Showing posts with label Opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Opinion. Show all posts

Sons without a Soil: Bhoomi is the Issue, Not Putra

8:19 PM
‘Bhoomiputra’ has become the latest catchphrase for political parties in Darjeeling Hills. CPRM was the first to announce former MP RB Rai as its candidate for 2019, soon followed by ‘bhoomiputra’ candidates from TMC-GJM (Binoy faction), Congress, CPIM. The lone ‘putri’ (daughter) in the fray is Reseeka Chhetri who has announced her candidacy as an independent contestant.

A New Catchphrase

Bhoomiputra or the son-of-the-soil theory is not new to Indian politics and have brought about sea change in the social narrative of our nation. However, for Darjeeling Hills, Bhoomiputra has never been an issue of asserting identity and have historically elected political representatives both from within and outside the region. After the Gorkhaland issue became the mainstream of Darjeeling Hills politics, people have always for the issue, notwithstanding party or leaders. The core philosophy of local politics has been aptly described in the words of Subash Ghising: “Party bhanda Jati thulo, Jati bhanda Maato thulo”

The whole jingoism about Bhoomiputra is only an attempt to divert public attention from the core issue of Gorkhaland. For every voter, Gorkhaland has always been the core political issue and the current generation have witnessed several dramas unfold around the statehood movement in their lives. After having made all efforts to divide the people through boards, councils, and administrations, the son-of-the-soil rhetoric is another ploy to crush the statehood movement and its supporters. This Bhumiputra debate is a classic case of using the ’US’ vs ‘THEM’ idea as a political tool.

The Friendship Treaty Bogey Call

The alliance of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the Hills parties have conveniently shifted the goal post for Gorkhaland. In an article published by Economic Times, Binoy Tamang states “we must demand a review and revision of the India-Nepal Friendship treaty, and there should be a clear demarcation of borders between these two countries. This is the reason why people still call us Nepalese and treat us like foreigners. If this isn’t done, no way can we remove the foreigner tag. Gorkhaland has become a tool for politicians. Before every election, they sell us the dream of Gorkhaland. If we fail to correct the basic issues which are stopping us from getting Gorkhaland, Gorkhas will continue to die and we will never achieve our goal”.

The Government of India formed an Eminent Person’s Group (EPG) in 2014, comprising of experts from both India and Nepal to examine the Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty 1950 and modify its provisions to reflect the realities of current times. This committee has taken representation on Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty from various sections of the society from both India and Nepal, and already submitted their final report in July of 2018. The Government of India is expected to renew the treaty in the later half of 2019. With or without TMC-GJM(BT) group making it an election issue.

The sudden realization that the India-Nepal Friendship treaty is the obstacle to the identity and statehood movement to be led by TMC is highly doubtful. If we remember, this is the same government which hounded Gorkhaland movement supporters for months and even killed 13 innocent protestors in broad daylight.

A new beginning for hill politics

Be it the first memorandum submitted by Hillmen Association in 1907, the violence of 1980s, or the recent 2017 agitation, the demand has been a separate administration and self-rule within India’s democratic union. The Anglo-Nepal treaty is an international treaty between two nations and are being discussed at the level. The Gorkha statehood movement is a demand for state protection for Indian Gorkhas who have been left out in the constitutional process. It is a desire for the recognition, respect, and integration of Gorkha peoples in the Indian nation-state

Now as GJM (Bimal faction) and GNLF have come together to fight the elections and carry the Gorkhaland issue forward, there is a chance that Gorkhaland will not be decimated from the central politics. If the primary objective is to push forward the Gorkhaland issue, then the goal should be to find the right person to do it. There is no point harping on ‘Bhoomiputra’ where there is no ‘Bhoomi’ in the first place.

To have one Gorkhaland supporting MP in the Lot Sabha is to have a voice in the parliament. With the coming together of the two parties, the TMC led alliance is startled. Mainstream media is already abuzz with digging out the violent history and personal differences of leaders to create a rift. In coming days, there could be more incidents reported to fuel the differences of the past.

As voters, we can only hope that GJM and GNLF remain true to the cause because it is Gorkhaland issue had brought them to the position they are today. They must realize that the core issue for which they have fought is much bigger than the rewards of local politics.

For the voters, we must realize that five years is a long time, long enough for one generation of kids to forget about the issue. The solution might take time, but voting the right candidate is the only way we have to keep our issue alive in political discourse in the center. To lose that voice for 5 years will take us back further.

Leaders and parties are free to campaign and promise anything as long as we know what we want.

[Originally Posted here https://thedarjeelingchronicle.com/darjeeling-elections-bhoomiputra-issue/]

What Gorkha Youth Thinks

9:14 AM
Writes: Dibya Chhetri

Gorkhaland has again become the most popular topic for discussion with the upcoming Elections in April. At every corner, you can hear people discussing whose fault was it the last time and who is to be blamed. Having failed so many times, we have even stopped learning lessons from the past mistakes. We always find an excuse to blame someone and continue repeating the same mistakes time and again.

