Wednesday, July 31, 2013

After Telangana it is the turn of Gorkhaland - Mahendra P Lama

By Prof Mahendra P Lama

After Telangana - It is our turn now

The UPA partners and Congress Working Committee’s decision to carve out a new state of Telangana is a welcome move for the people of Darjeeling district and Dooars. The UPA Government deserves our warmest congratulations for setting new trends and norms in the formation of the state. Firstly, this is for the first time in the recent constitutional history of India that a new constituent state is being created without the effective resolution by the concerned State Assembly. This augurs very well for a separate state in Darjeeling and Dooars.

Secondly, the Congress Party has now started rethinking about restructuring the federal structure of the country and looked into the larger aspirations of the people who were left out in the reorganization of states in the 1950s. This means it is also adhering to the path set by the NDA government when it created Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh in 2000.

And thirdly, the Congress Party is now willing to consider similar other demands on “merit basis”.

The demand for a separate statehood comprising of Darjeeling district and Dooars is perhaps the oldest non-fulfilled demand and movement in the 20th – 21st century political history of India. Two rounds of protracted and violent movements took place starting 1985 and ending 2012, yet this issue has not figured in the political spectrums and corridor of power in New Delhi.

Interestingly during this period of 27 years four new states have already been created and not in Darjeeling and Dooars.

Demand for separate statehood in Darjeeling District and Dooars are a much more comprehensive demand and historically rather powerful. This has three key elements in the core of the demand.
Firstly, it is the imminent need to consolidate the national security as this geo-politically sensitive region has four international borders viz with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Nepal and a key corridor known as ‘chicken neck’ that links North East region with the rest of India. A separate state here will take care of so many national security concerns that exist in this region.

Secondly, the prime need to conserve and promote the identity of the communities including the Gorkhas, Bhutias, Lepchas, Adivasis, Rajbonshis and several other religious and linguistic minorities.
Thirdly, the extreme deprivations and backwardness of this region despite being one of the most resourceful geographies which need to be instantly corrected. Look at the conditions of our natural resources today. How do we account for so many hunger deaths in the tea gardens of Dooars, where are the traditional and modern institutions gone ? Why the people of Siliguri, Dooars and Darjeeling be subjected to such poor work cultures and why we should remain alienated from the national and global mainstream ? In fact in the new state we shall be one of the most developed states in the country.

And finally, the traditional harmony, peace and collective survival that prevail among the people in the hills and plains including among the Gorkhas, Bengalis, Biharis, Marwaris, Adivasis and Kamtapuris and various religions and communities need to be further consolidated.

The separate state with Darjeeling district and Dooars could benefit the nation, West Bengal and Sikkim, Bihar and all the neighbouring states in the North East region in many very many ways. The sub-division like Siliguri and the people therein will flourish as this will become the entrepot for the entire trading and commercial activities of a scale that is unbelievable. The regulated land border trading in the four international borders itself will bring fortunes to thousands of our children.

The younger generation will benefit from the large scale generation of new varieties of employment including in government, private and non-governmental sectors. For instance, how many IAS, IPS and IFS officers have we produced from Darjeeling district and Dooars in the 66 years of post independence India ? Given the fact that we have the best educational institutions in the country which once catered to the building of Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sikkim, north east regions and many other parts of the country, the question remains as why we could not produce these officers, technocrats, professionals, businessmen, industrialists, academics and even politicians like what other states have done?

The separate state will bring handsome benefits to all its residents and people and communities regardless of language, castes, creed, religion and locations which the present state of West Bengal cannot even think of providing. Our children have higher aspirations, they need much more space and institutions for their intellectual, physical and material growth which the present Government cannot provide at all.

A Bengali will be the Chief Minister of this new state, an Adivasi will be the Home Minister, a Rajbongshi will be the Education Minister, a Gorkha will be the Finance Minister, a Marwari will be the Commerce Minister and a Bihari will be the Energy Minister. Our children will get into central civil services, they will teach in our central university and Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management in our new state. Our women folks will have huge playing fields where they could be members in the state assembly, parliament and also in several institutions.

