Question of Identity and Ethnic Movements in Assam


Dr. Gitima Talukdar, Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science Habraghat Mahavidyalaya, Krishnai, Assam, India.


The growth of the spirit of ethnicity or ethnic self-assertion among various groups leads to the aspiration for a distinct identity for themselves. The ethnic groups with a small population and low exposure to development tend to suffer from an identity crisis. The aspirations for an independent ethnic identity lead to the formation of a nation within a nation through various ways including ethnic struggles and violence. Generally, the ethnic groups with a small population and faced with the competition for subsistence with the larger groups tend to suffer from an identity crisis. This very question of identity crisis of the ethnic groups impel them to resort to various sorts of ethnic movements demanding either autonomy or separate state from the larger groups so that they can preserve their distinct identity and also manage their own affairs without interference from the larger groups whom they fear as the invaders of their distinct ethnic identity. Political consciousness of cultural identity evolves leading to the pursuit and protection of community interests. In the ultimate stage of nationality formation, right to self-determination is sought to be asserted through political action and political mobilization. Sanjib Baruah argues in connection of Assam that the Asomiyas, the Bengalis, the Khasis, the Bodos, the Mizos, the Nagas and even the Karbis appear to have become nationalities demanding the political right to control their own affairs. In fact, all nationalities in the contemporary world have been demanding ethnic homelands of their own where they can protect their cultural, political and economic interests and this reflects the political dimension of nationality.