Category: English

August 10, 2018 /

There was a time when people from the Northeast, settled and studying in different cities of the country would call home for one reason only, to talk about their cravings for home food. Home was then, a place tucked very far away, and a chance of visiting home was awfully hard to come by. However, things have been slightly different in the past few years with the growth of the Northeast stores in Delhi.

August 9, 2018 /

Though political schisms exist between tribal political subjectivity and forces representing Assamese ruling elites, yet both tribal and non-tribal people of Assam consider continued migration into Assam as a shared problem that must be adequately addressed.
There is no correct political position to be assumed on this issue, except the one which aims at addressing long standing historical demands without resulting in mass displacement and injury to anyone. More than anything, at this particular juncture, one has to be careful about the BJP and the communal forces it is willing to unleash.

August 9, 2018 /

“I have been hearing the euphoria of the Gorkhaland movement since my childhood days but never experienced the reality of the movement. My blood boils when my ancestor narrates me the story of humiliation and suppression that Nepalis has been living under the regime of Bengal government. I become rebellious and agitated when I heard of 1986 movement’s (chyasi ko andolan) story where thousands of Gorkhalis have sacrificed their lives for the sake of their motherland. But I feel embarrassed again when I think of the leaders and their petty political interest because of which we failed always” said one of my friends, Dewan when he was drunk.

August 8, 2018 /

DNA tests would suggest a truly pure “Khasi” as an impossibility, giving how people constantly mix with each other through migration, immigration and so on. This makes “Khasi” an abstract, a notion we built in our minds that may somehow, find a place in our hearts (figuratively, of course).
In realising this, one finds that “Khasi-ness” as defined by the “Khasi jingoists”/ “Khla Wait Ka Ri” makes it corrupted, toxic and deplorable. To them, “Khasi-ness” attains a divine status that further implies the delusional belief of “Khasi” as a superior race. For these Khla Wait to sustain the delusional superiority in being “Khasi”, it almost seems necessary to instil fear and hatred of the “non-Khasi” through lies, propaganda, and punishments.

August 7, 2018 /

The Bakarwal tribe is a Muslim nomadic pastoral tribe in Jammu and Kashmir also found in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is one such tribe which is facing numerous challenges which are posing a threat not only to their livelihood but also puts into question their existence. Following is an interview conducted on a pleasant evening as part of my study on the tribe exploring the lives of Bakarwals, a tribe which came into the limelight after the Kathua rape case.

August 6, 2018 /

The idea that races are part of our existence and daily experience, especially those of us living in multicultural societies, seems to be just taken for granted by many people. But are races real or simply social/political constructs? Is there any scientific evidence they exist in humans? Or are some scientists just being politically correct in denying their existence?

August 5, 2018 /

Members of my father’s house, languages mix like the marriage of clattering utensils. Members of the house, you folded your mats and gave yourself up to another religion. Members of the house, let us not pretend that we are one thing and one thing alone. Together we brewed in the cauldron of that kitchen or have you chosen to forget? We will never be just one thing again. Never again will there be enough to burn to purify the impure in us.

August 4, 2018 /

Nagamese has been for close to a century and a half the lingua franca of the people of Nagaland and parts of Assam. A hybrid of Naga languages, all of which belong to the Tibeto-Burman family and Assamese, an Indo-European language, Nagamese occupies a distinct space in the region and plays a unique role serving as a connector between the various Naga tribes. It also facilitates communication between the Nagas and the Assamese. To understand the origins of Nagamese, it is essential to briefly dip into the history of the Nagas as a people and the history of their contact with the Assamese.

August 2, 2018 /

Citizenship lists are not like census data collection, population transfers are not like displacements of development projects, dislocations, and relocations and statelessness such demographic engineering projects, basically the fantasies-turned-policies “cumulatively radicalize”, until the point of no return when the only rational solution to the mess created is to dispose of the people off the horizon.

