Category: Politics

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

January 11, 2017 /

Zygmunt Bauman was emeritus professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds and had developed key concepts for the understanding of fundamental issues of today’s world, such as liquid modernity, time, space and disorder, individualism versus community, globalization and consumer’s culture, love and identity

Read the PostRethinking Democracy, Rethinking State

January 9, 2017 /

The rhetoric of the “War on black money and corruption” apart, demonetisation has succeeded in making the Aadhar card mandatory in violation of the orders of the Supreme Court. Additionally, a few implications of this move on democracy and civil and political liberties.

Read the PostDemonetisation to Unfreedom

January 2, 2017 /

Jawaharlal Nehru University’s so-called freedom square is always packed with people every time a protest is called in the avowedly progressive institution –the crush of people at midnight last March spilling onto the roads to hear Kanhaiya Kumar speak is still seared in popular memory. But when I walked in for a series of public talks last Thursday, none of that spontaneous mobilization was visible.

Read the PostFreedom Square is empty

The new legislation has increased the recognized number of disabilities from 7 to 21(including acid attack victims).Furthermore,it penalizes discrimination, focuses on inclusive educational institutions and makes compliance with standards of accessibility as a precondition for permission to build a structure, among other things… While the Bill has been applauded by the community as an acceptance of a progressive understanding of disability, it leaves one with concerns over the provisions related to guardianship.

Read the PostThe Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014: A missed opportunity?

December 26, 2016 /

The current imbroglio in Manipur reflects the tension between conflicting ideas of various communities settling in Manipur. Some valley based civil societies as well as sections of the hill population have welcomed the government’s decision and reasserted their faith in the idea of Manipur. While sections of Naga civil societies have not minced their words regarding their commitment to the idea of Manipur…

Read the PostTinderbox of Manipur

December 25, 2016 /

In the face of the rampant commercialism that engulfs us at this time of year, it’s common to hear religious figures telling us that it’s time to revive the “real spirit of Christmas.” If that means reviving the radical egalitarianism of the early Christians, whom Frederick Engels called “a dangerous party of revolt,” then socialists are in favor of it.

Read the PostJesus the revolutionary?

December 23, 2016 /

The New Testament records the work of a first-century Jewish Messiah and the fate of the millenarian sect he left behind. In my view – notwithstanding some radical comment to the contrary – there is no doubt whatsoever that Jesus Christ existed, that he was a charismatic mass leader, and that The New Testament is an immensely rich source of information about his life, work, and times. It is equally my view – notwithstanding 2,000 years of Christian tradition – that he was not God, never claimed to be God, and could not have made such a blasphemous claim before a contemporary Jewish audience without condemning himself to political oblivion.

Read the PostJesus – a radical guide

December 15, 2016 /

1. Do poor have 500 notes?
2. He/She was old. Could have died at home too. How can you blame demonetisation?
3. Things are difficult, but it is for the greater good of the nation.
4. Look how India is changing to digital transactions overnight…
5. Why are people not going to Govt Hospitals? They accept old notes.
6. Wait for a few months before you criticize the move.
7. Oh, how much black money did you have you anti-national, sickular, libtard, commie?
8. You can stand in queue for the tickets to 1st day 1st show of a movie but cannot for the bank?
9. Oh, so who do you want instead? Rahul aka Pappu or Kejri the Nautanki?

Read the Post9 Bhakt Wisdoms about Demonetisation

December 14, 2016 /

Tonight, 13th of December 2016, would be the 73nd night that Akhil Gogoi, the maverick 40 years old leader of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) would spend in prison. For the uninitiated – KMMS has been the largest social movement in Assam after the turn of the century – that too a left-leaning social movement. This is not the first time that Gogoi has been in prison since KMSS was launched in 2005, but what sets apart the last 72 nights compared to previous incarcerations is the blatant misuse of the criminal justice system and police by the BJP Government in Assam.

Read the Post73rd NIGHT IN PRISON!

December 13, 2016 /

On 2nd October, Akhil Gogoi, a peasant leader and founder Secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) – a left wing peasant organisation based in Assam was picked up from Gandhibasti, Guwahati and was later handed over to Jakhalabandha police in connection with a case of inciting protestors during an eviction drive against illegal settlers in and around the Kaziranga National Park (KNP). A team of Chandmari police escorted him to Nagaon and later he was sent to Lakhimpur Jail. Akhil Gogoi was remanded to 14 days judicial custody by a court at Golaghat on 2nd November. He was re-arrested in connection with a case of 2006. And He is still in Golaghat Central Jail. Akhil Gogoi wrote an open letter to in Assamese from jail. This is a translation published in The Assam News.

Read the PostAkhil Gogoi’s letter from Jail

December 12, 2016 /

Capitalism doesn’t assist us in destroying itself. Should we actually become effective in building an anti-capitalist mass movement, they won’t issue us a paycheck. Instead, they will do everything possible to discredit, neutralize, imprison and kill us.

Read the Post4 Reasons why NGOs suck?

