Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What GJM can start with?

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)’s study forum organized two days of seminar on Gorkhaland on 13 and 14 April 2015 at Darjeeling (Bhanu Bhawan). The theme of the seminar was “Creation of Smaller States and its relevance to the demand of Gorkhaland”. Speakers from Telangana, Assam, Delhi, Uttarkhand were flown. Looking at the panel of speakers it appears that GJM wants to get ideas for developing a road map for its fight for the creation of separate state of Gorkhaland.
Lets see the some of the critical suggestions coming from the speakers. (For details see The Darjeeling Chronicle )
1.       Set up a Rashtriya Samity that should include representatives from different walks of life, region, religion and others, and said that the Samity”- Narbhadur Bhandari
2.      Shri. Kesvah Rao Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Telengana Rastra Samiti, suggested that the parliament should be made aware of Gorkhaland, start with a voice… Get others to join you.
3.       BJP National Executive Member Tapi Gao,Former Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh ideated ,“Don’t only depend in your MP but expand your influence and contacts in Delhi where it matters. You have 45 elected sabhasads, besides the party’s office bearers. If one is able to catch hold of two MPs in Delhi and is able to convince them about your demand, the Gorkhaland bill will definitely be placed in Parliament. This I am saying as a Gorkhaland demand sympathizer and not a BJP leader,” 
4.      Shri Kashi Singh Airy, President, Uttarakhand Kranti, shared his own experience, “Don't compromise for temporary set-ups. When we were struggling for Uttarakhand... the government tried to make me a Minister so that I would back down... I didn't... they offered us Hill Council... we rejected...in Delhi they arrested he and put me in a hospital... I didn't give in... we never made any compromises in our struggle. The leadership heading the present movement for Gorkhaland must be dedicated and committed. When call was given to unite for Uttarakhand statehood agitation... I set aside my flag of Uttarahand Kranti Dal, and I handed over the leadership to Uttarakhand Sanyuta Samiti... after that all the people of Uttarakhand joined in... from traders to students... from politicians to social workers... everyone united... and we attained our dream of Uttarahand statehood... Why can't you all unite for Gorkhaland? You should"
5.      “Reach out to the adivasisDooars Adivasi Leader John Barla
6.      I will ask PM Modi, when will he fulfill his words- the dream of Gorkhas are my dreams, will talk to other MPs for raising this issue in the parliament -Dr. Suramanian Swamy
7.      Article 3 of the Indian Constitution as the easiest route to Gorhaland than Articles 356, 256, 247- Shri. Abhijit Mazumdar, Secretary CPI(ML
8.      “If Dooars is merged with other areas in Gorkhaland, then the role of Adivasi leaders should be at the forefront…. more than the Gorkhas who are in minority... The adivasi leadership should show us the way... The Gorkhas must extend their help to Adivasis...” Shri. SN Pradhan, Dooars Study Forum
The suggestions Sounds good and doable. From this discourse what GJM should do if they really mean business:
1.      Dissolve Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) and start the movement with a single point agenda of Formation of Gorkhaland
2.      Bring all the political outfits from the hills and Dooars under one umbrella with a single purpose “to fight for the creation of Gorkhaland”. You can fight politically once state is formed.
3.      Form a lobby group with the members from academia, business, media, policy makers to lobby with the political parties in the centre  like Congress, SP, JD(U), BJP etc

These are the starting point and the fundamentals without which future strategies will remain in limbo. Is GJM leadership ready to take up the challenge? Will they be able to accommodate other political, non-political, intelligentsia from Hills and Terai & Dooars in the fight for the statehood for Gorkhaland? Will they be able to forego the power gained from GTA? If yes then Gorkhaland is very certain and the words of speakers that “Gorkhaland is possible” will be a reality otherwise Gorkhaland is a distant reality as I had shared earlier too (Read What Darjeeling needs now is development).

