More than half of you won’t proceed ahead if I start off with the line “the left is too idealistic to perform”. There was something going through my mind when my philosophy Professor explained “change”. He said “perfection is that when one actualizes all its possible potentials, unless one achieves that it will always be subjected to purposeful change and hence nothing is perfect in the world of the visible because everything is subjected to change”. That’s when after years and years of questioning I understood why the huge pool of intellectuals in the left believes it to be perfect.
“Because in the left nothing is subjected to change”
Through this article I don’t wish to blabber all that is already seen today by people, I hope 34 years were enough. And the context here is not that of Bengal. This article is out of genuine sentiments where apart from the left being too practical to perform I also had serious doubts about the logical consistency of their theory and the data they supply to instate people’s belief in what they say. Be it 1985 or 2012 the left has kept a single stand:”Illegal immigration to India and particularly in the State of Assam from Bangladesh is negligible and most of them are genuine citizens coming before 1971 but yet unmixed with the Assamese population”. Now this is a big statement to prove and the left tries to bully everyone smartly. Create asymmetry of information and throw some data on the face of the people and then even if their hearts and minds don’t accept their mouths will be shut. This brings me to the point of clash between the mainstream & the left in Assam.
Alarming rate of Muslim growth: Illegal immigration vs. high fertility
The indigenous populace of Assam had always tried to push back the “Bongals” coming from East Bengal until Pandit Nehru threatened the Assamese premier Bimala Prasad Chaliha to cut all central help if he continued his strict policy of pushing back immigrants coming after 1950(The year when Nehru himself signed the Nehru-Liaquat pact finalizing 1950 as the cutoff year). Things went by and the language movement further aggravated the anti-“bongali” sentiments in the minds of the people. They could clearly see thousands in number who were very different from the Assamese Hindus or the Assamese Mussalmans coming and settling in lower Assam along river beds and slowly but steadily clearing forest lands, occupying cultivable land and forming mammoth ghettos. Then came the worst years of the anti-immigrant movement from 1979-1985, the logic was simple; the change in the demographic pattern in the entire Brahmaputra valley clearly proved the growth of the Muslim population to be unnatural unless a huge amount of immigrants were still crossing the border. Let us understand that whatever be the result of the Assam Agitation (The formation of the Asom Gana Parishad and its two terms as governments), the movement was a very genuine appeal to the central govt. to look at the issue of infiltration and to put it at the centre stage of national politics. But the left was very opposed to the movement itself. It had a fundamental problem with the cause of the movement. It believed that migration is negligible and even if there are any than the cause is economic migration which being leftist they had to support. They simply overlooked the fears to the indigenous culture, livelihood etc which haunts Assam today in a massive way. But today after 27 years of the accord they have an explanation or “theory” as they say it which can fool many who have little idea about this problem of influx. It goes like this; given the huge influx before 1971(luckily after agitation was over they had to justify 1971 instead of 1950 which they smartly picked although I would label that as a shifting stance) and the high fertility among Muslims the high growth rate of Muslims is a natural thing. The following is a bit of analysis on how asymmetric their analysis is and how inconsistent their claims are with reality:
Left: The Muslim growth rate of Assam is quite comparable to the growth rate of the indigenous in certain districts like Karbi Anglong, Kokrajhar, Dhemaji etc and hence natural
Reality: The growth rate of the districts compared had a very low density which incentivized movement of Assamese people from within Assam to occupy jobs, acquire business and more. Since their previous density was low the shifting of a few people from rest of Assam spiked the “percentage” of growth. Given the density of Dhubri (highest in Assam) to Karbi Anglong (lowest in Assam) is close to 6:1 therefore for the same percentage growth the ratio of number of people growing will be approx 6:1. To compare the percentage growth of the densest district with the sparsely populated district is firstly unexpected of the intellectuals and secondly is like comparing the growth percentage of Indian economy with that of the US economy and then stating that India’s GDP growth is more than US because its percentage is higher.
