The Union Home Secretary
Government of India, FIRST TRIPARTITE TALKS ON GORKHALAND
New Delhi 110 001
Dated the 8th September 2008.
Sub: Paper on the new state of Gorkhaland.
On behalf of the people of Darjeeling and the Dooars, it is our privilege to table herewith a paper entitled The Case for Gorkhaland which provides a summary of the history, events, rationale and demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. The paper is intended to function as a working template for further inputs in future.
It is hoped that the same will be of use and be given the due consideration that it deserves.
1. Sri Pradeep Pradhan, Vice President GJM
2. Sri Roshan Giri, General Secretary, GJM
3. Sri Amar Lama, Member, Central Committee, GJM
4. Sri Anmol Prasad, Member, Central Committee, GJM
5. Sri Ramjung Golay, Member, Central Committee, GJM
6. Ms Urmila Rumba, Member, Central Committee, GJM
7. Sri Madhusudan Thapa, Siliguri Subdivision, GJM
8. Ms. Champa Bihivar, Siliguri Sub division, GJM
9. Sri Ashok Lama, Dooars, GJM
10. Sri Ram Prasad Begh, Dooars, GJM
11. Sri Prem Niraula, Mirik, GJM
12. Sri Samuel Gurung, Kalimpong, GJM
13. Sri Swaraj Thapa, Advisor, Delhi, GJM
14. Sri Chabi Chandra Rai, INC
15. Sri Mohan Singh Rai, CPI
16. Sri R. Moktan, SNF
17. Dr G.S. Yonzon, BJP
18. Sri Sankhar Hang Subba, GRC
19. Sri J.B. Rai, CPRM
20. Sri Laxman Pradhan, AIGL
The demand for a separate state within the Constitutional framework and within the Indian Union, consisting of Darjeeling District and the Dooars region of West Bengal is arguably the oldest and most outstanding demand in the country today. This demand for separate statehood is founded on the bedrock of a historical, economic and political rationale. Against the backdrop of socio-economic exploitation, political and cultural hegemony, misgovernance and exclusion, the demand has become an expression of the ingrained and deep rooted aspirations of the people to secure to themselves, and to their succeeding generations, the right to determine their own future. This paper, without laying claims to exhaustiveness, traces the genesis of the demand and its justification.
The territorial limits of the new State of Gorkhaland measuring a total of about 6246 km² would be comprised of the District of Darjeeling, (roughly 2417.3 km²) and the contiguous area known as the Dooars running along the northern border of the District of Jalpaiguri contiguous the southern border of Kalimpong subdivision and Bhutan, roughly 3828.7 km². A breakdown of the mauzas and police stations is set forth in appendix A.
The demand for the creation of the new state of Gorkhaland enjoys popular support amongst all the inhabitants of the area. In the District of Darjeeling an overwhelming majority of the people comprising of the Indian Gorkhas along with other communities are unified by Nepali, a common language that finds place and recognition in the eighth schedule of the Constitution. In the terai and the Dooars, there are substantial numbers of Gorkhas in addition to the Adivasi (e.g. Rajbangshis and Mechi) and other communities. Along the Dooars too, Nepali is widely spoken and understood.
The terms ‘Gorkha’ is used here synonymously to mean the nationality of those who are Indian citizens whose lingua franca is Nepali. Their politics of identity of is characterized by a strong sense of insecurity, and is not antithetical to the existence of pan-Indian nationalism and national integration. Their voice was for recognition as equal Indians and to demonstrate that Indian nationality to them is a matter of privilege and proud possession, not a liability.
The development of the Gorkha sub-nationalism coincides with the development of Indian nationalism. Though India was famously known as a great civilisation, the making of the Indian nation was a modern phenomenon that developed since the last hundred and fifty years. The introduction of educational institutions, modern administration, the development of roads and transports such as railways, industries etc under the colonial administrations sowed the seed of nationalism in India. The rise of Indian nationalism was witnessed amongst the different regions and its people through their own language and culture. A similar development took place in Darjeeling and Duars region where Nepali language acted as an integrating factor because it was the lingua franca of the region.
