Category: Politics

July 25, 2017 /

‘All politics is identity politics.’ And ‘Without identity politics there can be no defence of women’s rights or the rights of minority groups.’ So run the two most common contemporary defences of identity politics. As criticism of the politics of identity has become more developed and fierce, so has the defence. So, I want here to begin a critique the critique, as it were, and in so doing reassert the necessity for challenging identity politics.

July 10, 2017 /

It is fate of marginal groups everywhere to bear the burden of this ‘double-consciousness’ – one’s self-worth, one’s sense of self is never one’s own, but always refracted through the eyes of the powerful, who gazes at him with ‘contempt and pity’. As time goes by, one starts believing in the narrative of the dominant group, one internalizes others’ judgements about him.

June 30, 2017 /

I personally had many problems with the #NotInMyName Campaign for reasons that have been pointed out by many – its Brahmanical and Left elitism amongst others – and I resent that truth. But I shall also not dismiss it completely, not because I want to be complacent but because, reactionary as it is, it is a movement across sixteen locations in the country and beyond that is expressing a collective rejection of the growing fatalistic violence and brutalities unleashed on minorities, a violence that is an extension of the silent and malignant power of the BJP and its allies.

June 28, 2017 /

No one wants to give serious thoughts to creating a Meghalaya which is self-sustainable and economically independent. Forget the pre-election rhetoric, the policies do not reflect it. To actually initiate such a task would require work, will power and actual thinking. A Meghalaya that stands on its own two feet is a Meghalaya where the citizens stand on their own two feet, and that my friends, is dangerous for the dominant power structure.

June 27, 2017 /

The Hindus on the Asoti railway platform managed to collectively not see a 15 year old Muslim boy being stabbed to death. Then they collectively, but without prior agreement, continued to not see what they had seen after the event. This is the uniquely terrifying aspect of this incident on which this report reflects: the totalising force of an unspoken, but collectively binding, agreement between Hindus to not see the dead body of a Muslim child.

June 20, 2017 /

This desire for freedom will constantly strengthen the demands for a state. A state might be formed in this way, but would the problems be solved? When the Pandora’s box of organized demands is finally opened in front of the state, how will the problem be solved? Would a state, A Gorkha Hill Council or a Lepcha Development Council provide ultimate solutions? Those who seek (or show others) the ultimate solutions in this way, might look at the previous instances of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand. Are the people liberated there? The liberation of workers and the poor is a distant dream, but were even the aims of nationalist liberation achieved here?

June 19, 2017 /

Ha kine ki khyndiat bnai ka BJP ha Meghalaya ka sdang ban kop ba Kan jop suk ia ka ileksion 2018 ka ban sa long ha Meghalaya. Kawei na ki daw ba pynlong ia kane ka parti ban kren kob kumtei dei namar ba ka ong ba bun ki MLA/MDC jong ka Congress kin phet seng lut sha ka BJP. Ngi dei ban sngew khia ia kane ka jingkren ka BJP namar ka jingkiew sted ka BJP ha kylleng ka ri India bad khamtam shatei ka thain mihngi ka dei ka jingphet krad ki nongialam congress sha ka BJP naduh ba u Narendra Modi u jop suk ha ka ileksion 2014.

June 15, 2017 /

Results are in on Demonetisation … India is being ruled by AN INCOMPETENT PRIME MINISTER… He has ruined the Indian economy with a stupid, ill-considered move. An overweening belief in himself, to the exclusion of advice from even a close set of real economic/financial experts, is undoubtedly the biggest cause of this debacle. If Modi had even consulted those with some economic/financial knowledge in his own party, he would have realized that demonetization is a blatantly STUPID move.

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 8, 2017 /

I stand with NDTV but that is not enough. To defend constitutional values and freedoms, we have to stand together and lend support to poor adivasis in Chattisgarh, to journalists who report from far flung corners of India without the support of a parent organisation and for whom the Editor’s guild will issue no statement, to lawyers hounded out of Bastar for whom the Bar Council of India will issue no statement, to Kashmiris whom we vilify on a daily basis…

June 7, 2017 /

The government-ordered raid on NDTV and searches of Prannoy Roy’s properties should show the Indian bhadralok, if it requires any showing, how far things have gone under the Modi regime. Fascists have ordered the raids on the channel not for being anti-fascist or upholder of democracy, but for not being fascist enough. The message is to fall in line, and fall in line they would after a couple of protests and a scathing programme or two anchored by Ravish Kumar. Roys are no great seekers of martyrdom.

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 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.

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.”

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?

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.”

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.