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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CPM accuses Mamata of disrupting peace in hills... Young guns make Darjeeling hills proud

ANI, Kolkata:Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) members on Tuesday accused Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for fostering animosity amongst the people of Darjeeling and supporting the Gorkha community's demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.
"A conspiracy is being hatched to break our unity. Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is trying to divide Darjeeling and in turn divide West Bengal by demanding a separate Gorkhaland. They are trying to create divide amongst the people of the state. It is very disheartening to see that Mamata Banerjee in lure of votes and to garner support extended support to their separatist demands," said Jibesh Sarkar, CPI-M Darjeeling District Secretary.
Mamata Banerjee, who concluded her two-day visit to Darjeeling on Monday, talked about special packages for the people of the region, which she felt, has been neglected over these years by the Left-ruled State government.
Reacting to her claims, Sarkar termed her visit as politically motivated and blamed TMC cadres for creating lawlessness and terror in the State by supporting the anti-national groups.
"The people of West Bengal are ready to fight the separatists and the Maoists. The battle will definitely take place and we will surely defeat them." Sarkar added.
On Monday, Mamata Banerjee emphasised that she would urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit the hills in West Bengal and offer special economic package to the people of the region.
"I will recommend to our honorable Prime Minister. I will request him to visit the hill areas. Come to the hill town with a special package as there is a requirement of a special package in Darjeeling," she added.
Banerjee said that the Gorkha population of the State has always talked of development as the primary issue of their region.
"I had a talk with the Janamukti Morcha (Gorkha Janamukti Morcha) but these people never talked about a separate Gorkhaland state with me. They just talked about development and they are present here also," she added.
The Gorkhaland Movement that began in the 1980s had ended with a truce between the then-leader Subhash Ghising and New Delhi after he accepted limited autonomy in 1988 with a new Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).
A renewed demand for Gorkhaland, which would include Darjeeling and some contiguous areas of Jalpaiguri district, was again raised by a set of new leaders like Bimal Gurung, plunging the hill areas into fresh turmoil.
The Gorkha population in West Bengal is around a million out of the state's 80 million people.
Young guns make Darjeeling hills proud 
[ KalimNews: A press release of Sikkim University to KalimNews with the title "Two SU students selected for Hiroshima University fellowship programme -Great feat for one of the youngest university in the country:Prof Lama" was published on 24 Septembet edition of Kalimpong News.  These SU students are from Darjeeling hills . A report from Darjeeling Times (]
Two young academicians from the Darjeeling hills, Mr. Rabindra Mani Pradhan and Mr Aminesh A Lulam Rai, are heading to the Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC), Hiroshima University, Japan after having been selected at an international competition on “International Environmental Leader Short-Term Training Program for Sustainable Asia.” The duo are currently enrolled for their MPhil studies at the Sikkim Central University.
The purpose of this course is to recognize and develop environmental leaders who can address various environmental issues and challenges faced by the international community. This course tends to train the students to comprehend the connection between important global environmental issues and issues relating to promoting sustainable development at the grassroots label.
The two young guns give their University – Sikkim Central University – and its teachers all the credit for their success. In particular they have acknowledged the help they received from their Professor. Mr. J. P. Tamang an eminent scholar and academician for helping them succeed in this endeavour.
The duo are the only two students selected from India. Commenting on the successful selection of the two students from Sikkim University Prof, Mahindra P Lama, Vice Chancellor SU said, “ Such things shows that our students are intellectually matured and confident and will make us proud, likewise in the days to come”,
A short Bio of the duo:
Mr. Rabindra Mani Pradhan 
Son of: Mr. Ram Kishor and Mrs. Ganga Pradhan   
Place of birth:
Jorebunglow, Darjeeling
Ruhiyyih Bahai School, Jorebunglow.
Bethany, Darjeeling
High school:
St. Robert’s, Darjeeling
St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling
Sikkim Central University
Academic qualifications:

M.A: International Relations. 1st class 1st (University Topper, SU)
B.A (Hons): Political Science, St. Joseph’s College
Advanced Diploma:
Eco-tourism management (NBU)
Basic Course:
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling (A+ grade).
Mr. Pradhan is an excellent guitarist and singer. He along with his brother Gyanendra perform with the Darjeeling based band “Mystic East.” Some of their songs have been uploaded on youtube for sampling. Mr. Pradhan is an excellent painter, photographer and an avid nature lover.

Mr. Animesh Anderw Lullum Rai
Son of: Mr. Rabindra Peter and Mrs. Kusum Lulum Rai
Place of birth:
Shantitar, Chongtong T. E.
