Category: Commentary

February 24, 2017 /

There must be a broad coalition now, silently building up. And years of work lie ahead. A painstaking job. The Right is in ascendancy today because they have done and are doing this painstaking job of hate-mongering effectively, at the grassroots level, for decades. We have to take on that kind of a might.

Read the Post“…there is a question of existential solidarity at this hour”

February 23, 2017 /

There has been a horror at how fast the ‘centre’ i.e. institutional framework of liberal democracy is crumbling in the face of the rising tide of authoritarian conservatism- and there have been constant comparisons with 1930s. The spectre of fascism, of forces of reaction seems to haunt the globe.

Read the Post‘Night of the World’

February 23, 2017 /

As a Naga feminist, I remain hopeful at a time when Naga society decides to sit for consultation that we are able to resist the money, power, and attractions of authority wrapped in Naga patriarchal and traditional cloaks. Such kind of seductions has devoured numerous Naga tribal councils, politicians, leaders, community activists including the church workers. Albert Camus’s wise words come to my mind. As Camus fought racism and homophobia and joined hands with the African American civil and political rights movement, he noted, “I love my country, but I also love my justice”. I too end this essay by stating “As much as I love my Naga community, I also love my justice” and will continue to join hands with the struggle for gender justice.

Read the PostGender Justice in Naga Society – Naga Feminist Reflections

February 20, 2017 /

Within Nagaland, especially among young people, there is a quiet groundswell of support for women reservation. When the protest against reservation begun, I had been following the discussion on social media and whatsapp. Of course, there are those young men, with their regressive views, who are the loudest even here. Their opposition to the reservation is usually because, in their views, women are premature to partake in decision making, or that it is an open field where both women and men should fight equally. But there are other voices, both men and women, who believe that the existing social structure is highly discriminatory, and that without reservation it is almost impossible for women to take part in decision making. Yet these voices are seldom heard, primarily because of the draconian directives passed by the tribal bodies.

Read the PostIn the name of the “customary”

February 15, 2017 /

Women’s political representation has been an undying struggle all across the country including the North Eastern states. Mob violence and politically polarised outbursts cannot exclude Naga women from public spaces, political assertion and ecological ecosystems which define their existence.

Read the PostWish St. Mother Teresa was in politics…

February 14, 2017 /

In Meghalaya there has been increasing reports of instances of sexual assault of all forms ranging from sexual harassment at the work place, rapes, child sexual abuse , domestic violence etc. Sexual assault and rape happens not just among strangers. Date rapes are common and we need to acknowledge that rapes do take place even within a marriage It is imperative therefore that a conversation on what constitutes consent and the importance of practicing consent towards fostering healthy relationships based on equality and respect needs to be begin, and what better day than on valentines day – a day that is dedicated to celebrating love and relationships.

Read the PostTHIS VALENTINE’S DAY LETS TALK ABOUT CONSENT

February 9, 2017 /

How has Aadhaar been received in the northeast? If numbers are anything to go by, then the region has been good at keeping Aadhaar at bay, as the five states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Assam, appear at the bottom of the Aadhaar enrolled states. But what about Sikkim and Tripura? Very few people know that when the project of Aadhaar began in 2009, Tripura was one of the first states in the country to achieve highest enrolments. The article below provides an account of the manner in which Aadhaar had been a central strand in Tripura’s quest for digital governance, and reciprocally, what the UIDAI, in its early years, stood to gain from Tripura. The piece illuminates the story of Aadhaar and digital governance in Tripura through the eyes of five people – a bureaucrat, a manager of a private company, a historian, a technology analyst and a village level entrepreneur. While Tripura is not what comes to mind when an average Indian thinks of Aadhaar, it is precisely for this reason that this is a story, which “the nation needs to know”.

