| Amarjyoti Choudhury speaks at the college. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, Oct. 3: Academician Amarjyoti Choudhury today invoked balladeer Bhupen Hazarika’s name and appealed to the upcoming generation to keep Assam united, which Hazarika strove for his entire life.
Delivering the 13th Tulsi Narayan Sarma memorial lecture entitled The Confluence of Cultures: The Backdrop of Assam at JB College here today, Choudhury rued that Assam was “burning” hardly two years after Hazarika’s death.
Tracing some of the reasons why the people had got divided, he said the Ahoms had managed to unite a huge landmass with diverse communities through their policies.
“It was the British that divided the people through administrative moves in which the hills were separated from the plains and the tea estates on the hillsides further keeping them apart. Moreover, remote areas remained underdeveloped and there was a lot of anguish,” he said.
The pro-vice chancellor of Tezpur University said after Independence there had been hope of everyone being treated equally but the greater Assamese community did not assimilate the smaller ethnic groups and they were sometimes referred in derogatory terms.
“Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla, Bishnu Rabha and Bhupen Hazarika attempted to bridge the divide to usher in harmony through their writings and songs but all these together somehow were not enough to unite the people,” he said.
“Today the state is burning and it is you who have to create a new Assam. This can be done through a cultural confluence in which compassion is the cornerstone,” he told students.
Referring to the theme of his address, Choudhury said the confluence of rivers with the ocean often became the source of new life. “When two or more rivers meet, they sometimes flow together as one. But when a river meets the ocean, the two remain separate but the confluence becomes the source of new life. Likewise, when two or more cultures meet they should throw up new creativity but at the same time retain their individual identity and be allowed to grow separately without assimilating one into the other,” he said.
Drawing a parallel, he said Assam was a melting pot of Burmese, Chinese, Gangetic plain, Islam and Sikh influences as well as innumerable indigenous communities and those who came from other parts of the country. “There are about 33 different cultures which can be counted from Sadiya to Dhubri. Should we divide the land into 33 small states or even 10 states so they can retain their own culture? Is this the solution?” he asked the audience.
“Harmony and unity can be had only if we accept and mix with each other and the foundation of the confluence of cultures should be compassion and sympathy instead of dominance,” he said.