Anthropologists take years to learn about people groups. The purpose is to understand their culture, their worldviews and the social stratifications. There are many settlers in Vijoynagar area. As neighbours we should know them because we need to relate in multiple ways – business, religion, politics and social connections (friendships, marriage). Below are a few I am learning recently:
- Many ethnics: I grew up thinking there are only Nepali settlers in Vijoynagar. But then there are Lushai/Mizo (who are Christians as we are), Agarwal (from Haryana?), and others. Nepali is the largest settlers because in early days of military services, mostly there were Gorkhas. We are therefore in contact with people from diverse backgrounds, living together. So “Nepali Settlers” does not describe them well, rather the “Ex-Servicemen” or “Settlers” would fit better.
- Casteism: There is no caste division among Lushai/Mizo, but in among others. This is an alien practice/philosophy for the Yobin/Lisu. Most of us have no idea about that. No wonder when some of our girls marry their boys have adjustment problems.
- Villages: They live in 9 villages – Buddhamandir, Chidudi, Daragaon, Gaherigaon, Mazgaon, Phaparbari, Ramnagar, Topihill and Twohut. Also in Vijoynagar HQ. Unlike our villages, their houses, their gardens and paddy fields are within the same area. This is because they have limited allotted of land by the government. Depending on the rank of the pensioners, between 8 to 11 acres of the land were given to each family. And they have Land Patta on lease for that which is to be renewed every 30 years.
- First Settlement: The settlers came in two waves in 1963-64 and 1970-71 (Frontline, Volume 26 – Issue 20: Sep. 26-Oct. 09, 2009). 200 families were settled (The Arunachal Governor, 5 April 2010). All the initiatives were taken the then Major General A. S. Guraya.
- Occupation: As we know the pensioners get pension and work on the allotted land. They are good producers of potato, rice and maize. Very often we depend on them for potato seeds because we don’t produce as much as they do and we consume almost everything when we have! And between 15 – 20% of men are employed in the Assam Rifles. From every family there are 2 -3 Jawans. Not many from among them have taken the teaching profession.
While we view them as distinct people groups, very often we don’t realize how close they have become.