Category: Commentary

September 20, 2017 /

Sacrifice and who sacrificed how much is a dominant trope in discussions within (largely urban) left organisations. As experience suggests, it is usually invoked to sideline important self-reflections. Priya Ranjan problematizes the notion of ‘sacrifice’ in the revolutionary discourse.

September 19, 2017 /

Few days ago one of the Raiot collective members received a Whatsapp message in Hindi. However, since some of the receivers of this message could not read hindi, the thrust of the threat was not instantly delivered, so it turned into a bit of a failure. But then yesterday, it came to our attention that a few other people- journalists, activists, as well as students – received the same whatsapp-forwarded death-threat; each coming from different numbers originating from different states in the country.

September 17, 2017 /

how do i explain to her why a cat
wants to run over the stairs up and down?
or want to go out in the cold and heat
and sit for ages in some folorn corner
of an abandoned room of some apartment?
cats do what they do. i also remember
someone who once asked what it was
that one could learn from a cat?
i wanted to say everything but
i did not think she would get it

September 14, 2017 /

States in North east of India- Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland share border with Myanmar. Looking into geography in relation to present situation, Mizoram is closer to Rakhine state of Myanmar than other states in the northeast of India. A Christian dominated state- Mizoram which takes pride in being a beacon of helping the needy and imparting teachings of Christianity, is silent when it comes to fleeing refugees at its backyards. It throws a question on how faith can be blinding in this hour of crisis. The porous Indo Myanmar border along Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram have cases of people crossing from one side to other side of the border from the past.

September 13, 2017 /

The high profile rally initiative to save India’s rivers taken up by well respected religious guru Sadguru and his followers is noteworthy, and the most recent case in point. It is striking that so many film stars, politicians, governments, and public personalities, are joining the call. Lakhs of children are expected to join in the program. While we welcome such an outpouring of good intentions and good will as a demonstration of the positive energy all around, unfortunately, we have seen no evidence either from the rally organisers, on their website or their messaging, that they understand or plan to address the real threats faced by our rivers and their sorry state.

September 13, 2017 /

More than 100 people died in bank queues trying to get to their own hard-earned money. Eight thousand crore rupees were spent to print notes. Billions of hours were wasted waiting patiently in bank queues. Bank staff forgot all their other works as well as night sleep. The working poor lost livelihood, for the notes to pay them with were nowhere to be found. All this, it appears, is a trifle in the worship of the fuehrer, er, the Bharatmata.

September 13, 2017 /

Gauri Lankesh – woman, journalist, activist, woman – murdered in front of her home the other day while returning from work. What is the anatomy of such a murder – the ingredients that go into its making? And what are the levers, policy and otherwise, that can be put to use to address such events? And what can we, as individuals, do? Where and how can we intervene?

September 12, 2017 /

There is a famous Khasi middle class story about selfishness and it goes something like this. There were a number of crabs in a bucket and they were all destined to become dinner at some point in time. The crabs knew about this and they realised that they needed to escape this horrible fate. The story goes on to tell us about how one of the crabs had somehow managed to get a firm grip on the rim of the bucket and was proceeding to pull himself out to the relative safety of the outside world. However, just as he was about to complete his great escape, the other crabs resorted to pulling him back down to the bottom of the bucket. He was, thus, doomed like the rest.

September 9, 2017 /

This year, 25 districts and more than 32 lakh of people have been affected by flood and over hundred people have lost their lives. However, the issue unfortunately and unsurprisingly fails to grab the national limelight. In the national dailies, this issue only finds a neglected corner.

September 8, 2017 /

Journalists play a unique and pivotal role in every society and must be able to do their work without interference from the state. But as the boundaries between journalists and nonjournalists continue to erode and any meaningful definition of journalism becomes more and more elusive, journalists have to recognize that their rights are best protected not by the special realm of “press freedom” but rather by ensuring that guarantees of free expression are extended to all.

September 7, 2017 /

Almost seven years ago, to the week, I had sent off instructions to Gauri Lankesh about who would receive her at Imphal airport and then take her up to Ukhrul. She was part of a team of women writers from different parts of India who had been invited to travel across the Northeast and write stories about their experiences

September 2, 2017 /

If you’re waiting for Jaggi to transform India’s rivers, don’t hold your breath. In Jaggi’s world, there are no strangers. Only friends that haven’t met. Also, there are no bad things that have to be stopped — like dams on rivers, the Ken-Betwa interlinking that will drown a tiger habitat, or the indiscriminate pollution from coal mines and coal power plants operated by his partners in this campaign. All these bad things can be cured by doing just one good thing — planting trees.

