The arithmetic of census 2011 language data

The recently talked about census data vis-à-vis the threat to Assamese identity seems to be a routine exercise going on for decades. No doubt the census data of 2001 was alarming given that for the first time less than 50% people of the state had returned Assamese as their mother tongue. But there is not much difference between the data of 2001 and 2011.

A section of the intellectuals  state that the biggest threat to Assamese people are the 90 lac and above Bengali speaking people residing in Assam

It is not difficult to calculate the figure of 90 lac Bengali speaking people. Let’s look at the tables below.

 

Cachar 17.4
Karimganj 12.2
Hailakandi 6.59
Total 36.2

 

The total population of the above Bengali speaking districts in 2011 was 36.2 lac. Even if we  assume that 90% people in these districts are Bengali speaking the figure works out to be 32.54 lac.

Nagaon 16
Morigaon 5
Darrang 6
Dhubri 16
Goalpara 6
Barpeta 12
Bongaigaon 4
Total 65

 

The above table indicates Muslim population (in lac) in seven Muslim majority districts of Brahmaputra valley. Though it is inappropriate to state that the 65 lac Muslims of these districts are Bangladesh/East Pakistan/ British time old Bengal province or even Sylhet district of British Assam origin people, but anybody would concede that a large majority of them are immigrants from present day Bangladesh and speak different dialects spoken in Bangladesh. In my humble assessment the total immigrant Muslim population in these districts should be between 45 and 50 lac.

So it is evident that the Bengali speaking population figure in Assam can be 90 lac only if a large majority of immigrant  Muslims return their mother tongue as Bengali.

The arithmetic breaks a few myths:

  • The immigrant Muslims don’t pose linguistic threat to Assamese people as they have assimilated into Assamese society (this is a notion propagated by many Assamese intellectuals including Hiren Gohain and also by political parties like AIUDF).
  • The immigrant Muslims have helped Assamese nationalists by returning their mother tongue as Assamese and thereby making Assam an Assamese majority state( as alleged by  many immigrant Hindu Bengalis).

Perhaps due to strong political awareness it would not be possible to create a Tripura like situation in Assam. I don’t know if immigration continues even now from across Bangladesh border despite so many anti foreigner measures undertaken by the government, but the higher birth rate of immigrant Muslims will continue to affect linguistic balance in Assam adversely. Also we have to wait and see if the NRC exercise would help the indigenous communities retain political power in Assam.

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Brahmaputra for Bhulungtupur, Singhason for Muring-Muring, Dengaon for Den Arong

I feel that anybody closely following the Karbi Anglong  lynching incident should also go through the article available at http://www.drongoexpress.com/2018/06/19/joint-orgs-of-karbi-anglong-demands-justice-nilotpal-das-and-abhijit-nath/.

The article is about the reaction of some organizations from Karbi Anglong on the incident. I believe that the article doesn’t necessarily represent the Karbi point of view, but still I want to discuss  the following excerpts from the article.

“The organizations said that they suspect the hand of Bangasena in the Kangthilangso episode”. The article notes. We hope that the organizations have furnished sufficient inputs to administration in this regard. Personally I have across the term”Bangasena” for the first time.

“The organizations said that their names, surnames and countless places have been replaced by Sanskritized one after another most notable include Brahmaputra for Bhulungtupur, Singhason for Muring-Muring, Dengaon for Den Arong, Baithalangso for Vothatlangso, Bakalia for Volongkom Aji etc. If this trend of changing names and surnames of Karbi people and names of places continue then the identities of Karbis and their habitations will be obliterated.” -The concerns/anguishes may be valid. Renaming Brahmaputra may be little difficult but for rest of the places the Assamese community should endorse Karbi sentiments. If there is serious opposition to “Sanskritization” it must be respected.

“Moreover, the organizations has also demanded enquiries into killings and murders that took place in Karbi Anglong in the past 30 years including young son of Mudgil and Kadom Terangpi, EN Jarumohon Basumatary, Chereng Teron, headman Kehai Teron and his wife Ka-et Ronghangpi who were mercilessly murdered in their farm house at Mijung Teron village in December 2017, Sing Timung , Jenisa Ingtipi, Balipathar encounter victims, Archana Timungpi, a chemistry student of Cotton College who was mysteriously drowned in the Brahmaputra at Umananda temple, Guwahati on 12-06-2016. The organization said Archana was beaten up in the courtyard of DC’s Court in Guwahati by non-tribal persons”….

I am not much aware of the above incidents. Though the organizations have not blamed the Assamese community for the above noted incidents directly, but they seem to suggest it. We need to talk about these incidents more openly and try to ensure that justice is done.

