The Proposal No one knows where the proposal for building a new mall in BARIK point of Shillong, similar to Saket’s Select in Delhi, first began.…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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…
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 17 2020
Professor G.N. Saibaba
Nagpur Central jail
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)…
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.
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.
The Meghalaya RTI series has a success story to report. On 27th June, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a charge-sheet against Ampareen Lyngdoh, JD Sangma, and AL Lyngdoh for their alleged involvement in the White Ink Scam, which occurred during Ampareen Lyngdoh’s tenure as Education Minister of Meghalaya. The scam, which occurred over a decade ago, was quite simple. In 2008, the Deputy Inspector of Schools advertised for applicants to the post of assistant teacher in government schools, and a list of selected candidates was issued the following year.
Since the days of the colonial takeover of this part of the country by the British Administration the native people of Assam as well as North East India have been facing indiscriminate land aggression by outsiders. From the very days of the colonial administration and even after independence, the land has become the central issue of conflict between subject versus subject and also the subject versus state. The legal changes that began in the colonial age that do not recognize the difference between the tribal tradition and the formal law are basic to all forms of land alienation.
This is a message from concerned citizens of Meghalaya. In view of the growing number of CoViD 19 positive cases , our concern is regarding the government’s decision to open up college admissions for session 2020-2021.
In Assam, indigenous communities are living under constant threat of eviction. Even after living for generations they are still not getting settlement for their land. Landless farmers are demanding land. But this government which stormed to power by promising to protect indigenous interests are now becoming the major threat to the indigenous people. From bringing in the CAA to the Ordinance for Automatic Reclassification of Land, we are witnessing a series of decisions by the present regime which will ultimately destroy our collective existence.
Torrential rains, this monsoon like every other has worsened the flood situation in Assam. This year already around 1.1 million people have been affected in 23 districts and the fatalities due to flood this year has gone up to 24 and counting. While the state administration is doing its best to tackle the situation, locals of villages near the rivers are being moved to safer places as their villages are being inundated by flood waters. Soon the public cry will be about the ineffectual bureaucracy and aid programs on the ground as lakhs of rupees will be once again spent and pocketed.
māti is a short documentary film (22 minutes) that attempts to understand this annual cycle. This film is in Assamese and English (with subtitles in English) and remains institutionally unfunded, made in partnership with the local communities by the river.
On June 29, 2020; the Minister of Industries and Commerce of Assam released a series of tweets announcing that the Council of Ministers had approved an ordinance by which industries could be set up in Assam by just “one self-declaration” and land would be deemed converted for industrial purpose. The Ordinance presently awaits the approval of the Governor of Assam.
In law, land as a natural resource is considered to be held in public trust by the State. The State holds land for the enjoyment by the citizen at large. This essentially means that there is an embargo on the State transferring public properties such as Government held land to private parties if such transfers affect the public interest.
In the evening of 25 May 2020, George Floyd, a 46 years old African-American man was choked to death by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer of the Minneapolis Police Department, an incident that sparked massive outrage and protest demonstrations against police brutality and lack of police accountability and racism, in the United States of America and around the world.
At around 00:30 AM on 15 June 2020, a team of Indian Army personnel under Major Sachin Sinha of 244 Field Regiment based in Charaideo assisted by a team of Assam Police under Amit Kumar Hojai, Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Titabor and Mintu Kumar Handique, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Borholla Police Station (PS) picked up Jayanta Borah, 25 years old son of late Hem Borah who had served in the Indian Army, from his home at Balijan Gabhoru Ali, Kakodonga Habi Gaon, Borholla in Jorhat district in Assam where he lived with his old mother, Lila Borah.
Dr. Sambit Patra, the numero uno mouthpiece of the BJP, wants a three-year-old-child sitting atop the blood-smeared chest of his slain grandfather to be a Pulitzer moment for India. Why not? Hasn’t Kashmir been the locus classicus of cinematographers? Erstwhile of the Bollywood, and now of the Bollywood-style newsrooms? Patra sees nothing in the image worth commenting on, his emotional sensibilities were long traded up to filthy political point scoring. But that is just routine, especially in today’s India. Tweets of the Patras are a narrative that lulls such gore, making it palatable.
Greetings like “Comrade” or “Lal Salam” can land one in jail under the UAPA as per NIA’s chargesheet against Bittu Sonowal. When greetings start triggering anti-terror laws, it becomes important to revisit the definition of ‘anti-terror’. Every right guaranteed to citizen comes with a caveat taking away the absoluteness of such laws. For example, Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and expression and at the same time Article 19(2) allows for reasonable restrictions to be imposed on the same freedom to speech and expression. While in principle, exceptions might not be problematic, yet exceptions are usually used to quell voices of the opposition.
