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The North-East Blog

Know what leading academics, writers, poets, musicians, activists and journalists from the region have to say to develop an informed perspective on matters related to this part of India.

Conflict cuisine

by Raja Sharma Rymbai
Monday , September 01, 2014 at 16 : 30

The year was 1989. I was a skinny little school boy then and though it was over 20 years ago, I can remember clearly how Shillong always seemed to wear a cloak of gloom; even the peak of noon invariably shrouded in dark clouds. It was always raining, always misty and the school sweater just never warm enough as I trudged back home from school. I lived in a house that stood on a hill top far from school, at least for my little feet. My lunch usually consisted of toasts or fried noodles which pretty much got digested in the half hour of the football match that took up my lunch break. By the time the school day was over, I'd be so hungry that I could literally see, forget about smell, the food being heated for the kids returning from school in the houses that I...Read more...


Ever since childhood I remember being in highly homogeneous groups of friends and familial circles. Such circles have the tendency to numb us to differences, an easy sedate living insulated from those different from us. It was not a shock though considering the direction the country and the state is heading when a friend narrated to me in a series of conversations, the travails any Muslim girl growing up in Manipur would have most probably undergone.

"'Amina Begum' is one such verbal harassment thrown at anyone wearing the hijab or wrapped up in a scarf or chaddar," she explained.

People like us who are not subject to such particular harassment and targeting based on religious affiliation might even state that such harassment is to be taken lightly. Harassment of such kind is mildly called...Read more...


Book Review: Assam

by Pradip Phanjoubam
Monday , November 11, 2013 at 20 : 09

Makiko Kimura's recently released The Nellie Massacre of 1983, Agency of Rioters, (Sage 2013,Rs. 695) is an important addition to the increasing number of studies on important issues of the Northeast brought out by major publishers in recent times. This thin volume is a continuance of the author's research work on the issue of agency of rioters as a post doctoral student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. As the title of the book suggests, the focus of the study is the Nellie incident in 1983 in which an estimated more than 2000 Muslim Bengali settlers of Bangladeshi origin, living in a cluster of villages in the Nellie area in Assam's Nowgong district, about 70km from the capital Guwahati, were killed in a single day of organised and systematic attacks by their neighbouring villages, the majority of whom belonged to the Tiwa, or Lalung tribemen, as there...Read more...


Masquerading as the Left

by Soibam Haripriya
Saturday , September 21, 2013 at 17 : 33

On the 13th of September 2013 an IED device was planted at a make-shift shanty next to the drain of a river in Naga Nullah, Khuyathong, Imphal. As reported in the newspapers, nine labourers killed in the explosion belonged to Assam.. They were working for a Kolkata based construction company Simplex. All of them being members of a religious minorities and migrant labourers, and therefore thought of as non-indigenous to the valley, their death has mostly been a silent affair. Up to the point of this write-up, no organisation had claimed responsibility for the act. The state as usual claims to investigate the matter, but as usual again, the politics of awarding compensation takes precedence and therefore ex-gratia for all the victims, both dead and injured, has been promptly announced. As reported in the newspapers, the state government has announced ex-gratia of Rs. 4, 00,000 for those killed...Read more...


The Bad Old Days

by Samrat and Janice Pariat
Friday , September 20, 2013 at 16 : 25

Even though the Meghalaya government has refused the Inner Line Permit (ILP) demand recently, what worries us is why this demand was put forward in the first place. Whether to serve as a playground for games of politics in a quest for power or genuine heightened discord, it seems that in Meghalaya, history repeats itself frequently, and almost every decade throws up a new 'dkhar' to agitate against. Some people fear that 'outsiders' will come, take over their lands, compete with them for jobs and even the affections of women, and generally make life more difficult for those who claim to be 'sons of the soil'. There is a fringe extremist element that holds and perpetuates these fears in many places in the world. The newly appointed Australian Prime Minister largely based his campaign on anti-refugee/immigration policies (ironic when you take into account the continent's history), while the...Read more...


