RAIOT Posts

June 21, 2020 /

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.

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.

June 17, 2020 /

Axone, the film is being critically received and widely acclaimed for depicting the racial discriminations faced by the people from the Northeast in Indian metros, an aspect that has assumed a special significance due to a spike of racist attacks and discrimination against people form the region in different cities of India as the panic around COVID19 grows. Nicholas Kharkongor, the director of the movie, made this connection too in an interview to Outlook calling the movie has come in the right time, as “the idea was to be able to tell the story of Northeast people’s experience of living in a big city.”

June 10, 2020 /

#CoalMining #Meghalaya
“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.”

June 8, 2020 /

Today (8th June 2020) is the second death anniversary of Sukracharjya Rabha (1977-2018), whom I lovingly called Sukra Da. He was my senior, my big brother. We both learned theatre from our Oja Kanhailal and Ima Sabitri. He was the founder-director of the theatre group Badungduppa Kalakendra, Rampur, an extended family of Kalakshetra Manipur. Under the guidance of late Heisnam Kanhailal, Sukracharjya Rabha started the theatre festival Under the Sal Tree in 2008 at his village Rampur. The first festival was jointly organized by Badungduppa Kalakendra and Kalakshetra Manipur, the theatre group founded by late Heisnam Kanhailal and Heisnam Sabitri.

June 8, 2020 /

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.

All commemorations and commemorative projects are political in nature, and each represents the political visions of a community, which in most of the cases transgress the political or cultural autonomy of another community. Manipur state for a long time have been projecting a particular Meetei-centric history and identity through the museums, state holidays and other types of commemorations. This should be questioned and had been questioned through political and academic language for years, but with little success. For example, the entire history of Pangal community or Manipuri Muslims hardly found any space in history writing, hero-making or such state commemorations in the region. The building of this contentious park is a continuation of this problematic state commemorations, and is most likely to result in political confrontations, which is avoidable in such a fragile political arrangement in the state. The purpose of this article is not to question the building of the park or the oppositions to its building. It merely questions the ahistorical reading of the Chibu inscriptions and the historical circumstances leading to their installation at the site.

June 5, 2020 /

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.

June 4, 2020 /

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.

June 2, 2020 /

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.

May 17, 2020 /

I have heard many who claim to have many things growing in their garden but also have well manicured finger-nails. You may own a garden but might not be responsible for what grows in it because you have outsourced this task to a gardener. So you cannot claim to have grown anything and it does not make you a gardener. You can’t have those delicate nails and also be doing gardening. Gardening leaves its marks. On a hot sunny day you can turn a burnished red and your hands are always rough no matter what hand cream you use, including those that claim to work miracles. I take about two hours daily to weed, prune, rake and ensure that the roots of the plants are well looked after and the leaves are healthy. Every once in a while one also has to look for little pests that devour the leaves and cruelly kill them for the choice is between allowing the pest to thrive or your vegetables.

May 16, 2020 /

Then there are the other good souls, picking up local bakery and often, surreptitiously procuring our vices like cigarettes and duma, sourced from friends and acquaintances moonlighting as suppliers. So there’s a lesson for me here, be nice to everyone. Spread your friendship net far and wide. You never know who could arrange that last packet of Gold Flake for you.

May 5, 2020 /

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. 

May 1, 2020 /

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.

April 29, 2020 /

“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.

April 26, 2020 /

Daily we gulped down the alcoholic news
of roasted cars and brutalised bodies, fleeing
families and flimsy appeals for peace, curfew
reliefs, temporal windows for resupply, while

at home we gossiped about spilled blood
between endless games of scrabble, our tones
hushed lest the police patrolling sanitised streets
would hear and accuse us of plotting. That year,

with winter fast approaching with no sign
of school reopening, I learnt the vocabulary
of hate and placed my preadolescent signature
on a certificate that declared my neighbour

and friend, Abhijit, his family, had become
our enemy.

April 24, 2020 /

At a time like this, Kafka is imperative to inform ourselves of the experience of a life lived like this. His prescience has been evoked several times over the years, as elements of his stories have found parallels everywhere. During the Prague Spring in 1968, his works saw a resurgence after the ban because they mirrored the conditions under communism, capturing the emotional suffocation and paranoia of living under a faceless power. In 2011, the rape case of a Chinese official’s daughter by a mining magnate contained the all the ironic twists typical to a Kafkaesque, futile quest for justice.