What does it take to build a nation? Hiren Gohain and Sanjib Baruah once had a prolonged debate on the stakes of nationalism during the Assam Movement in the 1980s. Professor Gohain, broadly skeptical of the Assam Movement, argued that it was a bourgeois reaction to the consolidation of communist organizing in the region. Professor Baruah, more sympathetic, suggested that it was a strategic mobilization responding to India’s continued treatment of Assam as a colony. Revisiting that debate, one is struck less by their disagreements— which were many and profound—but by the impossibility of that argument today. This is partly because of the intervening forty years, of course, especially the collapse of the organized Left, the rise (and betrayal) of ULFA, and the saffronization of nationalism, such that even imagining it could be an emancipatory vision seems ludicrous these days. It is also because, as both Professors Gohain and Baruah emphasize in their recent books, the rest of the country never grasped the sheer novelty of the Assam Movement. Most of us today remember the Assam Movement only insofar as it led to the Assam Accord, which we in turn blame for the NRC and the CAA. Read together, Professors Gohain and Baruah offer us an important corrective to that narrow and self-serving narrative, even as they highlight different aspects of the complex history and consequences of that moment in Indian history.
How Oil India Limited (OIL) is trying to spin Baghjan oil spill disaster?
As Baghjan burns I find myself (almost like everyone of us) entangled in heap of anxieties that comes from my association and experience with societies and institutions across the region. As Baghjan is not a case in isolation I find myself compelled to inform what cause my anxiousness. I should add, reliving and writing the self is not always a happy exercise even when one knows one is politically and morally obliged to do so. Yet, I write because much about Baghjan will be determined by what we choose to see in the sufferings and loss. What we see determines how we respond, how we care and for how long. It will decide what we will fight for in the various phases of its healing/curing. It will tell us when we will choose to withdraw our love and responsibilities.
Axone, an extreme comfort food, rarely has an in-between. You either love it or hate it. It seems the film Axone by Nicholas Kharkongor, has gone the same direction as well. Much criticism has been poured on it in terms of accuracy and how it has dealt with many important issues, especially to North-easterners, on racism and discrimination. With everything else going on in the world, perhaps the film seems weak to many in its stance on these issues in light of present social and political conflicts. Thus, it has been chewed down, digested and excreted with all the stench to put off anyone going near it.
I enjoyed Axone thoroughly. Both the food and the film.
I Janice Pariat I dei iwei na ki nongthoh iba la sdang paw ha ka jylli ki nongthoh kot ka Ri India. Ki khanatang kiba I la thoh bad lum thup ha ka kot kaba I la ai kyrteng Boats on Land (Ki Lieng Kynda ha Ryngkew) ki la pynioh ha I ia ka khusnam Yuva Puraskar na ka Sahitya Academy. Ki khana kiba don ha katei ka kot ki dei ki jingmutdur ia ka por bad hadien ka jingsynshar jong ki phareng bad ka Sorkar Bilat ia ka Ri Khasi Jaintia. Ia kane ka kot la pynkylla ruh sha ka ktien khasi da I Bah Sumar Sing Sawian.
Mynta ka dei sngi ba ka Ri Khasi Jaintia ka kynmaw burom ia u Thomas Jones u missionary Khristan ka Balang Presbyterian na Ri Wales uba la wan poi ha Sohra 179 snem mynshuwa. Kumta ngi wanrah sha phi ki nongpule ia kawei ka khana kaba iasnoh bad ka Shnong Pomreng,ka Shnong kaba u Thomas Jones u la phet rieh na ki tyrsim u Hary Englis uba la thmu sniew ban shim ia ka jingim u.
Today is “Rev. Thomas Jones Day”, gazetted as a Special Holiday for all State Government Offices and all revenue and Magisterial Courts and Educational Institutions across the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and the Ri-Bhoi District. What might this 22 June holiday mean, individually or collectively, for Christian or non-Christian, in that shape-shifting ground between the past and the present?
The malicious act of re-opening and construction toll gates while a national lockdown in times of a global pandemic is in progress, when people cannot voice their disagreements or lodge their protest, is a backdoor fascist attack on the very idea of democracy and citizenry. It is a clear signal that the Indian state will, by hook or crook, relegate it’s citizenry to the status of a consumer bereft of any quality service and rights that is enshrined in the constitution.
