The precise etymology of the modern anglicised word "Assam" is ambiguous. In the classical period and up to the 12th century the region east of the Karatoya river, largely congruent to present-day Assam, was called Kamarupa, and alternatively, Pragjyotisha. In medieval times the Mughals used Asham (eastern Assam) and Kamrup (western Assam), and during the British colonial era, the British used Assam. Though many authors have associated the name with the 13th century Shan invaders the precise origin of the name is not clear. It was suggested by some that the Sanskrit word Asama ("unequalled", "peerless", etc.) was the root, which has been rejected by Kakati, and more recent authors have concurred that it is a latter-day Sanskritization of a native name. Among possible origins are Tai (A-Cham) and Bodo (Ha-Sam).
Assam and adjoining regions have evidences of human settlement from the beginning of the Stone age. The hills at the height of 1,500–2,000 feet (460 to 615 m) were popular habitats probably due to availability of exposed dolerite basalt, useful for tool-making.
Davaka was later absorbed by Kamarupa, which grew into a large kingdom that spanned from Karatoya river to near present Sadiya and covered the entire Brahmaputra valley, North Bengal, parts of Bangladesh and, at times Purnea and parts of West Bengal.
In the reign of the Varman king, Bhaskaravarman (c. 600–650 AD), the Chinese traveller Xuanzang visited the region and recorded his travels. Later, after weakening and disintegration (after the Kamarupa-Palas), the Kamarupa tradition was extended to c. 1255 AD by the Lunar I (c. 1120–1185 AD) and Lunar II (c. 1155–1255 AD) dynasties.
The Ahoms, a Tai group, ruled Upper Assam The Shans built their kingdom and consolidated their power in Eastern Assam with the modern town of Sibsagar as their capital. Until the early 1500s, the Ahoms ruled a small kingdom in Sibsagar district and suddenly expanded during King Suhungmung's rule taking advantage of weakening rule of Chutia and Dimasa kingdoms. By 1681, the whole track down to the border of the modern district of Goalpara came permanently under their sway. Ahoms ruled for nearly 600 years (1228–1826 AD) with major expansions in the early 16th century at the cost of Chutia and Dimasa Kachari kingdoms. Since c. the 13th century AD, the nerve centre of Ahom polity was upper Assam; the kingdom was gradually extended to the Karatoya River in the 17th or 18th century. It was at its zenith during the reign of Sukhrungphaa or Sworgodeu Rudra Sinha (c. 1696–1714 AD).
The Chutiya rulers (1187–1673 AD), a Bodo-Kachari group by origin, held the regions on both the banks of Brahmaputra with its domain in the area eastwards from Vishwanath (north bank) and Buridihing (south bank), in Upper Assam and in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. It was partially annexed in the early 1500s by the Ahoms, finally getting absorbed in 1673 AD. The rivalry between the Chutiyas and Ahoms for the supremacy of eastern Assam led to a series of battles between them from the early 16th century until the start of the 17th century, which saw great loss of men and money.
The Koch, another Bodo-Kachari dynasty, established sovereignty in c. 1510 AD. The Koch kingdom in Western Assam and present-day North Bengal was at its zenith in the early reign of Nara Narayan (c. 1540–1587 AD). It split into two in c. 1581 CE, the western part as a Moghul vassal and the eastern as an Ahom satellite state. Later, in 1682, Koch Hajo was entirely annexed by the Ahoms.
Among other dynasties, the Dimasa Kacharis (13th century-1854 AD) ruled from Dikhow River to central and southern Assam and had their capital at Dimapur. With the expansion of Ahom kingdom, by the early 17th century, the Chutiya areas were annexed and since c. 1536 AD the Kacharis remained only in Cachar and North Cachar, and more as an Ahom ally than a competing force.
Despite numerous invasions, mostly by the Muslim rulers, no western power ruled Assam until the arrival of the British. Though the Mughals made seventeen attempts to invade, they were never successful. The most successful invader Mir Jumla, a governor of Aurangzeb, briefly occupied Garhgaon (c. 1662–63 AD), the then capital, but found it difficult to prevent guerrilla attacks on his forces, forcing them to leave. The decisive victory of the Assamese led by general Lachit Borphukan on the Mughals, then under command of Raja Ram Singha, at Saraighat in 1671 almost ended Mughal ambitions in this region. The Mughals were finally expelled from Lower Assam during the reign of Gadadhar Singha in 1682 AD.
A map of the British Indian Empire in 1909 during the partition of Bengal (1905–1911), showing British India in two shades of pink (coral and pale) and the princely states in yellow. The Assam Province (initially as the Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam) can be seen towards the north-eastern side of India.
The discovery of Camellia sinensis in 1834 in Assam was followed by testing in 1836–37 in London. The British allowed companies to rent land from 1839 onwards. Thereafter tea plantations mushroomed in Eastern Assam, where the soil and the climate were most suitable. Problems with the imported Han Chinese labourers from China and hostility from native Assamese resulted in the migration of forced labourers from central and eastern parts of India. After initial trial and error with planting the Chinese and the Assamese-Chinese hybrid varieties, the planters later accepted the local Camellia assamica as the most suitable variety for Assam. By the 1850s, the industry started seeing some profits. The industry saw initial growth, when in 1861, investors were allowed to own land in Assam and it saw substantial progress with the invention of new technologies and machinery for preparing processed tea during the 1870s.
Despite the commercial success, tea labourers continued to be exploited,[clarification needed] working and living under poor conditions.[clarification needed] Fearful of greater government interference, the tea growers formed the Indian Tea Association in 1888 to lobby to retain the status quo. The organisation was successful in this, but even after India's independence, conditions of the labourers have improved very little.
