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Women of Substance

This women’s day I salute those unsung ‘heroes’ who have withstood the onslaught of fickle fate. No they are not faces in the crowd rather they are the crowd whose faces we don’t remember. They are those who are living in the periphery of life, battling everyday issues of home and hearth.

I bow my head in reverence to the grit of Mausam’s mother who put aside her grief after losing her only son to Ewing’s Sarcoma in order to stand as a pillar of strength to her broken husband who unable to bear the tempest of misfortune had almost lost touch with reality. I like many others was a helpless bystander of the tale of woe that had fallen like a bolt from the blue on this poor family.  But their efforts of putting up a brave front and fight with the dreaded disease is a tale of inspiration. This iron lady put her fear and tears on hold to provide every possible treatment to save the apple of her eye. She did not have the embellishments of higher degrees nor did she have the cushion of riches to fall back upon, she along with her hard working husband undertook every possible effort to push back the tentacles of impending doom but their fate was sealed and when their little fighter lost the lone battle with cancer their world shook and time stood still. A life was lost forever but at the same time a new and stronger woman was born who had the power of perseverance and determination to fight every odd that life hurled her way. She is truly the embodiment of ‘Shakti’ and i wish to revere her every quality.

Next, i applause the transformation of another spirited woman whose ‘frail to fearsome’ tale is one which has many  lessons to teach. This is the story of a woman scorned and the consequences thereof. I remember many nights when our neighbourhood would reverberate with the painful shrieks of a woman mistreated by her husband. 

But soon a new sun dawned on her life when she took matters in her own hands and put a stop on the atrocities inflicted upon her by her husband. The transformation of this woman was simply remarkable. Today this single mother is juggling a profession and being a mother with elan. She has freed herself from the obligatory tag of being a ‘tag along to a wife-beater husband’. There are millions of women out there who are facing extremities in the form of abusive husbands or in laws but there are not many like this feisty woman who have the gall to leave the security of a settled life to embrace the uncertainties of an  unknown future. Pat on the back of this gutsy woman kudos to the fighter in her.  

Meet Rubaiyya fondly called ‘didi’ by everyone in our apartment.  Mother of four this woman is a powerhouse of qualities. Her day begins at the crack of dawn when she hurriedly cooks and cleans for her family and works at the nearby apartment as a part time help for almost all the nineteen flats. Years have come and years have gone but this woman has not aged a day since she came into our lives. She continues to work single-mindedly trying to make ends meet. Her husband, an out of work alcoholic is dependent on her as well.  Not for her the rustle of silk clothes, not for her the shine of ornaments but her dream is to educate her four children so that they get to carve a better future for themselves. Living amidst unknown people this woman is in an everyday strife with life at the well—when she has to collect water for her family, with the landlord who hikes the rent every month at small pretexts, with the nagging people of the apartment who try to find faults at her flawless work and at home with her loving husband who frequently turns into a drunken monster. I  believe she is a true woman of substance living life by meagre means.

I salute these common woman whom we find at every corner of our lives but whose uncommonness we fail to fathom. I salute this ordinary woman in who lurk extraordinary powers of tolerance, determination and strength.


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Rituparna Goswami Pande's picture

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UGC Sponsored National Seminar at Nowgong College

11 Jan 2011 - 5:15pm | DigantaTalukdar

The department of Geography, Nowgong College in colloboration with Assam Science Society,Nagaon branch has organised 2 days UGC Sponsored National Seminar on the subject Conservation and Utilization of resources in North East India: A vision plan of Green World on January 10-11 at Nowgong College. The seminar was attended by Dr. B.S Mipun, Head of the Department of Geography, North East Hill University (NEHU), Shillong and Dr. Ashit Kumar Sarkar, Rtd. Head of the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation, Kolkatta as the honourary guests. Asam Education Minister Gautam Bora will participate the closing ceremony as the Chief guest, as informed by Nava Kumar Mahanta, the convenor of the organising committe and the secretary of Assam Science Society, Nagaon Branch.

