ASS gives govt 2-month ultimatum on use of Assamese

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GUWAHATI, July 24: Asam Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body of the state, on Monday gave a two-month ultimatum to the state government to start communications pertaining to departmental work in Assamese, as per The Assam Official Language Act 1960, to promote the language.
Raising concern over the decline in the number of Assamese-speaking people to 48.38% in the recently published Census report, Sahitya Sabha has demanded that the two state universities – Gauhati University (GU) and Dibrugarh University (DU) – give students an opportunity to pursue higher education in Assamese and not compulsorily in English, especially during graduation. The Sabha also said Assamese must be made compulsory as a subject across all schools.
“The latest Census data is worrying for us. The Assam government, as well as Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University, have to be blamed for this alarming decline in the number of Assamese speakers and speakers of some indigenous language. If urgent steps are not taken to popularize the language from the school level to university level, it won’t be a surprise if the percentage of Assamese-speaking people diminish to about 25% in the 2021 Census,” said Sabha president Paramananda Rajbongshi after a meeting between with seven tribal literary organizations in the city. After the meeting, Sabha officials said the state government must make teaching of Assamese as a language and subject compulsory across all schools located in the Brahmaputra Valley as well as Bengali-majority Barak Valley.
The 2001 Census had already set alarm bells ringing among the Assamese community in the state, with the percentage of Assamese-speaking people in the state declining from 57.81% (as recorded in the 1991 Census) to 48.8%. The 2011 Census figures showed a further decline in this figure to 48.38%.
Hitting out at the GU and DU authorities for allegedly neglecting Assamese, Rajbongshi said Assamese-speaking students are facing trouble as they cannot appear in some vital exams conducted by the universities in English. “We demand that the two state universities implement Assamese language truly. Books meant for the university students should also be made available in Assamese language. Besides, the private universities must come out with an explanation within these two months on how they have contributed towards promoting Assamese and other local languages,” Rajbongshi added.
During Monday’s meeting with the seven tribal literary organizations, discussions were held on the state’s language policy, which is to be suggested jointly by the literary organizations to the state government in first week of August. (TNN)