[lg policy] Asam Sahitya Sabha gives government two-month ultimatum on use of Assamese

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Jul 25 11:08:03 EDT 2018

Asam Sahitya Sabha gives government two-month ultimatum on use of Assamese
Kangkan Kalita
| TNN | Jul 24, 2018, 12:29 IST
[image: A meeting between the Assam Sahitya Sabha and seven tribal
organisations of the state in Guwahati on Monday]A meeting between the
Assam Sahitya Sabha and seven tribal organisations of the state in Guwahati
on Monday
GUWAHATI: Asam Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body of the state, on
Monday gave a two-month ultimatum to the state government to start
<https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/start-communications> pertaining
to departmental work in Assamese, as per The Assam Official Language Act
1960, to promote the language.

Raising concern over the decline in the number of Assamese-speaking people
to 48.38% in the recently published Census report, Sahitya Sabha has
demanded that the two state universities - Gauhati University (GU) and
Dibrugarh <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/Dibrugarh> University
(DU) - give students an opportunity to pursue higher education in Assamese
and not compulsorily in English, especially during graduation. The Sabha
also said Assamese must be made compulsory as a subject across all schools.

"The latest Census data is worrying for us. The Assam government, as well
as Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University, have to be blamed for this
alarming decline in the number of Assamese speakers and speakers of some
indigenous language. If urgent steps are not taken to popularize the
language from the school level to university level, it won't be a surprise
if the percentage of Assamese-speaking people diminish to about 25% in the
2021 Census," said Sabha president Paramananda Rajbongshi after a meeting
between with seven tribal literary organizations in the city.

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After the meeting, Sabha officials said the state government must make
teaching of Assamese as a language and subject compulsory across all
schools located in the Brahmaputra Valley as well as Bengali-majority Barak
Valley <https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/Barak-Valley>.

The 2001 Census had already set alarm bells ringing among the Assamese
community in the state, with the percentage of Assamese-speaking people in
the state declining from 57.81% (as recorded in the 1991 Census) to 48.8%.
The 2011 Census figures showed a further decline in this figure to 48.38%.

Hitting out at the GU and DU authorities for allegedly neglecting Assamese,
Rajbongshi said Assamese-speaking students are facing trouble as they
cannot appear in some vital exams conducted by the universities in English.
"We demand that the two state universities implement Assamese language
<https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/Assamese-language> truly. Books
meant for the university students should also be made available in Assamese
language. Besides, the private universities must come out with an
explanation within these two months on how they have contributed towards
promoting Assamese and other local languages," Rajbongshi added.

During Monday's meeting with the seven tribal literary organizations,
discussions were held on the state's language policy, which is to be
suggested jointly by the literary organizations to the state government in
first week of August.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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