The North-East BlogKnow 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.
Did you know that the Chinese called Manipur 'Hso Po lo mein' and the Burmese called it 'Kathe', that Manipur called Tripura 'Takhel' and that till date there is a beautiful flower in Manipur called 'Takhel-lei' which means flower of Takhel/Tripura? To many in India, we are just one block of people, 'The Northeasterners'. Isn't it time to weave our collective histories?
For more than 63 years in the history of the independent Republic of India, the history/histories of 45 million of its citizens living in 8 states of the northeast region of the country have been absent from our school, college and university text books. This ignorance or lack of awareness is one of the major causes of the wrong perception about them. This is one of the main reasons that people of the northeast region are discriminated against when they travel...Read more...
Once upon a time, a young man had a pond. It held such clear, sweet water that went down your throat smoothly and left behind a lingering taste of honey. The young man was very proud of his pond. But one day, he discovered the water was muddy quite early in the morning. This went on for a week. It meant that someone was dirtying the pond water before he could fetch it. So the man decided to wake very early the next day and keep vigil by the pond...Suddenly, there was a fine gold light close by. He saw beautiful sky-women descending to earth singing a sky-song.
(From the folktale, The man who went to heaven, Naga Folktales Retold, Barkweaver 2009)
Of the many narratives silenced by war, the folk tales of the Nagas suffered a long period of being...Read more...
When power is misused, chaos becomes the norm of a society. In our society, sad but true, power is misused in each and every sector. It is too common to come across many incidents that testify to this bitter truth in Manipur. The oppressors enjoy oppressing the oppressed; and those who are luckily out of the league of the oppressed, enjoy the show as mute spectators.
For long we have stopped questioning ourselves, implying our society is getting defunct. Our logic has ceased to work. Isn't it bitterer than power being misused?
Among the oppressing lots, those who are supposed to protect us from lawbreakers are the scariest ones. I am, of course, referring to the security personnel a.k.a as the 'Salaried beggars of modern Manipur', because many a time they are on the other side...Read more...
Why did you give me
this irreparable world to inherit
Tainted with stains of history
the world is lost to my kind
Your gallant invoking of mere two battles
fought by women
amuses me to no end
for you know not
I live and die fighting
innumerable ones everyday
It is claimed that women in the Northeast of India in general and Manipur is particular have a significantly higher status as compared to her counterpart in the rest of the country. This is rather a strange comparison as one assumes it will be natural to compare the women of the society to the men of the same society to come to any sort of a conclusion of the status that each occupy. The myth...Read more...
In one of my recent conversations with an artist working on issues of home and belonging, I came across interesting metaphors of identity and place. According to her, the home is a mental phenomenon and memory is the address. It set me thinking on my own experiences of leaving home - Shillong - about 17 years back. Living with this sense of a 'remembered Shillong' with memories of a childhood that had a kind of magical realism, home is indeed a mental phenomenon, tied with feelings of fixation and loss.
When I visited Shillong recently, I walked its roads as if I never left the place, weaving in and around its narrow lanes, speaking to the pine-laden air and the cerulean blue skies. I waited to hear the sound of rain on the red sloping tin roofs and snuggled into...Read more...
In modern Manipur, the price of petrol or cooking gas would be unaffordable for many individuals. But when it comes to bombs, bullets, bandhs and bulletins, you would not be surprised to see that it's all free of cost, be it bandh or blockade or bullet. It is no more a shocking incident to discover that a bomb was hurled at your neighbour's home; it's no more a matter of concern to find out that someone got shot by a cheap bullet. And for all this fiasco, there are bulletins ready to awaken the people out of their slumber but equally unimportant and redundant to let them sleep for another couple of hours. Applaud us as brave hearts. Brave, yes, we are. But we would never admit the very fact that this bravery is a result of compulsive traumatic disorder that we have often come across.
Thousands have lived without love, not one without water - W.H. Auden
One has often been bemused by the elusive ethno-philosophy that guides the conception of the landscape covering the panoramic Loktak Lake. A recent article in The Hindu (24-08-12), "Evicted from lake, Manipur fishermen left high and dry" highlighted the state of affairs of the fishermen who had for generations lived in the floating huts (Phumdis) in Loktak, now the huts are being razed to the ground, the reason given: development of the dying lake. This language as seen in many such incidents in resource rich areas of the country does not include people in their definition of development. A precursor to this is the Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act 2006 (MLLPA). Vociferous argument for the protection of the Loktak Lake had in the summer of 2011 emerged with two simultaneous campaigns....Read more...
The exodus of students and professionals from the North-East from various Indian cities has thrown up many unanswered questions. It has made us doubt ourselves, quite uncomfortably, of our own nationality. It has made us wonder if the country has never been ours in the true sense of the word. Had it been, we would not have been scared or rushing for home now the situation is like we have to show our passports for proofs of our citizenship, not anywhere else but in our own country. This is not the first time.
I personally feel extremely sorry for all those students and professionals, especially in Bangalore, who have to go through such trying times. I equally feel sorry for the Indian system that cannot bring any solution to such brouhaha. The nation seems to have been engulfed by chaos...Read more...
Let me stretch out my hands
Welcome me in your midst
So unquenched that I am
Unable to voice in words
I desire to tear open my chest
and show the bland empty smile within
I desire a voice of that laughter
be struck by shrapnel of bombs
for the aftermath cheap tears
to reduce all filth to cinders
Let every face be radiant
with the hope of a new era!
This one weak step
Wants to leave a hundred footprints
And become chants of courage
Apart from the Chinese interest in Arunachal Pradesh, the other thing that has kept us in the news are the numerous hydroelectric projects (HEPs), ranging from few Kilowatts to thousands of Megawatts. With some 132 projects expected to contribute more than 28,000 MW, Arunachal has been projected as the answer to India's power need. Experts say Arunachal is capable of generating some 50,000 plus MW of power.
What these experts don't tell us is the amount of environmental destruction it is going to cause us apart from the massive influx of workers from outside that will dislocate and marginalise the small indigenous communities.
Even if these facts are hidden from us deliberately, there are already ample examples in the state to learn from.
Before someone accuses those raising voices against power projects of...Read more...
Did you know that the Chinese called Manipur 'Hso Po lo mein' and the Burmese called it 'Kathe', that Manipur called Tripura 'Takhel' and that till date there is
Once upon a time, a young man had a pond. It held such clear, sweet water that went down your throat smoothly and left behind a lingering taste of
Apart from the Chinese interest in Arunachal Pradesh, the other thing that has kept us in the news are the numerous hydroelectric projects (HEPs), ranging from few Kilowatts to