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Friday, November 12, 2010

Hills in fashion mode - tips to groom models ... Rival slaps food charge on Morcha

Chhat Puja Celebrated in Kalimpong
Hills in fashion mode - tips to groom models
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Nov. 11: Preparations are almost complete to host more than 200 students who are expected to take part in a fashion show, touted to be one of the biggest cultural jamborees in Darjeeling in recent time.
The three-day Pragya Shri/Sushri Pahari Pratik contest from November 15 is modelled on the “tradition” theme.
“The main focus of the event will be the showcase of the rich tradition of the region and also the strengthening of the idea of India, which is a mosaic of varied culture and tradition,” said Nima Sherpa, the spokesperson for the organising committee.
The Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha, which will organise the show to mark its foundation day on November 15, has tied up with the Academy of Broadcasting and the St Michael’s Youth Centre.
“At times we need to move beyond political affiliations and motives. Our only aim is to bring about unity among students of the region, including Sikkim, and provide a platform for exchange of ideas and increase the bonhomie among the students,” said Sherpa, who is also the general secretary of the Vidyarthi Morcha. “We are expecting 200-300 students to participate in the event.”
The student wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has invited students from the Dooars and the Terai to take part in the show.
The event will promote the concept of “serious fun”.
“For three days, the participants will have to attend workshops and seminars where they will not only be taught the nitty-gritty of fashion but will also be provided with tips on how to develop a good personality,” said Sherpa.
The organisers have engaged experts from the region to guide the contestants on body language, etiquette and mannerism.
“Speakers will also provide tips to the participants on the art of public speaking and a well known hair stylists from Kathmandu, Neel David, has consented to attend the workshop,” said Sherpa.
The workshop will be held at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club, while the finals will be held at Chowrastha.
Rival slaps food charge on Morcha
TT, Siliguri, Nov. 11: The ABGL today accused the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha of distributing foodgrain meant for the public distribution system and mid-day meal scheme to Gorkhaland Personnel in connivance with a section of contractors and government employees.
“We have information that since the formation of the GLP (a lathi-wielding squad of the party) the Morcha leaders, in association with the contractors who supply essential commodities like rice, wheat, sugar, kerosene to the PDS, are sending the foodgrain to the GLP camps, depriving common people, including those from the below the poverty line,” said Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL, at a media conference here.
“We also have data that show a huge disparity between the allotment made by the district food supply department and the quantity distributed to the people. Distribution of ration is irregular in the hills for this reason. We also suspect the involvement of some employees of the department in this racket and want the state government to investigate it,” Sherpa said.
The Morcha, however, dared Sherpa to prove his charges.
“Let Dawa Sherpa prove the allegation first and then make statements to the media,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the party’s media and publicity secretary. “He himself is corrupt and has no right to point finger at others.”
Hill brew eyes leap in sale - planter bodies differ on marketing
TT, Darjeeling, Nov. 11: The Indian Tea Association, which has been revived recently in the hills, has decided to explore “non-traditional” and domestic markets for the Darjeeling Tea as there has been a shrink in the demand for the produce abroad.
But the Darjeeling Tea Association said the brand image of the hill brew would be diluted if too many organisations started searching for markets.
Seventeen gardens in Darjeeling have recently changed their membership from the DTA to the ITA. Most of the other gardens are still with the DTA, which till a few months back was the only association representing the Darjeeling tea industry. The hills have around 80 tea estates, whose produce can be sold as Darjeeling Tea across the world.
“Plans are afoot to provide more international recognition and access to buyers of Darjeeling Tea through ITA’s network. We want to focus on non-traditional markets like Iran, Egypt, UAE and Azerbaijan,” said Arun Singh, the managing director of Goodricke and the chairperson of the ITA’s West Bengal Regional Centre.
The major bulk of Darjeeling Tea is currently exported to the UK, Germany and Japan.
The ITA also said it had a legacy of corporate social responsibility and it hoped that the initiative to hunt for more consumers would be appreciated by all.
Asked about the reason behind some hill gardens’ shift to the ITA, which was in place till the DTA — formerly known as the Darjeeling Planters’ Association — was formed in the early 1980s, Singh said: “Given the prevailing situation then, it was thought that a Darjeeling-centric association was needed. Now, we believe the purpose has been achieved and we need to look beyond.”
M. Das Gupta, the secretary general of the ITA, said the planters wouldn’t like to underestimate the domestic market. “A recent survey conducted by ORG-MARG and partly funded by the ITA showed that Darjeeling Tea is not recognised in the Indian domestic market. India today has the highest number of billionaires and let us not underestimate the domestic market,” said Das Gupta.
There was a general perception among tea connoisseurs that as Darjeeling Tea had huge demand in international markets, no major campaign was needed to consolidate the produce’s position in India.“Because of economic recession, the produce doesn’t fetch high price abroad. Moreover, many are moving to Sri Lanka and other countries to buy tea,” said Das Gupta.
Although Darjeeling Tea has a highest production cost of around Rs 300 per kilogram on an average, the price the produce yields at auctions is only around Rs 350. But the retail price of the commodity is more than Rs 1,000. The ITA said it would strive to bridge the huge gap between the prices at the auctions and retail markets.
The DTA, however, seemed unimpressed with the ITA’s initiative.
“Production of Darjeeling Tea is shrinking. The DTA and the Tea Board took up a number of initiatives, which have led to the hill brew’s consolidation in export markets. All these attempts will be diluted and importers may get confused if so many associations are formed,” said Sandeep Mukherjee, the secretary of the DTA.
Singh, however, refused to buy the DTA’s argument.
“Many gardens were privately marketing their produce earlier and the ITA can provide better access to markets without harming anyone’s interest.”
Woman held with Rs 2 lakh
TT, Siliguri, Nov.11: A woman suspected to have stolen Rs 2 lakh from an old lady earlier this month was arrested from Bagdogra last night. The amount has been recovered from her.
Police said Swati Roy of Bhujiapani has confessed to her crime. “Rajkumar Mondal, of Baghajatin Colony, had sold an autorickshaw for Rs 2.79 lakh on November 4. After the deal, he was returning home with his mother on an autorickshaw. On reaching home they found that the money his mother was carrying was missing,” said a senior police official from Pradhannagar. Swati, who was also in the same three-wheeler had asked Mondal’s mother to check if anything had fallen in her eyes. The old woman had checked her eyes before getting off the autorickshaw. Later, a raid on Swati’s house yielded Rs 2.12 lakh. S. Sinha, the deputy SP, said Swati had criminal past.

