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EDITORIAL

Whose money? How much?

Whose money

Two major conferences recently held in Assam had witnessed massive turnout of people from all walks of life. The first was the 75th biennial session of the Axam Xahitya Xabha, held with a five-day programme at Sualkuchi. The other was a four-day 89th annual session of the Srimanta Sankardev Sangha, held at Kamargaon in Golaghat. Several lakh people had visited these events. There is however no scientific record about the exact footfall in both the massive events. While the first one was related to development of the Assamese language and literature, the second one was to propagate the teachings and ideals of the great saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva. It is also exactly not known as to how many of the several lakh visitors actually listened to the valuable speeches of the newly-elected President of the Axam Xahitya Xabha and other scholars and litterateurs. Neither is it known as to how many copies of books were exactly sold in such a mega literary event that has no parallel anywhere in the globe. Assuming that five lakh people had visited the Xahitya Xabha session, and assuming that a quarter of them bought a book each, at least 1.25 lakh books must have been sold. Most importantly, all those books must have been definitely written in the Assamese language. That leads to the assumption that the health of the Assamese publishing industry is not at all as bad as the booksellers of Panbazar keep complaining. Regarding the Sankar Sangha conference, it is extremely difficult to quantify certain things; like sale of books, or for that matter gamosas. It was definitely a religious congregation where the devotees must have discussed the religious, socio-economic and cultural contributions of the great saint-reformer. Well, besides those things, what would probably be of interest for the people of Assam is the exact expenditure incurred in holding the two mega-events, that too almost simultaneously, in a state whose economy is one of the worst in the entire country. How much of the expenditure came as a grant from the State government? How much money was collected as donations from industrial houses, businessmen, contractors, government officers, and individual persons like government and private sector employees, farmers, petty shopkeepers, rickshaw-wallas etc? Are detailed audited reports of receipt and expenditure of the two mega-events going to be available? After all, both were public events related to the Assamese society, and members of the society have the right to know how much money was collected, how much was spent, how it was spent, and so on. If the society does not want to know about the money part, then there is every scope of assuming that the society as a whole does not want transparency in public affairs. The same also applies to those who organize Bihu, Durga Puja and various other events and conferences every year.