Category: Words

October 18, 2017 /

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organizations that fall under the umbrella of the Sangh Parivar have grown roots in the United States and have become active in fundraising and propaganda activities. Taking advantage of their status as an ethnic minority, these groups nakedly pursue a majoritarian Hindu agenda in the west and lash out against institutions and individuals that critique India’s Hindu nationalist government or it’s leader Narendra Modi.

October 17, 2017 /

In the context of the rise of Corbyn and Sanders and the rise of left-wing populist movements like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, this article asks, through an engagement with Chantal Mouffe’s writings on left-wing populism, whether there can be a left-wing populism in India that can counter the right-wing populism of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The article explores the conditions for a “populist situation” that exist in India at present.

October 16, 2017 /

I got a message from my brother that my aunt had been arrested along with 11 others for vigilante violence against two women. I’d been off Facebook and the internet and missed the news. As soon as I heard this I called my aunt to find out what was happening. She was unwell and didn’t seem to know what was happening. In fact at that point I knew more than she did, because I have internet and a smartphone, which she doesn’t . However she gave me the background to what happened. She and most of my family lives in Shillong, a city I was born in and where I spent my childhood and teens. The women of the community had organised a period of night vigils to have a say and some control of elements that they were afraid of – mostly drugs and sex work.

October 13, 2017 /

On the third day of their ongoing peaceful agitation around 1200 longstanding regular casual workers of Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd had lunch time protest in various parts of Meghalaya, including Shillong, Umiam, Kyrdem Kulai, Jowai, Khlierihat, Tura, Phulbari, Ampati, Baghmara, Garobadha, Mendipathar, Nongstoin, Mairang & Mawkyrwat. They held placards with slogans outlining their various grievances.

October 11, 2017 /

The BBC documentary that alleged a darker side to the ‘success story’ of conserving the one-horned rhino in the Kaziranga National Park has provided an occasion to think about the intertwined destinies of the animal and certain conceptions of Assamese nationalism. The article argues that the discourse of conservation in the state is constrained by a failure to see the animal as an end in itself. Conservation efforts are instead subordinated to various ideological agendas and therefore the animal’s value is seen as residing in the ideological role that it fulfils. The article traces the history of constructing the animal as an indispensable constituent of Assamese nationalism and how the metaphors used to represent this relationship have changed in response to the changing notions of Assamese nationalism.

October 10, 2017 /

The panel discussion, the worst that television news has invented – the half-hour/one hour compact spectacle performed with incensed verbose flying statements, filled with multiple screens, presenting zero logic but finding increasing traction amongst the audience – is what is plaguing Indian journalism and journalism education in particular.

October 9, 2017 /

I read The Wire’s story and Jay Amit Shah’s response. The story is factual, based on the annual reports filed with ROC. The story doesn’t make any allegations or imputations. It quotes the responses of the lawyer of Jay Amit Shah extensively. It also puts up their entire response. All It does is a mere extrapolation based on the numbers in the ROC filings. And in a country where public scrutiny of individuals who rule us is minimal, It does raise important questions

October 7, 2017 /

The man was arrested because he laughed.
He laughed at a time when laughing had been strictly prohibited. It was an unusual time, when people were not supposed to laugh, or even open their mouths. They were only meant to listen; it was only a select few who would do all the talking while everyone else simply listened – that was the rule in those days.

The imminent hour of compromise and betrayal is upon the hill people as the opportunistic and spineless Gorkha “leadership” is making overtures towards the West Bengal government, with their begging bowls lined with thick layers of opportunism and greed. Once again, a telltale picture is emerging wherein the hill public has been used as political bait in this game of profit and self-interest of the Gorkha leadership. The hapless hill people are hooked by their noses as they are coerced to yield in whatever direction the shallow and weak leaders point them towards.

October 6, 2017 /

No formal government program or agenda has been so socially malignant for India as the 2016 demonetization, both in the intent and manner in which the policy was deployed and in its impact on the working poor. While the forced sterilizations (nas bandi) of the mid-1970s were met with widespread subversion and eventually led to the fall of the Indira Gandhi government, the recent round of notebandi (literally, note ban) or demonetization was met by mass acquiescence.

