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Pre-history

Assam and adjoining regions have evidences of human settlement from the beginning of the Stone Age. The hills at the height of 1,500–2,000 feet (460 to 615 m) were popular habitats probably due to availability of exposed dolerite basalt, useful for tool-making.[17] Ambari site in Guwahati has revealed Shunga-Kushana era artefacts including flight of stairs and a water tank which may date from 1st century BC and may be 2,000 years old. Experts speculate that another significant find at Ambari is Roman era Roman roulette pottery from the 2nd century BC.[18][19][20]

Legend

According to a late text, Kalika Purana (c. 9th–10th century CE), the earliest ruler of Assam was Mahiranga Danav of the Kachari Danava dynasty, which was removed by Naraka and who established the Naraka dynasty. The last of these rulers, also Naraka, was slain by Krishna. Naraka's son Bhagadatta became the king, who (it is mentioned in the Mahabharata) fought for the Kauravas in the battle of Kurukshetra with an army of kiratas, chinas and dwellers of the eastern coast. At the same time towards the east in central Assam, Asura Kingdom was ruled by another Kachari line of kings.[21]

Ancient era

Kamarupa kingdom at its height
Stone Age. The hills at the height of 1,500–2,000 feet (460 to 615 m) were popular habitats probably due to availability of exposed dolerite basalt, useful for tool-making.[17] Ambari site in Guwahati has revealed Shunga-Kushana era artefacts including flight of stairs and a water tank which may date from 1st century BC and may be 2,000 years old. Experts speculate that another significant find at Ambari is Roman era Roman roulette pottery from the 2nd century BC.[18][19][20]

Legend

According to a late text, Kalika Purana (c. 9th–10th century CE), the earliest ruler of Assam was Mahiranga Danav of the Kachari Danava dynasty, which was removed by Naraka and who established the Naraka dynasty. The last of these rulers, also Naraka, was slain by Krishna. Naraka's son Bhagadatta became the king, who (it is mentioned in the Mahabharata) fought for the Kauravas in the battle of Kurukshetra with an army of kiratas, chinas and dwellers of the eastern coast. At the same time towards the east in central Assam, Asura Kingdom was ruled by another Kachari line of kings.[21]

Ancient era

  Hinduism (61.47%)
  Islam (34.22%)
  Christianity (3.74%)
  Buddhism (0.18%)
  Jainism (0.08%)
  Sikhism (0.07%)
  Animism (0.09%)
  Other or not religious (0.16%)

According to the 2011 census, 61.47% were Hindus, 34.22% were Muslims.[84][85] Christian minorities (3.7%) are found among the Scheduled Tribe and Castes population.[86] The Scheduled Tribe population in Assam is around 13%, of which Bodos account for 40%.[87] Other religions followed include Jainism (0.1%), Buddhism (0.2%), Sikhism (0.1%) and Animism (amongst Khamti, Phake, Aiton etc. communities). Many Hindus in Assam are followers of the Ekasarana Dharma sect

According to the 2011 census, 61.47% were Hindus, 34.22% were Muslims.[84][85] Christian minorities (3.7%) are found among the Scheduled Tribe and Castes population.[86] The Scheduled Tribe population in Assam is around 13%, of which Bodos account for 40%.[87] Other religions followed include Jainism (0.1%), Buddhism (0.2%), Sikhism (0.1%) and Animism (amongst Khamti, Phake, Aiton etc. communities). Many Hindus in Assam are followers of the Ekasarana Dharma sect of Hinduism, which gave rise to Namghar, designed to be simpler places of worship than traditional Hindu temples.[citation needed]

Out of 32 districts of Assam, 9 are Muslim majority according to the 2011 census of India. The districts are Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Darrang and Bongaigaon.[88][89][90]

Languages

7th–8th century specimen of Assamese (Kamarupi) literature
[88][89][90]

Languages of Assam (2011)[91]