The various ethnic and caste groups such as Rai, Limbu Murmi (Tamang), Manger Sunwar, Gurung, Newar etc and Bahuns, Chhetries, Kami, Damai, Sarki and a host of others including Lepchas and Bhutias adapted Nepali as their lingua franca when they lived and worked together both in the urban areas and in the tea gardens started by the British Planters. The common language developed common culture bringing them together. A class character also developed because of the fact that all of them were tea garden workers. This ethno-class consciousness culminated into a belongingness giving way to the development of Gorkha sub nationalism. The experience of the Gorkhas of India outside Darjeeling and Duars is not different. The binding factor was Nepali language. Most of them have been farmers, milkmen, tea garden workers, and retired army men during this formative period of the Gorkha Identity in India. It is this ethno-class identity that shaped the political culture of Indian Gorkhas. They contributed in the development of the region they lived in; Darjeeling, Dooars, Assam and many areas of the North East and Dehradun, Dharamsala, and Bhagsu etc.
Apart from the above, the other communities residing in the area such as Marwaris, Biharis, Tibetans and Bengalis have also come forward in support of the demand for the creation of a new state of Gorkhaland. It is the avowed pledge of the people of the area that Gorkhaland is not merely for Gorkhas alone but for all its inhabitants regardless of caste, creed, religion or race.
The genesis of the demand can be traced without difficulty back to 1907. There had been several and determined representations by various political parties including Indian National Congress, undivided Communist Party of India, All India Gorkha League and a large number of civil society organizations to both the British India Government and later to the Indian Government after decolonization. Most of the movements and agitation, with the exception of the GNLF agitation of the late eighties, remained non-violent.
The following memorandums and appeals submitted by the political parties and civil society organizations over the last 101 years is testimony to the existence of an old and long standing movement for the creation of a separate system of governance. The genealogy of the various demands is well documented in several publications.
1907 – The leaders of the Hill people of Darjeeling submitted a memorial before the Morley-Minto Reforms Committee of the British India Government demanding a separate administrative set-up for the District of Darjeeling.
1917 – A deputation of Hillmen of the district met Mr. Montague, the then Secretary of State for India, and Lord Chelmsford, the then Viceroy, and pressed the demand that “in laying down the plans for the future, the Government should aim at the creation of a separate unit comprising the present Darjeeling District with the portion of Jalpaiguri district which was annexed from Bhutan in 1865.” The possibility of the creation of a still wider North Eastern Frontier Province to include, in addition to this, the Assam Dooars and the Hill territories which lie to the East of Bhutan whose people have affinity with the Hill people of Darjeeling was strongly emphasized by the deputation as not being beyond the scope of practical politics and urged for its explorations.
1929 – This demand was reiterated when the Simon Commission visited India in 1929.
1930 – The Hillmen’s Association Memorandum to Sir Samuel Hoare, Secretary of State for India on 25th October 1930 gives another detailed account of why they wanted to remain outside Bengal. This Memorandum stated that the “Gurkhas domiciled in British India consisted of military pensioners, Government Servants, Traders, Farmers and plantation labourers are about 3 million, most of whom are settled at Darjeeling (in Bengal), Shillong (in Assam), Dehra-dun (in United Provinces) and in Burma and the rest are scattered all over British India. That as the new constitution for India is under consideration of the Parliament, the Gurkhas think it opportune to place again their views and to start with, they suggest that the district of Darjeeling, where the Gurkha population predominate, should be excluded from Bengal and be treated as an independent administrative unit ….”
1935 – Before the Govt. of India Act of 1935 was passed, the Hillmens’ Association of Darjeeling led by its President Sonam Wangel Ladenla submitted another memorial to Sri Samuel Hoare, the then Secretary of State for India on 6th August, 1934. It demanded …”that the District of Darjeeling should be totally excluded from Bengal and an independent administrative unit created with an administrator at the head of the area, assisted by the executive in Council. “Memorials” making a demand on same nature were submitted at that time and later on too by Rai Saheb Hari Prasad Pradhan on behalf of the people of the District of Darjeeling.
