Raiot Posts

May 11, 2016 /

A few days ago, I learned that I was mentioned negatively, prominently, and by name, in an article lamenting the state of affairs in the tourism sector in Meghalaya. If you read the article, and if you could figure out what the author was trying to get at (I had some difficulty), you’d know that I was doing a survey of living root architecture. What you probably wouldn’t know is that the project is not about tourism. What I am trying to do is to create the beginnings of a body of knowledge about the practice of living root architecture as a whole, documenting individual examples in a very basic way.

May 10, 2016 /

That’s the moment when I began to wonder, as somebody who easily, effortlessly thought of himself as both Indian and Kashmiri, about what it means to live in a situation where all my democratic beliefs in being Indian were up against what I was seeing, my experience of life, in Kashmir. I was enormously troubled, as you can imagine, by what I saw there, by what I heard and by the fact that every time I expressed my sympathy with what was the visible oppression of people around me, my neighbours would say ‘no, no you mustn’t feel badly. We know what happened with you people.’ But I was always in an anomalous situation. I was notionally a Pandit, one of those families that had left in 1990, but in fact I hadn’t.

May 9, 2016 /

My JNU comrades and friends, by doing what you have done thus far, you, like student rebels earlier have already begun to change the world for the better. This is a victory that nobody can snatch from you, a victory that has drawn unprecedented solidarity and support in your favour. Taking inspiration from this we shall continue to stand with JNU and together face the harder times ahead, ‘asking questions, chanting slogans, walking to the left where the heart resides’, taking one step back if necessary but making things difficult like hell for the fascists.

May 8, 2016 /

After five days of silence, news of the rape and murder started to slowly appear in social media due to the efforts of Dalit Bahujan voices, forcing the mainstream media to respond. The mainstream media reports have been accompanied by sickening, voyeuristic and vivid descriptions of the ‘brutality’ of the rape, characteristic of the way in which Dalit bodies are denied respect and dignity even in death. “Kerala’s Nirbhaya”, screamed the media, while the Malayali savarna middle class unable to imagine such ‘barbarity’ to their kind, claimed (in typical display of their xenophobia), that the perpetrators “must be migrant workers”. The ‘merit’ of the Dalit student had to be interrogated. ‘She had three papers left to clear”, the savarna media hinted slyly, as suspicions on her ‘character’ were raised “why did she not scream?

May 7, 2016 /

Our nationalists simply do not have a judicious sense of proportion and priorities, largely because they live in a bubble of inflated fear, paranoia, and delusions of grandeur. So much of their love for “the nation” betrays so little love for those who live in it and the egalitarian spirit of the constitution that defines it.

May 6, 2016 /

All Kashmiris have suffered whether Muslims, Pandits, Sikhs or others. We are being used against each other and some of us are so gullible that we fail to see the deception. Whenever there is a brutality by the armed forces or police against common people, many armchair intellectuals come up with counter arguments of whataboutery to justify the acts. What about Kashmiri Pandits?

May 5, 2016 /

The politics of future models itself on the selling of insurance policies. The agent will convince you that the future should be protected even at the cost of your death in the present. It demands that the resources should be made available for the future generation even if you have no access to it in the present. From the viewpoint of politics of the present, the future generation will need to recognize their own present and continue the struggles then.The present generation strives for liberty and equality for themselves in their own life time. And a livable present is a more assured offer than a better future.

May 3, 2016 /

Leicester City began this season as relegation favourites and now they are champions, thanks to Tottenham’s draw at Chelsea last night. This collection of cast-offs and journeymen started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders. It’s the most incredible story in Premier League history and John Williams, a football-mad sociologist at the University of Leicester, has been eagerly following their rise.

May 2, 2016 /

This move, to alienate a group of people who do not conform to the hegemonic template of who is a Sikh, is deeply enmeshed in the project of constructing an ideal, normative Sikh, defined by the dominant groups from within the community, wielding religious and political power, through a certain reading and interpretation of scriptures, and more recently, through religious jurisprudence. Conjunctively, the politics of the production of normative identities through the apparatuses of the state and religion is closely associated with the production of hegemonic masculinity among the Sikhs.

May 2, 2016 /

The Indian state’s dominant visual order invisibalizes the structure of its violence in Kashmir. It enforces a blindness and numbs the critical senses of its citizens. From the twin images of Kashmir as a ‘beautiful landscape’ and as a ‘hotbed of anti-nationals,’ it mobilizes the composite image of ‘paradise crawling with serpents’ to justify the military occupation. Can there be a counter-project to this mode of seeing and representation? Can artistic works agitate the dominant imaginaries, trouble the subtle ruses of state power, and, in the process, train a new disobedient sensorium? The images by Rollie Mukherjee that you see here answer these questions affirmatively.

May 1, 2016 /

Though elections are over in Assam but air is still tempered with political tensions. This is probably the most unpredictable electoral fight ever in Assam between newly emerged BJP and the ruling party Congress. In this elections most crucial tug of war between the two major party was over the vote banks of present and ex tea garden workers, who play deciding role in 35 seats. They are included among what are popularly called the Tea tribes, who are estimated to be about 60 lakhs in Assam.

April 29, 2016 /

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.

April 24, 2016 /

At 77, Chapal Bhaduri is arguably Bengali folk theatre’s last living female impersonator, traversing and transgressing genders effortlessly and almost unthinkingly from his teenage. The youngest child of theatre artists, he was put on stage around the age of 8, but began his distinctive career in female impersonation in 1955 when he played Marjina in a production of Alibaba, and slowly attained fame as the highest paid ‘theatre actress’ by the 1960s. A decade or so later, however, Bhaduri’s preeminence as a female impersonator began to fade as women started entering the acting profession even in jatra, traditionally a male-dominated community.

April 23, 2016 /

As if Kashmir wasn’t already under siege for the past few days of undeclared curfew, the state police and paramilitary swooped down on our office and prevented mediapersons from entering Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) office at the Bund, Amira Kadal, Srinagar – where the press conference, organized by JKCCS at the behest of the mother of the victim of alleged sexual assault by personnel of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in Handwara was scheduled to be held. With no declaration of intent, the police barricaded all the ways leading to our office, barred us from venturing out to talk to the media persons gathered outside to cover the press conference

April 22, 2016 /

2016 has dimmed the lights of two truly great artists –David Bowie and Prince. Both share a lot in common- their blurring of the lines of gender, sexuality and identity and their expansion of the vocabulary and possibilities of popular music. But in one area they differ. Bowie brought into pop music sensibilities from modern art, architecture and classical music but Prince developed into high art the popular black styles he loved. His work is art without being ‘arty’.

April 22, 2016 /

Saudi Arabia has been unraveling its geopolitical desires across middle-east for quite some time. However, during the past years, courtesy of an oil-revenue boom, Saudis are shifting their interventionist tactics from proxy to direct military intervention. From crushing the legitimate protest in Bahrain to bombing Yemen and hounding Lebanon, fossilized Abdullah and now Salman have left no stone unturned, or bombed, to assert their position as a shot caller in middle-east. They have sent armies across King Fahad causeway to the tiny nation of Bahrain and besieged Yemen to starvation.

April 19, 2016 /

A pro-Hindutva sentiment prevails in the minds of the middle class Hindu citizenry of the country. But for once, they could (and still do) mask their affiliation to this ideology by justifying their vote for ‘development’. The operational logic to this class seems particularly straightforward, “as long as there is ‘development’ as Modi ji has promised (and is visiting foreign countries to that extent), we shouldn’t be troubled by marginal acts of violence or dissent.”