Category: Resources

June 19, 2020 /

Autonomous District Councils are frequently blamed for failures of governance in Meghalaya. Their inefficiency, however, is a feature of the system rather than an anomaly. In seeking to preserve traditional institutions by transforming them, the Sixth Schedule only further entrenched the colonial paradox it inherited. The ADCs it invented—simultaneously accountable to everybody and responsible for nobody— were practically designed for endemic corruption and abuse. Sometimes, as in the case that opened this essay, the legal system works. The RTI infrastructure helps citizens uncover specific illegalities and then the judiciary provides a remedy. More often it does not, because structural inequity cannot be meaningfully addressed in this piecemeal fashion. The eternal liminality of the ADCs also indicates just how indebted our institutional imagination remains to condescending colonial assumptions about tribal peoples and the need to “gently assimilate” them into modernity. The Constituent Assembly’s recognition of indigenous sovereignty was a landmark moment in world history, but it was only half the task. It falls to us now to build institutions that can live up to that sweeping democratic vision.

April 15, 2020 /

Unless you have been on a remote island with no access to the internet (if so, you should have stayed there!), several new words will have been added to your vocabulary in the past few months. Terms such as case fatality rate, antibody, and PPE are no longer just used by scientists. Consider this your coronavirus jargon-buster.

March 13, 2020 /

This history – especially the unknown consequences of interactions with malnutrition and existing infections – should warn us that COVID-19 might take a different and more deadly path in the slums of Africa and South Asia. The danger to the global poor has been almost totally ignored by journalists and Western governments. The only published piece that I’ve seen claims that because the urban population of West Africa is the world’s youngest, the pandemic should have only a mild impact. In light of the 1918 experience, this is a foolish extrapolation. No one knows what will happen over the coming weeks in Lagos, Nairobi, Karachi, or Kolkata. The only certainty is that rich countries and rich classes will focus on saving themselves to the exclusion of international solidarity and medical aid. Walls not vaccines: could there be a more evil template for the future?

February 24, 2020 /

The state of Meghalaya has experienced many disturbances in relation to the issue of immigration. At the same time, there are historical demographic trends in Meghalaya which makes the case a little complicated. The spectre of the threat of illegal immigrants displacing the indigenous tribal population has been played out since the formation of the Statehood. Fear of being overwhelmed by non-indigenous population (non-tribal) is widespread throughout the State and any perceived threat to tribal sovereignty is vehemently opposed

January 30, 2020 /

Mr. Mantre Passah and Rev. Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh, who have been part of progressive people’s movements and part of collectives including Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) and Workers Power of Meghalaya (WPM), have filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India on the 13th of January 2020, challenging the constitutionality of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA). Their challenge bases on the arbitrariness of CAA and its attack on the freedom of religion, reality of transborder tribal lives and privacy of individuals.

December 23, 2019 /

My first personal introduction to the flurry of activities that would be associated with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was in June 2015. My partner and I were in Australia for a conference, when my father left several text messages for us to call him. He wanted the exact spelling of my deceased father-in-law’s name, as well as the name of his village in Nagaland. “Where have you both kept your school and college certificates?” he asked when I called. Thus it began, a scramble for documents that would prove that I was indeed a citizen of India, who was from Assam and had a formidable array of evidence as proof. My father explained that my partner’s details would be sent to Nagaland and once the administration there verified the details sent to them, she too would be included in the NRC.”

December 20, 2019 /

The abrogation of Article 370 has been accompanied by many colossal whoppers about its politics and history, and deliberate disinformation about the consequences for legal and constitutional rights and status. Yet in Kashmir, from where I write this, none of it matters. It is all of a piece with India’s long history of lawlessness and lies in the name of law. In the face of overwhelming ontological insecurity and terrifying state brutality, no one, not even the lawyering community (such of them as are not busy filing habeas corpus and bail petitions or themselves hiding from arrest), can be bothered to pore over the niceties of how exactly the deed was accomplished. With no Internet access many Kashmiri lawyers I speak to have not so far been able to read the full text of the two Constitutional Orders that altered their fate. What, after all, is a legal sleight of hand or an elaborately constructed constitutional lie when you have not spoken to a beloved daughter in two months? Who cares if Tulsi Gabbard (“who?”) or the late Arun Jaitley (“he died?”) misrepresent the nature of property rights that daughters enjoyed under your one-time, so-called semi-autonomous legal system? Many had not heard that this was even a thing. When I informed them, seething with indignation, they shrugged. “Yes” they said. “They lie.”