Recently, three incidents have rocked Assam: a coal mining concession in a part of Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve, an oil blowout in Baghjaan, and the extra-judicial killing of an Assamese youth in Jorhat by security forces and police. While the state narrative regarding Jayanta Bora, the deceased youth, seems to connect him with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) without any conclusive proof, multiple local media outlets have reported a different version of his death. This version states that Bora was seen taking photographs of trucks carrying illegal coal from the adjacent Naga hills, which might have had a role in his death. Meanwhile, different narratives have emerged from Baghjaan oil blowout as well. While one calls for a relook at the extractive economy and its power relations in Assam vis-a-vis the Indian state, another emphasize on reading it as an industrial disaster. In an interview with The Wire a few years ago economic commentator Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar said, “Assamese chauvinism has long come in the way of oil exploration. The government must dismiss it for the narrow-minded silliness that it is,” suggesting how the Baghjaan oil blowout can be plotted in extractive relations of competing groups and nationalist aspirations. This essay seeks to reflect on the extractive economy, the historical and the contemporary, that has been at the centre of the development narrative in Assam.
Ka Balang Presbyterian hapoh ka Bri ki Hynniewtrep, ka dei kawei na ki Balang Khristan kaba la rim tam bad kaba la seng nongrim ne saindur katkum ki jinghikai shong tynrai jong ki Methodist ka Ri Wales bad U John Calvin. Nalor kaba ialap ia ka Khubor Babha sha ki bynriew, ka Balang ka don ruh ka jingkitkhlieh kaba khraw ban pyniaid ia ka kam jingpynkhiah kaba ka la tyngkhap ha ka saindur jong ka. Ha kiwei pat ki kyntien, ka mission jong ka Balang Presbyterian ha ka Ri ka long ban pynkhiah ia ki briew na ki jingpang bad ruh ban ai ka jingsumar pang (Health care) kaba paka lyngba ki Hospital jong ka.
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.
“It is easy to see why coal interests in Meghalaya are so threatened by people like Agnes Kharshiing. They murdered P.N. Marbaniang, a policeman, simply for doing his job— how much more terrifying must it be to be confronted with someone with such a blazing sense of duty and such persistence? RTI activism is, by definition, a plodding enterprise. One soon learns the truth of the saying that the devil lies with the details, especially when the chasm between the law and the reality is so gaping it appears to be an abyss. The ladder across it is constructed laboriously, one patient enquiry after the next. The citizens’ report was built out of a dozen RTI petitions, filed by different people in different times and places and for different reasons. It was stitched together to offer the Supreme Court a complete account of the dilemma before it. In some ways, the court abdicated its responsibility when it ordered the state government to begin enforcing laws it has ignored for fifty years. This simplistic resolution prolonged the open season on mining that has prevailed since the original “ban,” and it has pushed the coal economy even further into the shadows.”
Online education should be seen as a portentous messenger of things to come and not the message in itself. Even before the physical classroom and face to face academic interactions were deemed a viral hazard, the contemporary university system was already down with a high fever and looking for ways to cool off from their dependence on brick and mortar teaching.
On May 26, The Print published an article by Martha Lee of Middle East Forum (MEF) entitled “Stand With Kashmir not an innocent hashtag, it supports violent Islamists and terrorists.” The article made a number of defamatory claims regarding our grassroots social justice advocacy movement, Stand with Kashmir.
The Middle East Forum is notorious for its virulent Islamophobia and was created for the purpose of demonizing scholars and activists who call attention to the Israeli state’s vindictive treatment of Palestinians.
There is a kind of myth making going on in the media that migrant workers are leaving cities for their love of home. The question is what choice these migrant workers had. They did not start their journey from the cities out of love for their homeland and relatives. They had to leave their homes in the cities. We conveniently/unconsciously switch this compulsion to leave cities for a phrase ‘love for the home’. Those who had some means to stay deferred their journey.
To say that migrant workers are leaving cities for their love of home/natives is to absolve ourselves from looking at harsh conditions which forced them out of city boundaries and left them walking in extreme conditions or undertaking arduous train journey.
The recent amazon prime series “Pataal Lok” has witnessed wide backlash from the Indian Gorkha community who are protesting against the slur “Nepali Randi” used in the series. The community asserts that the usage of such slur is offensive to the Nepali speaking community at large. In the immediate aftermath, multiple FIR’s have been filed against the series, and the producer and numerous letters have been written to distinguished persons in the government calling for its withdrawal. Social media and Facebook, in particular, has become the new battleground where the “honour” of Indian Nepali women, whose moral standing in the use of the word “Nepali Randi” allegedly degrades, is now being fought. The past few weeks have seen Nepali men’s chauvinism and masculine need to protect the “honour” of the women in their community on an unprecedented scale, given the space that is now being provided by social media.
