A Rapper’s Rage Against Discrimination

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Rapping peace Borkung Hrangkhwal
Rapping peace Borkung Hrangkhwal

Mahatma Gandhi himself said, “See no evil, hear no evil and do no evil”
Then why are you so eager to hurt our sentiments, it’s like we are living down below while you are piling up the sediments.
The predicaments in this game of death, you are the participants.
So don’t constrain yourself to the limitation of what your actions have caused.

Life is a blessing from God, then how on Earth are you ever gonna pay that cost. We are Indians as much as you are.

The Reality: Spoken Words

For most people in India, the Northeast is an enigma with different topography and people with different cultural markers and food habits. The region is significantly different from ‘mainland’ India, despite the fact that it is an integral part of the country.

In the past few decades, there have been countless incidents of racial discrimination — based primarily on their mongoloid features — against students and people from the region, who go to other parts of the country for education and employment.

Amidst these frequent incidents, where young boys and girls from the Northeast are physically and sexually assaulted for their facial features, food habits and “western” lifestyle, the recent death of Nido Taniam, a 19-year-old boy from Arunachal Pradesh, sparked outrage across the country.

Nido died of severe lung and brain injuries, inflicted upon him in a totally uncalled-for attack. He was beaten up by local shopkeepers in South Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area, when he protested their jibes at his facial features.

Nido’s death prompted introspection; questioning Northeast’s place in India’s imagination. A day after his death, Borkung Hrangkhawl, a rapper based in Tripura, composed The Reality: Spoken Words, a song based on racial discrimination against people from the Northeast.

Deviating from the rock culture of Northeast India, Borkung Hrangkhawl, who is better known by his stage name BK, has emerged as one of India’s best known rappers. Known for his sensitive portrayal of the sociopolitical climate of Tripura, BK has earned a niche following for his strong opinions on social issues of his home state, along with struggles against discrimination, through his songs and lyrics.

Borkung says, “India has been an independent country for over 60 years now. However, if we look at the current situation, we still have the stigma of racism somewhere deep inside us. I personally have been stabbed thrice and the only reason was that I look different.”

The three-minute song talks of the violence faced by the people of the region, their insecurities, and how the mainstream alienates them for their distinct culture and facial features. The song is a call to the mainland to leave behind its biases and realise that the Northeast and its people are indeed as much Indian as the mainland itself.

The song has already become viral on Facebook with people, both from the Northeast and the mainland, supporting the initiative. Sudeshna Mazumdar, one of the people who shared it on their Facebook pages, commented: “This song is a good way to knock the ‘men of repute’ about our Constitution, the seven sister states, and b4 ‘they’ say ‘India’ let ‘them’ also adhere & abide by ‘their’ speech content after all freedom of speech also means think, understand before u speak.”

Borkung started his musical journey with the former New Delhi-based hip-hop group DropSquad, which was signed by music label Times Music in 2010, after it had won the nationwide talent hunt “Supastars” from North Zone round. His debut music video, The Journey, since it was uploaded in February 2013, has also earned him quite a few hits on YouTube.

The rapper has the last word. “We, as Indians, are proud of the fact that we live in a democratic country,” he says. “However, is it a democracy if people from the same country attack, rape and kill a fellow citizen just because of difference in culture, lifestyle, food habits and facial features? It’s about time we understood what the Preamble of our Constitution really states. I believe that if we consider each other as citizens of one country and not as different communities, we can all sincerely make a huge difference and make India a better place to live in for the next generation.”

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