Showing posts with label society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label society. Show all posts

Solidarity from Gorkha Students, JNU for tea garden workers

10:26 AM

A statement of solidarity from Gorkha Students, JNU to the protesting tea garden workers for their minimum wage

All tea workers unions from Darjeeling, Dooars and Tarai under the broad banner of Joint Forum have decided to go for a 48 hour strike in Bengal against the exploitation of tea garden owners of Bengal, who are living in deplorable condition with less than minimum wage which is insufficient to live a dignified life. It is co-incidentally at the same time when the people of Gorkhaland are struggling against the oppressive linguistic imposition of the Bengal government on the indigenous people of the land.  The Hills, Terai and Dooars of Gorkhaland are gripped in seething angst when it is forced to witness the misery of its own people in the form of hunger and starvation deaths. It is outrageous to see the workers of a multi-million industry (tea plantation) dying a slow and painful death due to hunger and starvation. The irony of this situation is lies in the presence of stark poverty, chronic hunger and exploitation along-side the colossal profits these tea-gardens generate for the owners and the State. According to an estimate by the Darjeeling Chamber of Commerce, tea industry in the hills generates an average of Rs. 450 crores revenue annually, equal to that of the tourism industry in the region. Absence of workers’ rights, non-payment of minimum wages and benefits is not specific to the tea-industry alone but is rather a persistent feature of work in the highly segment labour-market in India. However, it is pertinent to highlight here the starkly Regional Aspects of Discrimination that lies so strongly visible in the tea industry. The minimum wage paid to unskilled tea labour in Kerala is Rs.301, in Assam it is Rs.158.54, in neighbouring Sikkim it is Rs. 200 while the same in Darjeeling comes to a meagre Rs.112. Even the minimum wage paid in West Bengal for MGNREGA is around Rs. 130-151 and for agricultural laborer is Rs. 206 per day. The tea workers in North Bengal are thus made to work for wages which is far below the minimum in any form of work. It is very shrewd on the part of the owners to claim low wages are due to low price being earned from the sales of tea leaves produced from these gardens. If this be the case then why the wages of workers remains same in those tea gardens which fetches the highest price in the world tea market( for instance Rs. 1.1 lakhs per kg of tea is produced by Makaibari tea garden but wages remain still at Rs.112).
In the last decade more than 1400 tea workers have died due to acute malnutrition and starvation. As recent as January 2013, 95 workers of the locked out Dheklapara Tea Estate in Dooars sent a letter to the Chief Minister of West-Bengal seeking her “order” to kill themselves because they were suffering from acute starvation. The tea workers therefore are forced to languish till they die of hunger and malnutrition. Studies show that 70% of the people of the closed tea gardens suffer from chronic energy deficiency III stage. In the gardens affected by starvation death like Red Bank, Bandapani, Diana and Kathalguri tea gardens, it was found that workers and their families have Body Mass Index (BMI) identical to those populations affected by severe famine.
The starvation death in the tea gardens, the crushing of the identity of the Gorkhas and other minorities and the denial of basic rights to oppressed communities in Bengal has been a phenomenon for centuries in Bengal. The hegemonic forces are united to crush every single voice of dissent and so now the time has come that the oppressed be united to fight against this domination for a better tomorrow.
At this hour of crisis, Gorkha Students, JNU stands in full support with the tea garden workers and the Gorkha people in their struggle for dignity, self-respect and a better life. When Oppressors are always united and consolidated, it is a historic responsibility on our shoulders to unite and fight for a just and egalitarian society!
We also demand that:
1. Closed and abandoned tea estates be reopened immediately.
2. Stop privatisation of government operated tea gardens.
3. Declare and implement Minimum Wage for tea plantation workers.
4. Grant legal ownership of housing space to workers
5. Casual labour should also be brought under the purview of Plantation Labour Act, 1951.
6. Backlog of unpaid Provident fund and gratuity should be cleared without delay.