Ka Khlam Covid19 Kam Dei Ka Jingpynshitom U Blei. Ngi Donkam Ia ka Jingduwai Ba Shong Ain bad Ba Shisha.
At Raiot, we remember the conviction that launched the RTI movement: hum jaanenge, hum jeeyenge; when we know, we survive. We are launching a new series this week, in which we reassess the history of the RTI in Meghalaya in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dilemmas it has posed for governance in both the state and the nation. For the next few weeks, we will tell you stories from 15 years of RTI activism: the successes, the failures, and what we learned through it all. The RTI Act was once called the sunshine law; may it serve now to illuminate these dark times.
I have been given an extraordinary chance to experience this pandemic in two exceptional countries – Taiwan and Sweden. Taiwan for its swift and immediate response, Sweden for its hotly debated unrestrictive approach. Back home, my family is split in two cities in India – Shillong and Bangalore.
Wat la ki Balang ki bteng ia ka mane Blei lyngba ka stad saian, kim shym paw pat ba ki dei kiba ai ia ki jingshakri ba kongsan bad ba donkam eh.
People who dictate policies and the ones who implement them, those who create the propaganda and the ones who carry it, those who make art out of ordinary men’s miseries and the ones who lecture the world from comfortable TV studios, those who pretend they care and the ones who remain apathetic, those who put their individual interests above the collective benefit and the ones whose rationality borders on cruelty.
I myself fall in the same group – among those currently facing an epidemic of anxiety, loneliness and mental health issues. Long been shielded by our economic and social status, we now need to loosen our purses and our egos. As we find us and our loved ones to be as susceptible to the vagaries of the unkind world, we should do some soul searching. Here is what the elites of India, and the world, can do in our spare time.
The messed up person in this story is not the girl herself. The messed up people here are those trying to justify her actions. Those who are tacitly propping up these structures of privilege, dependence and corruption. To put things in perspective – Last year, a musician from Laitumkhrah was battered and bruised in police custody. How many people stood up for him? A week ago, another boy from Shillong was called Corona by Bengaluru police while being taken to jail. How many people stood up for him? Now, a woman has become a meme legend by saying crazy things at a police station. And some mindless people are writing odes to her innocence and silently shedding a tear for her strength.
“We are frustrated by the hunger, disparity and isolation that is staring at us in the face. We have never seen such nakedness. My mother recently told me over the phone that ‘corona’ is the first word that comes to her mind when she wakes up and it brings along images of mass unemployment, persons stuck in abusive homes, hunger and death in isolation. She wakes up to this everyday. She is terrified. For herself and others. We all are.
Add to this the persecution of students, activists, scholars, doctors (persons any sane society would hold dear, especially in these times) by the state and its lackadaisical response to the woes of the most marginalized. It seems to us that this lockdown is the end of the world as we know it. And we are not able to ‘move’, mobilize, and protest to save it.
But, difficult as it is, we cannot let fear turn us into unscientific fools whose demands are based on ‘feelings’ and overlook facts. And whose facts are placed out of context in an argument. That is the work of those who walk towards the other direction from the center.”
Ever since Covid-19 appeared in public knowledge, a racist approach to the epidemic is witnessed in various parts of the world. The President of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump went on to term the Novel coronavirus as the ‘Chinese virus’. In India, the brunt has been borne by mostly people from the Northeast, Darjeeling and Ladakh. There are many media reports and personal narratives of people from the Northeast facing getting targeted and harassed in many parts of the country. Different conspiracy theories have flooded the social media regarding patient zero and why and how it got transmitted, although the actual cross-species transmission is yet to be confirmed. Rumours such as the virus got transmitted to a human body by coming in contact with a host animal carrier and so on are doing the rounds. In the popular Indian Upper Caste psyche, the already available theories about ‘weird’, ‘uncivilized’, ‘unhygienic’, ‘wild’ and ‘very Chinese’ food habits of the communities from the Northeast are enough to create quick racial profiling and targeting of the Northeasterners. We have seen various rumours, widespread conspiracy theories and social media forward messages regarding the food habits of the inhabitants of Northeast India being viral in the Indian social mediascapes.
As we continue to face a mostly unknown threat and have no specific guidelines on ideal exit plans (eg, from World Health Organization), it is, therefore, critical that developing countries formulate their own “context-specific” strategies before relaxing the nationwide social distancing interventions.
Besides solidarity, integrative thinking, multidisciplinary coordination, planning, and preparation are key.
Therefore, the measures proposed here might helpfully inform the policy-makers to think locally, act promptly, and balance health protection and economy pragmatically, in low-income settings worldwide , when a decision is made to relax the social distancing.