KAPIL ARAMBAM • In Pursuit of Freedom •

Race, Sex, Nationalism, Identity and Over-flooding Cum

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari wrote, a lakh of years ago, there were roughly six different species of humans on this planet. He sorted out carefully the groups and came to a conclusion about how we emerged as the the only self-styled intelligent being and what happened to the others of lesser gods that had vanished into thin air. And further, Dr Harari went on, with ‘scientific’ evidences, how we would be living as an intelligent animal in the future.

As so much relative as our universe, another Western author, Bill Bryson, had came up with a book A Short History Of Nearly Everything, in which the author attempts to find what really happened between the Big Bang Theory and now. Again, this reminds me of Guns, Germs & Steel - The Fates of Human Societies written by Jared Diamond and A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking. Apparently, human beings, after calling themselves as the superior animal, are trying to prove a point while the Universe remains as relative as ever because we simply don’t know what the purpose of our life is and more significantly how we ended up as an animal on this planet.

Leaving the hardest questions to the scientists and experts, here we have a collection of a few graphics that explain nothing. These are the symbol of human’s utter ignorance even if we have trigonometry and astrophysics and India.     

Theatre Report

This is a translation of Yumlembam Ibomcha’s Manipuri poem, Theatre-gi Report from an anthology of poems by ten Manipiuri poets, Atoppa Khonjel: Manipuri Seirenggi Khomjinba Lairik (The Other Voice: A Collection of Manipuri Poems), which was published by the Naharol Sahitya Premi Samiti in 1975

The other day
In front of the Usha Talkies
The lifeless helloi* was standing
Unaware of her nakedness, nonchalantly
Impassive of your presence
In front of everybody around

Mad Madhab
Whistling ceaselessly
He yelled unendingly:
‘Civilisation! Civilisation!’

And the sensible-looking young man
—the bald young man, around-the-clock
He was winding his watch
Never knowing its coil was broken

The girl at the theatre
The doe-eyed dame
And a bit terrified
        Oh, yes, she was pretty!
        Oh, yes!
        Such a heartbreaker!
Someone had said:
        Why be afraid
        Cool down

And from the beginning the hero
He was tolling the bell
Sweating and incessantly
But there was no sound
Not even a whimper
And he looked determine
If only he could, at least once
Make a banging sound on the bell
Blaring in the ears of the audience
It was eerily mute
And he wailed why
He wailed again why.

And shot back the bald young man:   
    —I have been also winding my watch
    But it is never working
    Never it does!

Translation note:

Usha Talkies: a cinema in Paona Bazar, Imphal
helloi: a fairy in Manipuri mythology

A Brief Story of Soft Concrete

Concrete as a symbol of destruction
Where is the love to be found?
Won’t someone tell me?
’Cause my (sweet life)
Life must be somewhere to be found
(Must be somewhere for me)
Instead of concrete jungle,
Where the living is hardest
Bob Marley, Concrete Jungle

If there is one element, regardless of its pros and cons, which depicts socio-economic growth then it should be ‘concrete’. The paste of cement and water, the aggregate, it is the epitome of urbanisation—the icon of growth and development in the 21st century. Before you realise it, as exceptions prove the rule, this epitome or icon has changed course and become a symbol of decay.

Here’s the reason.

The Meiteis, a majority of which reside in the Imphal valley, number just around a million. The number might explain why the entire race would follow together any trend that-be: you open a chicken centre and there will be another 10 guys in a locality selling roasted and fried chicken. If you open a Photostat shop, again another 10 more people will follow suit. This is cute when we compare it with mindless copies on a large-scale basis like the present age of machine has imposed on us such as the sentimental, overly done pop culture. 

To make the explanation more ‘concrete’, let me start from my locality situated in Imphal West. Until a decade ago, in summer, the youths in the neighbourhood will join hands and build temporary platforms for the annual week-long Lai Haraoba celebration at Lai Lampak. Of course, we still believe in collective living but the trend has changed completely. Now in those places where we used to have temporary platforms are the ubiquitous ‘community halls’.

Local elders would say it is better, that we will need lesser time and energy for preparation each year and that it is cost-effective. It can be as well a source of revenue for the local clubs as people who have no courtyards can use the hall for rites and rituals by paying a fee.

Incidentally, we are known for the number of rites that we have over our lifetime, starting from birth and continues even after death: the ceremony of a baby’s first eating and the rituals of ear piercing and so on that goes on even after death as in ‘sorat’ and ‘phiroy’.

So far so good, but these places were once used to be commons or specially a playfield for the kids and grown-ups alike.