In the later part of the 18th century, religious tensions and atrocities by the nobles led to the Moamoria rebellion (1769–1805), resulting in tremendous casualties of lives and property. The rebellion was suppressed but the kingdom was severely weakened by the civil war. Political rivalry between Prime Minister Purnananda Burhagohain and Badan Chandra Borphukan, the Ahom Viceroy of Western Assam, led to an invitation to the Burmese by the latter, in turn leading to three successive Burmese invasions of Assam. The reigning monarch Chandrakanta Singha tried to check the Burmese invaders but he was defeated after fierce resistance. And Ahom occupied Assam was captured by the Burmese
A reign of terror was unleashed by the Burmese on the Assamese people, who fled to neighbouring kingdoms and British-ruled Bengal. The Burmese reached the East India Company's borders, and the First Anglo-Burmese War ensued in 1824. The war ended under the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826, with the Company taking control of Western Assam and installing Purandar Singha as king of Upper Assam in 1833. The arrangement lasted till 1838 and thereafter the British gradually annexed the entire region. Thereafter the court language and medium of instruction in educational institutions of Assam was made Bengali, instead of Assamese. Starting from 1836 until 1873, this imposition of a foreign tongue created greater unemployment among the People of Assam and Assamese literature naturally suffered in its growth.
Showing a historical incident at Kanaklata Udyan, Tezpur
Initially, Assam was made a part of the Bengal Presidency, then in 1906 it was made a part of Eastern Bengal and Assam province, and in 1912 it was reconstituted into a chief commissioners' province. In 1913, a legislative council and, in 1937, the Assam Legislative Assembly, were formed in Shillong, the erstwhile capital of the region. The British tea planters imported labour from central India adding to the demographic canvas.
The Assam territory was first separated from Bengal in 1874 as the 'North-East Frontier' non-regulation province, also known as the Assam Chief-Commissionership. It was incorporated into the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam in 1905 after the partition of Bengal (1905–1911) and re-established in 1912 as Assam Province .
After a few initially unsuccessful attempts to gain independence for Assam during the 1850s, anti-colonial Assamese joined and actively supported the Indian National Congress against the British from the early 20th century, with Gopinath Bordoloi emerging as the preeminent nationalist leader in the Assam Congress. Bordoloi's major political rival in this time was Sir Saidullah, who was representing the Muslim League, and had the backing of the influential Muslim cleric Maulana Bhasani.
The Assam Postage Circle was established by 1873 under the headship of the Deputy Post Master General.
At the turn of the 20th century, British India consisted of eight provinces that were administered either by a governor or a lieutenant-governor. Assam Province was one among the major eight provinces of British India. The table below shows the major original provinces during British India covering the Assam Province under the Administrative Office of the Chief Commissioner.
The following table lists their areas and populations. It does not include those of the dependent Native States:
With the partition of India in 1947, Assam became a constituent state of India. The Sylhet District of Assam (excluding the Karimganj subdivision) was given up to East Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh.
Assam till the 1950s; The new states of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram formed in the 1960-70s. From Shillong, the capital of Assam was shifted to Dispur, now a part of Guwahati. After the Indo-China war in 1962, Arunachal Pradesh was also separated out.
The government of India, which has the unilateral powers to change the borders of a state, divided Assam into several states beginning in 1970 within the borders of what was then Assam. In 1963, the Naga Hills district became the 16th state of India under the name of Nagaland. Part of Tuensang was added to Nagaland. In 1970, in response to the demands of the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo people of the Meghalaya Plateau, the districts containing the Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills, and Garo Hills were formed into an autonomous state within Assam; in 1972 this became a separate state under the name of Meghalaya. In 1972, Arunachal Pradesh (the North East Frontier Agency) and Mizoram (from the Mizo Hills in the south) were separated from Assam as union territories; both became states in 1986.
Since the restructuring of Assam after independence, communal tensions and violence remain. Separatist groups began forming along ethnic lines, and demands for autonomy and sovereignty grew, resulting in the fragmentation of Assam. In 1961, the government of Assam passed legislation making use of the Assamese language compulsory. It was withdrawn later under pressure from Bengali speaking people in Cachar. In the 1980s the Brahmaputra valley saw a six-year Assam Agitation triggered by the discovery of a sudden rise in registered voters on electoral rolls. It tried to force the government to identify and deport foreigners illegally migrating from neighbouring Bangladesh and to provide constitutional, legislative, administrative and cultural safeguards for the indigenous Assamese majority, which they felt was under threat due to the increase of migration from Bangladesh. The agitation ended after an accord (Assam Accord 1985) between its leaders and the Union Government, which remained unimplemented, causing simmering discontent.
A significant geographical aspect of Assam is that it contains three of six physiographic divisions of India – The Northern Himalayas (Eastern Hills), The Northern Plains (Brahmaputra plain) and Deccan Plateau (Karbi Anglong). As the Brahmaputra flows in Assam the climate here is cold and there is rainfall most of the month. Geomorphic studies conclude that the Brahmaputra, the life-line of Assam, is an antecedent river older than the Himalayas. The river with steep gorges and rapids in Arunachal Pradesh entering Assam, becomes a braided river (at times 10 mi/16 km wide) and with tributaries, creates a flood plain (Brahmaputra Valley: 50–60 mi/80–100 km wide, 600 mi/1000 km long). The hills of Karbi Anglong, North Cachar and those in and close to Guwahati (also Khasi-Garo Hills) now eroded and dissected are originally parts of the South Indian Plateau system. In the south, the Barak originating in the Barail Range (Assam-Nagaland border) flows through the Cachar district with a 25–30 miles (40–50 km) wide valley and enters Bangladesh with the name Surma River.
