Category: Politics

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.

Read the PostLooking at Atrocity Images

May 19, 2017 /

Young Kashmiri women know the public space is theirs to keep and rightly so. When they raise their middle finger at the occupation, their heads are held high in knowing that standing up to oppression in all forms of expression does not diminish their dignity. It is clear that these women do not need to be called from the Masjid pulpits, but that they have arrived of their own accord. And they have come to stay.

Read the PostAnd we shall resist the occupation

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 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

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 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

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 /

“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 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 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?

March 15, 2017 /

After Irom Sharmila’s humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Manipur Assembly Elections, where she got only 90 votes, social media was filled with concerned citizens and activists going berserk, talking about how poorly this defeat reflected upon the new political culture of India. The idealism and politics of Irom Sharmila was put on a pedestal to an extent that people sitting far away from the rough and tumble of Manipur’s politics saw themselves as capable of pronouncing judgement upon the morality of the people of Manipur.

Read the PostAgainst blaming the people of Manipur for #IromSharmila ‘s defeat

March 13, 2017 /

No, I do not yet believe that poverty can finish off a person of such immense virtue, a virtue to perform and make a life for himself . Still, poverty of the students backward classes, in universities continue to haunt, as a reality in this modern era. Especially students from oppressed groups, are caught between finishing/ reading/ writing (on) a text for coursework and finishing the targets for part-time jobs. He taught me and continues to teach me not to be deterministic and blame one’s situations but to be hopeful and work on one’s dreams. Sorry Krish, you are no more here with us, to work towards our shared dreams.

Read the PostKrish : The Indomitable Spirit

March 11, 2017 /

Moms may or may not believe that the salt does anything amazing but she’s got to make a decision based on something for a product that is effectively a commodity. Some moms may be moved by the ‘Desh ka namakh’ tagline of Tata salt, some may be moved by the ‘natural’ tagline of the ITC salt, some may be moved by the ‘make your child smarter’.
And so let’s market to their emotional needs rather than the functional needs.
I’m beginning to think it’s the same for political parties.

Read the PostWhich salt do you buy?

March 11, 2017 /

What is dead in UP today is the damaging illusion that victims of Hindu Nazists ((Dalits, Muslims, OBCs, Modernising Women, the Left) can be busy fighting each other and Modi and BJP will fall on their own merely watching the ferocity of the fight among their victims

Read the PostNot so provisional lessons of Uttar Pradesh

March 10, 2017 /

Having gone to the polls on 4 February, Goa is awaiting the results of the assembly elections with bated breath. Known to be pro-active in terms of exercising its democratic franchise, Goa’s 83 percent voter turnout was praised by all. The month-long wait for the results, however, is witnessing controversies around such issues as those of irregularities in the voting process through postal ballots, and the enrollment of around 600 army men as voters in the Navelim constituency. These controversies have cast doubts on whether elections in Goa were conducted in a free and fair manner.

Read the PostGoa elections : What is the value of one vote?

Mamata Banerjee showed the way in how to fight fascists in mainstream political space. Unless dealt with in the streets, they will not budge. Mamata’s greatest political invention is her lumpen synthesis of means of law and means of lawlessness (utmost necessity in street fighting the fascists); she can traverse both realms smoothly, without falling under any. If anything, she had learnt from living as political activist under CPI-M’s totalitarian rule, it is that law is not aloof from the political deployment of human muscles in the streets. She knows that we have to invent a whole set of new constitutional measures, bordering between the formal and the informal, the violent and the non-violent, to save the Indian Constitution from its worst violators in authority.

Read the PostDear Didi: The Gravedigger

March 9, 2017 /

The conviction of Prof. G.N. Saibaba by the Gadchiroli District Court on 7th March 2017 has revived questions around the UAPA, and how it has progressively eroded Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. This 8 minute illustrated video by the Media Collective documents the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in its 50th year, its contemporary application and raises questions about its constitutional validity.

Read the PostIs the conviction of Prof. G.N. Saibaba constitutional? Let this short video explain

March 9, 2017 /

What is it about Gurmehar that angered Rijiju? That she condemned violence? That she said she wouldn’t be scared of the ABVP? Does that mean he feels that the violence was justified? Or that students should be scared of the ABVP? Is that the official Government position?

