We need your help - to save the name of Assam

Dear Friends and Wellwishers of Assam:

PETITION TO SAVE THE NAME OF ASSAM

On 15th December 2006, the State Assembly of Assam adopted a resolution by voice vote to write the name of the State of Assam as \\'Asom’. No argument or reasoning was given for the name change, nor any debate was allowed in spite of requests from the opposition. We are starting a general campaign to oppose the government of Assam\\'s resolution to change the name of the state from Assam to Asom.

We, a number of friends and well wishers of Assam living in and outside the state are shocked to see the above news report, and hereby register our strong opposition to this entirely unwarranted move on the part of the State Legislature. For this we are circulating the attached petition all over the world to collect signatures from those who support our move.

We would like you to support our effort to retain the present name Assam. You may sign the petition, simply by furnishing the information mentioned at the end of this mail.

It would be of immense help to us if you would be kind enough to forward this e-mail to your friends who might be willing to support this cause.

You are welcome to give your valuable suggestions if any, regarding the
petition or any other issues.

The letter will also be addressed separately to Mr. Brindaban Goswami, the Opposition Leader, Assam Assembly, as well as copied to the Prime Minister\\'s and Home Minister\\'s office.

The petition will be mailed on 1st January 2007 with the first set of Signatures. So please send your replies to us at least by 30th December 2006.

Sincerely yours

Wahid Saleh
Berkel en Rodenrijs, The Netherlands

- The Map of Bengale published in 1662.
http://www.indiawijzer.nl/links/assam/map_of_bengale.jpg

- Letter of Joan Maetsuyker, Governor General of Dutch Batavia, 29-08-1663
http://indiawijzer.nl/links/assam/letter_to_mirzumala_1.jpg

- Treaty of Yandaboo, 24-02-1826
http://projectsouthasia.sdstate.edu/Docs/history/primarydocs/Treaties/Burma/002.htm

- Website link with more articles on this issue:
http://www.indiawijzer.nl/links/assam/assam_or_asom.htm

I oppose the resolution to change the name of the state from Assam to Asom, and hereby give my consent to put my name as a signatory to the petition.

Full name:
Name of Spouse (optional)
City
Country
E-mail address

Please reply to this e-mail with a copy to barua25@hotmail.com.
Rajen Barua, Katy, Texas is coordinating the compilation of the names of the signatories and mailing the petition to the Chief Minister of Assam.

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To

Mr. Tarun Gogoi
Honorable Chief Minister of Assam,
Sachibalaya, Dispur, Assam 781006

Dated Houston 1st January, 2007

Sub: State Assembly’s Resolution to Change the name of Assam to Asom.

Dear Sir:

On 15th December, 2006, the State Assembly of Assam adopted a resolution by voice vote to write the name of the State of Assam as \\'Asom\\'. No argument or reasoning was given for the name change, nor any debate was allowed in spite of requests from the opposition.

We are a number of friends and well wishers of Assam living in and outside the state, who are shocked to see the above news report. We hereby register our strong opposition to this entirely unwarranted move on the part of the State Legislature for the following reasons:

1. The State’s name is not something for changing in as casual a fashion as it has been done, without a thorough and informed public discussion and debate. It was never a mandate of the people. Even the Opposition parties’ demand for a debate was summarily cut off in a highly undemocratic fashion.

2. The Legislature did not give a credible set of reasons for the change from the internationally well-recognized name ‘Assam’ to ‘Asom’. In these days of ‘globalization’, to dilute and muddy Assam’s international name recognition is entirely counterproductive.

3. There is clear historical evidence that the name of ‘Assam’ is not a coined word by the British but which had been there long before the British signed the Treaty of Yandaboo on 24th February 1826 and used the word Assam in the treaty. Even from the Ahom Buronjis, we find that the Moghols used the name ‘Ashyam’ for the state. The same is also evident from the various historical documents from the Moghol period and Dutch chronicles of pre-British period. In Persian publications of Moghol period, like Akbarnama (1542-1605), Padshah-Namah (1627-1647), Alamgir-Namah (1657-1667) and Tarikh-I Mulk-I Áshám , the name Asham is mentioned

4. We attach herewith a copy of a map of the Kingdom of Bengale (Kingdom of Bengal) which was published around 1662. The map was drawn by a Dutchman, John van Leenen, who was in “Bengale” in 1661. The document is presently in the Maritime Museum, Rotterdam. As can be seen, the name Assam appears on the map. A letter sent by Joan Maertsuyker, Governor-General of Dutch Batavia who congratulated Mirjumala on 29-08-1663 and addressed Mirjumala as “Grooten Mogol in Assam”. The diary of a Dutchman published in 1675, mentions the name of Assam and the people of Assam as Assamer. The Dutchman was forced to fight alongside the army of Mirjumla in 1662.