However we may want to believe, it has always been our lack of unity and integrity that is to blame.  It is us who split out because of petty differences and aspirations compromising the larger cause of the community. The sacrifices of the martyrs who died believing in Gorkhaland have been reduced to mere stories today. Blaming ‘THEM’ has become our culture today simply because it is easy. ’THEY did this to US’ is easier than saying ‘WE did it ourselves and rectify our actions.

Our refusal to introspect our actions have made it difficult for us to learn from the mistakes and take corrective measures. I certainly don’t believe that only protests and shutdowns Darjeeling or Delhi should be the first and easy alternative for us use. What we lack is honest people to represent our voice at all levels, a vision for the youth, and a willingness to change for better.


Let us look around us for a while, the youths are leaving the place for a better life outside in bigger cities. Hundreds others are neck-deep in alcohol and drug addiction. Those who want to work, don’t have the knowledge or resources to start something. With such situation at home, the only option we have left is to work in service of others. Perhaps we are happy doing the *ji saabji* and even used to it now. Of course, we sometimes get sentimental and cry victim when something unfortunate happens; but happy to narrate our glorious history when all other excuses fail.

Dear Gorkhas ,
Make sure people will know you by your present action and not by your history .
Be the sun that shines everywhere
Be it education, entertainment, sports, or politics
Business or social services
From dash to dash


Via thedarjeelingchronicle.com


A crisis within crisis: The fault line of India’s longest statehood demand- Gorkhaland

3:54 PM
By SHWETA RAJ KANWAR 

100 years and more, the longest statehood demand in India’s history, the demand for Gorkhaland has, many times reached its peak; and yet has always come tumbling down. Time and again, the unfulfilled aspirations have been doused by temporary promises and in 2017, the ‘Queen of Hills’ was under siege as Gorkhas all around the world stood in unison against this incessant predicament of proving their identity as Indian citizens. Despite dating back to 1907, why is it that the demand for Gorkhaland has fallen into deaf ears? Why is it that despite agitations and protests, the issue still lays unresolved, pushed into the corner of nothingness- like a dormant volcano that erupts from time to time, only to be silenced again. What is it that reignites this movement time and again at regular intervals and leaves it without any solution?
India’s longest statehood demand- Gorkhaland
India’s longest statehood demand- Gorkhaland

History of Gorkhaland demand

The demand for a separate administrative unit in Darjeeling has existed since 1907, when the Hillmen’s Association of Darjeeling submitted a memorandum to Minto-Morley Reforms demanding a separate administrative setup. Also, it may be mentioned that in 1947, the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) submitted a memorandum to the Constituent Assembly demanding the formation of Gorkhasthan comprising Darjeeling District and Sikkim.

In the 1980s, under Gorkha National Liberation Front’s (GNLF) Subhas Ghising, the movement reached its peak. 1986-88 were on of the most violent years of protest: approximately 1,200 people died. The agitation ultimately led to the establishment of a semi-autonomous body in 1988 called the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) to govern certain areas of Darjeeling district. Eventually, Ghising faded from the limelight and in 2008, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) began spearheading the movement. In 2011, GJM signed an agreement with the state and central governments for the formation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, another semi-autonomous body that replaced the DGHC in the Darjeeling hills.

The 2013 agitation was also one to remember wherein for the first time in 106 years, all the major political parties of the hills agreed to come together and jointly take the agitation forward. Even in 2017, the agitation bore no fruits. Protests first started on June 5, after the West Bengal government announced an intention that the Bengali language would be made mandatory in all schools across the state. People of Darjeeling and the adjoining areas who are predominantly Nepali speaking, saw this as an imposition of an alien culture upon them. Fuelled by the determination to preserve their own culture, identity and language, this protest soon turned into a full-fledged resurgence of the agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland. July 30, 2017 saw the culmination of Gorkhas (and also some non-Gorkhas) all over the world taking part in a Global Rally for Gorkhaland. And as the Gorkha Global Rally completes a year in 2018, the issue still remains at large.

Where the problem lies
As is evident from history, agitations and semi-autonomous bodies have not been able to provide any respite to the Gorkhas’ demand. What is clearly lacking here is an accountable and transparent leadership- one that inspires not only a group of people but that which motivates everyone to come along with him/her and move forward for a common cause with renewed strategies and fresh perspectives.

On these lines, Shankar Pandey, a lawyer from Shillong opines, “Talking about leadership, accountable and transparent leadership is the need of the hour. It may be recalled that during Subhash Ghishing’s time, everybody looked up to him in the hope that he would give them Gorkhaland in a platter but the results proved otherwise. In 2017 again, it was the same state of affairs. However, a close look in the 2017 agitation will show a difference in strategic approach. It has been seen that people have learnt their lessons and GJM chief, Bimal Gurung was at the centre of the storm as people were on the lookout for accountability and transparency.”

It has been seen time and again that the major problem with Gorkhaland movement is the attitude of shifting responsibilities to one person or a group of people who display a level of ‘so-called’ leadership which is not even visible to common masses. It is significant to realise that the onus of Gorkhaland falls upon each and every Gorkha residing in any part of the world. Another major problem with the Gorkhaland demand is the presence of power corridor- A sense of democracy needs to be instilled in the minds of leaders.

