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Friday, March 19, 2010

Morcha blames State

Cash & time prod to Morcha
Archis Mohan, TT, New Delhi, March 18: The Centre adopted a carrot-and-stick policy in an attempt to push through an interim solution to the Gorkha issue at today’s tripartite talks in the capital.
It offered the carrot of unlimited development funds for the new interim autonomous authority it has proposed for the Darjeeling hills — an attractive prospect for an out of power Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
The Centre’s stick came in the shape of a veiled warning to the Morcha — reach an agreement on the interim autonomous authority by the next two tripartite meetings, else wait for Bengal Assembly elections to be over.
The Union home ministry — which perceives itself to be a “referee” between the Morcha and Bengal government — felt that by the end of the first round of tripartite talks at the political level, the Morcha leaders seemed much more amenable towards inking an agreement on the powers and structure of a new interim autonomous authority for the Darjeeling hills by mid-May, or at worst, at the meeting after that. The proposed interim authority will remain in place till December 31, 2011.
In Darjeeling, Morcha president Bimal Gurung sounded hopeful of reaching an agreement soon. He said: “A few rounds of discussions would be needed to settle the issue of interim arrangement.”
“The Centre is willing to allocate sufficient money for the development of the area. We promise to give money to any interim set-up established in a mutually agreeable manner between the state government and the GJM (Morcha). We believe development should not be hampered because of political uncertainty,” said Union minister of state for home Ajay Maken after the talks.
The Centre also wanted the Morcha to abjure violence, including blockading highways, till the talks were on. However, the Morcha did not offer any assurances on that count.
The three stakeholders at the meeting — the Centre represented by Maken and Trinamul Congress minister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi; the Gorkhas represented by an eight-member delegation led by party general secretary Roshan Giri; and Bengal government’s representatives, ministers Asok Bhattacharya and Surjya Kanta Mishra — decided to meet again in mid-May in New Delhi after the current Parliament session is over on May 7.
All three sides described the two-hour talks as cordial. They also agreed that a permanent solution in this time of political uncertainty in Bengal was not possible, and an interim authority should be established at the earliest to lessen the sufferings of the people.
Two sets of draft proposals on the shape of the interim autonomous authority were discussed. For the first time, the Morcha handed over its draft proposal for the interim authority to the Bengal government. It had sent the draft to the Centre earlier. “We will give our opinion after studying the Morcha proposal,” said minister Bhattacharya.
On its part, the Centre has already handed over its draft proposal to the Morcha and the Bengal government. Home ministry sources claimed that the draft had the state government’s backing. The Centre’s formula provides for an autonomous interim set-up with lesser powers than what the Morcha has demanded in its draft.
Both the Centre and the state are unwilling to accept the Morcha proposal. “They have asked for the moon. It is impossible to accede to all their demands. We hope the Morcha and us will soon agree on commonalties,” said a senior official.
The home ministry feels that it will be in the Morcha’s interest to agree on the contours of the interim set-up at the earliest. “Setting up the new authority will take time. Local body elections will take time. We will not be able to allocate funds once the model code of conduct kicks in before the Bengal elections in mid-2011. It will be in the Morcha’s interest to agree to a draft proposal at the earliest,” said an official. The official said the composition of the interim set-up, for example the number of elected representatives, was negotiable. “We are willing to increase the number of elected representatives,” he said. (Inputs from Vivek Chhetri)

GJMM buys two months’ time to settle Hill’s demand

SNS, SILIGURI, 18 MARCH: The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) and the government of West Bengal have bought two months’ time from the tripartite talks held in New Delhi today, for settling the Gorkhaland statehood demand emanating out of Darjeeling. 
The first ever political-level talks on the Gorkha statehood issue, involving the GJMM, the West Bengal government and the Centre, was held at the North Block office of the Union home ministry in New Delhi this afternoon. The parleys began at 3 p.m. and ended at around 5 in the afternoon.
