The Assamese Diaspora and Assam

Firstly, should Assamese expatriates consider returning to Assam with their money and invest into the future of what was once their native land? And secondly, why do the Assamese Diaspora, ambitiously called NRA (Non-resident Assamese), work better and shine in a country, say for example, the USA?

Although, Indians are the single largest community among the movers and shakers here in the US, thanks to the Midas touch of the IIT graduates, the size of the Assamese community, in comparison, is really tiny. Without equivocation, one must admit that the members of this minuscule community have had fair amount of success in their respective professional fields. But, would they be able to emerge victorious and cast a magic spell in the economic development of Assam? In view of the existing sociopolitical framework, I have serious reservations.

The pace of infrastructure development in Assam can be matched with that of a snail, in which setting up of a business is an uphill task and bribing bureaucrats galore. The politicians, who are profuse with their promises, suddenly turn invisible, indifferent and inaudible, when it is time for them to deliver. It is equally important to keep in mind that no investor is likely to venture into a business deal, where physical security is a big question mark. One must remember that the work of philanthropy is vastly different from investing one's hard-earned money into a business. Without an efficient economic infrastructure, there is no guarantee that honesty and hard work will be rewarded adequately.

Now turning to the question as to why Assamese expatriates in the US or other economically better-off countries do well, the answer is simple. They can succeed only where there is an adequate and proper infrastructure in place. As if, some divine power was so upset with Assam that it gave away all the "good stuff" to the USA! The successes of the NRAs in the US are a credit to the Americans, who built a system that rewards work and productivity. Assam's failure in this regard, is a discredit to each one of the Assamese people and to no one else. Who is going to provide the infrastructure? In our piercing insights and profound analysis of Assam's failure, there is not even an iota of the awareness that "I" may share some of the responsibility. Who is supposed to agitate for probity and accountability? Who else, after all, are the public, the politicians and the insurgents, other than someone from amongst us? The Assamese people tend to wring their hands, whine and blame anything and everything other than themselves. The people of Assam cannot be absolved from the messy situation, they are in today. Only, if the people realize the need for them to participate more fully in their roles as "responsible citizens," will things really begin to improve.

It is time for the good citizens of Assam and the politicians of all shades and grades to wake up from stoicism and start thinking of Brain Gain instead of lamenting of Brain Drain. In my opinion, at this point of time, the human capital of the Assamese Diaspora rather than the financial capital really matters. In this regard, the NRAs, as a first step, can perhaps lay the groundwork by forming a people's awareness group, where meaningful information can be exchanged.

- Kamaljit Deka, Sugarland, Texas