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Thursday, April 21, 2011

EC likely to act against GJMM... The buzz is ~ Asok may lose this time... Chopper crashed - 4 crew member dead..ARMY CHOPPER MISSING...Blaze exposes fire threats in Darjeeling ... Good Friday to be celebrated today... Allies to bury Siliguri hatchet

EC likely to act against GJMM-Gurung’s threat to drive away GNLF chief  

Bappaditya Paul, SNS, KOLKATA, 21 APRIL: The Election Commission (EC) is contemplating action against the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morch (GJMM) chief, Mr Bimal Gurung, for threatening to oust his political rival, the GNLF supremo, Mr Subash Ghisingh, from the Hills once the election is over.
Beginning with the issuance of a show-cause notice to restricting the mobility of Mr Gurung, the probable action could even go to the extent of de-registering the GJMM as a political party, an EC source said.
This after the state chief electoral officer (CEO) on 19 April sent a factual report to the EC in New Delhi furnishing the details of the threat that the GJMM chief issued to Mr Ghisingh during a public rally on 10 April at Mirik in Kurseong.
“We have forwarded a factual report on the threat to Mr Ghisingh and are now awaiting the EC's direction for future action,” said Mr Rajesh Pandey, OSD (home) and special secretary in the state CEO’ office, corroborating the information.
The factual report, prepared on the basis of police and Intelligence inputs, has substantiated the threat, specifically mentioning that the threat should be “viewed very seriously” given that on 25 July 2008 an alleged GJMM mob had attacked Mr Ghisingh's house in Darjeeling.
Reflecting on the issue, a senior EC official said, the Commission has three options before it.
“To begin with, a show-cause notice could be served to Mr Gurung and based on his response, the GJMM chief could be issued an warning to refrain from any such activity and gesture in future. Secondly, if the Commission feels that an warning would not enough to mitigate the threat, then, Mr Gurung being the propagator, his mobility could be restricted within a small area. The third and most severe action would be to de-register the GJMM as a political party altogether,” the official said.
Adding he said, the Commission however, is unlikely to exploit the third option at this point, as Mr Gurung and his GJMM were presently the main political consolidation in the Hills that the Centre is banking upon to neutralise the volatility that Darjeeling has slipped into since 2007.
“But election or not, no politician could be allowed to threat his/her opponents and hence, the EC is sure to pass a stern signal to Mr Gurung and his ilk,” the official said.
As per local media reports, instead of cowering down to the GJMM threat, Mr Ghisingh too has expressed his determination to stay put at his residence in Darjeeling even after the counting of votes is over.
Chopper crashed - 4 crew member dead
KalimNews, 22 April: Due to bad weather an army chopper ALH DHRUV crashed in Yumethang valley killing all the four crew member. A source of the army confirmed about the death of the army crew.
Army chopper missing
KalimNews, 21 April, Gangtok: An army helicopter is feared missing in North Sikkim after it lost contact with the army control room. The 4 seater Advance Light Hepter – ALH DHRUV was on a routine sortie of the 66 Brigade from Sevoke near Siliguri around 9:30 AM to Yumethang valley in North Sikkim, Army source said. It is said to have lost communication link around 10:45 AM above Shivmandir area of Yumethang valley. The search for the missing chopper by the army is on but bad weather condition is creating obstacles. The crew members include Pilots Lt. Jepa & Lt. Col. Bhatia and Soldiers Naib Subedar Rana & Naik Panth. 

TT, Gangtok, April 21: An advanced light helicopter operated by two majors and assisted by two technicians lost contact with army control today during a routine exercise somewhere along the mountainous corridor of North Sikkim bordering the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Indian Air Force sources claimed the chopper, an ALH Dhruv from the Army Aviation Corps attached to the 33 Corps headquartered in Sukna near Bengal’s Siliguri, was flying in tandem with another helicopter, which landed safely at Shiv Mandir at 12,000ft. Both had started from the Sevoke Military Station under Sukna.
The chopper went missing at 11.20am, 30km inside Indian territory. Army sources in Sikkim said the helicopter was lost near Yumasamdong, which is above Yumthang Valley, some 160km from Gangtok and near Shiv Mandir.
