Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own house? Treated like an alien in your own homeland? Seems like an impossible proposition, but ask any native of Assam and he will cite several instances when he felt homeless in his own land.
The larger Indian psyche, often out of ignorance and, at other times, out of apathy, fails to register that Assam and the Assamese consciousness are as much a part of India as the rest of the mainland’s citizens. And that is where it all begins. Assam’s problem has never been India’s problem and Assam’s story has never been India’s story, be it in the media, history books, cultural manifestos, and political and infrastructural ambitions.
Talk of how, year after year, the state sees perennial floods which affect 2-3 million people in over 27 districts, causing deaths, forcing over 40,000 people into relief camps, submerging more than 1 lakh hectares of agricultural land. Yet, Assam suffers silently and nobody knows about it, thanks to the media looking the other way.
Talk of connectivity issues which the region has struggled with for decades now, with its first MMLP being set up only this year.
Talk of the 600-year old reign of the singular and glorious Ahom dynasty, which shaped the region’s prosperous history, preventing both the Mughals in the Middle Ages and the British until 1826 from setting foot there—and which hardly finds any mention in the history curricula in India. It is no surprise, therefore, that Assamese students shoulder a rich legacy, which the rest of their counterparts hardly know of and, hence, often condescend.
Talk of the Assam Agitation, which claimed young lives over the burning issue of indigenous identity and rights, and gave birth to the Assam Accord, which is a reminder of the courage and uprightness of this peace-loving people. While others take their “Indian-ness” for granted, the Assamese have burnt their own flesh and blood on the pyres of citizenship to protect their Indian identity.
Talk of the state’s demographics. According to the Hazarika Commission report (constituted in 2015), the number of Hindus in some of the most vulnerable districts—Goalpara, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Kamrup and Nagaon—has been falling drastically while that of the Muslims has registered a sharp rise. This is primarily due to the influx of Bangladeshi immigrants. According to some studies, the Hindu population in Goalpara, for instance, was a little over 54% in 1951. It came down to about 38% in 2011 and is expected to decline further to nearly 23% by 2051, going by current trends. Similarly, in Nagaon, it went from 59% in 1951 to 45% in 2011 and is projected to be 30% in 2051. On the contrary, the Muslim population has gone up from 43% in 1951 to 56% in 2011 in Goalpara, from 40% to 55% in Nagaon, and from 29% to 39% in Kamrup. Going by these figures, at least four districts will turn into Muslim-majority ones, after being Hindu-majority for decades, as a result of illegal immigration.
Independent estimates put the number of illegal immigrants in Assam at 1.5 million to 2 million—or roughly 25% of the total Muslim inhabitation in the state. Obviously, this has led to drastic changes in the demographic profile of Assam, creating social discord and unrest. These illegal immigrants have managed to secure all sorts of state-documents and availed various government schemes, including the MGNREGA and National Rural Health Mission. Thus, they have largely cornered the benefits, sheltered and patronized by the then government seeking to create potent minority vote-banks out of these illegal immigrants—leading to legal citizens losing out.
The Bangladeshi illegal immigration has had security implications for India too. Several armed insurgent groups such as the ULFA based themselves in Bangladesh. It was not just a matter of sanctuary. These outfits have been able to operate because of the networking they created among the illegal immigrants living in India. Besides, some of these organizations are said to have developed contacts with known anti-India groups such as the Harkatul-Jihadi-e-Islami (HuJI).
The Hazarika Commission categorically states that illegal immigrants will reduce the indigenous Assamese population to a minority in the region by 2047. Consider the CAA and proposed NRC against the backdrop of the above facts and figures, and it will not be difficult to comprehend why, while the rest of India cries foul, Assam is in favour of the NRC, albeit with certain modifications. In fact, many opine that the drastic demographic alterations in Assam are a precursor to the fate of India if the NRC is not implemented at the earliest.
Ever since the CAA came into force on 10 January 2020, there have been many voices from the region demanding how the number of tentative migrants could be as low as 40 lakhs. It is expected to be much higher, having built up over decades. Similarly, Assam insists on having a cutoff date for migration from Bangladesh, precisely 1951, instead of March 24, 1971 (while the cutoff date for rest of India is July 19, 1948), irrespective of the religion of the migrant seeking refuge in India. Although, the Indian government seeks to make an exception for Bengali Hindus who migrated to India from Bangladesh before 1971, Assam is completely opposed to this provision, and, if you consider how the state has been economically and socially burdened to the point of dilapidation due to illegal influx over several decades, it makes sense.