Left: The high fertility rate is the reason of growth among the Muslims
Reality: A simple comparison with the bordering districts of Bangladesh will tell us why this is not true. The districts on the Bangladesh side of the border had a population growth rate of almost 1/3rd of the districts on the Indian side. Fertility certainly cannot change within 10 kilometre or by shifting from the Ganga to the Brahmaputra valley
Left: That the districts which are suspected to house maximum infiltrators have comparable growth rate of Muslims with certain other districts which rules out the possibility of there being any unnatural growth
Reality: When in comparison the start point must be the same. Districts of Assam where the percentage of Muslims was traditionally low (Jorhat (4.8%),Dhemaji (1.8%) if compared with that of Dhubri (74.8%)or Barpeta (59.4%) will always give shocking results. If 10 people are introduced to a group of 10 and a group of 100 the former increases by 100% and the later by just 10%. So if Muslims in Jorhat or Dhemaji increased by 15% then for the same to be achieved by Dhubri or Barpeta the number of Muslims must grow by 20-25 times in number. If a certain number of immigrants themselves shifted from Nagaon to Jorhat then it would without doubt spike its percentage of Muslim growth. To compare it with Dhubri is highly unfortunate and this definitely cannot conclude with certainty that the Muslim growth was natural.
In “Fooled by Randomness”, Taleb writes how people are fooled by probability without thinking of expectation. A similar approach to confuse between numbers and percentages definitely helped the left’s agenda
In Dhemaji for example in 1971 Muslims were .6% of the population, in 2001 it stood at 1.8% which means that 1.2 % growth meant that the Muslims percentage had grown by 300%, in Barpeta it grew from 48.6% to 59.4%. Which meant that the 10.8% growth accounted for just 22% growth in the percentage of Muslims, will it be smart to say that population growth of Muslims in Barpeta is not abnormal because it grew quite less than Dhemaji. Certainly you can decipher.
It was very clear since the beginning that the left had an issue with the rise of regionalism in Assam and the rest of northeast. It was gaining heavily in the rest of east India and supporting the immigrants in the name of economic migrants seemed to be a good trick to strengthen its foothold in Assam just like it had done in Tripura and West Bengal but it neglected certain aspects which clearly didn’t well go with the middle class Assamese.
I certainly am not writing in support of Mamata Didi here, she is a different game all together and thankfully Assam didn’t produce a leader like her. BJP is right of centre, Congress is tilted towards being left of centre and Mamata Banerjee is left of left. But the aim of this was to explain that Leftists are not ideologist whose theories are true but difficult to implement in practice, many a times their theory in itself is flawed. The theory cannot answer the following at all:
- What happened so drastically in 1971 that immigrants who were coming in large numbers till then suddenly stopped coming?
- If they really were simple economic migrants the left couldn’t explain what stopped them from assimilating with Assamese society and instead move towards religious fundamentalism?
- If high fertility was the reason for high growth in Assam why then did certain bordering districts on the Bangladesh side have a negative growth rate?
The idea of migration and its acceptance from the economic point of view certainly isn’t what I am rejecting here. What I am rejecting instead is the way the left has tried to paint this idea from end to end in Assam without caring for its sustainability and existence. It has clearly tried to neglect immigration into Assam. That immigration is happening into Assam if not from anything else can be clearly accepted after reports from defence ministry and central intelligence which claims that thousands of people cross the open border each day and that the indigenous of Assam faces a cultural, social and political threat from the immigrants is today out in the open for everyone to see. In such a case no one can accept their presence in Assam, forget about work permit and citizenship etc. Assam certainly cannot treat them as simple immigrants after it had witnessed in history a narrow escape from being merged with East Pakistan. It is an open secret as to how Sadullah in the name of “grow more crops” flooded Assam with Muslims so that he could later claim for Assam to be merged with Pakistan. This influx has been unabated. That the motive is any different now is highly doubtful.
In such a situation will you call a theory that negates the fact of massive immigration, pushes for work permit for whatever section of immigrants have come in the name of economic migrants a correct but difficult to implement theory. Or will you simply reason it to be a false theory. A theory that is so much into theory that reality isn’t portrayed through it at all, the call is yours; do make the call. But for me in such cases, it is one thing to prove things in theory, one thing to do it in practical and just stubborn to be left. There is another set of stubborn people in Assam who stands on the central line and keeps throwing ideas towards the left and disagrees when we call those ideas leftist or unrealistic. They don’t want to be tagged as leftist; they want to be tagged as intellectuals. No?