Category: Culture

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 15, 2017 /

Ka Beh Dieiñ Khlam Jwai, Ialong, Chyrmang, Tuber wa ha kiwi ki thaw jar i por jar I taiaw da poi,shi sien shi snem ialang kawi ha i thaw shad thaw noh rot wa ioh u duwai phirat ha u Tre Kirot, waroh waroh shirup ia lai sha aitnar wow nguh Blai, ka khlam ka kjut ioh u mait tyrut, ym toh du i kjut man bru, i kjut mariang, i kjut pyrthai- i duk i kyrduh ki wa katni bam duh ki ia ka pyrthai. Ah bei ah pa, phi ki Blai ah phi ki ryngkew ki basa ia i to da. Ka Ka Beh Deiή khlam ka wa em jingmut..

June 30, 2017 /

Coming out is seldom a cup of tea for anyone but I finally did to my mother when I turned eighteen this year. She was supportive but also terribly afraid of my future and my existence in the world altogether. I felt guilty and responsible when mother told me not to be vocal and admitted that her friends may laugh at us. I wondered why my actions as an adult have any bearing on my family; that is a part of societal ethos that I will never understand. 

June 24, 2017 /

[WATCH] Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, came to power in West Bengal in 2011, riding a popular wave of mass fury over forcible acquisition of land and state atrocities in Singur, Nandigram, and Lalgarh. But six years down the line, the faultlines of the new regime are showing up, most notably in the ongoing farmers’ movement in Bhangar, with a sense of déjà vu.

June 17, 2017 /

A day ahead of the India Pakistan match, when Indian media, publicity hungry cricketers and showbiz stars are all over spitting their Indian nationalist bile, Chalukyan G, a Chennai based graphic designer wrote a fan mail on Facebook to Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi. His fan mail did not just touch upon sporting matters but also laid out in detail the hypocrisy of Indian nationalist rhetoric. To his surprise, Afridi replied and unlike cricketers like Sehawg, he said “Let the best team win,”

June 15, 2017 /

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s act of denying exemption of censor for three films selected for the 10th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala has invited strong reactions from various corners. The festival, one of its kind in the country, is an avenue for documentary filmmakers to get a wide audience for their films. It is particularly an important platform for independent filmmakers. What is common to these three films—In the Shade of Fallen Chinar, Directed by Fazil N.C. and Shawn Sebastian; The Unbearable Being of Lightness, directed by P.N. Ramachandra; and March March March, directed by Kathu Lukose—is that they deal with issues related to contemporary politics.

June 14, 2017 /

আমরা অদ্ভুত /’amra odbhuth’/ ‘We are queer’. And there is now a café in Calcutta for those who know or imagine themselves to be odbhuth/queer: the Amra Odbhuth Café, in which people of various hues gather to talk about, and work on, dismantling identities and transforming them on the ground, at homes and offices, in the streets and markets, on buses and metros.

June 14, 2017 /

Those who have not been around academic circles, have not heard of General Dyer, not watched The Namesake, nor confused Partha Chatterjee with his namesake, might be wondering what the fuss about Professor Partha Chatterjee is about. Parthada recently referred to the justification of using a human shield by the Indian Army in Kashmir as the General Dyer moment of the independent Indian state’s army.

June 11, 2017 /

Nothing has changed.
It’s just that there are more people,
and beside the old offences new ones have sprung –
real, make-believe, short-lived, and non-existent.
But the howl with which the body answers to them,
was, is and ever will be a cry of innocence
according to the age-old scale and pitch.

June 10, 2017 /

An extract from Assamese novelist Dhrubajyoti Bora’s novel Kalantoror Gadya (The Prose of Tempest) (1997) written in the background of the ULFA insurgency and counter insurgency operations by Indian Security Forces in the 1990’s. It deals with the arrival of AFSPA, army operations and state terrorism in the province and the changes it brought to the local landscape.

June 8, 2017 /

In India, we now stand at a critical crossroad, as far as the humanities are concerned. The State is creating a situation so that literature departments are either forced to turn into small-scale entrepreneurships for providing a set of skills for proficiency and/or help set-up a finishing school kind of an ambience for prospective customer-students. Research work is being systematically stymied. As a result, neither are the traditional fields being nourished and updated nor is real innovation happening in charting fresh fields.

June 7, 2017 /

The government-ordered raid on NDTV and searches of Prannoy Roy’s properties should show the Indian bhadralok, if it requires any showing, how far things have gone under the Modi regime. Fascists have ordered the raids on the channel not for being anti-fascist or upholder of democracy, but for not being fascist enough. The message is to fall in line, and fall in line they would after a couple of protests and a scathing programme or two anchored by Ravish Kumar. Roys are no great seekers of martyrdom.

June 1, 2017 /

“O Mummyji, o mummyji, they don’t fight fair
These Cashmirie–
Their boys, their girls, their women too
They throw their stones, they do, they do,
And us poor boys (what? yes, “my poor boys”)
Have only guns and armour
What, prithee, are they to do? to do?”

May 28, 2017 /

The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band turns 50 on June 1 and the anniversary of this legendary album will be celebrated in style. But has this classic work – named the greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone – stood the test of time? We asked six writers for their perspectives.

May 25, 2017 /

generally like rapper Sofia Ashraf’s work. I was impressed by her video on lead poisoning in Kodaikanal by Unilever. I watched her latest song ‘Can’t Do Sexy’, and I must say that it was not something I expected out of such a conscientious artist. Almost everything that can and is wrong for a woman regarding her body is glorified in this rap.

