Assamese people

Assamese youth in traditional dress
Total population
c.15+ million[1]
Regions with significant populations
 India 15,311,351[2]


(and dialects; KamrupiGoalpariya)

Majority: Hinduism 75.52%

( Traditional • Panentheistic)

Minority: Islam 21.34% • Christianity 2.14% • Sikhism 1%[3]
Related ethnic groups
Tai and Sino-Tibetan-speaking peoples[4]

The Assamese people are the indigenous people of the state of Assam.They are a physically diverse group formed after years of assimilation of Austroasiatic, Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman and Tai races.[5] The total population of native Assamese speakers in Assam is nearly 13 million which makes up 48.8% of the Assam's population according to the Language census of 2001. Though there is a political dispute over the definition of Assamese people in Assam, in general; the people belonging to the state of Assam along with belonging to an indigenous community of Assam and speaking the Assamese language or any tribal dialect of Assam as his/her first language are referred as Assamese people.[6]

The indigenous Assamese people traditionally include ethnic groups like Assamese Brahmins (including Ganaks), Koch Rajbongshi, Ahoms, Deori, Sonowal–Kacharis, Rabha, Assamese Kayastha, Chutias, Kalitas, Keot(Kaibarta), Baro-Bhuyan, Mech Kacharis, Thengal–Kacharis, Tiwa, Sarania Kachari, Nath, Kumar, Hira, Tai-Phake, Tai-Aiton, Tai-Khamyangs, Tai-Khamti, Tai-Turung, other Tai groups, Moran, Motok, Doms/Nadiyals, Assamese Muslims (particularly Goria, Moria, Deshi communities), Assamese Sikhs[7], Assamese Christians speaking Assamese or any other tribal dialect of Assam as their mother tongue and indigenous ethnic groups of other neighbouring North-East states.

Though there is a political dispute over the definition of Assamese people, in general; the people belonging to the state of Assam are referred as Assamese people.[8][9] The lack of a definition has put stumbling blocks in implementing clause 6[10] of the Assam Accord, an agreement signed by the activists of the Assam Movement and the Government of India in 1985.[11] Since a legal definition is important to provide "constitutional, legislative and cultural" safeguards to the Assamese people, the Government of Assam had formed a ministerial committee to finalize the definition in March 2007.[12][13] To address the clause 6 issue, AASU had announced a definition on April 10, 2000 which was based on residency with a temporal limit: All those whose names appeared in the 1951 National Register of Citizens and their progenies should be considered as Assamese.[14] [15][16] Difficulty in definition is rooted in the heterogeneous nature of inhabitants of the Assam state.

According to 2011 census, Out of (13,257,272) Assamese people, majority of (10,013,013) or (75.52%) Assamese people are Hindus, largest minority of (2,830,072) or (21.34%) Assamese people are Muslims, and very few (414,187) or (3.14%) Assamese people are Christians and Sikhs by religion.


The first usage of the English word "Assamese" is noted in colonial times; based on same principle as Sinhalese, Nepalese and Canarese, derived from the Anglicised word "Assam"[17][18] with the suffix -ese, meaning "of Assam."[19] In contrast, Western Assam from early to pre–colonial times was known as "'Kamarupa" (instead of Asama[20][21][22]) and considered a politically, socially and culturally separate unit from the rest of the state.[23]In the 16th century, the Ahom kingdom was known as the "Kingdom of Acham" to the Mughals; and later, to the British.[24] In 1682, the eastern Kamrup was annexed by Ahom kingdom[25] and the expanded kingdom continued to be called as the "Kingdom of Assam" by Europeans[26] till 1821, when the Ahom kingdom became part of the Burmese Empire.[27][28]

After Assam became part of British India, the newly constituted province came to be known by its new anglicised name Assam after its largest constituent, and the name Assamese / Asamiya came to be associated with the Assamese language which was erstwhile known as Kamrupi.[29]

Different views

According to Yasmin Saikia, "the group that now identifies as Tai–Ahom were historically seen as the Assamese people. However, the term ethnic Assamese is now associated by the Indian government at Delhi with the Assamese speaking Indo–Aryan, Tibeto-Burman and Austric groups (comprising all religious beliefs) of Assam. The Tai-Ahom people were a dominant minority during the Ahom Rule.[30]

Current issues

Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh has been a key issue in Assam. Most of the immigrants settle in Assam due to economic reasons and their population is estimated to be between 7-8 million. The issue of illegal influx has a 30-year-old history, starting with the anti-foreigner agitation that began in 1979 under the leadership of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU). In 1985, after hundreds of people died in course of independent India’s biggest mass uprising, the AASU and other agitation groups signed an agreement with the Centre called the Assam Accord. It fixed 25 March 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and expulsion of illegal migrants, meaning anyone found entering India after this date were to be detected and sent back. In the three decades that followed, a few thousand illegal Bangladeshi migrants have been expelled by successive state governments, which included the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a party that was formed with the mandate of freeing Assam of illegal aliens. Many of these ‘expelled’ people are believed to have come back.