The conflict that has erupted in many pockets of Assam is also fallaciously viewed through the prism of Hindu-Muslim tensions alone. The ethnic aspect of the matter cannot be ignored here. A significant chunk of people in Assam is averse to citizenship being granted to Bengali Hindus who fled Bangladesh as refugees. According to them, the present national government is attempting to make Assam a dumping ground for Bengali Hindus through an amendment of the Citizenship Act which seeks to grant citizenship to minority communities in neighbouring countries. In other words, the Assamese are sceptical that the present government seeks to replicate what the Congress regime did for decades – building minority vote banks by legitimizing illegal migration with relevant documents and patronage.
Due to this, there is a significant possibility of the state witnessing a three-way communal strife between the Assamese, the Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims. However, there is another section of Assamese people, a much larger section presumably, although not as vocal as the other, who are of the opinion that Bengali Hindus do not pose a threat to their way of life, as compared to Bengali Muslims, and that those primarily responsible for the ongoing influx of illegal immigrants into Assam are Bengali Muslims. Therefore, depending on demography, conflicts have taken a religious angle in some regions and an ethnic angle in others.
However, the dominant response from all over the country, to Assam’s opposition to CAA and NRC in its present form, has been calling the native Assamese as “anti Bengali”. But the facts are far from this and the Assamese is only voicing his existential predicament through protests. Anakshi Dev Choudhury, a consumer insights professional and an Assamese settled in Mumbai, says, “As a proud Assamese, I do not want to be a minority at home. My family did their bit for the state, now how do I watch the culture and heritage be washed away? People who are not considered legal citizens of the nation in other states, how can they get voting rights in Assam?”
Tripura, for example, was home to a diverse mix of over 15 tribal communities. Today, it is a 65% Bengali state. What then happened to the indigenous people? Look at the international borders around the state if you need an answer. The insecurity of the Assamese is due to several factors and a Citizenship Bill and the NRC should aim at assuaging those sentiments rather than opening a can of worms that will erode the socio-political and cultural fabric of this beautiful and peaceful region further.
To these are added the reduction of CAA and NRC into brazen political ammunition, whereby politicians across most political outfits are using it as an election agenda and furthermore as an unabashed tool of harbouring Islamophobia. Assam is a fertile ground for the blossoming of diverse cultures and religions in harmony: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Bengali, Assamese, Marwari, several tribal ethnicities, all flourishing together without asserting hegemony over the others. However, political motives and vendetta aim to project Assam as averse to cultural and religious multiplicity in the wake of the CAA and proposed NRC.
We have to be realistic about current circumstances. There doesn’t appear to be a solution which would please everybody, and Assam with the entire Northeast appears to be on the verge of turmoil which it cannot escape. Illegal immigration is like cancer and, sometimes, the only solution to chemo. Many a times, even chemo may not help. A forced deportation of 40 lakh people (the numbers might reduce considering they still have time to appeal and prove their citizenship) might be that chemo, although such an exercise appears impossible to carry out. The Assamese, who are very naturally and thankfully still a majority in their own state, feel threatened by existential and political abnegation.
Let us therefore address the elephant in the room for the way it is, and not as a Hindu versus Muslim or Assamese versus Bengali issue. The CAA and NRC, framed in a way that reflects the wishes of the nation, its people and its inherent socio-political soul, would perhaps be our best foot forward to deal with the cancer of illegal immigration under the present circumstances.
The writer is founder and editor-in-chief of Tribe Tomorrow Network. The views expressed are personal.
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SPORTS AL DENTE TO DISTRIBUTE FREE JERSEYS
Sports Al Dente is a rapidly growing sports news and updates website that attracts over a million site visits each month. The website’s impressive numbers are in large part due to the credibility it champions in its coverage. Sports Al Dente boasts about its exclusive content curated by dedicated sports enthusiasts and analysts.