Urban centres include Guwahati, one of the 100 fastest growing cities in the world. Guwahati is the gateway to the North-East India. Silchar, (in the Barak valley) the 2nd most populous city in Assam and an important centre of business. Other large cities include Dibrugarh, an oil and natural gas industry centre,
With the tropical monsoon climate, Assam is temperate (summer max. at 95–100 °F or 35–38 °C and winter min. at 43–46 °F or 6–8 °C) and experiences heavy rainfall and high humidity. The climate is characterised by heavy monsoon downpours reducing summer temperatures and affecting foggy nights and mornings in winters, frequent during the afternoons. Spring (March–April) and autumn (September–October) are usually pleasant with moderate rainfall and temperature. Assam's agriculture usually depends on the south-west monsoon rains.
Every year, flooding from the Brahmaputra and other rivers such as Barak River etc. deluges places in Assam. The water levels of the rivers rise because of rainfall resulting in the rivers overflowing their banks and engulfing nearby areas. Apart from houses and livestock being washed away by flood water, bridges, railway tracks, and roads are also damaged by the calamity, which causes communication breakdown in many places. Fatalities are also caused by the natural disaster in many places of the State.
The state has the largest population of the wild water buffalo in the world.The state has the highest diversity of birds in India with around 820 species. With subspecies the number is as high as 946.The mammal diversity in the state is around 190 species.
Blooming of Kopou Orchid marks the beginning of the festive season of Bihu in Assam.
Assam is remarkably rich in Orchid species and the Foxtail orchid is the state flower of Assam. The recently established Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park boasts more than 500 of the estimated 1,314 orchid species found in India.
Assam has petroleum, natural gas, coal, limestone and other minor minerals such as magnetic quartzite, kaolin, sillimanites, clay and feldspar. A small quantity of iron ore is available in western districts. Discovered in 1889, all the major petroleum-gas reserves are in Upper parts. A recent USGS estimate shows 399 million barrels (63,400,000 m3) of oil, 1,178 billion cubic feet (3.34×1010 m3) of gas and 67 million barrels (10,700,000 m3) of natural gas liquids in the Assam Geologic Province.
The region is prone to natural disasters like annual floods and frequent mild earthquakes. Strong earthquakes were recorded in 1869, 1897, and 1950.
The total population of Assam was 26.66 million with 4.91 million households in 2001. Higher population concentration was recorded in the districts of Kamrup, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Dhubri, Darrang, and Cachar. Assam's population was estimated at 28.67 million in 2006 and at 30.57 million in 2011and is expected to reach 34.18 million by 2021 and 35.60 million by 2026.
As per the 2011 census, the total population of Assam was 31,169,272. The total population of the state has increased from 26,638,407 to 31,169,272 in the last ten years with a growth rate of 16.93%.
Of the 33 districts, eight districts registered a rise in the decadal population growth rate. Religious minority-dominated districts like Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon, and Hailakandi, recorded growth rates ranging from 20 per cent to 24 per cent during the last decade. Eastern Assamese districts, including Sivasagar and Jorhat, registered around 9 per cent population growth. These districts do not have any international border.
In 2011, the literacy rate in the state was 73.18%. The male literacy rate was 78.81% and the female literacy rate was 67.27%. In 2001, the census had recorded literacy in Assam at 63.3% with male literacy at 71.3% and female at 54.6%. The urbanisation rate was recorded at 12.9%.
The growth of population in Assam has increased since the middle decades of the 20th century. The population grew from 3.29 million in 1901 to 6.70 million in 1941. It increased to 14.63 million in 1971 and 22.41 million in 1991. The growth in the western and southern districts was high primarily due to the influx of people from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
The People of India project has studied 115 of the ethnic groups in Assam. 79 (69%) identify themselves regionally, 22 (19%) locally, and 3 trans-nationally. The earliest settlers were Austric, Dravidian followed by Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan, and Tai–Kadai people. Forty-five languages are spoken by different communities, including three major language families: Austroasiatic (5), Sino-Tibetan (24) and Indo-European (12). Three of the spoken languages do not fall in these families. There is a high degree of bilingualism.
Out of 32 districts of Assam, 9 are Muslim majority according to the 2011 census of India. The districts are Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Darrang and Bongaigaon.
According to the language census of 2011 in Assam, out of a total population of around 31 million, Assamese is spoken by around half that number: 15 million. Although the number of speakers is growing, the percentage of Assam's population who have it as a mother tongue has fallen slightly. The various Bengali dialects and closely related languages are spoken by around 9 million people in Assam, and the portion of the population that speaks these languages has grown slightly. Hindi is the third most-spoken language.
Traditionally, Assamese was the language of the common folk in the ancient Kamarupa kingdom and in the medieval kingdoms of Dimasa Kachari, Chutiya Kachari, Borahi Kachari, Ahom and Koch Kachari Kingdom of Kamatapur. Traces of the language are found in many poems by Luipa, Sarahapa, and others, in Charyapada (c. 7th–8th century AD). Modern dialects such as Kamrupi and Goalpariya are remnants of this language. Moreover, Assamese in its traditional form was used by the ethno-cultural groups in the region as lingua-franca, which spread during the stronger kingdoms and was required for economic integration. Localised forms of the language still exist in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
Linguistically modern Assamese traces its roots to the version developed by the American Missionaries based on the local form used near Sivasagar (Xiwôxagôr) district. Assamese (Ôxômiya) is a rich language due to its hybrid nature and unique characteristics of pronunciation and softness. The presence of Voiceless velar fricative in Assamese makes it a unique among other similar Indo-Aryan languages.
