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By Sumana Nandi

Early 2015, when I came back to India, after finishing my Masters from University of London, I was met with starkly similar yet interesting expectations from my family, friends and near and dear ones.

Now, I am supposed to narrow my brows and wrinkle my nose every time I see a cow choosing to pee in the middle of the street, halting the traffic, making irritated drivers honk continuously. I am supposed to be full of repugnance when the aunty in my neighbourhood after mopping her room on the second floor clean empties the dirty bucket of water on the street. It is now my duty to lecture the grey-haired uncle in the corner selling chaat and golgappas how he needs to maintain hygiene and cleanliness.

I must now have a plush job: a job which will ensure I have a big car (preferably a BMW or Mercedes), picking and dropping me for office everyday so that the neighbours can plan and save money by fasting once a day, so that they are also able to send their children abroad (note abroad here strictly means the United States, Canada, Australia and United Kingdom). Within a few days of getting this dream-job, as a convent-educated obedient daughter who has travelled the world should now settle down (like the mud dissolved in water left aside in a glass after a good stir) to another convent-educated son who should have spent at least double the time abroad and earn double (if not triple); the cherry on the cake would be if he is an NRI and also speaks English with an accent.

After such a settling down, the (Feminist) me should continue my job but only after the permission from my Pati Parmeshwar and his family lest I become a financial burden to my new family.

At kitty parties with mostly the friends of my mother-in-law, I should talk about the wonderfulness of the concerts I watched at South Bank Centre, sipping orange juice (carefully replaced wine with orange juice since a pure and pious daughter-in-law cannot have a history of drinking) by the beautiful wandering Thames at sunset. Or, explain the magnificent architectural elegance of million castles and the English lush green meadows carefully omitting the men I travelled (sometimes overnight) to these places with, built with the sweat and blood of many peoples of Asia, Afrika, Australia and the Americas.

Despite all this, I am still expected to stand in attention while Jana-Gana-Mana, fondly reminiscing those days of going to the market holding my father’s index finger, choose a fish I want for lunch amongst the shoal of fish swimming in the little aluminium tank and get it cut in front of us, with my eyes gleaming with happiness. I only need to wipe a tear or two of the nostalgia of how I spent my life during those (uncivilised) days in the villages and jungles of India.

I light a cigarette and ponder: Why do my friends and family expect of me like they do? Is it only my friends and family who have such expectations or the society at large? Why do we believe that London is any better than Delhi/Kolkata/Mumbai/Chennai?

Thoughts of how I saw London is blurred my speculating reflections momentarily.

While in London, I have nursed the wound of my friend who got mugged at knife-point near Baker Street. I met men in the streets of Paddington who ogle, whistle and comment (just like men here) at any girl even if she is covered from head to toe on a rainy November evening. I poured phenyl on the walls of my house where those getting drunk at the neighbourhood pubs of where I lived came to pee.

I have seen slums in London, with people huddling up amongst all thing in a one-room flat (rather pigeon hole). I have listened to soulful music on the pavements by the homeless trying to make enough money for their daily doses of drug and alcohol. I have been denied a job at a bar because I was “not white enough” and an Asian immigrant (even though I was legal immigrant with the right to work in the UK).

At my University, I was told to admire and be wonder struck with awe and amazement at the statues of ‘great’ scientists, philosophers and theorists who were mostly racist and those who made us, from the colonies in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas look inferior to the boost up the ego of the Whites and initiate White supremacist colonialism.

I was told, my University is a leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and Middle east while I was not told it was this same institution which fuelled colonialism in not only these continents of the world but also beyond by benevolently training colonial administrators to create havoc by imperialism and colonialism even till today as we feel the pangs of separations from our dear sisters and brothers in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

I have visited public libraries with so much audio-visual documents, half of which would have had make thousands (if not more) aware about ourselves, our ancestors and know more about who we are. Passing by the Kohinoor in the (in)famous British Museum, I wonder if it’s worth is even 0.99% of what the Colonial Raj has looted (and is still looting) from us.

As I pass through the Madame Tussauds which has wax statues of Sharukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan among many others, I shiver with the thought of where the money and resources to finance these come from- from the colonies.

Not long ago, no doubt MP Dr.Shashi Tharoor has brilliantly made an excellent case for Indian Reparations and Reparations of the humanity at large, but can this repair be done by Britain and Britishers alone?

Is Britain along with her imperial friends i.e. the French, Portugese and Dutch are the few colonisers of this world?

Do we take a moment to think that we, the ordinary people- Aam Admi and Aam Nari also colonise those who are immediately below us in the power structure? Do we not try to look superior to our domestic help’s son, Rahul, by the virtue of the fact that we study in the most elite private school of the city while Rahul goes to a Government school? Why do we feel superior if we HAVE material things and power in a society than others who HAVE NOT? Do we think for a second how we have come to accumulate all those materialist things? Is it because of our hard work and the hard work of our family members alone?

All these understandings, which I should be honest about, got even deeper and clearer while I was in London; it shaped me for the life I am leading today. I am not a pure soul. I am not perfect. I am only trying and seeking to live a decolonial life. I see colonialism as a process which not only the British did to us Asians but also a process which we Asians inflict at our fellow Asians- especially when the individual concerned is inferior to us in terms of caste, creed, colour etc.

Although, the Indian constitution makes these discriminations unlawful, yet in our daily lives we see this happening to us or to those around us.

Why? Because our minds have been trained to be perennial slaves of colonialism. If we want to make a mark in this colonial/neocolonial world we need to copy what our colonial masters did and continue to do.

Our Colonial masters preached the supremacy of the colour, adhering to which we hide ourselves in the corners of Beauty Parlours to scald our faces by bleaching them and using Fair and Lovely ten times a day!

Through this weekly column I hope to not only critically share dilemmas and doubts from everyday life but also to analytically interrogating them in the decolonial spotlight; so as to invite comments and observations from anyone who reads this sparking a regular dialogue on Decoloniality in the public domain.

Decoloniality is important for all of us, for our own existence and in the spiritual journey each of us undertake in this journey of life. Decoloniality is too important to be left to intellectuals (or often pseudo intellectuals) so that they continue their intellectual masturbation under the cloak of being “Academic”. Perhaps once this dialogue gains momentum, the expectations from not only my family and friends become decolonial but also our expectations from ourselves as conscious individuals, as humane beings become decolonial. With that hope I look forward to pen down my experiences and share with you sooner.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Char Dham Yatra resumed on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.

Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.

Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.

As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.

Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.

Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.

Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.

Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.

Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.

Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.

Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.

The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.

To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.

Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.

The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.

Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.

The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.

When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.

"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.

"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.

Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.

On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.

Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.

Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.

The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

India-England test series will now be played next year from July 1 at Edgbaston Stadium

The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.

"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.

"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.

ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.

"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.

"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.

"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."

"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.