Friday, December 15, 2017

Letting go 18 - coffee cups, co-authors and future stories

While impossibilities can sleep together under the velvety bejwelled blanket - the night sky, there are untold stories to be co-authored. Stories of the beginning and continuation of the impossibilities. Quite the like the departed souls who climb mountains just to clear up the distance and spaces in a world that otherwise tries best to push souls to drift away, there are stories with with invisible trails.

Trails that melt the ice to make the travel possible. Trails that make you feel secure, to know for sure the connections exist between drifting planets. Possibilities for two and many different stories that are told and retold to the distance places but never co-authored, because so long as there are scores of trails and long vein connections, there are constructed spaces.

Spaces exist between cities, neighbourhood, apartments, floors and within the same bedroom! Space puzzles you as trails exist between thousand miles and there are disconnection within the soul frozen bedroom.

No matter how many galaxies away, for you and your co-author is there is one balcony with two coffee cups steaming to a distant future. Kaleidoscope can smell the caffeine and cigarette and the smell of the river nearby! Souls never let go! Never ever... never forever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Everyday menaingmaking and the absent structure:The lost workshop trail and Derrida interaface

There was a pre-Kaleidoscopic time, and it is mentioned in past, but that does not mean that it is over! It is not over because the meaning of the pre-Kaleidoscopic time is never settled just as none of the meanings are well settled ever. This story is rooted in moments before the Kaleidoscopic beginning in a workshop in 2010. He was looking for an avenue to vent out himself, and he planned this blog. However, the workshop gave Kaleidoscope unique experiences. It was then disappeared in an unfinished trail and lost (not completely) in the layers of time. What today Kaleidoscope experienced Derrida would have said "Différance it is." Derrida in his relatively little easier books Speech and Phenomena (1973) and Writing and Difference (1978) talks of an impossibility to settle with the meaning of the signifiers because there are too many signified attached and each of them is directing to some newer bunch of them. Its like a never-ending circle of meaning making which is Différance indefinitely.

Perhaps the 'something missing' in nature of the discourse enables kaleidoscope to connect, to bring out the long lost flow of narratives after a while - the time which seemed lost, but was snoozing in a long pause. While Kaleidoscope in his textual experiences with Derrida was afraid of the loss of signified and being lost in the game of signifiers can now see another dimension to it. It is because of the lack of settled nature of the communications itself he could trace the trail of the qualitative workshop that happened and moved his understanding about the issue seven years ago. Its not that he lost the entire connection to the intellectual vibration created in the workshop through his work and rework on the article which finally got published with Routledge along with other participants of the workshop! Meanwhile he, just like others started making other meanings through life experiences. However, he found the trail back in track immediately the moment of another series of short but intensive game of signifiers - the discourse in a little coffee-shop. Kaleidoscope could immediately connect to the cloud of intellectual vibration that he had to leave for a while in a long snooze!

The meaning making in Différance is troublesome as it continues to question what Kaleidoscope's species ultimately communicates - ultimately, its communication that enables them to coordinate actions and rule the world. However, todays immediate connect and revival of the vibration after the long snooze assures Kaleidoscope that it is this Différance that makes the connection possible. The meanings were never objective, unchanged and moreover, hence was never settled at all. Kaleidoscope knows even today it was "the indefinite referral of signifier to signifier... which gives the signified meaning no respite... so tat it always signifies again!"

Therefore, thoughts can be exchanged, untold stories can be collected, an article - a book might be born with Différance, over a cups of Darjeeling tea - perhaps fleeting like a Himalayan forest ground. There will be more stories to be told.

Hence, Kaleidoscope like many others continues to survive all the disruptions as he knows none of the meanings are well settled and that is a wonderful thing. The trail continues between researchers, between books and articles, between blogposts and between words and discourses.

Yes kaleidoscope now understands there are "certain relationships, unperceived by the writer, between what s/he commands and s/he does not command of the patterns of language that he uses. This relationship is... a signifying structure that critical reading should produce... production attempts to make the not seen accessible to sight." (Derrida, J. 1976. Of Grammatology. 158, 163)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How do you know that you are in a hierarchical society?

Kaldeidoscope happens to live in a society which is hierarchical. He has studied it in the name of caste, class, prestige and many others. He often visits spaces which are supposed to challenge the assumptions behind the hierarchies. However, does they? The significant question henceforth is whether one can at all withstand the programme installed in the name of socialisation in the phase of child development. Malinowski decades ago mentioned something about the difference between what people say they do and what people actually do! To comprehend and make sense of the difference he mentioned something like participant observation. Participation to such an extent that you can actually write a whole ethnography based on Memory – remember Srinivas in his The Remembered Village – after his field notes were accidentally burnt.

To know the habitus of the people you really don’t always have to have a long years of participant observation. It is possible, even more so, when you slither yourself through a microscopically different habitus carrying a sufficient experience of the underlying structure of the social whole. Hence, while you have read Homo Hierarchicus by Dumont, you also tend to find hierarchies beyond the arrangement of people, but also in the arrangement of objects. For example, caste is casted in our dreams, in ghosts (petni is lower than Brahmadatti), in flower (jaba happens to be a low graded flower), so on and so forth.

However, all of a sudden Kaleidoscope is slithering through organisations which are supposed to question and deconstruct the existing order of things, is ingrained within.

Hence, when the power centre arrives all others stand on their feet. Whenever, some power embodied persons are being felicitated the rest are on their feet. Kaleidoscope, incidentally referred a junior’s name before naming the senior one’s in their joint work he was immediately reminded about who works with whom in the ‘proper’ hierarchical order.

Hence, the mechanism of doing research remains to be the same. From the definition of the delivery of resources, the power equation remains to be the same.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Simulacra in a shopping mall

Space creates meaning in the endless process of signification. You see, learn, experience, and make sense of the externalities through internal and unknown mechanisms - we often call the cognition. Kaleidoscope discovers newer experiences from the same 'objective' material world. While he is not too far from Kolkata, spending most of the time within the outer peripheries - fringes of the city, however, there isn't any of the traces! Just when kaliedoscope started to believe in the fate of the 'new town' as a place devoid of history to have a depthless present in the making, he discovers the howrah bridge.

It is not that he didn't see the miniature bridge near the place he is having late afternoon coffees every now ans then, but the Baudrillardisation didn't happen until now.

Kaleidoscope says new town to be a space without time or history because it has wiped off the entire dimensions of old place, landscape and names. There are street snd roan numbers and not names, no localities based on landscape or other features. A complete out of nowhere cityscape. Soon all the memories will die with the death of the physical bodies of the people who still have nostalgia embedded.

Meanwhile, the Howrah bridge - the miniature of it,  makes simulacra. Simulations of an imagined experience routed through miniature takes kaleidoscope to the memories of a distant past when he had to cross over the bridge every now and then. He could remember the day he was caught by the police for doing photography of the bridge in early morning or the day he purposefully missed few trains to his workplace miles away. However, such memories could only restore the space in time 'New Town - kolkata.'

Meanwhile Kaleidoscope can see Baudrillard as he sips his black tea, smiling and saying 'you too are saturated in constructs... truth conceals that there is none!'

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A surreal Reunion

In a circular motion called life you often get back moments like you have left as it is before you departed. You would never know when the moment was gone. Not all departures are decked with formal farewells and promises that you fail  to keep as the life goes ahead in time. Meanwhile years pass by within blink of eyes and  you continue to have a small corner of an imagined space for all the moments that are gone and for increasing nostalgia. Longing for a home which is no longer there. Sometimes, you question has it been gone forever? Will you ever be able  to relive those even if for a moment? What will happen if you really can relive once and for all?

The answer never comes easy. There are so many years gone, so many different memories have been created, so many times  life tested us over and over again.