Bodo is an ancient language of Assam. Spatial distribution patterns of the ethno-cultural groups, cultural traits and the phenomenon of naming all the major rivers in the North East Region with Bodo-Kachari words (e.g. Dihing, Dibru, Dihong, D/Tista, and Dikrai) reveal that it was the most important language in ancient times. Bodo is now spoken largely in the Western Assam (BTAD). After years of neglect, now Bodo language is getting attention and its literature is developing. Other native languages of Tibeto-Burman origin and related to Bodo-Kachari are Deori, Mising, Karbi, Rabha, and Tiwa.
There are approximately 564,000 Nepali speakers spread all over the state forming about 2.12% of Assam's total population according to 2001 census.
There are speakers of Tai languages in Assam. A total of six Tai languages were spoken in Assam. Two are now extinct.
The administrative districts are further subdivided into 54 "Subdivisions" or Mahakuma. Every district is administered from a district headquarters with the office of the Deputy Commissioner, District Magistrate, Office of the District Panchayat and usually with a district court.
The local governance system is organised under the jila-parishad (District Panchayat) for a district, panchayat for group of or individual rural areas and under the urban local bodies for the towns and cities. There are now 2489 village panchayats covering 26247 villages in Assam. The 'town-committee' or nagar-somiti for small towns, 'municipal board' or pouro-sobha for medium towns and municipal corporation or pouro-nigom for the cities consist of the urban local bodies.
For revenue purposes, the districts are divided into revenue circles and mouzas; for the development projects, the districts are divided into 219 'development-blocks' and for law and order these are divided into 206 police stations or thana.
A list of 9 oldest, classified and prominent, and constantly inhabited, recognised urban centres based on the earliest years of formation of the civic bodies, before the Indian independence of 1947 is tabulated below:
Jointly shared with the other urban centre. ^1 and ^2 Shared with Guwahati. ^3 Shared with Tezpur. ^4 Shared with Jorhat.
The state has three autonomous councils.Bodoland Autonomous Territorial Council, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Council. The state has further more six statutory autonomous council – Tiwashong Autonomous Council, Jagiroad for ethnic Tiwa Kachari also known as Lalung, Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council, Dudhnoi for ethnic Rabha Kachari, Mishing Autonomous Council, Dhemaji for Mishings a Tani Tribe, Sonowal Kachari Autonomous Council, Dibrugarh, Thengal Kachari Autonomous Council, Titabar and Deori Autonomous Council, Lakhimpur for ethnic Deori Kachari.
The continual illegal entry of people into Assam, mostly from Bangladesh, has caused economic upheaval and social and political unrest. During the Assam Movement (1979–1985), the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and others demanded that government stop the influx of immigrants and deport those who had already settled. During this period, 855 people (the AASU says 860) died in various conflicts with migrants and police. In 1985, the Indian Government and leaders of the agitation signed the Assam accord to settle the conflict.
The 1991 census made the changing demographics of border districts more visible. Government is updating the National Register of Citizens and deporting non-citizens, but not as fast as they enter. The situation is called a risk to Assam's as well as India's security. In August 2019, India left 2 million residents off the Register of Citizens.
In the rainy season every year, the Brahmaputra and other rivers overflow their banks and flood adjacent land. Flood waters wash away property including houses and livestock. Damage to crops and fields harms the agricultural sector. Bridges, railway tracks, and roads are also damaged, harming transportation and communication, and in some years requiring food to be air-dropped to isolated towns. Some deaths are attributed to the floods.
Unemployment is a chronic problem in Assam. It is variously blamed on poor infrastructure, limited connectivity, and government policy; on a "poor work culture"; on failure to advertise vacancies; and on government hiring candidates from outside Assam.
The capital, Dispur, contains institutions of higher education for students of the north-eastern region. Cotton College, Guwahati, dates back to the 19th century. Assam has several institutions for tertiary education and research.
Assam's economy is based on agriculture and oil. Assam produces more than half of India's tea. The Assam-Arakan basin holds about a quarter of the country's oil reserves, and produces about 12% of its total petroleum. According to the recent estimates, Assam's per capita GDP is ₹6,157 at constant prices (1993–94) and ₹10,198 at current prices; almost 40% lower than that in India. According to the recent estimates, per capita income in Assam has reached ₹6756 (1993–94 constant prices) in 2004–05, which is still much lower than India's.
A paddy field in Assam
A tea garden in Assam: tea is grown at elevations near sea level, giving it a malty sweetness and an earthy flavor, as opposed to the more floral aroma of highland (e.g. Darjeeling, Taiwanese) teas
This 1850 engraving shows the different stages in the process of making tea in Assam
The economy of Assam today represents a unique juxtaposition of backwardness amidst plenty. Despite its rich natural resources, and supplying of up to 25% of India's petroleum needs, Assam's growth rate has not kept pace with that of India; the difference has increased rapidly since the 1970s. The Indian economy grew at 6% per annum over the period of 1981 to 2000; the growth rate of Assam was only 3.3%. In the Sixth Plan period, Assam experienced a negative growth rate of 3.78% when India's was positive at 6%. In the post-liberalised era (after 1991), the difference widened further.
According to recent analysis, Assam's economy is showing signs of improvement. In 2001–02, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 4.5%, falling to 3.4% in the next financial year. During 2003–04 and 2004–05, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 5.5% and 5.3% respectively. The advanced estimates placed the growth rate for 2005–06 at above 6%. Assam's GDP in 2004 is estimated at $13 billion in current prices. Sectoral analysis again exhibits a dismal picture. The average annual growth rate of agriculture, which was 2.6% per annum over the 1980s, has fallen to 1.6% in the 1990s. The manufacturing sector showed some improvement in the 1990s with a growth rate of 3.4% per annum than 2.4% in the 1980s. For the past five decades, the tertiary sector has registered the highest growth rates of the other sectors, which even has slowed down in the 1990s than in the 1980s.
