THE HINDU: Jyoti Exhibition

This refers to the news piece "Celebrating the spirit of a freedom fighter" (January 18, 2004, Page 2). While, it is a matter of pleasure that a creative event related to Assam got suitable space in an esteemed national daily, it is unfortunate enough that the news contained some dangerous misinformation.

 First, the title itself is quite misleading. In no way, Jyoti Prasad may be titled as a "freedom fighter". He was a multi-faceted genius: musician, lyricist, filmmaker, playwright, thinker, and what not. He was also a freedom fighter, but that does not at all personify his stature. He is popularly known as the "Prince of Aesthetics". Every year, all villages and towns in Assam celebrate "Artists’ Day" in his memory. He is a cultural icon of Assam.

 Furthermore, it is very defamatory to the whole of Assam to dub Jyoti Prasad as "a freedom fighter from Marwar." The news item sadly seeks to establish Jyoti Prasad as an outsider to Assam, suggesting as if "he was born in Rajasthan". The fact is that his forefather had migrated from the then Rajputana in 1830, and lived four generations in Assam, when Jyoti Prasad took birth at Tamulbari Tea Estate, Dibrugarh, Assam in 1903. He is one of those, who despite retaining their family surnames, are Assamese to the core; - products of the potent assimilative forces that have given rise to the composite Assamese culture down the centuries. He is regarded as one of ten best Assamese of all time.

 The news refers to the painting exhibition, based on Jyoti Sangeet, as "part of the National Museum’s new Assam Initiative..." The fact is that "Assam Initiative" is an absolutely independent group of culture-conscious young people. This group has organised the said exhibition on its own, only in collaboration with the National Museum and National Museum Institute. It is not part of any new or old initiative of the Museum.

 If only the reporter had gone through the brochure available at the exhibition desk before preparing the news piece, she could have avoided coming up with a report full of very serious mistakes.

 Surely, we desire promotion in the national media; we seek to generate awareness and thus encourage wider appreciation of the creative treasures of a region, which is otherwise highlighted merely as a "Disturbed Place". But, we are sorry to say that the media should not play with facts, particularly when they concern the pride of a rich and yet sensitive culture.

 Suresh Ranjan Goduka
Secretary, Assam Initiative


  TIMES OF INDIA: The Assamese Cap  

This refers to a news piece published on February 9, 2004 (page 8), carrying a photograph of Congress President Sonia Gandhi being presented     with    a traditional cap during the All India   National Convention of Seva Dal  in   New Delhi. The caption mentions that the cap is from Himachal  Pradesh.     While, the fact is that it was a traditional Assamese cap, called "Jaapi". Gandhi  was also wearing a "Folam Gamosa" of    Assam.     The news piece shows  how sadly the ‘national’ media is ignorant of India’s rich and diverse heritage and culture, particularly those of Assam and other northeastern States

 Suresh Ranjan Goduka
Secretary, Assam Initiative