Boat Makers of Assam
In the modern world everywhere, the industrial revolution is ushering automation in every field: be it a automobile, telephone, airplane, home gadgets. Traditional hand makers are in trouble if they don’t adapt themselves to these changes. Automation means mass production of items. Mass production or assembly line production of the articles or gadgets is like asexual reproduction where the product items are almost identical to each other and there is very small degree of error usually in parts per million. Mass production through assembly produces monotonous items. On the other hand, man-made products reflect the personality of the creator and each creation becomes unique. Only problem is the limited number of the product.
Something like this is happening in the field of boat making in the North East state of India called Assam. Mighty Brahmaputra and many other rivers pass through this land making it fertile be depositing the rich alluvial soil. These rivers also provide the inhabitants with fresh fish which is the staple diet along with the rice. Rivers are also used for transportation. Thus boats play an important role in the life of people of the state. In Assam, tradition boat makers are finding it difficult to compete with the mechanized production. But still here are people who would rather cling to their generations old profession of making the boats by hands. Baler Das who aged 70 years is one such person. He hails from Kukurmara near Guwahati the capital city of Assam. He learned this art from Panewar Kalita. Traditionally wood of Sal tree is used to make boats but now pama gach, gameri, sama and ajar are also used. An 80 feet Khel boat requires about 60 cubic feet of wood and fetches only about 12000 rupees.