Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TAGORE & GRAHAM AT “HOME” TOGETHER…

By Sandip C. Jain


In its roughly 150 years of its existence as a civil society, Kalimpong can proudly boast of its association with some of the biggest names in modern history- Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark, The Roerichs, the royal families of Afghanistan, Burma, Bhutan and Nepal, the Dalai Lama, Rev McFarlane, Younghusband and many more such luminaries but definitely its association with Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and Dr. J.A.Graham will be counted as its most cherished and memorable ones.
Gurudev’s association with Kalimpong is a special one. By making the first Live Radio Broadcast in India from Kalimpong, Kalimpongs name has been engraved in the history of Telecommunication and Broadcasting in India. He broadcasted his poem “Janmadin” live over All India Radio from Kalimpong and this fact will live on forever but this is something which is well documented and well known to all lovers of this beautiful little town. Dr. Graham on the other hand, can without much hesitation, be credited to be the “Father of Kalimpong” for all the work that he and his associates have done for Kalimpong to make it the place it is today. His tireless and ceaseless efforts laid the foundation for modern Kalimpong. But these efforts and contributions of his too are well described in each and every history book on this town and region.
What is not well know despite being a matter of much interest and high historical value is the close relation that these two great men of history shared. One came from an aristocratic Bengali family, who is acknowledged as one of the greatest poet, writer, artist, philosopher and thinker of all times and whose contribution towards the Independence struggle of India can never be forgotten. The other was a missionary who came into India under the patronage of those very colonial forces who enslaved India. One was a staunch Hindu, the other a devote Christian but the bond, mutual respect and friendship, the two shared was something worth being made into a fine example.
It probably is no coincidence that both these two illustrious men were born in the same year (1861) and died too within a year of each other (1941 & 1942). Though from entirely different cultures, religions, upbringings, countries and societies, the two shared remarkably close views on most of the issues and aspects of life. Since Gurudev was a frequent visitor of Kalimpong, the two have many opportunities to interact with each other and have lengthy discussions on culture, art, music, religion, philosophy, politics as well as the Independence of India. In fact, despite being closely associated with the then British rulers of India, Dr. Graham was favourably inclined towards a free India as his broadcast in Wellington suggests wherein he advocated that “India and Britain should be co-partners” , which implies he wanted some kind of political freedom to be given to India. It appears that many of Rev. Graham’s views regarding the political situation prevailing at that time were coloured by Gurudev and his writings too gave reflection to this fact.
Their main contact was in the year 1938, a few years prior to both of their deaths. Tagore was in Kalimpong recuperating after a serious illness. It was during this period that he made the now famous broadcast over All India Radio on his 77th Birthday> During his stay in Kalimpong, Gurudev was visited by Dr. Graham frequently and they spent long hours sitting on the lawn of Gauripur house, discussing mutual interests. Though it cannot be positively confirmed but it is believed that Dr. Graham was present within the premises of Gauripur house at the moment Gurudev was addressing the Nation over AIR on the occasion of his birthday. It is also believed that during the period Gurudev was sick and recovering in Kalimpong, Dr. Graham made sure that the noble laureate was constantly attended by doctors of the Kalimpong hospital. In the same year, Dr. Graham too fell seriously ill and Rabindranath Tagore showed the same concerns that Dr. Graham had showered on him during his own sickness.
In the year 1941, Tagore fell seriously ill, again in Kalimpong, and had to be rushed to Calcutta for his treatment- this time too Dr. Graham was at hand to arrange things and rush him proper medical care. Later in the year when Gurudev died, Dr. Graham paid glowing tribute to him not only as a poet but also as a musician, preacher, politician and educationalist. Paying tribute to Tagore, Dr. Graham wrote thus, “ …for him India is not merely the motherland of Nationalists; she represents great spiritual principal, viz. the fundamental human unity of the diverse people who, whether as original inhabitants, immigrants or conquerors, have made their home on her soil. Above all freedom for India was for Tagore the freedom of her common people from oppression and injustice, foreign or native…..”. “ He hated the cowardice of the weak as much as he hated the arrogance of the strong, but he was always on the side of the weak against the strong…..”.
Dr. knew the Gitanjali well and often quoted from it. The two me, not just contemporary in age but also in tune with their thinking and philosophy and had much in common- Shantineketan was for Dr. Graham an ideal temple of learning and often wrote about it in his writings. It is believed that when Tagore brought a piece of land in Kalimpong- it was Dr. Graham who suggested that the house to be built on it could be a replica of Tagore’s house in Shantineketan. The house “Chitrabhanu” situated at Atisha Road of Kalimpong is a close copy of Tagore’s residence at Shantineketan which is called “Shyamali.”
Dr. Graham and Gurudev were two completely different people and of different backgrounds but the common meeting grounds of Kalimpong made them friends whose special relation is still being talked about seventy years after their deaths….


*******************************************************************

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Would you believe this???
Sandip C. Jain
Just the other day, two very interesting stories took me to the still virgin hill slopes on which Lingsay village is cradled. The stories of course were only a pretext- the main reason I travelled to Lingsay was simply because I wanted to go and see the area. The stories which had felicitated my travel to Lingsay will be printed in the forth coming issues of this magazine but what I am sharing with you here, although also about Lingsay, may be too astonishing for many to actually believe it.
Lingsay, which is in the Kalimpong Sub Division, lies about 45 km to the northeast of the town. The only motorable road approaching this isolated village is via Pedong and Rehnok in Sikkim. Yes, one literally has to enter Sikkim and then come back into DGHC to reach Lingsay. The approximately 15 km that one has to travel between Rehnok and Lingsay is through amazing scenery through paddy fields and lust green forests. Half of this 15km lies in Sikkim and other half of it in DGHC. One half of the road is so bad that it can hardly be classified as a motorable road - it is more akin to a stairways on which a four-wheel driven vehicle can barely manage to huff & puff and stay alive- while the other half of road is as smooth as any hills road can possible be. The almost amazing and unbelievable thing about the above is that the bone jarring portion of the road is in Sikkim while the smooth roads are in the DGHC. One would bet it would have been the other way round but the fact is that the road on the DGHC side is 200 times better than on the Sikkim side.
What this piece actually wants to say is that even though the grass always seems greener on the other side of a fence, the fact is that the grass on our side, at times, too could be better groomed, more lush and is any day more useful!!!
Propagators and supports of the weird “Darjeeling – Sikkim Merger” theory should take note!!!.
TOWN OF THE MARUTI VANS
Sandip C. Jain

During a recent brain storming session like-minded friends in Kalimpong, which was directed towards arriving at a consensus over providing a catchy slogan to be attached to the name of the town, several interesting suggestion came out. Needless to say but at the end of the two hour session, we were still where we had begun i.e. Kalimpong still did not have any slogans to be attached to its name which was commonly accepted by all. But a session like this in Kalimpong ending without any conclusions is in no way surprising, after all the saying “Hamro Salla Kharani ko dalla” holds a lot of in our lovable little town, doesn’t it??? But like I said, the session left us enriched with several very very interesting and some downright hilarious suggestions. One such suggestion, which came from a very respectable doctor of the town, was “Land of the Lollipops”. Coming from a doctor was interesting enough but even more interesting was the response that it evoked. The response from the majority of the people present was that was Lollipops were associated with Kalimpong, all tourists with a diabetic problem, the world now being full of it, would shun Kalimpong like plagun.
Another suggestion was “Land of the Neora Forest”, this too was not accepted as it was felt that now Lava, having become a tourist destination by itself, had full monopoly over the Neora forest. A fellow journalist threw out the most interesting suggestion that I thought was in a way actually what Kalimpong symbolizes at the present times. This journalist who behind his bored looks at thick specks holds a ultra quick wit and wacky sense of humor, suggested the name “Land of the Maruti Vans” more appropriately Vanlimpong. Though of course this suggestion was made off the record and was made more as a mood-lifter, I felt this could have been the ideal name for the town, which in the present days seems to be chocking on Maruti vans. This I am sure many would agree fully exemplifies the situation that Kalimpong is at the movement.
At a conservative estimateabout 800 Maruti vans are decorating the roads of the town. For a small hilly town like ours that has at place, roads narrower than Bitney Spears waists, this is far too many a number that can be accepted without any fuss. With about 5 new cars entering the town every month, the situation turning worse with every day that rolls by. The situation has attained such serious proportions that now even a stroll down can be a life threatening act. My guess is that Kalimpong has more Maruti Cars in relation to the total number of cars than probably any other town of its size in the entire nation. On visitor to the town, a senior IAS Office posted with the Indian Postal Services, after getting over the initial shock of seeing the flood of Maruti Udyog Limited was to ever set his eyes on all these Maruti vans, he would either resign his position as the head of this company due to the shame of seeing the havoc that his creation has caused in this beautiful town or he would be so delighted that he would order his Sales Department to give a 33.33% discount on all cars sold to Kalimpong residents. Maybe, he would even use footage of the Maruti Vans swarming at Kalimpong, in one of the many commercials that his company runs on air.
Some may say that the numbers of vehicles on the roads of any particular place is a good yardstick to gauze the development of the place. While this might hold some water, shouldn’t the quality of the roads to be taken into account if any such assessment is to be made?????Must not the road available for the proper running of these vehicles be better prepared and maintained for the town to be actually labeled as a developed one. With every Tom, Dick and Harry now buying a car to further develop(??) the town, is it not expected that all the revenue raised from the vehicles owners by way of taxes, should have gone towards maintenance of the presently pot hole littered road on which these very vehicles runs on? A news item appeared in several local publications including the Himalayans Times dated 11th March 2003, which reported a demand by the Darjeeling Hill Transport Joint Action Committee, now a part of the Gorkha Natinonal Drivers Front. The demand was that the Motor vehicle Department currently under the State Government be transferred to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council for the better management of the funds that is generated by the department from the Hill Distric. Looking at the lack of funds at the disposal of the local bodies for the purpose of road maintenance, this demand I feel is fully justified.
The two evils on the warpath
Sandip C. Jain
It is not a coincidence that India is the second most HIV – AIDS infected country in the world and that the hill areas have been classified as a High HIV prevalent area, as reported in June 2006 issue of the Himalayan Times. Along with rising infection levels, a local Gangtok paper called NOW! wrote about the spread of drugs in the Darjeeling district, with Spasmo Proxyvon, the prescription drug given to girls to ease their period pains becoming the party drug of the youth. It is unfortunate that these two evils, HIV – AIDS and drug abuse go hand-in-hand, one social taboo alongside another. Public denial of both is equally strong and ruthless and has not changed to consider lending a helping hand inside the community. Instead, the people affected by these two evils are branded and ashamed in front of their family and friends and are left to combat their illnesses alone and without a hope in hell. No wonder there aren’t many who want to take their family members to the help clinics, for rehab and counselling, or admit that someone inside their family is HIV positive, he or she is just prone all of a sudden to constant fever, nothing more. These problems run deep into the conservative heart of society and go against the prevalent outdated traditions, making the diseases nearly impossible to approach and leave the problems lingering without a proper solution.

