“Education is not preparation; education is life itself.”
“Knowledge is power, information is liberating, education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”
It is difficult to explain the plight of Chakma students of Arunachal Pradesh. After schooling in pathetic conditions, where the teacher-student ratio is 1:300, very few students succeed in getting admission in colleges. Due to the miserable economic conditions of the community, 90 % of Chakma students never get a higher education, since there is no source of income to support them. The dropped out students, go out of Arunachal Pradesh in search of livelihood, and they are left with no choice but to work in factories, industries and showrooms in big cities as daily wage labourers.
Despite the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India for granting citizenship to the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh in 2015, both the state as well as central governments have failed to implement the Supreme Court’s orders.
The small town Diyun, which is home to 90% of Chakmas, is a beautiful place where one can find and enjoy a variety of fresh vegetables produced by poor Chakma farmers. Before 1983-84, the Chakmas were provided with all the facilities including government employment, ration cards, trade license etc. – but all these amenities have been withdrawn now.
At present, following the judgment by Hon’ble Gauhati High Court, the Chakmas have been granted voting rights, but it is limited to just that. One can’t imagine how these Chakmas are surviving in a place where there is a lack of jobs, an adequate number of teachers, proper infrastructure and government schemes. It’s been more than 50 years since the Chakmas settled in Arunachal Pradesh, but the state government has never paid heed to the development of these areas; they are only seen as vote banks. For instance, the distance from Namsai town to Diyun is mere 32 kms, but it takes 1.5 hours to complete the journey – due to the poor condition of the linking road. This road was repaired almost 25 years ago; the funds have been sanctioned many times to fix the roads, but unfortunately, the road was never repaired.
The Chakma students who have managed to complete their graduation somehow – are now working in private firms to survive and support their family. Owing to the poor economic conditions, very few students manage to achieve this. No one knows if these people will ever have a dignified life with employment, good education, good connectivity, govt. schemes etc. They have nowhere to go but to struggle and survive, working hard in the hope of living a better life one day.