Category: Commentary

February 13, 2018 /

Such videos which claim to address the issue of ‘women’s safety’ post the 16th December 2012 rape are fantastic in their myopia, and deeply offensive, and need to be challenged. In this video, the juxtaposition of the narratives of primarily upper class and upper caste women with random shots of working class men in public spaces, is unacceptable, and adds to reinforcing the construct of working-class men as the only and markedly, perpetrators of sexual violence. It is horrible how in this video, the narrative of privileged women’s experiences that include never daring “to take public transport at night” or talking about “backward mentality” and “patriarchy” are repeatedly counter-posed with random visuals of working-class men going about their daily lives, whether in the sabzi mandi or waiting for passengers in their e-rickshaws or travelling in the back of a truck together.

February 12, 2018 /

With every political party trying to woo the people by boarding the let’s-do-tourism bandwagon, I wish they understood what it all actually means. No one has asked if we the locals are even ready for the ride. Let me emphasize on the fact that we Khasis as a majority are some of the worst travelers ourselves. Ask anyone staying near or working at a popular sightseeing location: everyone knows that the Khasis are the beer bottle bearing hooligans who would want to thrash any space that should have stayed serene otherwise.

February 10, 2018 /

Cheerleading “economics” year after year, we have ended up creating an unequal country which has few parallels. About a third of the fruits of economic growth experienced since 1980 has gone to the richest 1% of the country. Hardly any other country has seen such yawning gap between the rich and the rest. The degree of inequality has been growing. In the beginning of this century the top 10% of the population cornered 40% of the income. By 2014 their share rose to 50%.

February 6, 2018 /

The BJP, like all parties of the far right, claims to serve the peoples’ interest. Its success lies in getting its slogans right. In reality it serves only the rich. In the last two years, the wealth of India’s richest 1% population increased from 58% in 2016 to 73% of the total wealth generated in the country in 2017, according to a new survey by an international rights group.

January 29, 2018 /

So the stone-slinging begins. It is the usual show. UDP will throw shingle at INC who will throw gravel at BJP who will in turn attack UDP. It is unimaginative, reactionary and all about head-line grabbing. Here’s a little info for the political party honchos: Nobody cares. It is cynical to say so but what can you expect?

January 22, 2018 /

“Where are you going Bahdeng?” I asked a friend of mine who seemed excited and in a hurry. He said, “I got a new job, I’m in the business of collecting money”. Not sure and intrigued by the true nature of his new profession, I congratulated him and tried to get more details about it. He enthusiastically told me that I should join in, “It’s very profitable” he said, “Yesterday I told them my mother was sick, the other day I said my daughter was sick; you see, I’m in the business of collecting charity money from candidates contesting the upcoming elections and so far I’ve received Rs.10,000”.

January 16, 2018 /

Attacks on Dalits are often viewed only from the perspective of violation of their basic rights and dignity. A lot of attention this time has been paid to the political context of Dalit mobilization, and the recent state of their relation with the dominant Maratha caste in the area. Analyses from such perspectives often miss the actual elephant in the room, namely the caste Hindu society to whom their attackers belong, and from whose normative world they derive their justifications. Confronting this elephant is crucial at present.

January 15, 2018 /

Yes, we will be hospitable; yes, we welcome you; yes, we will host you; yes, we will feed you well; yes, we will offer you what we have, and yes, we will host you on our terms. Yes, to control of numbers to ecologically and otherwise sensitive areas.  Yes, to local guides, small business, shops and eating establishments.

January 12, 2018 /

If one was being parochial one would have only said that Kalikho Pul’s Suicide Note is one the most important literary sources to understand politics and governance in the North East of India (relevant parochial sections highlighted in green in the english translation). But this Suicide note is also a key public document which lifted the tattered veil of judicial incorruptibility (highlighted in pink in the english translation). Today when 4 senior most judges have broken ranks to point at the rot in the judicial system under the present CJI Mr. Dipak Misra, it is important to revisit the suicide note, for here was the fuse which finally ignited the firework today.

January 5, 2018 /

Mamata Banerjee should not have poked her nose with half-baked knowledge and make polarising statements like she did yesterday and that is what is highly condemnable. For anyone who is in the know of political developments in Assam, such wild statements are at the least laughable. Updating the NRC is an attempt at bringing a closure to the vexed foreigners’ issue in Assam, an issue over which thousands have lost their lives in Assam. Even though there are many daunting challenges after the final NRC is published and there are many loose ends to tie.

