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And we unravel until there’s nothing of us left…
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Assam is a land where group identity, and loyalty to that identity, matters. And group identities in Assam have been historically formed based on who is not the group, or more simply, by the process known as 'othering'. So, anybody outside of that 'imagined' Assamese or indigenous community is an 'outsider' not worthy of political, moral or social consideration.
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Fragmented by class, caste and ideological boundaries, the people of Bihar hardly ever come together under one identity. From time to time, whenever our 'asmita' is overshadowed by doubt, you come to our rescue. You remind us that we are, after all, Biharis, all of us, even those who don't consider themselves Biharis anymore and are not very different from you in their ideology and politics.
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We inhabit a fluid, porous world, with hyper-mobility of peoples, what has been called deterritorialization, and rather seamless communications(s). The conditions that define this world have an indelible impact on the nature of our selves, community, identity and politics. This was brought home to me after I returned from the West or after my "Enigma of Return" to invert Naipaul's phrase. My return was a profoundly disorienting experience: the world that I was familiar with had turned topsy-turvy for me.
I believe that realizing our common Indian identity is important, as it will lead to erosion of bitterness. Yes, modern Pakistan and India are a reality, but then so is our great common heritage. Yes, it is important for us to be loyal to our political states but at the same time not overlook the joint heritage.