October 5, 2017 /

Much has been made about the absence of large-scale protests by farmers against demonetization, as if farmers could march in the streets at the time of harvest, leaving their crops untended. On this topic, the journalist Ugale told me that some farmers had contemplated dumping tomatoes outside the collector’s office, but then changed their minds, thinking: “Even if we protest, what will we achieve?” Ugale trailed off and then, in a somber tone, concluded: “Helplessness and apathy, that’s what I see everywhere.”

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.

The issue of trafficking in Northeast India is symptomatic of many economic, social and political factors that exist in the region, the primary ones being underdevelopment, political isolation and inefficient governance. Education and the failure of the job market to offer and successfully integrate employment opportunities, especially outside urban centres has played a huge role in paving the way for trafficking, because many of the victims of child-trafficking come from economically underprivileged, mostly rural backgrounds. Therefore, political economy becomes one of the driving forces behind the vulnerability of children and women.

October 2, 2017 /

The reason most of the people in North East do not want to admit the Ronghiya Muslims because they understand the repercussion of what might happen if someday the immigrants grow in population. Right now we have the authority to oppress but if we allow outsiders to grow in number we will then become the oppressed. We understand this very well because this is exactly what we have been doing to our minorities in our own territories.

September 27, 2017 /

This year is the fiftieth death anniversary of the firebrand socialist Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and it is an apt occasion to remember his militant legacy. He died at the relatively young age of fifty seven in 1967. I too am fifty seven now and despite having trod the same path of mass politics as him, am still alive and have done precious little in comparison!! Lohia needs to be remembered today because he fought relentlessly against the corrupt dominance of the Indian National Congress and his mobilisation strategies are extremely valid today. 

September 26, 2017 /

Recently, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recognised Hate Crimes as a Public Health issue… What we doctors in India, need to learn from them? While a Modi-fied government seems to be pushing India’s public health into private hands thanks to its belief in unleashing India’s economy in the same style as the US does for its medical services, isn’t it surprising that none of us can imagine our premier physicians’ organisation, the Indian Medical Association taking up such a cause even in the next few decades! In fact, if history teaches us lessons, what we learn is that a large chunk of its leadership which is right-wing, may actually aid and abet the hate!

September 25, 2017 /

Satya Prasoon dissects the claims made by the Government of India in its affidavit on 18th Sept in the Supreme Court. Examining the constitutional law and international law positions he argues that the Government’s stand of deporting 40,000 Rohingyas is not legally justifiable. However, The Indian State needs to see beyond the law and frame it as a larger moral question of human suffering and loss. This case is not just about deciding the fate of 40000 individuals butalso indicates, if India is just a geographical construct or a nation with a moral core.

September 22, 2017 /

Ali Shariati was throughout his life a deeply committed Muslim but his Shi‘ism was of a radical, revolutionary type, thoroughly anti-clerical in its opposition to what he called ‘Safavid Shi‘ism’ (as opposed to his own ‘Red Shi‘ism’), the kind of Islam that disarmed the masses through its passive complicity with the ruling classes. Given that in modern Iran the clergy depended on the financial support of the richer merchants (bazaaris), Shariati’s ‘visceral contempt for the bourgeoisie’ extended to the ulama as well. His lectures and writings enraged the clerics, especially the influential group that saw in Khomeini the true face of the ‘revolutionary’ movement against Muhammad Reza Shah, and led to repeated fatwas condemning him after the revolution.

September 19, 2017 /

Few days ago one of the Raiot collective members received a Whatsapp message in Hindi. However, since some of the receivers of this message could not read hindi, the thrust of the threat was not instantly delivered, so it turned into a bit of a failure. But then yesterday, it came to our attention that a few other people- journalists, activists, as well as students – received the same whatsapp-forwarded death-threat; each coming from different numbers originating from different states in the country.

