The Assamese intelligentsia has welcomed the Asom Sahitya Sabha’s (ASS) initiative to make the knowledge of Assamese compulsory for people working in the State’s public and private sectors.
Welcoming this decision of the apex literary body of Assam, renowned scholar Dr Hiren Gohain said, “It is a fact that Assamese happens to be the official language for transacting all official business in Assam except in Cachar. Therefore, it is perfectly understandable why working knowledge of Assamese is required and the Asom Sahitya Sabha is only reiterating this view.”
The ASS president, Paramananda Rajbongshi, while talking to the media in Morigaon on Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting, warned that those, who do not know Assamese, would not be allowed to work in the State’s public as well as the private sector.
“Right from the fourth grade to the topmost level, irrespective of being in private or Government sector, people who are working in Assam must know Assamese or any of the local mother tongues,” he stated.
Former DGP of Assam and author, Harekrishna Deka, stated, “Everything should be implemented under the provisions of the Assam Official Language Act, 1960. Successive State Governments have been very lax about strictly implementing the Official Language Act. Still, in the Government offices in Assam, a lot of file notings go in English whereas under the said Act it should be purely in Assamese and beneath the translation can be in English. In Central Government offices, the file notings are both in Hindi and English.”
Deka supported the Asom Sahitya Sabha’s said decision and also opined that people who come to work in Assam – both in public and private sector – “must have the mindset that I am working in Assam, so, I should know Assamese. The people working in these sectors have to interact on a daily basis with the common masses whose mother tongue is Assamese and they are comfortable in this language. The Assam Government should strictly implement the Official Language Act.”
However, Deka said that language cannot be “imposed” on anybody (read the non-Assamese people who stay in Assam and do not hold any job).
Rajbongshi also told the media persons that the indigenous people of Assam are going through an identity crisis and their languages are under threat.
“The Asom Sahitya Sabha cannot allow the local mother tongues to die. We will not listen to anyone, anymore. This is a warning to all. Everyone must be careful,” he said.
Noted litterateur, Dr Nagen Saikia, remarked, “The Asom Sahitya Sabha has made the right move. In Punjab, knowing Punjabi is mandatory and in Tamil Nadu, Tamil is mandatory. It is the
Assam Government’s fault that they have not strictly implemented the Official Language Act which they should do so.”
Saikia further stated, “Before the British came to Assam, the trade was in the hands of the indigenous people of Greater Assam (read when the other northeastern States were not even formed). It was only during the British raj that slowly the economy went into the hands of the non-Assamese people and the whole language problem came up. Formation of more and more States also leads to language problem.”
Paramananda Rajbongshi has asked the Assam Government to take necessary steps on the said matter. The century-old organisation has been raising the issue of using Assamese language in the State and had asked the Government and private institutions, business establishments and financial institutions to use the language on hoardings and nameplates.