Sabal Bidhayak: A series of Orientation Programmes
for Assam MLAs

organized by

Assam Legislative Assembly

Programme Design & Coordination by

Centre for Development & Peace Studies

FOURTH phase: 22 november, 2016

 
 
From left: Mr John Ingti Kathar, IAS(retd.), Dr ANS Ahmed, Shri Ranjeet Kumar Dass, Shri Kamakhya Prasad Tasa and Mr Wasbir Hussain
 
A brief Report of the Fourth Phase of the Programme
 

On 22 November 2016, the fourth phase of the Sabal Bidhayak programme for the Assam Lagislative Assembly Members was held successfully. The six-phase orientation programme has been initiated by the Speaker of the Assembly Sri Ranjeet Kumar Dass while the programme has been designed and coordinated by the Guwahati-based think-tank, Centre for Development and Peace Studies. The programme includes a total of nineteen interactive lecture sessions by experts in different fields. Around thirty speakers from within and outside Assam are participating in the interactive sessions, spread over three months.

 

Session- I
Development of SC/ST Community: Role of Lawmakers

  Chair: Dr ANS Ahmed
  About the Chair: Dr Abu Nasar Saied Ahmed is a sociologist and former Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. He was awarded Fullbright Post doctoral Fellowship in 1981 and has been a Visiting Fellow/Professor in four research institutions in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Dr Ahmed has participated and presented papers in dozens of national and international seminars, has written and edited a number of books, a former Professor of Political Science in Dibrugarh University, Assam, a former member of regional selection committee of Fullbright fellowship, former expert member of UGC, former member of Indian Council of Social Science Research New Delhi and former Director of Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development, Guwahati.

  Speaker 1: Mr Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
  About the Speaker: Mr Kamakhya Prasad Tasa is a Member of Parliament, the Lok Sabha since 2014. He was elected as a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Jorhat constituency. He is also a Member, Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas since September 2014.

Mr Tasa did his Masters in Political Science from Dibrugarh University in 1998. He was Vice President of Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam and General Secretary of Tea and Ex Tea Garden Labourers’ Development Association. Mr Tasa led the Assam Tea Tribe Students Association (ATTSA) for several years before joining the BJP in 2004.

 

Addressing the legislators, Mr Kamakhya Prasad Tasa said that legislators should cease to become fund disbursing agents and assume the primary responsibility of monitoring the implementation of development schemes in their respective constituencies for an all round development of the State. He also called upon legislators to study the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in detail and come up with SDG-linked development strategies.  

Mr Tasa said, “MLAs must concentrate in monitoring development schemes in their respective constituencies and must also use all resources at their command to first try and understand the various schemes in operation.” He said legislators must not be dependent on bureaucrats alone, because aspirations of the people can be fulfilled by proper implementation of the development programmes. “Ultimately, it is the elected representatives who have to be accountable and face the mandate of the masses every five years”.

Mr Tasa said despite laid-down Constitutional provisions, people belonging to the Scheduled Cast and Scheduled Tribe communities still suffer from lack of development because progress has not reached many of the areas they live in. “A comprehensive study to understand the causes of the development gaps in SC and ST areas is of utmost importance”, he added.  
 
 
A section of the participating MLAs
 

Speaker 2: Mr John Ingti Kathar, IAS (retd)

 

About the Speaker: Mr John Ingti Kathar belongs to the 1975 batch of Class I ACS officers who got nominated to the IAS in 1990 and was allotted Assam-Meghalaya Cadre.
Mr Kathar has been the Chief Executive Officer, Assam Tribal Development Authority, Project Director at DRDA and served as the Deputy Commissioner in three districts of Assam—Kamrup, Karimganj and Kokrajhar. He had been the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Commissioner of North Assam Division and Principal Secretary of the Bodoland Territorial Council. Mr Kathar has authored books on Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and on Karbi Religion. .

 

Mr John Ingti Kather said that the role of legislators with regard to development of Scheduled Cast is mainly in economic field. They can find out if there is any lacunae in the Act, rules, procedure and guidelines for implementing any of the development programmes. If there is any, the legislators are expected to submit a proposal to the department concerned for rectification, if necessary by amending the Act and rules. “The legislators should urge the Government to educate the Scheduled Tribes people on the Sixth Schedule and other laws affecting them and the rights conferred upon them by these laws”, he added.

  Session II
Sustainable Development Goals
  Chair: Dr BK Das
  About the Chair: Dr B K Das is one of India’s leading technocrats with a vast leadership experience, mainly in the country’s oil sector. Currently, he is an Emeritus Professor at Dibrugarh University, a Visiting Professor at Tezpur University and an Adviser at the Centre for Leadership Development in the Assam Administrative Staff College.

