Sabal Bidhayak: A series of Orientation Programmes
for Assam MLAs

organized by

Assam Legislative Assembly

Programme Design & Coordination by

Centre for Development & Peace Studies

second phase: 24 -25 October, 2016

A section of the participants with resource persons at the end of Phase 2 of the Sabal Bidhayak Programme
A brief Report of the second Phase of the Programme
  The second phase of the Sabal Bidhayak programme was held successfully on 24 and 25 October. The six-phase orientation programme for the Assam Lagislative Assembly Members has been initiated by the Speaker of the Assembly Sri Ranjeet Kumar Dass and the design and coordination of the programme is done by the Guwahati-based think-tank Centre for Development and Peace Studies. The programme has a total of nineteen interactive lecture sessions. Around thirty speakers from within and outside Assam will be participating in the interactive sessions spread over three months.

Session 1

  Chair: Dr Akhilranjan Dutta, Professor, Dept. of Political Science, Gauhati University
  About the Chairperson: Dr. Akhilranjan Dutta is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Gauhati University. He is an academic activist and is engaged with both academic research and socio-political activities. Dr Dutta did his M.A and M. Phil from the University of Delhi and Ph.D from the Gauhati University. His areas of research include Globalization, Human Security and Health Security & Conflict and Peace Studies. He has widely published on the related issues, particularly in the context of India's North East. A Rotary World Peace Fellow, Dr. Dutta also did a certificate course on Peace and Conflict Studies at Rotary International Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.
  Speaker 1: Prof. Dilip Kumar Barua
  About the Speaker: An outstanding academic and a quizmaster par excellence, Prof. Dilip Kumar Barua is the former Principal, Cotton College and a Consultant-cum-Course Director of Pre-examination training centre of the Assam Administrative Staff College. Prof Barua did his masters in Economics from Delhi University and joined the Cotton College in 1966. In 1989 he joined the Assam Administrative Staff College as Joint Director. He rejoined Cotton College in 1992 and retired as the Principal in 2000. He has authored several books on economics and a study guide on general studies for competitive exams.
During the first Session of Phase 2. From left: Mr Prashanta Rajguru, Editor, Amar Asom, Mr Wasbir Hussain, Executive Director, CDPS and Prof. Dilip Kr Barua, Former Principal, Cotton College

Speaking to the participants on ‘An Ideal Political Culture for Assam’, Prof. Dilip Kumar Barua pointed out five pillars on which an ideal political culture stands. Those are—

  • Respect towards the democratic ideals
  • The rules and regulations of the Assembly to be followed
  • Ethical sense
  • Behaviour of an MLA
  • Study of an MLA on the subjects of his/her work and the importance of listening to own conscience

An MLA who follows these ideals, will have a positive and acceptable image in the minds of the people, he added. Prof Barua said that political culture is related to the thinking of the people, it is related to a civilization as a whole. While civilizations may progress, culture may not progress. He said that progress of both civilization and culture is desired for development of a nation.

A view of Group- A MLAs participating in the orientation programme
  Speaker 2: Mr. Prashanta Rajguru

About the Speaker: Mr Prashanta Rajguru is the Executive Editor, Amar Asom, a frontline Assamese daily published from Guwahati, Assam. He has been 31 years in journalism, and has written and commented on various socio-political and other issues concerning India’s Northeast.


Addressing the legislators, Rotary peace fellow and editor of Amar Asom Mr Prashanta Rajguru said that the standard of politics depends on the political attitude of a person. Stating that political culture of a state is very important which includes political ethics and values. Mr Rajguru said that before Independence, the social culture of India determined its political culture. The political culture of India before partition was really encouraging because of the prevailing communal harmony and sense of brotherhood. But this political culture changed drastically after partition, he said. However, the people's representatives have their role to play in bringing a positive development to this communal tendency, he added.

Mr Rajguru said that Independent India adopted the Westminster system of political culture, a parliamentary system of government modelled after that which developed in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As this system of governance does not really fit here, the country has been facing different problems at different times since Independence. Speaking on the significance of people's mandate, Mr Rajguru said that the people’s representatives must show respect to this mandate.