Perhaps those moments came back at  unexpected time and place... far away from the places where memories of an earlier life was created. Those busy city life, refuge taking after class melting pot dusky hours and moments of exotics in the middle of an ethnographic romanticism... all come back dances in the conversations. Meanwhile so many untold stories that needed a space above the head and a tap 'life goes on' seem to reappear. The juxtaposed overlapping exotic and liminal space just made it happen. All are relived... like raindrops finally reaches its kind in a river flow, like all the raindrops that circulates through all the life forms. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

A fairy sky to a timeless space: Unfinished love letters in an envelope

All of a sudden the ordinary but unexpected sky holds your hand and takes you to the fairies. Kaleidoscope looks at the sky, especially the monsoon and post-monsoon sky for that. As the winter approaches, the sky increasingly becomes the same, like the young ages and then makes regular revisits to the memories through a grey-blue dusty lonely pathway. A traveler would still find the darkness in memories - the darkness which shows the way through an otherwise flood-lit space of the cityscape. Meanwhile the spectacle makes regular objects to deck themselves for the fairies to appear. The two lampposts appear to be amorous, overlooking the canvas above, when the sun starts to wipe off the light slowly. Like the lamp posts becoming characters of all the unfinished fairy tales, souls of departed lovers imagine themselves passing through the white sledge-way to reach the timeless space.  The eternal togetherness of all the departed souls, unfinished love affairs, untold stories and all those who couldn't be the one, must now be the one!  Be the one, therefore, requires the sledge-way to climb and cling on to reach the timeless space. A space where the disturbed and undone past disappears once and for all, the time that has been lost because of the lack of love never haunts in the distant dreams and nothing disappears or reappears in time, because there isn't any, neither you oscillate, nor you stand still and wait for the things you wanted to have forever. It takes a lot of courage to climb the sledge-way like the two lamp posts. It takes a hell lot of transformations from iron ore to iron post - caste and drafted for the others till the pathways to the fairies appears once and for all. 

Meanwhile, its the same sky that crosses over many distant souls, its the same envelop that covers very many unfinished love letters, because nothing disappears. Kaleidoscope like others continues to fall in love every time s/he thinks of the fairies and the pathways to transcend the timed world in which he struggles to survive. He always knows from the corner of his eyes, there indeed is a balcony waiting with a couple of tea cups along with a distant smile - because like water, sky is a great equalizer as well. With the sledge-way in hand its the same blanket everywhere and the timeless space is not very far. A few decades more to go and its oneway highway. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ryan murder case and dreaded everydayness: Foucault bites back

Can anyone remember the last major reform in the performance appraisal of the students, or mechanisms of measurement of merit in the education system? Frankly there isn't any! There are instances of development of reform like trends, such as, making learning more informative - the advent of surface learning by making students to mug up information - which in my opinion is meaningless because now we have google to do that! There seems to be increasing emphasis on 'training' rather than education. Yes, the coming generation are trained to do certain precise things which is at per with the increasing mechanisation of the nature of work force. Hence, as a student you are supposed to know a hell lot of things. You are supposed to memorise them and reproduce them like a computer without virus capable of giving prints to a billion flawless copies.

What if that computer fails? Yes, we look for potential 'problems' that stops the machine to do what is expected from it. If it can be fixed it is fine, if not it adds to the huge lump of electronic waste! What if a child fails in a similar way? Yes, we become equally frustrated add extra private tutor (like adding an additional RAM) and compare them with others who are performing better. If the child is failing repeatedly to perform as expected, what we do is finely shown in the movie Taare Zameen Par. See the clipping below.

Repeated failure and there is a chance of a complete disaster. There is hardly any space left where the child can vent out her/his accumulated frustrations. Their natural games are also been replaced because of lack of playground and too many engagements and tuitions. In one of my earlier post I wrote extensively on this. It is a fact that while in many urban centers there is a vanishing space for children to play, in rural places there is vanishing number of playmates hence the picture is gloomy everywhere (click here). The little games they are allowed to play is under strict supervision of the coach - which is not much different from the ways they are supposed to study. In art school they are supposed to paint according to the art teacher who (usually) only guides them to colour within the countour of the drawing and anything that goes beyond the boundary is considered mistake. Similarly, those who swim are frustrated with their coaches because before they could love water and their body within it, the coach is asking them to rectify the butterfly strokes! Come'on not everyone is going to become Sachin, nor everyone is going to be a Olympic swimmer. We are thankful Vincent or Leonardo didn't have a coach to 'discipline' them.

The murder of a 7-year-old child allegedly by a class XI student perhaps shows all the symptoms of an outcome of present everydayness of late capital child rearing practices. The class XI student wanted to delay the examination because he was ill prepared. I remember whenever there were some examinations approached that too of serious ones I used to pray to make some kind of natural calamity (rainfall or storm) so that the exam gets deferred and so that I can prepare! These were wishful thoughts but then I used to think okay, whatever! There will always be another exam where I can do well. My friends from school (apart from the consistent first ten ranking students or so) more or less used to have similar thought pattern. Our parents demanded us to secure qualifying marks in subjects where we were weak. For the rest, above 50% would have been sufficient for us to satisfy them. They would only say "okay, perform better next time, play less and concentrate." That's it, everything remained the same. This, dear readers, have changed a lot. I knew a few of my friends who used to score top marks and then failed to do so had faced hardship from their parents. They had set the expectations and their parents reciprocated. I guess, these forms of expectations like conspicuous consumption have percolated everywhere. Now, even the bottom most pupil are facing similar pressure that the top one of his/her class faces.

For Foucault let me begin by quoting him from his monumental "Discipline and Punish" (read the book here). Foucault (1975) writes :

"Historically, the process by which the bourgeoisie became in the course of the eighteenth century the politically dominant class was masked by the establishment of an explicit, coded and formally egalitarian juridical framework, made possible by the organization of a parliamentary, representative regime. But the development and generalization of disciplinary mechanisms constituted the other, dark side of these processes. The general juridical form that guaranteed a system of rights that were egalitarian in principle was supported by these tiny, everyday, physical mechanisms, by all those systems of micro-power that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymmetrical that we call the disciplines."" (222)

Now extend the idea of "formally egalitarian judicial framework" a little further to see the egalitarianism and supposed equal opportunities among the pupils of an institutions. The basic logic is that each student's performance is now measured in some supposedly objective measure through gradation (it is even more objective with Multiple Choice Questions), hence, a student's performance will indicate her/his position. The mechanisms of 'discipline' demands to "follow what coaches ask!" "...these tiny, everyday, physical mechanisms, by all those systems of micro-power that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymmetrical..."

What happens when you cannot cope with the 'Coach' or the disciplining practices! You know what is waiting for you at domestics. You have no playground to vent out emotions, and you are surrounded by a number of threat perceptions!

No one knows "how many deaths will it take 'til he knows/ That too many people have died?" The system will remain the same be it gradation, judgement of merit or potential. On the top of which there will be pressures for 'disciplining' because that is what suits the late capital utility maximisation. There will be blood! More cases like Ryan murder and Foucault will keep on shouting from a distant past!

For the detailed case - click here

Pic Courtesy: NDTV.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Letting go 17: Space that saves you

You never know what saves you from sheer disaster. Sometimes the place where you feel that you belong to lifts you up from a sure fall on your face. And then you grow up and migrate. You are forced to leave or might choose to do so. When you leave and you wake up in the middle of night to search for the space only to find the time and space gone for long. You pull and concentrate through your long blood vessels. They rush!  Sometimes even within your dreams you search for the body of the space - your bed, pillows, a window, the slice of sky and pair of eyes or a known smell - all lost (?)in time only to be found in the never-ending circles of time space sandwich.