Read the PostDon’t fall for the bullshit…

March 8, 2017 /

Compromise is a familiar term when it comes to a woman. Compromise, if there is an abuser within the family for the sake of clan honour. Compromise, if you have to follow de-humanising traditions as it is forbidden to question religion. Compromise, if there is unequal treatment in schools and colleges at least you have got a chance to study compared to your ancestors. Compromise; if you are bonded for labour and domestic work at least you are getting some food to eat. Compromise, if you are assaulted, raped, teased, objectified, silenced and ridiculed as you belong to the excluded caste of being a woman. Compromise, in fair share of land and property as a woman cannot be equal to a man in public affairs. Compromise, in a spousal relationship as you have to save the relationship.

Read the Post8th March – Can Third World Women afford a strike?

March 4, 2017 /

Delhi University is fundamentally a feudal fiefdom. Within this kind of a climate the recent injection of the idea of developing market and technocracy means the attempt is to update the fiefdom in keeping with the times. But fundamentally the campus is only intermittently argumentative.

Read the PostDelhi University – a liberal university?

March 2, 2017 /

What promise does this election have for the tribals of Manipur? Will there be a break to the current political impasse post-election? What does this election hold for the future of Manipur? These are pertinent question that remain to be ask in the light of the upcoming election in the state.

Read the PostElections and the question of territorial integrity in Manipur

February 27, 2017 /

Even while India continues to call itself a democracy, ABVP through its unabashed performances of vandalism and violence on behalf of the majoritarian government, tries its best to ensure that no one dares to speak or mobilize around an idea or a concern that is not aligned with the interests or aesthetic preferences of the establishment. Silencing dissenting or deviant voices seems to be its sole existential purpose. Its message is absolutely clear. If you do not toe the government line, or are not rabidly majoritarian or Hindu enough, your rights are dispensable, you are game for physical assault or even murder. What is more, the people in uniform will ensure an enabling environment for you to get beaten up by them and effectively silenced.

Read the PostWhose Democracy is it Anyway?

February 20, 2017 /

Within Nagaland, especially among young people, there is a quiet groundswell of support for women reservation. When the protest against reservation begun, I had been following the discussion on social media and whatsapp. Of course, there are those young men, with their regressive views, who are the loudest even here. Their opposition to the reservation is usually because, in their views, women are premature to partake in decision making, or that it is an open field where both women and men should fight equally. But there are other voices, both men and women, who believe that the existing social structure is highly discriminatory, and that without reservation it is almost impossible for women to take part in decision making. Yet these voices are seldom heard, primarily because of the draconian directives passed by the tribal bodies.

Read the PostIn the name of the “customary”

February 17, 2017 /

An audit report by Comptroller and Auditor General of India that got tabled in Meghalaya assembly on 23rd March 2016 reveals sorry state of affairs on water supply schemes. It brings under scanner the corrupt practices of Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED)

Read the PostWater Woes in Meghalaya : Anatomy of PHE Scams

February 15, 2017 /

Given that Naga men and their tribal bodies have complete control over both the definition and exercise of what constitutes Naga customary laws, there is no room left for any debate or conversation with other concerned persons. It has now come to a point where customary laws are being used to reinforce patriarchy and legitimize violence, to subject and silence women and to shut down any space for gender justice.

Read the PostSupport 33% Reservation for Women in Nagaland

February 9, 2017 /

How has Aadhaar been received in the northeast? If numbers are anything to go by, then the region has been good at keeping Aadhaar at bay, as the five states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Assam, appear at the bottom of the Aadhaar enrolled states. But what about Sikkim and Tripura? Very few people know that when the project of Aadhaar began in 2009, Tripura was one of the first states in the country to achieve highest enrolments. The article below provides an account of the manner in which Aadhaar had been a central strand in Tripura’s quest for digital governance, and reciprocally, what the UIDAI, in its early years, stood to gain from Tripura. The piece illuminates the story of Aadhaar and digital governance in Tripura through the eyes of five people – a bureaucrat, a manager of a private company, a historian, a technology analyst and a village level entrepreneur. While Tripura is not what comes to mind when an average Indian thinks of Aadhaar, it is precisely for this reason that this is a story, which “the nation needs to know”.

Read the PostDigital Governance in India’s Northeast – the case of Aadhaar in Tripura

February 5, 2017 /

“There are reports from Kerala that SFI people have been attacking Ambedkarite and Muslim students. In the process, a poster with my son’s photo was torn. Chitralekha’s problems are still continuing. It is also sad to see that Dalits and Adivasis are still fighting for land in Kerala. A very important adivasi woman leader of Kerala, who was once a powerful and progressive voice, has been forced to join the BJP. Why did this happen? Some Left leaders met me asking me to be present for a consultation on Rohith Act but I realised later that no Ambedkarite leaders not even my son’s friends from the ASA were invited. How can non Dalits sit and decide what should go into a law for protecting Dalits against discrimination in campuses? We also saw the unfortunate things that happened in HCU and JNU during the elections where the Left did not support Dalit leaders and instead fought against them.”