1945 – During the years of the Second World War Sri Rup Narayan Sinha, the then President of the Hillmen’s Association, and other prominent members of different communities submitted through the Governor of Bengal and the Viceroy of India to Pethick Lawrence, the Secretary of State for India a Memorial which they urged the Government to exclude Darjeeling from the Province of Bengal and to create it as a separate administrative unit under a Chief Commissioner.
1947 – By a Memorial of the Darjeeling District Committee of the Communist Party Of India a demand for a free Gorkhasthan was submitted on 6th April 1947 to the Constituent Assembly. Ganeshilal Subba, writing to the General Secretary of the All India Gorkha League through a letter on 9th May, 1946, outlined the plan of Gorkhasthan which was repeated in the memorial submitted to the Constituent Assembly as above:
‘One thing has guided our decision to launch the campaigning for a free Gorkhasthan in a free India, rejecting all other plans of other parties including yours, the recognition of the fact that Gorkhas constitute a distinct nationality of India with a very bright prospect of developing as a mighty nation living as a free and friendly neighbour with other peoples of India’.
It further said, ‘The Communist Party of India demands that the newly created Gorkhasthan of the all Indian Union as of its willing units, as in its opinion it will be the best interest of the Gorkha people themselves as also in the interest of the Indian Union whom it can assist with man power for the common defence of the newly gained freedom of all, for the common welfare of all, living brotherly alliance.
‘The Communist Party of India reiterates the demands that is Darjeeling District unit made during the recent election (1946), that pending the formation of a new Gorkhasthan as laid down herein above, the Gorkhas of Darjeeling district, Assam and other parts of India be represented in the constituent Assembly by one or two of their own men to be elected by the entire Gorkha population of Darjeeling district, Assam and other parts of India wherever the Gorkhas live in substantial numbers on adult-surfage so that the legitimate interests of the hundreds and thousands of Gorkhas living throughout British India may be safeguarded.
The Party repeated the demand that pending the formation of a Gorkhasthan as laid down herein above and so long as Darjeeling district is as at present continued to be included in Bengal, the three lakhs of Gorkhas of Darjeeling districts must be represented in the constitution making body of the Province of Bengal that may framed for deciding the future of the province by one or two of their own men to be elected by the entire Gorkha population of the district on a separated electorate on the basis of universal adult franchise’.
1948 – In the Constituent Assembly Debates of 1948 (9th-23rd December 1946), one of the esteemed members and also President of the All India Gorkha League, Babu Damber Singh Gurung mentioned that “I stand here today as the only representative of 30 lakhs Gurkhas….near about the population of the Sikhs, still I am the solitary representative here in this House. I need not give any introduction as to who these Gurkhas are… Sir the problem of the Gurkhas is quite different. They are scattered throughout India. It is only in the district of Darjeeling and the province of Assam that they are concentrated to a certain extent….They are very, very backward educationally and economically. …nothing has been done by the British Government so far for the uplift of the Gurkhas. We have been very badly neglected. Only at the time of war they remember the Gurkhas. It has always been the policy of the British Government to keep us backward and ignorant so that we may be sacrificed any time, anywhere they liked. …. The Gurkhas are apprehending whether the same policy will be followed by the Congress too…. Sir the demand of the Gurkhas is that they must be recognized as a minority community and that they must have adequate representation in the Advisory Committee that is going to be formed.”
1949 – On the 30th October, 1949, leaders of different parties of Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Sikkim and Darjeeling met in a conference at Darjeeling and resolved to demand the creation of a separate Province comprising the above areas, and a Committee called Uttara Khand Pradesh Sangh was formed to place the demand before the proper authorities. A memorandum to that effect was submitted to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and to Late Sardar B. Patel, the then Deputy Prime Minister for Home, information Broadcasting & States.