September 1, 2017 /

Dogs mean different things in Naga society: pet, companion, food, medicine, guard, spirit sensors, thief catchers and cat chasers. They also feature centrally in the most famous origin myth about the Naga script, which is connected to identity and language. According to legend, a dog ate the Naga script written down on animal skin, and from that day onwards, Naga tradition and knowledge has only been received and shared orally. The relationship between dogs and people in Naga society is an intimate one, and is integral to everyday lives. Dog meat has been part of Naga cuisine for a long time, yet, before dishes started to appear on restaurant menus and before vendors starting selling the meat in the market place, there was no debate or national campaign to ban dog meat.

August 31, 2017 /

It has become commonplace in India to try to invalidate any concerns expressed by liberals regarding atrocities committed against minorities, such as Muslims, or Dalits, with a technique known as “Whataboutery.” This technique, used by people from the Hindu right wing, involves putting the liberals on the defensive by aggressively questioning them as to whether they were or are as concerned about injustices done to the majority community, and implying that since they have not shown the same passion regarding injustices suffered by the majority Hindu community, their concerns are inadmissible.

August 30, 2017 /

“Whither is our democracy bound?”—It can be said that the present time is marked by a deterioration of circumstances in which such questions can be raised. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government and its fraternal organisations have defined democracy in their own terms. These organisations have also tried to define citizenship to suit their agenda by trying to determine who is an Indian and a patriot as well as who are anti-nationals. As a result, the fundamental ideas about free speech have also transformed. It has been seen that the ruling party and its fraternal organisations have given priority to those who are their ideological allies when it comes to appointing the heads of institutions of higher education and research in the country. A parallel may be drawn between the situation that prevails today and the curtailment of free speech during the emergency in the 1970s. During emergency, it was not possible for independent writers to publish articles or broadcast radio plays in government media unless they maintained the interests of Indira Gandhi and the Nehru-Gandhi family or promoted the twenty point programme and the five point programme introduced by Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. Even private newspapers were censored or they succumbed to the iron grip of the government. The situation today is more or less the same if not worst.

August 29, 2017 /

Food as cultural identity in regards to dog meat is an under researched area in South Asia or places where dog meat is consumed; in the case of Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram- consumption of dog meat is very much in their cultures (for some it is a choice) and can be counted as an expression of their cultural identity. When practice like this happens in places like Delhi, it is meted with sneering and disgust from the pedestal of high moral ground.

August 29, 2017 /

Dog meat is not a taboo. Dog meat is exotic. It is one of the costliest culinary traditions of the Nagas and in parts of the Northeast. A kilo of dog meat costsRs. 350/- or more. Mutton is not even half the taste of it. I bet.

August 29, 2017 /

It’s that time of the year again. My facebook page is flooded with posts and shared memes either commenting on how the national media and the centre ignores Assam’s flood or asking people to donate stuff. The great floods of Assam are such a part of Oxomia life that it affects not just the affected but also all others who are affected by the effect on the affected. It affects the Oxomia jati, irrespective of whether your bheti has been washed out by the Lueit, Kolong or Pagladia. In fact you could be comfortably perched on a hilltop like me and still be affected by flood. I will tell you how.

August 17, 2017 /

Not so long ago, Naxal movement and the conceptual renderings or reflections of it used to present an alternative view of politics, from economics and International relations to the culture and campus discussions. Never a dominant view, but this Naxal-inspired argument about everything would temper and have an impact on the liberal, left and even mainstream points of view.

August 10, 2017 /

How can Industry survive incompetent policies? The answer is ‘not very well’. In the case of Meghalaya we see this very clearly. Industry has never been a thrust area for this (and hardly any preceding) government. This is probably down to the fact that massive profiteering is easier when industry is unorganized and unarmed. If the industrial policy were ‘proper’, industrial organization would have to be proper. The result as things stand has been a ‘doomscape’ of inconsistent production and subsidy pilfering.

August 8, 2017 /

In the past few months, the “Not In My Name” protests, PM Narendra Modi’s (hollow) call to stop lynching and several other appeals to morality have curbed neither the climate of hatred nor the trend of lynching.
Do we then need to make an economic argument against lynching?

August 7, 2017 /

Over the past three years, Madhumita Pandey has interviewed more than 100 convicted sex offenders in New Delhi to try and understand the endemic sexual violence that women experience in India. After talking to one of these men, she set out to find what had happened to his five-year-old victim and her family.

August 7, 2017 /

Mission 2020, a Northeast Frontier Railways initiative to connect the capital cities of the northeast as well extend railway line to other parts, has for over a year now run into obstacles in Meghalaya. In particular, two ongoing projects – the Teteliya-Byrnihat line and the Byrnihat-Shillong line for which approximately Rs 4500 crore has been earmarked, have been put on hold. Initiated by the Khasi Students Union (KSU) there are now a host of dissenters against the railway extension plans, demanding that without a proper mechanism to check the influx of immigrants the railway project must not proceed. As a result, land surveys have been interrupted, NOCs from KHADC have not been provided and headmen have denied railway authorities access into villages. On the other hand, the state government sees the introduction of these railway lines as an important means to benefit the economy of the state – through tourism and reduced costs of goods, while committing to check influx through a number of administrative and legal ways including fencing the international border with Bangladesh. At the end of May the protests began to turn violent leading to altercations between the protesters and the police. 