“Gorkhaland is purely a matter of safeguarding identity”, Mr. Shankar adds. “When we compare the demand for Gorkhaland to those of Telangana, Uttarakhand and the likes, we see that the demand for these states was solely made from developmental point of view but this is definitely not the case with Gorkhaland. However, this does not mean that development is not a major factor in Darjeeling Hills, but identity is a primary force while all others feature subsequently”, he states.

The problem of identity crisis has been haunting the Gorkhas in India since times immemorial. Hence, this is not a fight for a separation from India but a fight of Indians to retain who they are!

Mr. Shankar makes an important point when he says, “The issue of identity can only be solved by statehood and not by any form of autonomous body of governance that has been seen as a solution to douse previous agitations. This is an attempt to dilute the greater demand”.

What is the solution?

“There is a need to set up a mass network of which each and every Gorkha can be part of a larger platform. The movement should not be confined to only the hills of Darjeeling but to all over India. Everybody should come together and take responsibility. There should be Gorkhaland campaigns and we should hold leadership accountable to us. There is no proper information dissemination. Knowledge is power and lack of knowledge makes the people and movement weak”, says Mr. Shankar.

The need for alternate leadership with young people from all fronts of life is the need of the hour. Youth should take up responsibility to cover up the limitations in the movement. A fresh approach is needed. Darjeeling is lagging behind in every front in terms of overall development as compared to other states of West Bengal which all the more justifies the need for demand of separate statehood.

It is a test of endurance and this is not the time to fade away into oblivion. This is infact the only movement that says that Gorkhas want to be part of India with an identity of their own. It is not about ‘Azaadi’ here, it is about ‘Identity’ while upholding the saying ‘Bharat Maata ki Jai!’

“Gorkhaland is not only about protests and agitation. It is time to understand that there are other more influential methods of demanding the same. It is high time we change our approach and work together smartly for a common cause. Even at the grassroot level, it is important for people to know what the movement is all about so that they can form opinions and work towards attainment of a larger cause. Ignorance in this case is definitely not bliss”, he adds

Founding Vice Chancellor of Sikkim University, Mahendra P Lama, while addressing a gathering in Shillong, Meghalaya on the Gorkhaland movement last year also drew focus to an important point when he said, “The problem of Gorkhaland does not belong to only Darjeeling alone but it is a national issue. The identity problem with Indian Gorkhas has increased manifold as we do not have a proper state representation”. Mr Lama was the pro vice chancellor of IGNOU and at the age of 45, he became the youngest vice chancellor of a central university in India.

He emphasises on the need to create a central committee to bring matters concerning all Gorkhas into the fray. For this, Mr. Lama stresses on the need for an organizational structure in the form of a central body that would overarch the national body and the inclusion of a national negotiating team as well. Following this, the next step would be to take the Gorkhaland issue to the National level with Parliamentary discussions on it. The issue should reach political parties, national civil society and other stakeholders including industrial and business houses.

He goes on to state that the orientation of the movement should undergo a major shift from emotional outpourings to more concrete discussions and debate. Tangible restructuring and reorientation of leadership pattern and political action should be carried out while also focusing more on central government to solve the issue rather than approaching the state government thereby confining the movement only to local fronts. It is important that a central committee should comprise of credible faces and influential minds so that the union government will take the plunge and be serious about negotiations.

Gaurav Lama, a supporter of Gorkhaland movement adds, “The movement in 2017 gained much more attraction due to social media. While it is good that the common man was honestly and strenuously involved, we must strive to strike deep into the BJP camp to make inroads. We must try to convince top BJP heads to push this matter forward.

The ruling government must prove to be more than just another power greedy party. They must come forth and stand by their promise of working on making Gorkhaland a reality. This can be achieved only if the senior BJP leaders are serious about Gorkhaland and if there are a bunch of people who shall talk to and remind the BJP senior hierarchy that they have their promises to keep.”

As is rightly said, “We have to tread the unorthodox path. A desperate situation requires a desperate solution”-Mahendra P.Lama

DISCLAIMER- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TNT- The Northeast Today. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of TNT- The Northeast Today

The writer can be reached at shwetarajkanwar@gmail.com & shweta@thenortheasttoday.com

Via The Northeast Today

MINIMUM WAGES –Tea Garden Workers and Vultures

8:51 PM
Writes: Chandan Pariyar

It’s time for the Monsoon flush, fighting with the wind and the rain women are seen bent at their waist behind the tea bush, plucking the tea leaves and carefully tucking it inside the cane basket hung on their head.

Their sunburnt faces and the frostbitten hands may tell you hundreds of stories of betrayal and vaguely inferior complexities that keeps swaying in the forest and the tea gardens. Each one of them though in the group, instinctively try to listen to the voice echoing in the valley, but the good news of their wage hike seems to be lost within the mountains. At the end of the day, a disappointed murmur overwhelms them and the group members’ console each other and instinctively protect themselves from the shock and pain, of expectations not being met once again.
MINIMUM WAGES –Tea Garden Workers and Vultures

When the world get their pot full of Darjeeling tea in the morning, they praise the aroma and the exquisite flavour that lightens up their day, but don’t even give a thought to the diligent workers who work in the Sun and the rain alike making white, black, green or oolong tea, bumping in the hump of the garden, steadily collecting each new bud, and moving from one stunted shrub to the other. While many flock to the factories, managing the quality and protecting for future use, but the chemistry between the tea workers and the tea seems unmatched when Makaibari tea makes 1,10,000 rupees per kg in the foreign market, the workers receive in return of their gratitude a sum of rupees 132 per day.

