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‘Non-resident Assamese’ on mission to fulful Sabha’s global ambitions
SANJOY RAY
 GUWAHATI, Feb 8 - A college dropout who left Assam in quest of his dreams way back in 1989, only to spearhead a major business entity in South East Asia, now vows to pilot Asam Sahitya Sabha’s maiden pursuit to go international and put the 102-year-old literary body on the global pedestal.

Habib M Chowdhury, a ‘non-resident Assamese’ who is the founder of HSMM Group of Companies headquartered in Laos, is the driving force behind Sabha’s move to organise its maiden convention in Laos later this month.

The Sahitya Sabha international convention will be attended by Laos Prime Minister besides ambassadors of all the ASEAN countries.

The HSMM Group of Companies, which would facilitate hosting of the literary event in Laos, is a global conglomerate having investments in Agarwood oil extraction facilities, Agarwood plantations, Mining and Information Technology.

Talking exclusively with The Assam Tribune, Chowdhury, who is also the chairman of the ASEAN India Business Council (Laos chapter), said, “In 1988 when I left Hojai with just a few bucks in my wallet to pursue my dream in Dubai (later shifted his business empire to Laos), little did I know that I would reach where I am today. However, at the same time, there was a constant urge from within to contribute something to Assam and its people. I consider myself fortunate that I am in a position to contribute to my birthplace, especially towards the Sabha, which reflects the hopes and aspirations of the Assamese people.

“Not just in Laos, we plan to take Sabha to all the ASEAN countries and beyond. The idea behind having it in Laos is the striking similarities in the language, culture, climate, landscape or food habits, which is just amazing,” said Chowdhury, who has been made the brand ambassador of the Sabha in the ASEAN.

“Through the literary fair, we aim to connect Northeast India with ASEAN countries. The Northeast can get exposed to the best practices in the field of tourism and business and then probably replicate them keeping in mind the climate back home,” Chowdhury said, adding, “Representatives from the Assamese community living in 18 countries, including UK, USA and Gulf countries, would be present in the three-day convention.”

“Besides, it would provide an excellent opportunity for cultural ties and even trade and tourism opportunities. Be it our handicraft or handloom, there is a huge market to explore in the ASEAN countries waiting to be exploited,” he said.

“The ASEAN with a population of nearly 63 crore could turn out to be a game changer for entrepreneurs of the Northeast and that is why we are also planning to organise a B2B meeting during the course of the event,” informed Chowdhury.

Chowdhury further said that ASEAN India Business Council (Laos chapter) along with the Ministry of Tourism (Laos), Ministry of Culture (Laos), Laos Chamber of Commerce, Indian Embassy and Indian Chamber of Commerce have agreed to extend their support to the event.

“ASEAN is closer than our national capital if you take the connectivity aspect in mind. We also plan to showcase our rich tradition and culture apart from penetrating a viable market for handloom and handicraft made by our local entrepreneurs,” Chowdhury added.

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