  Assamese (46.81%)
  Bengali (28.15%)
  Bodo (4.51%)
  Hindi (3.21%)
  Sadri (2.29%)
  Mishing (1.98%)
  Nepali (1.91%)
  Karbi (1.64%)
  Bhojpuri (0.89%)
  Others (8.61%)

Assamese is the official language of the state. Additional official languages include Bengali and Bodo languages. Bodo in Bodoland Territorial Council and Bengali in the three districts of Barak Valley where Sylheti is most commonly spoken.[92]

According to the language census of 2011 in Assam, out of a total population of around 31 million, Assamese is spoken by around half that number: 15 million. Although the number of speakers is growing, the percentage of Assam's population who have it as a mother tongue has fallen slightly. The various Bengali dialects and closely related languages are spoken by around 9 million people in Assam, and the portion of the population that speaks these languages has grown slightly. Hindi is the third most-spoken language.

Traditionally, Assamese was the language of the common folk in the ancient Kamarupa kingdom and in the medieval kingdoms of Dimasa Kachari, Chutiya Kachari, Borahi Kachari, Ahom and Kamata kingdoms. Traces of the language are found in many poems by Luipa, Sarahapa, and others, in Charyapada (c. 7th–8th century AD). Modern dialects such as Kamrupi and Goalpariya are remnants of this language. Moreover, Assamese in its traditional form was used by the ethno-cultural groups in the region as lingua-franca, which spread during the stronger kingdoms and was required for economic integration. Localised form

Assamese is the official language of the state. Additional official languages include Bengali and Bodo languages. Bodo in Bodoland Territorial Council and Bengali in the three districts of Barak Valley where Sylheti is most commonly spoken.[92]

According to the language census of 2011 in Assam, out of a total population of around 31 million, Assamese is spoken by around half that number: 15 million. Although the number of speakers is growing, the percentage of Assam's population who have it as a mother tongue has fallen slightly. The various Bengali dialects and closely related languages are spoken by around 9 million people in Assam, and the portion of the population that speaks these languages has grown slightly. Hindi is the third most-spoken language.

Traditionally, Assamese was the language of the common folk in the ancient Kamarupa kingdom and in the medieval kingdoms of Dimasa Kachari, Chutiya Kachari, Borahi Kachari, Ahom and Kamata kingdoms. Traces of the language are found in many poems by Luipa, Sarahapa, and others, in Charyapada (c. 7th–8th century AD). Modern dialects such as Kamrupi and Goalpariya are remnants of this language. Moreover, Assamese in its traditional form was used by the ethno-cultural groups in the region as lingua-franca, which spread during the stronger kingdoms and was required for economic integration. Localised forms of the language still exist in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

Linguistically modern Assamese traces its roots to the version developed by the American Missionaries based on the local form used near Sivasagar (Xiwôxagôr) district. Assamese (Ôxômiya) is a rich language due to its hybrid nature and unique characteristics of pronunciation and softness. The presence of Voiceless velar fricative in Assamese makes it a unique among other similar Indo-Aryan languages.[93][94]

Bodo is an ancient language of Assam. Spatial distribution patterns of the ethno-cultural groups, cultural traits and the phenomenon of naming all the major rivers in the North East Region with Bodo-Kachari words (e.g. Dihing, Dibru, Dihong, D/Tista, and Dikrai) reveal that it was the most important language in ancient times. Bodo is now spoken

According to the language census of 2011 in Assam, out of a total population of around 31 million, Assamese is spoken by around half that number: 15 million. Although the number of speakers is growing, the percentage of Assam's population who have it as a mother tongue has fallen slightly. The various Bengali dialects and closely related languages are spoken by around 9 million people in Assam, and the portion of the population that speaks these languages has grown slightly. Hindi is the third most-spoken language.