And then you begin your search for the 'lost' in space. You find your imagined marks on the corners of your corridors or on the rooftop. Those whitewash renovations could only transform those walls and not your marks anymore. Not because they are imagined but because they are transcendental. They continue to lift you up, save you, make you relive many more ways than you would ever know.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Andul Rajbari and beyond - frozen and yet decaying time on a spatial ecstasy

There are times when certain monumental architecture along with natural habitat give you immense possibilities to imagine about the past places. Andul, all of a sudden becomes one of such places. During the Haldia travels Kaleidoscope used to cross a not so conspicuous rail bridge carrying signboards before and after denoting the canal as Saraswati River! Kaleidoscope has seen rivers transforming into canals and becoming worse than a mere drain in his life time (click here for details). Saraswati river is no different, however, sometimes, the riverbed is filled with conspicuous and typical Bhagirathi water because of high tide or because of monsoon. The Indian railways have kept a considerable space while building up the small bridge which also indicates its potential widening in recent past. However, if you read R. C. Majumdar's (1971) History of Ancient Bengal, you will find that the river was an active large tributary and distributary of Bhagirathi in 16th Century AD.

District Gazetteer 1909:

Once in 2012, National Library, Kolkata gave Kaleidoscope a rare opportunity to go through the Bengal district Gazetteer edited by L S S O'Malley. He copied portions of the chapter on Andul because of course he wanted to visit much heard Andul Rajbari. O'Malley wrote Andul was a village connected through Howrah-Nagpur railways. The place includes Mahiari (Mauri, hence Maurigram raiway station) and Andul. It was a good market place and it covered a good square mile and a half. "There is a high brick tower with 5 stories approximately 165 ft height. On top of which can be reached by a long series of steps inside (now only portions planks). This tower is one of the several erected during the early phase of British rule for Semaphore signalling." (p. 149). He also wrote about the palaces built by Malliks and Mitras of Andul and Kundu-Chaudhuris of Mahiari. Mallik family settled with Gaur Charan Mallik who settled during Muhammadan rule. Mitra-Majumdar served under Lord Clive and Kundu Chaudhuries were traders and money lenders and with accumulated wealth achieved Zamindar status over years. Today's most conspicuous palatial building belongs to that of Mitra family.

The imagined space:

This brief historical note is essential to imagine the legacy that the place has. A river, a busy market hub of mostly of coconut and crops, active connection with Britishers, trade connection through the river Saraswati, collection of taxes and some redistribution - schools, library, health centers and the like! Let us start from the Semaphore signalling tower near Unsani bridge at Khatirbazar. The first sight of that brick tall structure with typical arched windows now decked with outgrowths hear and there held Kaliodoscope's hand to see the river from high above. If it wasn't the Bengal gazetteer, he would have easily imagined this to be a watch tower where people with archery or perhaps canons waited day and night to protect their business center from external attack through the river. The bridge that helps you cross the river now is covered with shops and hence the river has disappeared literally. The tower, if and only if Kaleidoscope could climb he would have seen the ignored yet busy business hub of Andul-Mauri imagined space. As he searched for the palaces he had to go through alleyways - typical alleyways which might have appeared large and wide roads centuries ago. Kaleidoscope whenever revisits a place which he had visited in his childhood, he always find that place a little (or lot)less spacy - as you grow (old), you tend to find a shrinkage of space. It was a afternoon napping phase of the ongoing Rash fair near Kundu-Chaudhuri's palace. The palace shows a slow but steady decline of the architecture - yes all these buildings are unmanageable today. Neither any of them will fall down all of a sudden. Hence a slow and steady end of the days of feudal lords.

Portion of Kundu-Chaudhuri palace

Similarly, the most conspicuous Andul Rajbari - the palace of Mitra family with a massive extravagant pillars and a large opening at the western side welcomed Kaleidoscope with a golden sun effect. The kings have given up and written the dangers of roaming around or entering into the palace. The once spectacular building demanding awe from all the spectators is now humble facing time. It is carrying the mark of time on all of its body and soul. Like a dying time and decaying space, increasing capital encroachment has made it impossible for the palace, its open space and the river to converse with each other - yes the river goes a little beyond the front gate at the western side of the palace. Taller late capital apartments have blocked the private conversations between the two in a lonely summer noon or in a quiet moonlit night. However, the river still flows in high tide, brigs water from Bhagirathi and washes the Andul shore with whispers of history. While with age like Kaleidoscope they too find their places as becoming less spacy, the river Bhagirathi with her high tide continued to provide encouragement to Saraswati  it whispers "someday all the prisons are blown to dust and like dust in the wind imagined spaces walks with ecstasy." 

The conspicuous tower

Series of arches

An wooden plank suggesting the old staircase which would have directed towards the top. At present the inside of the tower is a popular place for people to urinate!

In a typical sunny day you can find different sheds of bricks within a single frame,

Part of Kundu-chaudhuri palace

The extravagance of Kundu Chaudhury palace. Though time has market its way it still is standing tall

Those nostalgic iron arts

Windows of Kundu Chaudhury's palace

Those beautiful glasses

Kundu Chaudhury institution - a school

The conspicuous pillars of Mitra Family palace (popularly: Andul Rajbari)

The sporting club at the ground floor and estate's declaration of the danger of the old building

One of the few decks still surviving

The palace annexed temple

The nearby Saraswati River

The appraoch road of palace and the juxtaposed late capital apartments

Me and Arun da


O'Malley, L. S. S. (1901) Bengal district Gazetteer: Howrah. New Delhi: Logos

Majumdar, R. C. (1971[reprint 2005]) History of /Ancient Bengal. Kolkata: Tulsi Prakashani

Note: Author is indebted to his University senior Arun Makal for taking him to these places on his well maintained pulser.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ecological Opportunism: Cow protection and making Jantarmantar green

Kaleidoscope has witnessed painful departure of much loved cows at his mother's ancestral home. The departure was eased through a process of handing over the dying cow to mercy killers (to read about the story click here). However, those days have gone in most part of his country at present and there is some new era has come when you are not supposed to use you assets as and when needed. Kaleidoscope is not talking about note ban nor he is interested to deal with the consequences of ATM queue or the problems of AADHAR card linking. This is more substantial. No ATM, no money. This is about mother (or father?) nature.

Stray cows:

We listen to over and over again about the damage that can caused by the non performing assets or the bad loan recovery by the banks. We are supposed to hit worse with these things. Now let us think about your asset demanding a lot and giving you nothing in return. Please no PETA argument here. People who raise cows raise them because this is their asset and their livelihood depends on it. They do not fantasize like Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Mahesh. That excellent short story even today makes Kaleidoscope cry and I guess most of its readers feel the same way. How can a person has so much of attachment with his cow? Well this is possible, Kaleidoscope has seen it and knows it. But one must also understand cows (similarly hens, ducks, pigs) are valuable assets with strict economic issues attached to it. Since, there is strict rules about how to sale and buy cows the economic dimension of the cow rearing all of a sudden has fallen under strict vigilance. In consequence, there are people who have no choice than to abandon their cows. Let them starve to die or to encroach in places where they are supposed not to enter. This includes not only farmland in places like Uttar Pradesh (For a Business Standard article click here) but also places like reserve forest (for Hintustan Times article click here). Professor Sudhir Panwar of the Department of Zoology, Lucknow University in a recent article has expressed grave concern for the rising number of abandoned cattle and potential damage they can cause over reserve forests (click here). He says "Developments following the 'cow protection' efforts of the government and other social organisations have not only crippled an already beleaguered livestock sector but also resulted in the proliferation of stray cattle, raising serious economic and ecological concerns" (page 13). One might talk about the cow shelters recently been built up to give shelter to the strays, but these full and cows are ill treated. Hundreds of them have died already (click here for more information). This simply is a disaster having serious economic and ecological consequences.

National Green Tribunal and Jantar Mantar:

Interestingly, while there is a rapid growth of an environmental disaster primarily because of cow protection without proper management plans, the National Green Tribunal asks all the protesters to be relocated from the historical Jantar Mantar ground in Delhi (click here). While Kaleidoscope has been there a few times to experience the iconic sundial and to see the protests. He has also felt a stream of blood flowing while watching Rang de basanti (those requiring some motivation watch the movie, click here), those places are repeatedly shown. There is no denying that those who have pleaded to the court on account of the continuous dharnas have suffered for long, but then again from where one can protest other than Jantar Mantar? Its not too close neither too far from Parliament house, very close to police stations and the roads can be cordoned off without much disruption to the city's traffic. Ramlila maidan as a replacement of Jantar Mantar is ineffective: first of all it does not have that location advantage, and second, its close to some of the major hospitals! 