Whether the India- China stand-off escalates or not, Modi has too much to gain from it. Whether India humiliates China or the other way, it would allow them their ongoing project of making India a Hindu Rashtra easier. Even in 1962, during the war, Delhi was able to force the Dravida Movement into submission and the Tamils had to surrender fully. In 2017, with Hindu Rashtra is no longer any distant possibility, an Indo-China war would be the final seal on our coffins of a Secular Democratic Republic.

August 3, 2017 /

The occasion for these reflections is provided by two books placed before me for review, both effectively dealing with the beginnings and ends of the Left Front in West Bengal. One is straightforwardly and directly personal: Debraj Bhattacharya’s Exploring Marxist Bengal, a good-humoured if at times self-indulgent memoir that narrates a progressive disillusionment with the CPI(M), the ‘left’, and with claims to ‘progressive’ politics among his generation… The second, NO FREE LEFT, by the prolific communist aristocrat Vijay Prashad, promises no less than a narrative and analysis of ‘the past of Indian Communism and an assessment of its future’, which again cannot be written, as he proudly tells us, invoking Antonio Gramsci, ‘without writing a “general history of a country”’. Prashad’s account comprises a series of banalities written in prophetic tone, the latter attributable to his taking upon himself the role of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, a role apparently acquired backwards via Hegel and Schlegel – and he is keen on asserting his right to write as a philosopher who is not a mushroom…

August 2, 2017 /

On 30 June 2017, almost two hundred protesters who had gathered together to draw attention of the Assam government towards the concerns of the citizens of the state in relation to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Doubtful voters (D-voters) issue at Kharbazaar in Assam’s Goalpara district were dispersed by the district police administration during which an youth named Yakub Ali was shot dead by the police.

August 1, 2017 /

Having been in the Tourism Sector in North East India since 1997, I feel I do have a little to say regarding the topic and the direction it is going. This piece of writing may offend some, may wake up some, or may even turn some against me; some may even think I write out of jealousy: let it all be – I point out things because they are in the context of the topic. When I write or speak I do not try to say I know best, I believe in debate, strong views and discussion, therefore I often say what I feel, in the belief that it will not only make my own mind think in the broader perspective but also hope that others will think. It is not a put down to others who are doing things differently, it is a question, as I believe others can question me.

July 29, 2017 /

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…

July 28, 2017 /

Men’s sperm levels have declined by half in the past 40 years, and no one knows why. If the current rate of decline continues, says Chris Barratt, most men will be sterile by 2060. An urgent race is now on to discover the cause of the falling sperm counts.

July 26, 2017 /

Ka politiks masi kan ktah ym tang ia ki Dalit, Ki muslim Hynrei ia ki Kristan, Ki riewlum, ki adivasi bad kiwei. Kane ka jait politiks ka lah ban pynkulmar lut ia ka rukom Synshar ha ka ri India bad don kiba ong ba ka lah pynpoi ruh sha ka thma ing (civil war) hapoh ka ri.

July 25, 2017 /

‘All politics is identity politics.’ And ‘Without identity politics there can be no defence of women’s rights or the rights of minority groups.’ So run the two most common contemporary defences of identity politics. As criticism of the politics of identity has become more developed and fierce, so has the defence. So, I want here to begin a critique the critique, as it were, and in so doing reassert the necessity for challenging identity politics.

July 19, 2017 /

The black comedy of Demonetisation continues and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India is now the latest clown in the show! In an astounding statement before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on July 6th 2017, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that he could not give them an official number as to how much money was deposited in old demonetised notes because counting was still in progress! This beats all logic.

July 18, 2017 /

There was a charge made recently by BJP’s Swapan Dasgupta that the protest by people determinedly raising their voices under the banner of ‘Not in My Name’, against targeted lynching of Muslims was an extravagant display of rootless cosmopolitanism. The responses have been “we are not rootless cosmopolitans”. We are often quick to jump into defensive mode in this fashion, and then try to prove how we are more rooted than Baba Ramdev or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Yogi Adityanath. In other words, we try to show how we are superior to these in being rooted. But we might need to ask whether rootless cosmopolitanism is necessarily the bad thing it is suggested to be.

July 17, 2017 /

On the evening of 7th July 2017, Yakub Khan Nongkynrih, an alleged sexual offender, was killed by a mob at Nongkseh, Shillong. He was accused of having sexually assaulted an eleven year old girl who is the daughter of his landlord.