Dr Das started his professional career in 1974 as a Marketing Executive at Assam Oil Company Limited (fully owned by Burmah Oil Company of UK). He joined the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) in January 1996 as the Director Finance and became its Managing Director in 2002. Dr. Das then joined Bharat Oman Refineries Limited (BORL), Bina, Madhya Pradesh as the Managing Director (19 October 2011 to 31 December 2014).

Right from school, till his post graduation in 1974 from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, Dr B K Das had a brilliant academic record. At IIM Ahmedabad, he secured Oil India Scholarship for Management Studies. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 2007 by the Gauhati University for his research work titled Impact of Reforms on the Performance and Valuation of the companies operating in the Oil sector in India. Dr BK Das has several published research papers to his credit, apart from participating in many national and international seminars.
 
 
During the first session of the day: Mr John Borgoyary, Dr BK Das, Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi and Mr Wasbir Hussain during the second session (From Left)
 

Speaker 1: Prof Sachin Chaturvedi

  About the Speaker: Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi is Director General at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), a New Delhi-based autonomous think-tank. He has been a Global Justice Fellow at the MacMillan Center for International Affairs at Yale University, apart from being a Visiting Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Prof. Chaturvedi has also worked as consultant to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Bank, UN-ESCAP, UNESCO, OECD, the Commonwealth Secretariat, IUCN, and to the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology and the Ministry of Environment and Forests, among other organizations.
Prof Chaturvedi works on issues related to development cooperation policies and South-South cooperation. He has been a Developing Country Fellow at the University of Amsterdam (1996), Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla (2003), and Visiting Scholar at the German Development Institute (2007). Dr. Chaturvedi has also been a member of the IGSAC Committee of Experts for evolving a framework for cooperation on conservation of biodiversity in the SAARC region, as well as a member of the Editorial Board of Biotechnology Development Monitor (the Netherlands); Editor of Asian Biotechnology Development Review (New Delhi).
He has authored two books and edited four others apart from publishing several research articles in various prestigious journals.
 

Speaking to the legislators, Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi highlighted the development agenda of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals and said that these goals are qualitative, rather than quantitative. He said that the SDGs emphasise on ecological sustainability as an element of economic development. Stating that the goals are interconnected and have cross domain, he gave example of Goal 6, i.e., water, which is connected with health, agriculture, energy, industry and so on.

Prof. Chaturvedi said that the Narendra Modi government is bent on involving the lawmakers in formulating development strategies of the country which are in sync with the Sustainable Development Goals. “Sustainable Development Goals target local connect and decentralised planning across many areas and hence the role of the States/Districts is extremely important”. He expressed satisfaction stating that Assam has been the first State to come up with Vision Assam 2030. He pointed out the development agenda for 2030 under SDGs have four components:

  • Declaration
  • Set of 17 Goals and 169 Targets
  • 5 Ps – People, Planet, Peace, Prosperity and Partnership
  • Follow-up and review of implementation.

Stating that the Prime Minister undertook this commitment at the UN Summit in New York in September 2015, he said that India has already set for itself ambitious targets of

  • One day in each Session of the Parliament to discuss on the SDGs
  • State Initiatives
  • Voluntary reporting

Prof Chaturvedi also suggested key priorities in different sectors like health, education, employment and trade, etc. Key priorities in Health may include

  • Healthcare Delivery;
  • Infrastructure and Medical Expenditure related issues, Disease Control;
  • Wellness and promotion of Indian Systems of Medicine; R&D and drug development;
  • IMR, MMR, and morbidity

Key priorities in Education may include

  • Quality, Access, Equity
  • Skill Development at all levels.
  • Quality in education in terms reading, writing and comprehension skills

Key priorities in Jobs, Industrialisation, Infrastructure, Trade and Innovationmay include

    • Critical support to our cherished ideas of economic growth
    • Challenges of sustainability and inclusiveness of our growth process
    • Employment generation and decent work;
    • Small and medium enterprises and the informal sector;
    • Green financing and green accounting;
    • New technologies and sustainability oriented innovations.
 

Speaker 2: Mr. John Borgoyary

  About the Speaker: John Borgoyary is the Head of UNDP Regional Office in North East India. Mr Borgoyary is responsible for supporting UNDP's strategic engagement and partnership building with the eight States of North East. He has over 20 years of experience in working in the development sector and has a wide range of experience in the area of e-governance, administrative reforms, electoral management, livelihoods, resettlement and rehabilitation and South-South Cooperation.

