Category: English

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.

Read the PostAmerica’s Strange ‘White Other’

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.

Read the Post<WAYFINDING / PHOTOESSAY> Placement & Grooming Centre in Dimapur

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.

Read the Post<ARCHIVES> Listen to the Earliest Sounds recorded in Khasi-Jaintia Hills

May 10, 2017 /

This is a coffin of a dead 7 year old girl who was raped and killed by her uncle, and whose body was strategically buried by the man inside a church compound. No, this is not a village in North India or any other place in which public and private life is popularly designated as “violently patriarchal.” This is the Khasi Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya, often hitting national and international headlines for fake and catchy narratives like “women’s empowerment ” and “gender equality.”

Read the PostKhasi-Jaintia Hypocrisy and Rape

May 10, 2017 /

For the good part of two years, we have been hearing a lot of noise about the Village Administration Bill (VAB). There were protests and speeches about it, demonstrations and weary policemen. The people against it seemed to be in the majority and only the government side seriously thought it was a good idea. In Jaintia Hills, it went off fairly well and was passed without much delay or opposition.

Read the PostWhat is so sacrosanct about the Khasi-Pnar Traditional Institutions?

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).

Read the PostSnacking in Pine Mount School, Shillong

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.

Read the PostSouvid Datta is not an exception, he is the rule

May 4, 2017 /

India is scared of a facebook post. India is scared of a poem. India is scared of a video. India is scared of the smile of a martyr. India is scared of a girl in hijab pelting stones. India is scared of a boy helping his friend reach to safety​. India is scared of the people coming together.

Read the PostIndia attempts to offline Kashmir

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.

Read the PostYou Are From?

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.

Read the PostPaieit loved his bottle and we loved him

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.

Read the PostThe Afterlife of a Revolutionary

April 27, 2017 /

The Umtrew River flows through mostly the Ri-Bhoi district. A number of dams vital for electricity generation lay along its path. It acts as a border along the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary along a certain stretch. Its value towards preserving wildlife cannot be exaggerated.

Read the PostThe destruction of the Umtrew River

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.

Read the PostDoctoring Evil: The Making and Hunting of Witches in Assam

April 25, 2017 /

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?

Read the PostMeghalaya Politics for Dummies

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.

Read the PostConfessions of a Haflong Hindi speaker

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.

Read the PostA DAY IN RI BHOI

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.

Read the PostDead Nationalism Turned Chauvinist: Why the Zubeen Incident is Much Ado about Nothing

April 17, 2017 /

Among nationalists in India, who have wet dreams of global “superpower” and watch over and over videos of “Indian weapons” and “most powerful militaries” on the YouTube, seeing images of those arms and men being reduced to a barbaric spectacle against an unarmed people produces a dispiriting dissonance. “Indian man” has fantasized a genocide for long. In its eyes, a genocide has a metonymic association with “national will.” This fantasy is now a metastasized desire to act like the US in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as ISIS in Syria. They want Indian military to kill without any compunction: “kill 1000 of them for our one;” “drop MOABs on them;” and “take Kashmiri women as slaves.”

Read the PostIndian masculinity, nationalism, and torture videos from Kashmir

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.

Read the Post38 Brutal Minutes of Human Paradox

April 14, 2017 /

Christ, on this evidence, had been a Messiah, a prophet-king to lead the Jews in the apocalyptic struggle at the end of time. He died on the cross – like thousands of other Jews in the first century AD – not because he was a blasphemer who claimed to be god, but because he was a revolutionary who threatened the authority of Rome and its Sadducean allies.

Read the PostRevolutionary Jesus

April 14, 2017 /

Ambedkar’s “contribution to the making of modern India is possibly more substantial than that of any other leader of his generation.” Uniquely among leading national figures, Ambedkar not only overcame enormous personal odds (caste humiliation, poverty, the deaths of four of his five children), he also pioneered a critique of Indian society based on Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, and fraternity—values that he situated in India’s own ancient traditions, most notably in Buddhism. He was more of a secular rationalist than even Nehru, with a far more sophisticated sense of history, economics, and philosophy. This aspect of Ambedkar—rooted in a worldly, inclusive, scrupulously reasoned, secular and radical egalitarianism, coupled with a bracing focus on equal dignity and social justice as foundations for civil rights—still hasn’t received its due in mainstream scholarship and opinion. Which other leader of the 20th century is as relevant to every dream of a just, modern, liberal, secular, humane, and democratic society in India today?

Read the PostAmbedkar in the Indian Imagination

April 13, 2017 /

Remember the terrible anthem with bad green screen video called Namami Brahmaputra by some guy called Papon? Obviously you don’t. Why would you even remember that abomination. But you remember the Original or the Truth Version of that Chutiyami Brahmaputra Song by that guy from Haflong? Obviously you do.