August 2, 2018 /

Some Q & A on NRC. Might sound repetitive and self evident . But people need to be told, because some know too little, some know it all wrong and some are deliberately being informed all wrong…

Bottom line is that there are complexities in this country that cannot be fit into ideological straightjacket or ready to serve linear narratives. Should the empathy for the stateless (although let us remember 40 lakh is a ‘draft figure’, yet to be finalised and there is no ‘official’ position on the ‘punitive measures’ to be taken) not essentially co-exist with empathy and concern for those coerced into sharing resources and habitats to waves and waves of immigrants? Or perhaps feeling for both( the one’s seeking a home and the one’s loosing their homes and fields) compromises one’s ‘politics’?

July 31, 2018 /

The Lineage Act is flawed because it fails to cover customary male privileges and this is the reason that there is so much confusion and frustration and economic imbalance amongst the Khasi males today. Now to amend the 1997 Act by stripping away the Khasi status of a woman who enters into marriage with a non Khasi is not only regressive but morally wrong. This is no justice at all. This approach is very Taliban in nature. It is my humble request to the Governor to perceive and give a careful thought to the kinship aspect of my Matrilineal System…
KHADC, please stop the massacre of our unique culture by codifying certain customs and overlooking others. Or else this act will be just a goldmine of the lawyers. This action of yours is an embarrassment and the entire world is laughing at us.

July 31, 2018 /

The lack of outrage in progressive quarters over NRC updation or detention of suspected foreigners is worth mulling over. Do they not see that perfectly innocent people are being incarcerated on dubious grounds by the Foreigners’ Tribunals? Or, that people are going bonkers trying to procure the right NRC papers, and killing themselves when they are unable to? Most of the unfortunates are Muslims – 70% of those lodged in detention camps are Muslims. Some, though Hindu, speak Bengali. But the considerations of religion and language were important to the blood and soil politics-propagating rightists. Not to the left, who stand by the marginalised. Indeed, should they err, it better be on the side of the weak. Or, so one thought. Unfortunately, as a friend put it, it has become hard to distinguish the position of the left from that of the right. What explains the want of empathy?

July 31, 2018 /

The Proposed amendment clearly seeks to excommunicate and ostracise a Khasi woman who marries a non Khasi and her children, in contravention to our customary practices, Human Rights law and our Constitution. The bill is being justified on grounds of protecting the Khasis against economic exploitation and land alienation, but this was done without proper and diligent research and the proposed amendment will not in any way resolve what is sought to be projected as being the crisis in Khasi society. In fact legislations such as the land Transfer Act and The Benami Act already exist to protect and curb economic exploitation and land alienation. These need to be strictly implemented in letter and spirit. Further there is an urgent need to bring a Land Ceiling Act such that rampant land alienation leading to landlessness especially rural landlessness is immediately checked. Given the serious nature of the lapses and violations to the many constitutional provisions and our customary practices we sincerely urge you to withhold assent to this problematic amendment bill.

July 28, 2018 /

To a noble MATRILINEAL tribe
I am an unclean woman, lost in her love for the outsider or anyone deserving of her MATRILINEAL love 
This morning the outsider (who may be a shiteng jait or a half this half that, a riff-raff uncertain of ITS own identity) and I contemplated starting a new super tribe
Sorry but not everyone is allowed in

July 28, 2018 /

I have withdrawal symptoms.  The end of the football World Cup is making me put pen to paper. The World Cup has always been an important personal reference point. Growing up in Goa, right from class 1, my friend wanted to be a footballer like Romario. He is now a full time footballer who played in the Indian Soccer League and is now at a football league in Mexico. My consolation was that I grew up to be a wildlife biologist and have had a diversity of football related experiences. This World Cup got me hooked in three places. I was in the land where “football” bears no resemblance to o jogo bonito, while being part of the conversations from the Eastern Himalayas where I work, and the seaside state of Goa where I was born and raised.

July 26, 2018 /

The gender biased KHASI HILLS AUTONOMOUS DISTRICT (KHASI SOCIAL CUSTOM OF LINEAGE)(SECOND AMEDMENT) BILL, 2008 is a violation of the fundamental right of a Tribal women…This decision to discriminate against woman is more like a Khap Panchayat in our backyard waiting to pounce on women…Can the law passed by the KHADC overwrite the laws passed by the Centre? And can the Governor of Meghalaya, assent to an unconstitutional Bill which is demeaning and Discriminating Tribal woman and their children? Benami is rampant by many greedy Tribal men and many leaders, yet KHADC remained blind to this fact and zoomed in only on Tribal women. This bill for me, smells of Formalin Fish…

