By- Debabrata Gogoi
One of the many shortcomings of Assam which no one seems to care about is the perennial brain drain witnessed over the last decade that is seemingly increasing its pace now-a-days. Before playing the blame card let us take a moment to consider the state of affairs these days.
It all begins with a kid scoring good marks in primary school. Little does the kid know what he is getting into. By keeping the bar high for himself he had just sealed his fate from all the other things of the world, which do not revolve around books. All he knows is that good marks on the card mean quality love from parents, attention from teachers and respect from classmates. At that age of seven, the poor kid has no idea what his parents had been brewing in their midnight talks!
“Look our son is very talented;he should be an engineer or doctor”
“No no, Management is the new thing; we should start saving from now on and get him into a big business school”
Parents know everything. And from love, attention and respect the child will be made to face competition, results and ‘packages’. Because that is what life is all about. This attitude of parents to control, channel and direct the energy, talent and will of their child is at the root of the biggest social debacle in our society – lack of innovation. A smart child is seen as an experiment by his parents. In the guise of love and caring, the child is manipulated into agreeing to the parent’s view. And as the child grows up into a man he becomes a simple Xerox copy of millions of others like him – earning and living a life free life.
What needs to be done is another story. In context of this article we only need to know that competition is fed to a child, gradually and without compassion. And this competition mindedness leads to large-scale migration of students and workers.
In Assam, this international problem is reinforced by local situations and problems. The first situation is that of violence. Parents send away their children to escape the intolerance of our society and government. The second situation is the complacent attitude of Assamese people. Many families realize this and part with their children so as to stop them from being victims of it. Among the problems, the lack of good quality educational institutions along with a good number of seats seems to be the most opaque. Next would be the location of these centers of learning – the problem being that these are not evenly distributed. As such parents from Assam have more reasons to send away their children than anybody else.
And as a result of all this, we are now facing a brain-drain of Assam and of Assamese society. Our language and culture are the first to be affected by this. An example here would be a friend of mine who is wrapping up his PhD from Delhi University. He did the work on Marginalization of Dalits. But the problem here is not his choosing a fine career. Instead it is the fact that Dalit problems have almost nothing to do with Assam. Any thesis on Dalits will end up with stacks of other such literature gathering dust in the state libraries. Too much research has already been done on the subject as it is a mainstream thing.
The other problem is that there is too much left to be researched on Assam and very few to do it! If the Assamese researchers work on problems of other peoples and other states, then who will work on Assam’s problems? We are losing research to many things, primarily to the fear of violence and secondly to the lack of facilitation from all quarters. Who would want to research in the NC Hills? Who would want to work on demographics of Lower Assam? The answer is no one.
We see that our culture has ceased to grow. We are left with only replacing one thing with another. Borrowing, adapting and adhering to, other values from other cultures. The genuine traits of Assamese culture are being neutralized. It is neutralized because we neither love it nor hate it. We say pitha but we don’t have it. We have gamocha but we prefer towels. In the end all these remain as mere symbols; our dependency on them is no longer visible or important.
Our language is also being affected. If we ask ourselves, firstly, if all the Assamese medium schools were to be converted to English medium, would we disagree? If yes then why? Is it because we love our language? Secondly, if it were possible, would all the Assamese students have attended English medium schools? If the answer is no then we should ask why!
The rate at which Assamese is turning colloquial among the educated ones is terrifying. Some would rather learn Hindi in lieu of Assamese for that self- serving advantage. Pity that.
Along with brain drain we face another problem – same brain. A few careers are chosen by almost everyone who has the scientific temperament. As such, we have a society filled with individuals thinking alike, which makes our society less dynamic. Also, such members of the society more than often lack the passion for doing what they have learnt. Thus we see engineers sitting for bank examinations, doctors going for civil service and the like. But we never see miracles of engineering like suspend bridges, nor do we see doctors tending to patients without being lackadaisical, which tends to show that all those engineers are just like you and me and not special like you want them to be. And all those doctors too, are just living-moving books of medicine, without the magic touch we all want them to have!
And all these were the doings of parents. It’s the same parents who would kill your sports career so that you can make it to an engineering institute and live the life. They are the real culprits for all the brain-drain of our society. Instead of fighting for new institutions and ways of life, they had surrendered to the backwardness and escaped the reality like a true escapist! In choosing a simple method for securing their child’s future they have wasted a generation-long period of what could have been an era of development.
By blaming everything on others, specially the government, nothing can be achieved. If this brain-drain has to be checked we must first start using the facilities set up in Assam, and then better them year by year. From Music to literature, from Computers to Library Science, from Genetics to Nuclear Science; we must demand them all – only demand creates supply, doesn’t it?