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In Search of Scholarship

Hiren Gohain In mofussil centres of learning there is today an odd coexistence between starry-eyed reverence for foreign learning and a sort of drugged incuriosity and intellectual paralysis. Learning, scholarship and research remain insulated from the larger social life around. The situation still remains colonial, though our sensitivities have become numb to that tragedy.

ASSAM

ASSAM The LOC Snowball Hiren Gohain While the charge of Indian exploitation of Assam can be sustained without much difficulty, such exploitation would be impossible without true-blue Assamese leaders co-operating heartily in return for a share of the loot. Their share has come in the form of central grants under different schemes and projects. In fact, 'scheme' has meant 'scam' in Assam for several decades. An old and long-drawn-out such scandal known here as the LOC scam, has now returned to haunt the chief minister and his men.

ASSAM-Hopes of Peace Dashed-Business as Usual despite Political Change

Hiren Gohain THE present stalemate in Assam, with both the ULFA and the government of India displaying a marked reluctance to accept a negotiated settlement of the grievances of the extremists, is causing great damage to the economy of the state, ruining prospects of its economic development and plunging the common people into misery and gloom. The government of India balks at a political initiative to solve the problem of militant secessionism in a slate considered by many a key link in any strategy for the future of the north-eastern region. Its latest plea for inaction is that the ULFA has turned into a puppet of the ISI and has lost the power of independent decision.

Extremist Challenge and Indian State-Case of Assam

Case of Assam THE hottest question in Assam today is whether talks between the government and the ULFA will materialise. The AGP ministry has time and again offered to talk to the militants without pre-conditions, only to come up against a deafening silence. From the very beginning the ULFA did not appear keen on talks, partly because a section among them considered any kind of talks a sell-out, partly because the last time such talks were held the negotiations seemed only to advance the personal interests of the 'surrendered' (sic!) ULFA. Yet the people of Assam are overwhelmingly in favour of a dialogue between the government and the extremist organisation, and sharply hostile to the line of extermination popular with certain sections of the central government and the army. That does not mean that they are eager to endorse widespread extortions and sundry killings by ULFA in the name of revolution. Now it is this ambiguity in the Assamese response to the extremist challenge that outsiders, whether resident in Assam or not, find exasperating.

Bodo Agitation and Ideological Blinkers

Bodo Agitation and Ideological Blinkers Hiren Gohain I WOULD have reacted much earlier to your correspondent's report on the Bodo agitation (April 1) but for the curious fact that that particular issue of EPW turned up tome time in August at my address soaked and soggy. But even now it is wdl worth a challenge for serious ideological reasons.

Bodo Stir in Perspective

Bodo Stir in Perspective Hiren Gohain The Bodo grievances can be best redressed through a package deal which may include eviction of non-tribal people who have encroached on tribal land after a cut-off year, creation of small autonomous regions where the Bodo population is comparatively numerous, special safeguards for Bodo language and culture and, most important, sharing power with the tribals at the highest level in the state, with Bodo members having permanent berths in the state cabinet and the smaller tribes being represented on it by rotation.

Dialectics of Defeat

Ahmed, Karuna: 'Gandhi, Women's Role and the Freedom Movement', Occasional Paper, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, 1984. Forbes, Geraldinc: 'Women's Movement in India: Traditional Symbols and New Roles; in M S A Rao (ed) Social Movements in India, Vol 2, Delhi, Manohar, 1979.

The Labyrinth of Bhakti-On Some Questions of Medieval Indian History

What was the social structure and the substratum of ideas and attitudes which gave rise to the bhakti movement of medieval India which drew support from diverse religious sects? What was the impact of Islam on the content of the movement which attempted to dissolve social taboos and prescriptive communal rules? What was the relationship between the phenomenal growth of the movement and the rise and expansion of commodity production and domestic trade in medieval India? And what if any are the parallels between the heterodox sects of the bhakti movement and the radical sects of European Protestantism?

Doordarshan s Neurosis

 Doordarshan's Neurosis Hiren Gohain EVERY educated Indian is now aware what a powerful and important medium the TY has become. He is equally apprehensive that this medium has fallen a prey to a series of serious maladies. Hence, when I received an invitation to attend the NAMEDIA seminar on 'Indian Television Today and Tomorrow', I accepted it with some alacrity. But on that fateful day when I joined the crowds at the appointed place and time in Guwahati, I felt acutely uncomfortable in the company of all the pillars of the establishment and could not help sneaking away with a sinking heart What I had intended to say on this occasion would have caused only blank incomprehension and anger among the assembled company.

Colonial Perspectives

more dangerous tendency has shown itself. Imports of commodities are being resorted to for political populism and by keeping the prices at artificially low levels they destroy the incentives for growth of domestic production. In such cases the government must be i motored to allow the prices to rise so that the domestic industry can grow and modernise. The government may mop up as much of such price rises as it deems fit by imposing an indirect scarcity tax. In this way resources can be gathered instead of being frittered away in situations of scarcity. Some enlightened recommendations on these parameters would have educated us. Lastly, it is quite surprising that a conclave TILOITAMA Misra's 'Social Criticism in 19th Century Assamese Writing' (September 14) presents a rich array of facts, sufficiently documented. I should like, however, to lake a closer look at certain presupposi (ions implicit in her writing.

The Baboo and the Brown Sahib

The Baboo and the Brown Sahib Enemies or Partners? Hiren Gohain THE correspondence section of a recent issue of a popular magazine is devoted almost entirely to tirades against 'Brown Sahibs'. Predictably, most of the shots land right on target. After all, in this game, as in the caucus-race of "Alice in Wonderland'', everybody wins

ASSAM-The Labyrinth of Chauvinism

ASSAM The Labyrinth of Chauvinism Hiren Gohain RIGHT from the early 1970s I have been calling for greater attention to the problem of Assamese chauvinism among the leftists. In a series of articles published in English and Assamese I called it the most powerful weapon of reaction against the left in Assam. Since 1975 I have also pleaded for a greater accommodation to the genuine national anxieties and aspirations of the Assamese. Such views have been treated as the unwanted if amusing pronouncements of a maverick leftist not bright enough to see the true light. The predominance of vulgar economic analysts among the leftists has made leftist leaders dismiss the chauvinist danger as an occasional and marginal hazard. It has also earned them opprobrium among the Assamese common people, as well as the praise of Bengali chauvinists who like nothing better than operating in the dark. This is borne out by the tendency of the more active leftist parties to concentrate on immigrant areas because of the starkness of the poverty and the clarity of the class-divisions there. But in the absence of firm bases in the Assamese areas, the gains in the immigrant areas have turned out to have been less important than they appeared at first.

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