1952 – All India Gorkha League led by N.B. Gurung its President, submitted another Memorandum on the Problems of Darjeeling District and Neighbouring Areas on 29 April 1952 to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Prime Minister of India when he visited Kalimpong. This memorandum summarised the demands made at different times during the last 45 years, firstly by local organizations of the Hill people including the Hillmen’s Association and, in recent years, by the All India Gorkha League.
It also mentioned that “it may be made clear here, once again, that the demand for the creation of a new Province has not been motivated by any desire of separatism nor by any idea of dominance by the Hill people in the province.”
It stated that that “two generations of the Hill people have in clear terms expressed their will to breakaway from Bengal. Various solutions have been suggested namely:
(i) That the district be a Separate Administrative Unit directly administered by the Centre.
(ii) That a Separate Province be set up comprising the District of Darjeeling and the neighbouring areas.
(iii) That the District of Darjeeling with a section of Jalpaiguri viz. the Dooars be included in Assam.
Incidentally some other all India political parties have directed their attention to this demand of separation of the District of Darjeeling from Bengal and have advanced proposals of similar nature.”
The reasons which impelled the people of this district to demand a break-away from West Bengal have been set forth in all the memorandums above referred to submitted by them from time to time, especially in the last memorandum submitted to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and to Late Sardar B. Patel by and on behalf of the Uttara Khand Sangh. The reasons being recapitulated hereinbelow were also summarized to which we respectfully draw your Excellency’s judicious attention.
(i) Historically speaking, the District of Darjeeling never formed a part of Bengal and no King who ruled the plains of Bengal ever had any suzerainty over these areas. It was the fiat of the British Imperialism which embodied it in Bengal then a large administrative unit comprising the whole of Bengal. Bihar, Orissa and a part of U.P.
(ii) Ethnologically speaking, the Mongoloid and semi-Mongoloid races inhabiting the District of Darjeeling and great part of Jalpaiguri have more affinity with the Hill tribes of Assam than with the people in plains of Bengal.
(iii) Geographically the District of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar are completely cut off from the main body of West Bengal creating inconveniences in matters of large transport and other overland communications which in times of crisis may create serious delays and difficulties.
(iv) Linguistically, the people residing in the areas in question have greater affinity with Hindi, the Lingua Franca of India, than the state language and the average student find themselves burdened with too many languages in their curriculum of study.
(v) As regards matters concerning the administrative inconvenience in the region in question so long as it forms the part of West Bengal, the strategic importance, the potential wealth and viability of the new province, if created, they are lucidly summarized in the memorandum submitted to your Excellency by the Uttara Khand Pradesh Sangh.”
1955 – On 21st May 1955, the President of the District Shramik Sangha, Daulat Das Bokim submitted a memorandum to the Chairman of the States Reorganisation Committee, Camp Rajbhawan, Darjeeling stating inter alia,
“1. The Kochayas, Meches, Lepchas, Bhutias, Nepalis and Rajbangshis are the original inhabitants of this District whose customs, systems and traditions fundamentally differ from that of the rest of West Bengal.
“2. Originally this self-sufficient North Bengal was separate from Bengal before its partition. This part of West Bengal was ruled by the kings of Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal.
“3. The people living here … differ from the rest of West Bengal in all respects viz. geographically, economically, climatically, linguistically and traditionally.
“4. Plebiscite amongst the people would clearly decide the fate of these districts… I put forward this profound demand of the creation of Part ‘C’ State of North Bengal inclusive of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar districts. ”
1957 – On 1st December 1957 representatives of various political parties including Deo Prakash Rai, the leader of the All India Gorkha League and Ratanlal Brahmin leader of the Communist Party of India submitted another memorandum to Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru during his visit to Darjeeling. This memorandum stated that “whatever the merits or demerits of the demand of separation of this district from West Bengal and the creation of a separate province, it is crystal clear that there is deep undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the existing set up. It is only by granting the right to autonomy that the vexed problem of this district can be solved.”
1980s – During the early eighties, political parties across the board and civil society started a movement for the creation of separate state consisting of Darjeeling district and Dooars. It was spearheaded by the Pranta Parishad under the able leadership of Dr. Indra Bahadur Rai which brought the demand for a separate state into the limelight. To assuage the feeling of the people of these two regions, Government of West Bengal for the first time initiated a Hill Secretariat in Darjeeling primarily to look into the development aspects.