Needless to say that the gardens thirst for their blood and the workers have no choice but to sacrifice their lives in the tea bushes.

No one is free in a TEA-Estate, how can one be free ????

When you can’t move out of the plantation, since four or five  generation your family is engaged in the gardens but still you don’t have any rights over your own land, you can’t get anything from the forest, the rivers are dammed, the quarries closed, how can one survive with such meagre income, when  there's nothing to supplement your income; and if you don’t work in the estates, you become homeless.

Where would they go??

Their son's shoulder is laden less with the responsibility of a family and more with rifles and the responsibility of protecting the nation, and back home there is serious worry about Displacement.

So the workers who produce the 'Champagne of teas ', had to be grown to imitate the three wise monkeys - speak not, see not, and hear not until the day, God turned his attention to the tea.

But Darjeeling has uncrowned kings here and there, who make unwanted noise to wake up people from those tea gardens – promising the heavens and their rightful wages and facilities. Their fates seem so uncertain, that the tea garden workers are forgotten in barely a week. The people have no remorse, but each one of those celebrity lions inevitably brought their bill and took their money, from the garden owners.

So each time when the sky promises a thunderstorm, one of them enters the garden, but every time with a different frequency, the challenge is to bring all of them in the same frequency. Sometimes Siliguri, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Babus hold meetings and send back a hike as less as Rs 4 and attach a letter for the loss of 104-day strike in the gardens that are still not managed.

The innocent workers look up to the uncrowned king, the king has changed, so has his gestures. With hands in the pocket, the local garden commander looks up at the vultures soaring high around the garden.

He thinks to himself, maybe there is still a little more the workers have to sacrifice to get the MINIMUM WAGE.

Via: The Darjeeling Chronicle

Whom Shall We Remember Today?

3:01 PM
Writes - Jyoti Thapa Mani

“A nation’s culture resides in the heart and soul of its people” -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 1869-1948

For the last two years, I have been penning Independence Day articles for TheDC, hailing heroes and heroines from the Indian Gorkha community who fought for India’s freedom.  This year I feel a vacuum. Because I feel we are still struggling more than ever before.


Recently, I attended a panel discussion on ‘In today’s globalised world, what role does nationalism play in India’s context?’ A mouthful of words, but essentially I think, it was about how nationalistic we are in this global age. One panellist said that nationalism is about the national bird, animal, dress, anthem and khichri. Another said it was about remembering our freedom struggle against the ‘other’, meaning the British rule. And what a costly affair it was, as freedom came with a big rider—the division of India and Pakistan based on religion.  A criterion, which after seventy-two years, appears as so very wrong. Millions were rendered homeless as they staggered across the borders by foot, on bullock carts, in trains and buses under the onslaught of massive violence and suffering. Lives, families and belongings were lost in the mayhem to reach a new homeland as per their religious identity. The governments in their hurry failed at maintaining a peaceful exchange.

After the British ‘other’, new ‘others’ took its place. Many Indians are still struggling for their identity. Some inside before 1947 are still crying for recognition. On the other hand, millions of refugees continue to pour into India. Some intellectuals say India is a huge tent where everyone can be accommodated. Others say sorry there is no more space in the tent.  Some expostulate that India stands for compassion. Clearly, idealism and reality knock heads in many ways and no one sees the middle path. Power and money appear to be the new nationalism. Nobody talks about the need to strengthen nationalism in terms of the Indian citizens feeling at home.

Millions of Indians born and raised in India go abroad and take oaths such as “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America”. Where does the Indian nationalism go then?

Either, there are those living in the world of ‘global opportunity-nationalism’ or clinging to archaic forms of racial insularity by dominating the minority. Dirty words like fascism are still surviving under new names. Leaders try hard to convince that we are a multinational and multicultural state because it sounds so good and upwardly mobile.  But murky waters lie deep beneath. Nationalism has different connotations for everyone and ironically the government has to force Indians to stand for the anthem in movie halls. Terms like the nation, nation-state, state, global citizen are weighing down or buoying up mindsets.

How nationalistic do we Indian Gorkhas feel? We are the country’s sterling defence force, but socially we are still perceived as immigrants from Nepal, foreigners on Indian soil. Despite the fact, that we have been citizens of this land for more than two hundred years. Our Indian identity on the face of it is as vague as a peel-off beauty mask. Funny thing is that while millions of Indians are migrating to the west, we are still here struggling to be accepted as Indians.  Its been a year now since the last agitation for Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling Hills witnessed yet another saga of dead bodies, persecution, humiliation and forceful crackdown. The Gorkhas of Darjeeling Hills are still fighting for independence from the ‘other’ being West Bengal government. Ironical, because the same government allows foreign nationals from Bangladesh to pour in millions and work without even a work permit. Bangladesh and India have no such treaty facilitating this.