Gorkha Students, JNU

Truth Behind Politically non-Political Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh

2:51 PM
Writes Upendra for The Darjeeling Chronicle
Established in 2001, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh had the potential to be a major force of change within in the Gorkhali society, while also becoming the platform for uniting Gorkhalis all over India under one umbrella organization.
Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) logo
Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) logo
Sadly, their office bearers have jeopardized that pious agenda, perhaps due to their own political ambitions, so much so that today BGP is a name which is uttered with or followed by a cringe, amongst the political observers.
Here is the reason why
Since their inception, one of the major contributions of BGP to our community has been the erection of Shaheed Durga Malla’s statue on the grounds of our Parliament [Details:], thus cementing the Gorkhali contribution towards India’s freedom struggle forever. This was a major achievement of an organization which drew to it members from all over India. BGP branches opened up in Sikkim, Delhi, Assam, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, making it truly a national level platform for voicing issues relating to the Gorkhali community.
Perhaps that is what led to the BGP bosses harbouring political ambitions. Perhaps that is when the BGP bosses forgot that their’s was a non-Political organization.
BGP started off as a socio-political group that would highlight and voice the social and political concerns of Gorhalis in India.
When Gorkhaland andolan re-started in 2013 and GJM called for all the “political parties” to form a joint forum, BGP also joined as one of the “parties” constituting the Joint Forum, I guess that is when the downfall of BGP truly began.
In my opinion, BGP being a national level body of the Gorkhas had no business in involving itself with a “joint forum” which was meant to contain political parties. BGP I think should have remained over and above the “joint forum,” as that particular forum was formed to raise the Gorkhakand issue, which even though emotionally related to all the Gorkhas in India, BGP by its very mandate should not have confined itself to the issue of Gorkhaland alone. There are many issues across India that confronts the Gorkhalis, and Gorkhaland happens to be just one of the many such issues, hence BGP could have chosen to support Gorkhaland while remaining uninvolved in the “join forum” deliberations. But that didn’t happen.
The unsuccessful “joint forum” experiment failed miserably, when you have too many political interests clashing it was bound to fail, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of everyone involved. The outcome of “joint forum” was mistrust, doubt and suspicion against each other amongst Darjeeling’s political parties, and sadly that included BGP.
BGP after that stint stopped being a non-Political national level entity, people started to view them as another Political group in the fry.
Towards the end of 2013 Gorkhaland andolan, one of the well known leaders from BGP Mr. Munish Tamang along with senior journalist Mr. Joel Rai etc went on to form a group called Jan Aawaz, based out of Delhi. I am not very clean on the agenda or orientation of Jan Aawaz, but even they joined the cry for Gorkhaland from Delhi and along with BGP held a Dharna and Protest in Delhi in support of Gorkhaland statehood.
It was only when 2014 elections came around; that I realized that perhaps Jan Aawaz was meant to be the political arm of the BGP, as almost everyone involved with Jan Aawaz was also associated with BGP. Mr. Munish Tamang the leader of Jan Aawaz travelled extensively and had even addressed a Jan Aawaz rally in Darjeeling, prior to the 2014 MP Elections.
In 2014 MP elections BGP extended support to Dr. Mahendra P Lama, that is when BGP openly transformed into a political entity [Details: and].
For a body claiming to represent the national interest of Gorkhalis in India, by deciding to support Dr. Lama openly BGP had gone on to antagonize the majority Gorkhas of Darjeeling who supported and continue to support GJM.
Anyone with any inclination towards politics understands that keeping a non-Political group out of the purview of electoral politics is one of the most important criterion for maintaining its neutrality. In supporting Dr. M P Lama the BGP leaders may have been doing the right thing, but it sounded the death knell for BGP as an organization.
Connecting political dots becomes is a dicey job as it becomes difficult to connect the interests and orientations of various groups that tend to emerge every once in a while. So when Jan Aawaz died a convenient death of sorts (no action) after the 2014 MP elections, I was more than convinced that it was another failed experiment on the part of some of the BGP leaders to head into politics.
Following the defeat of Dr. MP Lama voices of dissent were heard from within BGP rank and file against the political stand taken BGP central leadership and the decision to support Dr. Lama by Dr. Enos Das Pradhan.
Unhappy with the development Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh Working President C P Giri and National Vice President Arun Upadhyay accused BGP Executive President Rev Dr. Enos Das Pradhan and a few central committee members of subverting the political neutrality of BGP [Details:].
Cornered BGP claimed that the support was extended at a “personal capacity” and not on an organization basis. Which as the facts so, is untrue [Details:].
BGP which started as a non-Political group had gone on to become a politically active group which was anti-GJM. I am not a fan of GJM myself, but for a non-Political group which “claims” to represent all the Gorkhas from India, to take such a hard stand against GJM was stupid. If integration of all the Gorkhalis is/was BGP’s actual ambition and aspiration, then there was no reason for them to cut off a major Gorkha group like GJM.
The final nail in the coffin for BGP as far as I am concerned, came after Mr. Mann Ghising took charge of GNLF, following the death of late Subash Ghising. As GNLF was trying to regroup, BGP national spokesperson Mr. R Moktan stated that “BGP would provide “documentary support” to GNLF if it decides to pursue 6th Schedule status for the Darjeeling region” [Details:].
This again led to another round of outrage from BGP insiders, to which once again Dr. Enos Das Pradhan responded that it was Mr. R Moktan’s personal decision and not that of BGP [Details:].
Do you see a pattern? I do
BGP leaders support a political group, and when pointed out they claim it was a “personal decision” as an excuse.
BGP which was once a ray of hope that could have gone on to become the strongest lobby group for the Gorkhalis in India, has today lost its direction, sense of purpose and apolitical nature.
I was forced to write this longish editorial as apparently BGP is trying to recruit new people into their fold and targeting the youths as potential recruiting base. I wouldn’t worry otherwise, but since 2016 elections are around the corner, I have every reason to suspect the timing of their current attempts. Our people, especially the youth have a right to know what has happened with BGP so far, so that they can make an informed decision.
I honestly think that, it is time to for people associated with BGP to realize that they cannot continue to do politics in the guise of a non-Political entity.
Stop pretending!! Is what I am trying to say... and if you guys cannot do that, please stop making trying to fool the people... come clean on your agendas, priorities and political leanings...
फेरी it was कुन्निकोसको “personal decision” चै न भन्नु होला पछि गएर
Is someone listening?

