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

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The EPW 1980–81 Debate

Revisiting the Nationality Question in Assam

A series of articles published in the Economic & Political Weekly during the 1980s’ Assam Movement—when the nationality debate was at its zenith—offer a context against which the issue can be revisited.

As the deadline for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam mandated by the Supreme Court draws near, it is important to look at the context and character of this development. The genesis is undoubtedly the six-year-long Assam Movement against illegal immigrants that culminated in the signing of the historic Assam Accord on 15 August 1985. Since then, for the past three decades, the movement has been repeatedly analysed in a bid to understand and contextualise the agitation.

A series of articles published in the Economic & Political Weekly, covering the ideological discussions on the Assam Movement—which raged between 1979 and 1985—featured the works of Amalendu Guha, Hiren Gohain, Gail Omvedt, Sanjib Baruah, Udayon Misra, Tilottoma Misra and Lily Bara. To revisit the movement and the ideological moorings it took, these discussions are an excellent starting point. Taken together, these
articles also form one of the few collections on the Assam Movement, reflecting the views of a galaxy of thinkers that do not necessarily conform to each other. It is fascinating to see these articles 30 years later and contextualise them in the present times. While one does have the luxury of hindsight when reviewing the articles, it does not take away the originality of the authors in terms of ideas. Rather, it adds to our understanding of the movement and the questions raised that are relevant even today.

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Updated On : 1st Jun, 2018

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