GUWAHATI, Aug 31 - Identity is not a simple black and white phenomenon. Every human being has multiple identities. As we have seen in Assam, linguistic and religious identities both clash and intersect. Then there are regional and sub-regional identities, identities rooted in both shared and contested histories, and identities born of ethnic and community kinship. Today we are in the midst of a churning of identities, in Assam as well as in the rest of India.
This was stated by senior journalist Ashok Malik while delivering a speech on “Assam, India and Identity”, at a function organised to commemorate Asom Pran Harendra Nath Barua’s 32nd death anniversary here today.
The function was organised by the Harendra Nath Barua Memorial Trust.
Elaborating on the topic of the lecture, he said, “It is important to understand what the different debates related to identity are, why they are taking place and the interplay between them. Assamese identity is seeking a stronger footing within the broader Indian identity and yet Indian identity, while changing in itself, is also changing and re-shaping Assamese identity.”
Malik, former press secretary to the President of India, observed that now our national identity is being reinforced and re-forged by new social forces that are creating a bottom-up, organic sense of nationhood and belonging. According to him, those new social forces are the youth population, urbanisation and the urban-centric national economy and communication technology, including television, social media and the wider internet.
“India will have the largest working-age population for any society in the first half of the 21st century. What does this amount to in numbers? It peaks in 2030 with a youth population of 485 million aged between 15 and 34. This youth bulge is both an opportunity and a challenge. Like young people everywhere, this generation is impatient, energetic and hungry for prosperity and proud of its identity. That identity could be India or function of pride in language, region and community,” said Malik.
The organisers also felicitated senior journalist Monoj Kumar Goswami.
In his speech Goswami said, “Today in India the journalist community has been facing extreme criticism. Common people are now raising questions over fake news and partiality of a section of the media. I have spent around 30 years in journalism and witnessed drastic changes in this profession. Unfortunately, today freedom of speech has become freedom of the proprietor.”
The programme was presided over by senior journalist Dhirendra Nath Bezbarua. A host of dignitaries were present at the function including Media Advisor to Chief Minister Hrishikesh Goswami and senior journalist Samudra Gupta Kashyap. A book titled Asom Pran Harendra Nath Barua-Three Decades of Memories, was also released.