Originally posted here

Kalimpong lad gets scholarship 2015-2018 to pursue his PhD in China

5:48 PM
Mr Anmol Mukhia from Kalimpong has landed the prestigious Ministry of Human Research Development (MHRD), Chinese Government Scholarship 2015-2018 to pursue his PhD in China. This scholarship is fully funded by the combined Government of India and Government of China. The MHRD provides the rare opportunity where he is the only one to be selected for PhD in International Relations from all over the India for the year 2015.
Anmol Mukhia with H. E. Ambassador Tien of Republic of China to India
Anmol Mukhia with H. E. Ambassador Tien of Republic of China to India
Anmol comes from Kalimpong and he completed his schooling from Kumudini Homes. Following which, he did his undergraduate degree in Political Science at St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling. He then joined Sikkim University for his Master’s degree in the fields of International Relations/Politics, and completed MPhil research from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

He has won numerous research grants, and has presented papers and showcased his research internationally, including at the prestigious Harvard University.

He says, “I lost my father when I was at college and I thought of leaving my college purely because of financial reason. This also became my inspiration to earn pocket money with my hobby such as paintings and sketches. I also believe in God which gave me the purpose to live when there seems nothing.”

Coming from a middle-class family from our hills, to excelling in the world of academic, Anmol has proven that – we the Gorkhalis can achieve the highest degrees of perfection, if only we put our heart to it.

When asked for how to excel in life Anmol Mukhia has a simple philosophy, “Work hard and study hard... make books your best friend which will always guide you in your life… परिश्रम नै सबै भन्दा ठुलो कुरो रैछ...”

Hopefully his hard work and excellence is something which will inspire thousands of our youth to follow on your footsteps and excel in their respective fields of choice. As you head out to China, you will not only be representing India, but you will also represent the changing façade of our Gorkhali society… you will also represent the resurgent Gorkhali youths of India, who are re-writing the way world perceives our community.