Traditionally, Assamese was the language of the common folk in the ancient Kamarupa kingdom and in the medieval kingdoms of Dimasa Kachari, Chutiya Kachari, Borahi Kachari, Ahom and Kamata kingdoms. Traces of the language are found in many poems by Luipa, Sarahapa, and others, in Charyapada (c. 7th–8th century AD). Modern dialects such as Kamrupi and Goalpariya are remnants of this language. Moreover, Assamese in its traditional form was used by the ethno-cultural groups in the region as lingua-franca, which spread during the stronger kingdoms and was required for economic integration. Localised forms of the language still exist in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

Linguistically modern Assamese traces its roots to the version developed by the American Missionaries based on the local form used near Sivasagar (Xiwôxagôr) district. Assamese (Ôxômiya) is a rich language due to its hybrid nature and unique characteristics of pronunciation and softness. The presence of Voiceless velar fricative in Assamese makes it a unique among other similar Indo-Aryan languages.[93][94]

Bodo is an ancient language of Assam. Spatial distribution patterns of the ethno-cultural groups, cultural traits and the phenomenon of naming all the major rivers in the North East Region with Bodo-Kachari words (e.g. Dihing, Dibru, Dihong, D/Tista, and Dikrai) reveal that it was the most important language in ancient times. Bodo is now spoken largely in the Western Assam (BTAD). After years of neglect, now Bodo language is getting attention and its literature is developing. Other native languages of Tibeto-Burman origin and related to Bodo-Kachari are Deori, Mising, Karbi, Rabha, and Tiwa.[citation needed]

There are approximately 564,000 Nepali speakers spread all over the state forming about 2.12% of Assam's total population according to 2001 census.

There are speakers of Tai languages in Assam. A total of six Tai languages were spoken in Assam. Two are now extinct.[95]

Assam has Governor Jagdish Mukhi as the head of the state,[2] the unicameral Assam Legislative Assembly of 126 members, and a government led by the Chief Minister of Assam. The state is divided into five regional divisions.

On 19 May 2016, BJP under the leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal won the Assembly elections, thus forming the first BJP-led government in Assam.[96]

Administrative districts

BJP under the leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal won the Assembly elections, thus forming the first BJP-led government in Assam.[96]

The 33 administrative districts of Assam are delineated based on geographic features such as rivers, hills, and forests.

On 15 August 2015, five new districts were formed:[97][98]

On 27 June 2016, an island in the Brahmaputra River was removed from the Jorhat district and declared the Majuli district, India's first district that is a river island.[99]

Subdivisions

The administrative districts are further subdivided into 54 "Subdivisions" or Mahakuma.[98] Every district is administered from a district headquarters with the office of the Deputy Commissioner, District Magistrate, Office of the District Panchayat and usually with a district court.

The local governance system is organised under the jila-parishad (District Panchayat) for a district, panchayat for group of or individual rural areas and under the urban local bodies for the towns and cities. There are now 2489 village panchayats covering 26247 villages in Assam.[100] The 'town-committee' or nagar-somiti for small towns, 'municipal board' or pouro-sobha for medium towns and municipal corporation or pouro-nigom for the cities consist of the urban local bodies.

For revenue purposes, the districts are divided into revenue circles and mouzas; for the development projects, the districts are divided into 219 'development-blocks' and for law and order these are divided into 206 police stations or thana.

Guwahati is the largest metropo

On 15 August 2015, five new districts were formed:[97][98]

On 27 June 2016, an island in the Brahmaputra River was removed from the Jorhat district and declared the Majuli district, India's first district that is a river island.[99]

Subdivisions

The administrative districts are further subdivided into 54 "Subdivisions" or Mahakuma.[98] Every district is administered from a district headquarters with the office of the Deputy Commissioner, District Magistrate, Office of the District Panchayat and usually with a district court.

The Mahakuma.[98] Every district is administered from a district headquarters with the office of the Deputy Commissioner, District Magistrate, Office of the District Panchayat and usually with a district court.

The local governance system is organised under the jila-parishad (District Panchayat) for a district, panchayat fo

The local governance system is organised under the jila-parishad (District Panchayat) for a district, panchayat for group of or individual rural areas and under the urban local bodies for the towns and cities. There are now 2489 village panchayats covering 26247 villages in Assam.[100] The 'town-committee' or nagar-somiti for small towns, 'municipal board' or pouro-sobha for medium towns and municipal corporation or pouro-nigom for the cities consist of the urban local bodies.