Monday, December 8, 2014

Organised farmers' forum for agriculture development in the Darjeeling hill

40% of the area in Darjeeling hill falls under village which means 40% of the land can be cultivated, 22%  are covered under tea plantation and 38% of it are under forest. Agriculture is one of the major source of economic development of the people of the hills.
Agriculture being major source of economic development still do not show any growth. The farmers face the problems of poor irrigation, no access to credits, access to market is still a dream for majority of the farmers, Farmers still adopt the traditional farming methods, cost of input is higher than the output as the productivity is decreasing day by day. On my interactions with farmers I found that soi health has not been done till now and almost all the farmers (51 of them) have never attended any training on agriculture forget about the agriculture loan.
One of the ways farmers can develop agriculture in the hills is through organised farmers' forum. Till now farmers re involved in solo farming. They are least connected and the result is shown in their lack of awareness, lack of knowledge n scientific know how etc. If farmers can come together and engage themselves in organized manner many of the basic problems, from procurement of seed to selling of their produce, they face today can be solved.
Farmers' forum can act in the following framework:

  1. Capability development
  2. Networking/ linkage
  3. Asset mobilization and use
  4. Business/ market development and reach

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

After Telangana it is the turn of Gorkhaland - Mahendra P Lama

By Prof Mahendra P Lama

After Telangana - It is our turn now

The UPA partners and Congress Working Committee’s decision to carve out a new state of Telangana is a welcome move for the people of Darjeeling district and Dooars. The UPA Government deserves our warmest congratulations for setting new trends and norms in the formation of the state. Firstly, this is for the first time in the recent constitutional history of India that a new constituent state is being created without the effective resolution by the concerned State Assembly. This augurs very well for a separate state in Darjeeling and Dooars.

Secondly, the Congress Party has now started rethinking about restructuring the federal structure of the country and looked into the larger aspirations of the people who were left out in the reorganization of states in the 1950s. This means it is also adhering to the path set by the NDA government when it created Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh in 2000.

And thirdly, the Congress Party is now willing to consider similar other demands on “merit basis”.

The demand for a separate statehood comprising of Darjeeling district and Dooars is perhaps the oldest non-fulfilled demand and movement in the 20th – 21st century political history of India. Two rounds of protracted and violent movements took place starting 1985 and ending 2012, yet this issue has not figured in the political spectrums and corridor of power in New Delhi.

Interestingly during this period of 27 years four new states have already been created and not in Darjeeling and Dooars.

Demand for separate statehood in Darjeeling District and Dooars are a much more comprehensive demand and historically rather powerful. This has three key elements in the core of the demand.
Firstly, it is the imminent need to consolidate the national security as this geo-politically sensitive region has four international borders viz with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Nepal and a key corridor known as ‘chicken neck’ that links North East region with the rest of India. A separate state here will take care of so many national security concerns that exist in this region.

Secondly, the prime need to conserve and promote the identity of the communities including the Gorkhas, Bhutias, Lepchas, Adivasis, Rajbonshis and several other religious and linguistic minorities.
Thirdly, the extreme deprivations and backwardness of this region despite being one of the most resourceful geographies which need to be instantly corrected. Look at the conditions of our natural resources today. How do we account for so many hunger deaths in the tea gardens of Dooars, where are the traditional and modern institutions gone ? Why the people of Siliguri, Dooars and Darjeeling be subjected to such poor work cultures and why we should remain alienated from the national and global mainstream ? In fact in the new state we shall be one of the most developed states in the country.

And finally, the traditional harmony, peace and collective survival that prevail among the people in the hills and plains including among the Gorkhas, Bengalis, Biharis, Marwaris, Adivasis and Kamtapuris and various religions and communities need to be further consolidated.

The separate state with Darjeeling district and Dooars could benefit the nation, West Bengal and Sikkim, Bihar and all the neighbouring states in the North East region in many very many ways. The sub-division like Siliguri and the people therein will flourish as this will become the entrepot for the entire trading and commercial activities of a scale that is unbelievable. The regulated land border trading in the four international borders itself will bring fortunes to thousands of our children.