December 7, 2016 /

“For three days, hawkers in different parts of Shillong stood with a placard where their name, items of sale and the years spent on their particular spot of business. They stood there waiting for the Government to send officials to conduct the survey and take their names for record. However, the administration sent SOT (Special Operation Team) squads instead, armed with automatic weapons and accompanied by the Police and Municipality to see to it that no hawker could do business on the footpaths”

Read the PostShillong: A Heartless City

December 6, 2016 /

Now her statues will come up all over the state, and for once I’m glad. In a few generations, all that will matter is that there is a woman’s statue as well, and that statue is not a mere kannagi who was venerated because she was a perfect wife, but of a woman who was a true and powerful leader of her own merit and her own making.

Read the PostRemembering Jayalalithaa

December 6, 2016 /

Business down by 50%. Only 3 out of 18 ATMs working.
If this is the state of things in a busy shopping area in Bengaluru, one of the biggest cities in India, and an IT hub to boot, just imagine the state of things in a rural area where most people do not have bank accounts and where internet penetration is very poor.
The worst is yet to come.

Read the PostDemonetization on Payday: A Photo Essay

December 3, 2016 /

Nobody likes to be a street-hawker forever. In fact, nobody wants to be a street-hawker to feed their children or even for themselves. Now, if the elites of Shillong can please tidy up their excessive garbage output to the Umshrypi and Wahumkhrah rivers, and bear with us so they can walk on the footpaths more comfortably, many dreams and lives can be shaped.

Read the PostMemoirs of a Hawker’s Son

December 1, 2016 /

Caste is not an internal problem, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this debate. It has to be acknowledged and exposed. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that the UK invoke Section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act ‘without further delay to ensure that caste-based discrimination is explicitly prohibited under law’ and for victims to have access to effective remedies”. In other words, the game is up. The government knows it, caste supremacists know it and human rights activists know it.

Read the PostCaste Discrimination and UK Law

November 30, 2016 /

Eat Dust is no work of fiction, although one is left wondering at the bizarreness of the truth behind the loot. It is a book however that passes on timeless lore, like the story of Paikdev’s spring. As Hartman takes us over hills that once stood in Goa, to the court room, and river side, and traces his own story from Kenya to Goa, one gets a rich context for what is actually, and incredibly, unraveling in Goa.

Read the PostEat Dust: Mining and Greed in Goa – a review

November 28, 2016 /

Most people (and like in other scenarios there are exceptions) who are very good at talking in meetings perform better in meetings, than elsewhere. They have invested time in these gatherings and have honed their skills to near perfection. I today, feel silly that I once used to be in awe of them. And the other that I have been a guilty of some of these traits and need to direly cut down on attending meetings.

Read the PostLet us have a MEETING

November 25, 2016 /

We, twenty five citizens of India, representing people’s movements, women’s organisations, trade unions, human rights organisations, youth organisations and individuals who are journalists, writers and filmmakers, from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, visited Kashmir from 11 to 20 November 2016 with the objective of understanding first-hand, from ordinary people and civil society, the situation of the peoples of the Kashmir Valley that has emerged over the past four-and-half months since the killing of three Hizbul Mujahideen militants, Burhan Wani, Sartaj Sheikh and Pervaiz Lashkari by the Indian Army and J&K Police on 8 July 2016.

Read the PostDon’t forget Kashmir

November 23, 2016 /

I was in my fourth grade in 1990, the year when Kashmir shut for 198 days, then for 207 days in 1991, 148 in 1992 and 139 in 1993, and so on. I grew up in all those tough long years. All my life I have lived here in Kashmir through the thick and thin of the situation. I grew up in curfews, crackdowns, identification parades; through the menace of the omnipresent bunkers and at the mercy of the fingers always ready on the triggers of SLRs. And throughout this time, I was educated to see, experience, understand and realise where the truth of the circumstances lay. All the young outstanding artists, doctors, engineers, lecturers, journalists and other achievers we have today have all grown up through the same troubled ’90s, the decade that saw the severest of curfews, shutdowns and crackdowns.

Read the PostSurvival & resistance in Kashmir

November 22, 2016 /

“More than black-money, demonetization appears to step one, for chasing the goals of enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor further. MODItization is already beginning to inflict terrible misery to India’s economic and social fabric. Its counter has to emerge from the very people, who have been scripted out for a terrible fate.”

Read the PostDemonetization or MODItization of the economy

November 18, 2016 /

We are a country of melodrama, fantastic mythology, grandiose narratives – this is the common thread that binds us all, for better or for worse. We thrive and revel in conflating relatively minor matters into something important and meaningful, and have a disdain for things that are not dramatic, grand or aspirational, even if critically important.

Read the PostClueless about Cashless

November 17, 2016 /

Demonetisation has placed disproportionate stress on exactly those who are least likely to be source of the problems the move aims to tackle. The ones least likely to hold black money, be involved in financing terrorists or printing fake currency are the hardest hit. Being part of an entirely cash-based economy, the poor are finding the hand-to-mouth cycle abruptly broken. A few hours spent in a bank’s queue may be a minor inconvenience and a patriotic service to the nation to the relatively well-off; to the construction worker, it amounts to a meal unearned, foregone.

