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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Morcha banks on Rahul for early set-up - Gurung & team head for Delhi .. Dalai Lama in Sikkim .. Whip on tea garden absentees .. Banks and post offices open till 27th December

His Holiness Dalai Lama left Kalimpong for Sikkim
Drug abuse for lack of religious study- Dalai Lama begins 9 days Sikkim tour
TT, Gangtok, Dec. 15: Lack of religious studies has made people vulnerable to alcoholism and drug abuse, the Dalai Lama today said in Pelling, his first halt in Sikkim — the Himalayan state that he will tour for nine days.

On his arrival at the Pelling helipad in West Sikkim from Kalimpong at 10am, the Tibetan spiritual leader drove to nearby Pemayangste Monastery, where he was accorded a traditional welcome by local monks and devotees who had gathered from across the state.
After a 30-minute prayer at the monastery, the Dalai Lama gave a short public sermon in Tibetan to the monks, followers and the Tibetan refugees. Pemayangste, about 130km from Gangtok, is one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim and is held in the highest regard by devotees.
“The changing times of the world have affected the spirituality of the people,” the Dalai Lama said. “Lack of religious thoughts and studies has made people vulnerable to alcoholism and drug abuse.”
The Tibetan leader urged the gathering to follow their respective religions and respect the traditions followed by their ancestors. “There should be regular studies on religion. I am 77 years old yet I still study the religious books and people should develop a habit of studying their religious books,” he said.
Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling received the Dalai Lama at the helipad. Welcoming him at Pemayangste, monk Lobden Tempo Gyasto said the monastery was blessed by the visit. The monks and the local people were waiting anxiously for the past few weeks to get a glimpse of the religious leader. Today their aspirations were fulfilled, he said.
Tshering Namgyal, a 91-year-old devotee from Gangtok, was in the audience. He managed to get an autograph of the Dalai Lama on a book authored by the spiritual leader. “I offered a walking stick made in Nepal to His Holiness,” Namgyal said.
After the sermon, the Dalai Lama moved to Tashiding monastery, 35km away, where he will be on meditation for two days from tomorrow. The Sikkim government has constructed a special retreat Tsam Khang (meditation centre) exclusively for him.
On December 18, the religious leader is scheduled to leave for Palchen Choling monastery at Ralang in South Sikkim and later visit a settlement of the Tibetan community there. The next day, he will participate in a blessing ceremony at the under-construction Buddha Park at Rabong before flying to Gangtok.
The park is an ambitious project of the Sikkim government to erect a 135-foot high statue of Lord Buddha. It will be Buddha’s largest metal statue in India after its completion scheduled next year.
On December 20, the Dalai Lama will inaugurate a three-day seminar at Chintan Bhavan here on “brain and mind, our potential for change: modern cognitive sciences and eastern contemplative traditions” organised by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology.
A public teaching has been slated on December 21 at Paljor Stadium. The Tibetan spiritual leader will attend the seminar on December 22 before leaving Sikkim the next day.
Banks and post offices open till 27th December
KalimNews: All banks, insurance offices and post offices will remain open from today till 27th December. GJMM notification stated that in view of the Christmas festival relaxation is granted by the party. 
GJMM leaders in Delhi
KalimNews: A team of GJM led by Bimal Gurung and accompanied by Roshan Giri and Dr. H.B.Chhetri and N. Lama reached Delhi to meet central leaders. It is learnt that as the time of the deadline 20th December announced by it is approaching, GJM leaders are getting impatient to settle for an agreement for the formation of GRA.
GJM leaders is keen to meet Rahul Gandhi and request him for making an early talks before 20th and GJM had already circulating a news that the tripartite talks is scheduled on 18th December.
Morcha banks on Rahul