The younger generation will benefit from the large scale generation of new varieties of employment including in government, private and non-governmental sectors. For instance, how many IAS, IPS and IFS officers have we produced from Darjeeling district and Dooars in the 66 years of post independence India ? Given the fact that we have the best educational institutions in the country which once catered to the building of Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sikkim, north east regions and many other parts of the country, the question remains as why we could not produce these officers, technocrats, professionals, businessmen, industrialists, academics and even politicians like what other states have done?

The separate state will bring handsome benefits to all its residents and people and communities regardless of language, castes, creed, religion and locations which the present state of West Bengal cannot even think of providing. Our children have higher aspirations, they need much more space and institutions for their intellectual, physical and material growth which the present Government cannot provide at all.

A Bengali will be the Chief Minister of this new state, an Adivasi will be the Home Minister, a Rajbongshi will be the Education Minister, a Gorkha will be the Finance Minister, a Marwari will be the Commerce Minister and a Bihari will be the Energy Minister. Our children will get into central civil services, they will teach in our central university and Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management in our new state. Our women folks will have huge playing fields where they could be members in the state assembly, parliament and also in several institutions.

We shall have another All India Institute of Medical Sciences and several other technical and professional institutions that will take care of our health problems, education, cultural-social needs, farmers and agriculture, music, fine art and literary activities, and tea gardens and cinchona plantations, climate change and natural disasters, traditional medicinal system and natural resources.
We shall have the best of investors from both India and abroad coming to this region for investment. If the British companies came to the hills of Darjeeling and Dooars in the 19th century why not American, Korean, Japanese and German companies today to invest in tourism projects, water resources, horticulture and floriculture and software development. Our children from Chopra, Phansidewa, Siliguri, Panightta, Bagrakot, Kalchini, Jaigaon, Sonada, Pedong, Mirik and Rimbik will be civil servants, engineers, doctors, chartered accountants, architects, teachers and environmentalists. There will be no dearth of employment and the future will be alive and bright.

Our NGOs will get connected with various Ministries and funding agencies in the country and also with major development agencies including with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations agencies and other philanthropic institutions like Ford, Bill Gates, Aga Khan and Macarthur Foundations. All the central government projects, some of which we have not heard the names also, will smoothly and automatically flow to us. Our three-tier Panchayats with the at least Seven Zilla Parishads will actually govern the entire rural areas of our State.

Any political parties including Congress, BJP, CPM, RSP, GJMM, CPRM and Trinamool Congress could form the Government in this new and flourishing state. Any political ideology and all the communities will collectively flourish and bloom in this new State. There will be several languages as official and semi-official languages including the Bhutia, Lepcha, Nepali, Bengali and Hindi.
We must appreciate the huge sacrifice made by Shri Bimal Gurung from resigning the post of Chairman of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA). He has been leading the movement for the separate state for last six years and knows the complexities in the negotiation process. We should also fondly recall the protracted movement made by the GNLF led by Shri Subash Ghising in 1980s and contributions made by several leaders in the past like Dambar Singh Gurung, Madan Tamang, Ananda Pathak, RB Rai, Biren Bose, Theodre Manen, Mayadevi Chettri, Kanu Sanyal, Charu Majumdar, Birsa Tirkee, Gopal Maitra, Khudiram Pahan, Dawa Norbula, Maitryi Bose, PP Rai, Ratanlal Brahmin, KB Chhetri, SP Lepcha, LM Prodhan and several other leaders from Siliguri and Dooars in highlighting our plights and alienations.

We should pay our tribute to the hundreds of people who sacrificed their lives for a separate state and thousands of people who lost their home and hearth in the search for a separate state. Media played a very critical role and must thank persons like Subhas Talukdar, Shiva Kumar Rai, Sunanda Datta Ray, Tushar Kanti Ghosh, BD Basnet, Kumar Pradhan, MB Rai, DP Sharma, Dilip Bose and the present set of eminent newspapers like Himalaya Darpan, Dainik Jagran, Uttarbanga Sambad, Hamro Prajashakti, Telegraph, Statesman, Janpath and many others both in Bengal and at the national level.

Given that a separate state in this region is going to be a reality and GJMM is the party with a strong support base, Shri Bimal Gurung and his party; other national and regional political parties and all the people of the Siliguri, Dooars, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong together have to now make four critical interventions.

