The two day long ICSSR sponsored National Seminar on ‘Transformation of Rural India: Challenges towards Sustainability’ organised by the Department of Geography, Sonapur College was held on March 29 & 30, 2019. The seminar was organised in collaboration with the State Institute of Panchayat and Rural Development (SIPRD), Assam and supported by Daffodil Nursery Old, Khetri and Assam Branch of Indian Tea Association (ABITA). Luminaries of academia across the region attended the seminar besides students, researchers, scholars and faculty members from different states of the region. The inaugural session on March 29 was presided over by eminent scholar and Professor in the department of Geography, Gauhati University, Dr. Abani Kumar Bhagabati. The key-note address was delivered by Dr. Amiya Kumar Sarma, Executive Director of Rashtriya Gramin Vikash Nidhi (RGVN) Guwahati. Referring to the theme of the seminar as one of the most pertinent ones in contemporary India, Dr. Sarma threw light on various aspects of rural transformation as well as on the role of different stakeholders. Sharing his experiences in various parts of the state, he said that a sustainable rural transformation could be possible only if the farming practices become sustainable. Adequate market prices for their products and provision for financial support through micro financing to the farmers are some of the vital prerequisites for rural transformation, he said. Expressing his apprehensions, Dr. Sarma said that the absence of a strong regulatory body to look after the micro financing organisations may create a messy situation in future. Inaugurating the seminar, Professor Haren Sarma, Retired Head of the Department of Geography, Gauhati University talked about various implications of urban sprawling, especially in the physical environment. He pointed out that urbanization and urban sprawling are the essential fallouts of population growth and the development initiatives of human beings but its inevitable consequence is the destruction of the pristine and delicate ecosystems. The session was also addressed by Sri Pabitra Kalita, Deputy Director of State institute of Panchayat and Rural Development (SIPRD), Assam and Dr. Nikhil Kumar, Education Officer, UGC, NERO. In his presidential address, Dr. Abani Kumar Bhagabati termed the present trend of urbanization as killer trend of development. Earlier, Dr. Devabrot Khanikor, Principal, Sonapur College delivered the welcome address and Dr. Dharma Ram Deka, Associate Professor of Geography briefed about the concept and programme of the seminar.
In the plenary session a brilliant joint presentation was made by Sri Puspadhar Das and Dr. Manjib Sarma, two highly educated young men who preferred to join hands in the process of rural transformation as farmer spoke on the topic “Transformation of Rural Economy through Farm Mechanization, Value Addition and Marketing: Two Case Studies of Baksa District and Sitajakhala”. Sri Puspadhar Das is a graduate of St. Sthephen’s College, Delhi and an MBA degree holder from IIM Bangalore. He deliberated on his successful farming ventures undertaken in the Baganpara area of Baksa district, Assam by improving the traditional practices through community participation. Manjib Sarma, a PhD holder in Political Science, who became a team member of the Sitajakhala Milk Producers’ Co-operative Union of Morigaon District, presented the Vision 2020 of their cooperative Society. Along with Dr. Abani Kumar Bhagabati, the session was moderated by Dhruba Jyoti Sarma, an Associate Professor in Dimoria College, Khetri and an entrepreneur actively involved in ensuring the livelihood security of the neighbouring villagers through his Daffodil Nursery Old, Khetri.
Altogether, a total of 88 papers were presented over 12 technical sessions during the two day programme. The sessions were chaired by Dr. Bhaben Kalita and Dr. Pradip Sarma, former Heads of the department of Geography, Cotton College, Dr. Barnali Gogoi, Associate Professor, Cotton University, Prof. Bimal Kumar Kar, Prof. Madhushree Das, Dr. Dhrubajyoti Saharia and Prof. Polly Vouquline of Gauhati University and Dr. Paramananda Mazumdar, retired Head of the Department of Geography, Pragjyotish College, Guwahati, freelance researcher Jayanta Kumar Sarma, Dr. Amarendra Kalita of Gauhati Commerce College and Jogen Ch. Kalita, retired head of the Department of Assamese, Dimoria College, Khetri.