ICSE: Vidya Vikash Academy, Darjeeling

ISC: St. Jospeh’s School, Darjeeling (Star marks in Sociology and Pol. Science)
B.A. (Hons): Sociology, St. Xavier’s, Kolkata
M.A: Department of Social Systems and Anthropology, 1st class 1st (University Topper)
Awarded Excellence Award in Sociology by Kshetrimayum Sorojini and Shyamkanhai Foundation (KSSF) on 11th September 2010
Mr. Rai is also an avid guitarist and his interest lies in classical rather than commercial guitar. He is a very outgoing person and is always eager and helpful to others. His love for new culture and traditions and his outgoing nature is what pushes him to excel in his academic life.
DT team wishes luck to both these stalwarts and passes on the best wishes from Gorkhali’s all over the world.
Bhutan want rail line upto Pasakha
PTI, Kolkata, Sep 29 : Bhutan today said it wants its proposed rail link with India to be extended up to its upcoming dry port facility at Pasakha instead of the bordering town of Phuntsoling as originally planned.
"It was initially planned that the line will connect Hasimara in West Bengal with Phuntsoling. We now want the line to be extended up to Pasakha where we are setting up a dry port. There is also an industrial estate nearby," Bhutan's economic affairs secretary Dasho Sonam Tshering, who was on a visit to the city, told reporters.
The first-ever rail link between India and Bhutan was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to that country in 2008. It was named 'Golden Jubilee Rail Line' to commemorate former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's visit to Bhutan 50 years ago.
Tussle for a title- Babri Masjid/ Ram Mandir
The dispute is 60 years old, innumerable lives have been lost for the sake of a mere land title. Whether you call it Ram’s birthplace or debris of an erstwhile Babri Masjid, the land will remain as fertile or futile as it is. Yet, it might not surprise those who have witnessed the macabre bloodbath of 1992, when a Hindu mob turned Babri Masjid to ruins resulting in more than 2000 lives being lost in the aftermath.
Over the years, construction of Ram temple has been Bharatiya Janata Party’s sole agenda and food for survival. Though vague attempts at framing a secular image were made during the last election, later the party made it apparent that nothing has changed.
The ruling party, Congress on the other hand, has used the same matter to turn Muslim votes in its favor by portraying a secular image. But the reality remains that nothing has been done in the name of secularity or humanity. The mass murderers are still moving around freely as cases against them lay pending.
The storm has abated for the time being, as the verdict has been postponed till 28th September. But the vibes foretell it might be the silence before the inevitable communal riots.
An old ally of BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) city unit leader said that the members of the Bajarang Dal and VHP will launch a campaign of chanting Hanuman Chalisa to pressurize the government to agree to build Ram Mandir. “We are not responsible for any violence if the court verdict goes against us” he further warned.
Though Hindus form 80 percent of the population, we cannot forget that we are a secular nation, where every community has equal right to preach and practice its faith in harmony. So isn’t there any remedy to this malaise?
A junior lawyer of Delhi High Court argues, “There can be a diplomatic solution. You can build the Ram temple and a Mosque by its side which can satisfy both the communities”. I wonder if it is really a solution. Why can’t we think different?
“Why don’t they just build an orphanage or hospital in Ayodhya? The end result will help us in future”, says Priyabrata Bhattacharjee, 24, an MBA student from Bengaluru. But the question is will our voices ever reach the deaf ears? (Debojit Dutta)
Vehicular pollution 
When people talk about the environment, a few prominent issues always come to mind. Pollution, urbanization, global warming and conservation are among these major issues and all other environmental problems are their derivatives or lead to these. For example, industrial waste mismanagement leads to pollution and contributes to global warming. A similar story is seen in the case of improper waste disposal, land pollution, sewage disposal and so many other rural and urban problems. Vehicular pollution is among these contemporary problems, perhaps among the most destructive of the lot. It is a global phenomenon, even though it appears to be more concentrated in certain areas like the USA, Middle East and thickly populated countries like India, etc. With more and more wealth being available to the people these days, the number of automobiles in use is increasing sharply and correspondingly, so is the amount of air pollution due to them.