Firstly, we should bring all the political parties and socio-cultural organizations from the hills and the plains to a common platform to provide more effective direction and more powerful voice to the demand for this new state. The brain and muscle power must work together.

Secondly, we should build a strong team in Calcutta and Delhi that will intellectually and politically influence the Parliament, Assembly, media, political parties, bureaucracy and civil society. The other political parties that are working for separate states like Harit Pradesh, Vidharva and Bodoland must be brought under the fold. The Telangana experience shows that ultimately it is Delhi which really matters in deciding the creation of a new state.

Thirdly, we should provide a clear road map to the formation of this new State and also lay out a comprehensive structure of the state, its likely programme and planning that would mention how people, communities and various locations in the hills and plains will be benefitted by this separate state.

And fourthly, we should also very clearly provide a long term vision of how our nation and other states in the country including West Bengal will benefit from a separate state like ours.

After the formation of Telangana, it is our turn to have our own separate state. The nation and the people feel like this. And this is the aspiration of our people in the hills and plains of Darjeeling district and Dooars.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The capitalist manifesto

Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries. By Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya.PublicAffairs; 290 pages; $28.99 and £19.99. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.ukFrom The Economist
INDIA needs more market liberalisation to promote economic growth. A few years ago, with its economy expanding at an annual rate of nearly 10%, there was talk of India one day rivalling China, or even overtaking it. But policymakers have grown complacent. They assumed rapid growth would continue, but did nothing to foster it. The result is that India now putters on at less than half what it could achieve. Investors are anxious and the politicians are bickering.
In their new book Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, both economics professors at Columbia University, outline a series of measures to boost growth. “Why Growth Matters” is a blunt book; almost a manifesto for policymakers and analysts. It explains how rapid expansion has brought India immense gains, and why more change is needed—and needed soon. Both men are champions of globalisation and they hope their ideas will stiffen the resolve of India’s leaders.
What they have to say is convincing. Increasing growth rates over the past couple of decades lifted some 200m Indians out of poverty. That is an immense gain. In 1978, say the authors, more than half of all Indians were below the poverty line; today it is roughly a fifth. Gradually even those politicians who put their trust mostly in redistribution and the early roll-out of welfare grasp that a bigger economy means more resources to share around. Read More

Beyond bootstraps

An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions. By Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze. Allen Lane; 434 pages; £20. To be published in America in August by Princeton University Press; $29.95. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

From The Economist
AS A conundrum it could hardly be bigger. Six decades of laudably fair elections, a free press, rule of law and much else should have delivered rulers who are responsive to the ruled. India’s development record, however, is worse than poor. It is host to some of the world’s worst failures in health and education. If democracy works there, why are so many Indian lives still so wretched?
Amassive blackout last summer caught global attention, yet 400m Indians had (and still have) no electricity. Sanitation and public hygiene are awful, especially in the north: half of all Indians still defecate in the open, resulting in many deaths from diarrhoea and encephalitis. Polio may be gone, but immunisation rates for most diseases are lower than in sub-Saharan Africa. Twice as many Indian children (43%) as African ones go hungry.
Many adults, especially women, are also undernourished, even as obesity and diabetes spread among wealthier Indians. Despite gains, extreme poverty is rife and death in childbirth all too common. Prejudice kills on an immense scale: as many as 600,000 fetuses are aborted each year because they are female. Compared even with its poorer neighbours, Bangladesh and Nepal, India’s social record is unusually grim.
“An Uncertain Glory”, an excellent but unsettling new book by two of India’s best-known development economists, Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze, sets out how and why this is so. They argue that Indian rulers have never been properly accountable to the needy majority. Belgian-born Mr Drèze has lived in India since 1979 and became an Indian citizen in 2002. Now at Allahabad University in the north, he is influential among Indian policymakers, particularly for pushing a right-to-information law. Mr Sen, a Nobel laureate, now at Harvard, famously showed how famines have never happened in democracies. The two men want a debate on India’s social failures and how to fix them. Read More