April 22, 2020 /

Dierhekolie Iralu, known as Kaka, impulsive and straightforward, sentimental, domineering at times but innocent like a child, foaming at the mouth when voicing convictions, but with an attentive ear to the views of others. He is the man who revealed the history and truth of the Naga people that no one before him had dared to divulge.
Nineteen fifty six – the year Kaka was born, India launched a full-fledged military invasion of Nagaland. Naga villages were burned to ashes one after another, and the helpless people were driven into the jungle. Shortly after his birth, Kaka wandered the jungles with his mother, and was detained as a political prisoner at the age of 8 months. During his boyhood, scenes of blood and gore were etched into his memory as he spent time with his grandfather, who was a doctor.

April 21, 2020 /

The 2 country-wide lockdowns of 3 weeks each, one after another are unprecedented anywhere in the world. We all know of the distress caused to millions of migrant labourers but we can only wish that someone had planned the first lockdown much better! Maybe there were some compulsions that have been hidden from public domain! We may also like to be generous at such times and forgive those who took the decisions “for they knew not what they did!”

April 21, 2020 /

One of the key factors in tackling the spread of COVID-19 across the globe is testing. In South Korea, for example, mass testing has been used to try and quickly identify and isolate those with the disease. Testing is also vital to calculate accurate infection and survival rates – data that is critical for getting public safety measures right. And as this coronavirus continues to spread, people are being offered tests for sale, either at a high price from private clinics – or tests that are not officially approved, or perhaps even fake. So what tests are being used by health officials, how much do they really cost and what developments are there to come?

April 20, 2020 /

For those who will look for public health in this essay and see a political argument,  may do well to know that the social determinants of health are always amenable to good or bad politics. For example, to spend 24% of the annual budget on military and police while spending only 1.3% on public health measures is a political decision that makes us so vulnerable to public health emergencies. Similarly, responding to this Corona pandemic by listening to great clinicians instead of pubic health experts who understand rural distress and the social determinants of health is as much a political decision. Testing the members of one religious congregation and not the others’ meetings may also be political. Rudolf Virchow, the celebrated nineteenth century German physician wisely said, “Politics is nothing but medicine at a larger scale!”

April 19, 2020 /

With basic mathematical models, researchers can begin to forecast the progression of diseases and understand the effect of interventions on disease spread. With more complex models, we can start to answer questions about how to efficiently allocate limited resources or tease out the consequences of public health interventions, like closing pubs and banning gatherings.
Insights from mathematical modelling are vital to ensuring that authorities can prevent as many deaths as possible. As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, here’s a look inside the modelling that experts use to try and stay one step ahead of the virus.

April 19, 2020 /

Now you are locked down, where can you go? An abuser threatened his wife in a remote village in Assam. The violence escalated and was aggravated by the lockdown which is in force now to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic. The woman waited for night to set in. She did not want to be seen by anyone. But would anyone see the violence she was going through? With a five month old infant wrapped in her sador/clothing, she fled. She crossed two paddy fields and reached her natal home.

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.

April 12, 2020 /

With churches closed and annual pilgrimages cancelled, Christians across the world are wondering how to give thanks to God this Easter. And not just Christians – think also of “Chreasters”. Do you attend church only at Christmas and Easter? If so, you’re a Chreaster, and you’re not alone

April 12, 2020 /

Fifty years ago, when Paul McCartney announced he had left the Beatles, the news dashed the hopes of millions of fans, while fueling false reunion rumors that persisted well into the new decade.
In a press release on April 10, 1970 for his first solo album, “McCartney,” he leaked his intention to leave. In doing so, he shocked his three bandmates.
The Beatles had symbolized the great communal spirit of the era. How could they possibly come apart?

April 11, 2020 /

The sudden and untimely demise of Kaka D. Iralu amidst the unending Naga Peace Talk has left a void in the Naga discourse and it’s one big family spanning across the states of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Myanmar. A towering figure who spoke truth to power and questioned the state and institutional power to reflect on its excesses on the Naga people. He is the author of “The Naga Saga”, “Nagaland and India: The Blood and the Tears: A Historical Account of the Fifty-Two year Indo Naga War and the Story of Those who were never allowed to tell it”, and “Uncovering the Political Lies that Have Covered Indo-Naga History from the 1940s to the Present”, and numerous writings on Naga Nationalism and social issues faced by the Naga society. His decision to self-publish his books remains an act of resistance and in academia it precisely animates the decolonial methodology. His selfless contribution towards documenting the histories, narrative and experiences of the Naga peoples despite numerous constraints have shaped understandings beyond academia.

April 11, 2020 /

We, the undersigned, are writing to you to express our deep concern about the arbitrary arrest of the human rights activists and peasant leaders Pranab Doley and Soneshwar Narah, in Golaghat District of Assam, on April 6, 2020.