December 27, 2017 /

First off, though you might be infested with con-men at any social strata depending on what it is they are after, it is generally a problem associated with the middle and upper classes. This is because these strata are easily impressed by fancy-sounding English words and preening talk especially related to big dreams and big bucks.

December 22, 2017 /

Around a month and half ago, I was sitting in a restaurant in Cherrapunjee having lunch with my friend Raymond when a group of seven or eight tourists walked in. They asked at the counter, on their way in, if the place served vegetarian food, and on hearing it did, they took a table about 10 feet away from where we were sitting. Then someone at that table probably spotted me eating a leg of chicken. Immediately, all hell broke loose.

December 19, 2017 /

This is an election where BJP was made to fight. This is not just about using political firepower but unlike other elections, channels like Times Now, Republic TV and ZEE had to become an extension of BJP without not even a shred of neutrality in their coverage. Local Gujarati media also became increasingly partisan as elections progressed. The Parliament session was delayed, all the resources were diverted towards Gujarat. EC even delayed Gujarat elections and their excuse for the delay was very flimsy. The delay helped BJP to partly tide over the GST anger by reducing tax slabs for certain items.

December 15, 2017 /

The news of a famous wedding has been hogging all the limelight in the media throughout this week. The excitement over Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli’s wedding to actress Anushka Sharma has been putting even the drama surrounding Harry Windsor’s Royal Wedding to shame. However, Virushka (their moniker, which wins my vote for the worst couple name. As a friend pointed out to me, why anyone would go with Virushka and not Korma is beyond me) is not the significant development in wedding related news to occur this week. The real story, which flew largely under the radar, was about Sankar and Kausalya, a Tamilian inter-caste couple that fell victim to a brutal murder.

December 13, 2017 /

Ha kaba kut, na ka bynta ka lawei bad ka jingbha jingbit-jingbiang bad jingshngain ki nongshong shnong jong ka Jylla, ngi donkam kyrkieh ia ka jingiamir jingmut lang khnang ban lah ban sei madan da ka kynhun ba thymmai kaba ieng ha ka sain pyrkhat kaba thymmai (Ideology), ka sain pyrkhat kaba niewkor ia ka jinglong mar ryngkat (Equality) ia ka Hok (Justice) ia ka Jinglaitluid (Freedom) bad ia ka roi ka par kaba pynmyntoi ia baroh bad kaba neh pateng la pateng. Ha shuwa ba ngin ryngkoh sha ka kper tyrso jong ka meinah thymmai to ngin puson bad shim da kawei pat ka lad ban pynkha ia ka seng ne kynhun bad ka ban mih napoh ka Jylla hi, ka seng ka ban ieng bad iakhun na ka bynta hok ban im bad ka ban iada ia ka khyndew ka shyiap bad ia ka hok longbriew man briew. Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) ka khyllie pyrda ia ki jingshisha bad jingarsap

December 12, 2017 /

The media is currently rife with the debate about the exorbitant billing made by a five-star hospital in Delhi to the father of a young girl who succumbed to her brief illness. But is it the right debate? Are those throwing stones at the hospital not the kind who go to private hospitals themselves? Is it okay if private care is affordable and not exorbitant? At an individual level, I do not and would not like to ever submit myself to private health care. It is because I believe that medical care must never be treated as a commodity and must be available to every human equally.

December 6, 2017 /

There is always that unease that some of us feel on the 6th of December, for it is a reminder of the destruction of Babi Masjid in 1992. I was born in the early 1980s and this was the first major public event that made me realise that law and order, the constitution, the courts none of it mattered. The Hindus had asserted their willfulness against all appeals. There may have been a few thousand people in Ayodhya that day but I remember the excited chattering that I personally witnessed in the aftermath even down South. A lot of people were saying that they contributed in some way to this great adventure. Many supported it by saying that Ayodhya is the Mecca for Hindus. Every religion has one prime place of worship so Hindus should be given this place if they feel so strongly about it. As a nation, the unpleasant truth is that the destruction of the mosque was privately hailed, even celebrated by millions. The ethos of contemporary politics in India (or the lack of it) can be largely attributed to the destruction of this mosque.

