Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, Aug 8 - “Assamese is the mother tongue of one crore sixty-one lakh people and is spoken by more than three crore people at present. A language of such magnificence has no reason to fear for its future. But unless we adopt a broader outlook of inclusiveness, the misunderstanding between various components of the language would grow wider, which would be detrimental to its growth and expansion.”
Kanak Sen Deka delivering the Chandra Prasad Saikia Memorial Lecture at the Assam State Museum on Thursday. – AT Photo
Noted writer and journalist Kanak Sen Deka made the above observation while delivering the Chandra Prasad Saikia Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘Future of Assamese language and literature’ at the Kanaklal Baruah Auditorium of Assam State Museum here today.
Assamese monthly literary magazine Gariyoshi, published by the Assam Tribune Group, organised the lecture in memory of the late Saikia who was the founder-editor of the magazine. The function was presided over by its present editor Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora.
While laying stress on the Assamese language’s status as the lingua franca of the region, Deka said the strength of Assamese would further increase with the mutual development of other communities and tribes of the State.
“Even our indigenous citizens of char chapori areas have adopted the Assamese language, culture and literature. They sing Borgeet and Bihu Naam. But, if we still generalise them as Bangladeshis and don’t welcome them as one among us, it will surely have strong reactions,” Deka added.
Highlighting the importance of making Assamese more visible on the Internet, he mentioned that to compete in the technology-driven society, the language must have its significant presence on the web, for which an organised effort should be made.
In the interactive session that followed, the people asked him about the decreasing appeal of the language among the younger generation of Assamese people, mainly due to the increasing popularity of English and Hindi. Some of the members from the audience also highlighted the absence of Assamese books in some important technical streams like medical, agriculture, IT, etc.
“We have such a huge number of people speaking and following the language. It is not impossible to overcome such hurdles, provided we take the responsibility. I am very optimistic about the bright future of Assamese,” Deka replied.
In his presidential remarks, Dr Bora said to compete at a global level, any Indian language, including Assamese, would have to grow further and match up to the intellectual level of the present-day world discourses. “Languages in Japan and China have enriched themselves to match that level. But here, every language is in danger. The infrastructure of vernacular medium schools has collapsed. It is not very appealing for the younger generations to go for studies in vernacular medium,” he added.
Earlier, Ankur Deka, senior journalist and convener of the memorial lecture programme, delivered the welcome speech.