Alaka Desai Sarma is the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) legislator from Nalbari constituency. Daughter of a Gujarati freedom fighter, she came to work in Assam during the peak of the six-year Assam Agitation (1979-1985) as the Northeast correspondent of The Observer.
She fell in love with All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) advisor Nagen Sarma and married him. The AGP later evolved from the AASU and other social organisations.
When the Ulfa killed Nagen Sarma, then PWD Minister, the AGP gave Sarma the ticket for Nalbari because of her grassroots connection. She lost the 2001 polls, but won the 2006 elections comfortably.
Sarma’s got a novel way to empower women. “I emphasise how important it is to learn the mathematics that’s interwoven with the socio-economic fabric – such as putting two and two together to avoid being taken for a ride, calculating interest rates, working out profit margin from sales, etc,” she said.
She’s happy that the women’s Bill is being tabled. “It’ll take empowerment... one step ahead, but the bill will serve no purpose if women’s empowerment doesn’t take place extensively at the grassroots.”