Category: Commentary

March 22, 2017 /

Dalit students talk not only of their social alienation in these elite spaces, but of their intellectual alienation. Why is it that we do not use moments like this to reflect on the very nature of our social sciences? Why is our academic and intellectual culture such that, despite writing of subaltern subjects, social stratification, caste, nationalism, resistance and oppression, it is not able to speak to a section of students in the class?

Read the PostPolitics of Belonging in Indian Universities

March 21, 2017 /

On 14th March, a local Assamese news channel – News Live, owned and managed by the wife of the most powerful Assam BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, connected few dots with ‘creative journalism’ and went on a frenzy that a fatwa has been issued by 46 Muslim clerics against Nahid Afreen. Soon other local news channels jumped into the war of TRP. Soon came the two midnight tweets of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal adding fuel to the fire.

Read the PostEverybody Loves the ‘Fatwa’ from a Distant Periphery!

March 20, 2017 /

Assam University Diphu Campus (AUDC), located 8th Km from the heart of Diphu Town, spread at 273 bighas with 10 academic departments. It offers Post Graduate degree up to the research level of M Phil and PhD. It is the only annexe campus of the Assam University, Silchar, and the only Campus in the Karbi Anglong, a hill-district of Assam. As such, the University campus offers the scope, apart from the students coming from other districts of Assam, to all the people living in Karbi Anglong, irrespective of caste, creed, religion or any other differences, to pursue higher education. However, despite almost a decade since its establishment in 2007, there has been negligible development of the campus in many crucial areas. Time and again, students have been brought to the edge of their patience and have attempted to raise their voices against the administration’s indifference to their grievances. Although a ‘central university’, in no way does the campus qualify as one.

Read the PostWhy the students of Assam University, Diphu Campus are on Strike?

March 17, 2017 /

In last few days there have been several attempts to create a dogma that Krish allegedly committed suicide for personal reasons, but this argument neglects the story of Krish’s life, his thoughts shared in different blogs and even the trajectory of earlier Dalit students suicide cases. Many Dalits students in different university campuses have committed suicide, but if the casteist institutions, upper-caste faculty and peers are responsible for continuously alienating the marginalised studies, equally responsible are we as Dalit organisations members, faculty and students for not being able to provide timely help to the needy students.

Read the PostRajini Krish – Beyond the Personal

March 16, 2017 /

We are failing so many of our students, those who come to our universities with singular dreams sparkling in their eyes, when they enter they want to believe that such a place as they have wished to break into from far-flung places and rough homes is the one that will succour them and give them light and water to grow. Krish Rajini was a poet in his soul, not just a scholar, he rode among the clouds on his first ever plane journey from Hyderabad to Delhi and spilled words on to his Facebook that transformed effortlessly into poetry for the sheer radiance of his experience. And so we killed not just a budding scholar but a poet too.

Read the PostNo Country for Young Dreamers, This

March 15, 2017 /

After Irom Sharmila’s humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Manipur Assembly Elections, where she got only 90 votes, social media was filled with concerned citizens and activists going berserk, talking about how poorly this defeat reflected upon the new political culture of India. The idealism and politics of Irom Sharmila was put on a pedestal to an extent that people sitting far away from the rough and tumble of Manipur’s politics saw themselves as capable of pronouncing judgement upon the morality of the people of Manipur.

Read the PostAgainst blaming the people of Manipur for #IromSharmila ‘s defeat

Looking at the recent episode in Ramjas College, and having had first-hand experience of the ABVP-fueled violence unleashed there, I am shocked and traumatized by the unbridled attack on the educational space that first drew me to this university. The whole idea of Indian nationalism articulated by these factions is so alien and vague to me. Personally, I grew up being exposed to a different kind of nationalism, that of my own community (Khasi), and my encounter with any form of Indian nationalism was confined to televised programmes on Republic Day and Independence Day or at the most, when an important member of a national political party visits to assist with local election campaigns.

Read the PostDelhi University Politics – Notes of a Shillong Boy

March 13, 2017 /

In just two and a half months in 2017, Meghalaya has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons. Twenty-five reported cases of rape and sexual assault in the state is something that we should all be ashamed of. And yet, our very own ‘honourable’ public representatives shamelessly compete to prove who is guiltier and who is not.

