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Varsity proposes to look east with word web

- Delhi urged to set up centre for study of languages of six Southeast Asian countries

Dibrugarh, June 26: The Northeast hopes to build language bridges with neighbouring countries in keeping with the country’s Look East policy.

The Dibrugarh University and Purvanchal Tai Sahitya Sabha have submitted a Rs 190-crore proposal to the Union government to set up a Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the university where languages of six neighbouring countries — one each from Myanmar, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos — will be taught.

The proponents hope the learners will be able to play a crucial role when the country opens its door to these countries.

“The centre will be helpful in strengthening cultural and business relationships between India and its neighbouring countries. It will help the countries come closer,” Sabha president Dayananda Borgohain told The Telegraph.

Steps have already been taken in this direction with performances by cultural troupes and presence of representatives from countries like Thailand becoming a common scene, especially during business summits and fairs, in the state nowadays.

The university has also succeeded in attracting students from countries like China to study its course on Ahom language.

Borgohain also said the Centre should pay attention to preservation, publication and development of old manuscripts.

The Sabha, which has been working for the development of Tai language and literature since its inception in 1981, believes the language could build a bridge between India and a few Southeast Asian countries and should, therefore, be encouraged.

The Sabha’s general secretary Pushpadar Gogoi said they had requested Dibrugarh University, which offers a two-year diploma course in Tai language, to open a post-graduate course. He also suggested that Tai language be taught in primary schools in areas which have a predominantly Tai-Ahom population.

Gogoi said thousands of manuscripts were available in Tai language but only a few of them had been translated into Assamese and English.

The Sabha also wants Dispur to declare Sivasagar district in Upper Assam a “historical place” as numerous monuments belonging to the Ahom era are scattered all over it and to give heritage site status to the maidams (burial grounds of Ahom kings) at Charaideo in the district.

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