Raiot Posts

June 19, 2016 /

This is something I wished I never had to write about. But somehow I am compelled after reading the editorial in The Shillong Times regarding the nuisance created by street-hawkers in Shillong. My mother used to be one of them. That was many years ago, while I was in high school. And it made me wonder if my mother was a nuisance to the beautiful and sanitized Shillong, people love to portray. How does Shillong look like from below, from the margins, from the fringes of society? Marginal on the basis of community, class and even neighbourhood.

June 15, 2016 /

His work is a demonstration of how to rescue inauthentic from the jaws of reality. How to make spontaneous look orchestrated and vice versa – an art where so many rights are turned into one big wrong. He has mastered the skill to turn all conversation into a monologue, and then ignore one’s own voice, remove irresolution, and erase all personal music in the service of his war-like ‘humanism’

June 14, 2016 /

Andrew Lyndem, 25, is nocturnal and starts his day at 3 pm ending it at the witching hour. Ratul Hajong, 24, is awake before him but in circulation around the same time. Together, they are Cryptographik Street Poets (CSP) a rap act in Shillong, Meghalaya. Touched by the civil rights/black power movements in intangible ways, their sigil is the raised fist of solidarity and revolution, the Black Panther Party logo. Although they live in separate homes with their parents, they are in constant society with each other.

June 13, 2016 /

However, one very interesting aspect of the entire debate which has gone completely unnoticed is the caste profile of those marching militantly with the ‘Flag of Tolerance’! Almost everyone bearing the flag of tolerance, both political and not so political belong to the upper caste Manuvadi Brahmanical order who are themselves beneficiaries of centuries of “tolerance” by Hindustanis

June 10, 2016 /

Let us be clear. Much as many of us might enjoy or not like listening to Kanhaiya speak, this is not just about Kanhaiya. Defending his right to speak at DUTA’s ‘khaali thali’ dharna is about upholding the true meaning of teaching and universities, the value of free expression and solidarity, and above all, of democracy, liberty and the Indian Constitution. A respect for these values, for universal inalienable rights, can indeed become the basis for a durable unity among people who otherwise hold widely divergent political views and understandings. This is the need of the hour for popular movements, including the teachers’ movement, in the country. It is a crying need for the teachers’ movement at DU today.

June 7, 2016 /

Indeed, many in Kashmir are bitter, even though they give their unconditional solidarity to those hounded by the Indian state. They feel the protests so far have not understood the truth of the event: that its truth is not in lectures about “true” or “real” nationalism but in an embrace of sedition.

June 7, 2016 /

Leaders like Meghalaya CM Sangma believe that those who question his kind of thinking are “creating hopelessness and insecurity,” in common people’s minds and this view continues to gain currency promoted as it is by the mainstream media. The reality is that it is leaders like him who are reminiscent of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, leading the innocent over the cliff to their doom while the ruling class lives on their common properties.

June 6, 2016 /

Today the fertile valley of Manipur, home to the Meiteis, has been under a tremendous demographic changes wherein Meiteis face the ‘existential’ crisis. A fear-psychosis has been shared among the populace that Meiteis will become a minority in their own land as there is no regulatory mechanism to regulate the unabated migration from other parts of India. Thus to defend the population, there have been popular movements to monitor and regulate demographic changes and land tenure. The recent move to introduce Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) initiated in the valley spearheaded by Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) is one such assertion urging to protect the ‘indigenous’ people of Manipur, which ended up facing an unprecedented opposition from the highlanders. It was perceived as another move by the majority Meiteis to ‘encroach’ upon territory of the highlands which the Meiteis does not traditionally own, and are owned in a different manner by the highlanders, and delegitimising the citizenship of the highlanders. Till today nine dead bodies remain unburied in Churachandpur signifying the opposition and resistance.

June 4, 2016 /

Muhammad Ali was also a symbol of black protest, a cipher for the anti-Vietnam movement, a martyr (or traitor, depending on one’s perspective), a self-regarding braggart, and many more things beside. While there have been several sports icons, none have approached Ali in terms of complexity, endowment and sheer potency.

June 1, 2016 /

If you’re a dominant community and feel upset about how can no longer claim most of the pie because of your birth, you know what to do. Move to a state ruled by the BJP, break some things, burn, loot and arson and the government will gift you by trying to restore your dominance. Just go us one favour, stop with the righteous nonsense arguments about equality. We see your evil unconstitutional designs and will call your bluff.

June 1, 2016 /

A bombshell dropped by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on May 10th–the Gazette Notification 2016–has triggered a massive teachers’ rebellion at Delhi University (DU). When the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) leadership gave a call for a boycott of the evaluation process, May 24th onwards, teachers responded with uncommon readiness and near unanimity. Evaluation centres remain deserted. Thousands of teachers thronged the Sriram College of Commerce (SRCC) auditorium and jammed the Ring Road and the streets of DU in the mid-day heat of May 28th. Close to 5,000 teachers marched from Mandi House to Parliament Street this afternoon, May 30th.

May 31, 2016 /

Just a few days ago, I came across an incident where a group of police officers were ordered to forcibly and without notice remove some street vendors from Laitumkhrah in Shillong. These vendors were not creating any nuisance other than selling their fruits and vegetables to earn their daily wage and to feed their family. It was a very painful moment for me as I watch one of these vendors crying while at the same time trying to reason with these police officers that she has a family to feed.

