‘In Assam, upper-caste dominance is apparent in every sphere of society’

The early Assamese nationalist leaders fervently exhorted the immigrant population to adopt the Assamese language. The historical link of the Assamese language to Sanskrit also elicited a sense of superiority among its practitioners by ‘othering’ the non-Aryan local indigenes as primitive and inferior, says Uttam Bathari

Assam is in the middle of yet another assembly election. In an email interview with FORWARD Press, Uttam Bathari, who belongs to the Dimasa tribe and teaches History of Medieval and Modern Assam in Gauhati University, lays out the complex ground realities and historical injustices that the governments of the past have overlooked: 

Assam would be one of the most socially, ethnically diverse states in the country. Do you feel that, for example, when you are on a university campus or in a government office in Guwahati? Do you see the state-level politics of Assam being representative of its diversity? Does the public discourse reflect that diversity? 

Diversity and its celebration in India begins and ends in rhetoric, and does not get translated into action. For instance, in spite of the linguistic diversity, there is a constant push for Hindi as the national language. Another discriminatory example is the Eight Schedule of the Constitution that recognizes only about a couple of dozen languages. On the other hand, hundreds of languages are languishing due to lack of support and facing threat of extinction …

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: ‘In Assam, upper-caste dominance is apparent in every sphere of society’ 


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