India and risk factors

The United Nations has estimated that India with 40% of Asia’s population has over 60% of the continent’s HIV positive cases. UNAIDS is predicting that by the end of 2006 there will be 5, 7 million people living with HIV in India. Soon the example of the most HIV – infected country in the world, might change from South Africa to India, as India already is the second most infected country on earth and even a small increase in HIV infections could translate into very large numbers of people becoming infected. UNAIDS has outlined some risk factors that puts India in danger of experiencing a rampant spread of HIV if attitudes are not changed. The most unnerving factor is that unsafe sex and low condom use is wide spread. In the whole of India, a staggering 84% of all the reported HIV cases are due to unprotected sex. Such is the stigma of shame attached to buying a packet of condoms among the young that many lives could have been saved, if the availability, the encouragement and the price of condoms would have been more appropriate. The factor of migration for work for extended periods of time has only increased rather than declined in the past years. For long periods of time people are away from their social environment provided by their families and community and this can place them outside the usual normative constraints. In such instances, being outside their own social environment might encourage them to take part in risky behaviour. Students studying away from home for many years also fall victim to the less constraint life away from families. A recent study has shown that drug addicts are shifting away from inhaling to injecting hard drugs. 41% of these drug abusers inject with used needles and syringes, which has put them and their sexual partners in the high risk group. Only a reported 3% of those who regularly re-use needles and syringes are using appropriate and effective methods such as alcohol, bleacher or boiling water to clean their syringes. And lastly, the low status of women still plagues the Indian society. Unequal power relations, described by United Nations, as the limited access to human, financial and economic assets, weaken the ability of women to protect themselves. The Government of India’s response has been to place more funds and efforts into combating the reduction of the risk factors in the last decade, but major challenges still remain. The raising of the overall effectiveness of state – level programmes, increasing safe behaviour and reducing the stigma associated with HIV positive people and drug – addicts among the population, leave a lot to desire. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel, as co-operation of different NGOs ran by socially conscious local people and international volunteers have shown a positive contribution to the fight against AIDS.

Misconceptions and hard-line education

Sexual education is not part of the curriculum of most schools in Kalimpong. Pounding some general information into the heads of hormone – charged youths is a prerequisite to assist in the changing of attitudes, as misconceptions of HIV and AIDS are common. Many people think that HIV can be transmitted through mosquitoes. This is not true, as when you are bitten by a mosquito, the mosquito does not inject blood of a previous victim, but quite happily pumps out your blood instead. HIV can be transmitted through oral sex, even though oral sex is a lower risk activity, but in receptive and insertive oral, it can be possible when there is contact between semen and the mouth membranes. Risk grows with frequency of activity. One cannot however become affected with HIV through casual contact with a HIV positive person. You cannot be infected by shaking someone’s hand, by hugging or ‘dry’ kissing. Neither is it possible through using the same toilet, drinking from the same glass or by being exposed to coughing or sneezing by an HIV positive person. Finally, HIV and AIDS is not the same thing. HIV; Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDS; Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the collection of symptoms, diseases and infections associated with an acquired deficiency of the immune system. While HIV is universally accepted as the underlying cause of AIDS, not all HIV positive individuals have AIDS as HIV can remain in a latent state for many years. Such misconceptions are killed by extensive awareness campaigns. In Finland the schools actively take part in eradicating misconceptions and educating the children about the dangers of drug – abuse and HIV. Nurses and doctors give lectures to students from 10-year- olds up until the youths graduate from school at the age of 19 on average. Pounding the information is crucial, even though many critics state that talking about sex and drugs only encourages the young to try these hot topics for themselves. No matter what the public opinion is concerning sexuality and drug experimenting, the children must be knowledgeable enough to know the consequences of their actions. So hitting home the message to the hormone-charged youngsters is important, and if showing graphic pictures and film-clips to scare children into refusing drugs and being careful during sex is considered brutal by some, however, it is highly necessary. Talking of sex and sexuality openly and explaining in detail, with the use of pictures, will hopefully form a lasting impression in the child’s mind. Even the police and drug counsellors take actively part in the education of children. Giving lectures on drug-abuse, by describing cases involving youngsters like those sitting in the classroom listening, has a tremendous effect. Holding my first and last sample of heroin in my hands, listening to list of horrible side-effects and the unimaginable withdraw symptoms, with a policeman reminding me of the legal consequences of abusing such drugs, made a lasting impression on me. Years later, having the unexpected opportunity to meet a poor soul addicted to heroin, I was reminded of the lessons in school and having a pretty good picture in my mind of what sort of hell this man had ended up in. The meeting of a real junky was enough to scare me never to even hold a piece of that evil in my hands again. A situation, where youngsters might be offered and tempted to try a hard drug must be prevented by bashing the barriers of ignorance and shyness, by talking about them often and long enough. In this day and age of gigantic infection figures, hard measures must be taken, or otherwise the society will have to confront a landslide of new HIV infections and pay a high price for its stupidity and shyness. The example of Finland might sound a bit too harsh, but the co-operation of nurses, doctors, counsellors, police and NGOs works as an effective protective net and a similar approach might be considered here in Kalimpong as well. NGOs have started educating the school children, but there are not enough volunteers to reach every child in every school and due to small budgets, the lessons are given to classes only once.

The situation in Kalimpong

In Kalimping since January, there have been five more new HIV positive cases. This brings the total number of people infected with HIV in the past five years to 25 lost souls. According to the Superintendent of Kalimpong Sub-Division Hospital, Dr. Suva Ratna Pradhan, only in one of the cases, did a boy contract HIV by sharing infected needles, while others are due to promiscuous sexual habits. The infection ratio in most parts of the world is an even split between men and women and the figures from Dr. Pradhan indicate the same. But these figures are far from accurate, as the testing facilities in Kalimpong are non-existent. There is no testing centre in Kalimpong and the nearest and only voluntary free testing centre for the Darjeeling District is located in Darjeeling. No-one will reimburse you for the journey and your day is spent travelling and waiting in line for your test. Most people opt not to go. The Kalimpong Sub-Division Hospital does test some people, but they are very few and far between. If a doctor suspects the worst and after confirming his suspicions with a colleague, only then does the patient get tested. This is not a very common practise unfortunately as the hospital does not have the capacity or the funds to test every single suspected patient. But nevertheless the doctors have started to take action, even if the scale of the operation leaves much room for improvement. The free blood tests that the hospital provides are only reserved for the good Samaritans who willingly donate their blood to save others. The blood – donors are given a mandatory test to identify whether the blood is safe to give to patients. The test searches for signs of malaria, Hepatitis C and B, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the blood. So unless you are willing to spare a few pints of blood or your doctor fears the worst, there is no other way to know for sure that you have a clean bill of health. In light of such circumstances and with such inadequate data, the number of infections in the town is impossible to know, but it is safe to assume that it is much higher than the 25 reported cases.

