Knock in the door .
Sir may I come in ?Yes come in .(I go inside and wish everyone and proceed to take my seat. I forgot whether they asked me to take a seat or I took it straightaway ,in the heat of the moment).There was the Chairman(hence called CM) and 4 members M1,M2,M3 and M4.The atmosphere was very cordial.
CM: So you are Ibu Sanjeeb Garg?
CM: So you completed your degree in 2010 and since then working in Assam Gramin Vikash Bank (Before I could reply he signaled M1 to take over).
M1: So you are from Assam? What is the major problem in North East?
Me: Sir the problem is of a trust deficit.
M1: What is this trust deficit?
ME: Sir even though Centre in the last 10 years have contributed a lot in the form of say 90:10 special arrangement yet results have not been tangible .That is because the system has not been harmonized yet. There is a certain gap that has to be travelled by both sides. The recent elections in the 3 NE state where there was a voting of an average of 85% I think NE too is internalizing the democratic process. But a lot of road has to be travelled in both tangible and intangible forms.
M1: So are you hopeful than in the future this will become better ?
Me: (with conviction) Absolutely Sir
M1: So what steps can Assam as the Big brother of NE take in this regard?
Me: Sir as you have correctly pointed out that Assam is better integrated than the rest of the North East. This process must be carried forward and it can serve as a model for the rest of North East. The youth of Assam will play a major role in this regard.
M1: So you think the youth in Assam is capable to take this role?
Me: Yes sir.
M1: So you are from NEHU? Are there students from the rest of the country in NEHU?
Me: Sir not much.
M1: Why, isn’t this through a common engineering test?
Me: No sir it’s a separate test of the university.
M1: Is it? Consults with Chairman? Chairman agrees.M1 says OK.
M2 takes over
M2: So Ibu you are from North East. Would you be willing to serve anywhere else in the country given an opportunity?
Me: Yes Sir(with conviction!!!)
M2: Coming to your service preferences, you have filled IAS,IFS right?
Me: Yes Sir
M2:What do you think about India’s stand on Myanmar?
Me: General gyan about how we must engage with both sides and how it is of strategic importance to us.
M2: As a foreign diplomat would you take the same approach and why?
Me: Yes sir and general gyan again.
M2: Is there a problem of illicit Chinese made goods smuggled through Myanmar in Assam?
Me: No sir
M2: Coming to today’s newspaper .You must have read that Age of consent in the Anti Women Violence bill has been reduced to 16.Do you agree to this move?
Me: Yes sir. Here I would like to support the stand taken by the various women organizations that 18 years can be used as a tool by some parents to force their wards into listening to their dictums and also it runs contrary to the prevailing Age of Consent.
M2: Is there a problem of immigration in Assam? Will border fencing solve it?
Me: Yes sir there is a problem in Assam. Sir border fencing cannot act as the only measure. Many a times the border is separated by hills and sometimes by the Brahmaputra. Unlike the western border the eastern border is not continuous terrain. Hence border fencing can be one of the solutions but not the only solution. Rather we have to look at the pull and push factors.
M2:What are they?
M2: Sir for example land records are a major problem in Assam. There is certain collusion among lower land officials and also the issue of miyadi and patta land in Assam is not resolved hence this acts as a major source of worry. Often the local officials issue miyadi documents to the undocumented migrants whereafter they get a stamp of genuinity on their identity. This lower level collusion and corruption is a major pull reason.(Before I could complete…)
M2: What about political gains?
Me: Definitely political patronage is definitely extended in some levels.2 years ago 10000 people tried to cross over from the other side of the border in Orang National Park . It was repulsed due to the joint action of local people, DC and DFO. On investigation it was found that there were some local political elements which acted as an impetus. So yes political gain to some respect does add to this problem.
M2: Why has Tarun Gogoi emerged as such a loved figure? Why has he come back to power again and again?
Me: Sir peace and development. Assam has witnessed relative peace in the last 10 years and there also has been development, new roads new colleges universities infrastructure has been built.
M2: I have travelled through the length and breadth of Assam? So why is Assam so underdeveloped in agriculture, when it can be the bread basket for half of this nation?
Me: Sir it’s a question of Awareness. Farmers used to indulge only in cropping once a year. There was no though no action about multicropping. But in recent times it has started changing. Recently in Kamrup an initiative was taken to introduce double cropping and it has started showing results. Such initiatives if taken forward will undoubtedly give better results.
Now M3 takes over
M3: Why does flooding occur and what can be done?