For revenue purposes, the districts are divided into revenue circles and mouzas; for the development projects, the districts are divided into 219 'development-blocks' and for law and order these are divided into 206 police stations or thana.

Guwahati is the largest metropolitan area and urban conglomeration administered under the highest form of urban local bodyGuwahati Municipal Corporation in Assam. The Corporation administers an area of 216.79 km2 (83.70 sq mi).[101] All other urban centres are managed under Municipal Boards.

A list of 9 oldest, classified and prominent, and constantly inhabited, recognised urban centres based on the earliest years of formation of the civic bodies, before the Indian independence of 1947 is tabulated below:

The state has three autonomous councils. Bodoland Autonomous Territorial Council, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Council. The state has further more six statutory autonomous council – Tiwashong Autonomous Council, Jagiroad for ethnic Tiwa Kachari also known as Lalung, Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council, Dudhnoi for ethnic Rabha Kachari, Mishing Autonomous Council, Dhemaji for Mishings a Tani Tribe, Sonowal Kachari Autonomous Council, Dibrugarh, Thengal Kachari Autonomous Council, Titabar and Deori Autonomous Council, Lakhimpur for ethnic Deori Kachari.

Problems

Illegal immigration from Bangladesh

The continual illegal entry of people into Assam, mostly from Bangladesh, has caused economic upheaval and social and political unrest.[113][114] During the Assam Movement (1979–1985), the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and others demanded that government stop the influx of immigrants and deport those who had already settled.[115] During this period, 855 people (the AASU says 860) died in various conflicts with migrants and police.[116][117] In 1985, the Indian Government and leaders of the agitation signed the Assam accord to settle the conflict.[115]

The 1991 census made the changing demographics of border districts more visible.[118][115] Government is updating the National Register of Citizens and deporting non-citizens,[119] but not as fast as they enter. The situation is called a risk to Assam's as well as India's security.[120] In August 2019, India left 2 million residents off the Register of Citizens.[121]

In January 2019, the Assam's peasant organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) claimed that there are around 20 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis in Assam who would become Indian citizens if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed. BJP, however claimed that only eight lakh Hindu Bangladeshis will get citizenship.[122][123][124] According to various sources, the total number of illegal Hindu Bangladeshis is hard to ascertain.[125][126] According to the census data, the number of Hindu immigrants have been largely exaggerated.[126]

In February 2020, the Assam Minority Development Board announced plans to segregate illegal Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants from the indigenous Muslims of the state, though some have expressed problems in identifying an indigenous Muslim person. According to the board, there are 1.3 crore Muslims in the state, of which 90 lakh are of Bangladeshi origin.[127][128]

Floods

In the rainy season every year, the Brahmaputra and other rivers overflow their banks and flood adjacent land. Flood waters wash away property including houses and livestock. Damage to crops and fields harms the agricultural sector. Bridges, railway tracks, and roads are also damaged, harming transportation and communication, and in some years requiring food to be air-dropped to isolated towns. Some deaths are attributed to the floods.[129][130]

Unemployment

Unemployment is a chronic problem in Assam. It is variously blamed on poor infrastructure, limited connectivity, and government policy;[131] on a "poor work culture";[132] on failure to advertise vacancies;[133] and on government hiring candidates from outside Assam.[134]

In 2020 a series of violent lynchings occurred in the region.