Drugs in Kalimpong

It is even harder to believe that only one case is due to drug abuse. According to Dr. Pradhan and the counsellors working for the newly formed Himalayan Anti AIDS and Narcotic Drugs Society, also known as HANDS, every other household in Kalimpong suffers from drug-abuse, whether it is in the form of alcohol, marijuana or harder drugs like Spasmo-Proxyvon. In the past 10 years, the chemical abuse of prescription drugs has become a major problem. Youngsters are the ones mostly in danger, due to reasons of peer-pressure, curiosity and the fashionable status drugs have acquired through heroes in the music and film business. Youngsters think that it is very ‘cool’ to try drugs. But no-one becomes a junky over night, or is born into the life of a drug addict. It is a gradual process, starting with cigarettes, alcohol, a few occasional joints to swallowing painkillers. It can be a gradual progression over a 10 year period, when the soft drug addict, no longer content with marijuana or alcohol, has to look for the ‘high’ in hard drugs such as brown sugar or Spasmo-Proxyvon. Mr. Dipendra Subba, a counsellor working for HANDS, has seen many families destroyed by substance abuse.
‘It’s a rough estimate, but usually the people over 30 years of age battle an addiction with alcohol, while the under 30-year-olds are using drugs. The horrible thing is that there is no availability of disposable syringes and needles in the pharmacies, as the police made a point of stopping the issuing of disposable syringes and needles. Now the addicts share or re-use needles and syringes, which might cause a wave of new infections,’ Mr. Subba worries. He is right to worry, as Spasmo-Proxyvon, or SP, is more dangerous than brown sugar. It is also a prescription drug, which means that is legal, if you have a prescription that is. Most peddlers and users don’t have one and all the police can do, is lock them up for a night and let them go in the morning. A case is started, with the police keeping an eye on the peddler, but there is no law as yet, which specifically comes down on SP peddlers. This fact drove the Gangtok paper NOW! to write a series of articles on the dangers of SP and demand something to be done about the problem. After a long battle of being at the receiving end of public criticism, the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front Party in 2004 promised a new law to deal with the peculiarities of abuse of the ‘legal’ drug of Spasmo-Proxyvon. In 2006 the Drug Addiction Act was passed, which gives the police the power of the law to deal with peddlers of SP. This law however is only for Sikkim and does not apply here in Kalimpong. What they came to realise in Gangtok was the awful truth about the drug. The drug is at its most lethal, when it is mixed with water or rum, then cooked and injected into the vein. If used extensively and for a long period of time, it can affect your central nervous system, as SP black-outs and sudden loss of consciousness can kill thousands of neuronal cells in your brain. The drug addict will eventually experience mental illnesses and suffer from emotional imbalance. The constant injecting can block the arteries and thus can cause heart attacks or even paralysis when the artery to the brain is blocked. The problem is that the tablet does not fully dissolve when it is mixed with water or rum and cooked, so sediments start slowly to build up and creates an abscess. The blood flow slowly but surely gets blocked and the limb starts to rot. Many SP addicts have lost limbs to gangrene. The definition of drug abuse, taught by HANDS, is when any chemical alters the mental or physical state of a person. Spasmo-Proxyvon users go through drastic changes and very visible changes in their behaviour. An addict’s rhythm is co-ordinated by the drug, so he / she might start sleeping during the day and staying awake at night. The circle of friends, who are not addicts, will disappear to be replaced by people who are paranoid about conducting their affairs behind closed doors and through mysterious phone calls. Money starts to disappear along with some valuables from the house. He or she will loose interest in personal hygiene and appearance, becoming more withdrawn with sudden burst of anger or tears. Nothing and no-one seems to interest them anymore as the drug has taken hold of the mind and spirit and the only thing that matters is the next injection. A strip of ten tablets of SP can be bought easily for 100 INR on the black market here in Kalimpong.

HANDS
One newly formed NGO, the Himalayan Anti AIDS & Narcotic Drugs Society, or better known as HANDS, has begun to fight the evils of drug addiction and educating the masses on safe sex. This organisation was formed only a few months ago by a group of Kalimpong residents, who felt that action must be taken immediately. The ambitious people responsible for the organisation have big plans for the future, like setting up the first testing centre and a rehab centre for addicts in Kalimpong. At the moment, they are only plans, as the organisation is only funded by a handful of local people. More is needed so that these plans can be realised. The co-ordinator of HANDS, Mrs. Zoramhmangaihi Vuite is already busy organising sex education and drug awareness classes in such schools like Rockvale Academy and St Joseph’s Convent. These lectures given mostly to children approaching their teenage years are crucial, as at this age they are very vulnerable to peer-pressure. From a questionnaire on HIV / AIDS given to year 9 students of Rockvale Academy reveals that some misconceptions are still very much alive. Many thought that AIDS can be cured, if medical treatment is given at an early stage and that HIV positive people are easy to spot, as they are always skinny and look very sick. The most alarming fact was that many would not go to a clinic even if they felt that they had been infected with a sexually transmitted disease. The powerpoint presentation given to the students of Rockvale Academy explained in detail the difference between HIV and AIDS, the symptoms and how they are contracted. HIV and AIDS awareness was followed by a descriptive lecture on drug-abuse. The children, happy to be able to miss a class, listened intently at first, but such detailed subject matters produced a few yawns and bored faces. The people of HANDS estimated that if 10 % of the children take something home from this one short class, their work has had purpose. It is frustrating for people with such dedication and volunteer spirit, that they are unable to do more and teach the children regularly. Hopefully in the future, with more residents contributing to the good cause of HANDS and their work, the energy and money coming from within the society will end up saving the society. The people of HANDS have the right attitude, by not running away from the social taboos of drug-abuse and HIV infections, but by taking the bull by the horns and doing all they can, to teach, help and assist. It is time the society found out, for real, how bad a problem it is facing, because inadequate data brings nothing but false hope. The Principal of Rockvale Academy, Captain Pradhan urged the children to be brave and honest, when dealing with these issues, because one day you might end up saving your friend’s life. So let’s be brave and honest and confront these issues.
Sell your car buy a horse
Sandip C. Jain
During the period when the campaigning for the Kalimpong Municipal elections was at its peak, a seemingly bright candidate put up several posters in several areas of the town urging the vehicle owners of Kalimpong to sell their cars and alternate it with a more suitable form of transport more adaptable to the pot hole filled roads of the town- the alternate suggested was a Horse!!! The posters and the pun that it carried were intended to highlight the extremely poor condition of the roads in Kalimpong.
Though quite a few of the roads have had repairs since the posters sprung up, the vehicle owners could still give the suggestion in the posters a second thought though this time it is less due to the quality of the roads and more due to the quality of the Fuel that the Fuel Pumps of the town are choking our car engines with.
Though of course I am no technical expert on evaluating the quality of Oil being provided to us but then any person who has driven a car for a reasonable period of time, can even by simply hearing the sound that the car engine makes, can make a fair enough assessment of the quality of Oil that the tank holds. I am sorry to say but the awful chattering that the car engines makes when running on fuel filled in the Fuel Pumps of Kalimpong, is a sure shot sign of there being something seriously wrong in the fuel supplied.
With so many hundreds of cars clogging the roads of Kalimpong, it’s a wonder why nobody, including the otherwise hyper sensitive drivers Unions, makes any effort to check what is wrong. Everyone seems to agree that there is something fishy going on but no one is motivated enough to take any further steps.
I am told that during the tenure of the previous S.D.O. of Kalimpong, a complaint had been made and if rumors are to be believed, an eyewash of an enquiry was made before the matter being swept under the carpet. Why??? Well you can take you guess!!!
So I guess it brings us back to the suggestion on the posters “Sell your car buy a horse”.
SARBOJANIK DURGA PUJA OF KALIMPONG
Sandip C. Jain

It can be said without any iota of hesitation that Durga Puja in Kalimpong would not be the same amount of fun, festivity and gaiety had it not been for the Kalimpong Sarbojanik Durga Puja, which is organized each year by the Milani Club. This years puja was special for the reason that this was the Platinum Jubilee celebration for this particular puja.
Started in the year 1929 on the initiative of late Ganesh Chandra Pine and his brothers Kartiek and Choku Pine [ of present day Kalimpong Stores(Kodak Studio)], this puja had a very humble beginning. The first ever puja held in the year 1929 was managed on a shoestring budget of Rs. 500.00 which was collected from donations from the public. The idol of Durga Ma and others, like today was made by artists in Siliguri but the manner in which it was transported to Kalimpong was very different from how they are today. The idols were brought from Siliguri to Giel Khola (then known as Kalimpong Road Station) by the toy train that used to ply between Siliguri and Geil Khola. It was then loaded on to the Ropeway, which used to carry it to the Ropeway Station in Kalimpong. This station was situated as the premises of the present day Pranami School. From here it was transported to the Puja Mandap on bullock carts with a procession that included Dhakis and devotees.
The venue of the puja as well as the name of the organizing club has several changes. This puja was earlier held at the Thana Dara at the site of the present day Super Market and was shifted to the Town Hall premises after the construction of the Super Market some years back. The name of the organizers also changed from the Bengali Club to the Matri Sanga to the present day Milani Club. Despite the changes in venue the festivity, joy, devotion and the beating of the Dhaks remains the same till date.
This Puja held each year since the last 75 years has much popularity and the same can be measured from the fact that people of the caliber of Dr. Sudhi Ranjan Das, Ex. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Smt. Pratima Devi, daughter in law of Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore have been attached to the puja as patrons.
LACE INDUSTRY OF KALIMPONG

SANDIP C. JAIN

The missionaries that made Kalimpong what it is today, were people of great vision and foresight. They knew that just educating the masses and preaching to them Christianity, would not actually lift the masses out of the economical hardships that they were facing. Hence they initiated moves to train the locals in various trade skills. One type of skill that they started to impart knowledge on, to the people of Kalimpong was in the art of Lace making.
Not many are aware but Lace making was a big time business in the town during the early part of this century. Since 1905, the outstanding industry undoubtedly was Lace making. Mrs. Katherine Grahams who founded the Kalimpong Home Industries in the year 1894 was also the prime mover behind this industry. To teach the women folk of Kalimpong the finer points of this art, Mrs. Grahams searched out teacher who was an expert in not just the ordinary Torchon and Cluny laces but the finer kinds like Brussels, Italian, Honitan and many others. The expert, a Ms. Catherine Channer, was employed and her salary and other expenses were taken care off by the government, which was requested for by Mrs. Grahams.
After laying the foundation for the industry and running it for four years Ms. Channer had to leave for home due to ill hearth but not before she had trained a successor in Miss Gladys Korb and several other locals, who continued to train others in this fine art of lace making .
By 1913, three hundred workers were engaged in this trade and in that year the sale of laces in Kalimpong along gave a profit of Rs. 9000.00 (a sum which was really big at that time). The laces from the town had acquired such fame by then that special orders was received by Kalimpong for laces to decorate the dresses of Her Highness, Queen Mary.
Unluckily, this industry did not survive too long after the missionaries went back. May be if the trade had continued to flourish in the town, Kalimpong would today have been spoken in the same breath as Nottingham or Brussels.
Rev. D.G. Manuel, the author of the much acclaimed books “Eastern Impressions” and “the Gladdening River” wrote “with the increase in time, the name of Kalimpong will be as much associated with the making of lace in Nottingham, Honitan or Brussels.”
KPG to MTV
By Sandip C. Jain