According to an Assam government white paper, between 1985 and 2012, 2,442 illegal immigrants from Bangladesh had been expelled from the state. The central home ministry said in 2004 that it estimated a total of five million illegal immigrants in Assam.[31]Shri Indrajit Gupta, the then Home Minister of India stated in the Parliament on 6 May, 1997 that there were 10 million illegal migrants residing in India.

See also


  1. Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. "Census of India: Comparative speaker's strength of Scheduled Languages-1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001". Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  3. "Mission roots brings Assamese Sikhs to Punjab". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  4. Kang, Longli; Li, Shilin; Gupta, Sameer; Zhang, Yingang; Liu, Kai; Zhao, Jianmin; Jin, Li; Li, Hui (2010). "Genetic structures of the Tibetans and the Deng people in the Himalayas viewed from autosomal STRs". Journal of Human Genetics. pp. 270–277. doi:10.1038/jhg.2010.21. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  5. Yasmin Saikia. Fragmented Memories.
  6. "Assamese People" definition rocks Assembly, The Hindu". Special Correspondent. 1 April 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  7. "Meet the Axomiya Sikhs". The Tribune. Chandigarh. 24 March 2013.
  8. "Assamese People" definition rocks Assembly, The Hindu". Special Correspondent. 1 April 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  9. "Meet the Axomiya Sikhs". The Tribune. Chandigarh. 24 March 2013.
  10. Clause 6 of Assam Accord: "Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people."
  11. Assam dithers over Accord, The Telegraph, July 15, 2004.
  12. 1.40 lakh aliens deported since 1971 Archived May 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., The Assam Tribune, March 27, 2007
  13. Move to define Assamese people Archived May 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., The Assam Tribune, March 31, 2007
  15. AASU joins 'Asomiya' debate, The Sentinel, Guwahati, April 1, 2007
  16. AASU flays Barman, Prafulla Mahanta, The Assam Tribune, April 1, 2007
  17. Sarma, Satyendranath (1976), Assamese Literature, Page 43
  18. Das, Bhuban Mohan (1987) "The Peoples of Assam" p.23 "The modern name Assam is an anglicised form of the Assamese name Asom"
  19. ese definition
  20. Sukalpa Bhattacharjee, C Joshua Thomas,2013,Society,Representation and Textuality:The Critical Interface It deals with the expansion of the Mughal Empire in Bengal, Kamrup and Assam.
  21. Satish Chandra (2005), Medieval India:Fro Sultanate to the Mughals Part - II They had support of many Hindu Rajas of Jessore, Kamrup (Western Assam), Cachar, Tippera, etc.
  22. Peter Jackson,2003,The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History,P. 141, "No body sought to emulate Mohammad b. Bakhtiar, who had returned a broken man from a disastrous campaign through the Upper Brahmaputra region, possibly into the region of Assam the Muslims called Kamrup or Kamrud
  23. Goswami, Upendranath (1970),A Study on Kāmrūpī: A Dialect of Assamese, Page iii
  24. Bowrey, Thomas (1663) A Geographical Account of Countries around Bay of Bengal, ed Temple, R. C., Hakluyt Society's Publications. In this account, Bowrey describes the death of Mir Jumla, who had occupied the capital of the Ahom kingdom in the 17th century thus: "They lost the best of Nabobs, the Kingdome of Acham, and, by consequence, many large privileges."
  25. "In the Battle of Itakhuli in September 1682, the Ahom forces chased the defeated Mughals nearly one hundred kilometers back to the Manas river. The Manas then became the Ahom–Mughal boundary until the British occupation." (Richards 1995, p. 247)
  26. "The Kingdom of Assam, where it is entered from Bengal, commences on the north of the Berhampooter, at the Khonder Chokey, nearly opposite to the picturesque estate of the late Mr Raush at Goalpara; and at the Nagrabaree Hill on the South", Wade, Dr John Peter, (1805) "A Geographical Sketch of Assam" in Asiatic Annual Register, reprinted (Sharma 1972, p. 341)
  27. Baruah, S. L. (1993), Last Days of Ahom Monarchy, P.225
  28. "The Ahoms were never numerically dominant in the state they built and, at the time of 1872 and 1881 Censuses, they formed hardly one-tenth of the populations relevant to the erstwhile Ahom territory (i.e, by and large, the Brahmaputra Valley without the Goalpara district.)" (Guha 1983:9)
  29. Sukumar Sen, Grammatical sketches_of Indian languages_with comparative_vocabulary and texts, P31
  30. Yasmin Saikia. Fragmented Memories.
  31. "Ticking time bomb in Assam: a final count of illegal immigrants". quartz. Retrieved 2017-07-30.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.