Source - TheDC

Recognition program for Bikal Rai by Sikkim Rehab family

9:09 PM

Sikkim Rehab family organized a small simple recognition program of the neighbourhood boy Mr. Bikal Rai, the Sikkim's Wonder Boy.
Mr. Bikal Rai, shared his experiences of his life on how he overcame the problems of his life and diverted his thoughts and intention to do something constructive and pursue his dreams in life inspite of his poverty, where he too like any frustrated and broken down teenager could have walked down the path of addiction as an easy way out to escape the realities of his life. But he choose to pursue his dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer with or without support of anyone. His sharing has made a deep impact on the hearts and minds of our boys and open interaction between them has made Bikal a ROLE MODEL amongst our boys.
Bikal Rai has been hitting the social network arena past three years due to his amazing engineering skills. 23 years old Bikal Rai after completing his Class Ten in 2012 from Middle Camp Govt Sr Secondary School at Battish Number (32 No) in Nimtar East Sikkim could not continue his studies due to family problem and financial crunch after his father expired. Bikal Rai looks after his mother, granny and young brother who is studying in Class Eleven getting some earning out of agriculture farming and produces.
Despite having abandoned his schooling Bikal is passionate for assembling things to make it lively scientifically, that’s a reason he’s born talented engineer and an extraordinary boy of 32 No. village. He is fond of engineering mechanics as his previous projects which he built from junkyard stuffs caught the eyes of millions of readers who lauded his work in Facebook. This time Bikal comes up with an Eco Friendly concept car out his house based miniature workshop, which operates on IC Engine and Electric Motor technology.
According to him, he started off project seven months back, he did it by collecting spare parts of vehicles from garage junk and some parts he purchased from his savings, that which amounted him around Rs 40,000 Indian Rupees ($640).
He adds, after planning rigorously it took him last one and half month to make assembly and attach the parts giving a sounding structure finally.
Bikal Rai gave a life to scrapped 149 CC dead IC engine of motorbike with petrol as a combustion fuel for module one, he then added electric motor powered by a battery for his second module of his dual characteristic concept car.
He demonstrates his car running on the road which breaches speed beyond 40 kmph depending upon the power of engine and chassis of his car. Speaking to Bikal Rai, he told VOS that he wants to learn more, but he need to look after his family also who are totally dependent on his earnings.
Profoundly Sikkim should boast to have a talented boy like him for whom nurturing can levy him out of his circumstances making state proud someday if he could go further with his skill in a relevant engineering field where this ‘Genius Boy’s’ destiny awaits for glory.

Via : Sikkim Rehabilitation & Detoxification Society

२०१औं भानु-जयन्तीको सुसन्देश

9:52 AM
Nahakul Chhetri

सन् १८१४मा तनहूँ जिल्लाको रम्घा गाउँमा जन्म लिने भानुभक्त आचार्यलाई नेपाली साहित्यमा आदिकविको रूपमा मानिन्छ| भानुभक्त अघि पनि धेरै कविहरू थिए जस्तै-इन्दिरस, विद्यारण्यकेसरी अर्याल, हिनव्याकरणी आदि, तर उनीहरूको भाषा शुद्ध थिएन|भानुभक्तले नेपाली भाषा सरल,सरस औ शुद्ध बनाई त्यही मिठास रूपमा नेपाली रामायण जनसमूहलाई समर्पित गरे| यसलाई बाल,बनिता औ वृद्ध सबैले आत्मसाथ गरे|
भानु-जयन्तीको सुसन्देश

