Category: Commentary

July 22, 2021 /

A student trained in economics and political economy knows what to read on a reasonable and good budget. First, one needs to understand how best a government plans to use its resources and generate revenue. Secondly, what are the plans of the government for the expenditure of this revenue and resources? Thirdly, what are the long term projects and policies which can fundamentally infuse dynamism into the economy and general well-being of the people? Finally, if there is a gap between the government’s earnings and expenditure and which leads to borrowing, is the government in a position to pay back this loan in a reasonable manner.

July 19, 2021 /

Corona is both devastatingly resilient and deeply egalitarian. There is only one way out of this – beat it at its own game. We have to be more resilient and more egalitarian. More resilience will require more than vaccines; it will necessitate massive investment in healthcare where there is no paucity of drugs or oxygen or beds.

July 15, 2021 /

In the piece “How Hindi helped to build a bridge to Manipur language and culture” published on 12th July in The Hindu, the author of the said article/Op Ed piece Kuldeep Kumar, attempts to make a case for the prominence and historical importance of the Hindi and Devanagari script in Manipuri history and literature. The piece however is littered with factual and historical inaccuracies and worse, an extremely selective and distortive history masquerading as profound discovery.

In his recent opinion piece, Apoorvanand writes, in fact teaches, recently UAPA acquitted MLA Akhil Gogoi the meaning of justice, of law, of togetherness, of compassion, of equality with special emphasis on the preciousness and moral responsibility of freedom. Apoorvanand celebrates the release of Assamese activist Akhil Gogoi with his colleagues on June 17 and reiterates his conviction for support to any wrongfully punished opponents of the state saying ‘one who is at the receiving end must get ‘our’ support, irrespective of ‘their’ ideology. When Apoorvanand sanctions this moral support towards Akhil Gogoi and his comrades, probably one could not resist but to ponder- what moral ideological high ground is it anyway from where such bogus and idiosyncratic support in the name of preaching values can easily be unleashed?

June 28, 2021 /

Colonial sovereignty travelled into the frontier hills of the north east frontier through law. Frontier law or its absence and frontier space or its elusiveness tell us a different story about the history of Khasi, Jaintiah, and Garo hills of north east India. This story is one of unfinished borders, and malleability of landscapes. What does belonging and land based identity show us when we begin to uncover the processes through which modern boundaries were established during the colonial period? Is the history of law the history of boundary making? What lies underneath landscapes and in between divided spaces that we encounter today as normalized in law ? And very broadly what does place based identity mean in view of spatial processes of law? This historically based essay will explore these questions and invites readers to critically rethink identities and boundaries.

June 23, 2021 /

Ki nongdiemadan wat la ki long ka kynhun kaba don ha trai duh jong ka pyrnon, pynban ki long ka kynhun kaba laitluid tam bad ki bun kiwei pat ki para nongshong shnong kiba kwah ban їoh lem ia ka kajuh ka jinglaitluid ban long kynrad bad long shakri hi da lade їalade. Kum kane ka jinglaitluid mano bym kwah? Ha kajuh ka por pat ka jingim ki nongdiemadan ka dap da ka jingїakhun lynter, khamtam ha kane ka Nongbah bad ka Jylla Meghalaya ha kaba ka aiῆjong ka Sorkar India kam pat shym la treikam satia bad kane ka buh ia ka jingim bad ka kamai kajih jong ki nongdiemadan ha ka jingeh bakhraw. Hynrei ym tang ia ki nongdiemadan, ki paidbah nongshong shnong ruh ki shem jingeh namar katba ym pat pyntreikam pura ia ka aiῆ kan long kaba kaba shitom ban wanrah ia ka jingkylluid bad ka jingitynnad jong ka Sor Shillong.

June 17, 2021 /

The 2’nd wave of the Pandemic swept through the country leaving a trail of destruction everywhere; it was evident even in our tiny state, how the wave has ravaged through many unfortunate households. Yet here we are, still having to deal with people who think the virus isn’t real; and worse yet, people who know the virus is real but are spreading misinformation to the public, creating more confusion, and making it more difficult for people to come to the right conclusions.

June 9, 2021 /

It all started off with a supposed published writer (hooray!) Going off on a rant about how anyone can sing and make money while writers suffer in silence and abject poverty because they are unappreciated. Fortunately for me, I have very little published to boast as a writer so I’m good with being a rambler. That needled me though, since I have a problem with halo forging angels of light who use people as footstools to get a better view of greener pastures they cannot reach but can cry foul about. But I controlled myself.

