium of communication.
Unlike many other states, there is no language and identity movement in Arunachal Pradesh, and all its citizens proudly proclaim themselves as Indians alone. Feelings of patriotism and nationalism run high among the people of the state, who have learnt it the hard way. Often, people of other states go on deriding ‘nationalism’ and ‘Hindi’, yet, the people of Arunachal, having witnessed the 1962 Sino-India War, and continuously seeing Chinese aggression on the border, have realised that it is in fact a responsibility on their part to keep China at bay by being extremely patriotic towards India.
Interestingly, China considers the people of Arunachal Pradesh to be its own citizens, and therefore issues ‘staple visas’ to the people of the state. Unlike other Indians, who get their visas stamped to their passports directly, the people of Arunachal get a stamped paper from the Chinese immigration officer, which is then stapled to upon the visa. As such, China disregards any Arunachaleese who holds an Indian passport, to be an Indian citizen. However, the people of Arunachal, time and again have spoken against this hegemonic practice of China and have always demanded from India that this indignation inflicted by the Chinese upon the people of Arunachal be resolved once and for all.
The people of Arunachal are by far one of the most patriotic Indians, who have risen above petty regional identity politics. Unlike other North-eastern states, Arunachal is one of the most internally calm, with no anti-India and secessionist sentiments visible. Indians from other states must follow the example of the people of Arunachal and learn to embrace India wholeheartedly.