Social Scientist. v 6, no. 72 (July 1978) p. 66.

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Language Problem in Assam

THE LANGUAGE issue connot be treated in isolation from the national question and more fundamentally from the co-relation of class forces existing in any social formation. It emerges along with the success of commodity exchange which integrates nations and creates the nation-state as the most convenient, profitable and normal arena for the play of capitalist relations1. In its widest sense the national question embraces the entire complex of relationship between ethnic communities and above all between nations that have already been established, and those in the process of formation.2 Language, therefore is part of a wider social question. Hence., the need to study the former in the wider context of the latter. This study is solely confined to the language problem in Assam. However, before going into a detailed study of Assam, we would try to examine the language problem in the context of: 1) The different historical stages through which the national problem in our country has evolved; 2) The multi-national character of the Indian Union; and 3) The uneven development of legions inhabited by various nationalities.

Colonialism and Underdevelopment

India was fully integrated into the world capitalist economy in a subordinate colonial position during the nineteenth century. It emerged as a classical colony playing a crucial role in the development of British Capitalism.8 The colonial Indian economy was a part of world Capitalism which needs to be viewed as a single world-wide system. The historical process that led to this colonial integration invariably led to the underdevelopmenc of India.

The Indian capitalist class, in the strictly modern sense, arose during the British period. The Indian capitalist class gave broad support to the nationalist movement against Imperialism. They realized that the Indian people were politically restive and bent on anti-imperialist struggle because of their conditions of life, and because of their own contradiction with Imperialism. Further, it was clear thac nationalist

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