Unemployment is one of the major problems in Assam. This problem can be attributed to overpopulation and a faulty education system. Every year, large numbers of students obtain higher academic degrees but because of non-availability of proportional vacancies, most of these students remain unemployed. A number of employers hire over-qualified or efficient, but under-certified, candidates, or candidates with narrowly defined qualifications. The problem is exacerbated by the growth in the number of technical institutes in Assam which increases the unemployed community of the State. Many job-seekers are eligible for jobs in sectors like railways and Oil India but do not get these jobs because of the appointment of candidates from outside of Assam to these posts. The reluctance on the part of the departments concerned to advertise vacancies in vernacular language has also made matters worse for local unemployed youths particularly for the job-seekers of Grade C and D vacancies.
Reduction of the unemployed has been threatened by illegal immigration from Bangladesh. This has increased the workforce without a commensurate increase in jobs. Immigrants compete with local workers for jobs at lower wages, particularly in construction, domestics, Rickshaw-pullers, and vegetable sellers. The government has been identifying (via NRC) and deporting illegal immigrants. Continued immigration is exceeding deportation.
In Assam among all the productive sectors, agriculture makes the highest contribution to its domestic sectors, accounting for more than a third of Assam's income and employs 69% of workforce. Assam's biggest contribution to the world is Assam tea. It has its own variety, Camellia sinensis var. assamica. The state produces rice, rapeseed, mustard seed, jute, potato, sweet potato, banana, papaya, areca nut, sugarcane and turmeric.
Assamese women busy planting paddy seedlings in their agricultural field in Pahukata village in the Nagaon district of Assam
Assam's agriculture is yet to experience modernisation in a real sense. With implications for food security, per capita food grain production has declined in the past five decades. Productivity has increased marginally, but is still low compared to highly productive regions. For instance, the yield of rice (a staple food of Assam) was just 1531 kg per hectare against India's 1927 kg per hectare in 2000–01 (which itself is much lower than Egypt's 9283, US's 7279, South Korea's 6838, Japan's 6635 and China's 6131 kg per hectare in 2001). On the other hand, after having strong domestic demand, and with 1.5 million hectares of inland water bodies, numerous rivers and 165 varieties of fishes, fishing is still in its traditional form and production is not self-sufficient.
Floods in Assam greatly affect the farmers and the families dependent on agriculture because of large-scale damage of agricultural fields and crops by flood water. Every year, flooding from the Brahmaputra and other rivers deluges places in Assam. The water levels of the rivers rise because of rainfall resulting in the rivers overflowing their banks and engulfing nearby areas. Apart from houses and livestock being washed away by flood water, bridges, railway tracks and roads are also damaged by the calamity, which causes communication breakdown in many places. Fatalities are also caused by the natural disaster in many places of the state.
Assam's proximity to some neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, benefits its trade. The major Border checkpoints through which border trade flows to Bangladesh from Assam are : Sutarkandi (Karimganj), Dhubri, Mankachar (Dhubri) and Golokanj. To facilitate border trade with Bangladesh, Border Trade Centres have been developed at Sutarkandi and Mankachar. It has been proposed in the 11th five-year plan[clarification needed] to set up two more Border Trade Center, one at Ledo connecting China and other at Darrang connecting Bhutan. There are several Land Custom Stations (LCS) in the state bordering Bangladesh and Bhutan to facilitate border trade.
The government of India has identified some thrust areas for industrial development of Assam:
Petroleum and natural gas-based industries
Industries based on locally available minerals
Processing of plantation crops
Food processing industries
Chemical and plastic-based industries
Export oriented industries
Electronic and IT base industries including services sector
Although, the region in the eastern periphery of India is landlocked and is linked to the mainland by the narrow Siliguri Corridor (or the Chicken's Neck) improved transport infrastructure in all the three modes – rail, road and air – and developing urban infrastructure in the cities and towns of Assam are giving a boost to the entire industrial scene. The Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati, with international flights to Bangkok and Singapore offered by Druk Air of Bhutan, was the 12th busiest airport of India in 2012. The cities of Guwahati in the west and Dibrugarh in the east with good rail, road and air connectivity are the two important nerve centres of Assam, to be selected by Asian Development Bank for providing $200 million for improvement of urban infrastructure.
Assam is a producer of crude oil and it accounts for about 15% of India's crude output, exploited by the Assam Oil Company Ltd., and natural gas in India and is the second place in the world (after Titusville in the United States) where petroleum was discovered. Asia's first successful mechanically drilled oil well was drilled in Makum way back in 1867. Most of the oilfields are located in the Eastern Assam region. Assam has four oil refineries in Digboi (Asia's first and world's second refinery), Guwahati, Bongaigaon and Numaligarh and with a total capacity of 7 million metric tonnes (7.7 million short tons) per annum. Asia's first refinery was set up at Digboi and discoverer of Digboi oilfield was the Assam Railways & Trading Company Limited (AR&T Co. Ltd.), a registered company of London in 1881. One of the biggest public sector oil company of the country Oil India Ltd. has its plant and headquarters at Duliajan.
Assamese Culture is traditionally a hybrid one developed due to assimilation of ethno-cultural groups of Austric, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman and Tai origin in the past. Therefore, both local elements or the local elements in Sanskritised forms are distinctly found. The major milestones in the evolution of Assamese culture are:
Presenting Gayan Bayan in Majuli, the Neo-Vaishnavite cultural heritage of Assam
Assimilation in the Kamarupa Kingdom for almost 700 years (under the Varmans for 300 years, Salastambhas and Palas for each 200 years).