The issue has even become a tool for street politics as well. Some elected representatives would boast by citing the number of community halls that s/he has built over a certain period of time. In this game of number counting, we have overlooked the fact that we are being overfed with unrealised promises.

On this blog: Quote Design: Wailing of a Mountain Man Lost in a Concrete Jungle

We can see it is overdone, for example from Sagolband Moirang Leirak where there are four such halls within a radius of less than one kilometre, excluding the one in adjoining Thingom Leikai. [Hope the popular Killing Field will stay as a playfield and not turned into another community hall.]    

This brings us to the issue we have today. We have a concrete community hall where it used to be Lai Lampak but that hardly counts as a development but rather it is just a case of convenience if we do consider the merits. A major crisis is the imageries we have for development.

Leave the community halls. To take another example, elsewhere, graphics of cranes signify building and construction, a sign of growth but for us, it shows that of a landslide or the headache of pulling up an ill-fated bus or truck from a gorge. Once again, in this context, concrete is the symbol of ugliness in this part of the world, with much thanks to the existing milieu of unabated protests, conflicts and social movements.

The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.
Desmond Morris

If you want to see the worst buildings of millionaires, come to the great Imphal valley. It’s shame for the concrete but somehow hidden by buildings that resemble matchboxes and shoeboxes. Perhaps, it is an indication of the mentality of the people: ugly, lack of imagination and the Tarzan’s level of aesthetics. A resemblance of beauty, it is only seen in how people fake each other to greet, fake each other in showing how they are civilised and fake each other in flaunting innate sycophantic natures and what not.

You need not even go far in the valley to experience this ugliness proudly demonstrated by concrete buildings. Stand in one of the streets facing the backside of Khwairamband Keithel, the main market of the town, and you can come up with a couple of definition of ‘repulsion’ right away.

As a consolation, let us take this mass endorsement of foundation-less ugliness as a form of resistance. Extortionists in and around the valley have a weakness for new buildings. The word on the street is that they look out for new buildings in each locality. The undertone is like: if you are building a new house, you got to have money so take this demand letter. It’s just for a meagre10 lakhs. Pay up or get ready for grenades and blank fires at your gate.

With the blatant Tarzan’s aesthetic sense and a pre-condition of losing money, the people are building haphazard shoeboxes and matchboxes while the principle of life is to get and gather as much as possible. Money, for that matter, has got nothing to do with beauty. In other parts of the world, there are issues of concepts like placelessness and concrete jungle. We have our unique problem distinguished by the softest kind of concrete.

july, haiku avenue 3953

eat a minister
punish a few commandos;
an army dinner

listen to pop songs
check if your poop is normal

those in newspapers,
fried and dried the local style
—wailings and whimpers

it’s the present trend
everything’s up for a price
how much is your life?

add one hundred ten
and a thousand professors
teachers in our butts

it’s getting too much
the masturbating teachers
please go fuck yourself

too hot to protest
the summer’s as hot as fuck
form a J-A-C

how much will it costs
for every fart on your face?
ask the contractors

india got caught
in monkey business and craps;
the constitution

the governor chilled,
he got the nicest handjob
from homo alley

a nephew’s got drug
why would you need landhoni?
—the thoubal village

Scatological Blues

the big doctors fainted
and the small doctors fainted
and all the doctors fainted

all they used to get were real brains
around the all-familiar mortuary of the land sees
thousands of similar death and all

but the day was all different
the big king had died
the big king of the land had died

all they used to get were real brains
they opened the big king’s brain
again all they used to get was real brains

but the big king got dung — a heap of dung for his brain
the brainmaker god must be smelling dung
the doctors fainted smelling the dung

thousands of big men of the land
they are gifted with dung on their brains
the dung is scattered everywhere in this land 

The Brown Substitute for the White Raj

The Assam Rifles left the historic Kangla Fort in 2004 in the wake of a popular uprising. In the same year, AFSPA was revoked from Greater Imphal or the seven assembly constituencies. As in a natural order of filling in a vacuum, the Manipur police commandos have taken over the role of the army and paramilitary forces in the valley. What we see is just the change of uniform: from camouflage to the khaki and the cases of high-handedness and crime continue unabated.

Though professionally antagonistic, the commandos are also well complemented by the VDF, at least in spreading state terrorism. The revocation of the draconian armed forces’ act has not given a sigh of relief leave alone the sense of security. It is paradoxical for we have one of the highest concentrations of security forces in this highly militarised democratic hinterland and the least we have is the feeling of security.