Read the PostRobbing Hood Economics of Demonetisation

November 12, 2016 /

Mirza Waheed in his second novel “The Book of Gold Leaves” introduced, what might appear to foreign, non-contextual readers a fictitious creation but, a realistic character in Kashmir known as the zaal. Describing it, Mirza says it was a “beast of dust” which made frequent rounds of the streets and trapped people who stood nearby, whisking them away to interrogation camps and subsequent disappearance. It was an ensemble of terror, violence and state-sponsored brute force. Mirza’s description emanated from a reality and had actual instances of forces trapping civilians using every possible method at their disposal.

Read the PostIndia’s Zaal in Kashmir

November 12, 2016 /

Garga Chatterjee looks at what is wrong with the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Bill. BJP’s proposals are communally discriminatory and the issue of illegal migrants fleeing neighbouring nations due to human rights violations can be addressed by religion-blind, case-specific human rights abuse clauses. Anxieties around demographic changes and economic pressures are real and how this is not simply due to migrations across international borders but also migration across state borders. Expanding state government control of residency rights, property ownership, entry and settling rules is the need of the hour.

Read the PostOnly Hindus allowed

November 3, 2016 /

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in one of his recent chest-thumping speeches, compared the Indian forces with that of the Israeli ones. Modi’s comparison came within the context of Indian Army claiming to have carried out “surgical strikes” across the LOC and dismantling the launchpads used by the “Pakistani-sponsored militant groups to infiltrate across the De Facto border.” Now, if we bend-over backwards and accept the Indian claim while dismissing the scepticism that various international media agencies like CNN, BBC and Washingtonpost- establishments that usually spare no chance of portraying Pakistan as a virtually rogue state- expressed over these strikes, the question that still begs an answer is that, even from the Indian point of view, did this act induce any substantial change in the vexing political scenario of Kashmir?

Read the PostLearning from Israel

November 1, 2016 /

In recent weeks, as another cycle of protests dies down in J&K, there has been a surge in reports of incidents of looting, stone-pelting on civilian vehicles and, particularly, mysterious fires destroying schools and private property. No one knows who the perpetrators are…

Read the PostFire Thieves of Kashmir

October 27, 2016 /

In the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan campaign, cleaning starts with a photo shoot and people involved in it are worried about trying to get the best picture clicked while they are cleaning the already sanitized road with sanitized broom.

Read the PostTwo years of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan

October 10, 2016 /

The NEHUSU election this time around has been a very hotly debated issue. Previous years it was a low key affair with hardly any canvassing done and no one bothering to know the identity of the winners. But with so many students’ agitations in the recent past and the anti-student attitude of the administration this year’s election was a highly anticipated affair. In the heart of all this is Napoleon S. Mawphniang who contested from the group Mission 16-17 for the post of NEHUSU President. He won the election along with all the members of his group and will take charge of the student body for 2016-17 session. His is a remarkable victory because of the continuous harassment that he received from the administration for constantly questioning them. Even before the present election he was taking an active part in leading the students on various agitations in the campus. This interview was taken three days after his group had won the election.

Read the Post“This is a very historic moment for the student community in NEHU”

October 8, 2016 /

It was absolutely sickening to see Om Puri being roundly humiliated on Times Now on Monday evening. The abuse he has been subjected on social media to has been no less disgraceful.
Yes, it was insensitive for him to have said, “Did we force them to join the army? ” with reference to a specific instance and it looks even worse when a martyr’s father is inserted into the discourse. He apologised profusely but it was really just his construction that was awkward. For there was absolutely nothing illogical about the point he was making – which is that death is an occupational hazard in that job. For all those screeching from the rooftops about how that insults soldiers, perhaps try and detach yourself from your conditioning for just a couple of minutes?

Read the PostIndian Army is no holy cow

October 8, 2016 /

The future for Britain after Brexit does not look promising with further recession and job losses looking highly likely. All the xenophobia is not going to bring the economic benefits that many desired when they voted to Leave EU. Same fate awaits Meghalaya if it falls in the trap created by the Right. But unless the state abandons looking after the interest of the few, as is evidenced from its support to the coal lobby, the trap is looking like the future that awaits Meghalaya. When the minorities were first chased out of the state in the 1970s-1980s it was the resentment at their economic dominance that was the driving force behind the tensions. The same will be played out in the future as well. A day will come when very few minorities will be left to blame. But by then it will too late. The Right would have won and the state will be in ruins. Then we will be the minorities in other’s home having forced to migrate for earning a livelihood.

Read the PostBREXIT: Lessons for Meghalaya

October 3, 2016 /

Questions are being raised by many well-intentioned people, mostly on social media, about the overwhelming support for the immediate release of incarcerated human rights defender Khurram Parvez of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS)

Read the PostArresting Human Rights