Guwahati, Monday, February 7, 2011
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Call to repeal Official Language Act 1960
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Feb 6 – Expressing concern over the failure of the authorities in implementing the Assam Official Language Act-1960 even after five decades into its existence, public activist Prof Deven Dutta today said that the State Government would do well to repeal the Act and enact another piece of legislation according State language status to either English or Bangla.

Addressing a press conference, Prof Dutta said that the situation vis-à-vis implementation of the Act betrayed an appalling lack of self-respect and nationalist feeling among not just the government machinery but also the State’s intelligentsia and the people’s organisations including Asam Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body.

“The Government we have is anti-self and anti-people, with the people and other organisations professing to espouse the cause of the State being a hypocritical lot,” Prof Dutta said, adding that while the State Government was perpetuating an illegality by not implementing the Act, Asam Sahitya Sabha also owed the people an explanation why it had over the years failed to take up the matter in the right earnest.

Alleging that a ‘systematic invasion’ on Assam’s language and land was going on at the behest of ‘outside forces’, Prof Dutta said that a conspiracy was on to effect transfer of land ownership from the indigenous people to outsiders with active support of the State Government and local middlemen.

Prof Dutta said that a few outside firms were procuring huge areas of land in different parts of the State at throwaway prices, with ominous implications for the indigenous people’s future.

“Land rights are fast slipping from the hands of the indigenous. These firms with dubious credentials and involvement in financial anomalies are now eyeing Assam’s prime land to set up their business. They care little about local language and culture, as is evident in the way they are distorting the Assamese language in different advertisements – including those in a satellite channel run by such a firm — with us preferring to look the other way,” Prof Dutta said, and questioned if anyone in West Bengal would tolerate representation of their language in a distorted and perverted manner.

Prof Dutta said that it was shocking that the State’s society was turning a blind eye to the portentous developments. “We are behaving like the proverbial ostrich pretending that we are not seeing the grave danger confronting us,” he said.

Prof Dutta said that the growing apathy of a large segment of the State’s populace towards their mother tongue was complicating matters further. “Organisations that keep on demanding white papers at the drop of a hat ought to demand one as to how many of the State’s politicians and bureaucrats send their wards to vernacular-medium schools,” he said, adding that the Government was responsible for the downward slide of vernacular-medium education in the State.

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