June 6, 2021 /

On June 2, while the country continued to struggle, barely making sense of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, a tiny, fantastical incident gave Indians a moment of respite. The Delhi High Court was hearing the suit filed by Actor Juhi Chawla, where she argued that installing 5G technology would seriously damage humans and all of Earth’s ecosystem. All was going well, till the hearing was disrupted by a man singing songs from her movies, ranging from – “meri banno ki aayegi baraat” to “ghoonghat ki aad se.” Many users took to Twitter to express the comedy just enacted out on the stage of the Court.

June 5, 2021 /

Assam has six detention centres housed within six different jails of the state. There is no dedicated detention centre yet and a new detention centre with a capacity of holding 3000 persons is coming up at Matia in Goalpara district of the state. The construction of such a nature and the exclusion of millions from the National Register of Citizens in Assam brings with it the possibility of a rapid increase in the number of persons who will get detained in the state.

May 25, 2021 /

When the Tejpal “progressive” veneer slips to display a Brahminical choti, accompanied by Brahminical angst at being oh so “up-pressed” by a young woman’s rape complaint, and that unique Brahminical monopoly over HURT.
TT’s brother MT whines that TT’s being charged with rape inside lift, traumatised him (MT) so much he doesn’t use lifts; go on dates etc, AND that he (MT) started keeping a ponytail. Puzzled? Don’t be, it’s good old brahmanism.

May 21, 2021 /

In an unprecedented move, the CPI (M) decided that all its ministers would be freshers. But, reminiscent of the Orwellian quote about Napoleon being more equal – this wasn’t to apply to the Chief Minister, himself. Effectively this meant that K. K. Shailaja – irrespective of her merits or demerits – was to be excluded and has been demoted to party whip.

May 5, 2021 /

Ka jingpang ka long kaba shyrkhei, sngew kumban pluh ka shadem. Ngim dei ban kheiñ sting ia une u virus. Nga thoh ia kane ka artikl ryngkat ka oxygen mask ha khmut, artylli ki drip ha kti bad ka jingdap shadem (la shah mai ha i nurse ruh). Ngam lah ban thoh stet, kumta nga hap pynlut baroh shi sngi ban type ha ka mobile phone ia kane ka jingkyrpad ia ka jaitbynriew baieit jong nga: To da sumar, to iada ialade na une U COVID 19.

Positioning beyond the opposition politics of Congress led front, do Akhil’s Raijor Dal carry the potential to herald a new era of politics in Assam? It is perhaps contingent upon several factors, the immediate of course rests on its electoral outcome but beyond, rests more on its ability to negotiate the structural contradictions that lay embedded in the politics of the Brahmaputra valley. Looking back at the KMSS, the organisation from which Raijor Dal was formed may generate interesting insights.

April 20, 2021 /

While I was still in school, the Oil India Limited conducted a survey in Rahmoria, following which they started digging out crude oil from Rahmoria. Just after a few years, it was shut down after protests by the people of Rahmaria. The people of Rahmoria were seeking for a permanent solution for river erosion. The state came digging for oil, but the decades-long problem of the area was not under its purview. Rather, as many local agitations would show, such ventures of resource extractions bring new risks and hazards. Callousness towards the local people and ecology is, indeed, inherent in the very model of extracting the resources. Sometimes the risks turn into disasters of unmanageable proportion. In the last decade, the fire in the Dikol oil field was one such disaster. The inferno that happened in Baghjan area – an ecologically very sensitive area, situated next to Dibru Saikhowa National Park – was even bigger than the inferno in Dikom oil field. I went to Baghjan the very next day of the incident, and several times thereafter. The village was reduced to ashes. The first thought that came into my mind was that the after-effects would linger on, as the state would shrug off its responsibility.

March 16, 2021 /

Hareswar Barman is currently a candidate from Raijor Dol from lower Assam constituency of Rangia. He has been an important political organizer in Assam for many decades, jumping into active political life since he was in school in standard eight. He has been a living part of dealing with the questions of community/class dialectic as it played out in Assam over time.

He has been associated earlier with the erstwhile URMCA (United Revolutionary Movement Council of Assam, formed with the initiative of CPI-ML-PCC Vaskar Nandy group), when the question of ethnic community assertion, autonomy, federalism, class-based mobilizations and so on, were particularly stark in the 1970s and 80s. Being part thus, he has principally opposed dominant Assamese subnationalism’s chauvinistic strains of the time. Later on, he has been one of the architects of the Abodo Suraksha Samiti (Committee for protection of non-Bodo communities), which wielded its own set of experiences. It is one of the healthy signs in the current political juncture in Assam, that is re-energizing experienced committed political organizers like Hareswar Barman to enter active politics again.

