Category: Commentary

May 19, 2018 /

Professor Kim is a well-respected progressive academic in one of the numerous Universities of Seoul (SungKongHoe University), where I have also spent several good years – for the first year as a scholar and later as a Research Professor. But I never had the opportunity to chat with Professor Kim about politics. He spoke only Korean and Russian; and I spoke only English and ‘unintelligible’ Korean. But Professor Kim, was, and still is well known among students as the ‘nutty professor’ who, as a PhD student, went to Moscow to study in the early 1990s. As the rumour goes, study was just an excuse for him- in reality, he wanted to (un)confirm his worst nightmare: whether the Soviet Union has truly collapsed or was yet another western capitalist propaganda.
To anyone today it would appear that he was ‘crazy’. After all, why do you need to go to Moscow to see for yourself whether the Soviet Union has collapsed or not?

May 16, 2018 /

The people of Karnataka, along with considerable money and muscle power, have delivered the verdict on who will govern for the next five years. Lets face it, the Congress didn’t see it coming – the performance of both the JD(S) and the BJP. Maybe, Congress & JD(S) end up arithmetically forming the govt, but I’m reasonably sure a lot of Congress supporters didn’t see the scale of defeat coming. Rather than harp upon faulty EVMs etc., I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on few other issues that in my humble opinion, deserve some attention – primarily because these will repeat not just in the other assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram but also I believe in the general elections due in 2019. Further, I also believe these issues have relevance outside and beyond elections and any government in power will necessarily have to deal with these intelligently and sensitively.

May 11, 2018 /

The cryptocurrency (aka crypto) movement is exciting—full of brainy people, venture capital, heady innovation, and high hopes. It behoves us to more clearly understand the animating ideology of the crypto movement. Should it ever succeed, where might it fit into our political economy and what might be its effects on society? And finally, just how likely is it to succeed?

May 5, 2018 /

Some would argue that Karl Marx, author of “Capital,” has been proven wrong on just about everything he wrote. 
These naysayers would point out that Soviet socialism imploded decades ago, and that China is heading merrily down the capitalist path. Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels wrote in “The Communist Manifesto” that the capitalist ruling class “produced its own grave-diggers” in the proletariat – that is, the working class. However, we have yet to see workers pick up the shovel and bury capitalism once and for all.

May 3, 2018 /

“The Ken is considered to be one of India’s cleaner rivers. It is part of the Ganga basin and meets the Yamuna at Chilla Ghat in Banda District, Uttar Pradesh. To closely understand the  Ken, this walk along the Ken was organised by SANDRP – South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People from Delhi and Veditum India Foundation from Kolkata. The difficult terrain of the Ken River and the harsh weather required this journey to be undertaken in multiple parts (June 2017, October 2017 and April 2018) and took 33 days to complete this over 600 km journey on foot, where they discussed issues of the river, water, agriculture, the proposed Ken Betwa project and other socio-environmental topics with villagers in over 60 villages.”

April 30, 2018 /

We’re still lacking a language in which to talk honestly about the forms of everyday sexism different women face in families, intimate relationships, and friend groups. As feminists we need to learn to take everyday struggles seriously, break out of the polite silence of the “private” sphere and be frank about the roles we ourselves play. This essay muses on just why it’s so hard to even talk about sexism and silence when it’s happening very close to home.

April 25, 2018 /

Ka sorkar pdeng pynmih da ka hukum ne ka ordinance ban pyniap ia kito kiba leh beijot bad batbor ia ki khynnah hapoh ka 12 snem ka rta. Bad U President ka Ri ruh u la ai ka jingmynjur halor kane ka hokum. Shisien iohsngew ia kane ka khubor bad ryngkat bad ka jingbitar ia kine ki jait kam bad ia ki briew kiba leh ia kine ki kam runar, ka long kaei kaei kaba ngi kloi ban pdiang bad mynjur. Ia ki riew runar ba kum kine, ka jingiap ruh ka dang jem palat.