Establishment of the Chutiya dynasty in the 12th century in eastern Assam and assimilation for next 400 years.
Establishment of the Ahom dynasty in the 13th century AD and assimilation for next 600 years.
Assimilation in the Koch Kingdom (15th–16th century AD) of western Assam and Kachari Kingdom (12th–18th century AD) of central and southern Assam.
Vaishnava Movement led by Srimanta Shankardeva (Xongkordeu) and its contribution and cultural changes. The Vaishanava Movement, the 15th century religio-cultural movement under the leadership of Srimanta Sankardeva (Sonkordeu) and his disciples have provided another dimension to Assamese culture. A renewed Hinduisation in local forms took place, which was initially greatly supported by the Koch and later by the Ahom Kingdoms. The resultant social institutions such as namghar and sattra (the Vaishnav Monasteries) have become part of the Assamese way of life. The movement contributed greatly towards language, literature, and performing and fine arts.
Increasing efforts of standardisation in the 20th century alienated the localised forms present in different areas and with the less-assimilated ethno-cultural groups (many source-cultures). However, Assamese culture in its hybrid form and nature is one of the richest, still developing and in true sense is a 'cultural system' with sub-systems. Many source-cultures of the Assamese cultural-system are still surviving either as sub-systems or as sister entities, e.g. the; Bodo or Karbi or Mishing. It is important to keep the broader system closer to its roots and at the same time focus on development of the sub-systems.
Some of the common and unique cultural traits in the region are peoples' respect towards areca-nut and betel leaves, symbolic (gamosa, arnai, etc.), traditional silk garments (e.g. mekhela chador, traditional dress of Assamese women) and towards forefathers and elderly. Moreover, great hospitality and bamboo culture are common.
Symbolism is an ancient cultural practice in Assam and is still a very important part of the Assamese way of life. Various elements are used to represent beliefs, feelings, pride, identity, etc. Tamulpan, Xorai and Gamosa are three important symbolic elements in Assamese culture. Tamulpan (the areca nut and betel leaves) or guapan (gua from kwa) are considered along with the Gamosa (a typical woven cotton or silk cloth with embroidery) as the offers of devotion, respect and friendship. The Tamulpan-tradition is an ancient one and is being followed since time-immemorial with roots in the aboriginal Austric culture. Xorai is a traditionally manufactured bell-metal article of great respect and is used as a container-medium while performing respectful offers. Moreover, symbolically many ethno-cultural groups use specific clothes to portray respect and pride.
There were many other symbolic elements and designs, but are now only found in literature, art, sculpture, architecture, etc. or in use today for only religious purposes. The typical designs of Assamese-lion, dragon, and flying-lion were used for symbolising various purposes and occasions. The archaeological sites such as the Madan Kamdev (c. 9th–10th centuries AD) exhibits mass-scale use of lions, dragon-lions and many other figures of demons to show case power and prosperity. The Vaishnava monasteries and many other architectural sites of the late medieval period display the use of lions and dragons for symbolic effects.
Tribal – Mising girls dancing during Ali Ai Ligang (Spring Festival)
There are diversified important traditional festivals in Assam. Bihu is the most important and common and celebrated all over Assam. It is the Assamese new year celebrated in April of the Gregorian calendar. Christmas is observed with great merriment by Christians of various denominations, including Catholics and Protestants, throughout Assam. Durga Puja, a festival introduced and popularised by Bengalis, is widely celebrated across the state. Muslims celebrate two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha) with much eagerness all over Assam.
Bihu is a series of three prominent festivals. Primarily a non-religious festival celebrated to mark the seasons and the significant points of a cultivator's life over a yearly cycle. Three Bihus, rongali or bohag, celebrated with the coming of spring and the beginning of the sowing season; kongali or kati, the barren bihu when the fields are lush but the barns are empty; and the bhogali or magh, the thanksgiving when the crops have been harvested and the barns are full. Bihu songs and Bihu dance are associated to rongali bihu. The day before the each bihu is known as 'uruka'. The first day of 'rongali bihu' is called 'Goru bihu' (the bihu of the cows), when the cows are taken to the nearby rivers or ponds to be bathed with special care. In recent times the form and nature of celebration has changed with the growth of urban centres.
Bwisagu is one of the popular seasonal festivals of the Bodos. Bwisagu start of the new year or age. Baisagu is a Boro word which originated from the word "Baisa" which means year or age, ang "Agu" that means starting or start.
Beshoma is a festival of Deshi people. It is a celebration of sowing crop. The Beshoma starts on the last day of Chaitra and goes on till the sixth of Baisakh. With varying locations it is also called Bishma or Chait-Boishne.
Bushu Dima or simply Bushu is a major harvest festival of the Dimasa people. This festival is celebrated during the end of January. Officially 27 January has been declared as the day of Bushu Dima festival. The Dimasa people celebrate their festival by playing musical instruments- khram (a type of drum), muri (a kind of huge long flute). The people dances to the different tunes called "murithai" and each dance has got its name, the prominent being the "Baidima" There are three types of Bushu celebrated among the Dimasas Jidap, Surem and Hangsou.
Chavang Kut is a post harvesting festival of the Kuki people. The festival is celebrated on the first day of November every year. Hence, this particular day has been officially declared as a Restricted Holiday by the Assam government. In the past, the celebration was primarily important in the religio-cultural sense. The rhythmic movements of the dances in the festival were inspired by animals, agricultural techniques and showed their relationship with ecology. Today, the celebration witnesses the shifting of stages and is revamped to suit new contexts and interpretations. The traditional dances which form the core of the festival is now performed in out-of-village settings and are staged in a secular public sphere. In Assam, the Kukis mainly reside in the two autonomous districts of Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong.