Education

Assam schools are run by the Indian government, government of Assam or by private organisations. Medium of instruction is mainly in Assamese, English or Bengali. Most of the schools follow the state's examination board which is called the Secondary Education Board of Assam. Almost all private schools follow the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Indian School Certificate (ISC) syllabuses.[The continual illegal entry of people into Assam, mostly from Bangladesh, has caused economic upheaval and social and political unrest.[113][114] During the Assam Movement (1979–1985), the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and others demanded that government stop the influx of immigrants and deport those who had already settled.[115] During this period, 855 people (the AASU says 860) died in various conflicts with migrants and police.[116][117] In 1985, the Indian Government and leaders of the agitation signed the Assam accord to settle the conflict.[115]

The 1991 census made the changing demographics of border districts more visible.[118][115] Government is updating the National Register of Citizens and deporting non-citizens,[119] but not as fast as they enter. The situation is called a risk to Assam

The 1991 census made the changing demographics of border districts more visible.[118][115] Government is updating the National Register of Citizens and deporting non-citizens,[119] but not as fast as they enter. The situation is called a risk to Assam's as well as India's security.[120] In August 2019, India left 2 million residents off the Register of Citizens.[121]

In January 2019, the Assam's peasant organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) claimed that there are around 20 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis in Assam who would become Indian citizens if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed. BJP, however claimed that only eight lakh Hindu Bangladeshis will get citizenship.[122][123][124] According to various sources, the total number of illegal Hindu Bangladeshis is hard to ascertain.[125][126] According to the census data, the number of Hindu immigrants have been largely exaggerated.[126]

In February 2020, the Assam Minority Development Board announced plans to segregate illegal Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants from the indigenous Muslims of the state, though some have expressed problems in identifying an indigenous Muslim person. According to the board, there are 1.3 crore Muslims in the state, of which 90 lakh are of Bangladeshi origin.[127][128]

In the rainy season every year, the Brahmaputra and other rivers overflow their banks and flood adjacent land. Flood waters wash away property including houses and livestock. Damage to crops and fields harms the agricultural sector. Bridges, railway tracks, and roads are also damaged, harming transportation and communication, and in some years requiring food to be air-dropped to isolated towns. Some deaths are attributed to the floods.[129][130]

Unemployment

Unemployment is a chronic problem in Assam. It is variously blamed on poor infrastructure, limited connectivity, and government policy;Unemployment is a chronic problem in Assam. It is variously blamed on poor infrastructure, limited connectivity, and government policy;[131] on a "poor work culture";[132] on failure to advertise vacancies;[133] and on government hiring candidates from outside Assam.[134]

In 2020 a series of violent lynchings occurred in the region.

Education

Per capita income of Assam since 1950

Assam's economy is based on agriculture and oil. Assam produces more than half of India's tea.[148] The Assam-Arakan basin holds about a quarter of the country's oil reserves, and produces about 12% of its total petroleum.[149] According to the recent estimates,[150] Assam's per capita GDP is 6,157 at constant prices (1993–94) and 10,198 at current prices; almost 40% lower than that in India.[151] According to the recent estimates,[150] per capita income in Assam has reached 6756 (1993–94 constant prices) in 2004–05, which is still much lower than India's.

A paddy field in Assam
A tea garden in Assam: tea is grown at elevations near sea level, giving it a malty sweetness and an earthy flavor, as opposed to the more floral aroma of highland (e.g. Darjeeling, Taiwanese) teas

Tea plantations

Process of making tea in Assam
This 1850 engraving shows the different stages in the process of making tea in Assam

Macro-economy

The economy of Assam today represents a unique juxtaposition of backwardness amidst plenty.[152] Despite its rich natural resources, and supplying of up to 25% of India's petroleum needs, Assam's growth rate has not kept pace with that of India; the difference has increased rapidly since the 1970s.[153] The Indian economy grew at 6% per annum over the period of 1981 to 2000; the growth rate of Assam was only 3.3%.[154] In the Sixth Plan period, Assam experienced a negative growth rate of 3.78% when India's was positive at 6%.[153] In the post-liberalised era (after 1991), the difference widened further.

