Raiot Posts

May 31, 2016 /

Just a few days ago, I came across an incident where a group of police officers were ordered to forcibly and without notice remove some street vendors from Laitumkhrah in Shillong. These vendors were not creating any nuisance other than selling their fruits and vegetables to earn their daily wage and to feed their family. It was a very painful moment for me as I watch one of these vendors crying while at the same time trying to reason with these police officers that she has a family to feed.

Read the PostYouth in Acche Din

May 31, 2016 /

The first round of investigations, started immediately after September 11, 2001, and termed the Pentagon Twin Tower Bombing Investigation (PENTTBOM), led to approximately 1,200 citizens and noncitizens being detained for interrogations within the first two months of the attacks and subsequently released. According to a review conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), it was clear from the beginning that most of these detainees had no connection to terrorism at all and their detention could only be explained by their religion, ethnicity, and nation of origin. The DOJ report found that law enforcement agencies selectively followed up on dubious tips for persons of Arab or Muslim extraction and accepted the arbitrary nature of arrests and designation as “special interest” by the FBI

Read the PostMuslim Racialization and US Law Enforcement Agencies

May 30, 2016 /

I got married in February. Half the marriage functions were held in Jammu where my family is now based post forced eviction from Kashmir in 1990. The other half of the marriage was held in Delhi where my wife’s family is based due to the same events of 1990. A Muslim friend from Srinagar who attended my marriage could not help but notice on a sad note this “scattering” of a Kashmiri community. “Chakravun” is the exact word used for scatter by all Kashmiris.

Read the PostThe Kashmiri Dust Storm Blowing in Rajasthan

May 29, 2016 /

When I started observing your photographs a few days ago, I stood witness to this very manifestation of dissent, and sensed an inchoate breeding of camaraderie—an unsettling urge to respond—taking shape between us. I did not resist. I kept writing, thinking that I was writing directly to you: a peripatetic nomad. But to this very moment, I do not know you. When I call you a nomad, I am trying to describe your photographs—the itinerant obliqueness, an almost euphoric derangement of your frame. I wrote as if I was corresponding with a boundless romantic, myself being one in the first place. You narrated stories to me through your images; I responded with words.

Read the PostThe Melancholy of Resistance: A Letter to Antoine d’Agata

May 28, 2016 /

Three hours into the run and I can start feeling the strain. Glycogen in the body has almost depleted and thirst has also started setting in. I have a last hard climb for about two miles and my long run is done. The uphill is hard, the body aches and the panting starts picking up, as I try and push a little bit more to end with a strong kick, I only get what nature gives me. I hit the stop button in my watch and bend my knees to catch my breath. As I recompose, the pain fades into the background and I am filled with a sense of deep inner peace and happiness. Why I love running? I don’t really know…I just love running.

Read the PostWhy I Run?

May 27, 2016 /

This election verdict shows a paradigmatic shift in how Assamese society views the ‘Other’ and it is bound to have long term ramifications. AGP which claims to represent the interest of all indigenous communities of Assam went quiet on the differential treatment of Hindu Bangladeshis. Indigeneity came to be defined by ethnic as well as religious identity. BJP’s permutation and combination led to such a situation where Muslims of East Bengal origin found themselves pitted against all other. In times to come it is to be seen how such narrow formulation of identity overdetermined by religion plays out in a state which has seen many fits of violence on this very issue. And how regional parties grapple with such formulations will go a long way deciding the future politics of the state.

Read the PostAssam Verdict: A Paradigmatic Shift?

May 27, 2016 /

Modi’s contradictions and lies channel the confusions of his supporters perfectly. In a manner reminiscent of the vanguards of China’s Cultural Revolution or the nativists flocking to Donald Trump, they accuse the old elites of holding back the nation and the culture from true greatness. They attack those responsible for the ruined past, the uncertain future, and the endless present. They assail the “anti-nationals” who stand in their way, beating and molesting people while shouting, “Bharat Mata Ki Jai.” They demand people say it to prove they are not traitors, emboldened by a meeting of the BJP in March, led by Modi, that declared a refusal to use the slogan as tantamount to disrespecting the Indian constitution. They hammer, with swords and guns and smartphones and double-digit growth, at the doors of the beef-eaters, the environmentalists, the university students, the feminists, the Dalits, the leftists, the dissenting writers, the skeptics, the “anti-nationals”—anyone who will not declare, both fists clenched, “Bharat Mata Ki Jai!”

