Now AASU bringing new hope to Assam’s youth

May 27th, 2008 - 12:34 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) The All Assam Students Union’s (AASU), best known for leading the six-year anti-alien movement against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in the 1970s, has got a new motto - to bring economic security to youth in the state, primarily the educated unemployed. Having focussed on political and social ills in the past, the student body now wants to concentrate on the economic front.

After kick-starting a pilot project to produce potatoes in 1,680 acres of land in Pathsala in Barpeta district in February, AASU plans to bring a whopping 16,800 acres across the state under paddy cultivation.

“We’re satisfied with the success of potato cultivation in Barpeta. We took up the project on an experimental basis to see whether farming could be an option to solve the problem of unemployment in the state,” AASU president Shankar Prasad Ray told IANS on phone from Guwahati.

“We want to move further by bringing another 50,000 bighas of land under paddy cultivation,” Ray added.

According to government records, there are approximately 1.5 million unemployed youths in the state. The actual figure may be more since many are not registered with the employment exchange.

AASU, which still enjoys considerable influence in the state, hopes that engaging youth in agriculture will solve much of their problems.

The student body’s efforts are proving fruitful.

Eighty-four youths were among a large number of farmers involved in the cultivation of 15 tonnes of potatoes recently in Pathsala. After selling the produce, each individual involved in the cultivation earned Rs.3,000 for three months of hard work.

AASU also organised loans for the farmers through the State Bank of India (SBI) to buy farm equipment and potato seeds.

“AASU convinced us to adopt cultivation as our means of livelihood and it proved to be profitable for us. I have decided to continue with potato cultivation,” said Khagen Deka, a 24-year-old graduate.

The loan taken from SBI has been returned. Moreover, AASU has engaged the Guwahati Marketing Company to market the entire produce.

Anuradha Dutta, professor of peace studies at Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development (OKDISCD), said the move would go a long way in helping educated unemployed carve out a better future for themselves.

“It is not for the first time that youths have adopted farming. But in this case, because of the help extended from all quarters, the project has succeeded,” Dutta told IANS.

“If executed properly, agriculture is a safe option to earn a livelihood as the state has very fertile land,” Dutta said.

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