The question of dissenting voices:

Kaleidoscope recently completed a refershers' course on environmental issues at Jadavpur University to gather respect for the National Green Tribunal. This article doesn't mean that he has lost all of his faith on the organisation. He always preferred stronger institutions. He prefers stronger institutional mechanisms and he doesn't mind if there are relatively weaker leaders. However, the incidents of stray cows and till date silence from the part of National Green Tribunal and a proactive decision is symptomatic. It is symptomatic to a possible shrinking of democratic space and a bias that can bring an all-round disaster economic-ecological-democratic. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Evolution is flawed

If evolution is to be seen as a species's ability to transmit genes and continue to propagate then among mammals Humans happens to be one of the most successful animals, or at least this is how the species perceives it since the time Darwin. The second best performers in this definition happens to be those who has some purpose to serve to the species of Homo sapiens sapiens. Therefore, cow, chicken, pigs are evolutionarily more successful than their wild varieties or the rest of the animals which lack purposive connection to humans.

Frankly, the whole idea of evolution under this definition is now worthless. Kaleidoscope knows he might receive a heavy blow from his friends from biological disciplines because come on evolution cannot be flawed! He knows the luxurious life that he leads is a fruit of evolution and he also knows even poorest of the poor of this world is leading a luxurious life if it is compared to the Homo erects - and credit goes to evolution. However, as it is said "idea of evolution is flawed" it also demands some explanation. Evolution in terms of passing on genes to the next generation to continue the species happens to be the primordial drive and also the source of most of the problems in the world! - well this is not the reason for which evolution is flawed! Evolution as a concept of passing genes is flawed because it lacks subjective dimensions - the dimension that has never looked upon seriously. The basic question that needs some reflection is something like this "Do I need this life to pass on genes?" Any reader might say - well its like Cartesian ideology. Some other might say "okay, that is only true for Homo sapiens sapiens and not for the rest of the animals, because they are yet to reach the cognitive revolution. Kaleidoscope will say its not so and will refer to an old post on Civilisation and Question of Love series "Brutality on animals".

 Think about hens having complex world of behavioural needs and drives. They want to run around, find hierarchy, make nest lay eggs and groom. Think about intelligent and inquisitive pigs. Think about dairy cows. These animals spend almost their entire allotted life inside a confined space. Calves, piglets are kept away from their mothers. all of them are fed with perfect dose, given hormone injections and so on an so forth. Just to pass on their genes for the superior species Homo sapiens (Benson and Rollins 2004, Appleby Mench Hughs 2005). Yes, Kaleidoscope knows it might seem a laughable logic. Okay, fine, lets go back to the age of slavery. Or assume the role of any minority population in today's world. Even better think about your life in front of a computer screen for 12 - 15 hours a day for 12 months a year and then think about the significance of evolution on Homo sapiens sapiens. You can pass on your genes only to be exploited by others.

Pic courtesy:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Iron irony and civilisation

'Iron has only made the world tough and dull' kaleidoscope said to himself. It lacked the lustrous colour of fresh copper or bronze and to make the matter worse it carried stronger cutting edge advantages. However, thought kaleidoscope, it is colourful when there is some rust on them. What about steel? Yes kaleidoscope thought, its equally dull and gives no chance for rust to settle in and make it colourful.

'Just a wishful and useless thinking it is' kaleidoscope said to himself. How can you allow rust to settle down on your steel made items.

With the advantages of tough and dull metal the kaleidoscope's world devised new constructs related to the dullness. Examples might include such metaphors as 'shining like steel' 'as sharp as steel blade' 'iron man/ iron lady' so on and so forth.

How would have been the domestic life in early iron age? We can remember the roundhouses of Britain (around 800BCE to 100 CE). These were thatched houses with a constant fire burning inside at the centre. The fire was a multipurpose one to keep the home warm, keep the flies away, keep the room smoky to keep the food preserved for a long time. Often people were accompanied by domesticated animals. Now imagine the smell and smoke that would have provided for a permanent or semipermanent settler equipped with iron we are so proud of!

Where is the change?

There has been genuine changes since then! Kaleidoscope was born in an advanced near late capital civilisation. He resides inside a home, teaches at a building, crosses and romanticise bridges, sees the parallel points merging at railway tracks, dines on a plate - all are made of iron. The dull and strong metal might have been discovered at many places thousands of years ago at the dawn of the 'civilisation'. How far has it been changed since then? kaleidoscope gave it a thought for a while.

Yes, now that chimney installed, there seems to be an absence of smoky confined spaces, there seems to be an absence of smelly world and with the advent of perfumes and roomfreshners there seems to be a complete absence of those smelly days replaced by smell of civilisation. Kaleidoscope is happily married with the dull and strong iron in his everyday life while the nations are happily playing with the steel to do extravagant jingoism. Kaleidoscope is sharing an increasingly smoky outside to install air purifier inside! His world demands iron like personalities, decision makers and perhaps unifiers (of late in India). But the question remains what has changed? When he looks at the dumped and increasingly vegetation engrossed rusty and lonely iron rods for constriction they smiles at kaleidoscope. Demands him to look at the tall blue-white buildings at the horizon to understand there is also a word IRONY.

For facts-
Flatman,j. 2015 archaeology. London: oneworld

Fagan, m. 1999. The beginning. Boston: little brown and company.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Jail, Temple, Cremation and Brothel - the Continuity of a Murder

Well crossing the tolly nala, or chetla bridge could never be the same once you have traced the trail of the old branch of river Hoogly. Once you cross the kabi subhas metro station and continue towards Baruipur you tend to see the widened canal like river which is being killed slowly and bringing a sure death. Or you can go to the relatively higher floors of the alipur campus of the university of calcutta to see the river is waiting with green mangrove vegetation and silt bed for you to discover. Its river near the end, its river before the city- you know who is killing it.
Kaleidoscope used to go to his mother's sister's place in nacktala by crossing a peculiar canal - quite different from the one he usually saw. There were 'A' bridges connecting the Netaji Subhas Bose road and the marginal settlements on thr opposite to it. One could then experience a sudden appearance of rural cosmos after crossing those A shaped bridges. While he was curious, his father explained it was build so as to allow the passage of 'dingi' - the small and country made boats. Kaleidoscope could see the imagined canal little wider than that actually it was. He could fantasize sitting beside the canal watching those dingis making a reappearance. Those imaginations were bulldozed by the metro pillars and eventual destruction of those A shaped bridges locally called as 'sanko' meaning locally constructed often bamboo structured bridges to be used by people on foot. As Kaleidoscope grew up to see people dying he started visiting the local cremation grounds beside the canal. The first to go was his father's dear friend and he went to 'kaoratala' near kalighat.
He knew it was the same river - now the canal. Similarly he found the same practice when he went to Boral cremation ground in garia and visited the tripureswari temple. Elephant's bone, several undated potteries recovered underground while reconstructing the temple indicates people and their long blood affinity with the river which his civilisation has so casually forgotten.
Today his auto to national library met an accident on the top of the chetla bridge and he had to get down and wait unless the dispute was settled. He could only get a few minuits to stand on the cleavage of the river. Yes there are ups and downs in garia so does in chetla as the river left her markings and memories on the land whom she depended for so long. Kaleidoscope looked at the the 'jail', the cremation ground and imagined the temple and the brothel! The whole ditches of civilisation and its attempt to conceal them appeared at once on the bridge. Kaleidoscope felt like being sandwiched in the cleavage- entire loads of the history of civilisation and brutal murder was mounting on. He knew it was the confinement and right there lay the pathway to liberation. The air was thick so does the memories of murders of all the rivers that lay underneath.
One of the ferry ghats still remaining at Naktala

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bullet trains and 'fuck you' data

Everyone in India has some experience of a train ride and this is going be revoultionised with Bullets cumming after demonetisation disaster! It all starts with an image of 'fuck you' once I put some calculations in an excel spreadsheet. Blame it on United States entirely, as US is the country which is showing middle finger and its a spreadsheet designed by their gem. Lets have a look:

US showing middle finger as they don't mind (Data calculated from world bank report)

Okay so you got it US is showing the rest of the world a middle finger saying "fuck you" I don't care if I have to pay the highest amount for gifting California Bullets. We can understand that. Arnold Schwarzenegger being their governor for long time they can give a damn (remember total recall baby!). China smilingly takes their fingers down, yes, there is "I don't give a fuck" attitude prevails and that is an achievement in itself. The rest are the names of colonizers with charming wine clad little towns and the romantic noise in sum the Spain. The orange clad India stands wondering at the demonetisation on one hand and Bullet trains on the other. 