Read the Post“It takes two hands to clap”

February 4, 2017 /

Reservation for women in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) has caused a serious unrest in the state of Nagaland in the north-eastern region of India. Women’s groups in Nagaland have been leading a struggle for 33 per cent reservation in the local bodies on the grounds of gender equality. On the other hand, tribal bodies and groups (consisting mostly of men!) including the Naga Hoho (the apex body of all 18 tribes in the state) and the Joint Coordination Committee of tribals (JCC) have been opposed to the demand on the grounds that granting 33 per cent reservation for women would violate Naga customary laws and tradition as protected under Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India. Thus, customary laws and the notion of gender equality have been pitted against each other. This calls for serious examination of customary laws and the demand for reservation.

Read the PostCustomary laws vs. Gender equality in Nagaland

February 3, 2017 /

But the old forces have found not only a way to reconcile with this new system but to co-opt it as an instrument to perpetuate their hegemonic practices.As such, not only are unjust laws made but attempts to bring about empowering proposals are also suppressed. None exemplify this more that the current state of affairs regarding the situation of the hawkers and street vendors in Shillong.
That the governing class of Meghalaya is not disinterested but openly hostile to the interest of the working class is evident when the draft rules and schemes made under the Meghalaya State Vendor (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act are examined. The whole exercise, i.e. drafting of the rules and schemes, can be summed up in these words: shoddy, unintelligent, disingenuous and anti-working class.

Read the PostHow Meghalaya Governement tries to ‘legally’ flout the laws about the Hawkers?

January 29, 2017 /

Dear Honorable Members of the Meghalaya Congress and the BJP and other political wannabes,
It is quite troubling to see how violence against women by people holding public offices, is treated as political fodder in Meghalaya. Instead of creating a discourse about the urgency to revisit questions of gender, power and patriarchy within a matrilineal context, and implementing proper available systems of legislation and prosecution to deal with sexual violence, the Congress and the BJP are busy mudslinging each other and debating about who is more guilty, the former Governor V. Shamuganathan or Julius Dorphang, the MLA and the Home Minister, HDR Lyngdoh.

Read the PostListen you Meghalaya’s Patriarchal Politicians & Activists!

January 21, 2017 /

I did not go to Wagah to get high on nationalism which was evident the day I reached the check point. And I do not need to paint the national flag on my face or chant vande mataram only because I am at Wagah. In these times of ultra nationalism and faulty patriotism, Wagah and such model should not become the reason which forces me to declare my loyalty to the country. Not now not ever.

Read the PostAt the Wagah Border

January 16, 2017 /

The story of Nangeli is a disputed one. Academic historians have yet to find sufficient external evidence of the events the story describes. For me, the veracity of the facts is less important than the singular fact that the story exists, and continues to be told. It narrates the protest, anguish and anger of those who are excluded from the reach of our collective conscience because they have no text, and therefore no ‘history’. This comics story first appeared in Art Review Asia and is dedicated to Rohith Vemula (1989-2016), who, like Nangeli, chose death over a life of indignity.

Read the PostThe Story of Nangeli

January 16, 2017 /

The government’s intention of amending the Citizenship Act via the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been met with anger, anxiety, and unrest across Assam. Faced with a strident opposition to the proposed amendments from across Assam in the last few weeks, the BJP—with the support of a number of Bengali organisations as well—has reoriented its strategy by calling on the Bengali-speaking community to identify themselves as Assamese-speakers. Key leaders such as Himanta Biswa Sarma have advocated the assimilation of the Bengali-speakers of Barak into Assamese linguistic and cultural identity. Others have suggested that they “become Assamese” while maintaining their linguistic identity, and yet others have called on them to return Assamese as their mother-tongue in the Census.

Read the PostCitizens of a Hindu Rashtra: Stirring the Ethnic Cauldron in Assam

January 13, 2017 /

Arun Shourie has been the modern India’s most poisonous, formidable and effective troll for many decades, when trolling was not easy. When he was at the height of his power and influence, there was no ‘online’ and/or social media or cyber crowd. Arun Shourie fell by the sword he lived by.

Read the PostWhen an old Troll tries to troll the new Trolls