In the whole article I could not trace words such as superstition, child lifters, rumors etc. I am still not convinced that it was a case of mob violence triggered by the real or fictitious fear of child lifters.

There seems to be unaddressed pent up communal anger. So far I am unable to figure any root cause. But there must be dialogues among the communities in Assam to ascertain if there are justified grounds of animosity and distrust and find a way forward.

কাৰ্বি আংলঙৰ সাম্প্ৰ্তিক ঘ্টনাবলী

 

কাৰ্বি আংলঙৰ সাম্প্ৰ্তিক ঘ্টনাবলী লৈ বহু আলোচনা হৈছে । বিশেষকৈ এই ঘ্টনাই আৰু কেইটামান ইতিপুৰ্বে ঘটি যোৱা ঘট্নাৰ বিষয়ে জনসাধাৰনক ভবাই তুলিছে ।

মিঠু দাসৰ লগত কি হৈছিল সেয়া আমি নাজানো । প্ৰ্কাশ পাইছে যে তেওক একেকেইজন অপৰাধী্য়েই তালিবানী কায়্দাৰে হত্যা কৰিছিল । দোষাৰোপ কৰা হৈছিল যে মিঠু দাসে কোনো জনজাতীয় মহিলাক ধৰ্ষণ কৰিছিল । এই ঘ্টনা প্ৰ্চাৰ মাধ্যমত কিয় সবিশেস আলোচনা নহল বুজি নাপালো ।

২০১৩ চনত ঝ্ংকাৰ শইকীয়াক ডিফুৰ ৰাজপথত কেইজনমান আটোচালকে নিৰ্মম ভাবে হ্ত্যা কৰিছিল, তেওৰ দেউতাকৰ সন্মুখতেই ।অটো ভাৰা লৈ হোৱা এটা সামান্য কাজিয়া পৰিবৰ্তিত হ্য় সাম্প্ৰ্দায়িক আক্ৰ্মনত । বাতৰিত প্ৰ্কাশ যে হত্যাকাৰীয়ে এতি্য়াও মুকলি আকাশৰ তলত বিচৰণ কৰিছে, আইনী আসোৱাহৰ সুবিধা লৈ।

৮ জুনত হোৱা ঘ্টনাত্কৈ ওপৰোক্ত ঘ্টনা দুটিৰ পাৰ্থক্য ইয়াতেই যে, ঘ্ট্না দুটিত সাম্প্ৰ্দায়িক দিশটো অতিকে স্পস্ত্ ।ব্যক্তিগত ভাবে মই নীল-অভিজিত হত্যাকান্ডত কুসংস্কাৰ, অনগ্ৰসৰতা বা উৰাবাতৰিৰ প্ৰ্ভাব কাৰক বুলি ভাবিবলৈ টান পাইছো ।

পোহৰলৈ আহিছে যে এই হ্ত্যাকান্ডত জৰিত সকল কেইবাখনো গাৱৰ যুবক, যিসকলৰ বাইক তথা স্মাৰ্ত ফোন আছিল । এয়াও এতিয়া নিশ্চিত হৈছে যে উৰাবাতৰি প্ৰেৰণ কৰাসকলে জানিছিল যে নীল-অভিজিত সোপাধৰা নাছিল । অধিক চিন্তাৰ বিষয় হল যে কিছুস্ংখ্যক গাওবাসীয়ে উৰাবাতৰি প্ৰেৰক সকলক বিশ্বাস কৰিছিল, সেইসকল লোকৰ অপৰাধজনিত অতীতৰ বিষয়ে জানিও ।

সাম্প্ৰ্দায়িকতাৰ বিৰোধিতা কৰাতো আমাৰ সকলোৰে দায়বধ্যতা ।কাৰ্বি আংলঙৰ ঘ্টনাসমুহ সাম্প্ৰ্দায়িকী কৰন অনুচিত, কিম্তু এই ঘ্ট্নাসমুহ্ত সাম্প্ৰ্দায়িকতাৰ বীজ আছে নে নাই সেই বিষয়ে নিৰ্মোহ আলোচনা হোৱা উচিত ।

ৰাজ্য চৰকাৰে কুসংস্কাৰ বিৰোধী অভিযান আৰম্ভ কৰাৰ যোযা কৰা বুলি শুনিব পাৰিছো ।ভাল কথা । সেইদৰেই আমি প্ৰ্কাশ্য ভাবে সাম্প্ৰ্দায়িকতা বিৰোধী অভিযানো কৰা উচিত ।

সাম্প্ৰ্দায়িকতা অকল কাৰ্বি আংলঙ বা অসমেই নহয় , ই ভাৰতৰ চুকে কোনে বিয়পি পৰিছে।

সাম্প্ৰ্দায়িকতাৰ ভিত্তি অকল ধৰ্ম্ নহয় । সে্য়া হব পাৰে ভাষা, গোস্ঠী, ভৌগলিক স্থিতি বা আন কিবা বিভিন্নতা ।

Valuation of Air India, Flipkart and Paytm

The government’s inability to sell Air India and the failure of the defence Make in India project explain one simple thing that governments can’t do business. But it is not just  government, but for most of us business has become an extremely complicated subject.

