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.
Battle of Imphal-Kohima most significant battle in British history: opportunity to grab the Unesco Heritage tag
The news that the battle of Imphal-Kohima during the Second World War (WWII) was voted in Britain as Britain's most hard fought and significant battle in its entire history, ought to excite more than mere wonderment in the two states that remote as they are, they had been the pivot around which an important chapter of the history of the world actually turned so significantly. There undoubtedly would be a mixed sense of awe, pride and victimhood in both the places at the confirmation that they had been in the eye of a violent campaign of a magnitude they had never ever imagined before. There would also be an equally understandable sense of sudden importance at this revelation. These senses of elation, expectations and awe however can only at best be ephemeral, popping up and acquiring a place in the iconic memory of the place for a brief...Read more...
Besides the news and woes of armed conflicts, insurgencies, blockades and bandhs, we have one more infamous reason to be sedated with. Last month's drug scam in the state opens many deliberations which, if openly discussed, can possibly trigger our narcotised senses.
We need to ask how it has been going on unabated for all these years. What has been the narcotics department, which we know exists, doing all these years? Are they on morphine or heroin too, so high and numb to do anything?
Let us listen to the stories. From our childhood days, we have been hearing about Moreh, not only for the international candle, torchlight and numitlei, but also for being an international drug route and a haven for drug peddlers.
The two recent and controversial drug hauls...Read more...
The year had started on a wrong note. The month of January saw a newspaper based in Imphal, Manipur, reporting on a disastrous marriage between a meitei woman and a non-meitei man which ended with the man deserting the woman. Apart from the extremely insensitive coverage, the title "Mayang Nupigi Phijetta Ngaoduna Lamchat kangba Mayangda mayum palluba meitei nupi awaba tare", literally translated, means "Fascinated with the dress of mayang women, a meitei woman marries an immoral mayang man and has to face trouble." With as mild a translation as possible, what the title evokes along with the content is anyone's guess.
Reams and reams of any written narrative and stereotypical view of what people broadly call northeast India speaks about the freedom that the women from these societies are used to. That cannot be further from the truth. Most 'khunai kanba'...Read more...
Pena Reaching Out
Almost every tribe in Maipur, be it Kabui, Tangkhul or Meitei has an indigenous fiddle. The Tangkhul call it 'tengtela' while the Meitei call it 'pena'. The bow part is called the 'chajing' and the body is called 'pena maru' and it is often accompanied by the player's vocals.
Many believe this instrument used to be played only in royal courts and at religious functions. In fact, many dance forms of the Meitei community are accompanied by percussion and the pena.
For someone like me, pena is not just an indigenous music instrument. It brings back many memories of childhood days. Every summer we used to wake up to the...Read more...
If the Arab Spring was all about democracy and people power, this spring in Bangladesh is all about rejuvenation, a return to the spirit of 1971 that made independence from Pakistan a reality.
Since last Tuesday, tens of thousands of men and women, mostly young people, have thronged at Shahbagh, one of Dhaka's busiest intersections, demanding death for the 'killers of 1971'.
Over the last few days, many of them have refused to leave, some have stayed on even with their little children and whole families.
Songs, poetry, films and slogans have enlivened the cultural muscle of Bengali nationalism as it takes on the Islamists in an emerging confrontation that Lawrence Lifschultz had christened "the Unfinished Revolution".
It all started with a verdict of life...Read more...
Who would have imagined certainly not I that one day I would have to make a phone call to my mother in Siliguri to ask her to keep the gates and doors of her house locked for fear of a leopard getting in? This is exactly what I did in the early afternoon of 28th January this year. When she did not answer my call, I worried about her, a strange new worry that had never struck me in my thirty-eight-year-old life as a daughter. At last, when I managed to get through to my brother on the line, my first words were, "Why isn't Ma picking up the phone? I heard there's a leopard roaming the streets of Siliguri. Please ask her to lock the gates". I'm sure my brother would pass his version of my phone call into family lore, another addition to stories about my...Read more...
The Imphal Music Project is conceived by an Imphal-based band Imphal Talkies which was earlier based in New Delhi. The project is not for art for art's sake or music for music's sake, this project strives to provide a platform to artists in the Indian sub-continent to come together and share certain of their views on life and politics in their region through music. The project's sole aim is to make collaborations happen between Imphal-based musicians and musicians from outside the violence-driven town.
The first session of the project will feature Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean, Guru Rewben Mashangva, Hem Gurumayum, Sunil Loitongbam and Imphal Talkies.
Photo credit: Deepak Shijagurumayum. From left to right: Hem, Sachin, Saka, Sunil, Rewben
I met Rahul Ram in April,...Read more...
Articles in local newspapers in Manipur for the past few months have been bordering on a misogynist strain of thought. Many of the articles expectedly commented on women opting out of the traditional phanek, some pointedly on the loosening of morals (of women); some even came up with a thesis of sorts, a strange hypothesis of a conjunction of mobile phones and young wives leading to the latter eloping from marital homes. This would have been laughable if not for the endorsement by many. The idea that whatever women do can be commented upon and be given undue space in the name of promoting a debate (actually too one sided to fall within the purview of a debate) is frightening. A person (I refrain from calling him a writer) bemoaned the Manipuri women choice of clothing which to him does not indicate her as an exotic being. Do...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 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...
The news that the battle of Imphal-Kohima during the Second World War (WWII) was voted in Britain as Britain's
Besides the news and woes of armed conflicts, insurgencies, blockades and bandhs, we have one more infamous reason to
Who would have imagined certainly not I that one day I would have to make a phone call to
Did you know that the Chinese called Manipur 'Hso Po lo mein' and the Burmese called it 'Kathe', that
Once upon a time, a young man had a pond. It held such clear, sweet water that went down