July 25, 2018 /

It must be put on record that the consensus on NRC makes no distinction on the basis of language, religion or ethnicity for people who could prove their credentials from before the cut-off date of 24th March 1971. To portray the process of NRC as against any particular linguistic or religious community is, therefore, to subvert the very basis of social harmony and established democratic values.”
A Statement on Fact-Finding Report by “United Against Hate” & “Avaaz” online campaign for intervention by UN by FORUM AGAINST AMENDMENT OF CITIZENSHIP ACT BILL

July 23, 2018 /

Let me start with the caveat that I am totally against the politics of Mother Teresa’s model of charity and how the missionaries of charity is run.
The way the entire controversy around the alleged trafficking of infants in Ranchi by nun(s) belonging to the Missionaries of Charity exposes the underbelly of hatred and suspicion of the other on the part of savarna India.

July 18, 2018 /

On 16th of July, 2018 some of the news portals in Kashmir Valley published a letter from Abdul Manan Wani, member of the resistance group – Hizbul Mujahideen. Mr. Manan was a research scholar from one of the prestigious universities in India and was in news some months back when news channels flashed ‘scholar turned militant’ in the headlines. Within no time the letter was taken down from the virtual space from by the State authorities and the police were quick to start legal action against the web-portals who had published this letter.

July 14, 2018 /

Most books in English on the subject matter are about Muslims and address non-Muslim readers—painstakingly defending or decrying Islam. Till Talaq Do Us Part by Zia Us Salam is refreshing in also addressing Muslim readers. It is positioned as a primer on the issue of Talaq busting myths of all kinds and making a strong case for potential for gender justice from within Islam.

July 12, 2018 /

From the flaring of the anus to unresolved mommy issues, various theories and sciences have sought to produce the homosexual definitively. The homosexual was the very being of sexuality is why each time the homosexual is caused, he is by a philosophy of sexuality. Take for instance medicine that has an imagined balance the body is in as tabula rasa. There is a minimum and an optimum. Some mix of anatomical unity, hormones and secretions, and (later) chromosomes reveal to the specialist who we are. Any incoherence only involves the restoration of this balance. The homosexual, for the longest time, could be found and cured in the same way since sexuality itself accrued from the alignment of these things that could be seen and extracted by magnifying glasses, needles, and tubes.

July 11, 2018 /

SOLVE FIVE FOOTBALL WORLD CUP MYSTERIES
1. Why do people suddenly “get into” football during the World Cup, when usually they’re not interested?
2. Why do people cheer and yell during a match in a way they never normally would?
3. Why do we criticise our country’s team so much, but feel annoyed if someone from another country does it?
4. Why do we enjoy it when a team that’s not meant to be very good wins a match?
5. Does the World Cup always causes conflict between different countries?

July 10, 2018 /

The members of Meghalaya & Greater Shillong Progressive Hawkers & Street Vendors Association and Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR)  provided following suggestions to High Level Committee for Rehabilitation of The Residents of Punjabi Lane setup by Govt. of Meghalaya with regards to:
1) Formulation of a just and humane solution for the long-term residents of Sweepers’ Line in Them Iew Mawlong keeping in mind protections envisaged under Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and Tribal nature of the state of Meghalaya. 
2) Redevelopment plans for the area. 
3) Safety and security of livelihood of Hawkers and Street Vendors.

July 6, 2018 /

The Bengali Bhadrolok class always gets rattled whenever there is even a scratch on its two academic fiefdoms, Presidency and Jadavpur Universities. These are the two primary apparatuses for the reproduction of hegemony of this class in Bengal’s socio-cultural life. Noone has found this extraordinarily parochial class moving petitions or capturing media time and space to express their concern about or outrage against Bengal’s bleak education system. In the last few years, this class has gradually given up on the Presidency, and now, it is more bothered about Jadavpur. In the rising populist tidal water, the island mentality of the Bhadralok class has become acute. Latest is their rage against the decision of the Jadavpur University (JU) administration to scrap entrance examination to a few undergraduate programmes, English being the focal point.

