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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Delhi looks at two-year hill window...Back on warpath if talks fail: Morcha...Gurung the designer...

ARCHIS MOHAN, TT, New Delhi, March 17: The Centre will try to float afresh an autonomy formula at the talks with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Delhi tomorrow but it is also keeping its options open on a two-year time frame because of unpublicised reservations expressed by the Trinamul Congress.
At the tripartite talks involving the Centre, the Morcha and the Bengal government, a draft formula that almost achieved a breakthrough but got derailed because of the Telangana announcement is expected to be taken up again.
The Morcha had refused to allow the proposal to be tabled in December in Darjeeling.
The Centre is keen to float the proposal, based on the Delhi Administration Act, 1966, that offers greater autonomy and facilitates a virtual Union territory, again and try for a consensus.
But sources said Trinamul, which like other mainstream parties in Bengal has vehemently opposed the division of the state, wanted “a permanent solution” to fall into place only in mid-2011 when Assembly polls would be held.
The sources said the party had relayed as much to the home ministry. If Trinamul does exert more pressure, the Centre may tread with caution but it will not kow-tow completely to the ally, the sources added.
Keeping such uncertainties in mind, the Centre feels a two-year window will be a realistic time frame to wrap up modalities if a solution is found. “It (the two-year window) is something that even the Morcha is looking at…. particularly when it knows that there is little hope of getting a state of Gorkhaland,” a source said.
A Trinamul leader today denied that there was any pressure from the party to delay a settlement. “It is the common man who has suffered. We want a solution as soon as possible. We are going into the talks with a positive mind. Hopefully, we will work out something,” the Trinamul leader said.
The Centre’s draft formula borrows heavily from the 1966 Delhi act, effectively a compromise formula that governed the capital till it was granted partial statehood in 1991.
The act instituted a representative Delhi Metropolitan Council headed by a chairperson. The council reported to the Delhi Administration, which was headed by the lieutenant governor. Unlike governors, lieutenant governors enjoy substantial administrative powers.
In the Centre’s proposal, an elected representative body will report directly to the Bengal governor, virtually creating a Union territory within a state.
Home ministry officials conceded that the Telangana announcement was a huge setback to efforts to resolve the Gorkhaland issue. “Their hopes were suddenly revived because of that announcement,” said an official. The official hoped that the Morcha would be more amenable to the Centre’s proposal this time.
The eight-member Morcha delegation will have talks with minister of state for home Ajay Maken, Trinamul minister Dinesh Trivedi and Bengal government’s representatives, ministers Asok Bhattacharya and Surjya Kanta Mishra, tomorrow at North Block.
Eight-member hill team leaves for Delhi
TT, Bagdogra, March 17: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it would be back on the agitation path if there was no “positive” outcome at the tripartite talks in Delhi tomorrow even as an eight-member delegation left for the meeting in the afternoon.

“In case we find that our demands are not being met, we will start our movement across the hills,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha, at Bagdogra airport.

He said an alternative administrative set-up was essential to repeal the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act. The central government had worked out a proposal “but we did not allow the Union home secretary to table it during the fourth round of tripartite talks held in Darjeeling on December 21”.
“However, later, the proposal reached us through the interlocutor based upon which our president drafted a new proposal with changes and additions. It had been sent to the Centre but we feel the Union government has already made up its mind.”

Chhetri, however, said it was, too, early to speak on the future course of action. He said since party president Bimal Gurung was not part of the delegation, some more discussions would have to be held before any agreement was arrived at. “But if the situation demands, we can obviously talk to him (Gurung) over the phone tomorrow.”

The Morcha leaders at Bagdogra airport on Wednesday before leaving for Delhi. (Kundan Yolmo)
The Morcha threat to renew its agitation comes at a time its rivals in the hills — like the GNLF, ABGL and the CPRM— have been accusing Gurung of allegedly “duping people, playing with their sentiments and presenting a photocopy of the Sixth Schedule after three years of movement”.
Reacting to the charges, Chhetri said: “The set-up we have proposed is temporary as Gorkhaland continues to be our ultimate goal. We are not bothered about parties whose leaders have been rejected by common people and are living outside the hills.”
“We feel these people have either not read our proposal or have not understood it, which is why they are trying to malign us by levelling baseless charges,” he added.
About the presence of state urban development minister and Siliguri MLA Asok Bhattacharya in tomorrow’s meeting, Chhetri said: “He (Asok) was of the impression that we lack intellect and had used several derogatory adjectives against us. We will prove our mettle at the meeting in front of him.”
The Morcha delegation will be led by party general secretary Roshan Giri.
In Delhi, about 2,000 supporters of the Gorkhaland cause held a rally at Jantar Mantar today. BJP Rajya Sabha member Rajiv Pratap Rudy was among the speakers there today.
Crack in Adivasi unity armour
TT, Alipurduar, March 17: Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad in the Dooars today held a rally to slam the state president’s comments against some of their leaders who supported the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s proposal for an interim arrangement and dared him to visit north Bengal without tendering an apology.

