Colonial politics of labelling communities have had disastrous consequences which continue to impact the lives of the colonized. Identities were created and circulated through this act which in turn had categorised, included and excluded the communities living in the colonial fringe. Karbis were labelled ‘heathen’, ‘worshippers of malignant demons’, ‘unwarlike’, ‘timid’, ‘coward’ ‘bloodthirsty’ and such other colonial vocabularies which continue to haunt them. Colonial authorities persisted with the misnomer, ‘Mikir’, over the ancient indigenous nomenclature Karbi and the label remained in force for centuries. Colonial categorisation of Karbis into Hills and Plains simply because of geographical locations continues to divide and distance the tribe psychologically, socially, culturally and politically. The colonizers however saw in the Karbis their ‘industriousness’ as it served the colonial enterprise.
On the 4th of March, 2019, a 16-year-old girl was found hanging from a tree just outside the village of Rouni, nestled in the Sal-forested hills of Jashpur in Chhattisgarh, India. Manita had chosen not to accompany her parents to a meeting on caste certificates held in the village the day before, saying she’d rather stay home and study for her exams. After a few hours at home, she took the cattle out to graze, found a tree at the edge of the village, and hanged herself; the cattle returned alone.
Migration is a universal phenomenon and no part of the world can be completely immune from it. Meghalaya, one of the states in Northeast India, is not an exception and has been experiencing migration of the outsiders particularly the non-tribals over a fairly long period of time. However, it was in the 1970s that the process of its problematization started with the tribal educated elite undertaking the leadership role under the influence of several factors that worked collectively. Though the process eventually led to the occurrence of a series of violent ethnic conflict in the state, yet it was largely responsible for the prevention of the emergence of existential crisis situation for the indigenous tribals.
Though political schisms exist between tribal political subjectivity and forces representing Assamese ruling elites, yet both tribal and non-tribal people of Assam consider continued migration into Assam as a shared problem that must be adequately addressed.
There is no correct political position to be assumed on this issue, except the one which aims at addressing long standing historical demands without resulting in mass displacement and injury to anyone. More than anything, at this particular juncture, one has to be careful about the BJP and the communal forces it is willing to unleash.
I feared and angered
In my younger years,
When men ask me at the bus stop,
Until the numbers
And my own violence
Violated my sisters on the streets.
So now i respond –
“Sau lakh” (or more).
No one wants to give serious thoughts to creating a Meghalaya which is self-sustainable and economically independent. Forget the pre-election rhetoric, the policies do not reflect it. To actually initiate such a task would require work, will power and actual thinking. A Meghalaya that stands on its own two feet is a Meghalaya where the citizens stand on their own two feet, and that my friends, is dangerous for the dominant power structure.
popular discourses on the north-east often project the region as a homogenous socio-political entity undermining the internal contestations of the region. Some hold the State as the main reference point of the socio-political churnings that plague the region. However, a look at contemporary history of these states and the unrest therein shows the dynamic nature of the region which abounds with contestations, namely between tribes, tribes and non-tribes, and over religious identities. Along with the more visible ethnic dimension, conflicting interests over resources like land, and political and economic power are also present in these contestations.
The poor in this country are caught in a deadly pincers of malnutrition on the one hand which reduces the power of their immune system and makes them vulnerable to disease, an almost non-existent public health sytem, a rapacious private health system practicing irrational medicine and a lack of knowledge of basic medicine.
In the recent decades right wing politics has appropriated not merely tribal historical figures like Rani Gaidinliu in Nagaland/Manipur but also many such tribal icons across the country. A similar story emerges within the context of the Indal offerings associated with the tribal Barela and Bhil tribal communities of Western Madhya Pradesh.
The pictures speak of the brutality of the Delhi Police and Manipur Police. The scenes I saw at the hospitals were heart-rending. About 60 people are detained at Chanakyapuri Police Station. I was not allowed to meet the officials or arrested people, many of whom are injured.
Today the fertile valley of Manipur, home to the Meiteis, has been under a tremendous demographic changes wherein Meiteis face the ‘existential’ crisis. A fear-psychosis has been shared among the populace that Meiteis will become a minority in their own land as there is no regulatory mechanism to regulate the unabated migration from other parts of India. Thus to defend the population, there have been popular movements to monitor and regulate demographic changes and land tenure. The recent move to introduce Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) initiated in the valley spearheaded by Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) is one such assertion urging to protect the ‘indigenous’ people of Manipur, which ended up facing an unprecedented opposition from the highlanders. It was perceived as another move by the majority Meiteis to ‘encroach’ upon territory of the highlands which the Meiteis does not traditionally own, and are owned in a different manner by the highlanders, and delegitimising the citizenship of the highlanders. Till today nine dead bodies remain unburied in Churachandpur signifying the opposition and resistance.