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People of India: Assam (Volume 15, Part 1)

K.S. Singh (Editor) S.H.M. Rizvi (Editor) M. Horam (Editor)
Synopsis The Anthropological Survey of India launched the People of India project on 2d October 1985 to generate an anthropological profile of all communities of India, the impact on them of change and the development process, and the links that bring them together. As part of this all India project, the ethnographic survey of all the 115 communities in Assam was taken up for the first time in collaboration with local scholars. The results of this survey were discussed at the workshops held in Shillong/ Guwahati in May 1988. The space now known as Assam emerged as a distinct econo-cultural region early in history. It was peopled by the legendary kirata, whose descendants still identify themselves with the Mahabharata tradition, and with tantricism and shaktism. It has been a melting pot of ethnic streams, the most important being the Mongoloid and the Caucasoid, the Australoids constitute the substratum of most Assam population. Medieval Assam saw the rise of Assamese as language, neo-vashnavism propounded by Mahapurush Shankar Dev and the rise of a powerful state established by the Ahoms in the Brahmaputra Valley. Assam is linguistically heterogeneous with 45 languages/ dialects being spoken by the speakers of the Tibeto-Burman language family and of the Indo-Aryan language families. Ecology determines the settlement pattern and house types, the distribution of peasants and fisherfolk. Assam’s identity is defined by language, territory, dress, cuisine, festivals such as Bihu, connected with fertility. The other features are availability of land and abundance of water, immigration of people, vegetarianism with fish, fish and all pervading fishing culture, settled cultivation, visibility of women in all roles, vibrant folk tradition, flourishing crafts, near absence of untouchability and rigidity of jati and varna structure, and a greater social intercourse among the communities. Assam has taken steps to grant autonomy to tribal communities. Maintenance of the integrity of Assam is integral to the peace and stability in the region.
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About the authors

K.S. Singh

K.S. Singh, a senior member of the Indian Administrative Service spent many years serving among and studying backward communities in central India. He held several important assignments including the directorship of Anthropological Survey of India. Author of the well known work Birsa Munda and His Movement in Chotanagpur he edited a large number of books on Indian tribes. He was general editor of the multi-volume People of India series of Anthropological Survey of India. He died in 2006.

S.H.M. Rizvi

Syed Hasan Mujtaba Rizvi, Ph.D. (Delhi) trained in Physical Anthropology at Universities of Saugar and Delhi has received training in Method and Techniques in Human Cytrogenetics and DNA Polymorphism, remains engaged in anthropological research since 1969. A fervent advocate of holistic tradition in Anthropological Research, he has blended the physical aspect of Man in such a fashion that the fusion has become the hallmark of his more than three decades of research. He has been closely associated with Dr. Shibani Roy and has been co-author too of many treatises, they as a team, wrote in the span of more than three decades. His book on Mina- A Ruling Tribe of Rajasthan was the pioneer study in Social Biology of the largest tribe of Rajasthan. Currently he is associated with Anthropological Survey of India, Government of India and posted in Central Regional Centre.

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Bibliographic information

Title People of India: Assam (Volume 15, Part 1)
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2003
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8170461286
length 452p., Plates; 25cm.