We shall have another All India Institute of Medical Sciences and several other technical and professional institutions that will take care of our health problems, education, cultural-social needs, farmers and agriculture, music, fine art and literary activities, and tea gardens and cinchona plantations, climate change and natural disasters, traditional medicinal system and natural resources.
We shall have the best of investors from both India and abroad coming to this region for investment. If the British companies came to the hills of Darjeeling and Dooars in the 19th century why not American, Korean, Japanese and German companies today to invest in tourism projects, water resources, horticulture and floriculture and software development. Our children from Chopra, Phansidewa, Siliguri, Panightta, Bagrakot, Kalchini, Jaigaon, Sonada, Pedong, Mirik and Rimbik will be civil servants, engineers, doctors, chartered accountants, architects, teachers and environmentalists. There will be no dearth of employment and the future will be alive and bright.

Our NGOs will get connected with various Ministries and funding agencies in the country and also with major development agencies including with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations agencies and other philanthropic institutions like Ford, Bill Gates, Aga Khan and Macarthur Foundations. All the central government projects, some of which we have not heard the names also, will smoothly and automatically flow to us. Our three-tier Panchayats with the at least Seven Zilla Parishads will actually govern the entire rural areas of our State.

Any political parties including Congress, BJP, CPM, RSP, GJMM, CPRM and Trinamool Congress could form the Government in this new and flourishing state. Any political ideology and all the communities will collectively flourish and bloom in this new State. There will be several languages as official and semi-official languages including the Bhutia, Lepcha, Nepali, Bengali and Hindi.
We must appreciate the huge sacrifice made by Shri Bimal Gurung from resigning the post of Chairman of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA). He has been leading the movement for the separate state for last six years and knows the complexities in the negotiation process. We should also fondly recall the protracted movement made by the GNLF led by Shri Subash Ghising in 1980s and contributions made by several leaders in the past like Dambar Singh Gurung, Madan Tamang, Ananda Pathak, RB Rai, Biren Bose, Theodre Manen, Mayadevi Chettri, Kanu Sanyal, Charu Majumdar, Birsa Tirkee, Gopal Maitra, Khudiram Pahan, Dawa Norbula, Maitryi Bose, PP Rai, Ratanlal Brahmin, KB Chhetri, SP Lepcha, LM Prodhan and several other leaders from Siliguri and Dooars in highlighting our plights and alienations.

We should pay our tribute to the hundreds of people who sacrificed their lives for a separate state and thousands of people who lost their home and hearth in the search for a separate state. Media played a very critical role and must thank persons like Subhas Talukdar, Shiva Kumar Rai, Sunanda Datta Ray, Tushar Kanti Ghosh, BD Basnet, Kumar Pradhan, MB Rai, DP Sharma, Dilip Bose and the present set of eminent newspapers like Himalaya Darpan, Dainik Jagran, Uttarbanga Sambad, Hamro Prajashakti, Telegraph, Statesman, Janpath and many others both in Bengal and at the national level.

Given that a separate state in this region is going to be a reality and GJMM is the party with a strong support base, Shri Bimal Gurung and his party; other national and regional political parties and all the people of the Siliguri, Dooars, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong together have to now make four critical interventions.

Firstly, we should bring all the political parties and socio-cultural organizations from the hills and the plains to a common platform to provide more effective direction and more powerful voice to the demand for this new state. The brain and muscle power must work together.

Secondly, we should build a strong team in Calcutta and Delhi that will intellectually and politically influence the Parliament, Assembly, media, political parties, bureaucracy and civil society. The other political parties that are working for separate states like Harit Pradesh, Vidharva and Bodoland must be brought under the fold. The Telangana experience shows that ultimately it is Delhi which really matters in deciding the creation of a new state.

Thirdly, we should provide a clear road map to the formation of this new State and also lay out a comprehensive structure of the state, its likely programme and planning that would mention how people, communities and various locations in the hills and plains will be benefitted by this separate state.

And fourthly, we should also very clearly provide a long term vision of how our nation and other states in the country including West Bengal will benefit from a separate state like ours.