Read the PostDigital Governance in India’s Northeast – the case of Aadhaar in Tripura

February 5, 2017 /

“There are reports from Kerala that SFI people have been attacking Ambedkarite and Muslim students. In the process, a poster with my son’s photo was torn. Chitralekha’s problems are still continuing. It is also sad to see that Dalits and Adivasis are still fighting for land in Kerala. A very important adivasi woman leader of Kerala, who was once a powerful and progressive voice, has been forced to join the BJP. Why did this happen? Some Left leaders met me asking me to be present for a consultation on Rohith Act but I realised later that no Ambedkarite leaders not even my son’s friends from the ASA were invited. How can non Dalits sit and decide what should go into a law for protecting Dalits against discrimination in campuses? We also saw the unfortunate things that happened in HCU and JNU during the elections where the Left did not support Dalit leaders and instead fought against them.”

Read the Post“It takes two hands to clap”

February 4, 2017 /

On the 3rd of February, ABVP called a bandh in Jai Narain Vyas University (JNVU), Jodhpur, forcibly stopping classes and demanding suspension of the organizers of a conference and police action against them, as well as against myself. Police complaints have now been lodged, and perhaps FIRs, we hear. The charge? The conference, and my lecture in particular, was anti-national.

Read the PostRSS ignorance, the “upside down map” of India & on being “anti-national”

February 4, 2017 /

Reservation for women in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) has caused a serious unrest in the state of Nagaland in the north-eastern region of India. Women’s groups in Nagaland have been leading a struggle for 33 per cent reservation in the local bodies on the grounds of gender equality. On the other hand, tribal bodies and groups (consisting mostly of men!) including the Naga Hoho (the apex body of all 18 tribes in the state) and the Joint Coordination Committee of tribals (JCC) have been opposed to the demand on the grounds that granting 33 per cent reservation for women would violate Naga customary laws and tradition as protected under Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India. Thus, customary laws and the notion of gender equality have been pitted against each other. This calls for serious examination of customary laws and the demand for reservation.

Read the PostCustomary laws vs. Gender equality in Nagaland

February 3, 2017 /

But the old forces have found not only a way to reconcile with this new system but to co-opt it as an instrument to perpetuate their hegemonic practices.As such, not only are unjust laws made but attempts to bring about empowering proposals are also suppressed. None exemplify this more that the current state of affairs regarding the situation of the hawkers and street vendors in Shillong.
That the governing class of Meghalaya is not disinterested but openly hostile to the interest of the working class is evident when the draft rules and schemes made under the Meghalaya State Vendor (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act are examined. The whole exercise, i.e. drafting of the rules and schemes, can be summed up in these words: shoddy, unintelligent, disingenuous and anti-working class.

Read the PostHow Meghalaya Governement tries to ‘legally’ flout the laws about the Hawkers?

February 1, 2017 /

This article was first published in Sunday Vol. 10 Issue 33, 6 -12 March 1983. Sunday, was a political weekly published from Kolkata by Ananda Bazaar Patrika group and M J Akbar was its founding editor. Dr. Hiren Gohain’s essay is reproduced here for educational purpose from the private collection of Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator Haidar Hussain.

Read the Post[ARCHIVAL DEBATES] Assam Agitation: Blind hostility is no solution

January 30, 2017 /

The Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamil Nadu has decided not to take the exit of V. Shanmuganthan as governor of Meghalaya in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment lying down. The party is launching a counter assault by saying that Shanmuganathan – a top-ranking party and RSS leader before he was handpicked by Narendra Modi for the plum assignment in 2015 – lost his job because of his “tireless” fight against religious conversions in general and in the northeast in particular.

Read the PostBJP Uses ‘Anti-Conversion’ Card to Defend Disgraced Meghalaya Governor V. Shanmuganathan

January 29, 2017 /

Dear Honorable Members of the Meghalaya Congress and the BJP and other political wannabes,
It is quite troubling to see how violence against women by people holding public offices, is treated as political fodder in Meghalaya. Instead of creating a discourse about the urgency to revisit questions of gender, power and patriarchy within a matrilineal context, and implementing proper available systems of legislation and prosecution to deal with sexual violence, the Congress and the BJP are busy mudslinging each other and debating about who is more guilty, the former Governor V. Shamuganathan or Julius Dorphang, the MLA and the Home Minister, HDR Lyngdoh.