नेपाली समाजलाई शिछाको ज्योति प्रदान गर्ने भानुभक्तलाई सम्मान गर्ने काम सर्वप्रथम दारजीलिड•बाट ग्यावली, पारसमणि औ धरणीधरहरूले गरे औ उनीहरूकै प्रयासमा चौरस्तामा भानुभक्तको bust निर्माण भयो| तर हालमा दार्जीलिड• पहाडमा भानु जयन्ती त्यो उत्साह औ उल्लाससाथ सायद विरलै मनाइन्छ| जहाँ अन्य समुदायका मानिसहरू आ-आफ्ना जातीय साहित्यकारहरूलाई सह्रदयबाट इज्जत गर्छन् भने दार्जीलिड• पहाडमा "सूचना औ विभाग" मन्त्रालय,GTA,ले करले कार्यक्रम गरछन् भने प्राय सबै स्कुल, कलेज तथा सरकारी संस्थानहरू बन्द गरिन्छ|
साहित्यिक संस्थाहरूमध्ये पनि विशिष्ठ साहित्यकारहरूलाई आफ्नो संस्थामा ल्याउने होड़बाजी देखिन्छ|नेपाली साहित्य एउटा व्यपार नभएर समाजसेवा भएकोले हाम्रा विशिष्ठ साहित्यकारहरू त्यस ठाउँमा जान आवश्यक छ जहाँ भानुभक्त र नेपाली भाषाको प्रचार जरूरी छ|फेरि कतिपय संघ -संस्थाहरूमा भानु-जयन्ती कम तर पुस्तक विमोचन बढ़ी देखिन्छ|
समयको गति अनुसार नेपाली साहित्य अघि बढ़िरहेको छ औ यो गति द्रुत हुन अत्यावश्यक छ| जहाँ अन्य समुदायमा कुनै समारोह मानिलिऊ-"गाँधी जयन्ती" मा गाँन्धी केन्द्रित कार्यक्रम हुन्छ|
1974AD ले "पिञ्जराको सुँगा","आमाको सपना" तथा अम्बर बहादुर गुरूड•ले अगमसिंह गिरीका "नौला तारा उदाय" लाई गीती रूप दिएका छन्| यस्तै प्रकारले भानुभक्तलाई केन्द्र बनाएर वहाँको श्रद्धा अनुरूप श्लोक ,pop, hip hop ,blues, jazz तथा heavy metal गीत भने नाटक तथा कविता आवृत्ति गरे सायद भानुभक्त केन्द्रित कार्यक्रम हुनसक्छ औ न्याय-संगत पनि देखिन्छ|
भानुभक्तको२००औं जन्म जयन्ती उपलछ्यमा वहाँका खनाति र खनातिनी व्रतराज आचार्य औ प्रभा भट्टराई दार्जीलिड• भ्रमणमा आउँदा पहाडको खुलेर प्रशंसा गरेका थिए| फेरि ममता बनर्जीले पुरै साल २०१४ भरी भानु जयन्ती मनाउने वाचा गरेकी थिई जुन उसले पुरा गरिन| 
भानुभक्त हाम्रा जातीय कवि हुन्| हामीले उनको श्रद्धा गर्नु नेपाली समाजको सभ्य प्रतिरूप प्रस्तुत गर्नु हो| हामी सबै मिली स्वच्छ ह्रदयबाट आदिकविको श्रद्धा गरौं|

WB Government Proposes only a Hike of Rs 42.50 in Staggered Phase for Tea Garden Workers

11:30 AM
The state labour department today issued a draft wage agreement proposing a staggered hike of Rs 42.50 a day for workers in the hills and Rs 37.50 for those in the plains for the next three years.
WB Government Proposes only a Hike of Rs 42.50 in Staggered Phase for Tea Garden Workers
Tea Garden in the hill
Officials said they would wait for five days for suggestions from tea trade unions and planters.

The draft proposed a hike of Rs 22.50 a day (retrospectively from April 1, 2014 up to April 2015) for workers in the hills, followed by a raise of Rs 10 for the next two years. It means, a total hike of Rs 42.50 per day in three years for hill tea workers who now get Rs 90 a day. For workers in the Terai and Dooars, the state has proposed a hike of Rs 17.50 daily (retrospectively from April 1, 2014 to April 2015) followed by an increase of Rs 10 for the next two years. This translates to a total hike of Rs 37.50 for those who earn Rs 95 per day now.