After the formation of Telangana, it is our turn to have our own separate state. The nation and the people feel like this. And this is the aspiration of our people in the hills and plains of Darjeeling district and Dooars.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The capitalist manifesto

Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries. By Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya.PublicAffairs; 290 pages; $28.99 and £19.99. Buy from, The Economist
INDIA needs more market liberalisation to promote economic growth. A few years ago, with its economy expanding at an annual rate of nearly 10%, there was talk of India one day rivalling China, or even overtaking it. But policymakers have grown complacent. They assumed rapid growth would continue, but did nothing to foster it. The result is that India now putters on at less than half what it could achieve. Investors are anxious and the politicians are bickering.
In their new book Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, both economics professors at Columbia University, outline a series of measures to boost growth. “Why Growth Matters” is a blunt book; almost a manifesto for policymakers and analysts. It explains how rapid expansion has brought India immense gains, and why more change is needed—and needed soon. Both men are champions of globalisation and they hope their ideas will stiffen the resolve of India’s leaders.
What they have to say is convincing. Increasing growth rates over the past couple of decades lifted some 200m Indians out of poverty. That is an immense gain. In 1978, say the authors, more than half of all Indians were below the poverty line; today it is roughly a fifth. Gradually even those politicians who put their trust mostly in redistribution and the early roll-out of welfare grasp that a bigger economy means more resources to share around. Read More

Beyond bootstraps

An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions. By Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze. Allen Lane; 434 pages; £20. To be published in America in August by Princeton University Press; $29.95. Buy from,

From The Economist
AS A conundrum it could hardly be bigger. Six decades of laudably fair elections, a free press, rule of law and much else should have delivered rulers who are responsive to the ruled. India’s development record, however, is worse than poor. It is host to some of the world’s worst failures in health and education. If democracy works there, why are so many Indian lives still so wretched?
Amassive blackout last summer caught global attention, yet 400m Indians had (and still have) no electricity. Sanitation and public hygiene are awful, especially in the north: half of all Indians still defecate in the open, resulting in many deaths from diarrhoea and encephalitis. Polio may be gone, but immunisation rates for most diseases are lower than in sub-Saharan Africa. Twice as many Indian children (43%) as African ones go hungry.
Many adults, especially women, are also undernourished, even as obesity and diabetes spread among wealthier Indians. Despite gains, extreme poverty is rife and death in childbirth all too common. Prejudice kills on an immense scale: as many as 600,000 fetuses are aborted each year because they are female. Compared even with its poorer neighbours, Bangladesh and Nepal, India’s social record is unusually grim.
“An Uncertain Glory”, an excellent but unsettling new book by two of India’s best-known development economists, Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze, sets out how and why this is so. They argue that Indian rulers have never been properly accountable to the needy majority. Belgian-born Mr Drèze has lived in India since 1979 and became an Indian citizen in 2002. Now at Allahabad University in the north, he is influential among Indian policymakers, particularly for pushing a right-to-information law. Mr Sen, a Nobel laureate, now at Harvard, famously showed how famines have never happened in democracies. The two men want a debate on India’s social failures and how to fix them. Read More

Amartya Sen on Narendra Modi

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pro-poor or pro-poverty?

Poverty is a terrible thing. There are few things as demeaning to a human being as not having the means to fulfil his basic needs in life.
India is one of the poverty havens of the world. We have all heard of India's teeming millions, probably since childhood. While one could blame the British for all our mistakes pre-1947, it has been almost 67 years since they left. We are still one of the poorest nations on earth. Many countries in Asia, which started with similar poverty levels in the 1940s, have progressed faster — some of them dramatically. We, however, remain poor.
The continuance of poverty is particularly surprising because there are so many smart and powerful people who claim to be representing the poor. Politicians, academics, poverty economists, NGOs — there are so many people trying to help the poor. It is baffling, then, why we can't seem to get rid of poverty. Our public debates are virtually controlled by left-leaning intellectuals, who are some of the most pro-poor people on earth. And yet, they seem to be get-ting nowhere.
Well, they won't. Because while they may be experts on the poor and their suffering, they have little idea about the one thing that eventually removes poverty — money. Yes, it is over-simplistic, but it is perplexing how little our top thinkers and debate-controllers know about wealth creation, true economic empowerment, productivity and competitiveness. For, if they did, they would not support one of the most hare-brained schemes to have ever come out of our illusionist politicians` hat — the food security Bill. Read More

Friday, July 5, 2013

You Can't Predict Who Will Change The World

By Nassim Taleb
Before the discovery of Australia, Europeans thought that all swans were white, and it would have been considered completely unreasonable to imagine swans of any other color. The first sighting of a black swan in Australia, where black swans are, in fact, rather common, shattered that notion. The moral of this story is that there are exceptions out there, hidden away from our eyes and imagination, waiting to be discovered by complete accident. What I call a “Black Swan” is an exceptional unpredictable event that, unlike the bird, carries a huge impact.
It’s impossible to predict who will change the world, because major changes are Black Swans, the result of accidents and luck. But we do know who society’s winners will be: those who are prepared to face Black Swans, to be exposed to them, to recognize them when they show up and to rigorously exploit them.
Read more here

Inside Brains of Winners

Everyone knows a name dropper when they hear one. Buzz names like Gates, Jiwei, Jobs, Nooyi, Zuckerberg and Winfrey can give dramatic pause to a conversation and pique collegial interest. But their mere mention can also throw a name dropper under the credibility bus quicker than they can say “My cousin was college roommates with J.K. Rowling’s agent’s sister.”