December 5, 2017 /

“Ka Shillong, Ka Meghalaya – Jong Baroh / SHILLONG & MEGHALAYA BELONG TO ALL”
These words that appeared on placards by Shillong’s vendors at rally in June 2016. It carried a political message that is at the heart of demands for rights to livelihood and right to the city. In very plain terms the vendors stated that the city of Shillong, and the state of Meghalaya belongs to everyone. This message challenges dominant ideas of belonging in a city that has experienced decades of violence- both state and non-state- whose primary purpose has been to mark difference.

December 4, 2017 /

Just like the people in Amchang, the people in Sipajhar were also victims of river erosion. Their earlier generations moved from places like Jonia in Barpeta to escape poverty and river erosion. These people were further tricked into buying government land from the locals of Kuruwa. But there was no investigation on the multiple level of exploitation that these people faced. Merely accusing them of being illegal immigrants somehow provided impunity to those who torched their homes. Not a single person was brought to book for taking law in their own hands. One must ask if these are illegal immigrants, why weren’t they sent to detention camps for gradual deportation?

November 24, 2017 /

NEHU needs a change, it needs a change in the mindset on how to tackle problems and figure out solutions. We cannot just leave NEHU believing it will get better because it won’t. Sexual harassment cases are piling up, and students are too afraid to even put forth a complaint because when they do, the teachers are at times reinstated, which does not make sense and speaks of complete injustice.

November 24, 2017 /

The opposition to Hadiya’s conversion and their marriage has not been created or sustained merely by the right-wing, but also by those who have either chosen to stay silent on the case or have actively aided and abetted the state in furthering their persecution, whether it is the LDF government, or the Women’s Commissions, national or at the state level. Many feminists have otherwise spoken about choice and agency, but who, facing the will of a 25 year old Muslim woman to question the established norms of the Hindu household and life-world, have fallen absolutely silent. When she and Shafin are being pushed into a dangerous web of state-backed and NIA-produced rumour mongering of indoctrination and larger patterns, what good is silence? What good is half-hearted conversations around her right to choose, when they are suffixed with a “but…”?

Assam has had a long and bloody history of ethnic violence arising from extremely complex reasons. Ethnic violence in Assam implicates cultural, political and economic aspects of relations between communities in ways that cannot be captured in a simple majority-minority, or a khilonjia-foreigner dynamic. Here, virtually every community has at one time or another been the victim as well as perpetrator of ethnic violence. And in the shadow of a militarized state, political antagonisms among various communities have often been shaped by the force of arms.

This interview by Amrapali Basumatary & Bonojit Hussain was taken in 2016 December, just two days after Akhil Gogoi was released from his 78 days of imprisonment by The Assam Government. For various reasons the interview couldn’t be published during that time. However, with the recent re-imprisonment of Akhil Gogoi under the National Security Act (NSA) in September 2017, we feel that it is important to bring this interview to public domain.

November 21, 2017 /

Recently, a furious debate about ‘sexual harassment’ was initiated on social media, after a Dalit woman student brought out a list on Facebook accusing many powerful Indian male academics, many of them Brahmin, for being sexual harassers. Soon, certain upper caste feminists came forward with a statement that opposed the list, asking the anonymous complainants to pull it down and follow the ‘due process’ in dealing with sexual harassment. There was a huge uproar against this statement and younger women reproached the older feminists for espousing a Savarna feminism that sought to protect (Brahmin) men. Things have tempered down now after the appearance of a second list (this time posted from an anonymous Facebook account) in which many Bahujan scholars and student leaders of Bahujan movements were named as sexual harassers. This list too, it was claimed, was created by Dalit Bahujan women.

November 14, 2017 /

Five hundred years ago, on the eve of All Saints Day, 1517, an obscure professor and cleric at an upstart university in Electoral Saxony published a lengthy list of scholarly debating points over the theology of indulgences.
The “Ninety-Five Theses,” as they came to be called, catapulted Martin Luther into the centre of a controversy that would soon affect all of Europe in staggeringly diverse ways — from great wars and religious persecution to massive educational renewal and marriage reforms.

November 14, 2017 /

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.

November 10, 2017 /

An important legislation like THE MEGHALAYA COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND PUBLIC SERVICES SOCIAL AUDIT ACT, 2017 came into being without any element of Community Participation through Pre-Legislative consultation about its intent and content. Some of the remarks we make about the Act are due to this ‘failure’ on the part of the government to take the people and community into confidence about the law.