Carron TE warned
Avijit Sinha, TT, Siliguri, Nov. 11: The subdivisional officer of Malbazar has warned the management of the closed Carron Tea Estate that action would be taken against it if its representatives fail to attend a
tripartite meeting on Tuesday, aimed to reopen the garden.The management of the garden in Nagrakata block did not attend the last two meetings convened by the administration to end the stalemate. The estate has been shut since October 2 following an alleged assault on some managerial staff by a section of workers the previous day.
A letter (in the possession of The Telegraph) written by SDO Nilkamal Biswas to the manager of Carron yesterday said: “You are hereby requested to attend the meeting positively. Furthermore, the failure on your part to attend the meeting would give rise to the possibility of letting the matter go out of hand in which circumstances we will be forced to act against you….”
Biswas had convened a meeting on October 26 between the owner and representatives of the two trade unions operating in the estate. Another meeting was called by the assistant labour commissioner in Malbazar. The SDO’s move, which is a departure from the conciliatory tone adopted by the administration to convince managements to reopen locked out estates, has drawn flak from the owner.
“Even though we have formally announced lockout in the garden for lawlessness, the SDO has blamed us for abandoning the garden,” said P.K. Basu, the owner, over the phone from Calcutta. He alleged that the administration, instead of warning the workers who had attacked the managers, was training guns on the owner.

[KalimNews:Due to disruption in internet facility in Jaldhaka  and Jholung area (where the updating was supposed to be done) Kalimpong News could not be updated. The Jholung Exchange of BSNL was down and the WBSEDCL couldnot retsore the power required in the exchange since one week. Sorry for inconvenience. ]