Read the PostUnmasking Modi

May 25, 2016 /

The BJP has become known for its mass campaigns to mobilise Hindus. Days of rioting in the western Indian state of Gujarat in 2002 saw the shared faith spaces such as the tomb of the poet Vali Gujarati razed in what has been called a “systematic attempt to wipe out an entire culture”. The morning after, a statue of the Hindu God Hanuman had been placed on top of the rubble. Maya Kodnani, a former BJP state minister, was convicted of murder and incitement to murder during the riots.

Read the PostExplainer: what are the origins of today’s Hindu nationalism?

May 25, 2016 /

She personally travels light. The legal papers, annexures and miscellaneous documents fill 4 heavy bags. I struggle to carry them; light weighted as I’m and as I pause for breath she marches on forward, occassionally turning back to ask “Ashwin bhai, jaldi chalo”. I nod my head, too tired to even reply “Haan, didi”; I nod and proceed carrying my laptop bag around and a satchel containing a couple of books, I assumed I would have time to read.

Read the PostTravelling with Medha Patkar

May 24, 2016 /

The Khasis, being a matrilineal tribe that passes not only lineage but property along the female line, have ultimately clashed with the patriarchal customs of Christianity. And nowhere is this seen more prominently than in the figure of the Virgin Mary. From the time I was old enough to attend Protestant Sunday School, I was living in this limbo between Catholic doctrine and Protestant doctrine mixed in with some local doctrines as well. There was much scoffing done at the expense of “those Catholics who worship a woman like she was at par with the Saviour of mankind.” This reflected on the deep-seated sexist and misogynistic tendencies of the Protestant churches. How dare a woman be made equal to a man?

Read the PostThe Madonna in a Matrilineal society

May 23, 2016 /

Kancha Ilaiah is India’s most productive factory of paradigm shifts. Never did he write something which he was not the first to say or the only one to say the unsaid. Even the most routine and well-worn topics become suddenly full of fresh discoveries and discussions and rethinking as soon as he tackles them.

Read the PostOn Kancha Ilaiah

May 21, 2016 /

I believe most of us are racist in some way or the other. Our primal tendencies to create divisions or noting differences among ourselves is unfortunately inherited from age old legacy of our ancestors. Though the levels of racial indoctrination may differ from person to person, the concept of racism itself is being taught to the young unknowingly, and at most times without reason. It just happened. One of the outcomes of such an indoctrination is evident in the rampant offensive stereotypes that the Khasis have for each and every ethnic group they had ever intermingled with; Dkhars, Khyllahs, Riewkhlaw, Muid, etc. to name but a few. In fact, we even express a form of xenophobia towards our own fellow Khasis just because they belong to a different sub tribe.

Read the PostAre we Khasis racist?

May 20, 2016 /

The night has fallen long ago and I won’t be stalking sleep tonight. Their guns have stopped to roar for a while, but they will resume again. They have difficulty in locating me in this dilapidated house at night and I am taking its benefit. But for how long will odds favour me? I will be dead by the morning. Their bullets will have made holes in my body or they will burn this house and I will be charred and buried under its rubble. By whichever way, I will embrace death without a shred of fear; I have resolved it in my mind.

Read the PostThe Night of Martyrdom

May 19, 2016 /

Indeed, if men or Whites or Brahmins or heterosexuals have long used whatever power and knowledge was tied to their identity in order to define, judge, and subjugate others (is this not identity politics?), can the latter fight back without politicizing those definitions, judgments, and subjugations? As long as socially constructed race remains a vector of discrimination, wouldn’t it also remain a source of social identity, around which people organize to reclaim their dignity and rights? If racism didn’t exist, would we still have our modern idea of race—or the identitarians’ preoccupation with it?

