Raiot Posts

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.

Read the PostMY STAY AT ULFA’S DESIGNATED CAMP

June 11, 2017 /

Nothing has changed.
It’s just that there are more people,
and beside the old offences new ones have sprung –
real, make-believe, short-lived, and non-existent.
But the howl with which the body answers to them,
was, is and ever will be a cry of innocence
according to the age-old scale and pitch.

Read the PostTortures

June 11, 2017 /

We are The Christian Left. We’re all around you. We’re among the people. Take a look. We’re part of the Body of Christ. We’re Christians. We’re Leftists. We make no apologies. In fact Jesus ways are “Leftist.” That’s why He was killed. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the conservatives of their time.

Read the PostWe are Lefty Christians

June 10, 2017 /

An extract from Assamese novelist Dhrubajyoti Bora’s novel Kalantoror Gadya (The Prose of Tempest) (1997) written in the background of the ULFA insurgency and counter insurgency operations by Indian Security Forces in the 1990’s. It deals with the arrival of AFSPA, army operations and state terrorism in the province and the changes it brought to the local landscape.

Read the PostEthics of Justice – a ‘fictional’ account from Assam

June 9, 2017 /

While the situation in Kashmir may be classified as a dirty war, depending on how the phrase is used and who articulates it, there is history to this phrase. Not every war is a dirty war. The phrase itself was first used during the 1970s in Argentina during a period of state violence against opponents of the military junta that was in power at the time. The dirty war since then evokes torture, disappearances and the suspension of democratic norms. The question to ask is whether General Rawat is aware of this history while using this choice phrase.

Read the PostD for Dirty, W for War – Indian Army Chief’s Alphabet lesson

June 8, 2017 /

In India, we now stand at a critical crossroad, as far as the humanities are concerned. The State is creating a situation so that literature departments are either forced to turn into small-scale entrepreneurships for providing a set of skills for proficiency and/or help set-up a finishing school kind of an ambience for prospective customer-students. Research work is being systematically stymied. As a result, neither are the traditional fields being nourished and updated nor is real innovation happening in charting fresh fields.

Read the PostStrolling is Not an Option

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…

Read the PostStanding with #NDTV is not enough

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.

Read the PostHow (not) to #StandWithNDTV

June 1, 2017 /

“O Mummyji, o mummyji, they don’t fight fair
These Cashmirie–
Their boys, their girls, their women too
They throw their stones, they do, they do,
And us poor boys (what? yes, “my poor boys”)
Have only guns and armour
What, prithee, are they to do? to do?”

Read the Post“O Mummyji” : The Ballad of the Forlorn Chief

May 28, 2017 /

The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band turns 50 on June 1 and the anniversary of this legendary album will be celebrated in style. But has this classic work – named the greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone – stood the test of time? We asked six writers for their perspectives.

Read the PostSgt Pepper’s @ 50 – the greatest thing you ever heard or just another album?

May 25, 2017 /

generally like rapper Sofia Ashraf’s work. I was impressed by her video on lead poisoning in Kodaikanal by Unilever. I watched her latest song ‘Can’t Do Sexy’, and I must say that it was not something I expected out of such a conscientious artist. Almost everything that can and is wrong for a woman regarding her body is glorified in this rap.

Read the PostWhy can’t we do sexy?

May 24, 2017 /

There aren’t too many people (who aren’t BJP sympathizers) who would disagree that Goswami’s Republic is a menace to democracy. There will be fewer journalists who would disagree that Goswami’s Republic isn’t journalism even by the worst yardstick. In that scenario I believe that the best way to contain this scourge would be for all people who are for democracy and ethical journalism – including non-NDA political parties to boycott Goswami’s anti-democratic republic.

Read the PostJust boycott REPUBLIC

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.

Read the PostLooking at Atrocity Images

May 21, 2017 /

‘He has a very traditional Metal voice’, remarked a senior editor of Raiot as Reach Down by Temple of the Dog was playing. I disagreed and tried explaining that it was, in fact, the voice of ‘grunge’. Not the voice but certainly an influential one.

Read the PostAmerica’s Strange ‘White Other’

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.

Read the PostAnd we shall resist the occupation

May 13, 2017 /

Young men and women mainly from rural Nagaland come in for short-term training courses to learn basic soft skills: to present themselves, stand, sit, communicate, dress and apply make-up, all essential requirements for a job in the service sector. Many of them find placements in hotels, spas, restaurants, airlines or security companies.

Read the Post<WAYFINDING / PHOTOESSAY> Placement & Grooming Centre in Dimapur

May 12, 2017 /

What do you do when you hear a hear a voice from 1928 rushing to tell you the Parable of the prodigal son? Did our language sound like that? Why did he stumble? Who was he? Where did he record it? How was the narrator chosen? Did he get paid for it or was he forced to do begaar? When we discovered these scratchy gramophone recordings done for The Linguistic Survey of India in 1928-29 we had to share it. For us reasons are not merely historical or linguistic but emotional like divining the dead. So go ahead and listen to our ancestors speaking Khasi, Pnar and War.

Read the Post<ARCHIVES> Listen to the Earliest Sounds recorded in Khasi-Jaintia Hills

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.”