5. According to many historians, the phonetic name ‘Assam’ was derived from the Sanskrit name ‘Shyam’ (as in Shyam-dex, the name of Thailand), the name of the Shan people who invaded and conquered Kamrup in the 13th century. According to historian Baden Powel, on the other hand, the word ‘Assam’ might have been derived from even older original Boro word ‘Ha-som’, meaning low land. Thus we find that the phonetic name of Assam had been with us for at least the last 800 years since the coming of the Tai-Ahoms to our land; even if we ignore the possibility of an earlier Boro origin.

6. At present, non-Assamese speaking people the world over pronounce the name of our state as ‘Asam’ (where both the initial and the middle ‘a’ pronounced as ‘a’ in the word ‘father’, and ‘s’ as in the word ‘sun’). Changing the name to ‘Asom’ will merely encourage the non-Assamese speakers to pronounce the name of our state as something like \\'Osom\\' or even “Esom’ ( with the ‘s’ being pronounced as in ‘sun’) as a simple survey will clearly illustrate and thereby defeating any intent of asserting our unique language heritage embedded in the name “Oxom’ (the ‘x’ here being an internationally recognized representation of the guttural ‘kh’ sound ).

7. Today our state has two names: ‘Assam’ internationally and ‘Oxom’ in Assamese. This is similar to ‘India’ internationally and ‘Bharat’ in Indian languages; or ‘West Bengal’ internationally and ‘Poschim Bongo’ in Bengali. Such duality does not rob or dilute the states’ unique cultural, language or ethnic heritage.

8. Today Assam faces numerous problems which are crying out for the Government’s attention and action. But changing the state’s ancient name of Assam to a misguided attempt at Roman transliteration of the Assamese name ‘Oxom’ to ‘Asom’, with all the associated costs: monetary, cultural and historical, is certainly not one of them.

9. The ‘xo’ or ‘kho’ guttural sound is unique to the Assamese language, among the myriad of the sub-continental languages. We should protect and promote this heritage, instead of diluting it to destruction by equating it to the ‘so’ sound of other languages, as this imposition of ‘Asom’ by an act of legislative fiat will surely do.

Based on the above considerations, we urge you to exercise your leadership in rescinding this un-deliberated, unwise and destructive of an-unique-Assamese-language-heritage act of the Assam legislature forthwith. We will be pleased to furnish additional historical documentation and intellectual arguments to prove our points, should that be necessary. You may kindly contact Rajen Barua of USA (e-mail: barua25@hotmail.com) or Wahid Saleh of The Netherlands (e-mail: w.saleh@indiawijzer.nl) for further discussions and clarifications in this regard.

Your Sincerely

Well Wishers and Friends of Assam

1. Rajen & Ajanta Barua, Katy, Texas, USA

2. Chandan & Bonti Mahanta, St Louis, MO, USA

3. Wahid Saleh, Berkel en Rodenrijs, The Netherlands.

4. Ramgopal Sarangapani, Houston, Texas, USA

5. Partha Gogoi, Washington, DC, USA

6. Ankur Bora, Austin, Texas, USA

7. Rini Kakoty, London, UK

8. Shantikam & Sangeeta Hazarika, Guwahati, Assam

9. Monoj Das, New Delhi, India

10. Chanakya Bora, Noida, India

11. Jayanta & Alakananda Barman, Guwahati, Assam

12. Bidyananda & Kavita Barkakoty, Guwahati, Assam

13. Bikram M Baruah, Abu Dhabi, UAE

14. Shankar Borua, Huntsville, Texas, USA

Copy:

Honorable Prime Minister of India

Honorable Home Minister of India