March 3, 2021 /

Kyrham was a professor of sociology at my alma mater, North Eastern Hill University (NEHU). The department was his second home. He had joined it as a young student in the 1980s, learning the mysteries, myths and methods of the discipline from an array of energetic scholars like Virginius Xaxa, M.N. Karna, A.C. Sinha, Nikhilesh Kumar and others. For him, the department epitomised cosmopolitanism and the free exchange of ideas among equals. He was enthusiastic about every pedagogic aspect that it undertook, first while it was located in the Nongthymmai campus and then when it moved to Umshing Mawkynroh where NEHU is currently located. The department reciprocated this affection and respect, awarding him with a PhD in 1990 and then inducting him as a member of the faculty soon after.

February 26, 2021 /

Due to the historical traditions of peasant struggles in Punjab, in the current farmers’ revolt against agro-business capitalism articulated through three farms laws brought by Modi’s Hindu nationalist regime, the leaders of farmers organisations in Punjab played the leading role. It inspired first the Haryana peasantry and later the peasantry in UP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and other states to join the struggle. It is now progressing to become a country wide struggle going even beyond farmers. To understand the role leadership plays in any struggle, it is important to understand the significance of the concept of the ‘vanguard’. In every egalitarian movement, there is one sector which is the most advanced and provides leadership. This sector is the vanguard. It articulates the interests, aspirations and even emotions of other rebellious sections of society.

January 31, 2021 /

While many raise apprehensions about Rakesh Tikait even now, and perhaps rightly so, I also appeal to the same set to be patient in the way they approach this situation. It’s a difficult time, and such churnings are crucial. The damage that BJP has done to India will take very long to amend. Sometimes even fraught with contradictions. Impulsive reactions won’t help anyone.
Many fault lines still exist in West UP. Unlike Punjab where militant Farmers Unions have been active for many decades, Haryana and even West UP (including BKU) rely on Khaps to mobilize farmers. Feudal attitudes will take time to break down. But the Mahapanchayat on the 29th was a sure, small but significant, step towards the democratization of that society.

January 31, 2021 /

Perhaps here in this city where Ambedkar was literally blackmailed into signing the Poona Pact, and where Jotiba and Savitribai Phule did their revolutionary work we can give our struggle a name. Perhaps it should be the Satya Shodhak Resistance – SSR to the RSS.
The battle of Love against Hate. A battle for Love. It must be militantly waged and beautifully won.
“Text of Arundhati Roy’s speech at the Elgar Parishad 2021”

January 26, 2021 /

Once the peasants are in Delhi, it is either collective redemption or collective ruin. Nazists rarely allow for a middle ground…
This is first time in history we are seeing a revolutionary uprising in a fascist society while fascists still have state power. It was impossible until today, but the impossible happened today.

October 25, 2020 /

Ha ka jingmut tynrai ka kyntien Hima ka iasnoh bad thew ia ka synshar-ka bishar, ka sainpyrthei, ka khaii-ka pateng, ka kamai-kajih bad ka ioh ka kot. Katkum ka histori, u khun bynriew u la tyllun bad san na ka synshar syiem sha ka synshar paidbah. Ki don ruh ki thymmei pyrkhat kiba pynksan ba ki Syiem ki dei ki nongmihkhmat jong u Blei nongbuh nongthaw bad ki dang don ki iing longsyiem kiba dang sah khyrdong haduh mynta, wat la kim don shuh ka bor synshar kumba ki don ha ki por hyndai.Niuma,  ki paidbah nongshong shnong ha kine ki Ri ki dang ai hi khyndiat khynsoit ka bor ka sor ia ki, kumba ka long ha Ri Bilat bad ha ka Bri u Hynniewtrep ha kaba ki iing longsyiem ki dang ia don bynta hi ha kaba korbar ia ka iit- ka hima. Ka histori ka iathuh ruh ba na kawei ka spah snem sha kawei pat la mih ki nongsynshar kiba runar, ki nongsynshar kiba klun lut ka bor synshar ha lade bad kiba khnoit bein ia ki briew bad kiba nud ruh ban pyniap ia kito kiba ieng pyrshah ia ki.

September 6, 2020 /

Ka khlam ka la pynjulor bad ki samla kynthei, shynrang bad kiwei pat, ki shaiong bad sheptieng ban pyrkhat ia ka jingpynjot jong ka. Ha kajuh ka por kane kam pat dei kaba kut jong ka jingim bad barabor ka jingshai ka ap ha ba kut ka lynti iaid ba dum tliw tliw. Ha ka almanac jong ka Balang Presbyterian kane ka dei ka taiew jong ki samla bad kane ka sermon ka mih na ka jingiakren-iatai bad ki katto katne ngut ki samla kiba phohsniew bad saindur ia ka lawei.

