Sportspersons and film personalities from the otherwise restive Northeast put the country’s name on the global stage in 2018 while the region’s identity politics was more vocal during the year.
In July, Hima Das, an 18-year-old sprinter from a small village in Assam’s Nagaon district, won gold in the 400-metre category in World Under-20 Athletics Championship in Finland and scripted history for Indian athletics.
Village Rockstar, a film by Rima Das, hailing from Chaygaon, not just got the best national film award but was also nominated as India’s entry in the best foreign films category for the Oscars, in September.
In Norwegian film What People Will Say?, an actor from Assam’s Goalpara town, Adil Hussain, was nominated for the same category.
Earlier this month, Manipur boxer Mary Kom won a gold medal at World Women Boxing Championship for the sixth time, which is a record.
The year began with shocks and confusion as Assam released the first draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is being updated to solve the state’s long foreigner problem. More than 1.39 crore people found their names dropped from the first draft released on December 31 midnight.
The number of left outs, however, came down to 40.07 lakh on July 31, when the final draft was released. The Northeast offered BJP many reasons to rejoice in 2018 as it broke the 25-year-old Left rule in Tripura and wrested power in February. Days later it became part of governments in Nagaland and Meghalaya. The party had formed its first government in Assam in 2016 and in Manipur in 2017. It also became part of the Arunachal Pradesh government in 2017. In Mizoram, the party opened its account when a Congress deserter won the first Assembly seat in November 28 elections.
The BJP, however, faced strong protests from indigenous people over its move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. Even five persons were killed by unidentified gunmen on November 1 in Assam’s Tinsukia district, ostensibly as part of the protest.
The Centre signed a protocol with Bangladesh, which will allow Indian ships to access Mongla and Chittagong ports in the neighbouring country. This will significantly reduce distance in transporting goods and passengers to Northeast from the rest of the country.