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India had a commendable outing in the latest edition of Commonwealth Games (CWG) held sometime back in Australia. In fact, India stood third in overall Medals’ tally, behind Australia and the United Kingdom. Immediately after that, I saw a graphical analysis, in one of the leading national dailies, detailing representation of different states in the Indian union from among the medal winning sportspersons in CWG. It was heartbreaking to find that Assam did not have a single medal winner in the latest edition of the CWG, and, in fact, Assam was one of the few among the 29 states in India, which did not have a single medal winner in the CWG. The best representations were from Haryana, followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and, of course, our neighbouring Manipur, etc.
Why is it that people from Manipur, Assam’s neighbouring state, and definitely a more distant and difficult place compared to Assam, do so well in sports, as also in other disciplines and areas? Sportspersons, men and women, in good numbers, from Manipur shine and represent India in football, weightlifting, boxing, chess, athletics, martial arts, hockey, etc. There are more law-and-order issues, difficult terrain, etc that people in Manipur have to deal with, compared to their counterparts in Assam. The infrastructure, as it exists, in Manipur is definitely no better than in Assam and most states in India. The Central Government, recently, took a decision, and rightly so, to establish the FIRST SPORTS UNIVERSITY in the Country in the state of Manipur. This is a true recognition of the grit, determination and performance of the people of Manipur, especially in sports. People of Manipur are also bright stars in performing arts: theatre, dance, literature, etc! Manipuri dance was recognised as a classical Indian dance, much before xatriya of Assam was recognised!!
Churachandpur, a strife-torn place in Manipur, produces a handsome number of civil servants in All India Civil Services, and obviously, at the state level. The beauty of dance, drama and theatre of Manipur are well recognised. What is in the genes of people of Manipur that they produce so many champions in different areas? Is this excellence because of biological reasons or is it upbringing or is it the environment? Is excellence a way of life in Manipur? Mind you: Manipur is producing champions, in different fields, for decades together!! One reason for this, as I observed, is the active participation of children from a young age with sincerity, determination and hard work. They aim high and are encouraged.
In contrast, we are NOT producing too many champions from Assam at National and International levels, who we can be proud of. There are not too many sportspersons from Assam representing India, at least in last two decades. Same is the case in other areas. Assam has very miniscule representation in All India Civil Services. Assam has very few representation in arts, literature, etc at national and international levels. We have people like Shiv Thapa (boxing), Rima Das (film industry), Ankushita Boro (boxing), and Hima Das (athletics) coming up off and on, but not consistently, and that too the numbers are very few.
Within Assam too, we have the Marwari society. They excel in Business activities, as they do all over India. In Assam, maybe, 90% of the Chartered Accountants would be Marwaris. People from Marwari society, in Assam, have also excelled in literature, arts and culture, and have contributed immensely by their philanthropic activities.
The moot point of this discussion is nothing except to highlight the point that people from Assam have NOT fared well at national and international levels with adequate numbers, like many other states, including our neighbours like Manipur and Sikkim. Be it politics, academics, business, civil services, intelligentsia, entrepreneurship, sports, banking, finance, art, culinary skills, literature, dance, and whatever one may think of. This is NOT to say that that we do not have our men or women up there, but these are very scanty in number. Specially in the last two decades, the numbers are abysmal. Not many from Assam qualify for IITs, IIMs, Indian civil services, etc. In the all India level school board examinations (of 10th & 12th classes conducted by CBSE/ICSE) too, the numbers of the students in the top bracket are very few; the pass percentage too is also below the All India average. In the parliament too, our representatives have not made much mark. Strong leadership, politically, culturally and otherwise, seems to be wanting in Assam. This is the same state that prides itself in the fact that Moghuls could never conquer this part of the Country.
Furthermore, we have not done much with the natural and other resources that we have in the State. We are always complaining that the Centre is neglecting or is not doing enough for the State, and this is one easy thing we seem to accept and make it an excuse for lack of progress and development in all areas.
It is high time that the people of the state introspected, and took corrective measures, individually and collectively, to arrest the deterioration in the society, and evolve to become strong enough at least on a par with rest of the Country in all fields. We seem to be very happy to play the “victim” card. People in Assam appear to have developed expertise in sloganeering, agitations, “bandhs”, road-blockades, demonstrations, etc. The new generations, too, are getting negative vibes in this atmosphere, and all such negativities are profusely adding to the misery of the current generation, and, more importantly, the upcoming and future generations.
At present, people of Assam are too dependent on the Government and political leadership for each and every issue pertaining to them. People, by and large, do not own responsibility, have low morale, adept at excuses, and have made a habit of blaming someone else or something else for the miseries. People seem to be more interested in petty things, pleasure, enjoyment and entertainment, at the cost of activities that would uplift and better their lives. These are main reasons for deterioration.
Can people from Assam make their mark at national and international levels – consistently, and in adequate numbers? Can someone from Assam win an Olympic medal, win a Nobel Prize, in the foreseeable future? Can we move beyond the mentality of limited realm of “only jobs” (specially Government jobs)? Can we move beyond the “opium” of agitations, “bandhs”, pleasure, etc? Can we move beyond being dependent on Government for everything, and take responsibility? Above all, can we strive for excellence?
Yes, it is possible!! For excellence, individuals in the society must embrace good habits and right attitude. There is no short-cut for excellence and success. People’s approach towards life need to change so as to inculcate the ingredients for a brighter future. Parents can play a pivotal role by imbibing right habits in their off-spring. Simple habits of discipline, sincerity, hard work, honesty, and persistence, with right attitude, and high aim would definitely bring perceptible changes in the Society, in the near future.
Fortunately, there is nothing new about these. These habits and attitude can be inculcated, as we had done so in the past.