An imagined conversation:

Q: How would it be viable?
A: only if it has 100 trips, 88,000 to 110,000 passengers per day (click here
Q: Is it really free?
A: Nothings for free. Think about Rupee depreciation value over Yen (60% in last ten years). Remember the .01% interest rate and that amount of passengers being available. 
Q: How cost effective are bullet trains across the world?
A: Viable High Speed Railways is an oxymoron. It is nowhere viable and it cannot be. It is a political stand. (click here
Q: are we fucked?
A: Not yet
Q: Why not?
A: because we don't know the future and we are already fucked long back!

Meanwhile the orange clad pillar is making faces and might punch me on my face, hence, this is the end!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Reading on the Readings of Suranjan Das's Book entitled "Communal Riots in Bengal" : The story of a Pink ink trail

This is perhaps the fifth time that Kaleidoscope requested Suranjan Das's book on Communal Riots in Bengal - 1905 to 1947, an excellent thesis written by Das during his Oxford days. Kaleidoscope until tomorrow was getting the same copy with numerous blue marking here and there. It always seemed someone has meticulously read this book. There are also a few questions written on some of the pages of the book. Kaleidoscope could readily understand the nature of perception of the Ghost reader who has left his/her marks on the book. Kaleidoscope has read the same copy in 2009, 2011, 2013, several occasions in 2016 and in September this year. Until September all markings were in blue ball pen and by pencils. However, in February 2017 someone took the copy and meticulously studied with a pink marking. This pink marking seems to be very interesting which Kaleidoscope thought of writing about.

The marking begins with the acknowledgement section where Prof Das thanks to several people most of them stalwarts in the field of history. The pink ink marks the name of a lady about whom Prof Das dearly mentions and clearly states she happens to be a personal friend and a dear one. The pink ink puts a star mark! Who was that girl!! Yes, a smell to put a mark.

Later on it marks all the events with references to the possible initiation of conflict by the Muslims in places of Bangladesh and India. The pink line becomes thicker in places where Das mentions about the events allegedly initiated by the Muslims and disappears where similar incidents are allegedly initiated by the Hindus.

It doesn't mark lines which describe how trivial issues were actually given rise to the violent riots, in what ways Gujaratis have displaced internally a large tract of Muslim population from the city of Kolkata by using Calcutta Improvement Trust. It doesn't look at the agrarian backdrop of the Bengal riot neither it is interested to mark on the economic inequality issues of both of the religious people. It is only interested in pointing out the contribution of Muslim identity consolidation and initiation of the conflicts.

Yes, the Pink ink disappears completely from the conclusion chapter as the conclusions by Das doesn't fit in the stereotypes made by the pink like.

Therefore, next time you visit to the National Library order Suranjan Das's book with call number: E-954, D26 com. and look for the pink trail to read how the pink like reads it.

PS. Be sure to have your own readings when you go through the book. And, yes, Kaleidoscope in no means support putting marks on library books.

Past in Present in National Library

The old building taken from Bhasa bhawan through the century old trees

Coffee cup seems to be accompanying kaleidoscope everywhere. Like the rainfall isn't leaving his city, prolonging the ever reflecting verticalities on the road, on the wet floor, coffee cups are creeping up kaleidoscope's souls. The way his rapidly transforming city bringing him back to the present for future references is formidable. The rainfall and his lone time at the national library pushed him to write a few words for the long pending blogpost which he thought of writing in 2005 when for the first time he adjusted himself at the bhasabhaban at National Library instead of the main building.

Its the newly build architecture for reading pleasure at per with post millennium, postmodern glassy architecture that welcomes kaleidoscope with a weired smile. The old and colonial building which had book shelf integrated tables with mahogany polish, a small flower vase carrying one or two flowers and wooden floor is now looking at kaleidoscope, inviting but its still under rennovation and perhaps those past has gone forever.
The coffee corner

The broad staircase at the back which used to be the popular place for Kaleidoscope and his friends to eat and smoke is now abandoned and alien support pipes- aiding to the rennovation is occupying the lost time. Trees however remained as they were always have for centuries overlooking generations of the readers. The pleasure however, lies with the sofas beside the two story long glass panel to sit, read and relax, perhaps to sleep.

Of late there seems to be a rise of young civil service aspirants paying regular visit to the library, hence, while kaleidoscope was having a sip or two at the tiny little coffeestall installed beside the bhasabhaban, he could listen to the conversation on the nature of preparation for the approaching exams and the uncertain futures. A group of familier faces of the library whom kaleidoscope could remember since early 2000s are still discussing Marxists and the political change of 2011. The coffeeshop seems to have made the old canteen even more irrelevant. Unthinkably cheap tea and other things used to attract Kaleidoscope and his friends always. While other things have gone tea is still there and its Rs. 1:00 only.

The canteen kaka who used to look like Bollywood Raj Kapoor is no longer there with his secretly kept bundles of cigarettes to give us. The canteen like many other places have been postmodernised with tiled floors round tables and plastic chairs replacing 'outdated' bench like arrangements. However, no longer there is any queue for food coupons. You cannot have those delicious chinrer polao but certainly you can sit there and smoke - the legacy continues in puffs.

Approaching way to Bhasa bhawan after an episode of rain

PS. Kaleidoscope and his friends during 2005, 2006 used to read a lot about African archaeology in National Library. After four or five hours of uninterrupted reading their heads would gave up and they used to start laughing for no reason at all. They used to go inside the washroom to unburden the laughter (and water of course). The washroom now a day seems like left alone since then!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Glassy Selfie World - Narcissism and Postmodern architectures

The selfie world

The one glassy building:

Once there was a glass building with completely different and attractive looking architecture near Ultadanga - the VSNL building. Kaleidoscope, an aimless roamer in his neighbourhood was for the first time asked by an elderly fellow 'where do you want to take up your job?' Kaleido replied 'at that glass building near ultadanga'. 'Do you know which office is there inside the building' the fellow continued. Kaleidoscope replied 'yes VSNL' 'And what is that?' - yes of course kaleidoscope  didn't know the answer. He said 'i dont know but i would be happy  to see the graveyard nearby from the top of that office during tiffin time!' Kaleidoscope can't  remember the rest of conversation, but he does remember the attraction of that glassy architecture.

Many glassy buildings:

Later on he has seen many of such buildings coming up at different places of his city. Then there came shopping destinations which he thought he would never be able to go to buy. Now that there are many and that he has grown up, he doesn't have much aspirations or options to take up a job in the glassy buildings. However, looking from any of the top buildings, remains an important part of his fantasies.

While these glassy buildings are encroaching his city space, mushrooming everywhere to replace many of the thickly historical experiences, kaleidoscope stsrred seeing them differently.  There is one beside National Library and kaleidoscope is deprived of experiencing the colonial feel which was as precious as the books that took hours to appear from some hidden cave in the library. The postmodern bhasa bhawan replaces National Library. All of a sudden renovation means replacing mosaic floors with tiles, windows with sliding glass panels which reduces the open space to half and walls with wallputty!

