By Manoj Borthakur
A tion or for that matter any community survives, strives and thrives through trade and commerce, be it a tribal state or a higher form. In other words, economics keeps a community alive and kicking. Development of a state or a tion is judged mainly on the parameters of economic activities. Assamese as a community or a group with the status of sub-tiolity is not at par with many other communities on many aspects due to its lack of economic awareness. We spend more money than we earn. We earn very little in comparison with some other communities living within Assam and striving in the same geo-physical environment. They have learnt the use of money because it was in search of money they had come to Assam. We are learning the same lesson some fifty years later.
We organise hundreds of Bihu functions across the state every year. We have not yet calculated the total amount of money we spend in the process per year. There are over a hundred Bihu pandals in Guwahati alone and if we take that each Bihu committee spends Rs five lakhs on an average, the total goes up to Rs 5 crores and the amount spent in the entire state would go up to 30/40 crores . The entire money is collected from people within the state and with one years’ collection, we can set up a small sized industry or a very big farm to generate employment for at least one thousand unemployed persons. This way, the problem of unemployment among the Assamese can be solved in two decades solely by ourselves.
Ok, we cannot help holding or organising Bihu sanmilans as it has become a part of our community culture in urbanized Assam. It has surfaced as a new avenue to earn a little money for the artistes or the people in show-business. But apart from that, who are benefitted from our Bihu sanmilans? Other than genuine Suwalkuchi made mekhela chadar and gamocha, what percentage of the total business in clothes is done by the Assamese? The entire cloth business is owned by non-Assamese community which has scant regard for Assamese culture. By way of observing Bihu on that scale, we are feeding the coffers of that community while impoverishing our own.
The hard earned money of the poor Assamese goes to the business community and 90 per cent of them are non-Assamese. The clothes we use in the pandals, the chairs and other materials, the perfumes, cosmetics and orments our dancers use, the dhotis, punjabies, underwears, chappals, slippers and shoes we buy — are all made and sold by non-Assamese living in Assam purely to make full use of our festivities and in expanding their business.
At every Bihu, we spend more money that we possibly earn and even procure articles on credit to show off our status or wealth. This is what our mentality is made up of. We never think about what elevates a community to a higher echelon. Gujarat does not have much in the form of tural resources, neither does have Kerala, but these are the two most developed states in India. It is because the two communities think of everything in terms of economic value and their urge to forge ahead is exemplary.
The non-Assamese business community did not bring bagful of rupees when they migrated to Assam. Today they have built up enough resources to buy everything in Assam and even sell it outside for making profit. We Assamese have only sentiments bereft of commitments and live by sentiment alone.
(Manoj Borthakur is Subject Teacher , Fuleswari Girls Higher Secondary School. Ph-94350-56975)