Many people are in business to earn a living. One can earn a living by doing a business if the business is profitable. But this is not necessarily true.

Air India is loss making. But it has enormous assets. In recent quarters it is “operationally profitable”. Despite that nobody expressed interest to buy Air India.

Now let’s talk about Walmart Rs1600crore acquisition of Flipkart .Flipkart is consistently making losses. In FY17 the reported loss was Rs8771crore.But we love to hear the fairy tale like stories of Bansals and Flipkart. Two IIT alumni started Flipkart. There was no great technology in what they did. They just tried to sell books online and perhaps could sell twenty books in the first year. But fortune favors the brave and they got angel investors and the company’s valuation grew. Finally despite losses the largest ecommerce deal took place.

Except using the app not many of us are aware, what the company Paytm does. Its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma is one of the most influential young Indians. But his companies keep reporting losses year after year. At Rs1000crore annual loss the company is valued at Rs1000crore.

In an article published in 2017 (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/transportation/airlines-/-aviation/how-much-is-air-india-really-worth-investment-bankers-weigh-in/articleshow/59506525.cms) Air India valuation was put at least  Rs16000 crore.

But in another article published in 2014(https://www.firstpost.com/business/the-real-value-of-all-indian-airlines-put-together-re-1-406266.html) Air India valuation was put at Rs1/.

Sadly for the government valuation done in 2014 proved to be correct in May 2018.

Understanding or explaining valuation of business is not my cup of tea. But I too have a dream of running a loss making but high value business.

The inspiring journey of Rima Das

“People don’t like me because I don’t have money”. Raseswar  Bora, the protagonist of Jahnu Barua’s  successful film “Halodhia Choraye Baodhan khai” had said so. The film got the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in 1988.After 30 years another Assamese film bagged the award, Rima Das’s “Village Rockstars”.

The film is about a poor village girl child who fights the challenges surrounding her and does everything to own a guitar and to become a rockstar. It is a simple film with a message like “Halodhia Choraye Baodhan khai”.

But Rima Das is no Jahnu Barua. She is not a trained filmmaker. With her qualifications she could have settled down as a professor. But she chose to follow her heart. Already she has made three movies that can be described as “one woman show”, because she is the director, producer, story writer and so on and so forth of all her movies. All her films won regional, national or even international awards.

Rima Das had constraints. She had to shelve her dream of becoming a bollywood actor, one of the reasons being her limited Hindi speaking skill. In film making the obvious constraint was money. But she was able to manage money through self funding and capture global audience so as to get sufficient return of her investment and continue making films.

Rima Das’s journey from Kalardia village near Chaygaon to Guwahati and then to Pune and Mumbai is inspiring. Hope she continues to excel in her creative endeavor and also continues gifting us the likes of Bhanita Das who won the Best Child Artist award.

Air India privatization process

“When are you getting married pilot?” One of the airhostesses asked the pilot. The ATR aircraft of Air India had halted at Dimapur airport on its way to Imphal  from Guwahati.

I was half-asleep. In order to catch the early morning flight I was extra cautious and could not sleep properly at night. After waiting for almost an hour we realized that  no passenger boarded at Dimapur to fly to Imphal. The airhostess congratulated me for being in a “charter flight”.

I must thank Air India for allowing me to hire a “charter flight” at virtually no cost. I nurture a dream that on some day I would tell my grandchildren that I too moved around in a “charter flight”. But while I was in the “charter flight” the problems of Air India had begun. Policy makers decided to raise Air India’s debt in order to increase its fleet size. But it was not earning enough to repay the debt. The rising losses speeded up a national consensus that Air India must be privatized.

But there are strong voices against the privatization move. The TMC, the CPI(M) and even the Shiv Sena call Air India a symbol of national pride. The advice of parliamentary standing committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture is that the privatization decision should be shelved.

The first NDA government had clarity on privatizing Air India. But it lacked sufficient numbers in the parliament. Despite being an absolute majority government the Modi led NDA is somewhat unsure about what to do with Air India. It took three years to give an “in principle” approval to privatize Air India. Recently an expression of interest is published by the government seeking to divest 76 per cent government stake in Air India.