Sources said the chopper was carrying two pilots of the rank of majors and two technicians, one of whom is a junior commissioned officer while the other is a non-commissioned officer.
This is the first Dhruv with the Indian armed forces to have got into trouble since the fleet was inducted into the air force, army and navy in early 1998, an officer said. The Dhruv is said to have been made specifically for high-altitude missions.
Sikkim shares a 215km border with the TAR in the North and East districts.
According to information pieced together from various sources, the efforts of the army to trace the missing chopper and four personnel are being hampered by “cloudy weather conditions” and heavy snowfall.
Sources said the army conducted repeated sorties till sunset to locate the missing helicopter and its crew but they could not see much because of low visibility caused by thick clouds and fading light. Light fades rapidly in high-altitude areas in the afternoon.
A search-and-rescue operation on foot by army personnel of the forward units based in North Sikkim, too, has been mounted. But because of a difficult terrain, thick snow and bad weather, not much progress was made.
The buzz is ~ Asok may lose this time
Manas Ranjan Banerjee, SNS, SILIGURI, 21 APRIL: The buzz in and around Siliguri now is that the CPI-M strongman in north Bengal, Mr Asok Bhattacharya, may lose in the election battle this time. Unbelievable it may sound to the sympathisers of Mr Bhattacharya, but the post-poll discussions in the area indicates the trend.

A large number of people is anticipating that many, including the traders' community, have betrayed the CPI-M candidate from Siliguri despite his immense contributions over the past 20 years. “People have cast their votes silently in favour of the Opposition alliance, led by Trinamul chief Miss Mamata Banerjee,” said many people. 
“We are expecting a photo finish in the Siliguri Assembly constituency,” said a small trader in Vivekananda mini market in Siliguri. “Asokda may win the seat if the beneficiaries do not betray him,” he added. CPI-M leaders were worried about a whisper-campaign during the election demonstrations. It was campaigned that being an MLA Mr Bhattacharya would not able to do anything when the Trinamul Congress-led government would rule the state.
The state urban development minister had to point out the matter and said: “An odd campaigning is going on against me. If I become an MLA I would be a minister. There is no possibility that the Opposition will come to power in the state.”
But practicality, according to the critics in Siliguri-Jalpaiguri area, people have cast their votes for a change of regime in the state. They said: “Though Mr Bhattacharya was labelled as 'Asok Agarwal' for his closeness with the business community, they also have gone against the CPI-M candidate anticipating wave of change just to keep a close relation with the Trinamul Congress leaders if they come to power.” 
The Trinamul candidate from Siliguri, Mr Rudranath Bhattacharya, said: “People have cast votes silently in favour of the wave of change. Being a candidate I have done nothing but people came forward only for Mamata Banerjee. Voters wanted to make the state free from mayhem.” Brushing aside all speculations, CPI-M leader Mr Jibesh Sarkar said: “He would win the seat. The margin may be reduced compared to last Assembly election.
Blaze exposes fire threats in Darjeeling
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, April 21:Residents of Lebong woke up early this morning to prevent a fire from engulfing the locality but Darjeeling continues to sleep over the lack of proper fire-fighting utilities that threatens the tinderbox hill town.
The fire at Lebong started around 1am from a roadside eatery and razed 10 shops to the ground before the local people were alerted by the crackling sound of the wooden structures collapsing and the brightness of the blaze.
However, some people like Rangita Chhetri came to know about the incident too late. “I stay at Nalman gaon, and came to know about the incident only in the morning. By then, my shop was reduced to ashes.” Most of these shops had highly combustible items in them because of the nature of their business. “They have gas cylinders, oil and moreover the shops themselves are made of wood,” said a resident of the area.
Chitra Devi Thakur, who owned a small saloon, which was razed to the ground, said: “Since many of the structures were made of wood the fire spread very fast. None could salvage anything. ”A fire official said at least one gas cylinder had burst, a reason why the blaze spread so fast. Since most of these shops are dingy outlets with little space inside, nobody usually sleeps there at night. “Otherwise, there would have been human casualties too,” said a resident of the area.
Jharna Tamang, a resident of Lebong, said: “We are not sure where and how the fire started. Around 1.30am, there was a lot of commotion and residents came out of their houses and tried to bring the fire under control. Two vehicles from the Darjeeling fire station reached the spot half an hour later and brought the blaze under control.”