Weeklong rallies for more than hills Morcha promises deal in next meet

Members of minority communities at the Gymkhana Club in Darjeeling on Wednesday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Vivek Chhetri, Darjeeling, Nov. 10: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today announced a week of rallies and public meetings starting November 14 to press for the inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai in the interim authority for the Darjeeling hills and to ensure that the new body is in place by December-end.
Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang said the rallies would take place simultaneously in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Soureni, Bijanbari, Gorubathan, Sukhiapokhri and Sonada in the hills and in Bagrakote, Birpara, Kalchini and Jaigaon in the Dooars. The rallies will also be held in Panighatta in the Terai and in Siliguri.
Earlier in the day, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung sounded confident that the interim authority would be put in place by the end of the year and that the “deal” would be signed at the very next round of the political-level talks.
Addressing members of minority communities at Darjeeling Gymkhana Club, Gurung said: “All issues have been discussed. During the next round of political-level talks, we will only have to sign the deal.”
In an emotional speech, Gurung tried to justify the need to accept the interim authority at this juncture. “The interim set-up is only a temporary arrangement mooted by the Centre as it is clear that no major decision can be taken by the political parties before the 2011 Assembly elections,” Gurung told the audience. “We have thoroughly studied the Centre’s proposal and have extracted almost everything we wanted, except the home department.”
The Morcha president said given the current political scene, the party could not “adamantly” stick to its demand for a separate state and that accepting the interim authority was “an indirect means to achieve separation”. “We are now in a position to be administratively separate from Bengal,” Gurung said.
He also appealed to professionals who have gone outside the region for want of opportunity here to come back to run the interim set-up. “Once the interim set-up is in place, the Morcha leadership will not occupy the chairs there but will carry on with the demand for Gorkhaland,” he added.
Drawing a distinction with GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh’s style of functioning, Gurung said: “I have come to you to seek suggestions on the interim set-up. I do not believe in dictating to you like the earlier dispensation. I need suggestions from my elders and this is why even after meeting the Union home minister I have come to you to be transparent and to seek your advice.”
As reported in The Telegraph, Gurung said a joint committee would verify the feasibility of including areas in the Dooars and the Terai in the interim authority and that the report would be submitted by May 2011.
He also claimed that the interim set-up would get around Rs 1500-2500 crore for two years. “With the funds, we have to ensure that every nook and corner of the hills is developed within two years. Earlier the DGHC used to get a central assistance of only Rs 22 crore.”
Gurung also said the interim body would have powers to create and fill vacancies in Group C and D categories. “Earlier the DGHC had to take permission from the state government to do so but now we can not only create but also fill up the vacancies in the interim authority,” he said.
Gurung signed off by offering his “best wishes” to the people of the hills “not just for Christmas and Losar (a Tibetan festival) but also for the interim set-up”.
Parishad rejects state meeting invite
TT, Siliguri, Nov. 10: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad has turned down a government invite for a meeting in Writers’ Buildings on Friday, alleging that a talks arranged on such a short notice only exposed the state’s insincerity.
“Our state leaders have received the letter (from the backward classes welfare department) yesterday. But it is not possible for us to attend the meeting in such a short notice. A number of issues mentioned in the letter need to be discussed both at the regional and state levels before we sit across the table with state officials,” said John Barla, the president of the Dooars-Terai regional unit of the Parishad. “The haste with which the letter has been sent is a proof of the insincerity of the state government, which is desperately trying to prove its concern for us but unfortunately not in reality. It is a courtesy to provide adequate time in such cases.”
According to Parishad leaders, the letter written by M. Pandit, the joint commissioner for reservations and a joint secretary of the department, says issues like the state recruitment policy for tribals and the migration of tribal populace in search of jobs will be discussed at the meeting.
“We have grievances on a number of issues related to employment and provisions of reservations in government jobs. Unless the state provides us time, how can we prepare ourselves for the meeting,” Barla said. “This is an attempt to appease us on the eve of the Assembly elections. We are not ready to rely on these moves by the state.” Parishad state president Birsa Tirkey today intimated the department in Calcutta of their inability to attend the meeting.
Plains not to send students to fashion fest
TT, Siliguri, Nov. 10: Most colleges in and around Siliguri will not send students to a three-day fashion show to be hosted by the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha.
The college authorities, however, said students who wished to participate in the fashion show could do so in their individual capacity.
The student wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha planned the fashion show apparently to garner support for the inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars in the interim set-up for Darjeeling and to strengthen the ties between the students in the hills and the plains.
“We have not received invitation to the fashion show as yet. However, the college will not take any initiative to send students to the programme because the event is organised by a student outfit and not by the university or any government department. If students wish to participate, they can do so in their personal capacity,” said Ashim Mukherjee, the principal of Siliguri College of Commerce.
The Siliguri Women’s College also spoke in a similar vein. “We will stick the invitation on the notice board of the college. Students can take part in the contest on their own if they want to. But the college will not form any team for the fashion show,” said Ruma Bhowmik Sengupta, the principal of Siliguri Women’s College.