From post-game discussions to analysis and exhaustive match reports, the website has witnessed significant growth in terms of the type of content it publishes each day. Along with providing sports fans all around the world with reliable and unbiased news, the website has now decided to venture out of cyberspace and cater to the underprivileged and masses deprived of proper sports and games facilities. In a partnership with its sister company OtakuRage, Sports Al Dente is now seeking to distribute free jerseys to the underprivileged of society. The initiative by Al Dente comes after the company decided to expand its reach to other parts of India and beyond. Based in Surat, the website has been catering to masses all over the world. The overarching mission of Al Dente has been to popularise sports and games in general. While the Indian sports scene does have a large number of athletes and enthusiasts with a keen interest in various sports, the fledgling facilities and general lack of awareness have been a massive roadblock. Sports Al Dente’s latest partnership with OtakuRage is the company’s efforts at combating the prevailing issues with the Indian sports scene.
CANHEAL TO OFFER A WIDE RANGE OF TEAS FOR CANCER FIGHTERS
CanHeal, a one-of-its-kind platform and e-commerce portal for all the life needs of cancer fighters and winners, on wednesday added a wide range of Darjeeling, Green and Herbal teas having health benefits for cancer fighters.
CanHeal has tied up with Darjeeling Sips to offer a large variety of tea sourced directly from tea estates in Darjeeling and the surrounding areas. CanHeal has also added to its portfolio of accessories a range of Chemo Pillows and custom-designed Chemo Bag. Explaining the additions to a wide range of products already available on the CanHeal portal, Anchal Sharma, Founder of CanHeal said, “CanHeal launched its e-commerce and community portal couple of months ago intending with an objective to offer all those products that cancer fighters and winners require to live their life with verve. During my fight against cancer, I came to know of the health benefits of tea in addition to its taste as I was always a fan of Darjeeling Sips sourced directly from tea estates that grow and brew a variety of tea in a socially responsible and planet-friendly way, hence the best fit for cancer fighters.”
“We have also added some smart products to our range of accessories – chemo bag that has been custom designed to hold all that is required during the day-long chemo sessions and pillows that include seat belt pillows, port pillow, armpit pillow and all-in-one comfort pillow to meet the cushioning needs arising due to cancer of different parts of the body. CanHeal is committed to continue adding new products to meet all the needs of cancer fighters at one source.”
CanHeal is in discussion with multiple brands to further expand the range of specially curated products for cancer fighters and winners.CanHeal is a one-of-its-kind Indian e-platform exclusively designed to serve the life needs of Cancer fighters and winners. CanHeal offers a range of Skincare, Body care & Haircare products, Apparel, Food & Nutrition Supplements to enhance immunity and regain strength and Accessories designed specifically for the comfort of patients undergoing treatment and cancer winners having special needs. This product range has been curated by Anchal Sharma.
Top five upcoming developers changing the skyline of Delhi NCR
MRG World (Gurugram), Whiteland Corporation (Gurugram), Maasters Infra (Noida), SKA Group (Noida), and Axon Developers emerged as the ‘Top Five Emerging Developers of NCR’ in the list announced by a Delhi-based research firm.
The survey was conducted by International Brand & Research Forum (IBRF) across the region with a special focus on projects launched, projects delivered, and progress of the projects as per RERA; IBRF researched the quality and feedback index on various parameters to come up with the result. The prime focus was on the developers operating in Noida and Gurugram market. Maasters Infra Group, instituted by seasoned professionals and under the patronage of five-decade-old infra company K. R. A. Engineers & Contractors, announced their first commercial project Maasters Capitol Avenue spread over 5 acres in Sector 63, Noida. The project will have office space and retail; the project’s total area would be 10,00,000 sq. ft. to be completed in 42 to 45 months. The company says that the total sales realisation from the project is between Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore. The Group is also coming up with a residential project and one IT project.
Whiteland Corporation, a real estate development company founded by industry stalwart, Mr. Navdeep JP Sardana unveiled the first look of their maiden commercial project Urban Cubes 71 recently in Gurugram. Some of the brands signed, include Striker, Beer Cafe, Nostalgia, Houz Cafe & Bar. The project on Golf Course Road extension, Sector 71, Gurugram, is on a land parcel of about 3 acres acquired from DLF. Urban Cubes 71 is an approved SCO (Shop-cum-Office) development with a total of 34 state-of-art buildings with maximum development facing the main road making it highly attractive. The project is slated to be delivered by October 2022 with a total salable area of 4.5 lac sq. ft. and a projected sales value of Rs. 500 crore.
