Assam flood: An issue no one talks about
Ignorance. The very word we, as North Easterners, especially Assamese, are pretty much habituated to listen to, and we have felt the devastation it brings with it. It is May, and it still isn’t the right time when the Brahmaputra rivers cross its limit to flood various parts of Assam. Still, most of the parts of Assam are flooded by now, which is pretty untimely for most of us. Yet, the press isn’t at all bothered to show the people’s plight. It would not show the rest of India the hypocrisy of governments that came to lead us right from independence. So, the basic thing is that the media is not bothered to show our pain. Farmers have planted crops worth millions, and the water just messed up the dreams and hopes of making some money by the winters.
It cannot be denied that the present year is bad for everyone. But every year has been bad for all of us in the North East, and that bad phase has never been shown to the rest of India. So, they perceive our condition to be still pretty normal. For example, when the National Register of Citizens was declared in Assam, which caused more than hundred deaths and thousands being forced into detention camps as “doubtful” voters or alleged foreigners, the Indian press didn’t bother to show our struggle. The intellectuals in other parts of India conducted nothing in favour of us or did not organise a session to talk about our issues. Only when the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, was enacted, people started focusing on its origin and then the limelight started moving towards other parts of the country and our struggle yet again went into the oblivion.
There’s a need to understand why floods happen in Assam. But no one will show you because the reason is associated with climate change, the unfair division of resources between the privileged and underprivileged sections, the excessive use of land and rampant deforestations. These things are of no interest to the political parties because all of them are by-products of capitalism, and as we know, capitalists fund the politicians, so naturally, the latter will never talk against the former. So naturally, the media will stay silent about the cause of these floods since it won’t provide them with the necessary popularity. Assam loses more than a thousand people in floods every year. More than a million are displaced and still, there’s no such work on the root cause of these floods.
Embankments: One of the major causes of why the Brahmaputra destroys the “not-so-privileged” areas of Assam, is because of the unplanned and distorted way of constructing the embankments. The embankment is a wall of stone or earth that is built to stop a river from flooding or to carry a road or railway. Areas with privileged people and especially those areas which we call urban can give embankments of their wish which stops the river from flooding their areas. But everything has a side effect, and these unplanned embankments are human-made devils which save the urban areas and flood the rural areas with greater volume of water. By sacrificing the lives of millions of people, the urban classes enjoy either no water or just the amount which wet their legs. Embankments are clear means to play politics of illusion and funding money to blood-sucking contractors. Yet no mainstream media channel would show you the hypocrisy.
Deforestation: Suddenly the country has become aware of Dehing Patkai because we youngsters took charge to save them. But the press will not provide you with the acres of forests being burnt in the hills just to cultivate commercially profitable crops. The hills are being cut off from every angle due to which the chance of destruction by the flood water has increased starkly. With the progress of humanity, the world is losing its greenery, and we’re facing its rage.
Glacier melting: Climate change is believed to be the major cause of floods in Assam. The Brahmaputra is a humungous river that originates from the glaciers of the Himalayas. Due to climate change, the glaciers are melting at a faster rate, thus making the Brahmaputra much deadlier every year. But the press won’t cover that because it would hurt the interests of the capitalists who benefit from the things that cause climate change. Capitalists would have to stop running their industries, stop cutting the forests, have to give a check to unhealthy materials coming out from the factories, moreover, the capitalists have to stop being capitalists if the media starts talking about climate change.
Politics has to play a major role in this matter because these capitalists are there for the support of the politicians. It has always been considered that the leaders would be the change the deprived and the marginalised would see, but alas! none of us could see the change around us. The right-wing brigade will always side with the capitalists because that is how they thrive and retain power. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has always unapologetically promoted the interests of those capitalists who fund them. They’ve got a symbiotic relationship. The Congress party’s government too did nothing to stop the floods. Rather they used the issue to give money to contractors who built useless, weak embankments leading to more than five floods every year in Assam. But this is expected of them since both of them have always lived on the looted resources of the people they think they control.
The unexpected affair is of the mainstream left and their hypocrisy. Climate change is the biggest issue the mainstream left should have spoken about because it’s a curse of the capitalist order. To stand against capitalism happens to be the first and foremost agenda of any communist or leftist. The unfortunate thing is that the mainstream left – the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – never speak against rampant deforestation in Assam because the members of these left parties belong to the privileged classes, and climate change to them isn’t an issue on which they should focus. Even though this particular issue fulfils the criteria for which the left should speak, yet they’re silent because to them, it is not an issue that can garner votes. Therefore, they never talk about all of these. Rather, they prefer escaping from talking about this issue since it will spoil their elite status which they properly maintain behind the mask of communism.
From flood to climate change, from lynching to misogyny, all of them are the product of the system we live in. It needs to change. Assam won’t be shown in the media channels and the rest of India won’t figure it out in the upcoming days. Even if they come to know they would show the sympathy we hardly need. We do not need your anarchy. We’ve been suffering like this for the past 60 years, and we’ve stayed ignored always. The only thing we want is that you should know that what’s happening to us today can happen to you tomorrow as well. What if no one gives you the attention you deserve then? So, to resolve this issue you need to know why despite the availability of money, extracted from our pockets, the governments at New Delhi and Guwahati are behaving like hypocrites for a long time? Why the North East remains ignored throughout India, even after we invest our resources for the Indian city dwellers’ comfort? All of these are part of our system, and to change it you need to focus on what’s happening around you.
Kabir Deb is an author, poet, editor and a content writer based in Karimganj, Assam. He works as a teacher in a government institution and has completed his Masters in Life Sciences from Assam University. His works have been published in various national and international magazines like Different Truths, Kaafiya, Counter-Currents magazine, Spillwords Magazine, India Today, Sahitya Akademi, etc. He works as an activist and is actively involved in writing for human rights. His poems talk about the people living as oppressed. He loves to write on women and is a vocal feminist. He right now also works as a content writer of Counter-Currents magazine. He was awarded the Social Journalism Award in 2017 for being vocal about human rights violation. In 2019, he was awarded the prestigious Reuel International Poetry Award for best upcoming poet.