Likewise, when the British left the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur after 56 years of colonisation, the Indian union represented by its bureaucrats rushed in to fill the vacuum. It was not actually a vacuum because the then kingdom-turned nation had already formed its own Constitution* and elected a democratic government. [* The kingdom had always made use of a written Constitution, known as Loyumba Sinyen, since the reign of King Loyamba (1074–1112 CE) albeit the modern version was formulated only in 1947.]

So, politically we have been observing merely a change of skin colour while we are as subjugated as before and in some aspects, even worse. For instance, AFSPA was modelled on the Armed Forces Special Powers (Ordinance) which the British created to contain the Quit India Movement in 1942. However, the Indian version is more brutal and controversial. In a more appropriate local context, the substitution is no different from a drug user, who would switch from heroin to a methamphetamine substance. S/he can never compare that one is better than the other; rather it’s just a matter of availability and affordability. But in politics, we can, and we have British India and India.

Briefly, then we became a colonial entity, now we are that of a neo-colonial. The reasons are abundant not only now but also right from day one when Manipur was coerced to merge into the Union of India. Before we consider contemporary trends that show the evidences of brown people substituting for the White Raj, we can see some a historical narrative that as well connects our past to the present.

To cite an instance, during 1891–1947 it was British India, and now from 1949 till present, it has been just India. The nomenclatural change might seem superficial but, underneath the surface lies our story in great depth and mostly unknown. One of the worst climaxes arrived in 1949 when the kingdom-nation, after an illegal merger, was reduced to a Part C State (known as a union territory today) with a chief commissioner as the head security guard. 

Nowadays we have become a state or a province under the puppetry of a chief minister. And the people, they have been conditioned by the state so well. Nothing explains it better than the ongoing ‘popular’ movement for implementing a regulation like the one on Inner Line Permit System in the Imphal valley. Meanwhile, the ILPS is a product of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873.

For that matter, the British administration introduced concepts like excluded and partially excluded areas for the sake of administrative convenience. Similarly, eleven years after merger, the Indian administrator enforced the Manipur Land Revenue and Reforms Act only in the valley, while subsequently laying the foundation of hill-valley divide. The British had as well fine-tuned the concept of divide and rule in the subcontinent. Present-day India has not only appropriated it but also excels in it—perhaps because of the training for two centuries of colonial rule. In this appropriation and excellence, the white has turned into the brown.

No wonder then that some mainland Indians believe the British Raj was the ultimate saviour. For these people, India would have no industrial infrastructure if not for the colonialists. One of the most incredible theories is that the Muslims would have made India a Pakistan or an Afghanistan if the East India Company had not deceived or defeated the Mughals. On extreme level, it is argued that there would not have been the Indian nation. That’s plausible because, in essence, India is a product of the Muslim and British rulers; otherwise today, it could have been replaced by a land of 500 nations in South Asia. Opinion is sharply divided on whether the British Crown rule had made or marred the Indian economy but that’s not the issue at hand.

To take a different position, suppose, for meals, chefs and bakers would enlighten us on the merits and demerits of brown and white rice or brown and white bread. But when it comes to people, especially in the context of Manipur, the issue of the white and the brown has been just a bland experience. By the way, the Assam Rifles was first created as the Cachar Levy by the British masters in 1835. This is 2016; under India; and it is a force to reckon with, made up of 46 battalions.

‘Kangla Ngakouta’ Annual Awards of Achievement

By a Special Correspondent

IMPHAL WEST, 22 July: In a first of its kind, the Kangla Ngakouta Canned Fish Inc has successfully organised an annual awards of achievement. The incumbent chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh has won the man of the year award; and 14 other winners in diverse areas of public interest also won prizes at the holy event.

A press release from the Kangla Ngakouta indicates the jury has selected only original natives (except in the category of the Samaritans of the Year) in consideration of the award as a moral support to the existing campaigns of the Inner Line Permit System.

•    Man of the Year: Okram Ibobi for remaining as close to 15 years as a slave master of the region and his mastery over property as in buying as many as plots of land as he can in prime locations around the Imphal town and beyond

    Woman of the Year: Mary Kom for her nomination into the upper house of the Indian parliament and if we go by insider reports and if the Kangla Ngakouta survives, she is expected to win in the 2017 edition also if Mrs Kom can surpass the records of Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha in attendance and raising starred questions in the house

•    Samaritan of the Year: Joint winner: The Indian Army and paramilitary forces – for treating 58 dysentery patients, 89 diarrhoea patients, 47 patients suffering from indigestion; and  during 2015–16 and above all, for lifting the ideals of democracy and their inimitable civic action programmes

