Assam plans welfare officer for its diaspora

Assam plans welfare officer for its diaspora

Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma with chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati on Wednesday. Photo by Manash Das, Guwahati. 

The Assam government on Wednesday proposed to reach out to the state’s diaspora in cities like Bengaluru by appointing welfare officers to assist them during distress.

The state budget for 2019-2020 tabled in the Assembly said a welfare officer would be appointed in each of the tier-I and tier-II city having sizeable Assamese diaspora to help them during medical emergency, job loss and emotion crisis.

“Many people from Assam leave for other cities every year for education or jobs. Many face emotional disconnect in the cities. The welfare officers will support them during medical emergency, provide assistance to young students to adjust to a new city and provide a temporary monetary assistance to those who lost their jobs. We will celebrate our festivals in these cities. We will also provide immediate logistical and financial assistance in cases of death of Assamese people living outside the state,” finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, while presenting the state budget. The scheme has been named as Aami Asomiya (We are Assamese) Initiative.

Gold for marriage

The BJP-led government also proposed a new scheme to encourage marriage registration by providing one tola (12 grams) gold during marriage of girls belonging to families having annual income of Rs. 5 lakh. This will be applicable for first two daughters in a family only.

“Giving gold ornaments during wedding is part of custom of most of the communities in Assam. But often parents struggle to manage the gold and so we have decided to help such families. Only condition is that the marriage must be registered under the Special Marriage (Assam) Rules, 1954 and the bride and the groom must attain the legal age of 18 and 21 years respectively,” Sarma said.

The state government also announced schemes to preserve and promote language and culture of various ethnic communities. This, according to many was targetted to counter the criticism it faced following passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha on January 8. Many consider the bill as a threat to Assamese language as it seeks to allow “persecuted” minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to apply for Indian citizenship, after a stay of six years.

The budget also announced to provide rice at Rs. 1 per kg to 53 lakh households under the National Food Safety Scheme, schemes for tea garden workers, which constitute nearly 17% of the state’s population, beside many others.