Assam could have been the greatest state of India. Instead it dominates news for all the wrong reasons. After going through these 26 facts, you’ll realise how a culturally and mineral-rich state has been rendered weak.
1. Assam is India’s first state where AFSPA was imposed. It is still in effect unbroken since 1958.
Just a decade ago, AFSPA was removed from Guwahati municipal area. The government has, however, extended AFSPA in Assam till November 2015.
2. Assam was not part of any prominent Indian kingdom until the British occupied the region in the Anglo-Burmese War 1824-26.
3. No one still knows how the region came to be called ‘Assam’.
There are many theories from Sanskrit origin name to native names, but no consensus has been reached.
4. The state is believed to be home to the largest number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Muslim-dominated districts like Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon, Hailakandi etc. recorded unusual growth rates ranging from 20 per cent to 24 per cent during the last decade. There has been a rise in the number of violent clashes between Muslims and Bodos in Assam over the last few years.
5. A fourth of India’s oil reserves are located in the Assam-Arakan basin.
The Digboi Museum is dedicated to Assam’s oil.
6. Despite having the highest GDP among all states in the Northeast, Assam is among the five Indian states with lowest per capita income.
The GDP per capita of Assam for the period of 2012-13 was Rs.42,036.
7. With 34.2 per cent Muslim population, Assam has the largest concentration of Muslims in a non-Muslim majority state of India.
8. The first mention of Assam is found in the 4th century Allahabad pillar inscription in the text written by Samudragupta of Gupta Dynasty.
It mentions Kamarupa and Davaka as frontier kingdoms during the Gupta Empire.
9. The River Brahmaputra becomes as wide as 10 km while flowing through Assam.
But the river is yet to be turned into a major navigational route which cannot happen without proper diplomatic support from Bangladesh.
10. All states of the Northeast except Tripura and Manipur were part of Assam until 1950.
11. Two valleys – the Brahmaputra valley and Barak valley – comprise much of Assam’s landmass.
12. The world’s largest riverine island, Majuli on the Brahmaputra, is located in Assam.
13. Assam can be called the Gateway to the Northeast because it is the only state connected to the Siliguri Corridor via NH31.
14. New Tinsukia station in Assam is the easternmost point for broad gauge tracks of Indian Railways.
It is the only state in the Northeast that is connected to the rest of India.
15. Assam’s tea forms the largest chunk of total tea production in India.
The British started the first tea plantation in Assam.
16. The Kaziranga National Park and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary of Assam are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
17. Many of Asia’s most endangered species are found in Assam’s wildlife abodes.
Assam is home to the largest population of Wild Water Buffalo in the world.
18. The in-demand Assam silk is the collective name for three kinds of wild silk produced in the state.
They are golden Muga, white Pat and warm Eri silk.
19. Oil India Limited, a Navratna company and the country’s second largest hydrocarbon explorer and producer, has its operational headquarters in Duliajan, Assam.
20. Assamese script is based on the ancient Siddhaṃ script, which also gave rise to the Bengali script, the Tibetan script and, partly, the Japanese Kana script.
Assamese and Bengali are identical scripts except for three letters.
21. Assam is the second place in the world where petroleum was discovered.
Asia’s first successful mechanically drilled oil well was drilled in Makum (Assam) way back in 1867.
22. The state can be called the land of festivals as a host of cultural activities are organised by various ethnic communities of the states.
Bihu, Bushu Dima, Ali-Aye-Ligang are some traditional festivals celebrated by Assamese beside Durga Puja and Eid.
23. Most Assamese love liquor. Some households brew their own drinks.
Drinking is not seen as taboo in Assamese culture.
24. Assamese literature and music continues to have a profound influence on the larger Indian cultural scene.
Bhupen Hazarika and Jhanu Barua are some prominent names.
25. Dragons had a very special place in Assamese culture during the Ahom rule.
26. The Ahom dynasty, which ruled primarily over Assam for 600 years, was India’s longest unbroken dynasty.
Endowed with natural resources and scenic beauty, Assam seems to have been blessed by the Almighty. But unfortunate political circumstances continues to pull the state behind.