The movement intensified as the demand for the recognition and enshrinement of Nepal language on the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India also picked up spontaneously particularly after the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai labelled Nepali as a foreign language during a meeting with the delegates of the All India Nepali Bhasha Samiti in Darjeeling.
1980 – The President of the Gorkha National Liberation Front Subash Ghising submitted a memorandum to Prime Minster Indira Gandhi on August 2, 1980 demanding a separate state within the Constitution. It stated that “this is the second time we remind you that we the Indian Gorkha after independence are Stateless and futureless all over India. Our future was murdered by the Indian Constitution when our land and territory wrongly and blindly merged with West Bengal in 1956. It was a great mistake of the then Indian Government. As a result of it Indian Gorkhas were politically tortured all over India. Now please correct the mistake of the then Indian Government and return our land and territory from West Bengal. Under no circumstances we can remain in West Bengal. We want our own Gorkhaland Government as other citizens of India enjoying the fruits of their toil of independence as promised by the First Independence Resolution of Congress Party on 26th January, 1930. Now it is up to you to decide our fate and not politically but constitutionally save our future. Gorkhas are always loyal to the nation and always salute your leadership”.
He also sent a telegram to Jyoti Basu, Chief Minster of West Bengal which stated “…please now take back your prison-administration of Bengal from our Gorkhaland within six months. We firmly believe in democracy but not in slavery. Slavery cannot be compared with any ism of the world. Slavery is slavery. Gorkhaland state will always honour to its neighbour state Bengal and Bengali people.”
1981 – The All India Gorkha League led by its president P.T. Lama, sent a letter to the Home Minister Zail Singh on 13th April, 1981 which again stated that “This demand has been hanging fire since then  in one or the other form. This demand was submitted with a view to giving security to the minority and backward Hill people in the matter of administration, employment, education and development in all spheres in their social, cultural and economic life. We quote here from the report of the States Reorganisation Commission 1955 that “the wishes of the majority of the people of the region is the important consideration beside linguistic principle.”
This is very relevant in our demand to get a separate Statehood outside West Bengal to ensure administrative efficiency and convenience and the co-ordination of economic development and welfare activities for this region. Considering the existing situation and this region being situated on a border and strategic area, by fulfilling the majority wishes of the people of this area, the national security, we feel, will be more secured as we find today in the case of contiguous Sikkim, the 22nd state of the Indian Union having similar peculiarities and linguistic groups. It is therefore, high time for the Govt. of India to give serious thought of this long standing aspiration of the Hill people. The Hill people are traditionally known to be peace-loving and as such they do not believe in violence and bloodshed for achievement of any legitimate and constitutional demand of their and we earnestly hope that the benign Government will fulfill this demand taking into consideration the above facts.”
1986 – The Gorkha National Liberation Front sent another letter to Prime Minster Rajiv Gandhi on 5th May, 1986. The letter mentioned inter alia, that “… There is only one alternative to make peace in the Hills and plain areas of Darjeeling tha the dialogue must be opened very soon between GNLF and Central Government of India on the demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland within Indian Union. If the dialogue is not opened then the whole political situation of Darjeeling will be beyond control, due to the worst and communal attitude of West Bengal Government. Now, your honour, that is up to you to decide the political fate of the whole settled Gorkhas in India, or to deport the whole Gorkhas from the soil of India without giving any justice. Under no circumstances we can remain in West Bengal as our heart, soul and mental have already been separated by the West Bengal Government by doing continuous inhuman acts since Bharat Independence.”
1986-1988 : The popular agitation in Darjeeling district and Dooars led by Gorkha National Liberation Front which took a toll of over 1200 lives mostly of the unfortunate people of the hills. The West Bengal Government to paper over its historic oppression of the people of Darjeeling district and Dooars and its neo-colonial policies in the region not only dubbed the movement as “anti-national” but also resorted to horrific state reprisals and repressive preventive detention to subdue the popular upsurge. The only result was that the populace at large got further alienated.