The Joint Forum, a common platform of 23 trade unions, has said it would not sign the draft as it does not mention anything concrete about fixing the minimum wage. The forum has, however, said that it will hold talks with the constituent members on December 19 to take the final call.

After the talks at Uttarkanya here this afternoon, state labour minister Malay Ghatak said: “With today’s talks, eight rounds of tripartite meetings have been held to decide the revised rates of wages that is due since April 1 this year. Today, we placed a draft agreement before the trade unions and tea planters.”

He added: “They (the planters and unions) have been asked to go through it and submit their suggestions to our department in five days. We would wait for the next five days. Once we receive their opinions, we will sit and discuss with our officials and move ahead towards signing the agreement.”

The draft proposed an additional Re 1 per day for tea hands who work for five days a week and Rs 2.50 a day for those who work for six days a week. “There is a proposal to introduce attendance allowance which would be an additional sum over the revised rate of wage. This would discourage absenteeism and encourage workers to join duties,” a senior official in the labour department said.

The draft also proposed that arrears — as the hike would be effective from April 1 this year — would be paid in three instalments by August 31 next year.

Ziaur Alam, the convenor of the Joint Forum and the Jalpaiguri district Citu secretary, said: “The state is trying to help planters by advocating another three-year wage agreement with a hike on an ad hoc basis. But nothing much has been mentioned in it about our demand to fix the minimum wages. We feel that if the agreement is signed, the process to formulate the minimum wage would be delayed for another three years. We are not ready to sign the agreement.”

He said the Joint Forum would inform the state labour department of its decision.

A Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations representative said: “The gesture is good but we need to discuss the rates among ourselves. There are other issues pertaining to workers. We want these to be incorporated.”

Dola Sen, state president of the INTTUC, the Trinamul workers’ union which is not a part of the Joint Forum, said: “We feel the agreement should be signed at the earliest. Some unions are trying to do politics and delaying the negotiation process because of their own interests. We condemn such acts and we would hold a public convention here on December 22 to apprise workers about the wrong intentions.”

Source: Telegtraph

Darjeeling municipality started dismantling buildings taller than the maximum permitted height

9:55 AM
The Darjeeling municipality today started dismantling a portion of an under-construction building belonging to a hotelier along Nehru Road in Chowrasta as it was taller than the maximum permitted height in the hills.
Darjeeling municipality to dismantle buildings taller than  the maximum permitted height
Darjeeling municipality to dismantle buildings taller than
the maximum permitted height
Civic officials said they would also serve a notice on the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club for constructing a building that violated the municipal rule that no building in the hills must be taller than 11.5m.

Municipality workers said the building that is being demolished belongs to Urgen Palzor, who owns a hotel in Darjeeling.

“We had served a notice on the owner about three months back. Although the owner stopped further construction, he did not dismantle the portion which had exceeded the restricted height,” said Amar Singh Rai, the chairman of Darjeeling municipality.

According to the West Bengal Municipality Act, height restriction for buildings in Darjeeling is 11.5m, which is approximately the height of a four-storey building.

Rai said the construction on Nehru Road was almost six-storey-high. “Our workers have already started demolishing two floors,” he said.

The building was being constructed for commercial and residential purposes. Only the two floors that have crossed the 11.5m height would be demolished, municipal sources said.

Palzor could not be contacted and sources said he was in Arunachal Pradesh. His family runs a hotel in Darjeeling.

According to sources, Palzor had sought permission from the civic authorities for the construction within the permissible height.

Rai said the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club, too, was coming up with a new construction which is higher than 11.5m.

“Their construction has also touched six floors. We are sending a notice to them,” said the civic chairman.

Sources said the club started the construction last year and about four months back the civic body sent a notice asking the authorities to stop work.

Officials of the club refused comment.

The Darjeeling Gymkhana Club Limited was established in 1909. It is above the Mall Road next to Raj Bhavan. The club’s website states it has a “membership strength of 400 permanent members and 49 special members.”

The special members are mostly gazetted government officials.

Source: Vivek Chhetri for Telegraph

Copyright © Indian Gorkhas. Designed by Darjeeling Web Solutions