According to recent analysis, Assam's economy is showing signs of improvement. In 2001–02, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 4.5%, falling to 3.4% in the next financial year.[155] During 2003–04 and 2004–05, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 5.5% and 5.3% respectively.[155] The advanced estimates placed the growth rate for 2005–06 at above 6%.[150] Assam's GDP in 2004 is estimated at $13 billion in current prices. Sectoral analysis again exhibits a dismal picture. The average annual growth rate of agriculture, which was 2.6% per annum over the 1980s, has fallen to 1.6% in the 1990s.[156] The manufacturing sector showed some improvement in the 1990s with a growth rate of 3.4% per annum than 2.4% in the 1980s.[156] For the past five decades, the tertiary sector has registered the highest growth rates of the other sectors, which even has slowed down in the 1990s than in the 1980s.[156]

Employment

Unemployment is one of the major problems in Assam. This problem can be attributed to overpopulation and a faulty education system. Every year, large numbers of students obtain higher academic degrees but because of non-availability of proportional vacancies, most of these students remain unemployed.[157][158] A number of employers hire over-qualified or efficient, but under-certified, candidates, or candidates with narrowly defined qualifications. The problem is exacerbated by the growth in the number of technical institutes in Assam which increases the unemployed community of the State. Many job-seekers are eligible for jobs in sectors like railways and Oil India but do not get these jobs because of the appointment of candidates from outside of Assam to these posts. The reluctance on the part of the departments concerned to advertise vacancies in vernacular language has also made matters worse for local unemployed youths particularly for the job-seekers of Grade C and D vacancies.[159][160]

Reduction of the unemployed has been threatened by illegal immigration from Bangladesh. This has increased the workforce without a commensurate increase in jobs. Immigrants compete with local workers for jobs at lower wages, particularly in construction, domestics, Rickshaw-pullers, and vegetable sellers.[161][162] The government has been identifying (via NRC) and deporting illegal

Assam's economy is based on agriculture and oil. Assam produces more than half of India's tea.[148] The Assam-Arakan basin holds about a quarter of the country's oil reserves, and produces about 12% of its total petroleum.[149] According to the recent estimates,[150] Assam's per capita GDP is 6,157 at constant prices (1993–94) and 10,198 at current prices; almost 40% lower than that in India.[151] According to the recent estimates,[150] per capita income in Assam has reached 6756 (1993–94 constant prices) in 2004–05, which is still much lower than India's.

A paddy field in Assam
[152] Despite its rich natural resources, and supplying of up to 25% of India's petroleum needs, Assam's growth rate has not kept pace with that of India; the difference has increased rapidly since the 1970s.[153] The Indian economy grew at 6% per annum over the period of 1981 to 2000; the growth rate of Assam was only 3.3%.[154] In the Sixth Plan period, Assam experienced a negative growth rate of 3.78% when India's was positive at 6%.[153] In the post-liberalised era (after 1991), the difference widened further.

According to recent analysis, Assam's economy is showing signs of improvement. In 2001–02, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 4.5%, falling to 3.4% in the next financial year.[155] During 2003–04 and 2004–05, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 5.5% and 5.3% respectively.[155] The advanced estimates placed the growth rate for 2005–06 at above 6%.[150] Assam's GDP in 2004 is estimated at $13 billion in current prices. Sectoral analysis again exhibits a dismal picture. The average annual growth rate of agriculture, which was 2.6% per annum over the 1980s, has fallen to 1.6% in the 1990s.[156] The manufacturing sector showed some improvement in the 1990s with a growth rate of 3.4% per annum than 2.4% in the 1980s.[156] For the past five decades, the tertiary sector has registered the highest growth rates of the other sectors, which even has slowed down in the 1990s than in the 1980s.[156]

Employment

Unemployment is one of the major problems in Assam. This problem can be attributed to overpopulation and a faulty education system. Every year, large numbers of students obtain higher academic degrees but because of non-availability of proportional vacancies, most of these students remain unemployed.[157][158] A number of employers hire over-qualified or efficient, but under-certified, candidates, or candidates with narrowly defined qualifications. The problem is exacerbated by the growth in the number of technical institutes in Assam which increases the unemployed community of the State. Many job-seekers are eligible for jobs in sectors like railways and Oil India but do not get these jobs because of the appointment of candidates from outside of Assam to these posts. The reluctance on the part of the departments concerned to advertise vacancies in vernacular language has also made matters worse for local unemployed youths particularly for the job-seekers of Grade C and D vacancies.[159][160]

