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Assam, India

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Avdisha, 8th Standard, Wisdom World School, Kurukshetra, Haryana, India - 136118

Area: 78,438 sq. km

Capital: Dispur

Jurisdiction of High Court: Guwahati High Court

Population: 3.12 crore (census 2011)

Principle languages: Asamiya, Bodo

State flower: Fox-tail Orchid

State tree: Hollong

State animal: One-horned rhinoceros

State bird: White-winged wood duck

Official website: http//www.assam.gov.in

For centuries, people and communities have been attracted to the fertile environs of Assam and its abundant natural resources. Streams of people have met and mingled, cultures and customs have merged and in this process a rich and composite culture has been evolved.

Assam, also known as a “Land of Red River and Blue Hills”, is one of the most attractive and beautiful states of the country. The mighty river Brahmaputra flows through it, serving as a lifeline for its people settled on both sides of its banks. The word ‘Assam’ is believed to have derived from the Sanskrit word Asoma meaning peerless or unparalleled. Another academic interpretation claims that the word came from the Ahoms, who ruled the land for about six hundred years prior to its annexation by the British. The influence of several races like Austric, Mongolian, Dravidian and Aryan that came to this land long long ago; have contributed to its rich composite culture.

Assam was known as Pragjyotisha or the place of eastern astronomy during the epic period and later named as Kamrupa. The earlier epigraphic reference to the kingdom of Kamrupa is found in the Allahabad pillar inscription of King Samudragupta. Kamrupa is mentioned as a pratyanta or Frontier state outside the Gupta Empire, but with friendly and subordinate relation to it. Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese scholar pilgrim who visited Kamrupa in about 743 AD on an invitation of its monarch, Kumar Bhaskar Varman, left a record of the kingdom he called Kamolupa. Kamrupa also figured in the writings of the Arabian historian Alberuni in the eleventh century. Thus, from the epic period down to the twelfth century AD, the eastern frontier kingdom was known as Pragjyotisha and Kamrupa and kings called themselves ‘Lords of Pragjyotisha’.

The advent of the Ahoms across the eastern hills in 1228 AD was the turning point in Assam history. They ruled Assam nearly for six centuries. The Burmese entered through the eastern borders and over-ran the territory at a time when court intrigues and dissensions were sapping the vitality of the Ahom royalty. It became a British protectorate in 1826 when the Burmese ceded Assam to the British under the provision of the Treaty of Yandaboo.

Assam covers an area of 78,438 sq. km, which represents 2.39 per cent of the total land area of the country. International boundaries that extend up to nearly 3,200 km, surround the state. Assam - the gateway to the north-eastern states is surrounded by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh on the north, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh on the east and Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram on the south and Bangladesh, Meghalaya and West Bengal on the west.

Physiography

A significant geographical aspect of Assam is that it contains three of six physiographic divisions of India—The Northern Himalayas (eastern Hills) The Northern Plains (Brahmaputra Plain) and Deccan Plateau (Karbi Anglong). As the Brahmaputra flows in Assam the climate here is cold and there is widespread rainfall. The hills of Karbi Anglong, North Cachar and those in and close to Guwahati (also Khasi-Garo Hills) now eroded and dissected are originally parts of the South Indian Plateau system. In the south, the Barak originating in the Barail Range (Assam-Nagaland border) flows through the Cachar district with a 25-30 miles (40-50 km) wide valley and enters Bangladesh with the name Surma river. The almond shaped valley is built mostly by aggregation work of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. Most of the prominent towns and cities of Assam are situated in this valley whose length and breadth are 725 kms and 80-100 kms respectively. Running through a narrow passage at the Meghalaya plateau and hutan-Arunachal-Himalayas, the valley finally opens out into the North Bengal Plains.

The second natural division of Assam is the Barak or

Surma Valley which is surrounded by north Cachar, Manipur and Mizoram. This valley is dominated by the Barak river. It flows through the valley and finally empties itself to the old bed of Brahmaputra in Bangladesh. This valley has hills and ‘Beels’ or lakes in plenty. Flood is a common feature lending the quality of fertility to the valley.

The two valleys are separated by long range of hills. The Karbi Hills and the N.C. Hills are located in the south of the Brahmaputra valley. Karbi Hills are a part of the Meghalaya plateau. These hills are dotted with plain areas. The average height of this plateau is 600 metres with occasional peaks like Chenghehision (1,359 m) and Dunbukso (1,361 m). Greenery is the hallmark of these hills, slowly reaching their full height towards the middle of the Dima Hasao district, merging with the Barail range, which is the highest hill range in Assam. The elevation of the Barail range varies from 1,000 to 1,200 metres above sea level. The south side of the Barail range is very steep. It attains a maximum height of 1,953 metres in Mahadeo peak to the east of Haflong. This valley is full of dense forest and rare wild lives.

Economy

The State finances have improved considerably. Over the years with industry and businesses picking up.

