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The 'ST' game

"They had migrated to Asom about 150 years ago as labourers for tea gardens and are not the sons of the soil here. When the Bodos are not given tribal status in other parts of the region like the hill district of Karbi Anglong in Asom and Meghalaya, how do the Adivasis consider themselves as indigenous tribals?" -- Anjali Daimari

The above statement made by Anjali Daimari, the advisor of the Indigenous Women's Forum of North-East India, who is also the President of the Bodo Women Justice Forum, regarding the ST politics in Assam justifies her stand on the issue. If the whole thing is observed apolitically the matter finds its just solution in the second sentence itself and is enough to solve the dispute.

Matters have been worsened further by the interference of politicians of the State of Jharkhand into internal conflicts of Assam and added fuel to fire by rekindling separatist politics. The process of 'Nativization' of the Adivasis was almost complete in Assam but leaders from Jharkhand tried to give a communal colour to the entire situation by sowing seeds of unreliability and identity crisis among the Adivasis of Assam. They have driven a wedge of mistrust among the Adivasis who have been staying in this North-Eastern State for about 150 years and the other people who till now were in harmonious coexistence.

That the tea garden labourers were hired by the British tea planters in Assam is history. The Britishers brought hundreds of Adivasis from the Chhota Nagpur Plateau in Central India to work in the newly established tea gardens in the 19th century Assam. Gradually, there culture and language took a new shape unique to the region after years of assimilation.

The recent upheaval in the community and the active role of politicians in the dispute makes one ponder as to who would be the most benefited by the ST status to the Adivasis in Assam? And, who would be benefited by such categorization at the Centre?

Will it be the politicians in Assam or the ones in Jharkhand as everything ultimately boils down to the number game in the Parliament.

Where were the likes of Arjun Munda, Babulal Marandi or even the notorious self styled so called political leader of Jharkhand, Shibu Soren, since the post-independent era in India? A 'Vote Base' in Assam would definitely make a Mani Kumar Subba of Shibu Soren.

It is high time the layman realizes that, 'ST' label is not a key to an all around socio-economic development as there's nothing lucrative for the community as a whole but it is the politicians who are playing the “vote” game with them.

The contribution of the Adivasis to the economy of Assam is immense. If Assam is known for its Tea, it is because of the toil and sweat of this section of the Assamese populace.

Before being tagged as Adivasis, they are the 'Saah Janagosthi' (i.e., the 'Tea Garden Community') of Assam.

Therefore,going by the logic of aboriginality, the Adivasis cannot be granted the 'status' of 'Scheduled Tribe' in Assam. Again, as I have mentioned earlier, the interference of leaders from Jharkhand have raised questions about the 'indigenousity' or 'nativity' of the Adivasis. From the image of 'Adivasis of Assam', they have been projected as 'Adivasis from Jharkhand'.

Is there any gurantee that the so called 'ST' label will do miracles to the Adivasis at the grass root level? Poverty, Illiteracy, poor sanitary facilities, miserable health facilities, alcohol-addiction among a large number of Adivasi males, superstitious practices like witch-hunting, would they disappear under the ' magic wand' of 'ST' status?

An 'ST' status is not a solution to the woes that afflict the Adivasi society. In order to ensure an all round development of the Adivasis both the State and the Central Governments have to come up with 'Special Economic Packages' for the Tea Garden Community of our State. More than anything else, this marginalised section of Assam needs all around community development schemes in order to be at par with the rest of the population of the State.

But the question here is do the political leaders really want to solve the dispute or do they want to keep it hanging while they reap political mileage?

- Pallavi Barua, (Deptt. of Mass Communication and Journalism), Tezpur University

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Venture High School association demands provincialisation

26 Mar 2017 - 8:25pm | AT Kokrajhar Bureau

The All BTC Venture High School Association demanded immediate provincialised  venture high schools of BTC region,which established by the public of the locallity  to promote educational environment among society on or before 01-01-2006 and received recognisation from SEBA up to date.

There are 73 venture high schools in the four districts of BTC in both Assamese and Bodo medium where over 700 teachers are dedicating their services without any remuneration in the region since long years.

The association on Sunday met BTC deputy chief Kampa Borgoyary,who is also education in-charge and submitted a memorandum in Kokrajhar seeking early provincialisation of venture high schools in the region.

The memorandum signed by Kunjalal Basumatary,president and Binod Brahma Patgiri,secretary of the association stated that the BTC region is educationally backward at the same time educational institution of the area of late established and the official process obtaining department permission and recognisation is lenghty. The educational institution of BTC area which are established by the public of the locallity remained pending due to impotion of ban-blanket. But with the formation of BTC council all the official activities of the venture schols are re-processed.

 Accrding to the provision of the Assam venture educational institution(provincialisation of services) Act. 2011 and its subsequent amendment in 2012 and 2013, many venture high schools of BTC area remained outside the ambit of the act as because of binding of base year of establishment and its department recognisation year  01-01-2006 of the last class.

  In the greater interest of the poor and needy students the public established the educational institution for their upliftment of the education. But, it is matter of deep concern that the educated youth who had been involved as a teacher remained unaddressed,the memorandum read.

The association demanded early provincialisation of venture high schools in BTC region while bringing improvement of healthy education environment.The demands are included, provincialise of all the venture high schools established on or before 01-01-2006 and received class VIII(eight) departmental permission/recognisation from the competent authority of the council government of Bodoland, provincilaise the services of all the teachers without any condition who were appointed on or before 01-01-2006 and approved from competent authority on the regular basis, reduce the condition of enrolment to 15 students in the highest class and reduce condition of pass percentage to 20% from the prescribed condition in HSLC examination.

 Borgoyary, had heard with patience on the demands of the association and expresses his emphasised to make provincialisation of venture high schools as soon as possible in the region to give a healthy educational situation,the association leaders said.

 ‘The teachers are dedicated their services in the schools since incention without any remuneration in the region.Teachers are on hope with positive expectation that venture schools would be provincialised in immediate manner by council administration’, the association leaders added.

Rajnath wraps up stock taking visit

30 Jul 2016 - 4:15pm | AT News

Union home minister Rajnath Singh has wrapped up his stock taking visit to the flood-hit Assam on Saturday where 36 people lost their lives.
Accompanied by minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju and DoNER minister Dr Jitendra Prasad, Singh arrived in Guwahati in the morning and made an aerial survey in the flood –hit areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also joined the ministerial team and left for the worst-hit Bhagatgaon area in Morigaon district and talked to the affected people who have been taking shelter at a camp.
After his aerial survey in Nagaon and Kaziranga, Singh held a meeting with Chief minister Sonowal and assured him of all possible help to help the state get out of the blues.

Rajnath slams Cong on influx

30 Mar 2014 - 1:29pm | AT News

BJP president Rajnath Singh on Sunday accused of the Congress government of encouraging infiltration from the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Addressing a poll rally in Karimganj, he said that a Bangla national is free to work in Assam. But he should be pushed back.