Recently, I came across a statement by 81 intellectuals and activists from Assam spotlighting the ‘disinformation’ published as part of a Call-for-Papers for a journal. Assam is a place with a complex political history and scholars do mix up issues from time to time. Therefore, the writing of the statement is a welcome step in the direction of understanding the state and the multitude of voices that it enkindles. It is in the same spirit of polyphony and dialogue that I write my comment…
Author: Jyotirmoy Talukdar
Jyotirmoy Talukdar is a Senior Writing Fellow at the Centre for Writing and Communication, Ashoka University. He is also a freelance journalist regularly contributing to HuffPost India, The Wire and various Assamese dailies.
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.
Debates have started again after when the ULFA chief in his latest notes from underground vowed to register his protest – “that too not in words” – if theatres in Assam decide to take down an Assamese film called Shakira Ahibo Bakultolor Bihuloi / Shakira will be coming to Bakultol’s Bihu in favour of films like Raees and Kaabil.
Come Wednesday night, Jawaharlal Nehru University in the country’s capital will witness another session of the much awaited presidential debates. If the analyses and estimations from last year’s elections – which said that Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech swept all the floating votes toward his favour – are anything to go by, the night of the debate indeed is not a mere spectacle of wit, oratory and rhetoric, but also serious electioneering. But, this year’s elections look riveting and engrossing for another reason—the clear emergence of the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) as a force that has been systematically sussing out and exposing the casteism practiced by the Indian Left, particularly the parliamentary Left parties. With its call for the unity of the bahujan on a platform of ‘shared reality of different oppressions’, BAPSA is hoping to scrape together all such votes that have not been represented and respected by the erstwhile Unions.
It is great news indeed that Axomiya nationalism is dead. It is dead for a good reason.