Category: Words

August 3, 2017 /

The occasion for these reflections is provided by two books placed before me for review, both effectively dealing with the beginnings and ends of the Left Front in West Bengal. One is straightforwardly and directly personal: Debraj Bhattacharya’s Exploring Marxist Bengal, a good-humoured if at times self-indulgent memoir that narrates a progressive disillusionment with the CPI(M), the ‘left’, and with claims to ‘progressive’ politics among his generation… The second, NO FREE LEFT, by the prolific communist aristocrat Vijay Prashad, promises no less than a narrative and analysis of ‘the past of Indian Communism and an assessment of its future’, which again cannot be written, as he proudly tells us, invoking Antonio Gramsci, ‘without writing a “general history of a country”’. Prashad’s account comprises a series of banalities written in prophetic tone, the latter attributable to his taking upon himself the role of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, a role apparently acquired backwards via Hegel and Schlegel – and he is keen on asserting his right to write as a philosopher who is not a mushroom…

August 2, 2017 /

On 30 June 2017, almost two hundred protesters who had gathered together to draw attention of the Assam government towards the concerns of the citizens of the state in relation to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Doubtful voters (D-voters) issue at Kharbazaar in Assam’s Goalpara district were dispersed by the district police administration during which an youth named Yakub Ali was shot dead by the police.

August 1, 2017 /

Having been in the Tourism Sector in North East India since 1997, I feel I do have a little to say regarding the topic and the direction it is going. This piece of writing may offend some, may wake up some, or may even turn some against me; some may even think I write out of jealousy: let it all be – I point out things because they are in the context of the topic. When I write or speak I do not try to say I know best, I believe in debate, strong views and discussion, therefore I often say what I feel, in the belief that it will not only make my own mind think in the broader perspective but also hope that others will think. It is not a put down to others who are doing things differently, it is a question, as I believe others can question me.

July 31, 2017 /

The college authorities decided one day that they needed to ask women students not to wear skirts above the knee, and to ban students from smoking on the college grounds. The Vice Principal came to our classroom to make this announcement: its effect was marred considerably by the sight of Eunice at the back of the room, pointedly lighting up a cigarette with a trademark look of ironic amusement on her face.

July 30, 2017 /

Where do I belong?
In this city that is too old
In those hills that are too cold 
Or America
But I am no burly Polish dissident 
Nor of cultivated Bengali intellect 
Or a Punjabi with a partitioned wallet 
Only a rough diamond with festers and sores 
Shall I then go to Surat? 

July 29, 2017 /

There are nationalist, there are racists, there are right wingers and there are these so called ” KHASI SONS OF THE SOIL” whom we term as INTERNET KHLAWAIT. They are found in their natural habitats; Facebook, Whatsapp, twitter and sometimes, in you tube. They are always criticising everything that is not Khasi or written in Khasi along with other languages. Here are some of the traits of these INTERNET KHLAWAIT…

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 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 13, 2017 /

It was a chilly cold November morning in 2016, when my respondent’s acquaintance dropped me at Simaluguri and arranged an auto-cum-carrier for my remaining journey to United Liberation Front of Asom’s (ULFA) designated camp, popularly known as ‘Asom Navnirman Kendra’ at Lakwa in Sivasagar. I wasn’t scared but I was apprehensive. Anxieties in fact started right in the morning when I saw this elderly but very handsome former ULFA Commander who drove me to Simaluguri. I found him handsome because he drove with great confidence in spite of only his left hand being intact while at the same time sharing the significance of the historic Sivasagar town. It was a grenade that blew off his right hand during one of his former tough underground days. He had embraced his disability with grace.

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.

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 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 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 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 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?

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.