How Arunachal woke up to Hindi and joined the heartland

Arunachal Languages
It was only in 1987 that Arunachal Pradesh became a full-fledged state. Illustration - Prathap Ravishankar

Back in the 1980s, every August 15 and January 26, residents of Anini, a small town in Arunachal Pradesh, would wake up to the call of "jaagte raho" by T Mello, a kotoki (government-appointed interpreter).

Although the words "jaagte raho" in Hindi is used as a command of sorts, asking people to stay awake and alert, in kotoki Mello's limited Hindi vocabulary it meant "wake up". He would use it as a wake-up call on every Independence Day and Republic Day to call people for 'prabhat pheri' (morning procession).

Anini is 1,106 km away from China, as the crow flies. But the town is 1,821 km away from New Delhi. By road, it is 2,685 km. Of course, the distance couldn't drown out New Delhi's message to Anini via kotoki Mello.

As 'ordered', everyone would soon line up for 'prabhat pheri' with tiny Indian flags made of paper in hands and slogans of 'Vande Mataram', Mera Bharat Mahan' on their lips.

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