Agriculture

Assam is endowed with abundant fertile land and water resources with a total geographical area of 78438 sq. km. the mighty river Brahmaputra and the Barak with their 121 small and tiny tributaries and branches flow through the two valleys keeping the state fertile and cool all along.

Assam has achieved 40 per cent increase in the contribution of agriculture to state GDP. Rice production has increased to 54.40 lakh MT. Likewise, production of food-grains has also increased from 41.72 lakh MT to 57.22 lakh MT.

Forest and Wildlife

Assam has a total 29,282 sq. km. area of forest and tree cover which covers 37.33 per cent of total geographical area of the state. It has 13,870 sq. km of Reserved Forests; 3103 sq. km. of Proposed Reserved Forests; 5,850 sq. km of Unclassed State forests; and 3,925 sq. km of Protected Area Network.

About 180 species of mammals are found in the state which includes globally threatened species such as Golden Langoor, Hoolock Gibbon, Pigmy Hog, Hispid Hare, White-winged Wood Duck, Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Elephant, Swamp Deer, Gangetic Dolphin, etc. More than 800 species of birds and about 195 species of reptiles are found in the State. Strong enforcement of wildlife conservation measures have resulted increase in the tiger population of the State. The tiger population has risen to 167 in 2014 from 143 during 2010-11. The rhino population in Assam stands at 2,624 as per 2015 census. Efforts are also being taken to provide sustainable livelihood to the forest communities.

Industry

Today’s Assam embarks on the new charter in the path of development, laying emphasis on new capital formation through the creation of ecologically compliant assets in a sustainable manner. The focus of the growing investment climate today is to build the economy on the core strengths of this region so that the resources can be managed efficiently. The recognized core strengths of the state today are its nature, water, agriculture, human resources and geographical location.

Loans are extended for small industries and service sector under PMRY scheme (till 2008) and under PMEGP. Under these schemes, 2,76,022 unemployed youths have been offered self-employment opportunities between 2001 and 2014. Under Mukhyamantrir Karmajyoti Achoni (MMKA), tools, equipment and raw materials worth 3,946.11 lakh were distributed among the beneficiaries of various SHGs till 2014. The state government has launched Angel Fund in 2010-11 to extend loans up to 5.0 lakh at a nominal rate of interest to the entrepreneurs for setting up of small scale industries. So far 506 beneficiaries took advantage of the scheme. Plan is afoot to broaden the scheme in the coming days.

Power

The state’s power generation in 2014-15 was 1,894.7 MU as against 935 MU in 2001. Number of consumers accordingly has increased to 33 lakh as compared to 9 lakh in 2001. Similarly, per capita availability of electricity has also increased to 232 units as against 83 units in 2001. This has become possible due to timely execution of renovation and modernization works in all areas of power generation, distribution and transmission. Under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, the state government has provided free electricity connections to nearly 12 lakh BPL families.

Transport and Communication

The state government has been placing great priority on expanding and improving the rural road network and construction of RCC bridges by replacing old timber bridges. Since 2001, more than 23,000 km of all-weather roads and about 3800 RCC bridges have been constructed. Moreover, construction of about 5,000 km all-weather road including construction of 1,250 numbers of RCC bridges is in progress. Chief Minister’s special package has also been taken up for improvement of road network in the Barak Valley and Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts.

Festivals

Assam, being an inseparable part of this great country, shares all the religious festivals observed elsewhere in India, the state also has an exclusive range of festivals which have enriched the cultural mosaic of the land. Bihu is by far the most important festival of Assam. While Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu, coinciding with the Assamese New Year, is the principal Bihu, the harvest festival, known as the Bhogali Bihu or Magh Bihu is also equally important. There is a third Bihu called the Kangali Bihu or Kati Bihu, which is solemnly observed to prey of love and yearning, sometimes having distinct erotic overtones, with characteristically catchy and earthy tunes. The Bodos, the largest tribal group, perform Kherai puja as a festival, which assumes the shape of a fair in most places. The Kherai puja is accompanied by shamanistic dance performed by female artists who get into a trance, other with vigorous movements of the head, tossing and swinging the dishevelled hair. Bathow is another important puja of the Bodos.

Tourism

Over the years, Assam, the “Gateway of the North-East” has emerged as a popular tourist destination. The natural beauty and bounty, the environment, rich topography, the unique flora and fauna, the bio-diversity, virgin forest, proud hills and green valleys all contribute in making Assam a major hub for wildlife and echo-tourism. Assam is located about 79.5 m above sea level. The five national parks, nineteen wildlife sanctuaries and three bird sanctuaries are treasure houses of rare flora and fauna.

Important places of tourism are Kamakhya temple, Umananda (Peacock Island), Navagraha (temple of nine planets), Basistha Ashram, Dolgobinda, State Zoo, State Museum, Madan Karndev temple—a magnificent archaeological place of interest, Saraighat Bridge, Srimata Sankaradeva Kalakshetra Science Museum, Kaziranga Park, etc.

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