•    Filmmaker of the Year: Aribam Syam (Who else could it be? Film enthusiasts have always maintained that there was once a competitor to Mr Aribam but the guy had slipped and fell down while taking a crane shot and died many years ago) 

•    Organisation of the Year: Manipur Police – for redefining terror, taking up the role of the army, spreading fear psychosis and for training the most number of loyal and ferocious dogs who are known popularly as commandos

•    Brand of the Year: Kangla Ngakouta: Teach Fishing for a Lifetime
The award ceremony was briefly disrupted while announcing the winner in this category—not that the organiser has been selected as the winner—but a reliable source mentions some people had protested against the naming of every entity and brand, with a prefix of ‘Kangla’, ‘Sangai’, ‘Siroy’ or ‘All Manipur’, etc.

•    Institution of Recognition of the Year: The Manipur Public Service Commission for its never-ending farces and offering humour to people whose lives are otherwise cursed by conflicts and tragedies

•    General Manager of the Universe of the Year: Binalakhsmi Mathurai Goswami for her noble ideas to appropriate all kinds of fund-able NGO projects and modify our lives as a grand project that should be ‘funded’ and ‘maintained’

•    CSO of the Year: The Joint Committee on the Inner Line Permit System for its relentless fight and untiring efforts to declare we are law-abiding people and will do anything to reach a political goal within the context of the Constitution of India by declaring itself as a civil society organisation but representing only the Meiteis

•    Doctor of the Year: The Sinam couple for their entrepreneurial wonder in the field of medicine and the ability to bargain in buying 500 sets of fake teeth at ₹150,000 per set, which usually costs ₹1,500 in dental clinics around Paona Bazar and Thangal Bazar

•    Judge of the Year: Takhellambam Chaoba, president of the Tronglaobi Youth Club, for taking all the right decisions in solving locality’s domestic issues and for the record number of exiles his club had imposed on alleged criminals and their families during 2015–16

•    Highwayman of the Year: Thuingaleng Muivah for his power in leading the NSCN IM and the sidekicks while simultaneously helping sponsor economic blockades at the drop of a hat on one of the primary highways that connect Manipur to India

•    Entrepreneur of the Year: Joint Winner – Contractors, smugglers and MLA aspirants for their ceaseless multitasking activities to entertain and fuck with the public at once; Okram Henry and Sapam Agush received the award on behalf of the team [Incidentally a Tony Montana look-alike jury member had asked whether the Okram people have an inborn talent for robbery and smuggling]

•    Pressure Group of the Year: The JAC Against Anti-Tribal Bills for its articulation on existential crises faced by a few suited and booted tribal leaders; meanwhile, Kangla Ngakouta mentioned a memento was given as a consolation to the JAC against the Misconduct of Manipur Public Service Commission Examination 2016 for carrying out the responsibilities of the MPSC (see Institution of Recognition of the Year) as officials of the commission have been busy counting the money they had received as ‘donation’

•    Ngakouta Animal of the Year: Me. Because. Ngakouta or not. I. Am. The. Animal. Of. The. Year. Deal. With. It. 


All the trophy icons on this post are originally made by Freepik on FlatIcon.

The Ultimate Hand Job

Spoiler Alert    No video clip is posted here and no text has been sexualised to help you get relaxed

I have got a new phone. I considered if I don’t tell it on social media, it will be worthless. I feel like: If you take a selfie in a forest and nobody’s there is to see the selfie, would it still be a selfie? To accentuate the worth of my phone, and to confirm it, I took a couple of photos of my left palm/arm. If you are Sherlock Holmes, you can easily deduce that I’m right handed. Fuck Sherlock Holmes but adding a few make-ups to these dirty palms and hands will make it quite a post-work work. So here’s it is: A collection of hand-job graphics and a manifestation of the real versus the reel.

And the Buddha reckons:

Questions of the Millennium

In school we were taught to question; the more the better. Teachers would try to convince us by narrating the anecdotes of Albert Einstein who would ask so many questions, so much so that he realised what was more enlightening was a question rather than an answer. Francis Bacon, we found years later, had made it very fancy by stating like: A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.

It was a sort of blind faith, which we internalise it but it does make a lot of difference. Now we even know the sun does not rise in the east and set in the west but it is Earth that revolves around our lone super star and in opposite direction the process causes dawn and dusk. Education can sometimes kill our common sense.

In this context, nonetheless, there are also questions that would make Einstein cry and fry Bacon... Here is the list of ten questions that will challenge your very existence. This collection of questions was sourced from everywhere on the WWW.

Revolution Point Zero

Nowadays, amongst the Manipuri public, just the nationalist-minded people* support the armed movement struggling for the right to self-determination.