September 17, 2017 /

how do i explain to her why a cat
wants to run over the stairs up and down?
or want to go out in the cold and heat
and sit for ages in some folorn corner
of an abandoned room of some apartment?
cats do what they do. i also remember
someone who once asked what it was
that one could learn from a cat?
i wanted to say everything but
i did not think she would get it

September 14, 2017 /

States in North east of India- Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland share border with Myanmar. Looking into geography in relation to present situation, Mizoram is closer to Rakhine state of Myanmar than other states in the northeast of India. A Christian dominated state- Mizoram which takes pride in being a beacon of helping the needy and imparting teachings of Christianity, is silent when it comes to fleeing refugees at its backyards. It throws a question on how faith can be blinding in this hour of crisis. The porous Indo Myanmar border along Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram have cases of people crossing from one side to other side of the border from the past.

September 13, 2017 /

The high profile rally initiative to save India’s rivers taken up by well respected religious guru Sadguru and his followers is noteworthy, and the most recent case in point. It is striking that so many film stars, politicians, governments, and public personalities, are joining the call. Lakhs of children are expected to join in the program. While we welcome such an outpouring of good intentions and good will as a demonstration of the positive energy all around, unfortunately, we have seen no evidence either from the rally organisers, on their website or their messaging, that they understand or plan to address the real threats faced by our rivers and their sorry state.

September 13, 2017 /

More than 100 people died in bank queues trying to get to their own hard-earned money. Eight thousand crore rupees were spent to print notes. Billions of hours were wasted waiting patiently in bank queues. Bank staff forgot all their other works as well as night sleep. The working poor lost livelihood, for the notes to pay them with were nowhere to be found. All this, it appears, is a trifle in the worship of the fuehrer, er, the Bharatmata.

September 13, 2017 /

Gauri Lankesh – woman, journalist, activist, woman – murdered in front of her home the other day while returning from work. What is the anatomy of such a murder – the ingredients that go into its making? And what are the levers, policy and otherwise, that can be put to use to address such events? And what can we, as individuals, do? Where and how can we intervene?

September 12, 2017 /

There is a famous Khasi middle class story about selfishness and it goes something like this. There were a number of crabs in a bucket and they were all destined to become dinner at some point in time. The crabs knew about this and they realised that they needed to escape this horrible fate. The story goes on to tell us about how one of the crabs had somehow managed to get a firm grip on the rim of the bucket and was proceeding to pull himself out to the relative safety of the outside world. However, just as he was about to complete his great escape, the other crabs resorted to pulling him back down to the bottom of the bucket. He was, thus, doomed like the rest.

September 8, 2017 /

Journalists play a unique and pivotal role in every society and must be able to do their work without interference from the state. But as the boundaries between journalists and nonjournalists continue to erode and any meaningful definition of journalism becomes more and more elusive, journalists have to recognize that their rights are best protected not by the special realm of “press freedom” but rather by ensuring that guarantees of free expression are extended to all.

September 7, 2017 /

Almost seven years ago, to the week, I had sent off instructions to Gauri Lankesh about who would receive her at Imphal airport and then take her up to Ukhrul. She was part of a team of women writers from different parts of India who had been invited to travel across the Northeast and write stories about their experiences

September 6, 2017 /

We are curious about why the government wants to block our website. A traveling arts project is not exactly threatening the status quo. Further, curiosity and engagement with processes of identity construction is necessarily an open-ended process. There is no in-advance condemnation of any particular party, politician or any social group. From concerns about language, to food habits, to religion, marriage, divorce, clothing, color of skin and other minutiae of public and private life, identity has acquired weight if you live in India.

September 2, 2017 /

If you’re waiting for Jaggi to transform India’s rivers, don’t hold your breath. In Jaggi’s world, there are no strangers. Only friends that haven’t met. Also, there are no bad things that have to be stopped — like dams on rivers, the Ken-Betwa interlinking that will drown a tiger habitat, or the indiscriminate pollution from coal mines and coal power plants operated by his partners in this campaign. All these bad things can be cured by doing just one good thing — planting trees.