Govt decides to do away with spelling of the Raj It’s Asom now, not Assam

Although the English spelling of the State had been a matter of contention for some time, the Cabinet took a decision to hold a discussion on it following the article written by litterateur Chandra Prasad Saikia in a recent issue of the magazine Goriyosi. In the article Saikia advocated a change in the spelling and proposed Axom in place of Assam.
As far as the letters ‘s’ or ‘x’ in the spelling is concerned, the Cabinet informed that it would be open to suggestions from all quarters. But for the time being ‘Asom’ will be the effective spelling, it added.
On the question of informing the Centre about the change, the Cabinet said that it would be informed as and when the time comes.
Meanwhile, there has been a positive reaction to the Cabinet decision throughout the State. Axom Xahitya Xabha (AXX) president Kakaksen Deka, while expressing his happiness said, “The Cabinet has taken the right decision. Assam was a name (spelling) given by the British regime. The actual name is Asom and we are back with it.”
Chandra Prasad Saikia whose article had been instrumental in bringing about the change, said, “After independence, many places have changed their names — Bombay has become Mumbai, Madras is changed to Chennai, Calcutta to Kolkata and Gauhati to Guwahati. Similarly, Assam has now become Asom. This is a matter to be proud of. The people of India should say Asom instead of Assam. Because Assam was a name given by the British.
Former Vice Chancellor of Gauhati University Dr Deba Prasad Barua said, “I am happy that it has been changed to Asom. After all, it is Asom.”
Dr Nagen Saikia, while talking to The Sentinel said, “At different times, people from outside the State have been calling Asom Assam for its given spelling. Therefore, CP Saikia had proposed Axom for the spelling. It is a good thing that the decision to change the spelling has been taken.” But at the same time Dr Saikia expressed his apprehension that now the people from outside the State might pronounce the word as ‘Aasom’.
The Assam Government’s decision to replace the word ‘Assam’ by the indigenous-sounding ‘Axom’ has elicited positive response in Jorhat. Till the advent of the Ahoms in 1228, the State was known by Kamrup, Pragjyotishpur and other names given by the people residing in different parts. Stating this, Dr Ajit Dutta, Head of the History Department in Jagannath Barooah College here, said that the Ahom monarchs referred to their exalted status by calling the land ‘Axom.’ The name also denotes the unequal geographical terrain of the State, Dutta pointed out. When the British imperialists established their rule here, they pronounced Axom as Assam. The Congress Government has taken a timely decision by abandoning the Anglicized ‘Assam’ and reverting to the old name.
Welcoming the change of name, former academician Prafulla Rajguru said that the Englishmen gave names to places on the basis of their pronunciation. These Anglicized versions of local names passed into usage, he said and added that there has lately been a bid to ‘revive’ past history by referring to the places by their earlier names.
Dr Panchami Bhattacharyya of JB College said that the Government decision was a positive one as it amounted to a tribute to the past. Several intellectuals have earlier advocated for a change of name for the State, she added.
The office-bearers of the Axom Xahitya Xabha here went a step a further and called for the use of Assamese as the official language. The apex literary body of the State has long been demanding the application of the Assamese language in all official correspondence, they pointed out.
“Assam is an Anglicized form of Asom. When the British brought the area under its domain, they used to write ‘Assam’ in all the administrative work instead of its original nomenclature Asom. In course of time, the word Assam became so popular that some of the prominent Assamese writers also used the anglicized form.” This was stated by Dr Dambarudhar Nath, Head of the Department of History, Dibrugarh University while welcoming the decision of the State Cabinet.
Noted historian Dr Swarnalata Barua and former head of the department of History, Dibrugarh University, also welcomed the decision of the State Cabinet. She said that the spelling of the new nomenclature of the State should be Asam instead of Asom. ‘This is what our Assamese scholars are demanding from a long time”..

(The Sentinel,28.02.2006)