An effort to celebrate our achievers, an exercise to learn from their tireless effort, Coolest Northeasterner from The Thumb Print is to recognize those who rock our world with their work. Cool is not about sporting an attire or accessory of the physical kind. Cool, is about adapting a lifestyle that helps your fellow creatures and society. Cool, is about inspiring by example. Our list of 10 finalists, is in no particular order. Our 10 Coolest Northeasterners, are equally important. They are people who lead quiet lives but do extraordinary things. Announcing the Coolest Northeasterners of 2014.
“The Green Man of Sikkim” Omi Gurung. He is young, dynamic and very enterprising. He inspires and encourages many to go green with his work. He is the only person from North East to be chosen as the Top Ten Cutest Vegetarian Next Door till now. He was chosen in 2013-2014. He is also the only designer from North East to be chosen as India’s famous 50 fashion designers 2014 by JD Institute of fashion technology.
PURNIMA DEVI BARMAN
A dynamic young woman of Assam who has been actively contributing towards the conservation of Hargila or Greater Adjutant Stork, an endangered bird species. She has led a successful conservation project in Dadaria and Pasaria villages of Kamrup Rural and changed the mindset of the local people how they perceive about the stork species today than before 5 years. Her contribution is immense in this front as she has convinced the communities not to cut nesting trees they own and allow the stork to continue to breed in their campus. The stork, though ugly and dirty (during breeding season), the communities once considered them to be untouchable now accepts them as their guests and they have embraced the stork as part of their society. This is just one aspect of the conservation work other than rescue and rehabilitation of over a dozen baby stork that fell from their nests and her continuing research on biology and ecology of the species.
MAQSOODUL (MAC) HAQUE
He calls himself an Axomiya-Bangladeshi, is one of the most popular and legendary anti-establishment rock stars. A poet, writer and philosopher from Bangladesh, he is renowned the world over for creating fusion from rock-jazz with Bangladesh’s Baul sangeet. Maqsoodul, better known as Mac Haque, or Mac, who is considered a pioneer in progressive Bangladeshi music, started singing professionally way back 1976 as the lead vocalist of a band called Feedback. A second generation Axomiya-Bangladeshi, Mac’s ancestral roots lie in Jorhat district of Assam. He was born in 1957, five years after Mac’s family migrated to what was erstwhile East Pakistan in 1952. After several compositions aimed at the establishment and radical regimes, with Baul philosophy at its core, Mac has formed his own band now and named it Maqsood O Dhaka.
He is honorary wildlife warden of Kaziranga. It is an example of how local denizens can contribute towards wildlife conservation. He had received RN Barua and Protiva Barua memorial Award’ 2003 for best reporting on environmental science, tourism and conservation of nature and wildlife in Assam. He had also received the Tourism promotion Award 2014 by Assam tourism department.
Artist Ranjan Engticode organizes Metropolis (regarded as one of the happiest and biggest urban festivals in India), Tibet Festival 2014 (His Holiness The 13th Dalai Lama was the guest), Karbi Youth Festival (pioneer of the oldest ethnic festivals of India Green Northeast), Quizdom 2014 (First of a its kind quiz show on Disaster Awareness and 27 Districts of Assam has been covered during the campaign). He was associated with Ziro Festival of Music 2014 and Dree Festival 2014 (One of the largest community festivals of Apatanis). He also did an outdoor installation at Shishu Sarothi, a centre for rehabilitation of multiple disabilities (This is an unique and first of its kind art installation in the region where entire building has been decorated and designed with art elements).
In 2009, Madhusmita Bora and her dance partner Prerona Bhuyan launched the Sattriya Dance Company in Philadelphia with a mission to tell the Sattriya story in North America. Over the years, Madhusmita’s efforts were funded by the Leeway Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. 2014 was a significant year for the company. In January, Madhusmita won the Naatya Saradhi award at the 4th International Dance Festival in Vizag. The company also presented in multiple shows in the U.S. Sattriya has been able to share an equal space with Tap, Hip Hop and Modern in the Philadelphia dance scene. Madhusmita also experimented with tap dancer Reggie Myers and choreographed a widely acclaimed Sattriya-Tap conversation, which broke cultural barriers. Sattriya Dance Company wrapped up the year with a one of a kind fundraising concert for Assam’s flood victims. The event brought together famous Indian classical and Western dancers from the NJ-NYC-Philadelphia area, who donated their art for the cause. Madhusmita raised more than $1,200, for the Assam Foundation of North America, which then sent the funds to Purbanchal Social Circle, an NGO active in the Goalpara region.
DR NOMAL CH BORAH
Dr Nomal Ch Borah set up the GNRC group of hospitals, an ultra quality hospital where poor can afford and rich go for quality and also being a game changer in national healthcare services. He is tweeted about by Bill Gates and awarded by World Bank.
MIGUEL DAS QUEAH
Miguel Das Queah, child rights activist, Founder and Chairperson of UTSAH-Universal Team for Social Action and Help. At the age of 24, Miguel founded an Assam based charitable organization with a mission to create spaces that are safe for children, who are in need of care and protection. UTSAH has been working in the area of Child Protection since its inception in 2011. UTSAH’s most noticeable work has been in their intervention in the area of Hafiznagar No2., a slum community in Bamunimaidam. Their innovative Child Protection Programme has been able to achieve remarkable benchmarks as far as education, de-addiction, community organizing and human rights are concerned. In 2013, he was appointed youngest Member of Child Labour Task Force Committee of the Government of Assam (Kamrup Metro District).
JONALI SAIKIA KHASNABISH
Bangalore-based entrepreneur Jonali Saikia Khasnabish is the founder of Heeya, an organisation that connects the rich textile and craft heritage of the North East to the rest of the world. Heeya’s focus is to help build sustainable livelihoods and also preserve/revive the authentic art and craft forms of the region. Jonali is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, Gauhati University and Cotton College. Prior to Heeya, she was working with a global multinational with a total of 16 years of corporate working experience. Jonali is also part of several social initiatives in Bangalore, working with several local organisations.
A cartoonist, hailing from Chirang district in BTAD (Assam), who has had sustained engagements spanning over 10 years in the field of cartooning and social issues. He exemplifies a sharp political edge in cartoons and lampoons. His political cartoons appeared in the Eastern Chronicle, Seven Sister’s Post, The North East Today, Tehelka, New Global Indian and Sikrisikla, a Bodo magazine. He is an active member and master trainer of World Comics India Network, Delhi, an organization that promotes grassroots comics globally. He contributed to comics’ anthology entitled Parallel Lines in 2010. It’s a saga of the continuing movement in the Bodoland. He also helps various small and medium organizations to produce periodical comics and wall posters on certain pertinent issues of local and social importance.
1. ASHUTOSH AGNIHOTRI is an IAS officer. He is presently Secretary , planning and development and Science and Technology and tourism, Government of Assam.
2. BUNNY SURAIYA is a writer, reviewer and crossword-addict from Delhi.
3. MITRA PHUKAN is a writer, translator, columnist and classical vocalist who lives and works in Guwahati, Assam.
4. GAYATREE SIDDHANTA SARMA is a faculty of international business at Marist College School of Management, Poughkeepsie, NY.
5. RADHIKA M B is a journalist, blogger and crafter living in New Jersey, US.
6. JARJUM ETE is a well-known activist from Arunachal Pradesh.
7. GITA ARAVAMUDAN is a journalist and author from Bangalore