Category: Politics

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 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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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”.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.