About

The 5th Assam Forum GB Conference will be held at Kaziranga University, Assam on 10-11 December 2016. It will be a 2-day conference and will cover three important areas:

(a) Rural poverty in Assam (agricultural productivity, connectivity & power supply, health care, and unemployment)
(b) Solutions to flood & erosion problems, dams (benefits and safety), and water resources management in Assam; and
(c) Ethnic disharmony, Tribal autonomous Councils, and Assamese sub-nationalism.

Further details will be announced at a later date.

In February 2015, as AFGB Chairman, I went to New Delhi, and accompanied by AFGB member Mr. Chiranjit Sonowal, met Mr. Ajit Kumar Doval, 5th National Security Adviser to the Government of India, Ms. Uma Bharti, Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Development of North East Region (Independent Charge), Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Development of Atomic Energy, and Department of Space, Government of India, and Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports.

Read more: Assam Forum Submits Memorandum to PM Modi

The 3rd Annual Conference organized by Assam Forum of Great Britain took place on 13th September 2014 at the London School of Economics. The conference opened with a brief address by the AFGB Chairman. Two topics were discussed at this conference, namely, The perennial problem of flood and erosion in Assam and Primary Healthcare problems in Assam.

Download the summary in PDF which contains links to the full text of all the papers presented in the conference including the chairman's speech.

London, 1 June (By Nina Goswami): A former British Foreign Office Minister has called on the Assamese community in the United Kingdom (UK) to help the government in Assam tackle problems faced by the country.

While addressing the second annual conference of the Assam Forum of Great Britain (AFGB) at the London School of Economics last weekend (Saturday 1 June), Bill Rammell urged delegates to consider the experiences of other countries when formulating their advice for the administration in Dispur.

Mr Rammell, who served under former British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said: “I want to stress to you that issues such as poverty and terrorism have common histories, common threads, and I hope that in your discussions and debates, you look to initiatives and examples – at home and abroad – as you seek to offer solutions to the Government and others back in Assam.”

The former UK minister, who was introduced to the delegation by the Forum’s Vice Chairman Dr Jayanta Sarma, blamed the present British government for a 30 per cent drop in first-year undergraduates coming to the UK from India and warned this could disadvantage both countries.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing a (British) Government that is confused – and confusing – on the issue of immigration, and in particular overseas students,” said Mr Rammell, who is Vice Chancellor at the University of Bedfordshire. “In my opinion that’s not just a shame and a missed opportunity for those prospective students, but bad for high education in the UK, bad for the UK economy, and bad for that evolving UK-India relationship.”

Immigrations – specifically, illegal migration from Bangladesh – was a key theme of the conference. Dr. Jitendralal Borkakoti, who is Assam Forum's Chairman and Chief Convenor, argued that Assam Accord had been a “complete failure”, while deliberating on the issue in his presentation on Demographic Invasion and the Assam Accord.

“The Accord did not spell out a robust institutional structure with adequate resources to implement the Agreement’s detect-delete-deport policy and the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, legitimised in the Accord, became a hindrance” said Dr Borkakoti.

“The Asom Gana Parishad Government did not make sure that the issue should be raised with the Bangladesh and in 1985 did not strike when the iron was hot,” he continued. “It is now too late because of the Human Rights Bill, thousands of illegal migrants who have lived for more than 25 years will be difficult to be got rid of.”

Dr Borkakoti suggested that a policy of prevention and assimilation should now be adopted and the Government of India must raise the issue with Bangladesh, something that should have been done 28 years back.

Smitana Saikia, who is currently writing a doctorate around the Ethnic mobilization and conflict in Assam, argued that a historic lack of an official definition of “Assamese” people is intrinsically linked to concerns over immigration, with many tribal groups feeling their distinct identities are being threatened.

She argued that the lack of provision for “legislative and administrative safeguards to protect the cultural, social, and linguistic identity and heritage” as outlined in the Assam Accord deal of 1985 had led to this identity crisis – a factor during last year’s Bodo-Muslim violence.

Calling for a return to a multi-ethnic society, Ms Saikia said: “Part of this is to have an all-inclusive definition of Assamese – something the Government of Assam still has not done after embarking on this in 2007.”

The meeting, which was overseen by AFGB’s chairman Dr Bhupen Dev Sarmah, also discussed the problems of Assam’s devastating floods.

Dr Rituparna Bhattacharya called for a renewed effort to add Majuli, the world’s largest river island, to the UNESCO World Heritage list. She bemoaned in her paper entitled Natural hazards reshape the map of Majuli the failure of previous efforts and claimed that one bid had collapsed due to mistakes regarding the paperwork.

Dr Tarun Chowdhury said both the Assam and Indian governments needed to improve flood relief provision and, if necessary, be prepared to ask the outside world for help.

Citing the aftermath of last year’s flood crisis when an estimated 500,000 displaced people were left living in poor conditions, he said: “They [the Assam government] should also put their pride to one side and ask for foreign help as it will save lives.”

Dated, London, the 28th June 2013

Mr. Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam

Honourable Chief Minister,

We agree with the President of India that the Assam Accord should be revisited. The Assam Accord is now outdated as events have overtaken it. We all feel betrayed as the required actions were not taken on time by the newly formed AGP Government in 1985. We consider the Assam Accord a failure. The seeds of its failure were already in the document, namely, (a) that the IMDT Act (which was struck down by the Supreme Court as illegal) was internalised, (b) that no consideration was given to the resources required for a robust administrative machinery to detect and deport, (c) that there was no treaty or agreement with the Government of Bangladesh. The High Commissioner of Bangladesh, whom we have met personally, has confirmed that no such agreements exist between India and Bangladesh.

Read more: Memorandum to the Chief Minister of Assam on the Migrants Problem

Mission

We discuss the economic, social, political and cultural issues of Assam and submit suggested solutions and raise awareness among the Assamese community and the wider population of the UK of the ongoing concerns in Assam. We hold an annual conference on the burning issues of Assam, and also to organise seminars on urgent issues. We invite expert opinions on specific topics of Assam and facilitate the global Assamese diaspora to have a united voice on specific issues.

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