Selfie world:

Hence kaleidoscope's world is now converted to a space that reflects your image too often. When you look at them they make you look at yourself - perhaps the front camera clad selfie mode in action everywhere. A world where there is no escape from selfie. You have to be narcissistic, you must be able to fall in love with and then transform the body according to your wish! You are made not to love everything of your body because there are other better bodies to see nearby, and you are more and more trying to change it. Yes, you chose to look 'good' because so many times you are compared with your heroes possessing 'ideal types'. 

As Kaleidoscope looks up beyond the glassy buildings there seems to be the outer atmosphere - the sky. Only attaining that high demands him to go through a series of colourful backlit flexes. Will they ever allow kaleidoscope or for that matter others to trespass them?

Perhaps trespassing is not a possibility without getting into 'properly' shaped. One should not only live but should also die sexy.

The fleeting worlds:

The glassy buildings not only makes your world a selfie world, but also makes you believe the transient nature and lack of permanence and depthless presents. Hence, there once was hometown mall now central mall and no one knows perhaps may be in a few years it would be office space like Gariahat mall. Who knows how long IBM clad DLF I or the like will stay? Glasses are easy to leave as they are! Aren't they? Additionally they easily breakable and replaceable by something new. Therefore, here it is, a transient depthless successions of architectures, or do they redefine depth in time, depth in stratigraphy in a dynamic way in a way we can say postmodern!

Meanwhile, its again the sky from above and a tall building calling! Meanwhile,  kaleodoscope knows attaining that high is restricted as the roofs are dangerous in high buildings. Is it true? or does the glassy world hold you back, because you are supposed to live (consume) and not rush for the sky! Not yet, because you cannoy die till you aren't sexy!

The newly converted central mall in an extreme angle.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gorkhaland movement - (c. 1947 to 2012) a survey through newspapers


This article is based on newspaper references which I did during my IIMC (Indian Institute of Management Calcutta) years. I wanted to do some serious research and was preparing a proposal for the same. However, like many of my unfinished projects this too so far not been done. I am sharing this with a sincere hope that someone else might find this useful for his/her research. The language might be crude partly because it was always a rough draft I was preparing beside my busy preoccupations with other projects at the Institute and partly because I don't write well, for which I sincerely apologize. However, the facts are cross referenced with many links for you to take up your own project. I thank Prof. Bhaskar Chakrabarti and Prof. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay for everal discussions on these issues in the hot summer afternoons. I am grateful to the library staff of Bidhan Chandra Ray Libary of IIMC and National Library, Kolkata. Additionally I thank Mr. Lyngwa and Mr. Lyngdow of the Ministry of Water Resources, Sikkim for providing me valuable inputs during the inception of this research and for those lovely Darjeeling tea at Gangtok.

Table of content



The global political and economic forces call for increasing integration of diverse cultures. Social scientific theories argue for the obituaries of nation states (Appadurai, 1997[1]). However, at another extent there are local forces making a distinctive shift towards the formation of micro fragments (Singh, 1998[2]). The crisis of identity in this situation becomes one of the major determining factors in movements which seek to maintain culturally distinctive boundaries (Hall, 1992[3]). In this context the present paper would try to understand the nature of Gorkhaland movement and the question of Gorkha Identity in northern part of West Bengal. To do so, the paper uses secondary materials including scholarly articles and news paper references.

Gorkha: the question of identity

The word Gorkha has its origin from a district in Nepal of the same name[4]. The kingdom of Gorkha was established by Drabya Shah in 1559. In India the two terms Gorkha and Nepali are used interchangeably. However, the political movements in different times have favoured the term Gorkha to differentiate their movement for Gorkha and thereby not giving it the nature of a movement for foreign (Nepali) people (Golay, 2009[5]). However, scholarly articles have differentiated between Nepali people of Nepal with that of Indian Nepalese. As Subba (1992[6]) defines the former as Nepalese and the later as Nepalis its emphasis is given on the linguistic dimensions. The source of identity crisis as reported by the official website of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha lies with the very fact that Gorkhas are often treated as being different, not Indian[7].
The scholarly articles present a limited and fragmented picture of Gorkha identity. Pradhan (1982[8]), Subba (1985[9]) focuses on the aspects of migration and integration of Gorkhas in mainstream Hindu caste system. These indicate the existence of a fundamental fissure in Gorkha subjectivity.  

The Gorkha movement: a historical account

Historical development of Gorkha people in India since the mid 19th century encourages a separate Gorkha identity. Around 1900 the Nepali people find that their integration with West Bengal is artificial (Bomjan, 2008[10]; Debnath, 2007[11]; Chatterjee, 2007[12]).

Post independence movement:

Post independent India sees a stronger demand of identity recognition of the Gorkhas. In 1947 Communist Party of India (CPI) supported autonomy is demanded in public meeting in Darjeeling. Although local CPI leaders suggest the formation of “Gorkhasthan”, the leaders of Bengal vehemently oppose this idea. Afterwards, the issue of autonomy has been hotly debated over and over again in Bengal assembly. However, Bengal government never addresses the issue seriously. Even their language has not been recognised before 1988, when Nepali started serving as co-official language.

The language issue:

The plain land Bengal politicians have taken a long time to officially recognise the Nepali language. In 1961, the West Bengal Official Language Act recognises Nepali as a language to be recognised in three subdivisions of Darjeeling district, viz. Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong. For the rest of Bengal, only Bengali is the official language. However, the implementation of these provisions has been taken place after the formation Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) – the autonomy given by the state in 1988 (Mokatan, 2004[13]).

Gorkhaland Movement under Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF):

The Gorkhaland movement starts in 1979 under the leadership of Subhas Ghishing led Gorkha National Liberation Front GNLF which launches a tough struggle. A separate state for Nepali settlers has been their principal demand. In September 1980 a memorandum to Prime Minister states that the objective of their movement is the creation of a separate state, the 22nd state of India. They further demand to consider Nepali as a language under 8th schedule of the Constitution of India. The struggle reaches its peak in between 1986 and 1988 where more than 1200 people die because of political turmoil. Meanwhile the struggle has been viewed sympathetically by the Nepalese people from Nepal (See Subba, 1992[14]) which gives this movement a pan country touch.
The GNLF takes an eleven point action during 1986 and afterwards which includes the following (Pal, 1986[15]):
a.       Observe a black flag day on 13th April against atrocities on Indian Nepalese.
b.       Organise a 72 hour Strike from 12th to 14th May, 1986.
c.       Burn State Reorganising Report of 1955 which attaches the hilly districts with West Bengal.
d.       Burn the Indo-Nepal treaty of 1950 which makes Nepali inhabitants of West Bengal as immigrants.
e.       Organise movement against indiscriminate felling of trees by plain land Bengalis.
f.        Boycott elections.
g.       Boycott MLAs, ministers and parties which does not conform the demand of Gorkhaland.
h.       Organise movements to stop all vehicles taking bolders from hills to plains.
i.        Do not observe important national celebrations including Independence day, Republic day, Gandhi Jayanti, Netaji Jayanti etc.
j.        Convince people to not to pay taxes.
Eventually with this announcement people meet with Khukris (Dagger) the traditional Nepali war weapon. They condemn CM Jyoti Basu and PM Rajiv Gandhi for the plight of the Gorkhas in India (Mukherjee, 1986[16]). To avoid mass disaster during the 72 hours bandh, the state deploys2000 policemen to the sensitive places and pre arrested 100 supporters[17]. The large scale procession show their support network in hills. This procession results in violent conflict between CPIM cadres and GNLF suppoerters (Kundu, 1986[18]). In this period the state government also gets intelligence report that they are spreading their network in the Terai and that an armed struggle would get initiated[19]. Meanwhile Ghishing threatens to begin armed struggle (Bhaumik, 1986[20]). However, their demands remain unheard by the centre. On 27th July 1986 mob organises with Khukri to confront police that results in killing of one police man, and several injured others. Police in response fires back killing 13 people and injuring 38 others. Army called upon and imposed curfew in Kalimpong[21].