Moreover, there are other important traditional festivals being celebrated every year on different occasions at different places. Many of these are celebrated by different ethno-cultural groups (sub and sister cultures). Some of these are:
Lachit Divas' is celebrated to promote the ideals of Lachit Borphukan – the legendary general of Assam's history. Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief minister of Assam took part in the Lachit Divas celebration at the statue of Lachit Borphukan at Brahmaputra riverfront on 24 November 2017.He said, the first countrywide celebration of 'Lachit Divas' would take place in New Delhi followed by state capitals such as Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata in a phased manner.
Performing arts include: Ankia Naat (Onkeeya Naat), a traditional Vaishnav dance-drama (Bhaona) popular since the 15th century AD. It makes use of large masks of gods, goddesses, demons and animals and in between the plays a Sutradhar (Xutrodhar) continues to narrate the story.
Besides Bihu dance and Huchory performed during the Bohag Bihu, dance forms of tribal minorities such as; Kushan nritra of Rajbongshi's, Bagurumba and Bordoicikhla dance of Bodos, Mishing Bihu, Banjar Kekan performed during Chomangkan by Karbis, Jhumair of Tea-garden community are some of the major folk dances.Sattriya (Sotriya) dance related to Vaishnav tradition is a classical form of dance. Moreover, there are several other age-old dance-forms such as Barpeta's Bhortal Nritya, Deodhani Nritya, Ojapali, Beula Dance, Ka Shad Inglong Kardom, Nimso Kerung, etc. The tradition of modern moving theatres is typical of Assam with immense popularity of many Mobile theatre groups such as Kohinoor, Sankardev, Abahan, Bhagyadevi, Hengul, Brindabon, Itihas etc.
Actors of Abinaswar Gosthi performs the play"Surjya Mandirot Surjyasta" directed by Dipok Borah
An ethnic preparation of Ghost chili chicken curry of Assam
Khorisa (fermented bamboo shoots) are used at times to flavour curries while they can also be preserved and made into pickles. Koldil (banana flower) and squash are also used in popular culinary preparations.
A variety of different rice cultivars are grown and consumed in different ways, viz., roasted, ground, boiled or just soaked.
Another favourite combination is luchi (fried flatbread), a curry which can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
Many indigenous Assamese communities households still continue to brew their traditional alcoholic beverages; examples include: Laupani, Xaaj, Paniyo, Jou, Joumai, Hor, Apang, etc. Such beverages are served during traditional festivities. Declining them is considered socially offensive.
A page of manuscript painting from Assam; The medieval painters used locally manufactured painting materials such as the colours of hangool and haital and papers manufactured from aloewood bark
The archaic MauryanStupas discovered in and around Goalpara district are the earliest examples (c. 300 BC to c. 100 AD) of ancient art and architectural works. The remains discovered in Daparvatiya (Doporboteeya) archaeological site with a beautiful doorframe in Tezpur are identified as the best examples of artwork in ancient Assam with influence of Sarnath School of Art of the late Gupta period.
Painting is an ancient tradition of Assam. Xuanzang (7th century AD) mentions that among the Kamarupa king Bhaskaravarma's gifts to Harshavardhana there were paintings and painted objects, some of which were on Assamese silk. Many of the manuscripts such as Hastividyarnava (A Treatise on Elephants), the Chitra Bhagawata and in the Gita Govinda from the Middle Ages bear excellent examples of traditional paintings.
Cane and bamboo craft provide the most commonly used utilities in daily life, ranging from household utilities, weaving accessories, fishing accessories, furniture, musical instruments, construction materials, etc. Utilities and symbolic articles such as Sorai and Bota made from bell metal and brass are found in every Assamese household.Hajo and Sarthebari (Sorthebaary) are the most important centres of traditional bell-metal and brass crafts. Assam is the home of several types of silks, the most prestigious are: Muga – the natural golden silk, Pat – a creamy-bright-silver coloured silk and Eri – a variety used for manufacturing warm clothes for winter. Apart from Sualkuchi (Xualkuchi), the centre for the traditional silk industry, in almost every parts of the Brahmaputra Valley, rural households produce silk and silk garments with excellent embroidery designs. Moreover, various ethno-cultural groups in Assam make different types of cotton garments with unique embroidery designs and wonderful colour combinations.
Moreover, Assam possesses unique crafts of toy and mask making mostly concentrated in the Vaishnav Monasteries, pottery and terracotta work in western Assam districts and wood craft, iron craft, jewellery, etc. in many places across the region.
^"Prior to the thirteenth century the present region was called Kāmarūpa or, alternatively, Prāgjyotiṣapur", Lahiri, Nayanjot., Pre-Ahom Assam (Delhi 1991) p14
^Sukalpa Bhattacharjee, C Joshua Thomas,2013,Society, Representation and Textuality:The Critical Interface It deals with the expansion of the Mughal Empire in Bengal, Kamrup and Assam.
^Satish Chandra (2005), Medieval India:Fro Sultanate to the Mughals Part – II They had support of many Hindu Rajas of Jessore, Kamrup (Western Assam), Cachar, Tippera, etc.