1988-2005 – A tripartite agreement was signed in August 1988 that provided a small defanged institution of self-governance known as the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) which was created with the passing of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act of 1988 by the State Legislature. Under the garb of creating an institution that would bring autonomy to the areas under the Council, the Government of West Bengal installed a satrap in the form of Subhash Ghising, charged with the task of quelling any dissent in the Darjeeling hills and for ensuring that the demand for a separate state would never be raised again. Thus two decades of misrule, discrimination, corruption and graft were ushered in by the State Government, an infamous era that was to see the destruction of the very social fabric of the hill people as well as the breakdown of infrastructure and institutions in Darjeeling.
In the last about 20 years of the Council’s existence, the situation in Darjeeling hills reached point of no return. Many of the tea gardens were closed down and entire cinchona plantation has been literally discontinued. In Dooars for the first time tea workers were dying “hunger deaths”. Most traditional means of livelihood had been uprooted. There were reports of several incidents of hunger deaths, suicides, trafficking of minor girls and large scale migration to urban areas. Environmental degradation led to the deprivation of the residents of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong not getting drinking water for months together and the rampant construction of unauthorized buildings upon public properties such as toilets. Never before had the Darjeeling hills witnessed such rampant exploitation of its natural resources including its rich and diverse forests. Scandal after scandal broke out including the infamous Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan scam where crores of rupees intended for poor and needy primary schoolchildren vanished into thin air whilst those responsible went scot free.
The DGHC has never made any development plans except the one in 1989. It was allowed by the State Government to draw and utilize funds on a purely ad hoc basis. No one knew the annual budget. There were blatant violations of institutional norms and rules of accountancy leading to total disorientation of development in the hills. That the Chairman and Councillors of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council fattened themselves in the process at the same time enjoying the patronage and protection of the Government of West Bengal is common knowledge.
There were serious instances of political violence where even dissident Councillors were murdered, and the intelligentsia and media intimidated and gagged. The village level Panchayat system was allowed to languish in total doldrums even to this day. Social, political, cultural and literary institutions- real heritage of the hills- were systematically demolished, being treated as they were as sources of collective and community threats. For the ninth consecutive year elections to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council were not held.
The West Bengal Government highly content with the situation continued to patronise Subash Ghisingh who was totally co-opted and had surrendered the demand for separate statehood and compromised on all the major aspirations concerning the people. It was a win-win situation for the Bengal Government as it did not need to share any development resources, authority and functions with a weak and beleaguered Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. It only needed to partially and timely lubricate its corrupt machinery out of public funds. For years together the Left Front Government maintained that there were no opposition parties in Darjeeling and thus rendered Ghisingh omnipresent and invincible.
2005-2007- In order to rejuvenate his regime and to distract public attention from the rot and deterioration, the Government of West Bengal and Subash Ghising hit upon the idea of imposing a new governance under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. A tripartite Memorandum of settlement was signed between West Bengal Government, Union Government and the Subash Ghising on the 6th December 2005, a hurried and artificially document put together for the occasion. But nothing could conceal the odour therein of a deep rooted conspiracy to divide the people of the hills and fragment the society into pieces. Subhash Ghising never consulted the people of the hills, the political parties, the social organisations and any civil society organs. As history proved later, it appears that he didn’t even consult his oracles and shamans for this very document proved to be the engine of his downfall.
The oppressed and deprived populace of Darjeeling and the Dooars took to the streets vehemently protesting and opposing the proposed Sixth Schedule bill. There were massive rallies and hunger strikes in Darjeeling district when the Bills were introduced in the Parliament during the winter session of 2007. Despite such protests the West Bengal Government and the Left Front partners appeared bent upon getting these Bills passed. It was only when the Sixth Schedule Bills were referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs that the voice of the people of Darjeeling and Dooars was finally heard and the pernicious documents were kept in abeyance.