Read the PostKhasi-Jaintia Hypocrisy and Rape

May 10, 2017 /

For the good part of two years, we have been hearing a lot of noise about the Village Administration Bill (VAB). There were protests and speeches about it, demonstrations and weary policemen. The people against it seemed to be in the majority and only the government side seriously thought it was a good idea. In Jaintia Hills, it went off fairly well and was passed without much delay or opposition.

Read the PostWhat is so sacrosanct about the Khasi-Pnar Traditional Institutions?

May 9, 2017 /

I went to Pine Mount in Shillong in the seventies. I lived close to school, just behind the NCC office. So, my parents had made an arrangement with the school and I would come home to eat lunch with my mother (something I hated so, as I missed out on playtime and having lunch from a lunch box, but I was powerless and could not resist).

Read the PostSnacking in Pine Mount School, Shillong

May 5, 2017 /

Souvid Datta’s work has always been problematic, that is independent of the recent plagiarism charges or the ethics of photographing a trafficked minor being raped. The fact that his work got to travel tells you all you need to know about the nature of what constitutes the photographic industry today.

Read the PostSouvid Datta is not an exception, he is the rule

May 4, 2017 /

India is scared of a facebook post. India is scared of a poem. India is scared of a video. India is scared of the smile of a martyr. India is scared of a girl in hijab pelting stones. India is scared of a boy helping his friend reach to safety​. India is scared of the people coming together.

Read the PostIndia attempts to offline Kashmir

May 3, 2017 /

This ‘play’ never had a script, being a work in progress so to speak, where the actors knew the opening line, knew the cue for the last line. Depending on intoxicants consumed the night before, the piece could be anything from 15 to 40 minutes.
It was staged in the late 1980s in New Delhi – by Hartman de Souza, a third-generation Kenyan by birth (but by default, Indian), and Kimamo Kuria, mwananchi from Kenya, final year law student at Delhi University. Both were also founder-members of the Delhi-based Afro-Indian theatre group, Ukombozi, that worked in Delhi – although they were not the first such theatre group to explore the common ground that benefits both sides, African and Indian.

Read the PostYou Are From?

April 29, 2017 /

My maternal grandfather loved the bottle. His room, which was always neat and clean would be whiskey-scented all day. After I was born, he drank only in the evening before dinner, and as he sipped on his glass, my brother and I would be on his bed playing cards, with a pleasurable sense of blasphemy even at the age of 6 or 7.

Read the PostPaieit loved his bottle and we loved him

April 28, 2017 /

It has been obvious for many decades now that Bhagat Singh’s image carries contrasting messages for Indians. The image of the man, whose popularity in India around the time of his execution nearly eclipsed the established leadership of Congress and Gandhi, is truly an icon in the popular political culture of India; and like all popular icons the messages it carries actually manifest the internal contradictions of this very culture. Religious revivalist organisations like Arya Samaj, rightwing Hindutva groups and even the Khalistan movement have used his image of a militant nationalist to challenge Congress domination of the discourse on freedom struggle.

Read the PostThe Afterlife of a Revolutionary

April 27, 2017 /

The Umtrew River flows through mostly the Ri-Bhoi district. A number of dams vital for electricity generation lay along its path. It acts as a border along the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary along a certain stretch. Its value towards preserving wildlife cannot be exaggerated.

Read the PostThe destruction of the Umtrew River

April 26, 2017 /

Assam’s Debjani Bora, who has won gold at the national level for her javelin throws, was targeted as a witch in 2014 in the state and assaulted, of all the places, in a community prayer hall. Debjani’s case puts into question one of the biggest myths around witch-hunting, that it takes place only due to superstition, ignorance and lack of education in far-flung remote villages, and among poor, uneducated people.

Read the PostDoctoring Evil: The Making and Hunting of Witches in Assam

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?

Read the PostMeghalaya Politics for Dummies

April 24, 2017 /

Today I write songs in Haflong Hindi. Haflong Hindi I would like to define is a mixture of Hindi, English, Urdu, Sufi, Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Manipuri, Punjabi, Bihari, and with few words from different tribes like Zeme, Dimasa, Hmar, Kuki, Biate, Hrangkol, Jaintia and maybe even more which I am not aware of.

Read the PostConfessions of a Haflong Hindi speaker

April 19, 2017 /

Entering Ri Bhoi is the first sign for me that I have come reached home. It was not just the low hills and the wide valleys nestled within them that elevated my heart but the sight of the shops littered along the highway and the people sitting inside them. Stopping and having tea and jingbam in these shops is one of my favourite moments of the journey.

Read the PostA DAY IN RI BHOI

April 17, 2017 /

Zubeen Garg, as the generation that grew up clutching onto his music through the turbulent 1990s and 2000s would tell you, cannot be defined. It is hare-brained to suggest that he was promoting Hindi imperialism in Assam by singing one of his old songs. But even if he was, it is ridiculous to see well-fed Bihu-committee tearaways hoisting the flag of a linguistic nationalism that was exclusive, chauvinistic and, more importantly, unbendingly middle-class from the word go.

Read the PostDead Nationalism Turned Chauvinist: Why the Zubeen Incident is Much Ado about Nothing

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.”

Read the PostIndian masculinity, nationalism, and torture videos from Kashmir