So whom shall we remember today?

Shall we remember the 1947 era Gorkha freedom fighters for India’s Independence? They include patriots such as Amar Singh Thapa, Agam Singh Giri, Bhagat Bir Lama, Bhim Singh Rana, Balbhadra Chhetri, Bairagi Baba, Bhairav Singh Lama, Buddhiman, Bir Bahadur Gurung, Bishan Singh Khatri, Bishan Singh Rana, Bishnu Lal Upadhayay, Bhakta Bahadur Pradhan, Bhagwan Singh Thapa, Bhim Bahadur Khadka, Bhim Lal Sharma, Chandra Kumar Sharma, Chabilal Upadhyay, Dal Bahadur Giri, Dig Bir Singh Ramudamu, Dalbir Singh Lohar, Dhruba Singh Thapa, Devi Prasad Sharma, Dharmananda Upadhyay Mishra, Damber Singh Hingman, Gorey Khan, Gaga Tshering Dukpa, Gopal Singh Rana, Gopal Singh Shahi, Hari Prashad Upadhayay, Harish Chhetri, Hoshiyar Singh Karki, Hari Prashad, Hira Singh Khatri, Ishwarananda Gorkha, Indrani Thapa, Jung Bir Sapkota, Jai Narayan Upadhayay, Kumud Chandra Gorkha, Krishna Bahadur Sunwar, Khadga Bahadur Singh Bista, Laxman Limbu, Lal Bahadur Basnet, Man Bahadur Thapa , Mohan Singh Thapa , Mahabir Giri, Man Bahadur Rai, Maya Devi Chhetri, Niranjan Singh Chettri, Norbu Lama, Neetanand Tim Sinha, Pratiman Singh Lama, Parash Ram Thapa, Putlimaya Devi, Pushpa Kumar Ghisingh, Punna Singh Thakur, Padam Prasad Dhungel, Prem Singh Bista, Ratan Singh Lama, Ram Lal Upadhyay, Ram Singh Gurung, Shyam Bahadur Thapa, Samsher Singh Bhandari, Shyam Singh Shahi, Shiv Singh Thapa, Sher Bahadur Thapa, Sher Bahadur Allay, Shanker Dev Sharma, Savitri Devi, Thakur Prasad Kumai, Tej Bahadur Thapa (1), Tej Bahadur Thapa (2) and Tej Bahadur Subba.

Or shall we remember the INA freedom fighters from the 2/1 Gorkha Rifles? Including, the zealous INA Major Durga Malla, INA Captain Dal Bahadur Thapa, INA Captain Ram Singh Thakur, Bhim Singh Rana, Man Bahadur Thapa, Mohan Singh Thapa, Gopal Singh Shahi, Shaheed Shiam Bahadur Thapa and about forty-six more names.

Post 1947, do we remember the one thousand two hundred and one (1201) martyrs of the Gorkhaland agitation?  They include the thirteen unfortunate people killed by police firing in 1986 in Kalimpong and so many more with bullets shot straight to the head by WB police forces.

Or do we remember in recent times those killed in the 2017 Strike for Gorkhaland?  They include amongst many, the names of Bimal Sashankar of Goke, Mahesh Gurung of Relling, Sunil Rai of Kaijaley, Tashi Bhutia of Sonada, Suraj Bhushal of Tung Sung, Samir Gurung of Singamari, Ashok Tamang of Lewis Jubilee, Asish Tamang of Sukhiapokhri and Dawa Tshering Bhutia of Pedong.

Via TheDC

From Gorkhaland to GTA and then to Greenfield: A Road to Serfdom

6:34 PM
Writes Pratik Rumba for YKA

“For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity.” – Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.
Activists of Gorkhaland Sanyukta Sangharsh Samiti shouting slogans during their demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi | PTI
Activists of Gorkhaland Sanyukta Sangharsh Samiti shouting slogans during their demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi | PTI

The state of ‘Bangla’ has finally fulfilled, as the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) chairman says, the dream of ‘People of Darjeeling’ by granting a university in state assembly. The leader of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJM- B) left no space and time to express his gratitude towards the Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee for showing her ‘benevolent’ attitude towards the ‘non-tax payer’ of Darjeeling region. Now even the sons and daughters of ‘illiterate’ and ‘un-productive’ tea garden workers, who generate huge revenue to the owner and state government, can fulfil their dreams,  in the ‘Indian labour market’ that has been eagerly waiting for them from centuries. The people who are ought to be displaced for the new railway project may probably find a job as a construction worker in the upcoming university.

The forte of happiness was so much so that a central committee member, who was formerly a student leader, equated the decision of state university to ‘Gorkhaland in the field of education’. What could possibly have happened had the central university bill been passed in the parliament? Yes! Then according to his argument it seems there would have been a Separate country in the field of education. This sudden mania of the GJM leaders and its cadres is astonishingly stupid as ‘Annexure B2’ of the memorandum of agreement for GTA, signed in 2011, had already listed various institutes (such as Central institute of technology, NIT including IT and Bio-Technology, Fashion Technology institute, medical and nursing colleges and Central university) to be established as grand ‘developmental projects’ under GTA with an aid from both central and state government.