Pragya Shri/Sushri Pahari Pratik, scheduled to be held from November 15, the Vidyarthi Morcha’s foundation day, will be choreographed by Kuntanil, a fashion designer and the centre-in-charge of INIFD, Siliguri.
While some institutions refused comments, others cited their inability in sending students because of approaching exams.
“As there are semester exams next week, we will not send our students to the event even if we receive an invitation,” said Jayaraman Suresh, the principal of Gyan Jyoti College.
Reactions from student unions varied from one college to another. “We will consider the matter when the college receives the invitation. If the event is good, we may participate in it under the banner of students’ union,” said Samrat Pal Chowdhury, the general secretary of the Chhatra Parishad-backed students’ union of Siliguri College of Commerce.
The SFI-backed union at Surya Sen College ruled out arranging anything for the programme.
Amrit Yonzone, the vice president of the Vidyarthi Morcha, said: “The invitations have been sent to many colleges in the plains. Student wings in the plains may be affiliated to different political parties but it is the duty of the unions to work together for the betterment of the students. We are only trying to showcase students’ talents. There is no political undertone in our initiative and it would be unfortunate if some unions make such charges.”
Trend & style to mark Morcha bonhomie Catwalk to reach out to students in plains
An INIFD show in Siliguri in 2009
Sister Marcella (left) at the media conference in Darjeeling on Tuesday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Models at a fashion show in Siliguri in 2009
A ramp walk at INIFD in Siligur
Vivek Chhetri, TT,  Darjeeling, Nov. 9: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to walk the ramp to bridge the hills-plains gap, a precursor to building support for its demand to include the Dooars and the Terai in the proposed interim set-up for Darjeeling.
The student wing of the Bimal Gurung-led outfit, the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha, that is itself looking forward to an image makeover, today announced that it would host a fashion show in Darjeeling where 31 colleges from the hills and the plains had been invited. It will be a three-day event, starting November 15, the foundation day of the Vidyarthi Morcha.
“We must admit that there has been much acrimony between the students of the plains and the hills,” said Amrit Yonzone, the vice-president of the Vidyarthi Morcha. “There is still animosity between various students unions and we hope that the show will create a bond between them and strengthen their ties. This is why we have invited students from colleges in Siliguri, Malbazar, Jaigaon and Birpara.”
Since 2007 when the Morcha started its agitation for a separate state and took its demonstration to the streets of Siliguri and the Dooars and the Terai, there have been several instances of violence involving students of the hills and the plains.
In fact, in 2008, the authorities had to provide student from the hills a safe haven in Pintail Village near Siliguri fearing a backlash following clashes between those who are for and against Gorkhaland.
“With the interim authority set to be put in place by the end of the year, we want the students in the plains to support our demand for the inclusion of the Dooars and Terai in the new arrangement,” a Morcha leader said. “For this, we are trying to create a congenial atmosphere through a completely non-political route. Let there be amity between all students in the region.”
The Pragya Shri/Sushri Pahari Pratik, as the fashion show is called, is expected to be one of the biggest carnivals for college students in the region. According to the Vidyarthi Morcha, 31 institutions from the region, including Sikkim, have confirmed their participation.
The student outfit is bringing in experts to give a “professional touch” to the event. “There will be seminars and grooming sessions for three days before 10 finalists walk the ramp at Chowrastha on November 17,” said Sister Marcella, co-ordinator of St Michael’s Youth Centre, which houses the extended centre of the International Institute of Fashion Design in Darjeeling.
“We are looking at the event not merely as a fashion show but as one that will help develop the personality of the students irrespective of the region they come from,” said Nima Sherpa, the general secretary of the Vidyarthi Morcha.
“We are also bringing in Brinda Rai of the Academy of Broadcasting to provide tips on the art of public speaking during a workshop,” he added.
The ramp show is also an opportunity for the Morcha student wing to go for an “image changeover”.
It does not want to be seen anymore as an organisation that is only known for agitation and demonstrations, said Yonzone.
The Vidyarthi Morcha also claimed that Miss Sikkim 2009 and Miss Tilottama 2009 would attend the event on November 17. “On the final day there will be three rounds: traditional, western and the party wear round. We promise that the winners will get a steady exposure and we are working on it,” said Sister Marcella.
Ashoke snub for Gurung clout claim
TT, Siliguri, Nov. 9: State urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya today said the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was not in a position to carry out a movement to pressure the Centre on interim set-up, a day after Bimal Gurung threatened to renew its agitation if the body was not formed by next month.
“We have learnt that the Morcha has again threatened to organise a movement which will create tension in the hills. We are, however, not bothered about such threats. Given the present state of affairs, the party does not have the capacity to organise a movement as common people are no longer responding to their calls,” the CPM leader said here.
Asking the hill outfit to refrain from issuing such threats, the minister said any fresh tension arising out of agitation would only delay the talks and the formation of the set-up.
Bhattacharya accused the Morcha of deceiving people by making baseless remarks.
“The Morcha leaders are publicly saying in the hills that the Centre is ready to grant a Union Territory status to Darjeeling which is false. At the last tripartite meeting, the Union home minister and other officials had told them that they cannot decide on the matter without taking the state government into confidence,” he said.
The Morcha, however, countered the minister’s attack saying he was “living in a fool’s paradise”. “We don’t know what is the criterion that the minister is thinking to presume that the Morcha is losing its ground in the hills,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the party’s media and publicity secretary. “If he is considering a couple of news conferences being organised by the ABGL, GNLF and the CPRM as the criteria, we must say that he is an immature politician and is living in a fool’s paradise.”

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