Read the Post<SHOCKING> PAPON gets Facebook to take down Mr. India’s critique of Brahmaputra Hindtuva Anthem

April 13, 2017 /

“So where does your son work?” I asked; ‘Hajirabad’, replied Ghanshyam Thapa, a Nepali elder from Bhutankhuti village falling under Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). Confused initially, I said that it’s Hyderabad, in vain though. “Yes, that place – Hajirabad” replied Ghanshyam. Later it dawned in my mind that the apparent linguistic travesty of Ghanshyam Thapa inadvertently represented the stark reality of Bhutankhuti along with most of the villages of the region falling under Baksa district in Western Assam. Hajira in Assamese roughly translates in English as labour, hence as Hyderabad hosts a large number of migrants from northeast India, it becomes ‘Hajirabad’ to Ghyansam Thapa. Bhutankhuti is the last village in India before the Bhutan border; lying 21 km north of the National highway 31. A random interview in the households of the nearby villages, across the different communities would provide similar narratives of out migration.

Read the PostBeing Nepali in Northeast India

April 12, 2017 /

Eddie Rynjah wrote his own material and some reports suggest that he even tried putting together something called ‘It’s you I came here for’. It’s not clear whether this is a collection of songs and there are suggestions that he did record something but despite his sister Yvonne’s best efforts, this material can’t be located anymore. So, did he become disillusioned by the limitations of a small town and never quite got over the lights of Park Street? … Many afflicted musicians before and after him have died younger but the tragedy with Eddie Rynjah was that he lived long enough to realize his immense potential but either chose not to or was not allowed to – or both.

Read the Post“It’s you I came here for” : Eddie Rynjah Story

April 11, 2017 /

Government assistance/intervention, from farm to store shelf, is crucial for the success of a product in our current predicament. Many local (agro-based) businesses which I have observed flounder after a while because they simply cannot survive the intense rigours of the competitive marketplace. It is nonsense to say that only the fittest products/brands shall survive because the winners of such competition are always backed up either by cash accumulated over many years or concessions made by governments themselves.

Read the PostDon’t write off the Governmental intervention for Meghalaya’s development

April 10, 2017 /

Sadly, artistic excellence too is a package. She had many prejudices and narrow revivalist instincts that her mother, Mogubai Kurdikar, was at least free from – perhaps a part of her Maharashtrian modernity. Unlike Kumar Gandharva, she did not betray any antipathy towards Muslim musicians, but it nevertheless came as a shock to see her re-name Raga Jaunpuri as Raga Jivanpuri.

Read the PostOn Kishori Amonkar

April 10, 2017 /

Anthropologists Dolly Kikon and Bengt G. Karlsson collaborated with photographer Andrzej Markiewicz to trace the lives and lifeworlds of indigenous migrants who have travelled from the Northeastern frontier of India to the expanding cities of South India.

Read the Post<WAYFINDING> Williem and his friends in Bangalore

April 7, 2017 /

It was a standard and wonted response from an Indian politician when being confronted with questions on human rights abuses in Kashmir – unsophisticated, evasive, ahistorical and blame-shifting. MP Shashi Tharoor takes it to a new level through his disturbing conception of illusions that he tries to exhibit during a recent interview with Tim Sebastian, a Deutsche Welle journalist, who interviewed him on the subject.

Read the PostLies of Shashi Tharoor

April 6, 2017 /

Naturally, there are sexual relationships between men and women within activist spaces and organisations, but male entitlement combined with a privileged position, and a significant follower/comrade base provides a sense of dangerous impunity to these men. As a result of this, there are various cases of asymmetrical power relations between men and women, which translates into sexual harrassment at work and intimate partner abuse or both.

Read the PostToxic Masculinities of Progressive Kind

April 5, 2017 /

Those who eat beef partake in the infliction of momentary albeit lethal pain, lasting at the most a few minutes. Death might well be a relief for the cow, who otherwise might be left to fend for herself once she is past her prime. She might have to walk the streets, scrounge around in rubbish, eat paper and plastic (even in rural India), which ravages her entrails. Consumers of dairy products partake in and enjoy the results of torture on a mass scale. Perennially ropes are pushed up the typical Indian cow’s nose and round her neck and she is tied up in a confined space, left to wallow in her dung and urine: not for minutes or hours, but for days, weeks, months and many years.

Read the PostAN INDIAN (WOULD-BE) VEGAN’S DEFENCE OF BEEF-EATING

April 4, 2017 /

Every year, in March, I have to listen to the same pseudo-technical verbosity at State and Central levels being reported across various media outlets. The Budget Session, it is clear from all the attention and scrutiny it receives, is by far the single most important Parliamentary session there is, and rightly so. Economic activities are the life-blood of society. Here in Meghalaya sadly, the only sheets we know are bed-sheets (which we buy with money which isn’t ours). The grim reality of the state balance sheets has not roused us from our slumber.

Read the PostDid Meghalaya just have a Budget Session?