Manias

The manias of GJM-B only manifest their incapacitated ruling of the GTA-2 since they took charge of Lalkothi last year. This (manias) could very well be the reflection of the limited time GJM-B has onwards to Lokhsabha election. From its inception in 2011, GTA hardly made any difference in the lives of people apart from repairs of roads and timely ‘statehood’ threat from the then GJM supremo to state and central government. The helplessness of the situation only aggravated the crisis further leading up to another uprising for statehood in 2016.The GTA gambling card that was placed on the table at Pintail village by both state and centre was supposed to achieve ‘all round development of the people of region’ in terms of socio-economic, infrastructural, educational, cultural, and linguistic developments. Now, the seven years down the line the GTA card turned out to be the lowest of all the poker hands and has nothing to show in concrete in the run up for Lokhsabha election campaign in 2019. In this context, the manias of the GJM-B is lucidly justifiable.

What’s in a name? —

What was fishy (daal me kala) about the bill was the name of the University. They (the state) named the upcoming university in the region as ‘Greenfield’ university. All the universities established in the state of West Bengal has been named either after the name of the region (Bankura, Bardaman, Raiganj etc.) or after some historical figures (Rabindra Bharati, Sido Kanuhu Murmu, Kazi Nazrul etc.). The government that has been constituting “n” number of ethnic boards supposedly for promoting local culture and dialects could not manage to find even a single word that could well describe/ define the historical specificity of the region. Such move of naming the university bereft of any local/regional specificity is to make people of the region cognizant of the fact that they have no historical figures, whom they can look up to.

As a crutch to the state government, some cadres of the GJM through various social media platform started a campaign ‘What’s in a Name’. The name is not as simple to be relegated to just a word but it also carries with it the objective reality. However, the political manoeuvring of words is not new in Darjeeling politics. The power and solemnity of a word is to be learnt from late Subash Ghishing. After a compromise of Gorkhaland movement in 1986, the then chairman of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) went to claim that Identity problem of the Gorkhas has been resolved as the state and central government has agreed to add ‘Gorkha’ in Darjeeling Hill Council. We now know for how long GNLF ruled the region under the shadow of the then Left front government by just adding a word Gorkha to the Hill Council. For that matter, even the united GJM (A+B) after their compromise in 2011 had openly taken credit and pride of having the word ‘Gorkhaland’ in the new territorial set up (GTA).

The GJM-B, particularly at this juncture, is well aware of the implication that a word can have for its ‘own’ survival and would rather prefer to leave no stone unturned. As expected, GJM MLA approached the monitoring team at Nabanna requesting a change in the name from ‘Greenfield’ to ‘Darjeeling University’. But it still raises few doubts. First, had they (anyone from the region) not been consulted beforehand while formulating the bill? Second, why has the state government preferred to use a ‘foreign’ name that has nothing to do with the people and their regional history? Third, is it an act of denial of people’s history in the region? The state government may rename the university from Greenfield to Darjeeling University, which of course is a politically neutral word that should not bother much, sooner or later but the whole political cinematography only reflected the high handedness of the state government over the region and the ‘puppetism’ of the local leaders.

Gorkha National Question (s) and the Development

At the pick phase of the last Gorkhaland movement, an old man from a tea garden was asked to define Gorkhaland in an interview by a local media. His answer was simple and succinct: For him Gorkhaland meant land (Gorkhaland Bhaneko Mato Ho!). How would have the leader of the Gorkhaland movement answered the very same question? Not surprisingly, the answer would have been the ‘lack of development’. Not only has the beguiled leader of the movement but even the honest Gorkha intellectuals and supporters confused the Gorkha national question (s) with the (one point) ‘undervelopment’ problem.
The argument of ‘underdevelopment’ has its origin in the left front rule in West Bengal. Whenever the demand for separate statehood intensified the ruling class and its intelligentsia always brought  ‘underdevelopment’ on the table for discussion thus diverting the core question of national political identity for Gorkhas to the general problem of underdevelopment faced by every people and regions in India. GJM leaflet (2009) at the very outset quite correctly identified the core problem of the Gorkhas that read ‘the demand for Gorkhaland is basically a question of the Gorkha Indian Political Identity…as the spectre of ‘alien-ness’, being called ‘foreigner’ and ‘eviction’ continues to hunt the Indian Gorkhas even today…”.  However, major part of the leaflet emphasised on the question of ‘economic deprivation’ and ‘discrimination’.

Economic backwardness may be one of the aspects of the crisis in the region but an information document (1986) of West Bengal itself suggests that the district, in terms of various economic indicators, stands out to be better than any other districts in north Bengal or any districts in western Bengal such as Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum and Midnapur. If economic development is the panacea for century old unrest in the region then one would expect cropping up of such statehood demand in every regions of the state.

Now let us assume that the state/central government is going to fulfil all the major projects, listed in MoU of GTA, including the establishment of various institutes and central university in the region. Are these ‘mega’ projects going to resolve the national question (s) of the Gorkhas? For elucidation, the Chinese government has changed and transformed the face of Tibet better than any cities in India through its mega developmental projects. Has it also changed the aspiration of the people of Tibet? Since 2011, around 152 Tibetans have self-immolated for their national cause.