2008 – The movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland comprising Darjeeling District and Dooars region of Jalpaiguri intensified once again under the stewardship of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the people, institutions and political parties are united in a determined fight to get separate statehood for the region. Subhash Ghising was forced to step down from his then post of Administrator of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council which is now under the care of a senior bureaucrat of the State Government. Though the Panchayats continued to languish without elections, corrupt and comprador elements in the urban civic bodies were forced to step down in the face of popular resentment and disapproval.
The Indian Gorkhas, having a distinct socio-cultural identity and concentrated in contiguous districts of north Bengal, are seeking a separate state of Gorkhaland within the Indian union in order to preserve, protect and promote their identity.
A separate state would provide them a political identity and a constitutionally documented institutional space for interest articulation and protection within the broader territorial boundary of India. The desire for a separate identity also forms the basis for seeking assured development of the Darjeeling and Dooars region where the Indian Gorkhas reside in a majority.
The overwhelming support for Gorkhaland stems from the great irony that Indian Gorkhas, inspite of having been an integral part of the Indian union, are constantly being viewed as aliens. What can be more paradoxical that a people who have only wanted to be identified as a part of the Indian union, are dubbed as foreigners more often than not.
The Darjeeling hills and neighbouring regions became part of the Indian Dominion almost two hundred years ago but the people who came along with the land were far from integrated into the mainstream. Despite their rightful claim to the land, the Gorkhas in India have always been referred to as Nepalese or immigrants.
While it is true that Gorkhas have shared a common lineage and stock with the Nepalese, it will be grossly inaccurate to think of Indian Gorkhas as an immigrant Nepalese population living in India.
In India, there are Assamese, Bengalese, Biharis, Sindhis, Punjabis, Gorkhas, etc. belonging to different ethnic groups among the Indians. Similarly in Pakistan there are Punjabis, Pathans, Sindhis, Muhajeer etc. The Gorkha can thus be described as an ethnic community living in Nepal, India and elsewhere either as Nepalese, Indian or any other national.
The present agitation for Gorkhaland, thus, like the movement for the constitutional recognition of Gorkhali/Nepali language in early 90’s, has been linked to question of Gorkha identity and of the need to acknowledge their contribution in the making of modern India. The quest for statehood, however, should not be viewed as an emergence of parochial identities.
In India, language has provided an obvious basis for formation of separate states, because linguistic groups are also culturally distinct societies. The Indian National Congress recognised this principle of linguistic provinces in 1921, which was then stated in explicit terms by the Nehru Committee which produced a draft constitution for India in 1928. It said:
“Although we speak of India as a nation we are not oblivious to the fact that it is as great as a continent, that its various provinces have their own separate languages and distinctive cultures, their customs and manners differ largely and although in a broad sense India is one geographically and culturally, its diversity is immense and we have always aimed at unity in diversity. The government of a country of such continental dimensions must necessarily be federal in character, allowing internal autonomy to its various homogenous constituent units”.
Regarding the constitution of Provinces, the report expressed itself categorically as follows, “Everyone knows that the present distribution of provinces in India has no rational basis. It is merely due to accident and the circumstances attending the growth of British power in India. As a whole, it has little to do with geographical or historical or economic or linguistic reasons. Even from the purely administrative point of view, it is not a success. It is clear that there must be a redistribution of Provinces…..What principle should govern this redistribution? Partly geographical and partly economic and financial but the main consideration must necessarily be the wishes of the people and the linguistic unity of the area concerned”.
Nehru’s standpoint continues to be relevant, more so in the context of Gorkhaland.
But the need to distinguish regions on such grounds is of even earlier antiquity. Rasheeddudin Khan, in an article in Seminar (1973) had contended that linguistic and socio-cultural basis was even followed by Akbar. “The Ain-i-Akbari of Abul Fazl and the Tuzk-i-Jehangiri (Memoirs of Emperor Jehangir) reveals the basis on wihcch the Mughal subahs (provinces) were constituted. An obvious concern was shown for linguistic and socio-cultural homogeneity in the delimitation of provinces. In his memoirs, Jehangir mentions how his father, Emperor Akbar, was conscious of the fact that provinces should coincide with linguistic-cum-cultural regions of India”.
