GOALPARA, May 4 � �Assamese nationalism has all the hallmarks of civic nationalism as it embodies the values of sociocultural and political freedom for its citizens which aims at attaining and maintaining the identity, unity and autonomy for a vibrant greater Assamese society,� said Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Dhurbajyoti Borah delivering a keynote address at the 7th Dr Mahendra Bora Memorial Lecture on nationalism and its contemporary relevance. The lecture, held recently at Goalpara College here, was organised by the Goalpara College Teachers Association (GCTA).
Dwelling on the subject, Dr Borah said the strands or characteristics of Assamese nationalism are quite different from the concept of the 19th century modern European nationalism, giving rise to many modern territorial nation states which were more or less based in race and racism.
�For example, the Nazi Germany gave their interpretation by giving sole emphasis on race as the unifying force behind German nationalism, and so does the Kosovo conflict which was racial or ethnic conflict in nature,� he added.
Dr Borah said ethnic nationalism is the most important present day sociopolitical issue in Assam. While comparing it with Indian nationalism, he pointed out that it was the political campaign or the movement against the British imperialism that preceded unification of many states or ethnic nationalities giving rise to India as a political entity which was later structured on linguistic basis after independence.
Referring to the anti-foreigner�s movement as little nationalism, he said that the Assam movement failed to serve the needs of greater Assamese community or include the aspirations of all the ethnic or smaller minority groups, which later became one of the factors that culminated in the growth of ethnic nationalism in the State with various ethnic groups beginning to raise their voice for political autonomy.
Dr Borah said that even though the emotions of little or ethnic nationalism can turn into powerful mass movements, which sometimes lead to capture of legitimate power, it may also fuel chauvinistic, ultranationalist and parochial trends. He said that nationalism does not grow overnight or spontaneously, but it requires well planned strategies, programmes and objectives to capture legitimate power.
Elaborating on the contemporary relevance of nationalism, Dr Borah said that ethnic nationalism is a reality in today�s Assam, and �we cannot deny its existence, but we have to live with it.� He said, �we have to see that these movements do not take a violent turn due to inherent tensions and conflicts or pent up grievances due to the inability of the state to meet their legitimate demands.�
Dr Borah also mentioned that the Assamese nationalism, which is civic in nature should be able to accommodate and include all the ethnic groups or ethnic nationalists under the umbrella of �greater Assamese society� and partly due to this reason, the ethnic nationalists are by and large not anti-Assamese.
�The Assamese nationalist should be able to recognise their autonomy as well as their ethnic nationalism even though some conflicting issues are raised by different ethnic groups at various times, but in totality, it can be said that the formation of the greater Assamese society is going on,� he said.
On the subject of immigration, Dr Borah said that it creates a sense of fear among the indigenous population and they express their hostility towards these outsiders seeing them competing for the limited economic resources, resulting into ethnic flare-ups of violent nature from time to time.
The Sabha president while giving an example of an immigrant wishing to become a British citizen where he/she has to opt and learn the English language irrespective of his/her mother tongue, opined that an Assamese is the one who opts for Assamese language as the first or second language irrespective of his/her mother tongue.
On his concluding remarks, Dr Borah said that the Asam Sahitya Sabha as an institution should not depend on others but must be able to withstand on its own by strengthening its resources.
The meeting was presided over by GCTA president Prof. Ramesh Barman, while Dr Subhash Barman gave a detailed account on the contributions of Dr Borah in various fields. People from diverse background besides the college students attended the lecture.