There may not be very many people in this hill district of ours who have not heard of St. Augustine’s’ School of Kalimpong. A school with an illustrious history of having dispensed quality education to several generations of the hills and beyond. Education in this temple of knowledge is just not limited to academics rather those lucky enough to have had their schooling here will vouch that the school gave them a wonderful learning experience to deal with their lives later on in life. It was in this very school twenty years back that two very best of friends studying in Class VI were in the midst of a heated argument. All this while the rest of the Class was either on the verge of falling asleep while the other half was already half way through a boredom induced slumber on that hot and humid summer afternoon. All this was in progress while the jovial old History teacher was sweating it out, himself trying his best not to fall asleep.
The argument between the two was because Boy No 1 had this habit of practicing his signature on the new textbooks and exercise books of his desk partner, Boy No. 2. Justifying his calligraphic skills that too on the property of his friend, Boy No 1 to terminate the argument had said, “ You should be happy that you have so many autographs of mine. A day will come when people will have to queue up just take my autograph.” This statement of his of course at that time was treated with laughter, rebuttal and mocker, but today twenty years after this incident the prophecy of Boy No.1 has turned true with him becoming one of the top most stars in the Indian Rock Music scene.
Boy No.1 incidentally is Sonam Sherpa of the super hit Parikrama Musical Band and Boy No 2 is yours truly penning down this article.
The journey from then to today has been a long and hard one for Sonam – one of immense struggle for survival and then for perfection. It is never easy for any small town person to attain success at the National level. Sonam is one of the very few who at a tender age has earned a place for himself, not just in the history books of the Hills but also in any historical records that will be compiled on Indian Rock Music.
From a very tender young age, Sonams interest in music as well as his talent in playing music was very evident. At school he was a permanent fixture on the stage, whether it be during the School Concert or it be the Farewell function or it be the Talent contest or for that matter any function in the school and that too from an age where his guitar was probably taller that he was. His classmates still recall with nostalgia the all time super hit song, ‘Soldier of Fortune’, which he sang for them during their farewell function. Tears rolled down their cheeks while Sonam, himself on the verge of tears, completed the song.
Sonam (Sherpay to his friends) had talent in other fields too – he was the opening batsman for his School cricket team where he was called the ‘Wall’ for his ability to bat for twenty overs out of a maximum of twenty-five and score only 12 to 15 runs. (Sonam may deny this fact now but the author of this piece is proof to this, being the captain of that very cricket team that Sonam was a part of).
Sonams musical skills grew under the watchful eyes of the late Chandra Mohan Gheshing who was the music teacher then in the school and who himself was a musician of big repute in the region. While he was in Class VI Sonam formed his first Musical band in the name and style of “Scorpions” which had as its members Nityen Alley, Benjamin Lepcha and Rajenman Tuladhar, all of whom were his classmates. By the time he completed his schooling he was already a name to reckon with in the field of music, in the town. But it was in Delhi where he actually hit big time- and it was all by chance that Delhi discovered his magical ability with the guitar. In fact this makes an interesting story by itself. Sonam, after completing his Class twelve from Kalimpong went looking for higher education to Delhi. Like all Hill students with average marks, he started his daily shuttles to the various colleges under Delhi University; invariably he was turned away from all of them. One day, tired after his daily routine, he was sitting on the lawns of the Hindu College in Delhi with a couple of boys he knew. Seeing them sitting there induced a couple of senior students of the college to come and ‘rag’ them, as is done in every college. Thinking of Sonam to be a newcomer (fresher) in the college, the senior students asked Sonam what he could do to entertain them. Sonam not wishing to rub them the wrong way, said in all humility that he could sing and play the guitar. The bored seniors soon produced a guitar on which he spell bounded and impressed them so much that these seniors immediately managed his admission in the College. His musical career had started there and then and he was not looked back since then.
In 1991, he alongwith Subir Mullick, Nityen Mullick, Rahul, Chintan and Prasant started the Parikrama band and performed their first programme at Father Agnel’s School, Delhi on the 15th of September. They were an instant hit and since they have done hundreds of shows all over India. They have enthralled Music lovers in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Calcutta, Bangalore, Pune, Roorki, Vanarasi, Hydrabad, Kharagpur, Lucknow and even in places like Mcleodgunj, Gangtok, Darjeeling and Kurseong. Wherever they have performed they have enthralled crowds and have won hearts. Parikrama is also credited to have organized the first Aids awareness concert in India by organizing the ‘BAN’NED AIDS’ at Patel Chest Crossing at Delhi. Which was conceptionalized and funded by them.
Sonam has also performed in the ‘Edinburgh Fringe Festival’ in Great Britain in the year 2001. This is the largest Musical and Theatre festival in the world. He alongwith a band (Mrigya), was given a four star rating in the festival, becoming the only India band to ever receive the same. He alongwith Parikrama have produced the super hit album “But it Rained” which was shown on a regular basis on MTV, Channel V and all other major Channels. They have also released an album with Usha Utthup.
Sonam alongwith his wife Dina also run the Parikrama School of Music in Delhi, which is one of the best of its kind in the country. Dina, his wife who is a IIT Bangalore product is from Mizoram and is perfect partner for him and with a voice most would envy. He is currently into producing music for Advertisements and documentaries. Several super hit advertisements like the Bennaton and Bar One advertisement were given music by Sonam. Most of Karan Thappars shows too carry Sonams music. Question Time, which is shown on BBC, has music produced by our local hero.
Sonams determination to succeed and his dedication towards his chosen field is something, which is an example for our youths in the Hills. The world is our playing field and if the dedication and burning desire to succeed is there, like there was in Sonam, there is no reason why the present day youth from this region cannot shine on the national scene.
Sonam is a hero for them and the Hills of Darjeeling and Sikkim salutes him for bringing it glory and fame.
KALIMPONG
By Sandip C. Jain

The tag of being Gods own country may lie with some other place in the tourist maps but visitors to this serene and breathtakingly beautiful little town may beg to differ. With the lush green valleys, panoramic view of the Eastern Himalayan ranges, the visual delight of the snow clad Kanchenjunga kissing the blue sky, the cool mild climate and the relaxed atmosphere alluring visitors to the town, Kalimpong undoubtedly is a place where tourists can have a holiday of a lifetime. Far from the maddening crowds, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Kalimpong offers its visitors a vacation unlike any other.
The name of the town itself suggests of a place which is synonymous with fun and laughter, relaxation and peace, gaiety and harmony. The word Kalimpong in the Lepcha language (Lepchas are the original inhabitants of the region) roughly translates into “Ridges where we play”. It is believed that in the early stages of the development of the town hill tribesmen used to assemble in the beauty decked town for recreational purposes. Now after centuries of development and refinement of its infrastructure, the town is without doubt one of the foremost and one of the most likeable tourist destinations of North East India.
Historically a part of the Sikkimese Empire, Kalimpong was later overrun by the Bhutanese before finally being annexed by the British in 1865. Since then, set on the roads of development by the then British government, Kalimpong has come a long long way now with all modern amenities required for a major Hill Station in place.
The Bhutanese rulers may have left a century and a half back but their imprint still remains. Their colourful cultural influence acts as a magnet for all those who are fascinated by the Bhutanese culture and architecture. Infact Kalimpong has had this wonderful ability to soak in all the positive attributes of its past masters. It has managed to turn itself into a place, small though it may be, that exhibits and flaunts its past glory- the colonial bungalows rub shoulders with traditional Bhutanese architecture, providing a feast for all which have been fed with images of the concrete jungle of the cities. Overseeing this is the picture post card surroundings with the majestic Kanchenjunga towering at a distance and other major Himalayan peaks providing an almost surreal backdrop. On a clear day, an almost 360 degree panoramic view of the snow clad lofty mountains and the Pine draped neighboring hills can be had from almost any part of the town.
Kalimpong definitely is not one of those conventional tourist destinations where visitors are forced into the same routine which all others are forced into. It is a holiday destination for people who are looking for a break from the highly tension charged life of the cities. The quaint surroundings, the lush green hills, the terraced agricultural fields, the relaxed way of life and the crisp and clean mountain air is what tourists actually find pleasure in. Its accessibility too is to its advantage- being only sixty kilometers from Siliguri; it has easy access to all major cities of the country. Also being located bang in the center of the Darjeeling- Sikkim region, Kalimpong is the ideal place to station oneself during a tour of the region. Darjeeling, Gangtok, Siliguri, Pelling, Lolaygoan, Rishab and Lava are all within a driving time of two to three hours and enough accommodation to suit all budgets are available in the town.
Within Kalimpong, Deolo Hill (5850 feet) offers an unparallel view of the surrounding valleys, hills of South, West and East Sikkim, view of the mighty Teesta and Rellie rivers meandering down its course and the snow dressed mountains. The monasteries within the town are a virtual gold mine on the literature, culture, tradition and history of the region. One of the monasteries here, the Tongsa Gumpha, is believed to be the oldest in the region having been constructed in the middle of the 17th century. The Rellie River, 11 kilometers from the tow, is another place where visitors can have fun to their hearts content. Kalimpong’s true
joy lies in its richness of local culture, tradition and heritage. The diversity and richness of its culture is a delight for all its visitors. The Maruni Dance, the Saurathi Dance, The Mask Dance, The Yak Dance and many such traditional dance forms along with the Naumati Baja (traditional musical instruments of the Nepalese) are Kalimpong’s special attractions. This is best highlighted during the period Kalimpong hosts its annual tourist festival- the Kalimpong Winter Festival- during the Christmas week 924th December to 31st December) each year, when the entire town is decked up like a queen and tourists are treated like kings. Visitors to the town during the festival would surely fall in love not just with the town more so with the open hearted and simple residents of this hill town.
Kalimpong is the place to be for a flower lover. Its flower nurseries, world renowned for their quality and variety of flowers, are a delight for all flower lovers. A variety of orchids, flowers, climbers and indoor plants greet visitors to these nurseries, tempting many to come back even if just to spend some time more in this floral paradise.
Kalimpong otherwise is a sleepy little town, still untouched by the open commercialization that has crept into the other hills towns. It still retains its rustic charm despite being one of the major towns of the region. “Educating young minds” is Kalimpong’s forte. With some of the oldest and most sort after schools in North East India, Kalimpong is host to thousands of students from across the country as well as from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and even from Thailand availing education here. Many leaders in their respective profession have spent their formative years here.
Adventure tourism too is slowly making an entry into the town with trekking, rafting and rock climbing being offered by the town. The town being at a moderate elevation of 1200 meters offers some of the most spectacular mid altitude treks in the region. One need not be a seasoned trekker to enjoy these treks as most of the treks offered here a moderate treks that can be undertaken even by an average tourist.
The colonial past of the town can best be enjoyed through some of the most fabulous bungalows constructed by the European settlers of the past. Kalimpong has scores of such bungalows dotting its residential areas. The cottages of Dr. Grahams Homes (the biggest and the oldest school of the town) are a prime example of this. The hundred and ten year Macfarlane Church, the tower of which looms over the Kalimpong skyline is another masterpiece of Scottish architecture.
Kalimpong stands tall amongst all the other hill station of the region only because it dares to be different. - Come enjoy the difference!!!
Jelepla
Sandip C. Jain
The Sino-Indian trade through Nathula Pass is definitely not for the weak hearted - not just merely for the fact that the trade will be conducted in one of the harshest possible terrains of the world but for several other reasons.
My friend, a senior journalist in Sikkim who has been following the proposed opening of the trade route very closely, says that at the moment probably the only people seemingly profiting from the proposed trade are the heart specialists of Siliguri and Gangtok!! The latest postponement of the opening date (from the 2nd of October 2005 to March 2006) has probably sent another group of over eager traders to these heart specialists, unable to cop up with the tremendous stress and strains that the constant deferment is causing them.
While how much Sikkim will actually benefit from the opening of the trade route is yet to be seen, one thing that is certain is that Sikkim and the Sikkimese people are extremely lucky for having people at the highest level pushing for their interest. The Nathula route despite not being the most favourable one was still the ultimate choice not because of any other reason but for the fact that Chamling and his cabinet played the right cards and spoke to the right people in favour of this route.
The Jelepla route, though being the traditional one and also an all weather one ( the Nathula route is open for only about half the year), was not even considered simply because of the fact that no one was there to speak for its benefits. While the West Bengal government is hardly concerned which of the two Passes was opened ( after all Siliguri will benefit either way irrespective of which Pass opens) what is surprising is that neither the DGHC nor the local MP or for that matter the local Chamber of Commerce ( which is useless any way), did anything to press our case. Kalimpong once the hub of trade with Tibet has now been relegated to such a distant background that it has all but disappeared from the radar, as far as the Tibet trade is concerned and we have no one but ourselves to blame. How can we expect to have a bite of the pie when we did not even asks for it in the first place - after all even a mother does not feed her child till it cries.
But I am of the opinion that all is still not lost. Infact Kalimpong being bypassed as far as the trade is concerned could be a blessing in disguise for now we can always press for the opening of the Jelepla Pass as a tourist destination. We probably have more to gain if Jelepla is opened for the tourists rather than for the traders. Think of all the employment it will generate and all the revenue that it will rake in for the town. It would do for Kalimpong tourism what the opening of the Nathula did for tourism in Sikkim.
The benefits and the rewards are too lucrative for us to let this opportunity slip by.
Lets hope our leaders speak for us in this regard before its too late again!!!

