A civilization going down the drain in Assam

I came across a nice article by Mr. Wasbir Hussain on the demographic uncertainties facing Assam. It was published in the South Asia Terrorism Portal in September, 2004.

I have always been vocal about the problems that are arising in Assam because of illegal immigration taking place from Bangladesh. Let me reaffirm here that I am no way an anti Muslim person. I respect the religion and the people alike but here I am worried about my state. I have absolutely no problem with the indigenous people of my state including the Muslims who are there as an integral part of Assam. But, Assam is facing a crisis which might lead to a loss of its own identity and I am concerned about that. The consequences could be gruesome and the indigenous people may lose their home place forever.

According to the 2001 national census, approximately 30% of the population in Assam consists of Muslims. And the districts which are near the Bangladesh border are predominantly Muslim majority ones. Bangladesh is a small country but with a population which is far beyond its control. The easy way out for the people there is to sneak into India through the porous borders. Better ’employment opportunities’ and a state government which always turns blind eye towards this problem helps them in making Assam their abode.

The BSF soldiers guarding the borders are as corrupt as any government official in the state secretariat. They compromise with the country’s own security for a few extra dimes. Once, a single member of a Bangladeshi family is IN, he will ensure that he will bribe the BSF and get the rest of his family members inside within a short period of time. After that, they spread all the way to other parts of the state… Then they either encroach into the government owned lands like sanctuaries, national parks or manage to stay on the river islands or on their banks.

The implications could be aplenty. I will divide all of them into a few different categories:

Geo-political: All of us know about the vote bank politics in the country. Now, these immigrants very well know that if bootlicker party like Congress is in power, then they do not have anything to worry about. On the other side, we have the AGP (Asom Gana Parishad) and BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party) as opposition which has never been formidable. AGP is trying to make up for its lost grounds whereas BJP is still trying to make its presence felt in the state. The opposition is not united and their vote bank is dwindling. So, getting these two parties back onto the stage is going to be very difficult unless the people of Assam realize that it is now or never. Looking at the awareness level and the lackadaisical attitude of the Assamese masses, that possibility also seems like a dream which will never become a reality. Another major issue that is arising out is the emergence of Islamic militancy in the state. There are many major Muslim Liberation jihadi factions already operational in Assam. AL Qaeda is building a follower base with help from ISI’s presence in Bangladesh. ULFA, which once fought the ‘Indian government’ for the sovereignty of the state, is now no more than a puppet in the hands of ISI. The whole media is focused on Kashmir and its politics but taking advantage of that very same callousness, ISI has built a nice base in Assam. If not controlled now itself, this will spread like a gangrene which will destroy the entire north east.

Social: I being a native of Assam can very well differentiate the Bangladeshis from the indigenous people. These immigrants are living on tight budgets. They work hard to earn a few bucks and manage to survive. But, when they see that people are relatively affluent, they resort to bad means. Theft, dacoity, robbery etc. have increased in the state. It is very risky now-a-days to walk late or leave the doors ajar. Incidents of rape, killings and other such crimes are heard more often than not. I do not put the blame solely on these immigrants, but 80-85 % of the time it is these people who are involved in such bad activities. Our social security is at stake.

Cultural: This is also very sad. These immigrants are also influencing the cultural scene in Assam. They are slowly displacing the indigenous people from the hot beds of Assamese cultures like Brotodua and Barpeta. To add to the woes, you would see modern pop songs in Assam made exclusively for these Bangladeshis in their native dialects.

Governmental: Thanks to the ‘foresightedness’ of our current CM, a crucial ministry was given to some one who is a pro-Bangladeshi. All major recruitment drives for home guards, Assam Police constables and officers have become favorable for these immigrants. There are people in the state ministry who love them and who work for them. Now imagine a situation where more than half of the Assam Police force comprises of people who are either Bangladeshis or pro-Bangladeshis. What will happen to justice for the indigenous people? Will ever justice be imparted? I doubt so… More so the same thing will happen in other departments as well. Take some 10 odd years, and you will see that these immigrants will start getting precedence in all state government run institutions like medical colleges, engineering colleges, universities and vocational courses. The government funds created for the welfare of the people of India will be wasted on these illegal immigrants.

Readers might be wondering how these people manage to show their identity as being indigenous. Forged documents are not hard to create.

The IMDT Act was revoked but the state government has come up with another replacement. I do not understand why the opposition cannot stand up to the state government. Why such laziness when they also know that nothing is going well? State bodies like AASU who have great bargaining powers should have been able to do something material by now.

I want to do something but don’t know what to do. Thinking about the state always discourages me and fills my heart with sadness. What is it that the youngsters who are good can do? There are so many talented individuals who are from Assam and who are proud of their state. These people want to do something worthwhile but it seems no one knows what to do. I am no exception.

When it rained…

Last night, it rained cats and dogs here in Bangalore.

And, Yahoo! locals was also launched… 🙂

We had an all hands meet at the Hotel Ashoka Grande in the evening yesterday. It is a quarterly meeting (is it?) where all the achievers from the Yahoo! offices in Bangalore get recognized. There was a small beer cum snacks party after the meet. We were there when the cake was cut and it was nice to see people celebrating their efforts which made Yahoo! locals a reality.

