Anek is an Indian Netflix film which focuses on the politics of North-East India where rebel groups have been demanding a separate nation since India’s independence. The plot revolves around an undercover agent who is sent by the Central Government to sign a peace accord with the head of the largest militant group in the region. There are, however, other separatist groups at work in the North-East as well who are against the signing of this peace accord. Amongst these is one group that goes by the name of Johnson. This group focuses particularly on the role of education to strengthen the alienated population of North-East India so that it may be able to fight for its independence or, at the very least, demand its basic rights.
The movie shows educational institutes bearing the flags of the separatist group and the principal propagating the group’s ideology that signing a peace accord would be akin to betraying the people of North-East India. According to the group, economic independence is the only way forward for the youth of the region for which education is of the utmost importance. Although at first glance, this ideology does not seem to have a violent streak to it, as the movie progresses, it can be seen that the group supports the use of arms, when necessary, along with its emphasis on educational attainment of the children of the region.
One particular scene in Anek shows a school principal convincing parents to send their children to school so that they may be able to progress in the country, which portrays the sway of educational figures in poor and deprived conflict-affected areas. The scene perfectly captures how schools are used as a basis to perpetuate an ideology laced with rebel elements and make children a part of the conflict by providing access to education. Schools are used as recruitment basis to mold students at an impressionable age into people that reflect the ideas of the separatist group. The impact of using the education network to perpetuate a separatist ideology is measured by one line in the movie, which says: “You can kill one Johnson, and another Johnson will spring out of another corner”.
Finally, in my opinion, Anek’s portrayal of the use of schools as recruitment basis is similar to the situation in madrassas across Pakistan – at least during a particular time period – when young minds were taught certain ideologies so as to prepare and motivate them to partake in a violent conflict. Figureheads present at such educational institutions had and, in some areas, continue to have, considerable amount of influence over their students who are brainwashed into believing that war and violence against certain factions of society is their religious duty.