April 23, 2018 /

what does the Indian left-liberal solidarity choose to do differently about a people who, one can argue, are doubly colonized? They choose to express their ‘desire’ for the “beautiful woman” by exporting a girl, who faces multiple hierarchies of oppression besides the double colonization of her community, to their mainland and call her “another Nirbhaya” or “India’s daughter”. They stress that Aasifa’s rape and murder is an ‘issue of humanity’. By deliberately trying to erase the specificity of the case, they are obfuscating their complicity in the crimes the Indian state has committed in Kashmir in their name for all these years.

April 20, 2018 /

I first heard of the “Gaidinliu notebooks” when I was doing research in North Cachar Hills of Assam, India, in 2005. These “notebooks” are associated with the prophetess, Gaidinliu (1915–1993), affectionately also known as Rani (Queen), who was the leader of an indigenous religious movement known as the Heraka. No one possessed the notebooks in their entirety. Therefore descriptions were elusive and mysterious—some people talked about them as “god given,” and others as a “script” that contained in it many “signs” about future events. There was speculation that once the notebooks were made available, translated, and understood, it would usher in the heguangram, generally translated as “kingdom.” What is this kingdom? And how is one to recognize it? Then, other requests came in: people wanted to know of these “notebooks” and whether I had seen them. I assuaged their curiosity by informing them that I had seen a copy of the “script” in the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford. I assured them that I would request a copy from the curator. Upon returning to Britain, I contacted PRM regarding the Gaidinliu notebooks and about taking a copy to the Zeme people of North Cachar Hills.They scanned the notebooks and provided copies to take back to the community.

April 18, 2018 /

If we could look back a little in Guwahati, we recall the incidents of 2012 G.S. road molestation, the news where girls wearing shorts were compared to monkeys in a local news channel in 2015, the photographs of two girls shared by a well known news reader when they were outside an alcohol shop in their traditional attires on the day of Saraswati puja early this year, as examples that are emblematic of the manner in which dominant, middle-class, male-dominated cultures portray independent women in Assam. The road from such views, to those that lead to tragic violence against women, is unfortunately well short and well-travelled. Distracting women with ideas that such violence can be done by only one class of people, belonging to a particular religion is misleading and dangerous because it deflects from the long struggles that needed for a gender just society.

April 11, 2018 /

There are nationalist, there are racists, there are right wingers and there are these so called ” KHASI SONS OF THE SOIL” whom we term as INTERNET KHLAWAIT. They are found in their natural habitats; Facebook, Whatsapp, twitter and sometimes, in you tube. They are always criticising everything that is not Khasi or written in Khasi along with other languages. Here are some of the traits of these INTERNET KHLAWAIT…

April 9, 2018 /

In response to Sunday’s events, the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) in Kashmir gave a call for a solidarity march to Shopian on April 3. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who continues to be a part of the JRL along with senior leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, too hoped to march this time. The government had recently announced his release from a seven-year-long house detention after his resignation as the TeH chief. As Geelani slowly walked towards the gate of his party residence, he found it closed. Peeping out through a small window in the door, he asked the armed personnel stationed outside to open the gate. When they refused citing “orders” Geelani quipped: “Darwaaza kholo, tumhari jamhooriyat ka jinaza nikal raha hai…hindustan ki jamhooriyat ka… uska jinaaza nikal raha hai… Open the door, the funeral of your democracy is leaving… Of India’s democracy…here goes its funeral!”

April 5, 2018 /

Ramachandra Guha is among Indias’ most visible intellectuals, and his newspaper columns and television appearances mark him off from the more reticent world of academic historians. At 900 pages his new book India after Gandhi is not shy of claiming its own space on the bookshelf: from it’s title page, where it announces itself as “The History of the World’s Largest Democracy” (not A History, mind you, but The History); to it’s end papers, which tells us that the author’s entire career seems in retrospect to have been preparation for the writing of this book.

April 4, 2018 /

On March 29, 2018, Mahesh Hegde, the founder of the alt-right online news site Postcard News was arrested by the Karnataka police and several sections of the Indian Penal Code were cited to justify the police action. Within a matter of hours many users of social media posted in joy and glee that action was taken against a much-despised site that often peddled fake news and radical opinions that were invariably pro-government, pro-Hindutva, often Islamophobic and xenophobic.

