Category: English

October 13, 2021 /

Traffic had snarled up a little before Rainawari and, as I turned my head up I sighted the flag. A 100-ft high Tricolour that had been hoisted just the day before atop Hari Parbat, the hill that dominates many parts of the Srinagar skyline.

October 12, 2021 /

After learning that the broker Jokhim had arranged a “signal clear” for the transport of six bulls across the India-Bangladesh border, the cattle transporter Alibaba had no time to speak to anyone. Indian border commanders who had accepted Jokhim’s bribes had verbally granted a signal, which Jokhim relayed to Alibaba by rushing to his house. A signal clear comprises a precious two-to-three-hour window of opportunity during which Indian cattle workers such as Alibaba can cross the border to Bangladesh with their animals.“Signal clear,” Alibaba said to me, tying his cotton gamosa (towel) around his head as protection against the heat and the rain.

September 27, 2021 /

When I began reading anthropological literature I felt uneasy and troubled by the way in which it was written. It was greatly problematic and I stated to think how one should do it differently. One of the problems with tribal studies is the concept itself and how tribes are looked at in a colonial social structure. The idea of a tribe was represented as primitive, savages and inferior beings which continues even today. Anthropologists did try to do away with this idea but still categorised tribes as a type of society which has very little division of labour, absence of complexities and reading and writing. Anthropology looked at the kind of transformation taking place as if they are becoming peasants, caste or socially heterogeneous. In that whole process the erosion of identity occurred.

September 7, 2021 /

A lot of people have been calling me since yesterday to understand the Western Uttar Pradesh churning, specially in the context of Mahapanchayat at Muzaffarnagar on Fifth September. Given the absolute paucity of time in my life nowadays, I may not be able to to write a very detailed note.
However, here are some very quick observations:

August 26, 2021 /

Gail Omvedt’s journey in politics and thought was undertaken in and through several historical conjunctures, but she retained aspects of all her stopovers: in her view, these various sites of sojourn, whether feminist, Marxist, Phule-Ambedkarism, were united in their vision of utopia: a world that ought to be rendered real, in times to come, but for which one needs to labour in the present. While reason and analysis were central to divining the nature of this world-to-be, it yet had to be desired, longed for, and in this passionate wanting, lay the potential for political comradeship. And this is where the struggle against caste and patriarchy came together: for it was in the remaking of caste and gendered selves that the promise of utopia stood to be redeemed.

August 15, 2021 /

My father passed away almost 20 years ago but I remember him every day. I remember him as a loving and doting father, a jolly, generous, kind, often compulsive person, always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. He would buy us gifts – clothes, toys and food whenever he felt like. I would always be so happy and glad just to be in his company.
He had many names and identities you might say. He was known by his Muslim name as Abrar Hussain, his nickname was Khuku and Johnky, his Christian name was Peter.

August 4, 2021 /

What connects the murder of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis to the imprisoning of Nodeep Kaur in New Delhi to the detaining of Ahed Tamimi by Israeli authorities to the house arrest of Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Kashmir? How do race, caste, policing and occupation interconnect across borders?

August 3, 2021 /

Almost all reviewers of Haseen Dillruba will concur that this is a heady tale of triangulated desire between three people — Rishabh Saxena aka Rishu (Vikrant Massey), the archetypal good-boy, loyal and dutiful husband; Rani Kashyap (Taapsee Pannu), the wife of Rishu, who is an avid consumer of erotic-crime thrillers and aspires to live a sexually adventurous and imaginative life that she regularly encounters in the pulp-fiction that she reads

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 30, 2021 /

Growing up on the outskirts of Bombay, there were four types of rice that we ate at home: two for daily meals—from the Public Distribution System (PDS) ration shops and later, the local kirana (grocery) shop; Basmati Rice for special occasions or for pulav; and the red boiled rice from Goa. Most often, I did not know their name. We ate what we could afford… Sometimes, we stretched a little too much for the long-grained Basmati on birthdays and feast days. There were ten such days in a year.

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 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.

Dear Dolly,
I am so glad I reached out to you after hearing your UCLA talk, and for your honest and generous response that unspooled into such a heartfelt conversation…

Dearest Mabel,
I like the idea of reflecting together via letters. For some reason I feel the format is perfect; sort of a very deep political and feminist conversation in a letter-writing genre.

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 12, 2021 /

11 May 2021: For more than a year Karbi and Adivasi farmers of Mikir Bamuni Grant village in Nagaon district have been fighting to protect their lands, forcibly taken over by Azure Power Forty Private Limited for building a solar power plant. The land in question was cleared and cultivated by the ancestors of these farmers for generations.

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.

April 18, 2021 /

The first record of any European having crossed the Khasi Hills from one valley to the other is that of the journey made in 1824 by David Scott, the Agent to the Governor-General on the North East Frontier with headquarters at Sylhet. In 1826 the Syiem of Nongkhlaw was persuaded by David Scott to allow the construction of a road across the Khasi Hills. In 1833 Cherrapunji was established as the headquarters of the hills districts. For the next twenty years all effort was concentrated on establishing communication between Cherra and Sylhet.