ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Assam and Underdevelopment

Tilottama Misra's tactics in her article "Assam: A Colonial Hinterland" (August 9) are typical of the apologists of the movement in Assam. Now that hundreds are lying dead and thousands have been uprooted from their hearths she asserts that intellectuals supporting the movement had laid their main emphasis on the colonial pattern of Assam's development or underdevelopment. Had that been really the main issue one fails to see why the slogans of the movement should have been directed against all outsiders including subsistence farmers. Why, again, should the minorities be so vocal against a movement that underlined the economic problems of the entire region? Or does she suggest that the 40 million alleged 'foreigners' are all ravenous capitalists selling Assam short? There is the further mystery that when at the onset of the movement leftist parties and intellectuals tried repeatedly to draw the attention of the people to the neglected and important issues of backwardness and underdevelopment, they were buried under an avalanche of abuse and vituperation. At that time spokesmen of the movement thundered that the question was not economic; but defence of 'cultural identity'. It is significant that Tilottama Misra's analysis passes over the mischievous vole of the Assamese caste-Hindu elite whose narrow and selfish ideas of national identity have done most harm to the growth of a healthy Assamese national outlook.

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