Read the PostMeghalaya: the Abode of Crime against Women

March 11, 2017 /

Moms may or may not believe that the salt does anything amazing but she’s got to make a decision based on something for a product that is effectively a commodity. Some moms may be moved by the ‘Desh ka namakh’ tagline of Tata salt, some may be moved by the ‘natural’ tagline of the ITC salt, some may be moved by the ‘make your child smarter’.
And so let’s market to their emotional needs rather than the functional needs.
I’m beginning to think it’s the same for political parties.

Read the PostWhich salt do you buy?

March 11, 2017 /

What is dead in UP today is the damaging illusion that victims of Hindu Nazists ((Dalits, Muslims, OBCs, Modernising Women, the Left) can be busy fighting each other and Modi and BJP will fall on their own merely watching the ferocity of the fight among their victims

Read the PostNot so provisional lessons of Uttar Pradesh

March 10, 2017 /

Having gone to the polls on 4 February, Goa is awaiting the results of the assembly elections with bated breath. Known to be pro-active in terms of exercising its democratic franchise, Goa’s 83 percent voter turnout was praised by all. The month-long wait for the results, however, is witnessing controversies around such issues as those of irregularities in the voting process through postal ballots, and the enrollment of around 600 army men as voters in the Navelim constituency. These controversies have cast doubts on whether elections in Goa were conducted in a free and fair manner.

Read the PostGoa elections : What is the value of one vote?

Mamata Banerjee showed the way in how to fight fascists in mainstream political space. Unless dealt with in the streets, they will not budge. Mamata’s greatest political invention is her lumpen synthesis of means of law and means of lawlessness (utmost necessity in street fighting the fascists); she can traverse both realms smoothly, without falling under any. If anything, she had learnt from living as political activist under CPI-M’s totalitarian rule, it is that law is not aloof from the political deployment of human muscles in the streets. She knows that we have to invent a whole set of new constitutional measures, bordering between the formal and the informal, the violent and the non-violent, to save the Indian Constitution from its worst violators in authority.

Read the PostDear Didi: The Gravedigger

March 9, 2017 /

The conviction of Prof. G.N. Saibaba by the Gadchiroli District Court on 7th March 2017 has revived questions around the UAPA, and how it has progressively eroded Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. This 8 minute illustrated video by the Media Collective documents the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in its 50th year, its contemporary application and raises questions about its constitutional validity.

Read the PostIs the conviction of Prof. G.N. Saibaba constitutional? Let this short video explain

March 9, 2017 /

What is it about Gurmehar that angered Rijiju? That she condemned violence? That she said she wouldn’t be scared of the ABVP? Does that mean he feels that the violence was justified? Or that students should be scared of the ABVP? Is that the official Government position?

Read the PostDon’t fall for the bullshit…

March 4, 2017 /

Delhi University is fundamentally a feudal fiefdom. Within this kind of a climate the recent injection of the idea of developing market and technocracy means the attempt is to update the fiefdom in keeping with the times. But fundamentally the campus is only intermittently argumentative.

Read the PostDelhi University – a liberal university?

March 2, 2017 /

What promise does this election have for the tribals of Manipur? Will there be a break to the current political impasse post-election? What does this election hold for the future of Manipur? These are pertinent question that remain to be ask in the light of the upcoming election in the state.

Read the PostElections and the question of territorial integrity in Manipur

March 1, 2017 /

‘However hard they try to deny that this issue isn’t about reservation and try to divert the issue to taxation and interpretation of Constitution, the truth is they can’t stand to see a woman holding political power. Patriarchy is deeply rooted in our Naga society. Things got to change. Our women need some freedom.’ (A Naga fellow via digital forum)

Read the PostNagaland needs to honestly discuss 33% Reservation for Women

February 27, 2017 /

Even while India continues to call itself a democracy, ABVP through its unabashed performances of vandalism and violence on behalf of the majoritarian government, tries its best to ensure that no one dares to speak or mobilize around an idea or a concern that is not aligned with the interests or aesthetic preferences of the establishment. Silencing dissenting or deviant voices seems to be its sole existential purpose. Its message is absolutely clear. If you do not toe the government line, or are not rabidly majoritarian or Hindu enough, your rights are dispensable, you are game for physical assault or even murder. What is more, the people in uniform will ensure an enabling environment for you to get beaten up by them and effectively silenced.

Read the PostWhose Democracy is it Anyway?

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?