HULLABALOO
IN THE ORCHID GARDEN

Sandip C. Jain

It certainly is in no way any inheritance of loss for her- infact if you consider the above thirty-five lakhs in Indian currency that she pocketed as prize money for winning the Man Booker Prize and the other several millions that her book is making for her being on top of the Indian Best Sellers list, its more of a case of that type of inheritance which a twenty something trophy wife, of a stinking rich eighty something husband, receives on his death. A more appropriate title of Kiran Desai’s book would have been “Inheritance of a Windfall”.
While no one should have any objection to this “windfall” that she “inherited”, on the basis of the literary merits of the book, we in Kalimpong should and do strongly condemn and object to the falsities on which the plot of the book is built on.
Ok, we agree, and are the first ones to do so, that not everything that happened during the Gorkhaland agitations for a separate state (within India) was right. There is no way one can justify the meaningless violence, the loss of so many innocent lives and the burning down of government property, but then one just cannot rubbish an entire society and a mass uprising, just because it makes a good plot for a book.
Desai, probably was just thirteen-fourteen at the time the agitation was at its peak (which makes her too young to actually make any rational judgment of what was going on around her) and probably was not even here in Kalimpong during those days ( which again impairs her judgment making capacity), to actually know the correct ground situation prevailing during those troubled days. Her ignorance of ground realities is reflected in a big way as one actually goes through the book that she has written. Her branding the agitation as communal, her implying that the Bengalese population in Kalimpong was virtually treated as out-castes, her labeling the most reputed tailoring house in Kalimpong as “deaf”, her pointed suggestion that the very revered Father Booty was a homosexual who ogled at Buddhist monks and her describing the colour of sunset on Kanchenjunga as “pornographic pink” , are some examples of her insensitivity to local issues. (By the way how did Desai know how or what pornographic pink looked like at a time when she was barely into her teens???? )
Miss Desai, do you realize or do you even know that Kanchenjunga is the most revered object of worship for the indigenous Lepchas of the region?? No responsible person, specially someone of your lineage, is expected to describe someone else’s object of worship by comparing it with anything that, even remotely, has something to do with pornography!!
Miss Desai is lucky that it is Kalimpong, its people and its history that she chose to rubbish. Had she chosen to do the same for any other place, there would have been a massive “hullabaloo” against her and her book. She is lucky that she chose Kalimpong which is a place which just does not react. After all Kalimpong has become something like a long dead, rotting tree stump, where every dog(or bitch) can come and relieve himself or herself and go away contended, without an iota of protest by the tree stump.
You owe us an apology Kiran and it won’t cost you a single penny out of the millions that you have already made at our expense.
GORKHALAND &TELENGANA
State of Confusion


By Sandip C Jain


Whether the dramatic green signal sence by the otherwise honourable Union Minister for Home Affairs Mr.P.Chidarambaran to the people of the Talngana region of Andra Predesh for their demand of demerge, with actually translate into the certain of the treatyNcath state of the Indian Union or whether it will turn out to be gene of the biggest con act pulled out in the Political history of Independent ,still remain a part of the nest Act. Only to will take whether a new state of Telngana will become a reality or whether the midnight of India to the Telegana Rastya Samity was just a play to make its represented K.Chandrashekhara Rao,withdraw his 11 days longer strikes. Teleganas fate appears as lazy and shrouded in mastery as the polices of the control government in matters relating to creation of new states in India.

For the their being of course, all it has managed to do is to set ablaze all there regions of Andra Predesh,Telegana,Rayalaseema and Central Andra Predesh, whch new the Central Governament and the congress party in particular will find extremely different to extinguish to bring this raging infere into control it was only do so at the expense of being scenery escalated itself.
But one thing is for sure the knee-jesk reactions of Central Government in dealing with the latest crises in Telenga has very surly managed to open that panders box which both the central government as well as several state Government hear been trying to keep tightly shunt ever since Independence. Ever since Independence India took shape, demords for separate states home periodically expected across the length & breath of the country. Goorkhaland,Bundelkland,Harit Predesh,Mithalanchal.vidharba,Basol and Bhojpur,kodogut, maru Predesh,Purnmachal ti name a few, have time and again,erupted with demand of a separate state. some of them date book a long long time. Gorkhaland bingone such, tracing its origin back to a petition submitted before the officers of the East India co requesting for “Separation of administration set-ups’ between Bengal and the Darjeeling Hills. History of Independent India has proceed that one born these demands present despite the Central and state government trying them best to quell these legitimate demands, sometimes through entrain means like in the case of DGHC add Boroand Councils but mistily through the shea rmight of the stick .Then agins certain statecerod demands twice those in chattisghar Jarkhand and Uttarhand have been conceded much to the disappointmet and anguish of the other appearts,and also promoting a fresh of life to those demands which are overlooked.
The midnight green signal given by Chirdambaran to TRS for emerge of the Telegana from Andre Predesh has done presently the some, acting like a can of zibeline poured stop a smsnleling log. The demand for Gorkhaland is once again now back on certain stage. While the two demands,Telegana& gorkhaland,might appear on surface to be similar, the fact is that the demand for Telengana was for reemerge from Andra Predesh the demand for Banal .The fact is that Telengana was actually a separate state for were then eight years after India gave Independence before being merged with Andra Predesh in 1955.The history is that immediately after Independence when the various states were created, these was neither a state called Tamil Nadu for a state called Andra Predesh. In 1953 a Telengana Potti Sriramula, supporting the demand by the Telegu speaking people in the state of Madras, for the certain of a suppurate state for themselves meet on a fast on to death. His death separate off sportleous protests all over the state,thenby resulting in the creation of Andra Predesh with none costal district of Madras north of presently Channai and foru distiels of rayalaseema with its caped in kurnoob. This in effect meant at two Telegu speaking State come to be in assistance in India One the nearly created Andra Predesh and send the State of Hydra bad which was perilously under the Nizams perior to Independence. This state of Hydrabad is ronglhly the srea of today Telengana. The first S.R.C (1953) on the fazul Ali commissioner as it was popularly called, arbors recommended that depict the two states shoring the same languages they stonld remain as separate states. But Jawaharlal Nehru unremainful of this recommendation as well as of the passice pretests in the Telengana region, In 1956, rounded the merge of the states of Hyderabad and Andra Predesh , thereby forming present by Andr Predesh.The protest agitation and demand for emerge of Telengana from that very day on 1st Nov 1956 when the stte of present day Andra Predesh was inaugurated. The announcement by Chidambaran was an effect to correct this 53 years old injustice inglucted upon the people of Telegana.
This therefore is fundamental different between the demands rraided in Telegana and the one in the Darjeeling Hills. But there is no damaging the fact that the demand for statehood in the Darjeeling Hills is as legislature and as constitutional as the one in Telengala. Darjeelong Hills was a part of Sikkim and because a portion of banal only by defult after having several matters.Even afterit was attached to the bangle Province during per-Independence days, the Darjeeling Hills were Government bay separate set of rules than those which governmtn the rest of Bangal .So why does Benal always respond with just this patent line “Bongolay Bibhajan hobayna” whenvever confromend with the question of separation of Darjeeling from it?? “kano Habayana??” They don’t have any answered to this. And the Central Government two seems least buttered fueling much resentment amongst the lenders & followers of the Gorkhaland Movement.
Several many rescorchease have made findings that given the size and diversity of India it would only be practiced for India to be divided into another sized stateswhich as experiace has shown are better government and more manageable than larger states. Sikkim .Delhi,Hariyan,Goa and other have proved this aleady.The Indian constititutional too has empoweed the pastime vide its Aside 3(a) to “from a new state by separation of territy from any state or by uniting two or more states or parts of states by writing any territory to a part of any state”.