[* By nationalists, we are referring to those in Manipur and they are totally different those Modi- and Bharat-worshipping fanatics and liberals in mainland India. For that matter, we have nothing to do with the latter in this context today.]

Nonetheless the movement has been going on from the last five to six decades albeit a likely resolution is still infinitely beyond the horizon.

Others from the public are fed up of the armed organisations, which are digging their own graves, through their lack of vision and goals. However, if truth be told, this lack of confidence owes to the relentless activities of the insurgents that go against the interest of the people whom they are claiming to fight for.

To take an example, the loss of confidence is most apparent from the formation of the Village Defence Force, popularly known as the VDF. It originated in Heirok over the villagers’ demand for self-protection against the high-handedness of the insurgents as well as the government’s plan to combat insurgency.

Soon, in a matter of few months, circa 2009, and very innocently, the Heirok villagers started complaining that there was no fall in the number of insurgent-related issues—as if the former DGP Yumnam Joykumar and the state home department cared about containing the issues by establishing the VDF. But that’s another story altogether.

From the Wrong Side of the Law

So, what are these armed groups, on the wrong side of the law, on the other side of the people’s interest, up to these days?

Press releases are one of the propaganda materials that these groups have as a medium to communicate with the hoi polloi yet these are also not spare from loathing. Remember the crises over the publication and rejection of PRs while newspaper editors have to face the brunt for no logic whatsoever.

If you cannot recall, worry not. There would soon be another incident. It has become a favourite game of the team of Manipuri society and insurgency in the last couple of decades or so.

People are unsure and apprehensive but they cannot ignore the fact that the gunmen—known as revolutionaries or militants according to which side of the fence you are sitting on—are becoming a nuisance. It is no more the sons of the soil fighting for the land and no more do they enjoy the unconditionally moral support they used to one time from the masses, and the reasons are not hard to find.

Those who are honest, ideologically grounded, intellectually motivated in the armed organisations, particularly in the three or four main armed groups, must be anxious about this trend. We do consider that there must be committed and sincere rebels else the movement would have died a long time ago.

However, what is more worrying for us is our ceaseless confrontation with foundation-less groups, plain mercenaries, state-sponsored ruffians and other such groups and individuals, existing in the name of insurgency, but who are motivated solely by unabashed self-interest and the government chicanery.

One of the first casualties in this brouhaha is the principles of an armed movement. Self-styled rebels fucking around with contractors and ministers have become an eyesore in this regard. Sometimes it is hard to believe that the armed groups must have rules or beliefs that guide their political or military campaigns.

If there is any rule or belief, it seems to be the mandatory connection with career politicians, who are mostly contractors and sometimes who are also involved in keeping up the great ideals of a talking shop called the Indian democracy.

If we take a few advanced steps and see, we can observe that most of these groups are led by socialist world views with traces of Marxist and extreme Leftist thoughts. To take a reference, socialism has failed terribly in the neighbouring Burma but before we move ahead with this kind of another deliberation, the groups ought to provide a space for discussion, which currently in these days of kangaroo courts, seems not to be the case.

For the sake of argument, the groups have a predicament. If they are to, suppose, win the war, they have two authorities to overcome with: those of the provincial and the Union. They cannot even hit at the provincial authority or the Manipur government if they care to, leave alone the Union.

This government matters because it is the local representative of the Union. In their rhetoric, all the locals are our ‘own’ people who are the not the real enemy. However, such logic is as lame as the protest of surrendered militants to get their ‘promised’, but unmet demands. Also again, ironically, this government survives solely on central grants and funds. Obviously, it is as helpless as a housefly drowning in a glass of water and the armed groups know it though the response is pathetic to say the least.

The best the armed organisations have been doing is to play a cat-and-mouse game with the Indian military establishment, which the Union can ever afford to make it stronger, more firm than the previous day. It does not care how civilians would suffer from this heavy militarisation, just like the local mercenaries aka insurgents have nothing to do with the state of affairs as long as they are getting the contracts and the cash. 

The Last Word

We, the hoi polloi, are very naïve but we can see how the one-time rebels have been seduced by the Constitution of India. See how they are now fighting for regulations like the Inner Line Permit System. Significantly this kind of approach is not even realpolitik, as some people would believe it to be so, but a manifestation of a servile mindset.

To summarise, revolution is not a dinner party but in its name, many people are organising orgies and spreading debauchery from their ‘courtyards’ of power. It’s a shame. If the people fighting for a larger entity like a free nation cannot see this farce, the public can look forward to a brighter future of hell. 

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