The circumstances under which they were arrested, imprisoned without an immediate bail makes the intention behind their arrest extremely suspicious and their arrest itself a violation of basic human rights and an attempt to suppress voices which are raising serious issues in these difficult times brought about by Covid-19.

April 10, 2020 /

Every Good Friday, I have grown up listening to  sermons about what happened on the cross, how Jesus was tortured, those nails, those thorns, the blood and those last words of Jesus on the cross. But this year and in the midst of the corona pandemic as a Pastor preparing sermon reflecting on the death of Christ, it just came to my mind that well for so many years it was always, “what happened on the cross?”
Well this time I felt that my reflection should be about:  Jesus telling the world what the Cross is all about and why was he crucified on it?

April 9, 2020 /

The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) calls on all democratic organisations and individuals to come together and condemn the denial of relief for Prof. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha, stand in solidarity with all such voices of democracy and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners. Our unity at this time of crisis is all the more urgent and necessary for our silence in the time of injustice is bound to render us voiceless in the days to come. Let us unite and demand

Immediate reprieve from arrest of Prof. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha.
Immediate release of all political prisoners lodged in jails all over the country, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Immediate release of all under-trial prisoners and persons convicted on minor charges to decongest prisons.
2. Action (with restraint in light of COVID-19) against the perpetrators of violence in the Bhima Koregaon case including Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote.
Repeal of all draconian laws like UAPA, NSA and PSA, among others.

April 8, 2020 /

This reality points toward the fact that racism is not just about discrimination and ignorance, it is more than that. Power structure and sense of cultural superiority, and historical basis of dominance are central to racism and its perpetuation in various forms. It is on this regards that as much there is nothing as such as ‘reverse sexism’, ‘reverse casteism’, or ‘reverse homophobia’, there is also nothing like ‘reverse racism’. This is not to say that a form of ill treatment towards the other (non-local) doesn’t exist in Manipur or adjoining states. It does exist which is contextual and specific to particular circumstances. We must discuss that as well, but not by cancelling out racism experiences of people from northeastern states which has its historical basis and power dynamics. This kind of balancing by inventing concept like reverse racism does equal harm and gives an impetus to racism to thrive and continue to perpetuate without holding people accountable for its existence and practice.

April 7, 2020 /

While growing up, my relationship with death as a young child was shaped by these funerary customs and gatherings. I didn’t fear death. I saw it as a part of everyday life. A death in the community meant meeting scores of new people and catching up with friends. We were always taught to be respectful of the deceased person’s family’s grief but we also played our role in alleviating the sudden emptiness that comes with the death of a loved one.
In many ways, Khasi funerals become a celebration of a person’s life. People sit around and reminisce about the life of the person who has just left this earthly realm.

April 5, 2020 /

Cooped up in a little apartment in New York, Mir Suhail, Koshur (Kashmiri for the uninitiated) artist extraordinaire, has been struggling, like the rest of us, to make sense of the arcane pandemic. Perhaps the talented cartoonist’s art ensures that he has better tools at his disposal in this endeavour than most of us. On the other hand, he shares a burden all Kaesher (Kashmiris) must bear—the India occupation of Kashmir and the utter lack of compassion for and solidarity with Kaesher by most of the global community. That probably balances out any advantages his art might supply.

April 3, 2020 /

Today, the Joker is in control of America. All the usual blandishments, calls to reason, liberal handwringing about his damnable lies and his absolute contempt of all norms have the least affect. And the Batman hired by the Democratic Party, the Washington Post, the Obama-was-the-greatest industry, the old hippies and college grads, is powerless. He simply flails and puffs. Because at heart the public seems to have decided that they would prefer an bald faced liar than one that has been terrorizing them for decades, if at a remove and in the name of justice, truth and the American Way.
And then in the midst of this toxic stew Bob Dylan quietly drops a 16-minute tour de force that somehow manages to sum the whole clusterfuck up perfectly.

March 31, 2020 /

Last week two news reports circulated in the media which made many roll their eyes in annoyance, while a few marveled at the absurdity of it all: one of the reports announced that a new category of porn, variously called as ‘Coronavirus Porn’ and ‘Quarantine Porn’, has made its appearance on Pornhub and Xvideos with nearly 250 search results. In some of these videos, people are seen having sex wearing face masks, while in a few others, they are going down on their partner wearing yellow and green protective gear, attired like a healthcare worker. Some of these videos flash brazen and saucy titles such as: “MILF Gets Hardfucked in Quarantine Room’, leaving those high on moral scruples cringed…