July 2, 2018 /

Most of the problems and social conflicts experienced by the Khasi society today are due to misinterpretation of traditions and acceptance of colonial innovations as sacred and God-given traditions that existed since time immemorial. Let us discuss on one of these colonial innovations which remains in force today through modern legal instruments, but stands in perpetual conflict with the deep-seated cultural sentiments of the people. Khasi elders of old said that the Syiem was appointed in a Raid or Hima because the Bakhraw, as leaders of the founding clans refused to take over the properties of extinct clans, to inflict punishments on criminals, thieves and murderers. The Bakhraw also thought that it was dishonourable for them to live by begging for free gifts, donations, or to fill one’s coffer by fees, fines and taxes levied on the products of others in the markets. Hence, all these reprehensible functions and unholy sources of income were handed over to the Syiem.   

July 1, 2018 /

Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, artist and author of the autobiographical Finding My Way (2016), found himself at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London speaking on 21 June at a seminar on “Indigenous Media, Self-Determination and Cultural Activism”. This poem came to him then as he first typed out Hindi in Roman script on his phone and sent it to his friend and accomplice S. Anand, publisher at large at the small Navayana. Anand felt impelled to find the words in English just like he did when working with Venkat on his autobiography. Venkat’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including at Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, in 2013.

June 30, 2018 /

“Bhairavi was trying hard to concentrate on her Haruki Murakami novel as she kept tossing on her mahogany bed. But she was frequently getting distracted by the beautiful sharp notes of Himachali folksongs she played on her laptop just a short while ago.
At that moment, she suddenly heard a hiss hiss sound coming from the window near her. She was dazed to see an enormous python creeping through her window railings and slipping along its body towards her room. A chunk of his large smoky body glittered in the mid-day sunlight.

On 30th June, the complete draft list of NRC will be published, a narrative has been constructed, mostly by BJP leaders and the Sangh Parivar that 30th June will decide the fate of who is a citizen and who not. This narrative of finality has been spearheaded by powerful BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who has been repeatedly saying that 30th June 2018 will decide ‘friend or foe of Assam”. This imposed narrative has, understandable, created anxiety and fear among many people, especially Muslims of East Bengali origin.
That being the situation, If any issue related to NRC is sensationalized without proper substantiation or due to lack of understanding of the nuances related to the process, one may unintentionally further strengthen the conspiracy of fear that is being spread by the Sangh parivar.

June 28, 2018 /

At a book reading in Kolkata, about a week after my first novel, The God of Small Things, was published, a member of the audience stood up and asked, in a tone that was distinctly hostile: “Has any writer ever written a masterpiece in an alien language? In a language other than his mother tongue?” I hadn’t claimed to have written a masterpiece (nor to be a “he”), but nevertheless I understood his anger toward a me, a writer who lived in India, wrote in English, and who had attracted an absurd amount of attention. My answer to his question made him even angrier.
“Nabokov,” I said. And he stormed out of the hall.

June 26, 2018 /

What actually happened on the 31/5/2018 would be best known only to a few with whom the incident occurred. But when an incident is made sensational news for heavy sale, for political power, for organizational comeback, then facts are distorted and everyday the facts are woven into such lies that creates mayhem and breeds hatred among communities. Sad to see people reach to such a low with their vulgarities. We were known for being a loving race that respects man and God but the recent incident displayed all. Our level of tolerance was zero. All because the past Governments did not do their work all these years and one wonders why…

June 25, 2018 /

A day before Eid, a Twitter storm with the hashtag #InquireKashmirKillings erupted. Notwithstanding the pall of gloom caused by the killing of respected editor- in-chief of Rising Kashmir, Shujat Bukhari by unknown gunmen on the very day that the report by the UN on the situation in Kashmir vis-a-vis human rights was released, Kashmiris hurled themselves into battle.

June 22, 2018 /

Today is “Rev. Thomas Jones Day”, gazetted as a Special Holiday for all State Government Offices and all revenue and Magisterial Courts and Educational Institutions across the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and the Ri-Bhoi District. What might this 22 June holiday mean, individually or collectively, for Christian or non-Christian, in that shape-shifting ground between the past and the present?
The 22 June holiday commemorates Thomas Jones as a founder, a father, a first. The idea of historical “firsts” often drives a popular understanding of the past— and more pertinently, the political use of the past in the present—but is not always helpful in really getting to grips with complex and interconnected historical processes. There’s not necessarily a ground zero moment when it comes to cultural change. Hero worship, furthermore — though it comes with a feel-good factor— can be rather unhelpful.