December 17, 2019 /

Tear gas, formally known as a lachrymator agent or lachrymator (from the Latin lacrima, meaning “tear”), sometimes colloquially known as mace, is a chemical weapon that causes severe eye and respiratory pain, skin irritation, bleeding, and blindness. Tear gas works very quickly. So what should you do?

September 19, 2019 /

In Part 2 of An Essential Guide to Dismantling Kashmir’s “Special Status”, Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh looks at what the dismantling of Kashmir’s “special status” means in the realm of the international order: the laws of nations, wars and our shared humanity. The question of Kashmir’s international legal status has been an extremely contentious one, and one on which there has been very little serious academic engagement. In India, most legal experts and opinion makers have seemed content to echo, either by their words or their silences, the position of the Indian state that Kashmir is primarily a constitutional question, in other words an “internal matter”. But in the midst of the legal upheaval wrought by the neutering of Article 370, several previously verboten terms – ‘Occupation’, ‘Annexation’, ‘Colonialism’, ‘Right to Self Determination’, drawn from the realms of international law and politics, are now being used in the Indian public sphere to describe, debate, or decry the events of 5 August, 2019. In this essay, Shrimoyee unpack some of these terms and address the question of the implications of the constitutional changes for Kashmir’s disputed legal status in International Law.

September 16, 2019 /

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, aims 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. In this first essay, Shrimoyee provides a legal-historical guide to terms like 370, 35(a) and the tricks, which were played to make these history.”

In 1973 a Hindi film Yeh Gulistan Hamara came. Before the screening of the film we had read about the film in Filmfare. That magazine was very popular. After I read about the film, I realized it is politically motivated and I started campaigning against it. Dev Anand and Sharmila Tagore were the actors. Sharmila played a Naga girl and she was named Sekrenyi which is the name of a holy festival of the Angamis. The actor came with elephants to a Naga village. He brought sweets and biscuits to court the Naga girl and teach her writing and reading. And in the end the Indians conquered Naga country with the help of the forces. We said our country was never conquered by Hindustan. The Naga students protested and tried to get the Khasi students to join us because the film also depicted Khasis as backward. But Khasis did not understand. On top of that, the Meghalaya government relaxed the entertainment tax also.

January 27, 2019 /

The idea that Indian Constitution would include various provisions like the Fifth and Sixth Schedule to protect the rights of the Tribal indigenous people was not palatable to many non tribal members of the Constituent Assembly. The debates on the question of Tribal rights and autonomy are therefore quite fascinating to read to understand the attitudes of racial and cultural superiority that the plains dwelling Indian harboured toward the tribal people. As Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri put it, “We want to assimilate the tribal people. We were not given that opportunity so far.” But these ‘racist’ comments were eloquently challenged and dismantled by Rev. J. J. M. Nichols Roy, a Khasi  and Mr. Jaipal Singh, a Munda. Their historic speeches to the Assembly need revisiting again because the attitudes they challenged and the questions they raised have not yet become history.

January 23, 2019 /

Much talked about, two volumes of “Curse of Unregulated Coal Mining in Meghalaya” were put together by a motley group of activists, researchers dismayed by the murderous attack on Kong Agnes Kharshiing & Amita Sangma by coal mine owners, traders and transporters of East Jaintia Hills. Agnes & Amita had been tracing the source of illegal coal mining in violation of National Green Tribunal orders imposing an interim ban on environmentally destructive, unscientific rat hole coal mining in Meghalaya. The first report was submitted to Mr. Colin Gonsalves, who had been appointed Amicus Curea by the Supreme Court in the various appeals challenging the interim ban on unscientific and unregulated ‘rat hole’ mining in Meghalaya imposed by the National Green Tribunal. This first report, subtitled as “How Unregulated & Illegal Coal Mining in Meghalaya is Destroying Environment and Dispossessing Tribal People of their Land and Livelihood” examines the claims about livelihood and tribal autonomy made by Coal Mine owners and Government of Meghalaya. The second report looks at how unregulated & illegal Coal Mining in Meghalaya continued even after the orders of National Green Tribunal & Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. 

November 6, 2018 /

Now that Justice Pranoy Kumar Musahary has been appointed the first chairperson of Lokayukta in Meghalaya, it is time to start knowing about the law and start using it to challenge the regime of corruption in Meghalaya. So here is your short guide to Meghalaya Lokayukta Act 2014 made by Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR).

October 1, 2018 /

What qualities should such an honoured servant of society exemplify in his person? In my opinion an ideal Bhangi should have a thorough knowledge of the principles of sanitation. He should know how a right kind of latrine is constructed and the correct way of cleaning it. He should know how to overcome and destroy the odour of excreta and the various disinfectants to render them innocuous. He should likewise know the process of converting night- soil and urine into manure.