Yesterday, Parishad president Birsa Tirkey had criticised Kiran Kalindi, the adviser to the Terai-Dooars committee, and other leaders for welcoming the Morcha plan and said he would seek an explanation from them at a state committee meeting in Calcutta on March 20.

Parishad members took out a rally at Satali, 38km from here, this afternoon and held a public meeting against Tirkey’s comments. “If Tirkey does not apologise to Kalindi, we will not allow him to enter the Terai and the Dooars,” said Raju Bara, the president of the Jaigaon-Hasimara committee.
“Birsa Tirkey might be our president but he has no idea about how we live in the Terai and the Dooars and the hardship and exploitation we face. We held the rally to send a strong message to him. If he does not apologise, we will launch a movement to remove him,” the president of the regional committee, John Barla said.
When contacted in Calcutta, Tirkey disowned the Jaigaon-Hasimara committee and said it did not exist as far as the Parishad was concerned. “Let them do whatever they want to, I have heard that some people used our banner at the rally,” Tirkey said.
Recognition for union
The labour wing of the Parishad, the Progressive Tea Workers’ Association, was on Wednesday recognised as a trade union, labour department sources said in Siliguri.
Ploy to split Charge

TT, Siliguri, March 17: The Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee today said the proposals put forward by the Centre and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for an interim regional authority were a ploy to partition Bengal once again.

The outfit said it would go ahead with its 24-hour statewide strike tomorrow to protest the conspiracy. Although no Higher Secondary tests are scheduled for tomorrow, exams and essential services have been kept outside the ambit of the bandh, which the outfit believes, will be spontaneous.
“After going through the proposals of the Morcha and the central government, we feel they are a conspiracy to divide the state, in a different manner (than what statehood would have done). We have been opposing the demand for separate statehood and will fight tooth and nail any attempt to form special bodies for the hills,” said Bhasha Committee president Mukunda Majumdar.

He criticised the central and state governments for encouraging the Morcha by inviting its leaders to the talks in Delhi tomorrow.

“We are surprised to see that both the governments, instead of taking action against the Morcha leaders and their supporters who have violated the law, are encouraging them by holding talks,” he said.
Listing the Morcha wrong-doings, Majumdar said: “They are guilty of raising the Gorkhaland Personnel like almost a parallel police force in the hills, changing the number plates of vehicles and resorting to arson, loot, assault and violence and attacking the house of an MLA and a police outpost.”
“Keeping these in mind, we are determined to make tomorrow’s strike a success. We will not force anyone as we know people will support us spontaneously for the cause,” Majumdar added.
Five members of the Rashtriya Shiv Sena that is against Gorkhaland have launched an indefinite hunger strike at Bidhan Market here this morning to protest the talks in Delhi.
“We will continue with our fast to protest the tripartite meeting and also condemn the anti-national activities of the Morcha,” said Dasarath Karmakar, the Darjeeling district president of the party.
TT:The success of a new deal for Darjeeling can show if politics is really the art of the possible. True, the Centre’s and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s plans for a settlement of the long-standing issue of the status of the hills differ on many counts. It is easy to assume that the West Bengal government too will differ on several points in both the plans. But reducing the areas of disagreement and finding common ground is precisely the challenge for the negotiators. What ultimately matters is the political will to not let the problems derail the search for solutions. The most encouraging signal from the two plans is that the GJM seems to have relented on its demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. Bimal Gurung, the GJM leader, knows that a division of West Bengal would be unacceptable to not only the government and most political parties in the state but also to the Centre, which faces such demands in Telangana and elsewhere in the country. New Delhi has to tread cautiously even on issues such as granting legislative, judicial and law-enforcing powers to the proposed body in Darjeeling. The negotiators have to strike a balance between fulfilling the political aspirations of the people of Darjeeling and the anti-partition sentiments of those in the rest of West Bengal. It is not an easy task but statehood stirs tough challenges for all negotiators.
For the long-suffering people of Darjeeling though, the fine print about the territorial jurisdiction or the powers of the proposed administrative body may be rather irrelevant. Whether the body exercises power over 54 subjects or is under the direct control of the state governor may have nothing to do with the common people’s concerns. The Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council that was born of the tripartite agreement among the Centre, the West Bengal government and Subash Ghisingh of the Gorkha National Liberation Front in 1988 had enough powers to make a difference to the lives of the people. If it failed to do so, it was primarily because of Mr Ghisingh’s autocratic ways and the state government’s abject surrender to him. The people of Darjeeling have suffered long spells of violence and political instability during the last two decades. It is time their own leaders and the governments in New Delhi and Calcutta gave them an honourable deal. Realism, not rhetoric, is the need of the hour.
Gurung and his gang of girls
Priyanka Roy, TT: “Wonderful young designer to look out for... Prabal Gurung.” That was the tweet from Hollywood diva Demi Moore last June about the New York-based designer of Nepalese origin who studied fashion in New Delhi. The 34-year-old is the current toast of the US fashion scene, his ‘it’ moment coming last week when First Lady Michelle Obama wore one of his creations — a black-and-white, knee-length sleeveless dress with brush-painted roses — to the Smithsonian Museum for the induction of her Jason Wu-designed inaugural gown into the collection.That is just the icing on the success cake for Gurung, whose designs have been selling alongside those of Oscar de la Renta, Chanel and Valentino. From Oprah Winfrey to Rachel Weisz, Avatar star Zoe Saldana to Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan and, of course, Moore who claims to be his “No.1 fan”, they all are wearing Prabal Gurung. t2 had an email chat with Gurung about Moore, Michelle and more...
Designer Prabal Gurung
What got you interested in fashion design?