Officials at the Darjeeling fire station said the loss could have run into a few lakhs of rupees.
Residents of Lebong complained the fire brigades did take some time to reach the spot but the fire officials said it was the best they could do. The present fire station is located at Dali, about 3km from town, while Lebong is another 9km from Darjeeling. “The town had 113 fire hydrants in the 1950s but now there are only about 8 to 10 fire hydrants. With most part of Darjeeling virtually inaccessible to fire brigades, our task is even difficult,” said a fire official.
Whenever there is a fire, there are knee-jerk reactions from the residents of Darjeeling: a stream of protests for setting up more fire hydrants and the demand for a second fire station. But the town has failed to raise the issue persistently.
In March 2008, people of Pragrati Gram under the banner of Godawari Sangh had approached the fire department to set up another fire station in town and also to establish more hydrants following a blaze in the locality.
In response to the Sangh’s initiative, the director-general of West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services had asked the then subdivisional officer of Darjeeling then to identify a plot of land for the second fire station. But the administration is yet to identify a suitable land in town because of paucity of space.
Earlier, the fire station was located at Chowk Bazar in downtown Darjeeling but given the limited space, it was shifted to Dali in 2003. Only a small office of the department currently functions at Chowk Bazar.
To make the maximum of the situation, fire officials in Darjeeling have been concentrating on generating public awareness among the residents.
Between April 14 and 20, the fire department in Darjeeling observed the fire service week. “The theme of the week was Let’s Work Together for Fire Safe India,” said D. Lepcha, officer in charge of the Darjeeling station.
“We are now stressing on the need for the residents to help the fire personnel as they are the ones who would know the premises better than anyone else. They would know the outlay, the ventilation, the switches, the nearest source of water and other details. For one week we tried to disseminate this information to the masses,” said Lepcha.
Gangtok blueprints await feedback

TT, Gangtok, April 21: A group of architects in Sikkim is busy collecting feedbacks from residents of Gangtok on a bunch of public projects in the state capital.
The Projecting Gangtok-Dialogues for an Emerging City, an exhibition that started on April 15 and will continue till the end of this month, has been organising by the Architects of Sikkim.
The Star Hall presentation exhibits the designs of a dozen projects outlined by the departments of urban development, buildings, cultural affairs, public health engineering, forest and tourism for Gangtok.
The exhibition revolves around an idea floated by the AS that these projects should be in the knowledge of the people whose feedback will be then channelled back to the implementing agencies.
“There is a lot of projects coming up in Gangtok and we have showcased the designs of these projects during this exhibition so that people here can have a look and give their comments. This is an open platform where people can give their feedback, which we will be placing before the departments. The purpose of the exhibition is to bridge the gap between the decision-makers in the urban bodies and the aspirations of the people who live here,” said AS member Kailash Pradhan.
Visitors to the exhibition will be explained how the state government intends to meet the evolving needs of Gangtok both as a state capital and a tourism hub through projects like Fashion Street at Panihouse, flyover and parking lot at Deorali, Namnang walkway, State Museum at Bhanu Path, Kisan Bazaar near Lall Market, Gangtok Tower, Chandmari urban renewal mission and Soochna Bhavan at Tadong.
Feedback, comments or suggestions on these projects and visions of an ideal city are being collected in the form of a three-page questionnaire, online replies and a register at the exhibition hall. Two members of the AS are always present at the exhibition to explain the projects.
“We have received overwhelming response and people are showing great willingness to know. We have collected around 300 forms filled up by the visitors and we expect to collect more than 1,000 by the end of this exhibition. The AS will then compile the suggestions and feedback and present them to the departments concerned,” said AS co-ordinator Chetan Shrestha.
School students, who have visited the exhibition, are very keen to learn about the flyover proposed over the road near Tashi Namgyal Academy. One of them, probably a student of the academy, has scribbled a comment: “Hope this happens before I pass out.”
Students from other schools along NH31A in Gangtok have also suggested that flyovers should be constructed near their schools.
“A lot of visitors are appreciating the project concepts and are also giving suggestions. Since work for only a few projects have started, people have expressed their hopes that changes suggested by them would be accommodated while implementing the other concepts,” said AS member Sonam Tashi.