If you’re in the know, you’ve already gathered that success is more about the brain than ever before. Cognitive neuroscience has revealed and continues to expose the incredible capacities of the human brain, particularly as they relate to success and optimization. When it comes to your professional reputation, having others chatting it up about your super successful brain should be the goal. Here are four brain strategies that people who consistently grasp success claim as their own—and you can, too.

First, develop an Opportunity Radar. An Opportunity Radar is a successful person’s ability to recognize non-traditional paths or circumstances leading to positive outcomes. How do you do that? Make sacrifices to be in the right place at the right time, don’t let your confidence rest only in your salary, don’t just think outside of the box—create your own boxes, some of which you may never use, but that’s OK. You can either stand around in long line to ride the success Ferris Wheel, or figure out how you can build your own thrilling ride by finding the right non-traditional opportunity. Of course, getting on that wild ride may take some nerve. Truly successful brains have risk management figured out to a degree as well. Read on.

You’ll need to calibrate your Optimal Risk Gauge. Successful people know when and how to take risk and they most likely learned much of what they know about risk by doing things the hard way. We’re not just talking entrepreneurial risk, but all kinds of risks: time, relationships, financial, creative. Research amply explains that too little or too much risk leads to dissatisfying failure, but a moderate level of risk appropriately challenges us so we remain motivated, confident, and leave plenty of room for gaining knowledge and insight while we avoid stagnation. That means you‘ll need to find comfort outside of your comfort zone, take inventory of your risk and avoidance patterns, and closely examine what you believe about yourself and your ability to rebound when a plan fails. Are you a renegade or an ostrich? What if you’re new at taking risks altogether? Don’t panic. If you’ve got room for professional growth, knowledge and skill, you’re still positioned well to reach success.

Your Talent Meter, the third factor, will help you unfold a critical part of your success story. You’ve got to have talent, regardless of how you get it. What is sadder than sad is someone believing they’re doing a particular task well and in reality, they aren’t even coming close to being competent (think “American Idol” audition reel here). Academia refers to this pitiful insight as the Dunning-Kruger effect, also known as the Double Whammy of Incompetence. Accomplished people have lively Talent Meters that are always assessing their knowledge and skills, informing them about their success potential from day to day. Knowing your strengths, but even more importantly knowing your weaknesses and not fearing them, is vital to your success. In business world circles, it can be a career-branding faux pas to affiliate with failure, lacking knowledge, or skill deficits. That said, those people who embrace success consistently have their Talent Meters turned on 24/7. They are constantly learning, gathering information, watching for mentors, practicing, reading and rereading, evaluating personal and professional insufficiencies, and fearlessly doing something about all of them when they turn up on the short end of the talent stick. Even better, successful brains will still have room left to spare once they are jammed with new information and skills.

Speaking of information, it’s common to hear the expression of being on “information overload.” To meet with success, your brain needs a Focus Laser, the fourth critical ingredient to a science-focused, success-attaining strategy recipe. A Focus Laser defines much of what your brain is about: attention, intention, motivation, distraction. Successful people are able to use their brains to lock onto a goal in the future and not let other factors distract them from it. Culturally, we could also say we are on “opportunity overload” and fear missing out on something that could possibly be life-changing, even if we don’t know what it is yet. The successful brain stays focused. That means saying no to oncoming opportunities unless they relate to the goal, reducing your commitment load at work and home when possible, learning a prioritization system based on your goal

and personal value systems (and use it), sticking relatively close to budgets, and throw multitasking out the window because your brain isn’t wired for it.

Research is handing over the owner’s manual to our brain at a robust pace, one section at a time. Let’s admit it, name droppers like to talk about their latest e-gadget, but they’ll be talking about your most efficient gadget once you start using it to its fullest. The best part? You already own it—your brain.

Dr. Jeff Brown is an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, and the co-author of “The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success.” His website

Source:Wall Street Journal