The Union minister of state for health and family welfare Mr Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamul Congress from West Bengal and the Union minister of state for home affairs Mr Ajay Maken of the Congress from New Delhi represented the Centre in the meeting. Also, was present the Union home secretary Mr GK Pillai. 
“The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. During the meeting we served a draft of the proposed interim setup (for Darjeeling) to the WB government representatives and they sought time for studying the same. Following this, it was unanimously agreed upon to hold another round of political level talks by 14 May and by then WB would be ready with its response to our proposal. The venue of the next meeting has not been decided,” GJMM general secretary and the head of the party's eight-member delegation in the meeting Mr Roshan Giri told over phone from Delhi, minutes after coming out of the dialogue table.
Team Asok asks for time, says outfit yet to send papers
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, March 18: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today accused the state government of setting up “bureaucratic obstacles” at the political-level discussions today and “delaying” the process of taking forward the talks on Gorkhaland.
The state government had said at today’s meeting that it would not be able to discuss the Morcha’s “secret proposal” since the documents had only been sent to the Centre.
“The Morcha’s proposal had been circulated through the media and every party concerned should have been aware of its contents,” a Morcha leader said. “This is just creating bureaucratic hurdles and delaying the conclusion of the talks process.”
Amar Rai, the spokesperson for the eight-member Morcha delegation, told The Telegraph over the phone from New Delhi, that they were surprised at the state government’s lack of preparedness.
“The state was totally unprepared, at least they pretended to be so, maintaining that they were unaware of the proposal,” said Rai.
It is learnt that ministers Asok Bhattacharya and Surjya Kanta Mishra, two state government representatives, had nothing much to say when the Morcha wanted its proposal discussed.
“They simply maintained that they could not take a stand without knowing the details of the document and without consulting their government,” said Rai.
Defending the state government stand, Bhattacharya said: “We received the proposal of the Morcha for the first time and thus mentioned that the state government needs more time to discuss and decide on it. We were not in a position to comment on the proposal as we have not gone through it.”
Ajay Maken, the Union minister of state for home and the Centre’s political representative, backed the state government.
“Maken said his office had received the document only three days back and asked us to understand the predicament of the state government given that they were not in the know of the document’s details,” said Rai.
The Morcha had officially sent the proposal only to Union home minister P. Chidambaram. The party has virtually demanded a state within a state in its proposal.
It is not that the Morcha had expected something concrete to come up during the meeting even if the state had agreed to discuss the proposal.
Party president Bimal Gurung, during an informal interaction in Darjeeling today, said “a few rounds of discussions would be needed to settle the issue of interim arrangement”.
“There will definitely be a few rounds of talks but we will not compromise on the territory we have proposed,” said Gurung.
The Morcha has demanded that areas north of NH31 in the Dooars and which have a large settlement of Nepali speaking community be included in the interim arrangement along with the Darjeeling district. With the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad also warming up to the Morcha’s proposal, the hill party is confident that it would have little problem in including the Dooars area in the new set-up.
“The only area that is likely to be discussed at length is the Morcha’s proposal to include the Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district,” said a Morcha leader.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha who headed the hill delegation, said over the phone from Delhi: “It is true that the state government had not been given the document officially. But we explained to them the finer points of our proposal at the meeting today. We will not compromise on the territory that we want included in Gorkhaland.”
The next round of political- level talks is scheduled to take place in mid-May. “The next round of meeting should take place before May 14. The government has talked about mid-May, soon after the Parliament session is over,” said Giri.
3 killed on way to rally
Three persons were killed and seven others injured when the SUV they were travelling in skidded on the Lopchu-Pesoke road and rolled down the hillside at Sixth Mile, 14km from Darjeeling, this evening.
There were 17 passengers, including the driver, in the vehicle and all of them had come to Darjeeling to attend a Morcha rally.
Two of the seven injured have been admitted to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. The rest are being treated in Darjeeling.