Asked whether the departments really would take any action on the suggestions given by the people, the AS coordinator said: “The government wants to know what the people want and people want to know what the projects aim at. They always see some digging and construction going on in and around Gangtok and the AS seeks to act as a catalyst.”
“Even the department officers especially from the urban development wing have visited the exhibition as residents of Gangtok and they are looking forward to the suggestions and feedback. The departments want to know what people are thinking about their projects,” said Shrestha.
First group of heritage sites listed
TT, Siliguri, April 21: The West Bengal Heritage Commission has identified 60 historical sites in Cooch Behar and 45 in Jalpaiguri in the first list that was submitted to the North Bengal University last month.
“The field investigators have submitted the first list of heritage sites for Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts to us. They have listed 60 sites for Cooch Behar and 45 for Jalpaiguri. However, vice-chancellor Arunabha Basumajumdar will visit the districts on May 10 and 11 to verify the sites before sending the final list back to the WBHC,” Anand Gopal Ghosh, the co-ordinator of the nodal office at the varsity that is supervising the project, said.
The university and the WBHC had signed a memorandum of understanding in August last year to identify and document historical sites in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts.
It is the first initiative by the state government to document heritage sites in the region.
“The sites include archaeological buildings, ruins, ponds, religious sites, colonial buildings, landscapes like river beds, tea gardens, bungalows et al. The field investigators have also started work in the North and South Dinajpurs but the sites identified mostly belong to the ancient period of which just the ruins remain. In Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar most of the sites belong to the colonial era. In Darjeeling district, we are currently focusing on Kalimpong and will later move to Darjeeling and Kurseong,” Ghosh said.
According to him, the work of verifying the documents, listing facts about the sites, photographing and mapping the locations are being done simultaneously. “We have fixed a deadline of June 10 for the field investigators to submit their final list. The lists will be sent to the WBHC officials who will make the final verification, suggest necessary changes and publish a booklet of the heritage sites,” he said.
Allies to bury Siliguri hatchet
AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Siliguri, April 21: The Congress and the Trinamul Congress have decided to jointly form the board at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) after the Assembly elections, the move coming days after Mamata Banerjee managed to bring all major Congress leaders to a Trinamul event in a show of unity in the area.
After contesting the civic elections jointly in 2009, the two parties had fallen out over the posts of mayor and chairperson. Both parties had staked claim to the posts. Eventually, the Congress had formed the board with Left support. There have been bickering between Trinamul and the Congress since with the former choosing to sit in the Opposition bench.
The Congress, which had 15 councillors, refused to part with the two posts. Trinamul, which too had 15 councillors, had fielded candidates for both the posts but lost after the Left voted for the Congress nominees for the posts of mayor and chairperson.
The first step towards narrowing the rift was taken on April 14, when Mamata brought all major Siliguri Congress leaders to a Trinamul event.
Today, Darjeeling Trinamul chief Gautam Deb said. “The situation is extremely favourable to jointly form the board with the Congress now. We are fighting the Assembly elections together. It will not be a problem to dissolve the present board once the Assembly elections are over. We are not claiming the post of mayor and the present incumbent can be re-elected again.”
Shankar Malakar the district Congress president, said: “There was a rift between us in the past. But during the past few weeks, we have come closer to each other. Once the election results are out, we will take up the matter with the Trinamul leadership.”
Good Friday to be celebrated today
KalimNews: The Christian community living across the country observed `Holy Thursday’ on April 21, and will observe Good Friday today (April 22) to mark the forthcoming Easter on April 24.
Prayers and rituals were held at all the Churches across the country while special prayer ceremonies will be arranged till mid night. Good Friday is observed before Easter Sunday as a religious day on which Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death. On Good Friday Jesus died and resurrected on Easter Sunday and Christian believe that Jesus sacrificed his life for humanity and good of everyone to cleanse their sins.
According to the Bible, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday). Easter marks the end of Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of the Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by fifty-day period called, Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday. Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. It occurs during the spring, in March or April; the method for determining the date of Easter Sunday is complex, based on lunisolar calendar.
Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif. In the Western world, customs such as egg hunting and Easter Bunny extend from the domain of church and often have a secular character. 

