The hinterlands are seldom a part of dominant discourse. This book is an attempt to reverse the trend by providing the oft forgotten but productive hinterlands of Assam i.e. the char areas (the river islands), the 'space' it deserves in the mainstream development narratives in Northeast India.
The history of humanization of the char areas is over a century old. It is well-documented that the colonial administrators facilitated the process of transfer of the char dwellers from the adjoining districts of East Bengal (present day Bangladesh) to the uncultured wastes in the Brahmaputra Valley and these peasants through their traditional skill, ecological adaptation and hard work have transformed the wastelands into the granaries of Assam.
But despite their enormous contribution towards the economic development and nationality formation in the state, the 'fruits' of development have largely eluded them. Where do they stand today? The present study is an attempt to understand the concurrent issues concerning the life and livelihood patterns in the char areas. The historical past, the emerging reality of economic hardship, the fury of nature and the tag of being 'aliens' in their homeland has been analyzed here with field level data from the chars of the river Brahmaputra and its tributary the Beki.
This is one of the rarest write-ups concerning the chars of Assam. The analysis and insight provided can go a long way in understanding these areas to frame policies for the development and recognition of the char dwellers of Assam.