May 31, 2016 /

The first round of investigations, started immediately after September 11, 2001, and termed the Pentagon Twin Tower Bombing Investigation (PENTTBOM), led to approximately 1,200 citizens and noncitizens being detained for interrogations within the first two months of the attacks and subsequently released. According to a review conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), it was clear from the beginning that most of these detainees had no connection to terrorism at all and their detention could only be explained by their religion, ethnicity, and nation of origin. The DOJ report found that law enforcement agencies selectively followed up on dubious tips for persons of Arab or Muslim extraction and accepted the arbitrary nature of arrests and designation as “special interest” by the FBI

May 30, 2016 /

I got married in February. Half the marriage functions were held in Jammu where my family is now based post forced eviction from Kashmir in 1990. The other half of the marriage was held in Delhi where my wife’s family is based due to the same events of 1990. A Muslim friend from Srinagar who attended my marriage could not help but notice on a sad note this “scattering” of a Kashmiri community. “Chakravun” is the exact word used for scatter by all Kashmiris.

May 29, 2016 /

When I started observing your photographs a few days ago, I stood witness to this very manifestation of dissent, and sensed an inchoate breeding of camaraderie—an unsettling urge to respond—taking shape between us. I did not resist. I kept writing, thinking that I was writing directly to you: a peripatetic nomad. But to this very moment, I do not know you. When I call you a nomad, I am trying to describe your photographs—the itinerant obliqueness, an almost euphoric derangement of your frame. I wrote as if I was corresponding with a boundless romantic, myself being one in the first place. You narrated stories to me through your images; I responded with words.

May 28, 2016 /

Three hours into the run and I can start feeling the strain. Glycogen in the body has almost depleted and thirst has also started setting in. I have a last hard climb for about two miles and my long run is done. The uphill is hard, the body aches and the panting starts picking up, as I try and push a little bit more to end with a strong kick, I only get what nature gives me. I hit the stop button in my watch and bend my knees to catch my breath. As I recompose, the pain fades into the background and I am filled with a sense of deep inner peace and happiness. Why I love running? I don’t really know…I just love running.

May 27, 2016 /

This election verdict shows a paradigmatic shift in how Assamese society views the ‘Other’ and it is bound to have long term ramifications. AGP which claims to represent the interest of all indigenous communities of Assam went quiet on the differential treatment of Hindu Bangladeshis. Indigeneity came to be defined by ethnic as well as religious identity. BJP’s permutation and combination led to such a situation where Muslims of East Bengal origin found themselves pitted against all other. In times to come it is to be seen how such narrow formulation of identity overdetermined by religion plays out in a state which has seen many fits of violence on this very issue. And how regional parties grapple with such formulations will go a long way deciding the future politics of the state.

May 27, 2016 /

Modi’s contradictions and lies channel the confusions of his supporters perfectly. In a manner reminiscent of the vanguards of China’s Cultural Revolution or the nativists flocking to Donald Trump, they accuse the old elites of holding back the nation and the culture from true greatness. They attack those responsible for the ruined past, the uncertain future, and the endless present. They assail the “anti-nationals” who stand in their way, beating and molesting people while shouting, “Bharat Mata Ki Jai.” They demand people say it to prove they are not traitors, emboldened by a meeting of the BJP in March, led by Modi, that declared a refusal to use the slogan as tantamount to disrespecting the Indian constitution. They hammer, with swords and guns and smartphones and double-digit growth, at the doors of the beef-eaters, the environmentalists, the university students, the feminists, the Dalits, the leftists, the dissenting writers, the skeptics, the “anti-nationals”—anyone who will not declare, both fists clenched, “Bharat Mata Ki Jai!”

May 25, 2016 /

The BJP has become known for its mass campaigns to mobilise Hindus. Days of rioting in the western Indian state of Gujarat in 2002 saw the shared faith spaces such as the tomb of the poet Vali Gujarati razed in what has been called a “systematic attempt to wipe out an entire culture”. The morning after, a statue of the Hindu God Hanuman had been placed on top of the rubble. Maya Kodnani, a former BJP state minister, was convicted of murder and incitement to murder during the riots.

May 25, 2016 /

She personally travels light. The legal papers, annexures and miscellaneous documents fill 4 heavy bags. I struggle to carry them; light weighted as I’m and as I pause for breath she marches on forward, occassionally turning back to ask “Ashwin bhai, jaldi chalo”. I nod my head, too tired to even reply “Haan, didi”; I nod and proceed carrying my laptop bag around and a satchel containing a couple of books, I assumed I would have time to read.

May 24, 2016 /

The Khasis, being a matrilineal tribe that passes not only lineage but property along the female line, have ultimately clashed with the patriarchal customs of Christianity. And nowhere is this seen more prominently than in the figure of the Virgin Mary. From the time I was old enough to attend Protestant Sunday School, I was living in this limbo between Catholic doctrine and Protestant doctrine mixed in with some local doctrines as well. There was much scoffing done at the expense of “those Catholics who worship a woman like she was at par with the Saviour of mankind.” This reflected on the deep-seated sexist and misogynistic tendencies of the Protestant churches. How dare a woman be made equal to a man?

May 23, 2016 /

Kancha Ilaiah is India’s most productive factory of paradigm shifts. Never did he write something which he was not the first to say or the only one to say the unsaid. Even the most routine and well-worn topics become suddenly full of fresh discoveries and discussions and rethinking as soon as he tackles them.

May 21, 2016 /

I believe most of us are racist in some way or the other. Our primal tendencies to create divisions or noting differences among ourselves is unfortunately inherited from age old legacy of our ancestors. Though the levels of racial indoctrination may differ from person to person, the concept of racism itself is being taught to the young unknowingly, and at most times without reason. It just happened. One of the outcomes of such an indoctrination is evident in the rampant offensive stereotypes that the Khasis have for each and every ethnic group they had ever intermingled with; Dkhars, Khyllahs, Riewkhlaw, Muid, etc. to name but a few. In fact, we even express a form of xenophobia towards our own fellow Khasis just because they belong to a different sub tribe.