Good Friday is a day when Christians remember in a special way what Jesus did for them. It is the day that Christians remember God allowing Jesus, his perfect son, to take the world's sin onto Himself and take the punishment for it by being crucified.  According to scriptures to cleanse one's sin blood is to be shed. Jesus shed his blood in the cross to save all the humankind from the punishment of hell. He died in the cross, a significant death. However, this is not the end of the story as on Easter Day Jesus rose from death proving that God had overcome sin and death
Christians believe that when Jesus died he took the punishment for all of their individual sins. This means that those who believe n Jesus Christ and accept him as his saviour are acceptable to God because they can be forgiven and so God can keep company with them. Christians believe that they will spend their time after their death in God's company, in Heaven.
Significance of Good Friday 
TNN:From the early days of Christianity, Good Friday is observed to commemorate the day when Jesus Christ was crucified.
Christians across the world on Good Friday commemorate Jesus's arrest, trial, crucifixion and death at Calvary by offering prayers and reading out Good Friday sermons in the churches on this day. This day is not considered as a day of celebration rather a day to lament Christ's death.
This religious holiday, Good Friday, is observed during Holy Week on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday. People lament the death of Jesus Christ, and the agony and sufferings he underwent before giving his life. At the churches, candles are extinguished and statues are covered in black to mourn the death of the son of God, Jesus. Prayer services, reading out passages from Gospel and Good Friday songs are held after taking out the Way of the Cross procession. The Catholic Church treats this religious holiday as a fast day and refrains from eating meat or one meal of the day. Mourners dress themselves in black clothes to express their grief on the death of Christ.
Across the world, this religious holiday is celebrated in different ways but the significance of Good Friday remains the same. Christians and followers of Jesus Christ send Good Friday greetings and SMS to commemorate the essence of the day. In many states of India, government offices, schools and private work stations remain closed on the occasion of this religious holiday. Christians and other communities to mark the significance of the day send Good Friday wishes to their friends and dear ones. Sending Good Friday SMS/ Messages has become a well accepted way of sending and sharing the spirit of the holiday festival as they are short, thoughtful and quick. People also send attractive e-cards with beautiful messages on the occasion.
Good Friday is all about lamenting the death of Jesus Christ. Good Friday 2011 falls on 22 April. Celebrations will be held on this date which will continue till Sunday to celebrate Easter to mark the resurrection of Christ. On Easter Sunday people prepare dishes and have a feast. From Thursday, known as Maundy Thursday, Christians will start offering special prayers and hold daily mass to relive the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles.
It has now been proved that women always play to the gallery. The Badminton World Federation has made it mandatory for women shuttlers to wear skirts in order to ‘glamorize’ the sport. It is understandable that with this rule, which will come into effect from May 1, the glamour quotient of women’s badminton would be pushed up in sync with the ladies’ skirts as they deliver the shots. After all, it has been 56 years since Marilyn Monroe had her skirt blown upwards by an obliging draught, and people will surely flock in larger numbers to badminton courts if they can have the pleasure of getting the forbidden peek every now and then. So the “distinctive image” that the BWF is aiming to create for badminton by introducing the new rule involves women players being prim and proper in skirts, which, paradoxically, are intended to produce the opposite reaction in the audience. Given this clever plan, the BWF seems all set to realize its noble ambition of boosting sponsorship income and increasing media coverage of badminton.
While there cannot be any argument against the attractions of glamour, one also wonders here what sports are all about. The Indian Premier League has convinced people that sweating cheerleaders make perfect companions to sweating cricketers. Yet nobody seemed to miss the lovely ladies during the world cup matches. So will people be entertained enough if, say, Saina Nehwal plays miserably in skirts in place of her trademark shorts, and loses the game? It is natural for women players to feel uncomfortable in flapping skirts and this might well affect their performance. And then there is the all-important question of choice that is raked up whenever rules are imposed. By making it obligatory for women shuttlers to wear skirts, the BWF is not being very different from the Taliban who would have their women covered up from head to toe. No wonder then that Sudha Sundararaman, the general-secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, has criticized the BWF’s plan by saying that it is “reflective of a reactionary and patriarchal mindset”. At this point, there is a desperate need for some gesture towards equality that will set the records straight again. What about men playing badminton in skirts? Such a move will surely attract more viewers, perhaps even more than the BWF can begin to imagine. (TT)
Curbing corruption? Time To Get Real!