October 1, 2018 /

Gandhism is a paradox. It stands for freedom from foreign domination, which means the destruction of the existing political structure of the country. At the same time it seeks to maintain intact a social structure which permits the domination of one class by another on a hereditary basis which means a perpetual domination of one class by another. What is the explanation of this paradox?

June 27, 2018 /

At a book reading in Kolkata, about a week after my first novel, The God of Small Things, was published, a member of the audience stood up and asked, in a tone that was distinctly hostile: “Has any writer ever written a masterpiece in an alien language? In a language other than his mother tongue?” I hadn’t claimed to have written a masterpiece (nor to be a “he”), but nevertheless I understood his anger toward a me, a writer who lived in India, wrote in English, and who had attracted an absurd amount of attention. My answer to his question made him even angrier.
“Nabokov,” I said. And he stormed out of the hall.

May 4, 2018 /

This collection of extracts from the works of Mikhail Bakunin are taken from his writings touching on his controversy with Marx over the nature of the state and its role in the liberation of the international working class. Written between 1867 and 1872, many of Bakunin’s predictions about the outcome of following the authoritarian communist road have been proven valid by the actions of Marxist Leninist authoritarians across the world.

April 13, 2018 /

Yogi Adityanath may have thought that by introducing Dr. Babasaheb B R Ambedkar’s middle name ‘Ramji’, he would turn Babasaheb into just another Hindu leader. But Yogi forgot that Dr. Ambedkar even with Ramji as his middle name was the author of The Riddle of Rama – an iconoclastic essay about Hinduism’s favourite God.

January 12, 2018 /

If one was being parochial one would have only said that Kalikho Pul’s Suicide Note is one the most important literary sources to understand politics and governance in the North East of India (relevant parochial sections highlighted in green in the english translation). But this Suicide note is also a key public document which lifted the tattered veil of judicial incorruptibility (highlighted in pink in the english translation). Today when 4 senior most judges have broken ranks to point at the rot in the judicial system under the present CJI Mr. Dipak Misra, it is important to revisit the suicide note, for here was the fuse which finally ignited the firework today.

December 29, 2017 /

Published in 1864 ‘Papers relating to the Disturbances in the Cossyah and Jynteeah-Hills’ is a classic colonial administrative report on the indigenous insurrections in Khasi Jaintia Hills. Model for all the contemporary Sarkari reports on people’s resistances. Long buried in the libraries, this text has made careers of many a historians. If you are interested in insurrection Kiang Nangbah, you have trawl through this text to know the colonial version of the events. Raiot will be putting in public domain many of the key archival historical document relating to the history of our hills. Download – it goes without saying.

August 11, 2017 /

“Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) condemns the intolerant residents and the dorbar of Shnong Madan iingsyiem, Mylliem who tried to prevent the cremation of (Late) Mr. Kulam Nongrum (President Sengbah ki Nongshad Nongkheiñ) in accordance with Niam Khasi faith in his village. It was only after the intervention of the District administration and an offer of space by Seng Khasi Hima Mylliem that Late Mr. Nongrum could be cremated. The fundamentalist and intolerant behaviour of the some of the Christian majority of the village ensured that the solemn funeral procession was also an occasion for hurling insults on the adherents of the indigenous faith.”

June 12, 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.

February 24, 2017 /

Each and every opening line of the songs featured in this book ‘Ka Marynthing Rupa’ by L. Gilbert Shullai takes me back to the time when western music took root in the flesh and blood of Khasi musicians and when it seemed like the music itself was going to be an integral part of Khasi culture. Perhaps, this was possible because there hadn’t emerged at the time Khasi musicians who were skilled enough to understand the intricacies of songwriting. In those days, Khasi songs had a very strong mainland Indian influence and they were performed mainly in theatrical shows in places like Jowai, Mawphlang, Mawngap, Marbisu, Sohra, Mawsynram and among the Seng Khasis in Mawkhar.

February 12, 2017 /

We, the undersigned women’s organisations and concerned individuals take serious note of the fierce opposition to women’s reservation of 33% seats in Nagaland Municipal Councils by male dominated tribal bodies in Nagaland in the name of protecting their tradition and customary practices that bar women from participating in decision- making bodies.

January 31, 2017 /

This article was first published in Sunday Vol. 10 Issue 33, 6 -12 March 1983. Sunday, was a political weekly published from Kolkata by Ananda Bazaar Patrika group and M J Akbar was its founding editor. Dr. Hiren Gohain’s essay is reproduced here for educational purpose from the private collection of Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator Haidar Hussain.