Gorkhaland and the Land Question

The major part of Darjeeling district is covered by forest and tea gardens. Almost 70 percent of the population lives in forest and tea gardens. Since the forest and tea gardens come under the jurisdiction of state government, none of the population staying in the forest and tea gardens has the ownership right over land. Even for small repairing work of the houses, one has to take permission beforehand from the management to whom the state government has given the land in lease for pittance. Not only the tea gardens and the forest, there are several villages near the towns (comes under municipality) that have no valid and legal documents to support their claim/ownership right over land. It is precisely due to this alienation of people from their own land, which time and again gets articulated in terms of strong posturing of land question in the movement for Gorkhaland.

A significant number of the tea gardens are in a state of lock down as workers demanded a hike in wage rate. Lockout has become a popular instrument of keeping the wages at the subsistence level in tea gardens. Even the plantation labour act 1951 that favours the owner and the management are being violated. Some of the tea gardens are locked down throughout the year except in the plucking and harvesting seasons. In doing so, the management is not liable to provide basic rights such as ration, medical facilities, bonus etc. There are also instances when the workers have requested the management to run the factory without even providing statutory rights to them. In some of the abandoned tea gardens, the workers by defying the state government formed a cooperative and started running the factory. However, the state government later leased out the same to private players. This is how generations after generations of the tea garden workers have been kept under starvation and poverty. This is also probably the reason that the people from tea gardens stand out quite vehemently at the forefront of every Gorkhaland agitation.

Moreover, the tea industry has not been doing quite well particularly in the neo-liberal phase of globalisation. The reason for this could be growing competition in the tea industry. Another reason for this dwindling situation of the tea industry is the reluctance of the management to reinvest back in the production site. This has resulted in the limited development of productive forces and has also constrained the increase in the productive capacity (employment opportunity) in the tea industry. Can the people of district go for other livelihood options (at least where the factories have been shut down for a long time) so that they can raise the standard of living and send their children to Greenfield University in the coming few years from now? The state of West Bengal is known for having more or less successful land reform, where the state confiscate the land from the land lord and distribute it to the bargardars (tenants), in the history of Indian land reform. One may be interested in knowing the proportion of land that was distributed to the people of Darjeeling during the much celebrated ‘operation Barga’ (1978-1985). Can the state government distribute abandoned tea estates to the erstwhile tea garden workers? The monitoring team at Nabanna would not be pleased to hear all that ‘crap’ as the Nabanna is also constantly monitored by domestic and foreign capital.

The beginning

The century old national question (s) of the Gorkhas in the district of Darjeeling cannot be resolved through extravagant use of money and power. The same old method of silencing the dissent voices has only postponed the crisis in the region as the frequency of the statehood demand has increased in recent years. Moreover, the state led financing of the anti-statehood squad (ethnic boards, GJM-B etc.) in the region is unsustainable in the long term as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data noted that the West Bengal debt (second top borrower only after Maharashtra) burden has increased staggeringly in the last few years. It is more likely that the people of district is going to witness a change in the squad in coming years.

The state government has been acting like a ‘traditional landlord’, where it refuses the release the productive forces but collects handsome revenue by leasing out land to the tea owners. In the absence of enough employment opportunity there has been a temporary migration in big cities and many have piled up in the informal sector of the region. The outcome of national register of citizen (NRC) in Assam may likely to further aggravate the situation, in the region, as it did in the late 1980s when Bhutanese government enforced the citizenship act of 1958.
The territorial separation of oppressed, marginalized and discriminated region is a step ahead for the democratization of the oppressive and centralized social structure of India.  However, there is a need to enlarge the canvas of Gorkha national struggle vis-à-vis other struggles by oppressed nationalities, oppressed communities and religious minorities in Indian subcontinent today. However, the major concern of the Gorkhaland movement since from its inception has been liquidation of the movement from the rank of its own leaders.  The regular betrayal has led the movement to the road of serfdom at various points . Such betrayal is to be overcome through concerted spirit and uncompromising participation for the statehood and their own homeland which assign them the real political identity in Indian subcontinent.

बिमलको साझा मन्च र गोजमुमोले हराएको सन्तुलन

11:11 AM

🏻बबिता मादेन
सम्मान र समर्थन भन्ने जब्बर्जस्ती जुटाउनु सकिने कुरा होईन, न त सत्ताको हाँकमा शत्रांशको माहौल सृजना गरेरै जनतालाई वंशमा राख्न सकिन्छ । छल र बलको प्रयोगले सत्ता हासिल गर्न सकिन्छ तर जनताको मनमा ठाँउ बनाउन सकिन्न । नेतृत्वमा नैतिकता नरहे पछि आवेशमा उटपट्याङ क्रियाकलाप गर्नु र बोलिमा सन्तुलन हराउनुले उल्टा जनताको सामु हाँसो र निन्दाको पात्र मात्र भइन्छ ।