Rajinder Puri, SNS: TO substantially remove corruption from India’s political system calls for such drastic reform as would usher a full-blown cultural revolution. To achieve the reform of a sick political system requires an approach no different from bringing about the recovery of a sick patient. The first step is to make a proper diagnosis of the sick patient’s system. The second step is to discover the flaw in the system. The third step is to prescribe a medicine to cure the flaw. The final step is to administer the medicine to achieve the patient’s full recovery.
In the midst of the clamour surrounding the Lokpal Bill has the nation made a proper diagnosis of the problem? Clearly it has not. For starters a proper diagnosis must insist upon the truth. Otherwise the correct medicine cannot be prescribed. India is like the proverbial ostrich with its head stuck in the sand refusing to see the truth. I recently wrote a short piece criticizing Anna Hazare for questioning the integrity of all critics expressing reservations about the Lokpal Bill. In it I made an indirect allusion to his misdemeanour of diverting money from a trust fund for his birthday celebration. He made a mistake. All humans make mistakes. He apologized for his error. Nothing, therefore, should be held against him. But should he criticize the integrity of those who differ from him? An irate letter criticized me for refusing to separate the wheat from the chaff. He wrote that Hazare misused a mere Rs 2 lakh  while corrupt politicians are looting billions. Good point. But who are these corrupt politicians? Are they not the ones with whom Anna Hazare is collaborating to draft his Lokpal Bill?
That brings us to the first harsh truth in our diagnosis. All politicians ranting against corruption are probably tainted because the system can only operate through corruption. Hazare exchanged letters with Sonia Gandhi who is credited with being the biggest political patron of the Lokpal Bill. Mrs. Gandhi wrote to Hazare: “You should have no doubt of my commitment in the fight for probity in public life.”
In pursuance of that commitment should not Mrs Gandhi demand a retraction and apology from author Yevgenia Albats, former member of the Soviet government’s official KGB Commission, who in her book furnished details, citing files, related to the money paid by the KGB to her family? Should she not sue Schweitzer Illustrate, the reputed Swiss journal, which alleged that she operated a secret bank account of over $2 billion? Should not the Indian government seek explanation and apology from the Russian government for its assertion through an official spokesman reported in The Hindu confirming that the Soviet government paid money to Mrs. Gandhi’s family in order to protect its foreign policy?
Repeated requests to Mrs. Gandhi to refute these allegations have resulted only in deafening silence. If Mrs. Gandhi and Anna Hazare genuinely seek an end to corruption they must confront the truth. Then alone might we proceed with a successful fight against corruption.
Let us hypothetically assume that the allegations against Mrs Gandhi are valid. How would that help us get at the root of corruption? First of all, we would have to recognize that Mrs. Gandhi did not initiate corruption but inherited it. She did not seek KGB money but was voluntarily paid by the Soviets because she belonged to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that rules India. How might it be said that she inherited corruption? Quite simply we should recall that Pandit Nehru himself clandestinely received money from the Soviet Union purportedly as royalty for his books which he deposited in the foreign Bank of China concealing it from the Income Tax Department. This fact came to light after the 1962 hostilities with China when the Bank of China in Kolkata was seized by the government. The scale of corruption may have grown exponentially, but its seeds were sown in the halcyon days of early independence.
The truth we must accept is that the entire political class containing many honourable people is corrupt because the system is corrupt and permissive beyond measure disallowing honest functioning.
Very recently Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee accused the Trinamul Congress of using black money in the ensuing assembly elections. This was laughable! Had he said that Mamata Banerjee was buying voters with cash as has been done in Tamil Nadu he might have been heard with some attention. But using black money in elections? Is CPI-M using white money? Is any single party in any election anywhere in the country using white money in elections? Do donations to political parties come through cheques? Get real Mr Bhattacharjee! Only the late Chandrashekhar in a rare moment of candour admitted once that all elections were fought with black money. But he did precious little to rectify that. One doubts if he wanted to rectify that.