Realty firm Axon Developers, which has been newly set up by promoters of brokerage firm 360 Realtors, has recently taken over two stressed real estate projects in Delhi-NCR and will invest over Rs. 300 crore to complete them. The company has entered into a development agreement to complete Keltech Kumar Imperial Green project, comprising 350 flats at Noida extension in Uttar Pradesh. It has fully acquired a retail project ‘Manish Gallexie 91’, having 3.5 lakh square feet saleable area, in Gurugram from Manish Buildwell. The company expects a sales realisation of around Rs. 650 crore from these two projects, of which Rs. 500 crores will come from retail projects. Axon Developers is looking at acquiring more projects in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Lucknow, both through greenfield and brownfield routes.
SKA GROUP was formed with a view to construct group housing society in Greater Noida-West. SKA Group was started in the year 2012. Recently, the Group announced its luxury residential project, SKA Orion in Sector-143, Noida. Spread over 3.5 acres, the cost of the project is Rs. 400 crore out of which Rs. 300 crore is the cost of construction and Rs. 100 crore is the land cost. The Group is looking at total sales realisation of approximately Rs. 450 crore. To be developed in single-phase, the project has 508 units of 3 BHK configuration; the company has launched 380 units of the total stock and will complete the project by 2026. All projects are completed before time. Presently, five projects are in progress and all projects are ahead of their schedule.
Catering to the affordable housing segment, MRG World has ensured that they live up to the expectations of the middle class to move into their abodes as soon as possible. The directors – Rajat Goel and Vikas Garg – set up the company with a motive to cater to the segment that has the maximum demand. MRG World ensured that they deliver projects before the promised deadline.
Former Trump lawyer to auction NFT of memoirs written in prison
Michael Cohen, former lawyer and “fixer” of erstwhile United States President Donald Trump will display and auction a non-fungible token of the first page of his memoirs written while serving his prison term, NFT platform and curated marketplace ArtGrails announced on Wednesday.
The ArtGrails NFT exhibition will run from December 1 through December 12.
The successful bidder will receive the original manuscript, which was handwritten by Cohen while serving the first days of his federal sentence in New York’s Otisville Prison, as well as an NFT-backed video of Cohen working on the memoir’s first pages from his holding cell. The video, recorded by an unnamed colleague, was filmed just before the former Trump attorney was sent back to his luxury Park Avenue apartment to serve the rest of his term.
Bidding will begin on December 1 at 5 PM Eastern Time and will go on till December 12, 5 PM Eastern Time. In addition to the manuscript, ArtGrails is releasing a set of fixed price Cohen’s prison badges in an NFT Edition release on December 12 at 4 PM Eastern Time, which will feature three different levels of rarity – Open, Gold and Grail.
ArtGrails is a curated NFT experience, and as such, we are working with some of the highest caliber creators and artists in the market today.” Says ArtGrails.com founder, Avery Andon. “When Michael [Cohen] came to me after deciding to release his manuscript and federal prison badge, I knew this had to be a project facilitated by our platform. Integrating an NFT into the release of this one-of-a-kind physical item, not only validates them using blockchain technology, but it also gave us the ability to incorporate some creativity into the release.”
In addition to the NFT-backed physical manuscript page, written on Cohen’s personal letterhead, and his actual Prison Badge from Otisville Federal Prison, the team at ArtGrails is making available limited release NFT versions of Cohen’s Otisville Federal Prison badge. These NFTs will be released in three different levels of rarity, “open”, “gold”, and “grail”.
ArtGrails will host a VIP party and Q&A media event in Miami’s design district on Friday, December 3, the event will feature a live video appearance by Michael Cohen who will read from his manuscript and also take limited questions from the event attendees and media.
EVERY TIME YOU OPEN A CHILEAN PRODUCT YOU ARE ‘UNBOXING CHILE’
The main objective of Unboxing Chile is to offer India a box full of diverse experiences, opening which will trigger the senses of Indian consumers into experiencing the culture, scenic beauties, colours, and aromas.
The India office of ProChile, the agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile, which promotes the export of Chilean goods and services and whose role is to boost the commercial relationship between Chile and India hosted a one-of-a-kind event titled ‘Unboxing Chile’ on 26 November 2021.
The Chilean products showcased at the event were fresh produce like kiwi fruit, cherries, blueberries, and apples and dry fruit like walnuts.
The event that was hosted at Hotel Leela in Gurugram saw the participation of leading Indian food, travel, and lifestyle writers, influencers, and enthusiasts.