My mother had a clothing boutique when I was young but as far as design is concerned, I am the first in my family to make a career of it. Ever since I can remember, I found such a thrill in sketching and creating different silhouettes and shapes on page after page of my sketchbook.

Why did you decide to study fashion at National Institute of Fashion Technology Delhi?
NIFT is a renowned institution, offering a wide range of fashion programmes and experiences. Being in India at that time of course swayed my decision as well. I was always impressed with the design presence in India and saw potential there.
What were your student days at NIFT Delhi like?
The great thing about Delhi is that every day is different, and so I was constantly soaking in everything around me as well as all of the information I was learning from NIFT. It was long, gruelling hours but all well worth it. It was probably the first place where I discovered my own self as a designer.
After NIFT, you trained with designer Manish Arora. How would you describe that experience?
Manish is such an incredible designer and to have been able to watch him at work was not only inspirational, it helped form my design process. He is an experimental designer who is not afraid to take risks, which is admirable in a world where designers often opt to take the safe road. In my opinion, he is one of the best that India has produced.
Who are your idols from the fashion world?
Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel, Azzedine Alaia.
What made you relocate to New York?
New York projects such remarkable energy and I knew that some day I would be a part of it in one way or another. It serves as an epicentre for the fashion world and continues to inspire me on a daily basis.
You interned with Donna Karan during your early days in New York…
I learned a great deal about American sportswear at Donna Karan. Under Donna’s direction, the design team turns out such well-made garments, perfect for dressing the sophisticated, everyday woman.
How would you describe both the design and the business end of New York’s highly competitive fashion scene?
New York is one of the fastest-paced cities in the world, but the speed and competitive lifestyle are motivators. You have to stay ahead of the curve in both design and business or you fall behind.
How would you describe the woman who wears Prabal Gurung?
I do not design for a particular socio-economic class, age or culture but rather women internationally who know and respect quality and craft and wear clothing well. An international woman who has respect for the past, zeal and excitement for the future and yet lives for the moment. She is an intelligent, sensuous and compassionate woman.
Last week, Michelle Obama wore an outfit designed by you. How did that come about?
Seeing the image of Michelle Obama wearing a dress from one of my collections was one of the most exhilarating moments to date. I was in Paris and I had no idea she would be wearing the dress on that particular day. I was speechless, honoured, thrilled and almost in disbelief. Her style is focussed with such precision, yet she is able to have fun with it. She celebrates femininity and the power of being a woman with her choices in fashion. She is strong, modern and relevant.
A lot of Hollywood’s power women — led by Demi Moore — are now wearing Prabal Gurung. How does that feel?
Top: Thandie Newton;
Bottom: Oprah Winfrey
Below:Rachel Weisz
I am always speechless. It is such a huge honour to have beautiful and talented actresses wearing my designs. They have all worn each piece with grace and elegance and I could not ask for anything more. Demi Moore is classically beautiful inside and out while Oprah Winfrey is inspirational and riveting and my hero.
What is your message for upcoming designers of the Indian subcontinent who aspire to be where you are?
I suggest to all young talent to go with their gut and take a chance. Without risk, reward does not come around too often.
Any plans of promoting the cause of upcoming designers in Nepal?
My hope is that upcoming designers in Nepal will feel more comfortable breaking into the design world knowing that I have done so. It is not a very common career choice for the Nepalese, so any way I can bring awareness to the endless possibilities in the design world, I will.
Who are the Indian designers you admire?
I love Shahab Durazi, Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal, Suneet Verma and Tarun Tahiliani for their beautiful and traditional Indian designs and workmanship. Rajesh Pratap Singh, Namrata Joshipura and Sabyasachi Mukherjee for their discipline and for being the contemporary voice of Indian fashion. My all-time favourite designer from India is Manish Arora because there is no one from there who is as fearless and gutsy with a singular point of view like Manish. India is very lucky to have him.
What next for Prabal Gurung?
I am exploring ways to grow the business internationally and ideally branch out into different markets and new product categories. Having just returned from Paris with my latest collection I am now diverting my energy to next season’s line. I am always looking for ways to push myself as a designer, whether it’s experimenting with new fabrics or spending hours coming up with just the right embroidery or drape.
For More inputs about Prabal Gurung surf at New Yok Fashion Mag: 
Gurung is a Singapore born Nepalese citizen trained in India and is in New York since 1999, has received many awards in fashion designing in the states, after working as a Design Director at Bill Blass has launched his own collection PRABAL GURUNG.for more ...log on to 

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