Rabha Divas observed in Itanagar

21 Jun 2016 - 9:02am | AT News

Rabha Divas was jointly organised by the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and the Students Union Movement of Arunachal pradesh (SUMA)  in the memory of revolutionary figure, writer and great classical icon of Assam Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha in Itanagar on Monday.


Jadav Payeng nomited for CNN Hero

26 Dec 2015 - 7:15pm | Rajen Barua

In a meeting held on December 23rd in Houston, Texas, the FASS Executive committee members have discussed and determined that Jadav Payeng is a prime and deserving candidate to be nominated as a CNN Hero. As such the members have decided to promote Jadav Payeng as a CNN Hero. One can nominate a person as a CNN Hero by filling in the application form online (per link noted below). FASS also request all in Northeast India to individually nominate Jadav Payeng for this honor.

 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute is an award-winning television special created by CNN to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities. The program was started in 2007. As of 2015 the program was hosted by Anderson Cooper. Nominees are introduced during the fall of each year and the audience is encouraged to vote online for the CNN Hero of the Year. Ten recipients are honored and each receive USD$50,000. The top recipient is chosen as the CNN Hero of the Year and receives an additional USD$250,000 to continue their work. During the broadcast celebrating their achievements, the honorees are introduced by celebrities who actively support their charity work.  

FASS feels strongly that Jadav Payeng deserves this honor more than anybody else and it is the duty of all North East Indian to try to promote the process.

Jadav Payeng (born 1963) is an Assamese environmental activist and forestry worker from Jorhat, Assam. In 1979, when the whole of Assam was engaged in a political struggle called, 'Assam Agitation' to save Assam, the young Jadav Payeng, then a student of class IX, started planting trees in one of the barren sand bars (sapori) on the river Brahmaputra in order to save reptiles and other animals who were dying.  And that is what he did for the next 40 years till today. For many years, his work went un noticed. Then a local journalist, Jitu Kalita of Jorhat discovered what he was doing and brought his great work to light.

 In fact, what Jadav Payeng started 40 years ago, decades later transformed into a lush forest, the biggest man made forest, about 1,360 acres, bigger than the size of the Central Park in New York. The forest is now known as Molai Forest - named after him. The Molai forest now houses five Royal Bengal tigers, over a hundred deer, wild boar, more than a hundred vultures, several species of birds, including pelicans, three or four greater one-horned rhinoceroses, besides of course, the snakes, who were at the genesis of this extraordinary story. A herd of 115 elephants visits regularly for 3-4 months. “In 35 years, the Royal Bengal tigers have feasted on 85 of my cows, 95 buffaloes and 10 pigs,” Payeng says matter-of-factly, then adds jokingly, “They (the tigers) do not know farming, you see.”

Today Jadav Payeng is becoming a house hold name in the North East and in India. In 2015, he was honored with Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards in India. The world has noticed and is recognizing his work. For his remarkable solo undertaking, the Jawaharlal Nehru University invited Payeng on Earth Day and honored him with the title of the ‘Forest Man of India’ in 2012. Later that year, the then President APJ Abdul Kalam felicitated him with a cash award in Mumbai. The same year, he was among the 900 experts who gathered at the seventh global conference of the International Forum for Sustainable Development at Evian in France. Sanctuary Asia bestowed on him the Wildlife Service Award.

His work of plantation of trees in the Brahmaputra sand bars has also has contributed to the control of the erosion problem of the river Brahmaputra which has wrought immense flood and devastation problem in the state of Assam. He has been inspiring many people. In 2015, FASS (Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters) an international NGO Headquarted in Houston Texas initiated a project called "Greening of the Brahmaputra Basin', in collaboration with Jadav Payeng with the goal of planting trees in all the barren sand bars of the river Brahmaputra. It is hoped that besides having a great environmental impact this process will control greatly the flood and erosion problem of the Brahmaputra valley.

In order to nominate Jadav Payeng for the CNN Hero, one may go to the link