^Peter Jackson,2003,The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History, P. 141, into the region of Assam the Muslims called Kamrup or Kamrud
^"The word 'Assamese' is an English one based on the anglicised form 'Assam' from the native word "Asam", which in its turn is connected with the Shans who invaded the Brahmaputra Valley in the 13th century." Kakati, Banikanta, Aspects of Early Assamese Literature (Gauhati University Press, 1953) p1; "Assam is the English form of 'Asama' (i.e. peerless) which is apparently a Sanskritised form of the tribal name Ahom", DC Sircar, Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa in The Comprehensive History of Assam Vol I (Guwahati, 1991) p59 cf1; Satyendra Nath Sharma, Assamese Literature (Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz, 1976) p1; "The term 'Assam' is, relatively speaking, of recent origin and traces back to the tradition of the Ahoms who entered the Brahmaputra valley in the thirteenth century", Nayanjot Lahir, Pre-Ahom Assam (Delhi 1991, based on PhD Thesis) p14; "These references show that the term 'Axom or Asom' was earlier used to mean the Shan community...Subsequently, the term came to be used to mean also the territory they ruled", M Taher, Geography of Assam (Delhi, 2001) pp2-3
^"...but most probably Asama meaning peerless or unequalled is a latter-day Sanskritisation of some earlier form like Āchām, Banikanta Kakati, Early Aspects of Assamese Literature (Gauhati, 1953) p2
^Satyendra Nath Sharma, Assamese Literature (Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz, 1976) p1
^"In Tai the root cham means "to be undefeated". With the privative Assamese affix ā the whole formation Āchām would mean undefeated.", Banikanta Kakati, Aspects of Early Assamese Literature (Gauhati University Press, 1953) p2
^"The Ahom domain of Upper Assam came to be known to the Dimasa and other Bodo people as Ha-Sam (the land of the Shams or Shans) in their language.", Amalendu Guha, The Ahom Political System: An Enquiry into the State Formation Process in Medieval Assam (1228–1714) in Social Scientist Vol. 11, No. 12, (1983), p24
^ abcdefBarpujari, H. K. (ed.) (1990), The Comprehensive History of Assam, 1st edition, Guwahati, India: Assam Publication BoardCS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
^India History Association. Session (2001), Proceedings of North East India History Association North East he came under the 'bad' influence of Banasura, ruler of Sonitapura (identified with Tezpur now under Sonitpur district in central Assam), and ended up sidelining Kamakhya in favour of Siva. Thereafter Naraka forsook the guidance
^Tej Ram Sharma,1978, "Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions. (1.publ.)", Page 254, Kamarupa consisted of the Western districts of the Brahmaputra valley which being the most powerful state.
^Suresh Kant Sharma, Usha Sharma – 2005,"Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, ... – Volume 3", Page 248, Davaka (Nowgong) and Kamarupa as separate and submissive friendly kingdoms.
^The eastern border of Kamarupa is given by the temple of the goddess Tamreshvari (Pūrvāte Kāmarūpasya devī Dikkaravasini in Kalika Purana) near present-day Sadiya. "...the temple of the goddess Tameshwari (Dikkaravasini) is now located at modern Sadiya about 100 miles to the northeast of Sibsagar" (Sircar 1990, pp. 63–68).
^Banikanta Kakati, Assamese:Its formation and development
^Roy, Tirthankar (2012). India in the World Economy: From Antiquity to the Present. Cambridge University Press. p. 202. ISBN978-1-107-00910-3.
^MacFarlane, Alan; MacFarlane, Iris (2003), Green Gold, The Empire of Tea, Ch. 6–11, Random House, London
^Gait E.A. A History of Assam 1926 Calcutta and Shimla Thacker & Co page 225
^Bhuyan Dr. S.K. Tunkhungia Buranji or A History of Assam (1681–1826) 1968 page 199
^Barbaruah Hiteswar Ahomar-Din or A History of Assam under the Ahoms 1981 page 299
^Barua Gunaviram Assam Buranji or A History of Assam 2008 page 108
^Gait E.A. A History of Assam 1926 Calcutta and Shimla Thacker & Co page 230
^Bhuyan Dr. S.K. Tunkhungia Buranji or A History of Assam (1681–1826) 1968 page 206
^Barbaruah Hiteswar Ahomar-Din or A History of Assam under the Ahoms 1981 page 320
^Gait E.A. A History of Assam 1926 Calcutta and Shimla Thacker & Co page 231
^Bhuyan Dr. S.K. Tunkhungia Buranji or A History of Assam (1681–1826) 1968 page 207
^Barbaruah Hiteswar Ahomar-Din or A History of Assam under the Ahoms 1981 page 318
^Barua Gunaviram Assam Buranji or A History of Assam 2008 page 116-117
^Gait E.A. A History of Assam 1926 Calcutta and Shimla Thacker & Co page 232
^Barua Gunaviram Assam Buranji or A History of Assam 2008 page117
^Choudhury, A.U.(1996) Survey of the white-winged wood duck and the Bengal florican in Tinsukia district & adjacent areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The Rhino Foundation for Nature in North East India, Guwahati, India. 82pp+
^Choudhury, A.U. (2010)The vanishing herds : the wild water buffalo. Gibbon Books, Rhino Foundation, CEPF & COA, Taiwan, Guwahati, India
^Choudhury, A.U. (2000)The birds of Assam. Gibbon Books & WWF-India, Guwahati, India
^Choudhury, A.U. (1990). Checklist of the birds of Assam. Sofia Press & Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Guwahati, India. 72 pp+
^Choudhury, A.U. (1997)The check list of the mammals of Assam. Gibbon Books & ASTEC, Guwahati, India
^Neog, Maheswar, 1915-1995. (1980). Early history of the Vaiṣṇava faith and movement in Assam : Śaṅkaradeva and his times. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN8120800079. 15304755.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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^Sociology, Dibrugarh University Department of; Region, Dibrugarh University Centre for Sociological Study of Frontier; Association, North East India Sociological (1978). North East India: A Sociological Study. Concept Publishing Company.
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