Why then or what then is it which makes the creation of new states in India such a big and contigous issue?? Actually a weak and insecure central Government appears to the main culptint. And to hide its weakness, all it does it create further confusions with regards to tis politics for gradually statehood. With no clear cut polices or guidance’s sat in place by the central government and arts no transported criteria’s visible, several money as parts are compared to believe that the Central Government only understand the language of violence.

Lets hop the leader of this hitherto family peaceful movement for a separate state for the Darjeeling Hill area too don’t fall into this trap this time around too.
GORKHALAND
OR
SIXTH SCHEDULE

Sandip C. Jain
Almost twenty long years have passed since that fateful day on 22nd August 1988, when Mr. Subhas Ghising signed that tripartite agreement in Kolkata accepting the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC). In the period since then, the general public (would cattle be a better word??) has been witness to the charade of first the creation of the DGHC, then the running of the council as someone’s personal fiefdom and then the condemnation of the Council into the bottom of the nearest litter-bin available around Lal Khoti.
That the formation of the DGHC was a useless piece of legislature not even worth the paper it was signed upon was there to be seen from day one itself but what took Mr. Ghising so long to realize the uselessness of the same will remain the biggest mystery of the last two decades. Voices of protest were heard from the first day itself when the charismatic and popular Chatray Subba revolted against Ghising forming his own Gorkha Liberation Organization. C.K.Pradhan, Tsheten Sherpa, N.T.Moktan, R.P.Waiba, D.K.Pradhan and others from within the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) raised voices of dissent at different times against the DGHC and its functioning but their voices were silenced- some of them permanently. Madan Tamang, R.B.Rai, Dawa Norbula and others from the other side of the political spectrum tried constantly to mobilize the masses against the DGHC and the failed political process in the Hills, but to no avail. What all the politicians failed to do was ultimately done by a singer- Prashant Tamang. The mass frenzy that he managed to evoke became the wave atop which his unofficial campaign manager in chief, Mr. Bimal Gurung, rode to the top of the Hill popularity Charts.
The hitherto seeming invincibility of the GNLF and its supremo suddenly seemed just a myth and today stands shaken to its very roots and to add insult to injury-it has been beaten at its own game- violence, intimidation, bloodshed and brute muscle power being the name of the game. The anti-incumbency factor seems so strong that if this downhill slide in popularity continues for the GNLF- very soon its mention will only be made in the pages of the Political history of Darjeeling. Though, at the moment, to advocate or assume that the GNLF is dead and buried would be a pretty na├»ve assessment of the situation. It definitely still does have support in several pockets and amongst many sections of the society- it definitely is down but very definitely not out. For the better of the future of the Hills, Subhas Ghising’s party has to survive and survive in strength, even if just so that the Bimal Gurung of today does not become the Subhas Ghising of tomorrow- after all Bimal Gurung has graduated from the same school in which Ghising was the Headmaster.
For the moment, the debate rages on- Gorkhaland or Sixth Schedule- whosoever wins is now actually immaterial because Darjeeling and its entire Gorkha population has already lost. The unity, the brotherhood, the camaraderie, solidarity and the cohesiveness that the Gorkha population exhibited during the Prashant episode, now stands in tatters.
One thing is certain, with the division of the Hill population on political lines, the road towards the ultimate goal and aspirations of the Gorkhas- i.e. Gorkhaland- now has more pot-holes than ever before. Those opposing the creation of Gorkhaland, the State and the Central government, now have another stick to beat off our legitimate demand.
And before this column concludes may I take the liberty of asking Mr. Ghising and Mr. Gurung one single question? If yes, then I would love to ask them why Gorkhaland or why Sixth Schedule??? “For the development of the Hill population” will definitely be their answer!! But then isn’t Peace the single most important ingredient for development?? If it really is development they are fighting for then peace should be their mantra. They can do their politics, they have every right to, after all it is their bread and butter, but it would serve the Hills better if the politics they do is indulged in through ideas in the head rather than with khukuris in the hand!!!

GIVE THE DEVIL HIS DUES


Sandip C. Jain
Politics may be a dirty word and we at Himalayan Times have shunned it like plague ever since we came into being. But then there is no denying the fact that Politics in a democracy like ours, is inseparable from society and we in this publication cannot avoid this topic for ever. This piece though not about politics is about a Politician and you guessed it – it’s about Mr. Subhas Gheshing.
Ever since he earned prominence after the Gorkhaland uprising in 1986 he has been in the center stage of Politic on the region and whatever he says or does makes news. He manages to evoke massive response both in the groundlevel as well as in the media- on the ground level his supporters implement all his whims & fancies and in the media - those who oppose him earn headlines.
Mr. Gheshing despite being in my opinion the most recognizable face in the last 150 years of Hill Politics has earned more bad press than any other politician ever in the Hills. The amount of media bashing he gets is just unprecedented. He definitely has managed to earn more bad press than anyone else in the history of hill politics. I don’t ever remember anything goods written about him especially in the English Print media. What I ask here is that, is all the media bashing he gets really justified??? Is he so bad or are his policies so bad that he deserves all the bashing that he gets?? If yes, then how come his word is as good as law and how come he has been sweeping elections after elections for the last 16-17 years?? How come life in the Hills comes to a stand still on one word from him??
My take on this issue is that Gheshing despite his several many short comings is still seen by the masses as someone who can deliver the goods. He is still seen as someone who managed to give the Gorkha community in India a national identity, after all he is the one who brought us the Hill Council and he will probably be the one who will get us the status and benefits of a Tribal Area. The recently concluded Assembly Polls being a testimony of his sway over the masses. He is still seen as someone who has done for the hills more than any other leader ever from the Hills.
While opposing the ruling party and its leaders is part of democracy- I feel appreciating its achievements too is part of a good democracy. While many of Gheshing plans & policies may be faulty and deserves opposition lets at least give the man some amount of credit for his contributions to the Hills.
Events leading to the Anglo-Bhutan War of 1865
Sandip C. Jain
In the middle of the 19th century, peace between the Bhutanese Government and the British rulers of India was punctured several times. The Bhutanese rulers constantly were engaged in aggression on the borders causing in the loss of property and innocent lives.
In 1862, news tricked in that the Bhutanese were making hostile preparations with intent to enter and occupy the Darjeeling region. Crises was averted when troops were dispatched from Dinapore (present day Danapur near Patna) and stationed on the border.
In 1863, in an effort to built better relations with the Bhutanese, the rulers of India sent Sir Ashley Edens to Bhutan with a peace proposal but at the same time he was directed to ask the Bhutanese rulers for return of property previously plundered by them.
The Bhutanese rulers treated the peace proposal with contempt and more importantly, Sir Ashley Edens was treated with gross indignity and humiliated before all. Further Sir Ashley was forced to sign a document by which the British Government was to renounce the Bhutan Duars (Dooars). Sir Ashley could only just manage to slip out of Punakha (Bhutan) under the cover of darkness and return to Darjeeling in April 1866.
After further negotiations failed, the British Government of India decided to take the Bhutan Duars and the forts of Dalingkot, Pasaka and Diwangiri so that further incursions and mischief on the part of Bhutan could be prevented. The small village of Kalimpong fell under the control of the fort of Dalingkot at that time.
In the winter of 1864, the forces of the then Government of India entered Bhutan and routed the Bhutanese forces .The fortresses were occupied with much ease and the entire Duars area was occupied by January 1865.
On 11th November 1865,the treaty exhorted from Sir Ashley Edens was scrapped and the Treaty of Sinchula was executed. Under the treaty of Sinchula, the Bhutan Duars with the passes leading into the Hills were ceded to the British in return for an annual subsidy.
Thus was Kalimpong separated from Bhutan and merged with India. This was the last addition to the District of Darjeeling which thus acquired its present dimensions.
EARLY HISTORY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DARJEELING HIMALAYAN RAILWAYS
By Sandip C. Jain

