Shillong: Northeastern people are not "second class citizens" of India, former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma said here Saturday.
"We are no less than others. How are we second class citizens? We are first class citizens. Many people from the region like MC Mary Kom and others are shining. You can shine too," the veteran parliamentarian from India's northeastern state of Meghalaya told IANS.
However, Sangma lamented the frequent atrocities committed on the people of the region residing in the Indian metropolitan cities.
"Today, you hear many atrocities on the people of the Northeast living in other parts of India. There are many reasons (for this), but one of the reasons is that our boys and girls have been able to successfully compete and are today occupying so much of employment," he said.
Urging the youth to "compete" and pursue "quality education" to "change" India, Sangma said that most students from the north-east do not pursue "quality education" as they are satisfied with "education" only, everything being "readymade".
"We the tribal people in the Northeast go for education, not for quality education perhaps because we get everything readymade. Admissions, scholarships, higher studies, jobs are all ensured. So quality education is not required," he added.
"The future is going to be different. Our people should learn to compete. The jobs in the reserved areas in the government sector are drastically shrinking, but jobs where there is no reservation (in the private sector) are tremendously growing. Can we, as tribals, compete to meet the challenges? Yes, very much," Sangma said.