April 3, 2018 /

Were women “freer” back in the 1970s in these countries? It depends how you measure it, of course. But the point is that miniskirts or lack thereof do not prove the existence of women’s freedom or civilization in a country. Their use to convince Trump to continue the occupation of Afghanistan reveals the continuing dangers of these facile equation of women’s dress with freedom as well as the weaponization of nostalgia.

April 2, 2018 /

The recent speech in Hindi by the Chief Minister of Manipur on 28th March at Madhavpur fair held at Porbandar, Gujarat claiming Manipur and the entire Northeast region as a part of the Brahmanical cosmological universe dragged out from obscurity and obsoleteness, an old debate which have been dumped in the darkest abyss by generations of historians so that it does not find light again. The Indian state has not been very successful in nationalizing this recalcitrant region and its population, and successive governments have used different strategies to bring the region under their firm control. With successive electoral gains in the region, the ruling party has been emboldened to go ahead their master plan of submerging the entire country under one national identity. The Madhavpur Mela, organized by Ministry of culture in Gujarat to celebrate another mythical claim that Lord Krishna married an Arunachali princess, is a grand and a very expensive affair to bring the region and its population under the hegemonic Hindu nation.

March 30, 2018 /

On 28th of March during the Madhavpur Fair held at Porbandar, Gujarat, the Chief Minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren unabashedly accepted the distorted lies about Manipur, its people and its history which has been long propagated by the Indian colonial discourse of dissolving Manipur in the Caste-Hindu fold forcefully. In an act of repeating the signing off of Manipur in 1949, Nongthombam Biren gave the above statements on the said day conflating facts with fiction, myths with history and thereby paving the way for Manipur’s fall and the loss of its identity.

March 26, 2018 /

I joined Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as a PhD candidate in Modern Indian History in 2015. Except for a few months delay in getting hostel, the University was largely welcoming. There were of course protests and sloganeering on various national and local issues. I remember the Student Union was on a hunger strike for a new hostel to be constructed. While JNU was already known for its political culture, I found that inside campus many students were aloof to organizations of the campus and were busy in their academic or personal life.

March 19, 2018 /

The Tejas project was driven by ADA, one of the many agencies of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization), which was created by Jawaharlal Nehru. Not only was DRDO tasked with overseeing the Tejas project, they also contributed to many of the modules used in it. I remember working with folks at the Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS), as they were working on a radar system for the Tejas – we were helping them understand the hydrodynamic impact of the radar on the aircraft. Other labs that played an important role were BEL, ADE, and ARDE. All these would not have existed without Nehru.

March 9, 2018 /

So how did Mr. Jemino Mawthoh lose his constituency? That is a worthwhile question that needs research and analysis for future planning. But maybe I am being optimistic that such a thing will come about. Mawthoh laments the fact that the UDP lost “four prestigious (Shillong) constituencies” to the Congress. So firstly, in the game of accruing numbers, Rambrai, Songsak, Amlarem is as “prestigious” as any Shillong constituency. Getting that into our heads will go a long way to ensuring victory. Numbers is what counts and numbers is what the UDP didn’t seem to be serious with. How many Garo candidates did they lend their full support and hard work behind? In all seriousness, it didn’t seem to have much of a tantalising appeal there even if they did. That is not the fault of the voters, it is the fault of the planners. The NPP (a fledgling party) had no problems calling people on board from across the state. Our cute little state parties don’t seem interested in the left hand side of the state. HSPDP, a party that is strongest in the West Khasi Hills can’t even cross over and get Garos on board. It is just a hop and a skip away!

March 7, 2018 /

“Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, speaking at a conference on Northeast made a few statements which did not go down well with many. At the conference “ North East Region of India—Bridging Gaps and Securing Borders” held in New Delhi’s DRDO Bhavan, the Army Chief commented that the region is bound to see migration which is being accentuated by India’s northern and western neighbours to destabilize the region and carry on a proxy war. And this is reflected in the growth of a party like All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) which grew much faster compared to parties like BJP and which allegedly enjoys the support of ‘illegal’ immigrants.”

March 6, 2018 /

What is the story behind the hung verdict of #Meghalaya #Elections 2018?
How there may have been more volatility than overall results suggest?
How the presence of a large number of turncoats contributed to the blurring of the lines between parties?
How did NOTA do?
While we wait for a resolution of the conundrum, data can reveal information on the outcome of this election, as well as on longer-term trends in Meghalaya electoral politics.