Why should the government run non viable businesses? It should perhaps do so when there are bigger social objectives. Any such objective seems to be missing in the aviation sector.

The government has limited time to complete the divestment before the next general elections. It is now acknowledged by all that the 2019 general elections are wide open.  If the privatization is not completed by then a changed power center in Delhi would certainly derail the privatization process.

Budget speech of Assam Finance Minister

I spent quite some time going through the budget speech by the Finance Minister present in http://assamassembly.gov.in/budget-speech-2018-19-english.pdf. No doubt the preparation of a state budget which can meet people’s expectation is a daunting task. To criticize and find faults is easy. Moreover the government reached out to all citizens seeking suggestions through newspaper ads. I have not heard much about public response but I presume there were many suggestions.

 

But I am not sure if it is indeed a growth oriented or pro people budget.

Tea gardens and tea Industry

The eighteen flagship programs  or the  “Astadash Mukutar Unnoyonee Mela”are nothing new and could be treated as regular developmental  activities. The Finance Minister rightly puts in his speech that the nation mostly associates the image of Assam with tea. Tea appears to be a primary focus in the budget mostly by way of welfare programs for tea garden workers. The budget speech refers to “fluctuating fortunes of the Tea Industry” but no action plan found in the budget to face the challenge except some relief to small tea growers.

The budget provision to give smart phones to tea garden Sardars sounds funny. One such Sardar is a good friend of mine. When I called him up he said he was unaware of any such government scheme but he already has more than one smart phone.

Flood, erosion and dredging in the Brahmaputra river

The budget does not talk much about flood, erosion and dredging. Flood and erosion are the two most major threats to the state. Dredging in Brahmaputra river was a pet project of the Chief Minister till recently .But the budget says that the government only “contemplates to start corrective dredging in Brahmaputra and Barak”  and “proposes to purchase a dredger” that mean  we are again going to be helpless in the next round of floods.

Hundreds of schools lack facilities

The Finance Minister in his budget speech says that through Gunotsav the government has discovered that hundreds of our schools lack basic facilities such as separate classrooms, provision of electricity etc. The dilapidated conditions of most of the government run schools agonize us. The very first agenda of the “Astadash Mukutar Unnoyonee Mela” is provision of additional classrooms, partition walls and electricity in elementary schools. I feel it could have been simply put as renovation of infrastructure of all government run schools. In one place I have read the plan of upgrading Ulubari HS School in Guwahati into model Integrated Academic Centre of Excellence. I am keen on observing the developments soon.

Tourism Department: Awesome Assam

In the budget speech the Finance Minister mentions that the government had initiated rigorous branding, international road shows etc to put Assam on the tourist map of the continent. But I wanted some insight about the role of the brand ambassador and the cost benefit analysis. I learnt that under home stay infrastructure development scheme “Amar Alohi”, 31 entrepreneurs have been selected. But 31 is not an encouraging number.

 

 

Monthly stipend for purchase of sanitary napkins

It is nice to learn about the government’s resolve to improve women’s health and safeguard her dignity. But I am not quite sure how will the government ensure utilisation of the stipend of Rs600/ per year for the intended purpose.

 

North East Foundation

The Finance Minister announces setting up of North East Foundation which will act as a think tank for the region and that the government of Assam will provide seed fund to the foundation. My apprehension is that it is going to be one more non functional entity, because we don’t lack any “think tanks”.

Thought provoking abbreviations

In the end I would like to thank the Finance Minister for some truly thought provoking abbreviations, in addition to the poems, verses and slokas.

 

ReSTART : Restructuring Systems and Technology for Augmentation of Resources for Transformed Assam

LEAP: Lead Externally Aided Projects

ACCSADP: Assam Citizen Centric Service Delivery Project.

Crossing the Lines

When Harbhajan Singh abused Andrew Symonds as “Teri M**key”, Symonds complained to the authorities that he was racially abused. But Harbhajan didn’t mean “monkey”, it was much more disgusting. We don’t know whether anybody explained it to Andrew Symonds but such expletives are common in North India and Pakistan. In the ambience of a tough cricket match such words are commonly used and therefore Harbhajan Singh got away without much trouble.

The alumni of famous Banaras Hindu University “fondly” recollect “Inter College Inter Hostel Gali” competition night, where the male boarders outshout  male students from other hostels. The “Galis” or abuses are directed at mothers and sisters. Talented young men of the University show their talents in framing innovative Hindi expletives but again using “mother” and “sister” words.