Vehicular pollution refers exclusively to the air pollution caused by the emission of exhausts produced by the combustion of fuels. Most vehicles use petrol, diesel or other derivatives or blends of petroleum as fuels. Fossil fuels provide high energy output upon combustion, but also produce many by-products as wastes. The most notable among these being Particulate matter (PM), Nitrogen oxides, Sulphur dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Ozone and toxic pollutants. Ground level ozone is produced when vehicular pollutants react with sunlight and form “smog” which irritates the respiratory tract, causes coughing, choking and decreases lung capacity. Particulate matter, of diameter less than 10 micrometer, poses the most harmful threat to humans as they can penetrate very deep into the lungs and cause irritation and abrasion. Carbon Monoxide pollution is extremely dangerous as the presence of CO in the blood prevents the intake and supply of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs, which could be fatal. Sulphur dioxide, produced by burning diesel, is toxic and is extremely harmful for asthmatic patients. Apart from drastically reducing air quality and causing dangers to health, vehicular pollution also majorly contributes to Global warming. This is an immediate concern, as climate change is becoming more and more prominent and rapid. Carbon dioxide is the major contributor to the green house effect and much of CO2 emissions come from motor vehicles.  China and USA are at the top in overall CO2 emissions while Middle Eastern countries (Qatar, UAE and Kuwait) earn the dubious honour of having the highest per capita emissions of CO2.
Being a resident of the Middle East all my life, I have witnessed unbridled and reckless usage of fuels. The arrogance of wealth among the Arab nationals and the cheap prices of fuel enable them to use up to 4 SUV’s per family. While countries like Indian and China lead the pollution tables because of their strong efforts to bring about rapid economic growth and a swiftly growing, increasingly self reliant population, most other developed nations like USA, South Korea, UK and GCC countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are in the list merely because their citizens can afford to pollute without thinking of the consequences. A forty year old Kuwaiti citizen, Hassan Al Hussain’s (name changed) family consists of his wife, four children and two maids. But he is a proud owner of 2 GMC Suburban (6.0 L engines,) a Lamborghini Murcielago (6.2L V12 engine) and an Audi which his wife drives. This is only an example of how people spend because they can and hence pollute. Kuwait has a per capita GDP of $81,800 and is the 5th richest country (CIA World Factbook) with a population of 3.5 million but it ranks third in per capita carbon dioxide emission. The story isn’t very different in most countries of the region or in fact most of the rich, “developed” countries in the world.
Ultimately, the responsibility to decrease pollution and conserve the environment falls on the shoulders of all the citizens of the world, regardless of their nation’s economic state. Although, it is the ethical responsibilities of developed nations to contribute more, as one can’t realistically expect developing nations to put their economic growth on hold, while other nations march forward relentlessly. Having said that, reducing vehicular emissions by developing more efficient means of fuel consumption is also a means of economic development.  Efficient fuel utilization and cleaner and healthier environment are insurances for a brighter future for any nation.
Extensive work has already been done in the field of reducing and controlling vehicular pollution. Pollution control devices like catalytic convertors, efficient engines, and exhaust regulation techniques have been in use for a long time. Catalytic convertors, both two-way and three-way types, are used to convert poisonous Carbon monoxide and dangerous unburnt carbon products into the non-toxic CO2 and water. While using catalytic convertors, one must be careful to use unleaded petrol, which by itself is a pollution control measure. A well designed engine increases the efficiency of combustion of the fuel and decreases waste. Exhaust emissions should be treated before being released into the atmosphere. Air injection technique is used to burn of excess hydrocarbons at start up and Exhaust Gas Recirculation technique is used to dilute the air/fuel charge so that the peak ignition temperature comes down and hence, the amount of Nitrogen Oxides produced decreases. Another important measure that has already been put into action in many parts of the world is the use of “clean” fuels like the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in India Pakistan, Bioethanol in US and Brazil and Biodiesel in European nations. These biofuels are produced by fermenting natural sugar or by the trans esterification of vegetable and animal fats and oils.
Efforts are being taken by the governments to reduce emissions by the above mentioned methods of pollution control and by enforcing control standards like Euro 3, Euro 4, Bharat stage 4 (in India), etc. But at the turn of the century, international focus is on the development of Hybrid cars: vehicles that are not dependent on fossil fuels. I have already discussed the growth of alternate fuel powered automobiles. Hybrid vehicles use two power sources, a conventional fuel and an alternate, environmental friendly source like electricity, solar power, hydrogen, etc. Examples of hybrid vehicles include Toyota Prius- the fleet of the NYPD and the GMC Yukon Hybrid. However these vehicles are yet to make a prominent mark in the market, with the conventional SUV’s still dominating the roads. Efforts have to be made to popularize hybrid vehicles in the international market, particularly trying to push cheap, fuel efficient vehicles in middle economy countries. India’s Tata Corp. has recently released the Tata Nano, the cheapest car in the world ($2200) and is promising to release both Hybrid and Compressed-air engine versions very soon.