Ever since Mr. J.W.Grant , Commercial Resident in Malda, set his foot in Darjeeling in the cold February afternoon of 1829, becoming the first European to ever do so in this Land of the Thunderbolts, Darjeeling had always found favors with the ruling Government of the then British Empire. Not only was it lavished with funds for the development and the welfare of the town it was also maintained as a showpiece in an effort to further massage the egos of the east India Co. One out of the many reasons for the largeness thrown towards Darjeeling was that it wanted to project Darjeeling as a model under the colonial rule. Darjeeling and its smaller neighbors like Kurseong and Kalimpong too hence benefited from the generosity of the British Rulers.
The British Government of that day, in an effort to provide a sanctuary for its Officers from the scorching heat of the Indian Plains, steadily promoted and developed the area as a hill station. Gradual progress in the tourism related infrastructure in the area, soon saw it becoming the Queen amongst all the Hill Stations in India.
Like all Queens, Darjeeling too needed a jewel in her crown befitting a Queen; Darjeeling Himalayan Railways was the jewel that was so far lacking in her crown.
The idea for a railway link between Siliguri and Darjeeling was first mooted in the year 1870 by Mr. Franklin Prestage, who was at that time the Sole agent of the Eastern Bengal Railway Co. He proposed to build the rail line along the old Hill Cart Road which was used by the Tonga Service and which was later destroyed due to landslides. He placed a detailed scheme for the laying of this Railway Line in the year 1878 before the then Lt. Governor Sir. Ashley Eden. The Lt. Governor appointed a high power committee to study the proposal who reported the feasibility and advantages of the proposed Railway.
The Committee reported that Rs. 1.5 lakhs were required annually for the upkeep of the existent Hill Cart Road connecting Darjeeling to Siliguri and the building the tramway would help defray this cost. In later years after DHR came into service, this assessment held true and it was found that the Government was indeed saving a lot of money on this front thus lessening the burden on the taxpayers.
In the year 1879, the proposed scheme by Franklin Prestage was accepted and construction work started on a war footing. My March 1880, the line was opened upto Tindharia and by the end of the year upto Kurseong. In July 1881, the train first rolled into Darjeeling town. On the 15th of September 1881, the original name given to the Railway “Darjeeling Steam Tramway Co.” was changed to a more dignified appellation of “The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.” In the same year, M/S Gillanders Aubuthnot & Co. were appointed as the first booking and handling agents of the DHR.
The first engines that were used were ones, which were capable of drawing only a load of 7 tons. It was later upgraded to a more powerful one which could pull a load of 35 tons. The engine first used could pull its carriages at an average speed of 11km per hour while the engine that was later introduced could travel at an average speed of 18 Km per hour. The DHR ran on a 24 inch gauge, each wheel being just 19 .5 inches in diameter.
The fortunes of the DHR increased fast and its fame spread far and wide not just because of the simply breathtaking terrain that it passed through with the mighty Kanchenjunga providing a dramatic backdrop but more so because of the scientific marvel that it still is. The building of the Toy train line upto Darjeeling and then upto Teesta, was an engineering feet unmatched in the Hills, even till date. Initially though, the passenger carriages that were used were real basic nature with small four wheeled trolleys that had canvas coverings. Two wooden benches served as seats. Later years saw them being replaced by standard Railway Carriages measuring 26 feet 6 inches long and modern facilities.
In 1914, the first workshop in the Hills was opened at Tindharia, where all the Rolling stock were built with the exception of the wheels which were imported from a manufacturing unit in Manchester, United Kingdom. The first engine used were the standard of that time with four coupled wheels and weighing 14 tons with cylinders being 11 inches bore and 14 inches trake. A Garnatte, or eight wheeled articulated engine weighing 28 tons were later used. The steel rails were of an exceptionally high quality weighing 41.25 lbs per yard. The popularity of the DHR increased by each passing year and as per figures available for the year ending 31st March 1920, the Railway carried 2,63,083 passengers and 61,704 tons of goods in that particular year.
On the 15th of May 1915, the Teesta Valley Line of the DHR was started with the idea of connecting Sikkim and Kalimpong by Railway to the rest of the country. The line started in Siliguri and ran upto Geilkhola (about 4 km from Teesta) with further plans to take the line upto either Gangtok or some other village near Gangtok.
The old PWD road, which ran along the roaring Teesta River, was used to construct the Rail line. This old road, which had been washed away in various places by the great landslip of 1899, was repaired and the Rail line was laid on it. The Teesta Valley Line was mainly used to transport Wool imported from Tibet and oranges from Sikkim . As per data available, upto 20 tons of oranges were transported from Sikkim during the peak orange growing season.
The Indian Railways formally took over the management of the DHR on 20th October 1948 after Independence. In the land slides that took place in the year 1950, the Rail line was washed away and the cost of repair of the line were deemed too heavy for the newly formed Indian Railway to meet.
Thus was ended the dream of DHR to connect Gangtok and Kalimpong to the rest of the country by Rail liners and this dream was effectively run over for ever.

DRAMA AT
14,500 FEET

Sandip C Jain
What is happening at Nathula in the name of trade is actually a sham but our netas want the same at Jelepla too



Readers who follow my writings probably will straight away skip this article of mine the moment they realize that this piece of writing is once again on the subject of Jelepla. I have written on this topic so many times, here in Himalayan Times, in almost all English newspapers or journals that publish from the North Bengal region as well as in blog sites and web sites, that those of you who keep tract of what I write, will probably say- oh no not once again!! Well, people may get tired reading about it about I feel so strongly about this subject that I will never tire writing about it.

And the subject of this article is that I feel that resumption of trade through the Jelepla Pass via Kalimpong is the worst idea considering the present scenario, rather the opening of Jelepla for the purpose of tourism would be God-sent for this region.
Yes I really feel that Politicians, Writers and leaders of the Chambers Of Commerce who have been advocating the resumption of trade through the Jelepla Pass, either have not made enough research and so are ignorant on the subject or are choosing to ignore the facts for whatever reasons or are just paying lip-service to this demand. Ignorance, probably is the reason why they keep harping on this matter. I for one, feel that resumption of trade through Jelepla via Kalimpong is really a bad idea and in any case under the prevailing circumstances, will never be allowed both by the Indian government and its Chinese counterpart. And considering the big eye-wash that the present Nathula Trade is- who would want another similar farce to unfold just another twenty kilometers away from the drama taking place at Nathula?? Yes ask anyone who knows or go to the Internet and you can see for yourself that the much-hyped trade between India and China at Nathula is nothing but a sham!!!
Since the Pass opened up for trade once again in the year 2006, after many many postponements, the volume of business conducted is probably even lesser than what the Kalimpong Haat Bazzar conducts in a couple of months. The figures speak for themselves- in 2006 only twenty crores worth of business was conducted while in 2007 28 crores worth of trade was transacted. Now consider the above figures and decide for yourself if what is going on at Nathula is really trade or a drama. And would you believe it- Wool, Goat Cashmere, Got Skin, Sheep Skin, Yak tail, Yak hair, are some of the items on the trade list- Is this a joke or what?? In the hope of reviving the long dead HINDI-CHINI BHAI BHAI concept, the two Asian Giants and the two most dynamic economies of the world today are out to make its citizens a fool- and to any extent they have managed in their endeavours when you consider the way our Politicians and others behave over this drama. Despite the drama being enacted, which is there for everyone to see, ill-informed people or people just looking to earn a few frames on the local TV channels or a few lines in the regional papers, seem to be joining the band-wagon demanding trade at Jelepla via Kalimpong. One can excuse the Politicians of the region for demanding trying to beat up this issue taking into consideration their knowledge levels but what of the journalists and the chambers of commerce?? These guys are not supposed to be fools… yet they seem to be behaving like one. Do they not realize and can they not see through the charade that is taking place at Nathula in the name of Indo-China bilateral trade?? My guess is that they cannot, as the various Chambers of Commerce of these days are not run by talented and knowledgeable people but mostly by petty traders wanting to make a name for themselves or trying to gain a little bit of respectability in their respective towns, which they think a position in these association will give them. Of course there are good men with sincere intentions and the requisite knowledge in these trade bodies too but they are badly outnumbered for their voices to be heard. But after almost two years of trade resuming in Nathula, there are now a considerable number of people in the Hills and elsewhere who are convinced that trading at heights of over 14500feet is fraught with loop-holes and till both the governments actually are not serious about their intentions- trading at Nathula or the proposed trade at Jelepla, will remain the eye-wash that it is at the moment.
Ok lets for a moment assume that both New Delhi and Beijing suddenly forget all other aspects of their relations and concentrate only on trade and then actually start trading in Jelepla in the true sense of the word and not the type of stage show being performed at Nathula. Lots of businessmen will definitely stand to gain but my question is- who will these businessmen be??? Will they be businessmen from the Hills??? Will the existing business houses in Kalimpong and around actually stand to gain anything?? I am sorry to say but my assumption is that traders in the Darjeeling Hills will be mere spectators to the convoys of trucks plying between Siliguri & Jelepla. If the resumption of trade through Jelepla via Kalimpong is done in the proper manner then all the orders will probably routed through the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi or the Chinese Trade agents in Kolkata. The big time business houses in Kolkata and Delhi having contacts in the diplomatic circles will rake in all the big and lucrative business proposals and orders while all those who are presently crying themselves hoarse demanding the resumption of trade through Jelepla, will be left dwindling their thumbs. Probably the only thing we will be getting in return will be all the filth, smoke, grease and smog that these trucks will leave behind, not to talk of the sound pollution and the traffic chaos. And talking of traffic, may I ask the advocates of trade through Jelepla, which road will all these truck use while plying between Siliguri and Jelepla?? National Highway No. 31A, the PWD maintained State Highway from Chitray to
Darjeeling Early Political History
Sandip C Jain
The District was part of the dominions of the Raja of Sikkim. In 1706 what is now the Kalimpong subdivision of the District was taken from the Raja of Sikkim by the Bhutanese. The Rajas later became engaged in unsuccessful struggles with the Gurkhas who had sized power in Nepal and invaded Sikkim in 1780. During the next 30 years they overran Sikkim as far east as the Tista and conquered and annexed the Tarai. In the meantime war broke out between the East India Company and the Nepalese at the end of which in 1817 by the treaty of Titaliya the tract which the Nepalese had wrested from the Raja of Sikkim was ceded to the Company. The Company restored the whole of the country between the Mechi and the Tista to the Raja and guaranteed his sovereignty. Sikkim was thus maintained as a buffer State between Nepal and Bhutan.
The District was included in the Rajshahi Division until October 1905 when, as a result of the Partition of Bengal, it was transferred to the Bhagalpur Division. With the re-arrangement of the provinces it was retransferred to the Rajshahi Division in March 1912.
The District was formerly a non-regulation District, that is to say, Acts and Regulations did not come into force unless they were specially extended to the District. Darjeeling had no representative in the Legislative Council constituted under the Government if India Act 1919. It was excluded and declared a backward tract. The Administration of the District was not subject to vote of the Legislature. The effect of exclusion was that any Act passed by the Legislature which extended to the whole of Bengal automatically applied to the Darjeeling District, unless the Government in Council directed that the Act in question should not apply or that it should apply subject to such notifications as the Governor thought proper.
DABBAWALAS OF KALIMPONG
Sandip C. Jain
They may not have been invited to the royal wedding in London nor is their work treated as a case study like that of the now world famous Dabbawalas of Mumbai but one thing is certain – the anticipation and excitement with which school kids in Kalimpong these days await lunch served by our local dabbawalas, is probably fit for another case study. Midday meals in school are fun again with school children now getting a variety of food all though the week courtesy“the dabbawalas of Kalimpong “. Actually they are not exactly like the dabbawalas of Mumbai but rather caterers who cook and serve mid day meals to school students in the various schools of Kalimpong.
Two such caterers are “Aahar” and “Tiffin King”, both of which provide lunch service to school children of Kalimpong. Aahar was started in 2004 and Tiffin King started service this year.
The school students are treated each day to a variety of delicious like Veg & Non Veg Biryanies, Pizzas, Hamburgers, Chicken & Veg Rolls, Stuffed Parathas, Noodles, Fruits and Juice. Both Tiffin King and Aahar provide service in almost all school of Kalimpong on a monthly payment basis. Says Dhendup Bhutia a partner in “Tiffin King”, “We started off with seven students carrying the food in a motor bike. Now we have more than 300 member students and we ferry the food in several cars each going to a different school.”
“The best part is that both Aahar & Tiffin King offer their service at a very nominal rate”, says a school teacher who avails of the service provided by Aahar. Both the caterers change about Rs.300/- to Rs.350/- which means just about Rs.15/- to Rs.17/- per day, which for a full meal is nominal by any standards. Says Mrs. Meera Rai, the mother of a student availing this service, “I am a teacher myself and have to leave home at almost the same time as my two school going children. I had to previously really hurry early in the mornings, getting my children ready, cleaning up the house, getting ready myself and then cooking lunch for all of us. Now my schedule in the morning is much more relaxed than previously as lunch now is taken care of by Aahar.”
“Every my children are happy and no longer crib about lunch” she adds.
COMMUNIST LEADERS IN KALIMPONG
SANDIP C. JAIN
In 1949, the Communist party was banned by the Central government and hence, as a result all leaders of the party were arrested. However, some of the eminent leaders of the party were able to run away from Calcutta and hide in Darjeeling in order to escape persecution. Among these leaders were Jyoti Basu, Sushil Chaterjee and Satyen Majumdar who stayed incognito at Singamari. Leaders like Nripen Chakravorthy who later became the Chief Minister of Tripura lived as a tourist at the Munda Khoti locality in Sonada. Almost thirteen years later, during the Indo-Sino War, the Communist Party once again came under the heavy hand of the central Government, as leaders and party workers were being arrested en-masse under ‘Indian Security Act’. Leaders like Ratanlal Brahmain, Anand Pathak, S. P. Lepcha, Bhadrabahadur Hamal, R. B. Khatiwada, Krishnabhakta Paudyal. Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, Soren Bose, Biren Bose, B. B. Lama, Satyen Majumdar and Rajen Sinha were all arrested from Darjeeling. One eminent leader, H. B. Rai had gone underground for 3 months; however when he came out to take a walk at Chowrasta thinking that things had setted down, he was immediately arrested. All these leaders were kept at Alipore, Presidency and Berhampore Central Jail. A total of 95 leaders from Darjeeling alone had been arrested.
“CHANGE WE NEED”......