बिमल होस या बिनय नामले केही फरक गर्दैन, फरक पर्नु पनि हुदैन जनतालाई केवल कामसंग सरोकार हुनु पर्छ ।
व्याक्ती पुजाको संस्कारले पहाडलाई सखाप पारेको हो र जबसम्म यस खाले संस्कारको जरा काटिदैन सत्ताको मनमानीलाई कसैले रोक्नु सक्दैन।

फिलहाल गोजमुमोसंग भएको एउटै मुद्दा विकास मात्र हो र यसको पार्दर्शिता जसरी भए पनि जनता समक्ष पुर्याउने कोशिशमा छ तर जनता चाहन्छ गोजमुमोको ढाँचागत बिकास गोर्खाल्यान्डको बाटो भएर जाउन । गोर्खाल्यान्ड प्रत्येक गोर्खाको आत्मामा बस्छ यस्तोमा यदि आत्मालाई नै शरीरबाट अलग गर्न खोजे त्यो शरीर छटपटिन निश्चित छ ।
विकास कै कुरा गर्दा पनि झोडा, नाला र बाटोदेखि बाहिर निक्लेर कार्य गरे त्यो आफुले बताईरहन पर्दैन मुल्यांकन जनता आफैले गरि हाल्छ।

भर्खरै मात्र मुख्यमन्त्रीले सुकुना, सेभोक लगायत पाँचवटा पुलिस आउट पोस्टलाई दार्जीलिङ जिल्लाबाट छुट्याएर सिलिगुडी पुलिस कमिशनरेटभित्र अन्तर्भुक्त गर्ने निर्देश दिइयो । पहाडका सत्ता दल गोजमुमोले यसबारे के सोचेका छन ? के पार्टीबाट यसलाई रोक्ने पहलहरु गरिन्दैछ त ?? पिन्टेल भिलेजको जमिन अघिबाटै बिवादको घेरोमा छ । दागोपाप कालमा शुरु गरिएको दार्जीलिङ मोड स्थित टुरिष्ट इन्फर्मेसन सेन्टरको जिर्णोद्वार बारे किन पहल गरिएको छैन ? सिलिगुडीको मुटु मानिएको दार्जीलिङ मोडमा गोर्खासंग सम्बन्धित कुनै सम्पती हुनु भनेको गोर्खाको किपट समान हुन ।

अलग राज्य गठनको निम्ति सिमाना अति नै आवश्यकिय तत्व हो जस माथी बंगालले दिन- दिनै अतिक्रमण गरिरहेको छ। खुम्चिएर अझै कति सानो हुनु पर्ने ? यस्ता कुराहरु माथि पार्टीको किन ध्यान जादैन ??

उता बिमल गुरुङले साझा मन्चको कुरा के उठायो यता बिनय समुहमा भुइचालो जाला जस्तो भयो । हडबडाहटमा नेताहरुले दिएको उटपट्याङ भाषणहरुले पनि पार्टीभित्रको असुरक्षितपनालाई छर्लङ्ग पारिदियो । कुनै बेला बिमल गुरुङ साझा मन्चका कट्टर विरोधी थिए सत्ताको मात नै यस्तो हुन्छ कि यसले लट्टिएपछि नेताहरुको मनस्थिति काबुमा हुदैन । विपक्षीहरुको प्रस्तावलाई तिनले सिधा खारेज गरिदिन्थे । उनले चाहेको भए पहाडमा गतिलो साझा मन्च तयार हुन सक्थ्यो ।

छुट्टाछुट्टै बसेर अझै दुई शातब्दीसम्म चिच्याई रहे पनि गोर्खाल्यान्ड सम्भव हुने होइन । लक्ष्य फत्ते गर्नु हो भने सामुहिक सहभागिता नितान्त जरुरी छ । साझा मन्चमा उभिएर बिचार साझा गर्दै साझा सिद्धान्तलाई अंगाले बंगालको कालो शासनदेखि मुक्त हुन ज्यादा समय लाग्दैन ।
तर सामुहिकताका त कुरै छोडी आज पहाडको राजनीति जुन थोत्रे बिषयहरु माथी केन्द्रित हुँदै गईरहेको छ यसले स्वास्थ राजनैतिक गरिमा माथी त आधात पारी नै रहेको तर सामाजिक परिवेशलाई पनि बिथोल्ने कार्य हुदैछ ।

आफ्नो छवि सफा राख्न अन्य माथी व्याक्तिगत हमला र एकार्कामा हिलो छेपाईले पथभ्रष्टको दिशामा अग्रसर गराउँदछ । यदि बिमल दागी हुन भने यसको राजदार बिनय तामाङ हुन ।

कुरा स्पष्ट छ न यहाँ कसैको विरोध, न त समर्थन छ । विकास जरुरी छ किन कि हामीले आफ्नो आर्थिक व्यवस्थाको घरेडी पनि मजबुत बनाउनु पर्छ तर गोर्खाल्यान्डसंग सम्झौता गरेर होइन र जबसम्म नेतृत्वले विकाससंगै अलग राज्यको मुद्दालाई समेटेर लादैन जनताको आक्रोशका सामना गर्नु पर्ने नै हुन्छ ।

 
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