Kalimnews adds:Dipankar Gurung, Bishnu Pradhan, and Sudip Subba of Jinglam died on the spot while two are seriously injured when their Savari rolled down the hill at 6th mile. 
In another incident 2 houses of M Bomjan and C K Bomjan was ransacked in Sangma of Raniban and a building of Nepali singer Binod Syangden in Magarjung was completed gutted in fire allegedly by supporters of youth group of GJM. It is alleged that GJYM supporters attacked Syangden's house and nothing could be saved including his audio library both near Pokhriabong. It is reported that there was a feud regarding a tender of PMGSRY in the area.
Adivasi tea union joins poll fray
aigaon/Siliguri, March 18: The recognition of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad’s trade union has left political parties wondering about its impact on the Dooars and the Terai tea belts during elections.
The RSP MP from Alipurduar and the general secretary of the Utuc-affiliated Dooars Cha Bagan Workers’ Union, Monohar Tirkey, said some workers might switch loyalty and join the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union. “There can be division of votes in the election as tribals form a substantial portion of the vote bank in the Assembly constituencies in the region.”
The Dooars and the Terai have 230 gardens with a workforce of 2.5 lakh. Of them, 60 per cent are tribals. With the setting up of the PTWU, the tribal workers, who are now either with the Citu, Intuc or the Utuc, may shift their allegiance.
The brew belt comprises eight Assembly constituencies. About 70 per cent of the 230 estates are run either by the Citu or by the Intuc. Political observers feel that the recognition to the PTWU will definitely affect the Assembly polls results as majority of the tribals is with the Parishad.
The Congress leadership in Jalpaiguri is, however, of the view that election results have nothing to do with the strength of a trade union. “Initially, some workers may get enrolled with the Parishad union as its leaders have assured them that they will solve all problems at one go,” said Biswaranjan Sarkar, the party’s district president. “However, it is unlikely that people will vote for a candidate who speaks for a particular community and not for political parties.”
Manik Sanyal, the Jalpaiguri district CPM secretary, apprehended violence in gardens following the recognition. “Considering the Parishad’s work only for their own community, we fear violence,” he said.
The general secretary of the Intuc-affiliated National Union of Plantation Workers, Prabhat Mukherjee, said the pressure was not on them but on the Parishad. “There are around 25 trade unions in the brew belt and another union has been added to the list. We have nothing to worry.”
Parishad leaders said their first movement would be to demand a hike in daily wages from Rs 60 to Rs 250.
Talks ended with no result
New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) The Centre today held fifth round of tripartite talks with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha which presented a blueprint of an interim regional authority to be constituted for Darjeeling and some areas around it.
The talks were attended by Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri, interlocutor Lt General Vijay Madan besides represenatives for other political groups.
Giri came up with the blueprint of the "interim authority" having powers similar to a state with a High Court of its own and also demanded ST status of Gorkhas and a Bench of Supreme Court, official sources said.
The Centre expressed the hope that some common ground could be found which will be taken during next round of talks scheduled in May.
"They have submitted a proposal for having an interim authority. Next round of talks would be in middle of May," Maken told reporters after the political level talks which was also attended by CPI (M), Trinamool Congress among others. 
Sources privy to the meeting said most of the demands put forth by the Morcha seemed unacceptable to the Centre. Besides, there are issues with demands of some powers to authority and boundary with other states.
The Centre, despite its reservations on the proposal, is hopeful of considering some of the demands put forth by the Morcha, which could be discussed during next round of talks scheuduled to be held in May. 
According to the plan mooted by GJM, the regional authority should have no interference from West Bengal government besides having powers on law and order and a body like a state assembly, sources said. 
The regional authority may be named either Gorkhaland Regional Authority or the Darjeeling and Dooars Regional Authority, the sources said.
During the fourth round of tripartite talks in Darjeeling on December 21, GJM had demanded the next round be held in Delhi at the political level. 
The Centre agreed to GJM's demand and Chidambaram had said the tripartite meeting will be held on March 18 among the central government, West Bengal government and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to find a solution which will be held at a political level.