June 22, 2018 /

Convergence of an existing ‘fitness fad’ amongst India’s aspirational middle class with the #HumFitTohIndiaFit social media campaign as a precursor to the International Yoga Day, has helped to convert an exclusionary and violent somatic nationalism of the RSS into a secular principle. This appeals greatly to the Indian middle-class. It allows India Inc. to feel the rush of patriotic sentiment without having to get its hands dirty in a refurbished akhada. It allows those of us who live in comfortable high-rises with attached gyms and swimming pools to smell our own sweat and feel incredibly proud for having performed an immensely patriotic act.
This is lifestyle patriotism of the most insidious variety. It turns citizens into consumers, yoga into a collapsed 5-minute workout video, and the very real issue of both individual health as well as the health of a vast citizenry into nothing more than a social media gimmick.

June 21, 2018 /

“What about the Kashmiri Pandits?” For well over a quarter century every public conversation on Kashmir has been dogged by that question. As a tiny Hindu minority in predominantly Muslim Kashmir (they constituted less than 5% in the 1990s) Pandits have had an extraordinary valence in the often-heated discourse around the conflict, and their “migration” from Kashmir in the early 1990s continues to cast a baleful shadow on the present.

June 21, 2018 /

The convenor and the presenters of the panel ‘Feminist Reframings of India’s Northeast: Gendered Geographies and Genealogies’ have decided to withdraw our panel from the AAS-in-Asia, 2018 Conference. The panel has made this decision in the light of how the denial of visas to scholars from Pakistan was handled by AAS and Ashoka University. The Association has kept this news away from all other participants of the conference.

June 20, 2018 /

On August 15, 1947, when India gained independence, Bishnu Prasad Rabha led a black flag demonstration in a village named Dighelia, shouting “Ye Azaadi Jhootha Hain, Sirf Chamra Ka Badal” (This freedom is a hoax : only a change of skin), and he was promptly arrested and put behind bars. After he was released, Rabha went underground for years – presenting a serious challenge to the establishment. He took up arms and engaged in guerrilla warfare against the government.

June 20, 2018 /

No other issue, in the recent memory, evokes the relevance of history more than the Sweepers’ Line Imbroglio. The week, following the incident of 31st May, misinformation and misrepresentation flew thick and fast. One such, being the nomenclature (name), ‘Punjabi Lane’. One does not deny the fact that there had been clashes in the past three decades, but never was it attached a communal colour, as this time round. That the situation, spin from a brawl to a communal flare up, stemmed from the ‘falsification’ of the name of the said ‘Area’, thereby unnecessarily, dragging the name of a particular community to it.

June 18, 2018 /

The image she shows me on her laptop shows smears of blood on the floor, discarded clothing and prayer mats at one corner of the corridor. No action. No people. But Sanna Irshad Mattoo, one of Kashmir’s growing bunch of women photo-journalists, conveys the potential of objects and belongings to bear “witness”. The inanimate speaks out of the terrible violence that stains, not just the hospital floor, but, as the hashtgag suggests one that has permeated the soul of Kashmir.

June 16, 2018 /

In a statement issued on April 16th 2018, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) claimed that the ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is ‘a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development related measures’. This new policy, apparently in place since the NDA government came to power at the centre, claims to have ‘zero tolerance towards violence coupled with a big push to developmental activities so that benefits of development reached the poor and vulnerable in the affected areas’. The statement talks of substantial improvement in the LWE scenario by indicating reduced incidents of violence over the last four years. Within a week of this statement to the press, several Maoists are killed in an alleged encounter in Gadchiroli district of Maharastra and, then, in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.

June 16, 2018 /

In #Shillong, never is #masculinity as intensively interrogated as during the World Cup…Personally, I had never developed a love for any sport, let alone football. This year’s world cup for me is a time machine. As it takes me back, I rediscover an old feeling of resilience. Each time the world cup happened, it has allowed for me to become a target of collective bullying. “Why are you such a sissy?”, “What kind of man are you?”, “Hijras like you should not be born”.