Vivek Chhetri & Abhijit Snha, TT, Dec. 15: Bimal Gurung and three other senior leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today dashed off to Delhi purportedly to meet Rahul Gandhi but the visit is being seen as a last ditch attempt to seal the deal for an interim set-up before December 20.
The Morcha had threatened to go back on agitation path starting with a 48-hour shutdown if the government failed to keep the deadline.
At Bagdogra Airport, Morcha chief Gurung said: “We are going to Delhi and will meet Rahul Gandhi on December 17. Certain issues are likely to be discussed with him which I cannot elaborate now.”
Political observers believe that the Morcha is exploring all possible routes to ensure that the interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills is in place as early as possible. “Despite Gurung’s statement that the interim set-up would not be accepted once the deadline was over, the party wants it to be implemented even if it is after December 20,” an observer said.
About the deadline, Gurung said, the Morcha would continue with the movement if the government failed to act within the timeframe and that there has not been any change in the plans. “Simultaneously, we would like to assert that there are indications of an early positive outcome and we are optimistic that the issue would be resolved soon.”
Four contentious issues on the interim set-up — its territorial jurisdiction, mode of formation of the authority and the transfer of legislative powers and tauzi department — are yet to be thrashed out.
The Morcha’s decision to meet Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is being seen as a move to create a consensus among political parties, and not just the BJP, on the need to solve the Darjeeling issue immediately. “The party is aware that a delay now could push the issue of the interim set-up till the Bengal Assembly elections are over. Given the stirrings in the rival camp against the interim set-up, the Morcha cannot wait for so long,” said an observer.
Many believe that objection to the Sixth Schedule status, mooted by GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh, gained momentum mainly because of the delay in implementing the status. “The Morcha would not want a repeat of the fiasco,” said an observer. The Morcha president, however, refused to speak on the Assembly polls to be held in the state next year. “It is too early to comment on the polls,” he said.
Sources revealed that the Morcha leadership had been trying to meet Rahul for the past few months. “Once the AICC and Rahul Gandhi confirmed the meeting, Bimal Gurung was informed and he headed for Delhi,” a source said.
Congress leaders in Darjeeling district, however, said they don’t have any clue about the proposed meeting.
“We cannot comment on the proposed meeting… However, we would like to point out that on December 19, we have the AICC meeting in Delhi where the issue of the Darjeeling hills will be raised,” said K.B. Chhetri, the Darjeeling (hills) district Congress president.
“We will also ask for an appointment to meet Rahul Gandhi to apprise him of the state of affairs in Darjeeling.”
In the hills, keeping in mind the approaching festive season, the Morcha has decided to keep banks, post-office and insurance offices open from tomorrow.
“Keeping in mind, the Christmas celebration we have decided to keep banks, post-offices and insurance offices open till December 27. The food and supplies department will remain open on Monday and Tuesday instead of Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” said Jyoti Kumari Rai, a central committee member of the Morcha.
Offices in the hills have been shut since December 6 as part of a non-co-operation movement. The party is also holding rallies and public meetings in Darjeeling everyday to press for the interim set-up.
Whip on tea garden absentees
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Dec. 15: A tea garden in the hills has asked 144 workers to stay away from plucking for being absent from duty frequently.
The action against the labourers of Singtom tea estate is the first of its kind in the hills, where absenteeism has been plaguing the industry for long.
Such has been the proportion of the absenteeism that the owners of the Singtom estate decided to “withdraw its management” from the garden in a bid to stem the problem. The Camellia Tea Group Pvt Ltd declared neither a “lock-out” nor “suspension of work” but simply withdrew all management staff from the garden on December 10, bringing to halt all works.
“The management had identified 144 workers as habitual absentees. Following a meeting with the trade union (Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union) today, it was decided that a committee would be formed with equal representation of the management and the union to find out the number of days on which the 144 labourers were present,” said Sandeep Mukherjee, the secretary of the Darjeeling Tea Association.
Another decision taken at the meeting was that the 144 labourers would be paid wages for the work done between December 4 (the day the management released a list of habitual absentees) and 10. But they will not be allowed to join work from tomorrow till the committee submits its report. The rest of the workers can resume duty tomorrow.
This is for the first time that such a large number of workers are facing music for staying away from duty in any hill garden. Earlier, action was taken against one or two workers on individual basis.
The estate, 14km from here, has 850 workers and is spread over around 650 acres.
Many planters view the decision to address absenteeism as a defining moment for the tea industry. “Absenteeism is as high as 30-35 percent in some gardens. Workers do not turn up during the plucking season. They join duty during the winter (non-plucking season) when the workload is less,” said Mukherjee.
The union leaders have admitted that absenteeism is an issue but they have condemned the management’s decision to “withdraw” from the garden.
“Absenteeism should be dealt with on a worker-to-worker basis. When the management leaves the garden, other workers are affected for no fault of theirs,” said Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the Plantation Labour Union, an affiliate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
The union said workers were being forced to look for jobs outside gardens as the daily wage of Rs 67 was insufficient.
Many educated youths who are employed in tea gardens under badli- a system in which the next of the kin gets job following a retirement in the family — are not really interested in carrying on as third or fourth generation labourers.
“These youths want to move ahead in life as they are educated. They want to do other jobs and start business. They no longer want to remain as daily workers for the rest of their life,” said an observer.

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