As the general election draws closer, voters from different states are ready to elect their leaders. People will hopefully opt for a better leader for their constituency as well as for the nation – someone who is familiar with the people’s problems, the society’s issues and challenges.
The election carnival is about to begin in India and just like the rest of the nation, voters from the northeastern state of Assam are also ready to cast their votes on April 11, 18, 23 of 2019. It is however, true that different states have different problems. Here, I want to list the five core election issues for Assam that need to be addressed by the election candidates from the state.
In short, these key issues should be in every election candidate’s election manifesto:
Crime against women in various parts of the state has been a major challenge for Assam. The government’s data of 2018 revealed that the number of registered cases of crime against women have rapidly increased in the last two years. Altogether, 29,223 incidents of violence against women were reported from different parts of the state in the past two years. The latest data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) suggests that Assam recorded the second highest crime rate against women in India 2016.
Among the states, Delhi had the highest crime rate against women (160.4 crimes against a population of one lakh), with Assam a close second (131.3 crimes) and Odisha (84.5) coming third. Nagaland has recorded the lowest rate of crimes against women in the country (9.2 crimes) ranking 36th in the list, with only 53% being charge-sheeted. Meanwhile, the numbers are quite disturbing as there is increasing violence against of women in Assam. Therefore, I urge that the pathetic reality of the state should be taken into account and the leaders from the state must pay heed to these issues before bagging the votes.
Unemployment is a major problem in the state. As per the government data of December 2017, the total number of unemployed people registered at the employment exchange in Assam was 19,63,376 with 13,56,612 being male and 6,06,764 female population. For sure, the numbers keep increasing day by day.
According to CMIE’s latest data, unemployment rates hit 6.9% in Assam where India’s unemployment at the same time is recorded as 6.8%.
According to the Sentinal’s report of November 29, 2018, the state has about 942 unemployed medical graduates, 7,804 jobless engineering graduates, 16,576 postgraduates, 3,17,8 24 general graduates, approximately 6,82,796 HS-passed candidates, 16,121 ITI certificate holders who are unemployed.
The statistical data on unemployment in Assam is a serious cause of worry. The statistics given above makes it clear that job generation is something which our leaders from Assam must be aware of and must resolve.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 has become the central point of discussion and debate in Assam, ever since it was introduced. There are large groups, organizations and individuals who are still protesting against this bill. The present BJP led NDA government tried to pass the bill in the parliament, but they stopped after passing it in the Lok Sabha following public outrage.
The real reason why the Assamese are against this bill is that– the proposed bill violates the historic Assam accord of 1985, it also goes against Assam’s social and cultural fabric. As far as I can comprehend, Assam cannot take the extra load of immigrants because of insufficiency of minerals and resources. Along with this, the bill also apparently violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality to all persons, citizens and foreigners. It is also important to realise that India does not have the resources to absorb anyone and everyone who crosses the border.
Meanwhile, the core point is that for a state like Assam to prosper economically, social and ethnic harmony have to be maintained. For this, our leaders from various parties in the state must come together and discuss the issue and try to solve the problem, thus serving the larger interest of the state.
The problem of illegal migration has been a serious challenge for the state over the last few decades. The historic Assam Movement against illegal migration took place in the state from 1979 to 1985, but the problem remains unresolved. The people of Assam are still protesting and they demand that this issue be addressed at the earliest. Meanwhile, the NRC updation process has been initiated to identify the illegal migrants and safeguard the native population under the supervision of honourable Supreme Court of India. People are hopeful that this will work, but some formal mechanism should be adopted.
At present the government does not have any proper data on the number of illegal migrants in the state. Therefore, numbers differ from source to source. Yet, the problem has already affected the state’s economy, socio-cultural- linguistic fabric as outsiders slowly and gradually infiltrate into the state. Unfortunately, the present government of the state as well as the centre have failed to take action. Hopefully, the members of the parliament for the 17th Lok Sabha will bring this major problem to the centre’s notice once again.
Assam is also known as the educational hub for all Northeastern states. The state achieved several milestones in this sector since the nation’s independence. But there are some reforms that still need to made. Most importantly, the education system of the state is not systematic. Another significant thing that needs reformation is the infrastructure of schools and colleges. Next, job-oriented courses should be introduced to put an end to the persisting unemployment problem in the state. In addition to these, modern-day techniques should be employed to impart education to students in schools and colleges.
The insufficient number of teachers and staff in schools and colleges is the core problem of the educational sector of the state. According to the government sources, a total of 36,523 teaching posts are vacant at present in Assam, including 17,293 posts in primary schools. The student-teacher ratio in lower primary and upper primary schools should be 30:1 and 35:1 respectively, but currently it is lower than the prescribed limit. Meanwhile, the government has already started many initiatives, but the work has not progressed as per people’s expectations. The government needs to properly implement the educational policy in the state.
Assam has been also faced many challenges in the health sector. It is true that a lot of work has been done, but challenges still exist. There are several public health care centres that have been badly affected in the rural areas due to the shortage of doctors and medical staff. Getting proper medical facilities in the rural areas is another challenge; people in the rural areas are still unable to seek treatment in urban hospitals due to low rates of income. There is lack of awareness in rural areas regarding health, which resulted in the pathetic hooch tragedy the last month in the State.
For a country’s welfare, good health and education are key to an all-round development. The level of development of a country is determined by the health of its people.
In the concluding remarks, I must say that along with these five major problems, Assam has some other issues and concerns too, like floods, farmers’ issues, lack of industrialisation, economic inequality and lack of development, poverty, problems of transport and connectivity, slow growth of the state economy etc. However, every nation or the society has its own challenges and problems; Assam is not an exception. If a problem arises in a society then it is the responsibly of the people’s representatives to resolve that problem. I sincerely hope that the candidates who are representing Assam from different seats of the state in the union parliament will take these problems seriously and discuss them in the public domain while taking steps to solve them as soon as possible.