Reduction of the unemployed has been threatened by [155] During 2003–04 and 2004–05, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 5.5% and 5.3% respectively.[155] The advanced estimates placed the growth rate for 2005–06 at above 6%.[150] Assam's GDP in 2004 is estimated at $13 billion in current prices. Sectoral analysis again exhibits a dismal picture. The average annual growth rate of agriculture, which was 2.6% per annum over the 1980s, has fallen to 1.6% in the 1990s.[156] The manufacturing sector showed some improvement in the 1990s with a growth rate of 3.4% per annum than 2.4% in the 1980s.[156] For the past five decades, the tertiary sector has registered the highest growth rates of the other sectors, which even has slowed down in the 1990s than in the 1980s.[156]

Unemployment is one of the major problems in Assam. This problem can be attributed to overpopulation and a faulty education system. Every year, large numbers of students obtain higher academic degrees but because of non-availability of proportional vacancies, most of these students remain unemployed.[157][158] A number of employers hire over-qualified or efficient, but under-certified, candidates, or candidates with narrowly defined qualifications. The problem is exacerbated by the growth in the number of technical institutes in Assam which increases the unemployed community of the State. Many job-seekers are eligible for jobs in sectors like railways and Oil India but do not get these jobs because of the appointment of candidates from outside of Assam to these posts. The reluctance on the part of the departments concerned to advertise vacancies in vernacular language has also made matters worse for local unemployed youths particularly for the job-seekers of Grade C and D vacancies.[159][160]

Reduction of the unemployed has been threatened by illegal immigration from Bangladesh. This has increased the workforce without a commensurate increase in jobs. Immigrants compete with local workers for jobs at lower wages, particu

Reduction of the unemployed has been threatened by illegal immigration from Bangladesh. This has increased the workforce without a commensurate increase in jobs. Immigrants compete with local workers for jobs at lower wages, particularly in construction, domestics, Rickshaw-pullers, and vegetable sellers.[161][162] The government has been identifying (via NRC) and deporting illegal immigrants. Continued immigration is exceeding deportation.[163][164]

In Assam among all the productive sectors, agriculture makes the highest contribution to its domestic sectors, accounting for more than a third of Assam's income and employs 69% of workforce.[165] Assam's biggest contribution to the world is Assam tea. It has its own variety, Camellia sinensis var. assamica. The state produces rice, rapeseed, mustard seed, jute, potato, sweet potato, banana, papaya, areca nut, sugarcane and turmeric.[citation needed]

Assam's agriculture is yet to experience modernisation in a real sense. With implications for food security, per capita food grain production has declined in the past five decades.[166] Productivity has increased marginally, but is still low compared to highly productive regions. For instance, the yield of rice (a staple food of Assam) was just 1531 kg per hectare against India's 1927 kg per hectare in 2000–01[166] (which itself is much lower than Egypt's 9283, US's 7279, South Korea's 6838, Japan's 6635 and China's 6131 kg per hectare in 2001[167]). On the other hand, after having strong domestic demand, and with 1.5 million hectares of inland water bodies, numerous rivers and 165 varieties of fishes,[168] fishing is still in its traditional form and production is not self-sufficien

Assam's agriculture is yet to experience modernisation in a real sense. With implications for food security, per capita food grain production has declined in the past five decades.[166] Productivity has increased marginally, but is still low compared to highly productive regions. For instance, the yield of rice (a staple food of Assam) was just 1531 kg per hectare against India's 1927 kg per hectare in 2000–01[166] (which itself is much lower than Egypt's 9283, US's 7279, South Korea's 6838, Japan's 6635 and China's 6131 kg per hectare in 2001[167]). On the other hand, after having strong domestic demand, and with 1.5 million hectares of inland water bodies, numerous rivers and 165 varieties of fishes,[168] fishing is still in its traditional form and production is not self-sufficient.[169]