August 26, 2020 /

On 5th August 2020 the Bhartiya Janta Party lived up to its promise of  ‘Mandir Vahin Banega’ as India’s Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of a temple at the place of a historical mosque demolished by the same party in 1992 in Ayodhya. While preparations of a grand temple in Ayodhya are on, it must be remembered that just a couple of years back in 2017, the Sardar Sarovar dam was inaugurated by the same Prime Minister with great fanfare in which large number of religious places of the Adivasis, Hindus, Jains and Muslims were drowned in the dam waters permanently.

August 23, 2020 /

Ka jingwan arsien u Jisu Khrist watla ka dei ka mat kaba iakren tang hapoh ka jylli Khristan pynban ki don ki khep ba ka ktah ia ka imlang-sahlang, ia ka jingiadei shi iing shi sem ne para marjan ne para shnong bad ka wanrah ia ka jingpait iing bad pait Balang. Katkum ka Bible, ha ki sngi kiba nyngkong jong ka Balang Khristan ki bangeit ha u Jisu ki ap khmih lynti ba kata ka iia bad ka jingwan arsien kan jia noh ha ka pateng jong ki hi.

August 12, 2020 /

A Muslim man identified as Lukeman was brutally thrashed with hammer on the suspicion of smuggling cow meat by an angry mob of cow vigilante’s on the eve of the Eid- al- adha on Friday (July 31) in Gurugram. This  incident comes as one of a series of attacks that has taken place across the country, targeting Muslim since the current ruling populist regime acquired the power with absolute Majority in 2014. Friction between Hindus and Muslims has been a persistent feature of Indian life. But in the last six years a hundreds of Muslims have been lynched, always with the pretext of defending “Hindu values”, which, in some interpretations, considers cow as sacred has revealed the emerging socio- political complexities and schisms in India.

August 7, 2020 /

Sandh Karmari is a village in the Bakawand Block of Bastar district. In the village is the Maulikot, also known as the Bendrakot, one of the largest sacred groves in central India, spreading over about 100 acres. It is a small slice of an old growth forest in the eastern part of the district that borders Odisha. There are more than 400 species of woody plants, terrestrial orchids including the species of Nervilia and Habenaria, large ficus and silk cotton trees that have buttressed with age, and giant lianas that provide a wonderful high-way for the giant squirrels, langurs and civets that make this grove their home. The shrine at one corner of the grove is of Mauli Mata, also known as Kanda-khai, tuber eater. Legend has it that the first signs of her presence came about when three women went out to dig yams and one of them found a figure of the goddess in her basket.

August 6, 2020 /

Will Mr. Conrad Sangma speak up? Will he clarify how the haphazard establishment of multiple coke plants determine a more “liveable place?” Will he explain his double-tongue approach towards environmental policies of the state? Because his outward soft-speaking self seemingly hides his mischievous agenda. Or will he emulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi who doesn’t address hard-hitting questions? If he doesn’t address this issue then I will lend voice to more questions hovering around Meghalaya’s polluted air such as unabated limestone mining, remorseless timber smuggling to dubious factories, issuing of deceitful transport permits, and others that warrant an explanation from the horse’s mouth.

August 5, 2020 /

Faizabad District Judge KM Pandey made the decision to open the gates of the Babri, back in February of 1986, assuring everybody that heavens will not fall if the locks are removed. In his autobiography, he mentions that his decision was validated by a black monkey, who sat holding the flag post on the roof of the court all day long, and despite offerings of groundnuts and fruits from thousands of people of Faizabad and Ayodhya, refused to accept any. The judge spots the black monkey later in the verandah of his bungalow, and salutes him, taking him to be some divine power.

August 4, 2020 /

The tortuous thicket of laws, constitutional provisions, presidential orders, political history and legal mystifications surrounding Article 370 and Article 35A make it difficult to navigate through recent debates about its abrogation in an informed way. This series of three essays by Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh, lawyer and legal researcher, which we published last year, aimed to be a somewhat eclectic guidebook— at times proffering a no frills step-by-step road map, at others traversing some rather more unfrequented and adventurous legal diversions.

August 3, 2020 /

In death, shaheed articulates both his agency and his suffering. In death, he bears witness to the pain and truth of Kashmir. In death, he makes it clear that the world’s largest democracy is afraid of simple dreams in the eyes of simple men.

“But what do these Kashmiris want,” the world asks.