Sandip C Jain

Barack Obama’s victory in the just concluded American election was a spectualar one, to say the least. The election itself was a unique one with, first a women being pitted against a black man and then the black man against a maverick. That, now for the first time, a Black man will occupy the White House, in what is the oldest democracy in the world, is in itself an irony. More than Obama, the man himself, my opinion is that his election campaign was more responsible for the stunning defeat that he handed McCain and Republicans. Media and Political analysts speak of this American Election more as a defeat for President Bush and his policies rather than an endorsement of Obama and his Policies. “CHANGE WE NEED” was the main campaign slogan that the spin-doctors of “Team Obama” conjured up and it worked wonders – it more than just said that the Americans were fed up with President Bush and his half baked ideas and ill conceived policies – it also said that in an democracy, the common man was the actual king – it is the “aam janta” which decides who it wants as its leader. The American elections this year once again reaffirmed the fact that however powerful, strong, charismatic or smart any political leader may be, he will have his nose rubbed violently against the ground, if he rubbes the “aam janta” the wrong way.
This is precisely what happened here in the Darjeeling Hill too – the people after being rubbed the wrong way for twenty -one long years finally realized that they needed a change – the “Change we Need” swept in the new political outfit, GJMM, and in the process the once all powerful GNLF, which dominated every aspect of our lives, from Politics to Religion to Football to Culture to Business, faded into obscurity. With the GNLF in its heydays, the common man in the Hills perpetually had a feeling of being watched over – a feeling of suffocation and a certain amount of fear seemed omnipresent – A change was needed and the public wanted to break free and so when the GJMM come along promising change- everybody in the Hills jumped in to support the newly formed party.

A year and two months have passed since that day when the all green flag of the GNLF was so decisively uprooted from the Hills to be replaced by the Yellow, Green & White flag of the GJMM. But the time has now come to contemplate whether or not the “change” that was promised has actually materialized or whether in the name of change only the colours of the flag has changed. The change that one had asked for was better governance, better infrastructures, freedom from fear, solutions to our water & traffic problems, better opportunities for our youths, a corruption less society, no GT in the name of Party Funds – The ending of another calendar year forces us to ponder if the change we asked for has really come. It may be too early to make an assessment of the full facts – After all the new party has only been in the helm of affairs for a little more than just a year and probably still to come to terms with the sudden taste of power, but then the thinking process must start now and a very rough trail balance has to be made now to assess if we are in the right direction. Of course, one area where Mr. Bimal Gurung and the GJMM has been very successful and has passed with cent percent marks is that they have managed to keep the agitation for a separate state a non-violent and a very peaceful one. Every single person living in the Darjeeling Hills wants a separate state – by whatever name it may be – several generations in the Hills have dreamt of it – but definitely our dream should not be at the cost of even a single human life. The GJMM has to be credited for keeping at bay, those violent instincts, that any agitation, any where in the world, has somewhere within itself.
Coming back to the American elections, one has to really appreciate how civil the Yankees behaved after the election results were declared. Obama was extremely quite in thanking McCain and his team –McCain on his part was so gracious in defeat. There was no torching of houses, smashing of vehicles or banishments.

We may be the largest democracy in the world but seems it will take us many many ages before we catch up with the oldest democracy in the world.

This is the “Change we actually Need” -

Speaking of having a fractured Political class where Political rivalry is taken so literally that it inevitably ends up becoming a personal rivalry, one very absurd and shocking incident come to my mind instantly- R. Moktan, the highly informed author of “ Darjeeling-Sikkim Compendium of Documents” and the President of the Sikkim National Front, during the course of a TV interview, which incidentally I was conducting, said before a stunned audience that during the early 1970’s, a son in Darjeeling did not attend his fathers funeral just for the simple fact that they belonged to different Political parties. On the other hand, when Bikash Ghose, the late Mayor of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation expired a few weeks back, political leaders from across the political spectrum paid homage to the departed soul.
While on the subject of Bikash Ghose, let me just point out one small fact- The late Mayor was a Bangladeshi by birth. He spent his initial years in Bangladesh and only in 1952 did he and his family cross over to India. Later in life he rose fast in the party hierarchy to become Siliguri’s “ First Person”. So is it not so hypocritical of them to call us “outsiders” despite we being in this part of the world since several generations??? The “Reds” sure need some lessons on history….
This is the “Change they actually Need”…..
THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE OF DARJEELING
Sandip C. Jain

Remember the Bermuda Triangular… that infamous expanse of the deep seas off the coast of the Caribbean where ships, all thousands of tons of them, just disappeared into thin air while voyaging through it???
Has Darjeeling too become a miniature version of the Bermuda Triangular? The only difference being that here people seem to vanish into thin air rather than ships. It sure seems to have become one- how else could one explain someone just disappearing like as though it’s a magic trick, that too all of a sudden and that too someone who had been the center of attraction for the entire media, the entire political fraternity as well as the law enforcers??? Yes I am talking of the mysterious disappearance of Lakpa Rynden who just managed to evaporate off the face of this earth.
The prime accused in the over 5 crore Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scam, Rynden, ideally should have and I am sure was a watched man. By watched I mean our guys in the Intelligence Bureau must have been definitely keeping their radars tuned towards Rynden after the scam surfaced into the public eye. Ideally, being people who are paid their salaries just to keep their eyes and ears open our very own Sherlock Homes should have been following every single footstep Rynden took and every singly word that he uttered- so what happened to these guys while Rynden was packing his bags and stashing his ill gotten fortune before making a clean get away???
If my knowledge of the English language is even fair enough, which I hope it is being the editor of an English newsmagazine, I think this entire disappearance affair is what they call in the English language as an “Intelligence failure “.
What is even more shocking is that no one seems concerned enough to ask why or how Rynden was allowed such a clean get away. It’s a shame that someone with as noted a face and someone as high ranking a bureaucrat as Lakpa Rynden is allowed to vanish without a trace that too when we have people who are paid just so that crooks like these do not get away so easily.
The Intelligence guys still have a chance to redeem their image and they can do so by finding out where the scamster is before he has the opportunity to fully swallow up the money, which was actually meant for our children.