Pawan Chamling, who heads the Sikkim Organic Mission, is the 'thief' Minister; of 70,000 hectares of arable land in Sikkim; 60,000 'hectores' is 'abeady' organic certified and efforts are on to make Sikkim as the 'fist' organic state. Not only these, by 2015, Sikkim 'aim' to be completely organic 'cerlified'; Organic farming involves 'how' cost of production and is a new word meaning 'faun' of agriculture.

These are some of the extraterrestrial words being taught to class V students of the state-run schools. The Term Book on elementary Environmental Science says Sikkim Organic Mission headed by the 'thief' Minister has been made to check the implementation of organic farming 'programmer' in Sikkim. The seventh word in the fourth line, Page 22 of Chapter 4 of the 72-page book, published by Delhi-based Tulip Publications Private Limited,...Read more...


'The only reason to learn a language is to be able to read its poetry' - Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

What prompted this write up is a two-year old photograph of the banner of the North East Theatre Festival 2011 organised by NT Theatre, Manipur. Sophocles' 'Antigone' was performed by Theatre Mirror (directed by Wareppa Naba), Dr I R Babu's name stated as the translator in the banner. It is daunting to write a tribute to him, especially when one is not conversant with his oeuvre and this piece should not be treated as a tribute but rather an attempt to revisit part of his work and part of his life.

His resume is formidable, so was his demeanour. It is interesting to observe that Dr Irom Babu's (more well known as Dr I R Babu) training was in...Read more...


No serious thoughts on events in the northeast in the past fortnight can be complete without a hearty congratulatory message to the First North East India Top of the World Expedition 2013, to Mount Everest, sponsored by the North Eastern Council (NEC), organised by the Government of Manipur and captained by the Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association, MMTA.

The expedition, as probably most, if not all of us, who follow news of the northeast and Manipur, are aware, accomplished the rare feat of putting 11 climbers, including two women and a 16-year-old boy, on the highest peak of the world, standing majestically at 8848 meters (about 28,032 ft) above mean sea level. For adventure sports lovers in the northeast, this would be no less than the momentous breaking of the '4-minute mile' barrier by Roger Bannister in 1954, removing a psychological mind...Read more...


It is a truism today that reading the daily newspapers from Manipur, especially from afar on the Internet, can be a depressing routine. For most of us from Manipur stationed outside the state, this is a compulsive exercise every morning, though thankfully and understandably, I would imagine, a little less disconcerting than these news would appear to somebody who does not belong to the state following news from the state. A certain amount of psychological conditioning, or desensitisation if you like, to blood and gore, is the blessing or curse a Manipur domicile has generally come to be fortified with, having literally grown up and been forced to cope with unmitigated violence and lawlessness for decades without end.

Manipur, without doubt, would qualify as yet another case of unacknowledged tragedy where the abnormal has been allowed to become the norm. As for...Read more...


It is not too infrequent that we hear of the President of the United States of America, Barak Obama, being in his legacy years. It is his second term in the office, the occupant of which is considered the most powerful man in the world. It is also an office which cannot have an occupant for more than two terms, each term lasting four years. In other words, this will be the last term Obama can be the President of America. This being what it is, he does not have to worry about so many things politicians normally are bogged down with, and most importantly re-election and therefore, the need to cater to the demands of petty constituencies of his electorate, often sectarian in nature. He would therefore also be much more free to be himself and to rise above mundane pressures and exigencies of everyday politics. Knowing...Read more...



In this blog
Raja Sharma RymbaiRaja Sharma Rymbai
Conflict cuisine

The year was 1989. I was a skinny little school boy then and though it was over 20 years

Soibam HaripriyaSoibam Haripriya
For the love of language: 'The Manipur Arbiter'

'The only reason to learn a language is to be able to read its poetry' - Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Pradip PhanjoubamPradip Phanjoubam
Hunter Gatherer: make these years count, Okram Ibobi

It is not too infrequent that we hear of the President of the United States of America, Barak Obama,

Samrat and Janice PariatSamrat and Janice Pariat
The Bad Old Days

Even though the Meghalaya government has refused the Inner Line Permit (ILP) demand recently, what worries us is why

Chewan Krishna DahalChewan Krishna Dahal
Sikkim Class V textbook calls Chamling 'THIEF' minister

Pawan Chamling, who heads the Sikkim Organic Mission, is the 'thief' Minister; of 70,000 hectares of arable land in