Do Not burn the midnight Oil: Sleep Well and Stay Healthy
Exclusive on World Sleep Day, 19 March
Shobha Shukla CNS: Sleep is a basic human need, much like eating and drinking. It is crucial for our overall health and well being. Research shows that we spend up to a third of our lives sleeping. Good quality and restorative sleep is essential for day-to-day functioning. Studies suggest that sleep quality, as well as quantity, impacts our life.  On an average, a normal adult needs 7-8 hours of good sleep. In teenagers this may go up to 9 hours, while the elderly can do with 5-6 hours of it.World Sleep Day is on 19th of March.
According to Dr Manvir Bhatia (click here to listen to exclusive CNS audio podcast), Chairperson Sleep Medicine and Senior Consultant ,Department of Neurology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, "sleep is an essential commodity, which should not be dispensed with, as it cannot be compensated with anything else. It has a strong relationship with health. So we need to look after it well." Read more
World Sleep Day 2010 is being held on 19th March, under the slogan "Sleep Well, Stay Healthy". It is an international annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, and social aspects. It is organized by the "World Association of Sleep Medicine", with the aim to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better understanding, prevention and management of sleep conditions by raising awareness through dissemination of information.
Sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens health and quality of life for up to 45% of the world's population. There is substantial evidence that sleep plays an important role in metabolic, cognitive, restorative, immune, and endocrine functions. Hence disruption in sleep affects all these.
Most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable, yet less than a third of sufferers seek professional help. Sleep medicine is a recent speciality which deals with various problems related to sleep, ranging from obstructive sleep apnoea - with predominant symptoms of snoring, to insomnia (30-45% adults suffer from it) or reduced and poor quality of sleep. Narcolepsy is another cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. Very often, persons suffering from these complaints are not aware of the health hazards associated with them.
Persons with sleep disorders may suffer from insufficient sleep at night and wake up listless, spending the day poorly, with little concentration and more aches and pains. Or they may have loud snoring and also wake up tired. In both cases there are periods of irresistible tendency to take a nap or doze off during work. This affects day time concentration, and hence productivity. It also increases the chances of having other diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attack etc. Apart from this, hundreds of people lose their lives unnecessarily every year due to sleep-related traffic accidents, including airlines and railways accidents.
Dr Bhatia laments the 'junk sleep syndrome' prevalent in the modern day teenagers. They are prone to using a whole lot of gadgets like I-Pod, internet, video games, television, or simply studying till late in the night, thus pushing their sleep time too late. Obviously they have difficulty in waking up in the morning and concentrating on their studies in school. They reach home tired, take a nap and the pattern repeats itself. It is not very uncommon to find such students having a 'black out' during examination time. These children are likely to develop a poor memory and low scholastic aptitude, and also an impaired immune function, thus inviting a host of diseases.
It must not be forgotten that poor sleep is a symptom of a cause like obstructive sleep apnoea, poor life style, anxiety, depression etc. Very often the sufferer resorts to the use of sleeping pills, which causes more harm than good. This self medication often becomes addictive in the long run, resulting in more problems.
More must be done to completely understand sleep and to understand better the cause of sleep disorders. We need to increase awareness about sleep related disorders particularly in students, and those working in BPO industry, railways, airlines and road transport services.
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these disorders can prevent serious health conditions and improve the quality of life.
SIR GANGARAM HOSPITAL and NEUROLOGY AND SLEEP CENTRE have taken a step in the direction of increasing awareness among general public about sleep disorders by organizing free Sleep Camps, under the guidance of Dr Manvir Bhatia. These camps provide free consultation by sleep specialists, besides offering dietary advice, yoga training, and psychological counselling related to sleep with provision for blood investigations and sleep studies.
A good night's sleep takes care of many of the physiological and metabolic parameters of our life.
So look after your sleep and enjoy a good health. Wake up every day feeling refreshed to face the challenges of life with renewed vigour.

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