Read the PostOn the Politics of Identity

May 18, 2016 /

The 2016 Assembly exit polls are out so are the Delhi based Chanakyas. BJP in Assam is already basking in glory as if it is already the evening of 19th May and they have successfully achieved their Mission Assam 82+. Various jubilant BJP leaders declared that the exit polls reflect people’s yearning for Poriborton (change).

Read the PostCan Assam Assembly exit polls go the Bihar way?

May 18, 2016 /

We as a students come to join research institution dreaming that we will do something for our society. We see our dreams in the work to make a world a better society to live where everyone gets food, shelter, health and education. We come from villages thinking of research and capacity of science in betterment of society, then we face reality. This is horrible. You need to work for nuclear propaganda. You develop facilities to monitor natural water storage in jungles of Chhatisgarh to kill innocents.

Read the PostHunting with High Resolution: War against people with Indian Sattelite eyes

May 18, 2016 /

It is now out of the bag that NPP and quite possibly all regional parties within the state are unable to defeat the Congress except with outsider firepower i.e. Hindu Majoritarian Right Corporate Development Engine called BJP. Their inability is not only because of inept and incompetent leaderships but because they are unwilling to be game changers. By this I mean that these regional parties are as moribund in their love of hierarchy, money power and political capture as the INC. They are still trying to beat the Congress at its own game, a game which is already rigged from the start. They have no ideology worth mentioning (and no accountability to the people) so they continue this farce which has two big seasoned players within it as team captains – the national giants, BJP and INC.

Read the PostPolitical Profiteering in Meghalaya

May 17, 2016 /

Any revolution envisioned without the annihilation of both caste and gender based inequalities would seriously have to be rethought. There is a progressive hypocrisy that pervades the left intelligentsia in this country but this understanding would remain incomplete if it does not take into account the work of Brahmanism in the caste Hindu society. “Revolution” and “Solidarity” are yet distant dreams.

Read the PostThe works of Brahmanism

May 15, 2016 /

I am an atheist and literary scholar who writes about the Bible. I do not believe in God, but I write extensively about a text held by many Christians to be sanctioned by God.
It is not a contradiction for me, however, to specialise in literature and theology. One of my aims is to extricate the Bible from the hands of the mainstream church and conservative Christians.

Read the PostCan the Bible be useful to atheists?

May 13, 2016 /

Initial investigation of the recent data dump bythe International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) names Earce Clifford Kharsyntiew, Les Shylla , Bokstar Kurkalang, Karishma Jain, Karan Jain, Reshmi Rohit Jain, Philip Palamalki and Kenneth Fletcher Rangad as shareholders in at least two off shore companies Azure Enterprises Global Inc. and Eternal Enterprises Inc. These companies are based in British Virgin Island and have addresses in Cyprus.

Read the Post(Panama Papers) Influential Meghalaya businessmen hide their wealth in offshore tax-havens

May 13, 2016 /

When people refer to me as an activist, I have taken to correcting them: “I dislike the label activist,” I politely explain, “because it lets everyone else off the hook. We all have civic responsibilities. Social change happens when whole communities are in motion.”

Read the PostWhat’s wrong with activism?

May 11, 2016 /

A few days ago, I learned that I was mentioned negatively, prominently, and by name, in an article lamenting the state of affairs in the tourism sector in Meghalaya. If you read the article, and if you could figure out what the author was trying to get at (I had some difficulty), you’d know that I was doing a survey of living root architecture. What you probably wouldn’t know is that the project is not about tourism. What I am trying to do is to create the beginnings of a body of knowledge about the practice of living root architecture as a whole, documenting individual examples in a very basic way.

