Jelle J. P. Wouters traces the early beginnings of the Indo-Naga conflict, which erupts in the 1950s and continues into the present-day. Focussing on the period roughly between the Battle of Kohima in 1944, which ended Japanese expansionism in the east, and the enactment of Nagaland state in 1963 as an envisaged (but failed) political compromise to the demand by the Naga National Council (NNC) for complete Naga sovereignty. Using, hitherto scantily used tour and personal diaries, government reports, private correspondence, memoires, and recorded memories to interrogate the master-narrative of the Naga struggle that reconstructs a relatively straight and uncomplicated historical trajectory that sees the genuine awakening and NNC-led political mobilization of an upland community situated off the beaten track of both Indian civilization and colonial domination, and of Nagas’ collective resolve to take up arms to fight for a place on the table of nation-states. Alternatively, if the story is told from the vantage of the Indian state, the dominant narrative apportions blame to a ‘misguided’ Naga elite that seeks to undermine the territorial and national integrity of the Indian state. These prevailing views, attractive for their absence of complexity, however, ignore the anguished debates, interpersonal and intertribal differences, contingent histories and events, dissenting voices, political assassinations, and sharp divisions within the rank-and-file of the NNC, and whose inner dynamics and sentiments could as well have produced outcomes other than war.
No other issue, in the recent memory, evokes the relevance of history more than the Sweepers’ Line Imbroglio. The week, following the incident of 31st May, misinformation and misrepresentation flew thick and fast. One such, being the nomenclature (name), ‘Punjabi Lane’. One does not deny the fact that there had been clashes in the past three decades, but never was it attached a communal colour, as this time round. That the situation, spin from a brawl to a communal flare up, stemmed from the ‘falsification’ of the name of the said ‘Area’, thereby unnecessarily, dragging the name of a particular community to it.
When heat became hard to beat with fresh drink and fan To cool myself, hastily to Shillong I ran Where pine-decked hills and deep dark…
An aspect that I have come to associate with Shillong is nostalgia; a longing for a city that once was. This relates to the colonial past, when the city was less populated, greener and cleaner, but also to a more recent postcolonial past. Among middle-aged people – those I mainly socialise with – this longing is mainly for the city of their youth; a city prior to violence and protests, a peaceful and friendly place where you go to meet a friend or watch a movie late in the evening without fear. But as many of my interlocutors lament, this ended in the 1980s with increasing ethnic conflicts, curfews, rallies and underground activities. The past – the 1960s and 70s – appears as a time of innocence, freedom and possibilities in a world that was opening up. While I suppose it is a universal feature to cling to memories of the formative period of one’s youth, Shillongites seem especially besieged by a nostalgic mood, a collective commemoration of the past. That life for many in the city has improved materially doesn’t seem to alter such cravings for the city that once was.
Last month, the judges of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata rejected the Union cabinet decision to the change the name of the first high court in South Asia to Kolkata High Court. The Union cabinet had decided to change the names of Bombay and Madras High Court too, to Mumbai and Chennai High Courts. The Union cabinet decision was made on 5th July. Thereafter, on 11th July, judges of the “Calcutta” High Court unanimously opposed the name change idea. Nevertheless, the Union government went ahead and moved the bill in the Lok Sabha – the the High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill. For Kolkata, it proposed that the ‘High Court of Judicature at Calcutta’ is renamed to ‘High Court of Judicature at Kolkata’. Symbolism aside, names have meanings. So do name changes and the names to which they are changed.
Rochelle Pinto reviews Filipa Lowndes Vicente’s ‘Other Orientalisms – India between Florence and Bombay 1860-1900’, a book tracing the interaction between Florence and Bombay
Though elections are over in Assam but air is still tempered with political tensions. This is probably the most unpredictable electoral fight ever in Assam between newly emerged BJP and the ruling party Congress. In this elections most crucial tug of war between the two major party was over the vote banks of present and ex tea garden workers, who play deciding role in 35 seats. They are included among what are popularly called the Tea tribes, who are estimated to be about 60 lakhs in Assam.
You may have heard of Gwalia in Khasia, the book by Nigel Jenkins but had heard of the film? Watch this classic BBC documentary on the history and politics of Khasi Hills
Improve your General Knowledge
An Indian dude meets a Pakistani chap in a London pub and a Brit woman walks in…
A short story
Ia ka History ngi pule ym tang kum ka jingiathuh khana, hynrei ngi dei ruh ban pynshai shynna (interpret) ia ki jingjia history na kawei ka pateng sha kawei pat. Ki jingjia ha ka history ym dei ba ki iathuh ne kdew tang shaphang ka mynnor, khamtam eh ka History ka don ruh ban hikai bad pyrsad mynsiem thymmai ia ka mynta. Ka Raiot ka kynmaw burom ia U Kiang Nangbah kum u riewpaidbah bad u riewiakhun na ka bynta ki khun ki hajar bad ki nongshong shnong jong ka Hima Sutnga
While state seems in no mood to repeal bloody AFSPA and continue oppression on people by killing dissident voices with impunity, people are bound to revolt. A continuous humiliation and torture of people living under AFSPA is just unbearable. This colonial rule and bloody thrust of power and resources must end.
“Natural” Conservativeness in Shillong and Khasi-Jaintia Hills could be due to the fact that most of their encounters with Modernity are given directly by the Church or ”reviewed” by it.