May 24, 2017 /

There aren’t too many people (who aren’t BJP sympathizers) who would disagree that Goswami’s Republic is a menace to democracy. There will be fewer journalists who would disagree that Goswami’s Republic isn’t journalism even by the worst yardstick. In that scenario I believe that the best way to contain this scourge would be for all people who are for democracy and ethical journalism – including non-NDA political parties to boycott Goswami’s anti-democratic republic.

May 23, 2017 /

Views on the appropriateness of sharing certain kinds of images for political awareness and galvanization may vary but at the very least keeping in mind the power relations between the photographed subjects and takers of the images, viewers and sharers could make us think before unquestioningly and well-meaningly sharing them and could make us conscious that the act of sharing the image is a complicated one.

May 21, 2017 /

‘He has a very traditional Metal voice’, remarked a senior editor of Raiot as Reach Down by Temple of the Dog was playing. I disagreed and tried explaining that it was, in fact, the voice of ‘grunge’. Not the voice but certainly an influential one.

May 13, 2017 /

Young men and women mainly from rural Nagaland come in for short-term training courses to learn basic soft skills: to present themselves, stand, sit, communicate, dress and apply make-up, all essential requirements for a job in the service sector. Many of them find placements in hotels, spas, restaurants, airlines or security companies.

May 12, 2017 /

What do you do when you hear a hear a voice from 1928 rushing to tell you the Parable of the prodigal son? Did our language sound like that? Why did he stumble? Who was he? Where did he record it? How was the narrator chosen? Did he get paid for it or was he forced to do begaar? When we discovered these scratchy gramophone recordings done for The Linguistic Survey of India in 1928-29 we had to share it. For us reasons are not merely historical or linguistic but emotional like divining the dead. So go ahead and listen to our ancestors speaking Khasi, Pnar and War.

May 9, 2017 /

I went to Pine Mount in Shillong in the seventies. I lived close to school, just behind the NCC office. So, my parents had made an arrangement with the school and I would come home to eat lunch with my mother (something I hated so, as I missed out on playtime and having lunch from a lunch box, but I was powerless and could not resist).

May 5, 2017 /

Souvid Datta’s work has always been problematic, that is independent of the recent plagiarism charges or the ethics of photographing a trafficked minor being raped. The fact that his work got to travel tells you all you need to know about the nature of what constitutes the photographic industry today.

May 3, 2017 /

This ‘play’ never had a script, being a work in progress so to speak, where the actors knew the opening line, knew the cue for the last line. Depending on intoxicants consumed the night before, the piece could be anything from 15 to 40 minutes.
It was staged in the late 1980s in New Delhi – by Hartman de Souza, a third-generation Kenyan by birth (but by default, Indian), and Kimamo Kuria, mwananchi from Kenya, final year law student at Delhi University. Both were also founder-members of the Delhi-based Afro-Indian theatre group, Ukombozi, that worked in Delhi – although they were not the first such theatre group to explore the common ground that benefits both sides, African and Indian.

April 29, 2017 /

My maternal grandfather loved the bottle. His room, which was always neat and clean would be whiskey-scented all day. After I was born, he drank only in the evening before dinner, and as he sipped on his glass, my brother and I would be on his bed playing cards, with a pleasurable sense of blasphemy even at the age of 6 or 7.

April 28, 2017 /

It has been obvious for many decades now that Bhagat Singh’s image carries contrasting messages for Indians. The image of the man, whose popularity in India around the time of his execution nearly eclipsed the established leadership of Congress and Gandhi, is truly an icon in the popular political culture of India; and like all popular icons the messages it carries actually manifest the internal contradictions of this very culture. Religious revivalist organisations like Arya Samaj, rightwing Hindutva groups and even the Khalistan movement have used his image of a militant nationalist to challenge Congress domination of the discourse on freedom struggle.

April 26, 2017 /

Assam’s Debjani Bora, who has won gold at the national level for her javelin throws, was targeted as a witch in 2014 in the state and assaulted, of all the places, in a community prayer hall. Debjani’s case puts into question one of the biggest myths around witch-hunting, that it takes place only due to superstition, ignorance and lack of education in far-flung remote villages, and among poor, uneducated people.

April 24, 2017 /

Today I write songs in Haflong Hindi. Haflong Hindi I would like to define is a mixture of Hindi, English, Urdu, Sufi, Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Manipuri, Punjabi, Bihari, and with few words from different tribes like Zeme, Dimasa, Hmar, Kuki, Biate, Hrangkol, Jaintia and maybe even more which I am not aware of.

April 19, 2017 /

Entering Ri Bhoi is the first sign for me that I have come reached home. It was not just the low hills and the wide valleys nestled within them that elevated my heart but the sight of the shops littered along the highway and the people sitting inside them. Stopping and having tea and jingbam in these shops is one of my favourite moments of the journey.

April 17, 2017 /

Zubeen Garg, as the generation that grew up clutching onto his music through the turbulent 1990s and 2000s would tell you, cannot be defined. It is hare-brained to suggest that he was promoting Hindi imperialism in Assam by singing one of his old songs. But even if he was, it is ridiculous to see well-fed Bihu-committee tearaways hoisting the flag of a linguistic nationalism that was exclusive, chauvinistic and, more importantly, unbendingly middle-class from the word go.

In the last track, “Ma Nga”, the limit of interaction between the artist, the art and the audience is stretched to its extreme. The song, personal and dark, written by Malice in Khasi, is a recounting of emotions of a person sitting on the peak of melancholy hill who is going through a severe identity crisis. The lyrics carry a very depressing, aggressive, yet powerful undertone and the composition is something that is really unique, very technical and traditional. Being a Khasi song, you’d expect the guys to dig deep into the roots of their indigenous identity in the arrangement but that element is only catalytic, and it only serves as a subsidiary to the larger plan.