Thus, earnest efforts are finally being made on a large scale to reduce vehicular pollution. It would definitely take some time and much more effort to produce a measurable change, but it’s a start. It is also important to realize that the grass root efforts would make as much as a difference as the large scale ones in the longer run. Walking and using public transportation as far as possible are some efforts that we as individuals can make. Most metropolises have a very well developed public transport system, which is easy to use and costs nominal amounts. If we are ready to tolerate a little discomfort to reduce our carbon footprints, it would definitely make a difference. Another thing that we can do is opt for smaller and efficient vehicles, preferably hybrids, to reduce emissions. Also, it is a much known phenomenon that people buy larger vehicles to assert their social standing in the community. This outlook is rather regressive. We should actively encourage the Green trend. These little efforts from people always go a long way. Remember that numerous single drops of water together make an ocean. We have seen the Iron Age, the Bronze Age and the Industrial revolution and both the wonders and horrors that they have brought. The 21st century should be the Green Age, where our active participation in environmental conservation will guarantee a brighter future.- Rashmi Rajshekhar
No More Kandhamal
In August 2008, one of the worst communal genocide attempts on the Christian community occurred in Orissa's Kandhamal district, among India's poorest places. Over 100 people including women, differently-abled, children, Adivasis and Dalits were killed. 3 women were gang raped and many were injured. 295 churches were destroyed. Educational and medical institutions were not spared. 15,000 fearful and threatened survivors who cannot return to their villages unless they convert to Hinduism are still living in tents. Read more
The high displacement in the last two years, hellish life in refugee camps and the breakdown of many families due to poverty have affected the aggrieved, psychologically. Minor and adolescent girls are being trafficked for 'security' and livelihood. Widespread ostracisation of Christians in Kandhamal affected adult employment and children's education. The meagre government compensation was insufficient for the immediate medical needs of many.
While Sangh Parivar followers attacked Adivasis and Dalits, the administration stood either as a silent spectator or indirectly supported the violence. The state's deliberately negligent behaviour is common where the population primarily comprises marginalized communities like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST as per official jargon). From 3300 victims' complaints filed in the local police stations, only 831 were registered as FIR's most of which are pending inquiry. The minimal investigations and bias have acquitted the criminals 'arrogating' them before the minorities.
The attacks on Christians spread to over 10 states in India, hurting the fundamentals of democracy and spiritual harmony. Karnataka recorded the maximum anti-Christian attacks in India in 2009 and is keeping pace this year.
The National Solidarity Forum, a coalition of over 55 organisations nationwide held solidarity events across India. Strongly condemning attacks on religious minorities, it requested all democratic forces to unitedly fight the rising communal fascism. Appealing to all peace loving people in the country to support the cause for justice in Kandhamal, it demanded:
* Prosecution of - police personnel who failed to register FIR's and encouraged the communal violence in Kandhamal
- those responsible for forcing conversions to Hinduism
- relevant administrative officials for dereliction of duty
* Transfer of investigation to CBI/SIT
* Compensation for - houses destroyed in mass arson
- victims of gender violence,
- loss of livelihood for two years
- all widows/next of kin of those who died in the riots
* Resettlement in home villages with full land rights and security
* Employment of men and women victims
* Counseling for traumatised children, women and men
* Rehabilitation of children, especially girls whose education is interrupted
* Reissue of property documents and educational certificates destroyed
* Implementation of a witness protection scheme and provision of necessary assistance to survivors to ensure their court testimony
* Repeal the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, which fuels prejudicial attitudes towards religious minorities
* Establishment of a State Commission for Minorities, like its national counterpart
Photo credit:
Deepak Srinivasan, 
Peoples’ Solidarity Concerns (PSC), Student Christian Movement, India (SCM-I), St. Joseph's College of Arts and Science, Visthar and The Other Media-Communications (TOMC) were among those who organized a protest outside Town Hall, Bangalore, on 25th August, 2010. These groups also facilitated a talk by Dr. Ram Puniyani on "Color of Terror: Saffron, Green or Black" on 10th September 2010 in Bangalore. Dr. Puniyani, Prof. Ninan Koshy and Mr. Jagadish Chandra of PSC subsequently responded to questions.
A set of poignant sketches by two artists whom the violence directly impacted is here.
Pushpa Achanta
(The author is a freelance writer, a Fellow of Citizen News Service (CNS) Writers' Bureau, and a community volunteer based in Bangalore, India)

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