August 2, 2020 /

A totalitarian control over histories and a calculated manipulation of meanings have been instrumental in India’s narrative warfare. Its armed and administrative forces have actively pursued the destruction of historiographic and material evidence of the Kashmiri past.
However, there exist ‘witnesses’ that reject the Indian imagination, refuse to grant it any legitimacy, and rule out any possibility of submission to its apparatus of regulation. These ‘witnesses’ attest to the multiple struggles of Kashmir’s pasts and preserve the evidence of its demands from the future. They undermine the colonial design by engaging in a negotiation of power where they reimagine the Kashmiri body, Kashmiri history, and the Kashmiri everyday. Subverting the threat of erasure and elimination, the ‘witnesses’ promise life in their sense of continuity, renewal, and resilience.”

July 27, 2020 /

Swapna Barman became the only Indian so far to have won gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games in the event called heptathlon, an athletic event which, like many of them, most of her own villagers never heard of till she won the medal. Earlier she had also won gold medal in Asian Athletic Championship in 2017 and got silver medal in the SAF Games in 2016. Being the champion of one of the toughest athletic events she soon became well-known all over the country. For her extraordinary sporting achievements, she was also conferred with the coveted Arjuna Award. In the same Asiad the Assamese girl, Hima Das too won the gold medal in the 400 metres mixed and women’s relay. Young Hima Das deservedly became a celebrity in Assm. She has also been offered the job of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) by the state government. In stark contrast to such glorious journey, Swapna Barman received a lukewarm welcome in Kolkata airport, the capital of her home state, moderate cash rewards from the state, a clerical job to her brother, and that’s about it, where it all ended. Swapna belongs to the Koch Rajbanshi community, an indigenous repressed community recognized as Scheduled Caste in the state of West Bengal. In the caste sensitive Bengal society, they have always been considered as paraiahs, the low castes.

July 27, 2020 /

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…

July 24, 2020 /

It is the dead of the night. I look out of my favourite bed-side window and find the darkness, illuminated by tiny lights at Takht-e-Sulayman, staring at me. Each dot of luminosity reminding me of the military occupation of my land. This takes me back to my childhood days when I was growing up in my hometown. Every morning, long rifles protruding from the surrounding military camps would inspect me as I walked to the school bus stop, and each night, a blinding beam of search-light from the nearest military camp would invade one of the rooms of our home. As a child, it would startle me and I was left petrified. I would navigate around that torturous foreign beam, scared of being mowed down by the long rifles if I got into the crosshairs of the searchlight. As I grew up, my mind started questioning these search-lights and long rifles, crackdowns and curfews, killings and rapes, and the causative agent of these monstrous manifestations in Kashmir:– the occupation.

July 20, 2020 /

July 17 2020
To
Professor G.N. Saibaba
Anda Cell
Nagpur Central jail
Nagpur
Maharashtra

Dear Sai,

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is me, Arundhati writing to you and not Anjum. You wrote to her three years ago and she most certainly owes you a reply. But what can I say—her sense of time is entirely different from yours and mine, leave alone the speedy world of Whatsapp and Twitter. She thinks nothing of taking three years to reply to a letter (or not)…

July 20, 2020 /

I can’t remember the first time I felt excluded. I can’t remember ever feeling excluded. Maybe because for certain people, being excluded is a normative state of mind. In any case, I never looked at it as an undesirable way of being. I loved the fact that the seas and the mountains merged within me, that I could feel at home in totally diverse geographical and cultural spaces, or that I could once speak 6 different languages before I even turned ten. Years later, lovers would describe me in the exact same way: as this exotic, improbable creature, who could be so many different things at once. I had a yearning for extremely divergent things that could never exist in the same place: for instance, I wanted to walk directly from the surging, mildly chaotic seas of Chennai to the Chinar trees of my childhood, yawning in the horizons while I gasped as a baby. I craved for vadais and chutney while dawdling at a weekly bazaar in Bombay, but hunted a million markets in Chennai for just one pair of jootis.

July 17, 2020 /

Writing the northeast, often leads to misrepresentation, distortion, misinformation of the places, peoples and resources. These are not merely floating around in popular mentality, these stereotypes are consciously constructed and maintained in films and also in academic discourses. This particular Call for Paper (CFP) for a journal issue, entitled “Assam: A Citizenship Battleground” (Cached link)to be published under University of York project entitled Rethinking Civil Society: History, Society, Critique caught our attention and quite a few of us discussed it and decided to address the issue.
The result was a statement of concern, which is not about a closed academic discussion but more about placing the northeast of India, Assam in particular in a more complex frame of reference for a global readership. This was also making people of the region aware of the developments taking place in academic circles in the West. The NRC and CAA has captured a lot of global press and as it happens, the margins get distorted in the generalised narrative.