Read the PostListen you Meghalaya’s Patriarchal Politicians & Activists!

January 27, 2017 /

Hubris is a dangerous cocktail of overconfidence, overambition, arrogance and pride fuelled by power and success. When found alongside contempt for the advice and criticism of others, hubris causes leaders to significantly overreach themselves, taking risky and reckless decisions with harmful, sometimes catastrophic consequences for themselves, their organisations, institutions, and even for society. Given the economic, social, and geopolitical damage that can ensue, we should learn to recognise the signs of how hubristic leaders talk and act, and how to mitigate the consequences.

Read the PostField guide to spotting a Hubristic leader (and safety tips)

January 25, 2017 /

This avalanche of cases of sexual abuse by public servants in Meghalaya can only be stopped if people demand for a just and efficient mechanism which would address systemic sexism and gender violence. We need to collectively demand for a speedy and thorough investigation into this case, and for the larger implementation of the SH Act in government offices, which would help rectify the fact that public offices have become hotbeds of sexual assault.

Read the PostCan we stop the Public Servants in Meghalaya turning into Public Predators?

January 16, 2017 /

The government’s intention of amending the Citizenship Act via the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been met with anger, anxiety, and unrest across Assam. Faced with a strident opposition to the proposed amendments from across Assam in the last few weeks, the BJP—with the support of a number of Bengali organisations as well—has reoriented its strategy by calling on the Bengali-speaking community to identify themselves as Assamese-speakers. Key leaders such as Himanta Biswa Sarma have advocated the assimilation of the Bengali-speakers of Barak into Assamese linguistic and cultural identity. Others have suggested that they “become Assamese” while maintaining their linguistic identity, and yet others have called on them to return Assamese as their mother-tongue in the Census.

Read the PostCitizens of a Hindu Rashtra: Stirring the Ethnic Cauldron in Assam

January 13, 2017 /

Arun Shourie has been the modern India’s most poisonous, formidable and effective troll for many decades, when trolling was not easy. When he was at the height of his power and influence, there was no ‘online’ and/or social media or cyber crowd. Arun Shourie fell by the sword he lived by.

Read the PostWhen an old Troll tries to troll the new Trolls

January 11, 2017 /

Zygmunt Bauman was emeritus professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds and had developed key concepts for the understanding of fundamental issues of today’s world, such as liquid modernity, time, space and disorder, individualism versus community, globalization and consumer’s culture, love and identity

Read the PostRethinking Democracy, Rethinking State

January 9, 2017 /

The rhetoric of the “War on black money and corruption” apart, demonetisation has succeeded in making the Aadhar card mandatory in violation of the orders of the Supreme Court. Additionally, a few implications of this move on democracy and civil and political liberties.

Read the PostDemonetisation to Unfreedom

January 8, 2017 /

A Church that concerns itself with the poor must raise the question of why they are poor in the first place. The comfortable and the cosseted insist that this question not be asked. Or, failing that, insist that it be dismissed as ludicrous. From their increasingly hyperventilating resistance comes a surprising reminder of the revolutionary power of the gospel.

Read the PostWHO IS AFRAID OF A CHURCH FOR THE POOR?

January 4, 2017 /

Authorities tasked with the safeguard and pursuit of students’ welfare and interest devote themselves to undermine and harm the very wards of the university. Repeat sexual offenders are appointed as professors and allowed to roam freely despite the mountain of evidence proving their guilt.

