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Current Affairs

Miyas of Assam

Date: 05 November 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Government of Assam has rejected suggestions to construct a museum showcasing Miyas and their culture involving their heritage of Char-chaporis.

 

Background

Char-chaporis are shifting riverine islands of the Brahmaputra and are primarily inhabited by the Muslims of Bengali-origin.

 

Details

  • The ‘Miya’ community comprises descendants of Muslim migrants from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) to Assam. They came to be referred to as ‘Miyas’, often in a derogatory manner.

  • The community migrated in several waves, starting with the British annexation of Assam in 1826, and continuing into Partition and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and have resulted in changes in demographic composition of the region.

  • Years of discontent among the indigenous people led to the six-year-long (1979-85) anti-foreigner Assam Agitation to weed out the “illegal immigrant”, who was perceived as trying to take over jobs, language, and culture of the indigenous population.

  • A char is a floating island while chaporis are low-lying flood-prone riverbanks. Prone to floods and erosion, these areas are marked by low development indices.

  • A UNDP Assam Human Development report from 2014 describes the char areas as suffering from communication deficits, lack of adequate schooling facilities beyond primary, girl child marriage, poverty, and illiteracy.

  • While Bengali-origin Muslims primarily occupy these islands, other communities such as Misings, Deoris, Kocharis, Nepalis also live here.

  • Over the years, the community has tried to integrate into the larger Assamese society, by speaking Assamese, sending their children to Assamese schools, and declaring Assamese as their language since the 1951 census.

 

Sankaradeva

  • He was a saint-scholar, poet, playwright, social-religious reformer, and a figure of importance in the cultural and religious history of Assam,

  • He is widely credited with building on past cultural relics and devising new forms of music (Borgeet), theatrical performance (Ankia NaatBhaona), dance (Sattriya), literary language (Brajavali).

  • Besides, he has left an extensive literary oeuvre of trans-created scriptures (Bhagavat of Sankardev), poetry, and theological works written in Sanskrit, Assamese, and Brajavali.

  • The Bhagavatic religious movement he started, Ekasarana Dharma and also called Neo-Vaishnavite movement.