Floods in Assam greatly affect the farmers and the families dependent on agriculture because of large-scale damage of agricultural fields and crops by flood water.[57][58] Every year, flooding from the Brahmaputra and other rivers deluges places in Assam. The water levels of the rivers rise because of rainfall resulting in the rivers overflowing their banks and engulfing nearby areas. Apart from houses and livestock being washed away by flood water, bridges, railway tracks and roads are also damaged by the calamity, which causes communication breakdown in many places. Fatalities are also caused by the natural disaster in many places of the state.[170][171]

Handlooming and handicraft continue.[citation needed]

Assam's proximity to some neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, benefits its trade. The major Border checkpoints through which border trade flows to Bangladesh from Assam are : Sutarkandi (Karimganj), Dhubri, Mankachar (Dhubri) and Golokanj. To facilitate border trade with Bangladesh, Border Trade Centres have been developed at Sutarkandi and Border checkpoints through which border trade flows to Bangladesh from Assam are : Sutarkandi (Karimganj), Dhubri, Mankachar (Dhubri) and Golokanj. To facilitate border trade with Bangladesh, Border Trade Centres have been developed at Sutarkandi and Mankachar. It has been proposed in the 11th five-year plan[clarification needed] to set up two more Border Trade Center, one at Ledo connecting China and other at Darrang connecting Bhutan. There are several Land Custom Stations (LCS) in the state bordering Bangladesh and Bhutan to facilitate border trade.[172]

The government of India has identified some thrust areas for industrial development of Assam:[173]

Although, the region in the eastern periphery of India is landlocked and is linked to the mainland by the narrow Siliguri Corridor (or the Chicken's Neck) improved transport infrastructure in all the three modes – rail, road and air – and developing urban infrastructure in the cities and towns of Assam are giving a boost to the entire industrial scene. The Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati, with international flights to Bangkok and Singapore offered by Druk Air of Bhutan, was the 12th busiest airport of India in 2012.[174] The cities of Guwahati[175][176] in the west and Dibrugarh[177][178] in the east with good rail,[179][180] road and air connectivity are the two important nerve centres of Assam, to be selected by Asian Development Bank for providing $200 million for improvement of urban infrastructure.[181][182]

Assam is a producer of crude oil and it accounts for about 15% of India's crude output,[183] exploited by the Assam Oil Company Ltd.,[184] and natural gas in India and is the second place in the world (after Titusville in the United States) where petroleum was discovered. Asia's first successful mechanically drilled oil well was drilled in Makum way back in 1867. Most of the oilfields are located in the Ea

Assam is a producer of crude oil and it accounts for about 15% of India's crude output,[183] exploited by the Assam Oil Company Ltd.,[184] and natural gas in India and is the second place in the world (after Titusville in the United States) where petroleum was discovered. Asia's first successful mechanically drilled oil well was drilled in Makum way back in 1867. Most of the oilfields are located in the Eastern Assam region. Assam has four oil refineries in Digboi (Asia's first and world's second refinery), Guwahati, Bongaigaon and Numaligarh and with a total capacity of 7 million metric tonnes (7.7 million short tons) per annum. Asia's first refinery was set up at Digboi and discoverer of Digboi oilfield was the Assam Railways & Trading Company Limited (AR&T Co. Ltd.), a registered company of London in 1881.[185] One of the biggest public sector oil company of the country Oil India Ltd. has its plant and headquarters at Duliajan.

There are several other industries, including a chemical fertiliser plant at Namrup, petrochemical industries in Namrup and Bongaigaon, paper mills at Jagiroad, Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd. Township Area Panchgram and Jogighopa, sugar mills in Barua Bamun Gaon, Chargola, Kampur, cement plants in Bokajan and Badarpur, and a cosmetics plant of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) at Doom Dooma. Moreover, there are other industries such as jute mill, textile and yarn mills, Assam silk, and silk mills. Many of these industries are facing losses and closure due to lack of infrastructure and improper management practices.[186]

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