The main objective of Unboxing Chile is to offer India a box full of diverse experiences
The main objective of Unboxing Chile is to offer India a box full of diverse experiences, opening which, will trigger the senses of Indian consumers into experiencing the culture, scenic beauties, colors, and aromas. In turn, they get to feel the spirit of Chile, its warmth, all the beautiful places that Chile can show, and the identity of the Chilean people stamped in their products.
The event that was hosted at Hotel Leela in Gurugram saw the participation of leading Indian food, travel and lifestyle writers, influencers and enthusiasts.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador of Chile to India, H.E. Juan Angulo, remarked that “Chile and India share a tremendous relationship that is based on shared values. Economic partnership between the two countries continues to grow and food is a very important part of this. Indians are slowly getting a taste of Chilean foods and are beginning to appreciate the quality that Chilean produce brings. Chile is bestowed with a unique topography to make Chile a phytosanitary island. This is a primary reason for the high quality of produce that comes from there.”
Marcela Alejandra Zuñiga Alegria, Trade Commissioner of ProChile in India said that the goal of ProChile is to bring Chile closer to India and improve the visibility of Chile, as a country, supplier and partner. ProChile is a nonprofit entity, whose main objective is to improve bilateral trade between both countries. Unboxing Chile is an international campaign that comes alive tonight in India and provides an incredible opportunity to know and connect with Chile, its flavors and its people.
The Chilean products showcased at the event were fresh produce like kiwifruit, cherries, blueberries and apples and dry fruit like Walnuts. Chilean wines were also showcased. Unboxing Chile also exhibited tourism possibilities in Chile. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by those present and the Chefs at Leela under the leadership of their Executive Chef Ashish Bhasin put out an extensive menu featuring Chilean fruits and dry fruits.
This truly was an opportunity to get to know Chile and its wonderful bounty. Unboxing Chile stimulates one’s senses and through this experience, created memories that will not let those who attended forget the magical goodness of Chile. This was Unboxing Chile. As it was said, “Every time you open a Chilean Product you are #Unboxing Chile.”
Chilean ambassador Juan Angulo said, “Economic partnership between the two countries continues to grow and food is a very important part of this.”
You end up saying things in writers room that come out only during therapy: Garima Pura
Writer Garima Pura joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Garima, who is the co-writer of the Netflix show ‘Little things’ opened up about her journey of working as a screenwriter.
Garima started off by giving us insights about her fellow writers and sharing her experience of being the writer of a prominent show like ‘little things’ she said, “ The first and second season were written by Dhruv Sehgal, he is the original writer. When Netflix picked it up for the third season is when they asked for a diversity in the writers teams. Writers room experience per say was all heart. You end up saying things that come out only during therapy. Writing is a fairly personal experience. There is craft and technique but mostly there is experiences and emotions. So all the writers have to become friends and get to know each other well. You just put all those experiences in the mix on the table and then pick what is good for the show. She went to say that, ‘’This is not purely experience based, there’s fiction too
Talking more about her writers room experience and how she bagged the project, Garima shared, “Little things writers rooms was first few in the country. This concept is seen an advent with the advent of OTTs. At that time, I was already floating my work with the production houses to see if I get something or not. I was presenting and asking to be given an opportunity. That is when ‘Little things’ team went through my profile. We had to write sample scripts and a solid screening process post which we were picked. Then we found ourselves in a little writers room where we met day and day out.
Sharing about the overwhelming response from the audience on the third season of the show, Garima expressed, “There are so many talented people out there who deserve their writing to be showcased. Being in this position, I feel so honored and privileged that I got an opportunity so early in my carrier to contribute to an already solid show. I feel great and humble at the same time and it also inspires me to do better work and tell stories which are honest and people feel close to.”
When asked about her previous work experiences, the writer said, “ I have made documentaries in the past and I’ve been different types of writer at different stages. Till the time I was in studying in Chandigarh, filmmaking was no where in the horizon, I just wanted to be a writer. I had published poems and stories and enrolled in a media course to become a journalist. So there I felt like film making is a good vessel to share my experiences and be heard.”
For our final question, we asked Garima about her upcoming projects, to which she revealed, “ Right now I am doing dialogues for an 8 episode web show. I am extremely excited for this because it’s North Indian dialogues as I have a good command over this lingo. Next, I am working with Audible and a couple of short films here and there. I wrote a feature documentary “Sacred bond” which is about an orphan elephant who is being taken care of by human parents”.
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