GUWAHATI, Sept 28 - �At a time when Assamese nationalistic organisations, institutions and forces need to be strengthened, they are instead, being weakened. Today Assamese society is at crossroads and there is no telling which direction it will take in future. There is an urgent need to take the reins of power back into our hands in order to impose a central, unifying authority. But, it seems a far cry the manner the present scenario is unfolding.�
Delivering the 15th Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Lecture 2019, distinguished writer-columnist Arup Kumar Dutta made the above remark, pinpointing some of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the greater Assamese society, tracing its evolution and explaining the significance of its genesis in today�s context.
The 15th edition of the lecture series was organised today in the memory of Brajamohan Sarma, an advocate and social activist, by the memorial trust instituted in his name. The lecture titled �Assam at a crossroad� was delivered at the Vivekananda Kendra here.
Dutta stressed that the Assamese intelligentsia must analyse the causes of a gradual feeling of alienation by different indigenous communities. �Gone are the days when the Asam Sahitya Sabha or the AASU were the representatives of the Assamese people. Today, every community has their own students� union and Sahitya Sabha,� he added.
Focusing on the gradual dissolution of the sense of Assamese nationalism and the fractures that have appeared in the bigger Assamese race, Dutta said that there have been various attempts to define the word �Assamese� in the context of implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and that in the process several indigenous communities have expressively said they are not and have never been �Assamese�.
�This is patented distortion of history,� said Dutta adding that the distinctive Assamese identity has evolved through centuries and indigenous communities are at the heart of that inclusive identity.
Delving into the history of Assam and the Assamese, he brought the reference of the Ahom ruler Rudra Singha and his preparations to conquer Bengal and beyond, which was a part of Mughal territory in 1714, which had spontaneous support of the Kachari, Chutiya, Jaintia and other tribes and communities.
He also referred to Mongoloid influx from the east and north, arrival of Caucasoid elements from the west and their mingling with the already existing Austro-Asiatic components of Assam, to bring home the point of centuries of the assimilation process in Assam that eventually resulted in the evolution of the greater Assamese society.
Highlighting the need for having a uniting force in the State to espouse the common cause, he said that during the crisis situations like the Independence movement or more recently the Assam movement when the indigenous identity was threatened, the indigenous communities united and fought against the external forces.
The event was presided over by noted academician Prof Amarjyoti Choudhury, who highlighted the efforts of Brajamohan Sarma to help the disadvantageous sections of society. Speaking about today�s topic, he said Assamese nationalism needs a cementing factor, which cannot be a political force. �It is a concept of unity and the realisation to protect our identity, keeping in mind the concept of universal brotherhood,� he added.