Ummm… coming back to rain… It was simply awesome. The smell coming out of the raw soil when rain drops kissed it took me back to my childhood days. We used to have this big green field in front of our home where I used to play cricket, football, hide and seek etc. etc. There was a nice beautiful river that flowed by an embankment that was erected to prevent floods. Whenever the weather turned rainy, I and my friends used to swirl around running with arms wide open to feel the soothing effect of the soft wind that blew just before a heavy downpour. The whole atmosphere used to be so exciting… dark clouds up on the sky… air oozing perfume of the flowers that traveled distances…

Ours was like a small farm house then… We had some goats… some hens… a small orchard consisting of guava, mangoes and some other fruits. Now as a habit, goats fear water like anything. A small rain drop falls and they used to scream on top of their voices. They had ropes tied to their necks and the other end would have big pegs made of bamboo which would be put inside the soil to prevent the goats from moving away. When rain came, Maa would ask me to extirpate the pegs and release the goats. I would not take umbrella because I used to love running in the rain. Goats used to scream more when they saw me… When I released them, they would waste no time and run as fast as they could to their shade where some tree leaves would already be in place for them to eat.

Those days are gone… The beautiful home where I grew up belongs to some one else now because it was a government bungalow for doctors. I am grown up… We have shifted to our own house… We don’t have goats anymore… But, I miss those days… There was only happiness around. It was a small village where everyone knew everyone else… Festivals were celebrated with great enthusiasm… New Year picnics were annual affairs… Life was so devoid of complicacy. Thinking about those days, I feel growing up has only been a curse.

Since I cannot relive those days, I decided to get drenched last night. Rain started falling down as and when I stepped out of the cab. But I did not rush to my apartment… Instead I was taking my own sweet little time and looking up on the sky while walking. The rain drops were hitting me on my face… the wind was blowing… It was a nice experience after a really long time.

I have a suggestion: If you are coming back from office or you don’t have anything very urgent and rainfall starts, then get drenched in it for atleast once. Feel the tiny droplets of rain hitting your face… See how beautiful nature is and how great a feeling it is to be like a kid when you are grown up!

I am not going home

2nd term exams are over… The most grueling term ever. Manfest, Live Project, College Acads, Summer Placements, Index, I-brands all squeezed into one small term… One can only feel it. Finally, it is all over. Now looking forward to Manfest’08. Many events have already been launched and I won’t even think twice before proclaiming it to be the largest B-school festival in India. Be it the number of events, the amount of prizes – We are the Numero Uno!

I am not going home… Will have a lot of work related to Manfest. My mother was saying that the situation in Assam is worsening with every passing day. She is in fact happy that I am not going home… Because you hear about train blasts, blown up oil pipelines, accidents, protests, police firings… My dear state is literally in tatters.

I some times wonder what would happen to the future of Assam? Where are we heading? Is there any future or there is nothing to be seen? The political leadership in Assam has always been the lose factor. They cannot stand up in front of the Central Govt. and ask for their due rights. In fact, according to me, the greatest reason behind Assam’s lack of development and penury is the absence of a quality leader. A leader has to be a visionary. He should have the ability to gauge the future… No point cribbing about it though.

Recently, there was a protest march in the state capital by a group of under privileged people from the Tea belt of Assam. Now God knows why, but they came with spears, bows and all those primitive arms to display their angst and solidarity. They were placing a demand for Scheduled Tribes status… Whatever maybe the outcome, suddenly due to some mischief makers in the group, things turned violent. The protesters started vandalizing the shops near the city roads, burnt vehicles, beat up people and created a scene which the state government or the leaders (of that group) should have foreseen. But as usual, things are always slow in Assam. It started getting awry… The police came late and there was utter chaos on the roads of the state capital. As per reports, the police came around 1 hour late… which was very surprising because the location of the incident was hardly 1-2 KMs away from the state capital complex… which has a good and “well equipped” police station nearby. Atleast the government should have anticipated some troubles… Rapid Action force or CRPF could have been put on guard… Anyways, what irritates me the most is that the government always turns its eyes blind to these problems. Their statements are the worst ones… simply put forth irresponsibly.

My greatest fear is that this is only the tip of the ice berg. My childhood was spent near the beautiful tea gardens. I remember the days when every day after school, I used to ride my bicycle through the small curvy roads between the tea gardens. Now the situation is that you cannot allow a kid to go alone in those places… Leave aside bicycling, it has become risky for non “tea people” to venture into those areas during dark. What is happening? “Tea people” were kind hearted and jovial people who always displayed a “happy go lucky” attitude. My first set of friends from the childhood days were sons of tea garden workers. I know them very well… What has gone wrong? Is this a prequel to many such civil problems in Assam or is this just another story? I think the worst one is still to come.

The demographic changes in Assam are creating havoc internally. You don’t have employment. The natural resources are depleting… I feel like crying when I see the beautiful hills gradually becoming bald. Apparently, the Assamese tea industry is also not doing well… Thanks to competition from Ceylon. People do not see any future… basic amenities are missing. No food, no housing, no health treatments, nothing… What will the people do? They indulge in crimes… I am not saying what they are doing is correct but this is basic economics. When there is no future, you see a civil war. Yes! Assam is slowly and gradually moving towards a civil war. Sigh sigh… The leadership is asleep… and it will be always.

I do not know what needs to be done. But I want to do something. But I also do not know how to do… but there is no hope. I just hope Assam does not become another promised land … this time for US!!!