Read the PostA modicum of tact can go a long way

May 10, 2016 /

That’s the moment when I began to wonder, as somebody who easily, effortlessly thought of himself as both Indian and Kashmiri, about what it means to live in a situation where all my democratic beliefs in being Indian were up against what I was seeing, my experience of life, in Kashmir. I was enormously troubled, as you can imagine, by what I saw there, by what I heard and by the fact that every time I expressed my sympathy with what was the visible oppression of people around me, my neighbours would say ‘no, no you mustn’t feel badly. We know what happened with you people.’ But I was always in an anomalous situation. I was notionally a Pandit, one of those families that had left in 1990, but in fact I hadn’t.

Read the PostKashmir at the Limits of Postcolonial Nationalism

May 9, 2016 /

My JNU comrades and friends, by doing what you have done thus far, you, like student rebels earlier have already begun to change the world for the better. This is a victory that nobody can snatch from you, a victory that has drawn unprecedented solidarity and support in your favour. Taking inspiration from this we shall continue to stand with JNU and together face the harder times ahead, ‘asking questions, chanting slogans, walking to the left where the heart resides’, taking one step back if necessary but making things difficult like hell for the fascists.

Read the PostAsking questions, chanting slogans, walking to the left where the heart resides

May 8, 2016 /

After five days of silence, news of the rape and murder started to slowly appear in social media due to the efforts of Dalit Bahujan voices, forcing the mainstream media to respond. The mainstream media reports have been accompanied by sickening, voyeuristic and vivid descriptions of the ‘brutality’ of the rape, characteristic of the way in which Dalit bodies are denied respect and dignity even in death. “Kerala’s Nirbhaya”, screamed the media, while the Malayali savarna middle class unable to imagine such ‘barbarity’ to their kind, claimed (in typical display of their xenophobia), that the perpetrators “must be migrant workers”. The ‘merit’ of the Dalit student had to be interrogated. ‘She had three papers left to clear”, the savarna media hinted slyly, as suspicions on her ‘character’ were raised “why did she not scream?

Read the PostOn Rape and Murder of Jisha and Dalit lives in ‘progressive’ Kerala

May 8, 2016 /

I don’t hate the flesh and blood Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Palestine, nor do I hate the Jesus found in the pages of the Bible. These Jesuses are relics of the past. I’ll leave it to historians to argue and debate whether these Jesuses were real or fiction.

Read the PostWhy I hate Jesus – the American one

May 7, 2016 /

Our nationalists simply do not have a judicious sense of proportion and priorities, largely because they live in a bubble of inflated fear, paranoia, and delusions of grandeur. So much of their love for “the nation” betrays so little love for those who live in it and the egalitarian spirit of the constitution that defines it.

Read the PostVenerating the Army: A Pathology of Nationalism

May 7, 2016 /

It is true my generation is angry, very angry. The causes of our anger are numerous. But anger in itself is not a bad thing, i.e. it does not always lead to violence, what it is however, is the fuel for change, positive change.

Read the PostWhy are we angry?

May 6, 2016 /

All Kashmiris have suffered whether Muslims, Pandits, Sikhs or others. We are being used against each other and some of us are so gullible that we fail to see the deception. Whenever there is a brutality by the armed forces or police against common people, many armchair intellectuals come up with counter arguments of whataboutery to justify the acts. What about Kashmiri Pandits?

Read the PostKashmir whataboutery

May 5, 2016 /

The politics of future models itself on the selling of insurance policies. The agent will convince you that the future should be protected even at the cost of your death in the present. It demands that the resources should be made available for the future generation even if you have no access to it in the present. From the viewpoint of politics of the present, the future generation will need to recognize their own present and continue the struggles then.The present generation strives for liberty and equality for themselves in their own life time. And a livable present is a more assured offer than a better future.

Read the PostThe Politics of Present

May 3, 2016 /

Leicester City began this season as relegation favourites and now they are champions, thanks to Tottenham’s draw at Chelsea last night. This collection of cast-offs and journeymen started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders. It’s the most incredible story in Premier League history and John Williams, a football-mad sociologist at the University of Leicester, has been eagerly following their rise.

Read the PostLeicester City are EPL Champs: I’m tearful, incredibly proud – and full of envy