State - GNLF: the dialectics

After these mass agitations, the Government of West Bengal issues an information document presenting the fact the Darjeeling and adjacent region has always been highly prioritised (Government of West Bengal, 1983[22]). Jyoti Basu led left front government accuses congress because of their support to the Gorkha movement and argues against Congress led government’s submission policies against agitations in several north eastern states (Pal, 1986[23]). In response Congress leader Priyaran Ranjan Das Munshi points to historical neglect by left government to the real demands of the hill people[24]. However, Pradesh Congress supremo Subrata Muherjee points to the Darjeeling unit’s support over the issue[25]. From congress’s participation in the meetings organised by GNLF his statement appears to be more reliable[26]. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi does not label GNLF movement as antinational, but he strongly opposes the division of West Bengal[27]. Rajiv Gandi sees the demand for Gorkhaland as something launched by the Nepali Gorkhas who start living in India after 1950s, and the removal of article 7 of Indo-Nepal treaty would enable their citizenship in India, which is unjustified demand. He however criticises Bengal government for not taking the development issues in Darjeeling seriously[28].
Along with increasing agitation Ghishing seeks help from UN secretary general and Nepal king. The home ministry expresses interest to initiate talk with GNLF. In this situation the Government of West Bengal argues that the matter of Gorkhaland falls under the purview of state government hence centre should stay indifferent[29]. However, the home ministry clarifies that the movement seeks support from outside country hence the matter comes directly under the purview of Government of India. The ministry advises the Government of West Bengal to prepare a platform to hold talk[30]. The Government of West Bengal however imposes three preconditions to GNLF before holding the talk, first, theat GNLF should withdraw their letters to UN and king of Nepal, second, they should stop violent movement, and finally, they must withdraw separatist demand. Home ministry supports the Bengal government, but warns CPIM cadres not to confront GNLF members[31]. On 23rd January, 1987 GNLF partnering All India Gorkha League (AIGL)[32] instructs every household and business men of Darjeeling to hoist Gorkhaland flag and celebrate anti-bengal day[33]. Eventually the Rajib Gandhi led Government of India expresses the concern for holding talk, and invites Ghishing to New Delhi[34] and announces that the Nepali people migrated to Bengal hilly provinces before 1950 would automatically become the citizen of India[35]. In response to this proposal they suspend their anti-bengal movement.
As a result of the inconclusive talk between the two, GNLF withdraws their movement for the next two months[36]. However, in March 1987 they also decide to boycott the assembly election[37] and warn that a mass scale movement is on its way.[38] The centre dismisses the deadline but assures for a good package.[39]
In summer of 1987 a growing frustration against Ghishing within GNLF is reported. Several extremists within GNLF reports agony because of the fact that Ghishing attempts to find a negotiated solution of the Gorkhaland problem[40]. Perhaps to placate his supporters Ghishing suddenly calls for a 13 day bandh, and violent campaign. GNLF activists blow off bridges and disconnect Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong from mainland[41]. In response to this while the Government of West Bengal deploys security forces to restore the law and order the Central government on the other hand escorts Ghishing to home ministry to initiate talk[42]. After the discussion he flows back to Darjeeling in an army helicopter to withdraw the mass violent campaign[43]. In September 1987 a meeting between Ghishing, Jyoti Basu on behalf of Government of West Bengal and Home minister Buta Singh takes place where all sides accept the need to give Darjeeling autonomy[44]. Eventually left front unanimously approves the formation of a Hill council.[45] Congress endorses the proposal[46]. GNLF also accepts the formation[47]. The Nepali language however is not included in eight schedule of Indian constitute until August 1992.

DGHC – the formation and failure:

The issue is resolved at least temporarily in 1988 by the establishment of DGHC which gives it a territorial autonomy to the Gorkhas to design and implement their own development policies[48]. The Structural feature restricts DGHC to become a full fledged autonomous body, because one third of the council members are nominated. Furthermore, although the body enjoys autonomy under sixth schedule of Indian constitution, it has limited power to generate its own resources. Two most effective revenue earning mechanisms, viz. Tea and forest resources are outside of its jurisdiction. More importantly they are supposed to supervise local government enjoying supervising power.[49] Several disputes between Darjeeling Kolkata emerge especially on issues of Local governance. Under the command of Ghishing, DGHC ignores participatory approach of decentralised planning. GNLF wins in three consecutive elections after 1988; however their performance remains sluggish (Chakrabarti, 2005[50]).
The establishment of DGHC as a means of giving regional autonomy, becomes more and more inefficient.
Even when DGHC’s sluggish performance is notable, the demand for a separate state remains unattended (Chakrabarti, 1988[51]; Biswas and Roka 2007[52]).

Gorkha movement afterwards:

Mc.Henry (2007[53]) points out the separatist movement would continue since there is a marked economic inequality between plain land and Gorkha inhabited part exists. Although economic development has never been an agenda as Mr. Ghishing finds Darjeeling to be far well off than most districts of Bengal (Bagchi, 2011[54]). However, the hill agitation that once compelled to form DGHC, has re-emerges with a new leadership in late 90s. One of the major reasons is the failure of DGHC and arguably Ghishing’s undue capitalisation of the movement.

The transitional phase:

Gurung’s unexpected settlement is seen by many as betrayal to the original demand of Gorkha people. GNLF’s swift consecutive win in DGHC election makes prominent fragments within the GNLF members. It goes on so far to make Ghishing dissolve GNLF party unit in Kalimpong because the winning member announces the regeneration of separatist movement (Karlekar, 1989)[55]. Ghising further declares that the council is not a stepping stone for the formation separate state[56]. With these statements GNLF fast looses its support base from the hills (Gazmer, 2008a)[57]. Throughout this period, people accuse him as betrayer (Times of India, 2003)[58]. The agitation against him goes on so far that people set a deadline for him to leave hill (Chhetri, 2011)[59]. From 2008 onwards, Darjeeling hills have seen an all party coordination against Ghishing (Gazmer, 2008b)[60]. Eventually Ghishing’s life becomes vulnerable as his house is attacked.[61] He no longer remains the face of Gorkha movement (Sen, 2008).[62]
Meanwhile, Mr. Bimal Gurung once a prominant participant of armed struggle under Ghishing led movement in late 1980s uses Gandhian style in his Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) led movements which gives a new dimension to the Gorkhaland movement in West Bengal.[63]

The politics of strike and state’s response:

Under the new leadership fresh demand for Gorkhaland gains prominence. In post 2000s the demand for the implementation of sixth schedule and removal of Ghishing before his term gets over gain prominance. However, new agitation begins to take shape as one of the RED FM radio jockeys comments on the Indian Idol contest winner as “Chowkidar” a common term of abuse for people from India's northeast.[64] This comment from a plainland Indian to a North East Indian fuels the initiation of movement that uses Strike as its main power.
Pre-tipertite meet in 2008:
The initial bands are called with demands such as the repairing of Hill Cart road.[65] Since February 2008 regular strikes hamper the daily life of people living in Hilly districts.[66] The repeated general strikes hit the tourism economy of the hilly districts. The strike covers the nationalised banks and ATMs which makes it difficult for the tourists to sustain.[67] The Morcha supporters attempt to spread the agitation towards the Siliguri, i.e. at the plains. They tries to initiate indefinite hunger strikes in Siliguri, however, cops are called to keep them out of Siliguri.[68] By June 2008 because of continuous agitation tourists start moving out the hilly towns. About ten thousand tourists move down suddenly as GJM supporters attack one of the tourist buses in middle of June 2008, a time when tourism activity is at its peak in North Bengal.[69] It adversely affects the tourism industry of the region as tourists become disconnected from the rest of the mainland India for a few days.[70] Eventually they are forced to leave Darjeeling and the adjacent areas.[71] The prolonged strike leaves detrimental effect on the famous tea industry of North Bengal as well.[72] One of the estimates indicates a total loss of $475,000.[73]
Viewing the situation the CPIM-led Left Front Government of West Bengal takes initiative to restore peace in hills. Buddhadeb Bhattachayya, the then Chief Minister of Bengal calls for an end of Darjeeling Bandh, after five consecutive days of successful strikes. The continuous hunger strike by Morcha Supporters leads to serious illness of several members.[74] Government of West Bengal is forced to initiate talk by arranging an all party meet on Darjeeling issue in June 2008.[75] In between tourists are attacked.[76] Morcha supporters initiate talk with Central Government of India. The GJM general secretary Roshan Giri meets the then Home Minister Shivraj Patil asking for a separate state- Gorkhaland. They are advised to convince the left front ruled West Bengal.[77] Initiation of talks between the centre and GJM representatives suspends the continuous bandh in hills upto July 5, 2008.[78],[79] Meanwhile Minister of External Affairs Mr. Pranab Mukherjee invites talk on Darjeeling issue without precondition.[80] Government of West Bengal shows no hesitation in holding tripartite meeting involving GJM and the Central Government.[81] The GJM leadership shows no softness towards West Bengal leadership. They blame the Chief Minister as responsible for the violence in hills through CPIM party cadres.[82]
Government of West Bengal protects Darjeeling hills with paramilitary forces as uninterrupted strike continues for 1800 hours. Looking at degraded situations, Chief Minister calls for an all party meet, strategically excluding GJM.[83] Another round of bipartite meet between Bengal CM and GJM leadership fails to yield any concrete outcome in following month. While the Government of West Bengal offers a greater financial and administrative autonomy to DGHC, they stick to their demand for a separate state.[84] In this context a tripartite meet becomes meaningless.[85]
Tripartite meetings and the Telengana issue:
After 2008 meet the centre, state government and GJM in a tripartite meet agree on principal to abolish the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council and to set up an alternative administrative framework in Darjeeling. In exchange GJM agrees to maintain peace in hills.[86] GJM rejoices this decision and sees it as the first step towards the formation of separate Gorkhaland. However, their claim for separate state is denied at the onslaught of the tripartite meet.[87]
In December 2009 central Government’s decision of making Telengana an independent state instigates GJM’s for separation. On 11th December, 2009 they launch “fast onto death” for separate Gorkhaland.[88] Four members of GJM along with BJP leader Jaswant Singh meet Home Minister P. Chidambaram to discuss on the possibility of forming a separate state. Because of their demand being denied, GJM announces a four day strike and relay hunger strike.[89] GJM’s activities during the December indicate Telengana movement works as an eye-opener for the Darjeeling parties.[90] The Government of West Bengal and Centre expects to meet in another tripartite meet during December 2009 but GJM shows no initiative to restore peace conducive of holding a meeting.[91] However after their meeting with senior opposition leader L.K Advani, GJM drops their Bandh call and also puts off the hunger strike to move positively towards tripartite meet on 21st of December, 2009.[92] These changes in the political climate indicate GJM’s eagerness to participate in the meeting.[93] However, the much publicised tripartite meet ends in stalemate because of GJM’s overemphasis on separation issue.[94]
Continuity of Agitation in 2010:
Because of repeated failure in tripartite meetings, GJM supporters threaten to drive Superintendent of Police and District Magistrate out of Darjeeling thereby installing home rule.[95] They give a deadline of February 10, for fixing up fifth round of tripartite talk.[96] After February 10, Hilly provinces observe a twenty four hours of strike.[97] As the agitation continues, home ministry finalises broad outlines for talk over the issues of Gorkhaland.[98] In March 2010, GJM proposes for interim set up prior to Gorkhaland.[99] The home ministry agrees on the demand and P. Chidambarm calls for a meeting on April 9 which prominently ignores involvement of state government.[100] The next tripartite meeting in May 2010 on Gorkhaland issue is failed because of differences of opinion regarding the territory under the interim set.[101]
Madan Tamang murder and aftermath:
When the future of the interim set remains uncertain, Gorkha movement sees a historical incident. The India Gorkha League president Mr. Madan Tamang, a prominent proponent of Gorkhaland, is brutally stabbed and killed arguably by GJM supporters.[102] This results in spontaneous shut down of hilly provinces.[103] The CPIM leadership blames GJM supporters for the murder. One of the senior GJM leaders steps down from the party in protest of Tamang’s murder.[104] CPIM sees the cornered GJM as a golden opportunity to reinforce their control which they lack since the onslaught of Gorkhaland movement.[105] Their political process fails to continue for long as the meeting regarding the functioning of Gorkhaland Authority for Darjeeling (GAD) instead of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council progresses.[106] The fruitfulness of the meeting results in suspension of bands by GJM.[107]
Agitations before and meetings after assembly election 2011:
With a view of maximising her support the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamta Banerjee, the then Railway minister makes a visit in Darjeeling with a promise to initiate development activities through rail.[108] Apart from this initiative the central government remains indecisive on the Sixth tripartite meeting with GJM. The party leadership decides to resume their politics of strike.[109] As the decision for implementation for GAD does not get attention, Mamta Banerjee announces job generating projects. She gets immediate attention.[110] However, in December 2010, GJM calls strike as the interim authority is not activated[111] which they withdraw as the centre assures them of taking quick action regarding GAD.[112]
With further delay from central government GJM leadership announces seven day strike in January, 2011.[113] By February the agitation reaches to such a state that GJM supporters burns down several tourist lodges,[114] and police kills two persons in Darjeeling.[115] The situation goes out of control and army is called for.[116] In consequence GJM announces continuation of strike.[117]
Meanwhile West Bengal progresses towards assembly election. GJM prepares to contest for Gorkhaland. A clear divide in GNLF and GJM’s strategic partnership with left front and TMC respectively is surfaced.[118]
Assembly election in 2011 sees a changeover when Mamata Banerjee led TMC gains a historical victory. GJM’s demand for rapid development of Darjeeling increases as TMC wins. Significantly the strong demand for a separate Gorkhaland decreases.[119] In consequence TMC indicates positive initiatives as Mamata Banerjee fixes up a meeting with GJM on June 6, 2011.[120] In this context the Union Home Ministry advises GJM leadership not to rush on to any extreme measure and to find a common ground for Gorkha issue.[121]
After meeting, the GJM leadership expresses their satisfaction with meeting outcomes, as they find a ray of hope in resolving their issues with Gorkhaland.[122] Their seven-point demands get attention from TMC led Government of West Bengal. As a result GJM retreats from their demand of a separate state, Gorkha Territorial Administration is deemed to be formed and Mamta Banerjee declares that Darjeeling issue is resolved.[123]


The history of Gorkhaland movement indicates a) multiplicity of factors ranging from identity issues to development issues, b) in several occasions the movement is negotiated with special provisions from the state agencies, c) leaders’ opportunism and d) often violent agitation which call for counter violence from state force. Politics of strike, violence and counter violence severely affect the life of the common people, the tourism and tea industry of the region. Although Bengal Chief Minister declares possible resolution of the Gorkhaland issue, more recent trends indicate virtual monopoly of GJM in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong (Banerjee, 2011[124]). After reading the draft bill of Gorkha Territorial Administration GJM study forum indicates dissatisfaction.[125] Meanwhile the main opposition in West Bengal, CPM finds GTA to be no solution. The day after the GTA agreement GJM renews its demand for separate state (Zeenews, 2012)[126]. In December 18, Times of India (2011)[127] reports that the youth wing of GJM asserts the demand of separate Gorkhaland as the newly-formed Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) will not be able to fully meet the aspiration of the hill people. The issue quite far from resolution and is going to play a significant role Bengal politics and tourism industry in near future.

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[80] Centre ready to table talks with Morcha but minus any rider, Express News Service, Jun 15, 2008 Accessed from on June, 21, 2011.

Centre Open to Talks but no Gorkha State: Pranab, The Times of India, June, 15, 2008. Accessed from on June, 21, 2011.

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