Pradip Kr. Chakravarty
(The writer can be reached at email@example.com)
We, the Assamese people at this time like to lead a comfortable and tension-free life at the cost of others. We are afraid of hard work and so we have to depend on others for our smooth livelihood. For example, if we go to a grocery shop of any place in Assam, we find no items of the shop produced in Assam. From A to Z of the shop come from outside the State. Even rice without which we cannot think of surviving also comes from other States, barring a few of its varieties. Similarly, If we go to Fancy Bazar, not a single item of the market, except Pat/Muga fabrics and Assamese gamosa, are produced in Assam. Tailors, saloons, cobblers, construction workers, egg vendors, meat vendors, vegetable growers and sellers, carpenters, masons, thelawallas, rickshawallas and others are doing their business or earning money honestly in Assam. However, they are not from the indigenous communities of Assam. They are neither Assamese Hindus nor Assamese Muslims.
We have to depend for these works on Bengali Hindus, immigrant Muslims, people from Bihar or other communities. In the job sector, especially for the jobs in the Central Government, recruitment made during the last few years in different offices indicate that our educated youths are not competent enough to pass the entrance examinations held for such jobs. As a result, almost all the Central Government jobs are being filled up with outsiders, more particularly by the Hindi-speaking job seekers. Thousands of posts in Central Government offices like Railways, the AG office, banks, CPWD etc., are now filled up by the outside candidates. The above picture indicates that we are simply Assamese, nothing else.
Now the recent census report shows that we are even dependant on other communities to save our mother tongue. If some of non-Assamese living in Assam do not declare Assamese as their mother tongue, the Assamese language will lose the majority status in the State. The situation has come to such a pass that to keep the Assamese language as the mother tongue of the major population of Assam, we are now dependant on non-Assamese people. In a nut shell, we are dependant on others for everything. Our aspirations and demands are that all the non-Assamese people living in Assam should record Assamese as their mother tongue, but at the same time, we do not like the Assamese living in rest of the world to declare their mother tongue as Khasi, Naga, Mizo, Bengali, Hindi, Kanada, Tamil etc., although they live in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, West Bengal, North India, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu etc. We like that all non-Assamese people living in Assam should read only Assamese papers, magazines etc., and dislike if somebody do not follow this. During my service life in Shillong, I never saw an Assamese to purchase a local Khasi paper or an English paper published from Shillong. All those gathered at Police Bazar were seen to purchase Assamese papers or other papers published from Guwahati. Nobody bothered to take a copy of Khasi paper because they do not know the Khasi language. Our expectation from the Assamese living abroad is that they should maintain our language, tradition and culture, although they live or some of them are born and brought up in different countries of the world.
Our emotional attachment towards our mother tongue is so strong that we forget the feelings of other communities living in Assam and want that the non-Assamese living in Assam should abandon their own languages, traditions and cultures and instead, they should take the Assamese language, tradition and culture as their own. And so the problem remains to be solved for years together. Keeping all emotions aside, if we try to find time to evaluate the actual problems of Assam as discussed above and take a practical approach towards their solution, the situation is bound to be changed, and only then the people of Assam, especially the Assamese people, will be able to lead a dignified life without depending on others for everything.