March 6, 2018 /

When no party gets a majority in an election there is unbridled enthusiasm among some legislators, individually or in small groups to help a party form the government. They cannot be faulted for this, elections are held to form a government, This leads to party hopping, the easiest way to create a majority when the electorates did not help is to put a majority in party in place.

February 26, 2018 /

Ka sain pyrthei ha kine ki sngi bad taiew ha Meghalaya ka shongshit bha namar baka Jingjied Nongthawain (Legislator) sha ka Iing Dorbar Thawain (Legislative Assembly) ka lah jan bha. Ka ia kawang ktieh para kyrtong ka dei ka khubor kaba ngi iohsngew ne pule man ka sngi ha man ki rynsan election. Haba iaid haki lynti synkien, ha iew ha hat bad haki jaka paitbah ka khana sain pyrthei ka da khluit hi tar. Ym tang ha kine ki rynsan hynrei wat ha ki social media (internet) lyngba ka whatsapp, facebook, twitter bad kiwei kiwei ruh ka thnam bha. Dei ha kaba kum kine ki por ba ki seng sain pyrthei ki ioh ka lad ban pynpaw sha ka pyrthei ia ki jingangnud jong ki naka bynta u paitbah bad ka Ri hi baroh kawei. Ki rynsan iatai kiba dap daki juban lak jong ki kyrtong bad ki seng sain pyrthei kiba sngewbang bad shngiam bha bad ba lada theh um haka kriah I kumba kam hoit shuh. Hynrei sngewsih ba kine ki juban lak baroh kin jah noh tang da dep election.

February 24, 2018 /

Can anyone tell me what differentiates one political party from the rest in this election season? Except for the Right wing BJP (a big no no) everyone else sort of looks and sounds the same. The reason is because they all believe in the same economic order. They have no wish to change it. This is why if we want true economic justice and harmony to come about Meghalaya must turn towards SOCIALISM.

February 23, 2018 /

On a cold day, some 27 years ago, Juma Sheikh, chowkidar of the twin hamlets of Kunan and Poshpora, Kupwara district in Kashmir, approached tehsildar Sikandar Malik with a letter written in Urdu signed and supported by thumb prints of the villagers. In elaborate and formal language the letter detailed the horrific ordeal of sexual violence and torture that they had suffered on the intervening night of February 23 and 24 at the hands of 4 Rajputana Rifles that had come in for a cordon and search. The victims reportedly ranged from a 60 year old woman to a 14 year old girl and a pregnant woman nearing full term. The men were not spared. Herded outside in the snow to makeshift interrogation centres they were subjected to various forms of torture like having chilli powder rubbed on the genitals or subjected to electric shocks in their private parts.

February 22, 2018 /

I witnessed diverse changes in the atmosphere of the hills. While travelling through shared taxis people seemed tight-lipped about the choice of candidates but at the same time, they were looking for interesting political gimmicks. Richest national parties flooded the state with huge banners, posters and photos of their candidates in the cities of Kohima and Dimapur.

February 21, 2018 /

If Asma’s vision for Pakistan had ever become a reality, it would be a much better place. But it is hard to talk about dreams. It is the reality of a country which shapes who we make of ourselves. Throughout her life, Asma stood with the oppressed and the marginalized, whether they be women, religious minorities, brick kiln workers or peasants. Asma, like her father, was on the wrong side of Pakistan’s historical consensus.

February 20, 2018 /

With some section of people and political parties demanding NIA investigation into the killing of Mr. Jonathone Sangma, a NCP candidate from Williamnagar in Meghalaya, it is important to look back at the way NIA has been politically controlled by the Central government. In this story published in The Wire in 2015, Sarim Naved questions the NIA’s role in Malegaon blast investigations where Hindutva terrorists like Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur are the accused. So before we join the chorus of NIA investigation, we should look at the track record of its independence.

February 17, 2018 /

‘Development’ is a word that occurs at every gathering around this time that even the microphones know of its spelling. Development of infrastructure and beautification projects are hyped about in towns and district headquarters and roads are promised of being paved in villages and rural areas. However, the pavement for the oppressed and marginalised is still naked and bereft of any substantial gravel.