JALUKBARI, July 2 - Several ethnic languages spoken in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh as well as across the international border are today facing the danger of extinction. Unless the government takes urgent steps to protect these languages, there may not be anyone speaking them on the Indian side.
These were the main findings at a research seminar organised by the Centre for Development and Peace Studies (CDPS), in collaboration with the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, at Gauhati University on Monday.
The seminar, �Using ethnicity to connect and establish people-to-people linkages in Southeast Asia as part of India�s Act East Policy�, was part of a research project undertaken by CDPS to analyse the historical and ethnic linkages between India and Southeast Asia, with special focus on the North East, and to analyse how ethnicity may be used to connect people across borders.
Gautam Mukhopadhaya, former ambassador to Myanmar, in his keynote address, emphasised on the �border haats� � where people from both sides can trade in locally produced goods � saying it was a fundamental form in people-to- people relations. He said every language was a kind of storehouse of knowledge and experiences, many of which are captured in folktales, proverbs, etc., and these are easily understood by the people. Rewriting of the folktales by contemporary writers can help preserve those languages.
The study found some homogeneity in the cultures of the tribes of the NE and SE Asia. It found that the patriarchal and democratic social system amongst most of the tribes, shifting cultivation, utensils made from cane and bamboo, raised platform houses, eating smoked meat and fish, consumption of rice beer, wearing homemade dresses, etc, were similar among the tribes of the two regions.
Ravi Capoor, Addl Chief Secretary; Margherita College Principal Dr Buddhin Gogoi; Dr Sangeeta Gogoi, head of the Department of History at Mangaldoi College and Dr Rajen Singh Laishram, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Manipur University also spoke.
Dr Nani Gopal Mahanta, registrar of GU and director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at GU, also spoke. Arunav Goswami, assistant director at CDPS, spoke on the overall findings of the study.