A view of the Group- B MLAs participating in the session

Session 2
Chair: Mr Wasbir Hussain, Executive Director, CDPS

Mr Wasbir Hussain (centre) chairing a session ' Dr Ravi Kota, IAS (Left) and Mr Prasenjit Bhattacharya who spoke at the Session.
  Speaker 3: Mr. Prasenjit Bhattacharya
  About the Speaker: Mr Prasenjit Bhattacharya heads the Great Place to Work in India, the world's leading Institute doing research in creating great workplace cultures. Before founding his institute, he has worked widely in various areas in HR and Service Quality and TQM in industries ranging from telecom, cement, heavy engineering, etc. Mr Bhattacharya did his graduation in Physics from Cotton College, Guwahati and Masters in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). He has over 25 years of experience in Indian and multinational corporations.
Mr Prasenjit Bhattacharya, CEO, Great Place to Work Institute (third from left), India addressing the participants

Addressing the legislators, Mr Prasenjit Bhattacharya, CEO, Great Place to Work Institute, India, said one of the key levers for building Brand Assam will be to make the state a great place to work and if we want to make it a good work place, we have to see that people take pride in saying they belong to Assam. The people have to be proud of hailing from Assam, respect their co-citizens and should be able to trust their government. The ability to create an environment that builds, nurtures and attracts talent will go a long way in building Brand Assam and the MLAs of the State can contribute to this goal in their own capacities.

Mr Bhattacharya, whose Institute works with companies across the world with the concept of how to make them a great place to work, suggested few steps to make Assam a great place to work. These include:

  • Articulate the vision of Brand Assam - Study mission to some of the countries, states, cities that are great workplaces
  • Evolve the roadmap to build brand Assam for potential investors, customers and talent
  • Recognize the Best Workplaces in Assam., starting with the Govt. Depts. And the Public and Private Sector Enterprises
  • Make Govt. Instrumentalities accountable.

He said that the MLAs should formulate long-term constituency development plans. According to him, to work for Brand Assam, actual experience has to be in line with the Brand promise.

  Speaker 4: Dr. Ravi Kota, IAS
  About the Speaker: With more than two decades of experience in administering different districts of Assam, Dr Ravi Kota is now the Commissioner and Secretary, Finance, Urban Development Department, Guwahati Development Department and Managing Director, Guwahati Jal Board. A 1993 batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, he did his Ph. D from Indian Agricultural Research Institute. He also served as the Director (Policy) in the Ministry of Food, apart from holding other important Central Government positions.
Dr. Ravi Kota, IAS (extreme right), addressing the participants

Addressing the legislators on Central and State Development Schemes, Dr Ravi Kota, IAS, gave a detailed classification of State and Central Schemes and said that it is very important for an MLA to have knowledge regarding different schemes and funds allotted, understanding of the budget and know what schemes are applicable to his or her constituency.

Dr Kota said that during the British rule Assam was one of the highest revenue paying states across India. It was the fifth most prosperous state at the time of Independence. But today, Assam is the fourth poorest state of India. Internal Revenue meets hardly 50 percent of the total annual bill of salaries and pensions (USD 3.8 billion). The State is highly dependent on Central fund. "This is why Assam was declared Special Category State, along with Nagaland and J&K in 1969 as recommended by D.R.Gadgil and approved by NDC", he added.

Emphasising on the opportunities and challenges of an MLA, Dr Kota said that an MLA can acquire much more fund than the currently alloted development fund of Rs 1 crore per year. For that, he has to have first hand knowledge of his or her constituency and understand the budget and know how to apply it in his or her constituency.

He also imparted information on the present status of different schemes in the State. Some flagship State Schemes identified by him include:

  • Mega Mission: Chief Minister’s Gram Samgra Unnayan Yojana
  • 61,000 STWs in agriculture
  • World Class Global Business Centre
  • Land Bank
  • Saptadhara
  • Aarohan
  • Siksha Khetra
  • Gunotsav
  • New Universities
  • AMRIT (Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment)
  • New District Hospitals
  • Super-speciality Facilities in GMCH, AMCH and SMCH
  • Ambulances and River Ambulances
  • Road Maintenance and PWD works
  • Assam Bhawans in other Cities
  • Schemes specific to Tea Tribes, Minorities, Councils, Culture and Art, Employee welfare, etc

A Glimpse of the Interactions with the participants

MLAs interacting during a session
Assembly Speaker Mr Ranjeet Kumar Dass addressing the participants

All the sessions were followed by intense interactions with all the participants.

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