Me: Why??(Thinking) sir due to rains and….
M3: No no tell me why does flooding occur?
Me: Smiling again sir rains …….and the steps that can be taken…
M3: No floods occur due to some gibberish didn’t understand.
Me: Thank you sir .smile
M3: Ok tell me what can be done?
Me: Sir better embankments , better accountability dyke model of Denmark can be studied( he didn’t seem interested in my answer!!)
M3: Assam falls in Sesmic zone..How will you use your knowledge as an IT engineer to mitigate responses?
Me: Sir using GIS I will map out the vulnerable areas. Then with data analysis we will be able to zero on the first response centers and how they must be equipped .Apart from this awareness.(he stopped me midway or I stopped sensing another question I don’t remember)
M3: What are the problems of big and small tea gardens in Assam?
Me: Sir big tea gardens I have no idea. Small tea garden I can answer.
M3: Go ahead!
Me: Sir 3 reasons:
· Competition from China
· Climate change( he gave a disapproving look)
· Using old plants which reduce productivity
M3: China produces only green tea?
Me: ( I didn’t know how to respond!!!Suddenly M1 says ..no no its competitor in black tea as well .Pahh am relieved)
M3: Ok ok ,what about labour problem in tea gardens?
Me: Sir labour condition are quite improved
M3: (Restless) No no labour problems tell me?
Me: I don’t know what to say again M1 comes to rescue he says “ no he must have something to say.”(I smile )
Yes sir infact conditions of tea garden workers are much better compared to the rest. Although they have a lower wage rate than the rest of the workers they have a social security net.
M3: What about small landholding? Thats the major problem of small tea gardens?
Me: Am sorry sir I didn’t know about it.
M3: Ok tell me why Assam lacks soft power!!!!?(Assam –soft power???)
Me: Sir I didn’t get your point.
M3: Why has service industry not picked up inspite of good English speaking crowd?
Me: Sir it’s the problem of awareness .But in the last two years things have changed. Last year our Chief Minister invited doyens of industry to come forward and invest in Assam.TCS has opened an incubation centre in Guwahati. Tatas have pledged a TISS in Guwahati which has started functioning as well .A lot needs to be done but the process has started.
M3: But all of them have big tea gardens !!hahahaha
Me: Smiled seephsihly
Now M4 takes over:
M4: Gave some quote? Do you recognize this quote?
Me: No sir.
M4: I will give you a hint ,its from tourism? Have you heard of the World Tourism Mart …Berlin?
Me:(wanted to make a guess…..didnt)No sir
M4: When is tourism day celebrated?
Me: No sir
M4: You know about the organic products that are being cultivated in Assam?
Me: No sir(4 in the row failed now !!!)
M4: Smiling ok let me ask you an easy question. what is the meaning of Ibu?(aha saved !!!)
Me: Sir it’s a Apatani word which means an earthen lamp!!
M4: So what is this Bodoland issue?
Me: It’s a demand that is based on genuine economic grievances. There are three regions in Assam which are even less underdeveloped, NC Hills, Bodoland and Barak Valley. And this economic underdevelopment is the reason for the demand.
M4: So how do they think Bodoland will solve the issue?
Me: Sir people in Bodoland accuse Dispur being as distant to them as Delhi. Hence they believe that administration coming to Kokrajhar will bring the local administration will come closer to the people. It will be on the ethos of the Bodo identity.
M4: So Ibu what are the major tourist attractions in Assam?
Me: Kaziranga National Park,Manas National Park,Kamakhya Temple ….( M2 interjected me )
M2: What was that river island ?
Me: Sir Majuli
M2: Yes yes Majuli !!!:P
M4: Suppose I make you tourism secretary what steps will you take to promote tourism say in Assam?
· Build a campaign around Facebook to reach the aspiring middle class who can travel now.
· Innovative steps like printing an Assam campaign behind railway tickets, plane tickets etc
· Building a river safari in Brahmaputra like Bangladesh has done !
M4: This river safari that you talk about? Where will you take it?
Me: Sir whole of Assam!!!(everyone laughed!!!)
M4: Are you married?
Me: No sir.
M4: Suppose you marry and you have to divorce a character of yourself what would that be ?
Me: Thinking for sometime….sir Anger!
M4: Smiled !!!Yes yes Anger J
Now baton passes to Chairman!
CM: So Ibu your dad was a credit analyst?
Me: Yes sir and now he has taken VRS.
CM: What does he do now?
Me: Sir business!!
OK Ibu thank you .
I said thank you to everyone and came out!