These days all manner of charges are being levelled against certain members of the Lokpal Drafting Committee. But who among the VIPs is not tainted? Is not President Pratibha Patil tainted for having been allowed to contest for the President’s post despite an ongoing CBI inquiry against her for misusing her office as Governor to protect her relatives charged with murder? Having become President the CBI probe was aborted. Is not Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh tainted for having filed a false affidavit that he was a permanent resident of Assam in order to be elected to the Rajya Sabha from that state? One can go on. The point is that unless we recognize that the malaise of corruption and impropriety has gone so far beyond normalcy that indulging in name calling is futile. In differing degrees we are all corrupt. If we don’t practice corruption we indirectly abet it. The system is corrupt. So let’s consider the system.
Our system is corrupt because the checks and balances contained in the Constitution have been upset by ignoring its provisions. Establishing a Lokpal will offer no solution. It will merely compound the confusion. Why will Lokpal function any better than the Central Vigilance Commissioner? The solution lies in what the Constitution has explicitly written. It has given us a President elected indirectly by the entire nation, empowered to protect all laws and the Constitution, to monitor and guide the functioning of the Union Cabinet, and to proffer advice to either or both Houses of Parliament. If it is preferable for the President to be elected directly by the people, that can be done. By an amendment that does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution the change can be effected. Only a President acting as the super Ombudsman of the nation, elected by the people, offers a realistic hope for a systemic change without a Constitutional change to curb corruption and restore governance. The proposed Lokpal is a non-starter.
If and when such revolutionary reform does occur in India we would have to offer an amnesty scheme that allows the guilty politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen to retain only a fraction of their illegally earned wealth and deposit the rest with the State. They should be allowed to keep their identities secret if they willingly cooperate. If they do not comply they might be severely prosecuted. This would be the only realistic solution. With zero tolerance after a cut-off date they would reform themselves. We would have to give opportunity to the guilty to be reformed because while they corrupted the system, it is equally true that the system corrupted them.(The writer is a veteran journalist  and cartoonist)
Mood in Bengal-Post poll, Hills are alive with sound of music
Amitava Banerjee, HT: The campaigning, the voting and the hostilities over at least for the time being, it’s festive time in Darjeeling. With all the political parties, including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), taking a break waiting for the results to be announced before embarking on the next phase of the agitation, the Queen of the Hills is buzzing with activity of a different kind. And the weather Gods, too, seem to be smiling.
Darjeeling has always remained a hot favourite with film directors, both from Tollywood and Bollywood, but the endless agitation over the past one decade had kept the filmi folks away. Now that there is a respite from the bandhs and violence, they are all back with a vengeance.
“Only 2% of Darjeeling’s potential as a film destination has been explored till now,” said Kaushik Ganguly, film director, now in Darjeeling shooting his latest thriller, Laptop. Director Anurag Basu was also here recently on a reconnaissance mission for his film, Barfee, a romantic murder mystery staring Ranvir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and debutante Ileana D’Cruz.
Darjeeling was one of the most-sought locations in the Sixties and Seventies with immortal films like Aradhana shot here. In the Eighties and Nineties, too, the verdant hills provided the backdrop for a whole lot of films. However, with the Gorkhaland agitation gathering steam, Tollywood and Bollywood directors shunned the region.
“Now I realize that little-known places like Bijanbari and Sukhiapokhari are yet to be explored by film-makers. This could be the beginning of another revival,” Ganguly told HT. The award-winning director is shooting portions of his film, Laptop, in Darjeeling. Stars include Rahul Bose, Churni Ganguli, Saswata Chatterjee and Sanjay Bhattacharjee.
“I am enjoying shooting here. A festive mood seems to prevail in Darjeeling after the polls,” the director told HT.
Anurag Basu, who was here recently, had said about Darjeeling, “This is such a beautiful place. I want to capture the undying spirit of Darjeeling and its people in my films. I am coming back in June to shoot.”
In May, Darjeeling will also host Anjan Dutta, who will release the music for his forthcoming film in Darjeeling. “Finally Darjeeling is all set to get the publicity for all the right reasons. We all have to help to restore the lost glory of the hills,” said Udaya Mani Pradhan, a resident of the town. “It is because of directors like Anjan Dutta that Darjeeling remained on the map of the filmi people,” added Sujit Sen, a Kolkatan who visits Darjeeling regularly.
With the weather Gods appeased, the bright sunshine only added to the festive atmosphere of Darjeeling, where crowds thronged to watch the cameras roll.

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