Over these years, he has closely worked with the policy makers, think-tanks and civil society organisations to bring about social change and improvement in the lives of the people. He did his school and college education in Shillong and completed his Masters from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. He also has a degree in Computer Applications. As a part of his career, he has widely travelled to North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

 

Mr John Borgoyary said that integration between various departments of the State is very important and called for coordination among these departments in taking the development agenda or programmes forward.  He called upon the legislators to identify and adopt a village or Panchayat in their respective constituencies and convert them into Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) model.

Mr Borgoyary said that SDGs are integrated, indivisible and balance three dimensions of Sustainable Development: the Economic, Social and Environmental. SDGs are both sectoral – water, energy, education, etc. and cross-sectoral as they acknowledge the linkages with other sectors. SDGs are guided by the 3 principles: Integrated Approach to Sustainable Development, Leaving No One Behind and Reaching the Furthest First, Universality.

He said that the NITI Aayog has been charged with the responsibility of coordinating the implementation of the SDGs in India; collecting data periodically, and act proactively to fructify the goals and targets not only quantitatively but also maintaining high standards of quality. SDGs are incredibly ambitious and will require not only policy changes but also efficient and innovative use of fiscal resources.

 

Session III
Development of Char Areas and Tea Garden Areas

 

Chair: Mr Wasbir Hussain

 
 
(From Left) Mr Rafiqul Islam, Mr Wasbir Hussain, Dr Amiya Sharma and Shri Kamakhya Tasa during the third session
  About the Chair: CDPS Executive Director Mr Wasbir Hussain is also a veteran journalist; political commentator and former two time Member of the National Security Advisory Board, India. He has been covering insurgency, ethnic strife, and other major political and social developments in the northeastern states for the past 32 years for major newspapers and magazines. Mr Hussain was Consulting Editor, The Sentinel, Guwahati, Consulting Editor, The Newspaper Today, India Today Group Online, Editor, The Northeast Daily, Guwahati, Special Correspondent with The Asian Age; Regional Editor of The Telegraph; and Special Correspondent of The Telegraph. He bagged the 1996 Sanskriti Foundation National Award for excellence in journalism. Hussain currently writes for The Asian Age, The Sentinel and The Associated Press. Besides, his writings on security issues concerning India’s Northeast and its surrounding foreign neighbours appear regularly in the South Asia Intelligence Review.
 

Speaker 1: Mr Rafiqul Islam

  About the Speaker: Mr Rafiqul Islam is former Member of Assam Legislative Assembly. He was elected an MLA from Jania Constituency in 2011 and represents the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). Mr Islam is a Gold Medallist in Arabic from Gauhati University. He also holds a degree from Deoband.
 

Former MLA Mr Rafiqul Islam said that the major problem in the Char areas in Assam are flood and erosion, and large population owing to the large size of individual families, lack of access to education and lack of communication facilities. He highlighted that child marriage continues to be a big problem that leads to a woman to become a grandmother in her mid-thirties. Mr Islam suggested a land survey in the char areas and to establish a separate land directorate to look after issues concerning land holdings etc in these areas. He emphasised on improving the teacher-student ratio, establishing banks, grant of land to erosion-hit farmers and promoting organic farming in the char areas.

Mr Islam said that erosion is the main source of conflict that has been keeping the population in a pathetic condition. He also suggested that small scale industries with easily available raw materials in such areas, like jute, can be facilitated among these people.

 
 
During an interactive session with the MLAs
 

Speaker 2: Dr. Amiya Sarma

  About the Speaker: Dr. Amiya Sharma is Executive Director of Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi (RGVN), Guwahati. He has a Ph.D. degree from Rutgers University, US, and post graduate degree from Delhi School of Economics. He had been former GM (planning) at NEDFi, visiting faculty in Department of Economics, Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey, Associate Professor in Department of Business Administration, Tezpur University, and lecturer in Ramjas College, Hindu College, Kirori Mal College, Delhi University and visiting lecturer in The Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi.

Dr. Sharma is actively involved in various activities related to the voluntary sector and has assisted in development of many NGOs in the region. He was formerly the Co-Chairman of Sa-Dhan (the Association of Community Development Finance Institutions). He has been associated with RGVN since September 2008.

 

Dr Amiya Sharma spoke about the disparity in development in the Char and Tea garden areas of Assam. “There is no insurance cover among 83.3 per cent of the Char area population and 74.5 percent of the Tea garden population. The poverty rate in the Char areas is 42.6 percent and in the Tea garden areas is 37.6 percent against the state average of 37 percent”, he said.

Dr Sharma said that the last survey of the Char areas of Assam was done by the Government in 2003-04, after which no survey has been undertaken  by the Directorate of Char Area Development. He pointed out several basic problems of the people of the Char areas as erosion, health, education, communication (mainly transportation) and information, besides others and discussed possible solutions to such problems.

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