Read the PostHow North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) condones Sexual Harassment

January 2, 2017 /

Jawaharlal Nehru University’s so-called freedom square is always packed with people every time a protest is called in the avowedly progressive institution –the crush of people at midnight last March spilling onto the roads to hear Kanhaiya Kumar speak is still seared in popular memory. But when I walked in for a series of public talks last Thursday, none of that spontaneous mobilization was visible.

Read the PostFreedom Square is empty

The new legislation has increased the recognized number of disabilities from 7 to 21(including acid attack victims).Furthermore,it penalizes discrimination, focuses on inclusive educational institutions and makes compliance with standards of accessibility as a precondition for permission to build a structure, among other things… While the Bill has been applauded by the community as an acceptance of a progressive understanding of disability, it leaves one with concerns over the provisions related to guardianship.

Read the PostThe Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014: A missed opportunity?

December 29, 2016 /

2016 unfortunately felled a lot of greats, so our Music Section became a bit heavy on Music Obits, but we assure you that the odes and laments were all ours (no consultants were used) and when words failed we simply let the music speak for itself.

Read the Post[Holiday Listening] MUSIC on RAIOT

December 27, 2016 /

In 2016 – RAIOT became a Kashmiri word. Maybe it was the accidental cartography of India making Shillong share Instrument of Accession with Srinagar or just accidents of friendships, whatever be the reason – RAIOT had some of the key texts about Kashmiri Azadi uprising of 2016. Just a sample for your holiday reading.

Read the Post[Holiday Reading List] KASHMIR on RAIOT

December 26, 2016 /

The current imbroglio in Manipur reflects the tension between conflicting ideas of various communities settling in Manipur. Some valley based civil societies as well as sections of the hill population have welcomed the government’s decision and reasserted their faith in the idea of Manipur. While sections of Naga civil societies have not minced their words regarding their commitment to the idea of Manipur…

Read the PostTinderbox of Manipur

December 26, 2016 /

The Gospel reveals a paradox. It speaks of the emperor, the governor, the high and mighty of those times, yet God does not make himself present there. He appears not in the splendour of a royal palace, but in the poverty of a stable; not in pomp and show, but in simplicity of life; not in power, but in astonishing smallness. In order to meet him, we need to go where he is. We need to bow down, to humble ourselves, to make ourselves small.

Read the Post“Worldliness has kidnapped Christmas; we need to liberate it!”

December 25, 2016 /

In the face of the rampant commercialism that engulfs us at this time of year, it’s common to hear religious figures telling us that it’s time to revive the “real spirit of Christmas.” If that means reviving the radical egalitarianism of the early Christians, whom Frederick Engels called “a dangerous party of revolt,” then socialists are in favor of it.

Read the PostJesus the revolutionary?

December 24, 2016 /

Hapdeng ka tlang kaba dait thah slam slam,Ka Sngur Batlem bad u Kitbor Bah ki poi ha Sor Shillong, ka Sor kaba thaba, kaba khring bad kaba pah. Ka Sor Shillong wat la ka khring hynrei kam ai jingtngen ne jingshngain, wat la ka thaba hynrei ka i kynsha, wat la ka pah hynrei kam ai jingkyrmen,pynban ka tan bad ka khwan. Ka Sor ka pynlyngngoh bad pynshaiong ia ka Sngur bad u Kitbor. Wow! ka pyrthei aiu kane kaba im tangba kaba ym don mynsiem, ka pyrthei kaba khnoit bein ia ki rangli-ki juki bad kaba bam im im peit peit ia ki mynsiem briew. Napoh ka bos ka Sngur bad u Kitbor ki iohi shi lynter lynti ia ki longkmie kiba kyrshah shilliang, ki rangbah, ki samla bad ki khynnah rit kiba ialum lang ha la ki jaka bapher bapher bad ki bat ha ki kti ia ki jingthoh ha ki kot sada “ Ngi dei ki Nongdie madan bad ngi dawa ia ka hok ban kamai jakpoh”

Read the PostKa Khubor Krismas – Hangno Ngan Kha Ia U Khun?