ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Data on Minorities

Political Intrigue SANJIB BARUAH's 'Western Cultural Boundary of Assam' (November 4) sets out on an intrepid journey with a breath-taking historical howler and arrives at a destination much in favour with bureaucrats of the home ministry in New Delhi. Instead of promoting structural changes in the economy of this neglected state, New Delhi has helped maintain the old colonial pattern in a new guise, with the people of the state importing from the rest of India most of the goods in daily use, including essential food articles, and sullenly witnessing the spoliation of the natural resources of the state by metropolitan industry and trade. No wonder there is seething discontent and unrest among different sections of the population. Since foreign and Indian big capital have no intention of abandoning their right to plunder, they tackle this problem by fomenting discord among the different local communities and dismembering the state into smaller and smaller units. All in the name of the right of self-determination! Without industrialisation Assam can scarcely solve the myriad problems that follow from prolonged underdevelopment. It is here that, in spite of raucous publicity, the government has failed dismally. And western Assam is the part of the state that has suffered most in recent decades from the burden of underdevelopment. Various militant ethnic movements are already on the boil in this part of the state. As usual, instead of addressing the fundamental problem the government of India seems to be thinking of creating a new state out of parts of western Assam and north Bengal. The process of nationality-formation in Assam, already slowed down and hindered by such underdevelopment, is bound to suffer a serious setback if that vile scheme is carried through.

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