In January 2017 a video went viral which showed Vijay Shekhar Sharma ,India’s business icon celebrating the profits gifted by demonetization. In the video he was dancing and shouting expletives. We all know what those expletives are.

We are habituated to such words and normalize and get along. But somewhere we cross the lines.

Scene 1:

The senior professional was making a comparative analysis of two products,one product from his company and the other product from a competitor company “E****r”. The senior professional said “See guys, E****r has s*****d the product, pardon ladies”.  The lady professionals smiled and took it in good spirit. When the gentleman ended his long speech, another professional complemented him by saying “So guys, let’s s***w E****r ,pardon ladies”. There was smile all around again.

Scene 2:

The senior sales professional was lecturing about “passion” and to be “passionate” . He said “Passion is like …I will s***w a sixteen year old girl even at the age of sixty”. All the female employees in the room walked out.

No doubt in Scene2  the senior sales professional crossed the lines.

And perhaps Papon crossed the lines and I presume he can’t  escape the legal dragnet. But the media trial to project him as a pervert is not acceptable.

স্বচ্ছ সৰ্বেক্ষণ

গুৱাহাটীৰ বাটে পথে “স্বচ্ছ সৰ্বেক্ষণ” ৰ প্ৰাচীৰ পত্ৰিকা দেখিছো ।“ স্বচ্ছ সৰ্বেক্ষণ” শব্দ যুটি শুনি ধাৰনা হয় যে এয়া অসমী্য়া ভাষাত এক নতুন স্ংযোজন । স্বচ্ছ যাক ইংৰাজী ভাষাত কোৱা হয় TRANSPARENT বুলি । সৰ্বেক্ষন শব্দৰ অৰ্থ সম্পৰ্কে মই নিশ্চিত ন্হয় ।প্ৰাচীৰ পত্ৰিকা বিলাকৰ দ্বাৰা চৰকাৰে সম্ভব্ত পৰিস্কাৰ পৰিচ্ছনতাৰ বিষয়ে অবগত কৰিব বিচাৰিছে ।

দুখৰ বিষয় যে আমি অসমত এটা স্বচ্ছ(TRANSPARENT) ব্যব্স্থা অথবা পৰিস্কাৰ পৰিচ্ছ্ন্ন পৰিবেশ নাপালো ।

ভাৰত  চৰকাৰৰ  এটি  বিশেষ পদক্ষেপ “ স্বচ্ছ ভাৰত অভিযান” । এই অভিযান  অবশ্যে বিফল হোৱা বুলি কোৱা  অতি সৰলীকৰণ কৰা হব ।কিছুদিন আগতে মধ্যপ্ৰ্দেশৰ বানিজ্যিক চহৰ  ইন্দোৰ  ভ্ৰ্মন কৰি মই এই ধাৰনা লবলৈ বাধ্য হ’লো ।

ইন্দোৰ  চহৰৰ বাট পথ পৰিপাটী  তথা পৰিস্কাৰ । বিশেসকৈ মন্দিৰ বিলাকৰ  চৌহদ সমূহ অতি  পৰিচ্ছ্ন্ন ।

জানিব পাৰিলো যে ২০১৭ চনত ইন্দোৰ  ভাৰতৰ  সবাতোকৈ পৰিস্কাৰ  চহৰ  হিচাপে  স্বীকৃত হৈছিল।

এই  সাফল্য  নিশ্চিতভাবে মধ্য প্ৰ্দেশ (ভা জ পা) চৰকাৰৰ, তাৰ প্ৰ্শাসনৰ লগতে ৰাজ্যখনৰ জনসাধাৰণৰ ।

State Power Scenario: The Assam Tribune Editorial

While reading the editorial I felt that I had read it before also. It does not contain any fresh information. It is widely acknowledged that the power scenario in Assam is grim. The state owned power companies are not doing well.  It referred to some ADB loan to state power sector but there is no elaboration.

But the editorial does not mention a word about Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana or UDAY scheme which is considered as the key solution for the debt ridden loss making state owned power distribution companies. Government of Assam, central power ministry and Assam Power Distribution Company entered into an agreement in January last year bringing the state of Assam under the purview of UDAY scheme. The UDAY scheme presents a roadmap of turning around the state power sector. The Assam Tribune editorial was expected to highlight the progress made under UDAY scheme in one year.

At present the all India power scenario is also vexing. The country as a whole is facing a situation of excess capacity but inadequate demand,making power generation unprofitable business. Therefore to talk about self sufficiency in power generation is inappropriate, at least in the prevailing circumstances.

The Assam Tribune editorial is apprehensive about power tariff hike by the government in future. But the state is bound to hike power tariff as per UDAY scheme.

The editorial board is expected to do more research on issues of serious importance.