This was therefore also the general reasoning given by the first States Reorganisation Commission in 1955.
The desire to create a state of Gorkhaland on the basis of these linguistic-cultural societies is thus not only politically desirable but is almost a necessary condition precedent for progress being made in the direction of social democracy.
In addition to linguistic and cultural homogeneity, the SRC also laid down three other principles for determining and demarcating the boundary of a state. They were; “(i) preservation and strengthening of the unity and security of India (iii) financial, economic and administrative considerations; and (iv) successful working of a national plan.
The history of Darjeeling and the Dooars is intrinsically related to that of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. As per the historical records of Darjeeling and Dooars, till the first half of 19th century belonged to the kingdom of Sikkim. In 1835, the East India Company was ‘granted’ the Darjeeling tract to make a sanatorium for ailing soldiers and occupied the whole region. In 1865 the British annexed to British India those portions now known as Kalimpong subdivision and the Dooars after a military expedition was sent against Bhutan, After acquiring the land up to the Sunkosh river, the British, as in Darjeeling, started tea cultivation in Dooars as well. Richard Hughton first planted tea bushes at Gajalduba in Dooars in 1874. Gorkhas from Darjeeling, Sikkim and Nepal and the tribals from Bihar, Chhota Nagpur and Santhal Purganas poured in and settled down deforesting and planting tea on the length and breadth of Dooars. In this way the Gorkhas from the hills and the tribals from the plains have been living in close harmony since the beginning of the 19th century. The Jalpaiguri District Gazetteer prepared by Suniti Kumar Chatterjee even records that the Gorkhas and Adivasis were living in the northern belt of the district since 1709.
Owing to the congenial climate of Darjeeling, the British preferred hills to plains. They extended roads and rails from plains to hills, constructed houses and hospitals, opened schools to educate their children. The missionaries were also active in imparting education in the rural areas. As such, though the living conditions of the Gorkhas and other in Darjeeling were precarious, they appeared better in life-style. On the other hand, the people of the plains lived a primitive life and no remarkable changes were noticeable till date.
The Gorkhas, Bhutias and Lepchas have a social, cultural and linguistic affinity with the tribals ie. Uraons, Mundas, Totos, Rabhas, Mechey, Santhals and Rajbangshis. Nepali language is their lingua-franca and is spoken along the length and breadth of the Gorkhaland Dooars. There are numerous instances of cross-cultural and inter-racial marriages.
There are remarkable affinities too in respect of rites and rituals. Among the Santhals there is no dowry system, similar to that of the Gorkhas. Their family pattern and their gastronomic cultures are also akin. Animism or shamanism is the cult of all the inhabitants of Dooars irrespective of community. All festivals are related to the worship of nature. Despite their pecuniary hardships Gorkhas and Adivasis alike enjoy feasts and festivals, beating drums, making music and drinking home-brewed liquor on such occasions.
Culturally though, the people of Darjeeling and the Dooars are very much exploited physically, economically, educationally, politically, administratively, culturally. There are only three Nepali-medium schools in the Dooars region whereas the Nepali language speakers are to the tune of approximately eight lakhs. To establish Hindi-medium schools has been a long-cherished dream of the Adivasis, but there is none. Instruction in the Bengali vernacular is thrust upon the inhabitants by the state administration. The people of Dooars do not see themselves as the free citizens of a free country, governed as they are by the elite community of the state. They are perceived as mere tools of political parties, a vote-bank and meagre revenue sources.
Mani Kumar Thapa, a Gorkha poet writes :
All are equally crushed here
Under the same grinding-stone
Whether they be Somra, Mangra, Mangari
Or Maney, Dhaney and Maili.
A man in a human form
Enjoys in your earnings all
Oh, he is not a human, but
A devil in a human form
It is but your native land
And a land of toil and tilling
Underneath the soil of Dooars
Your forefathers have long been sleeping.
Somra, Mangra and Mangari are common tribal names and represent the terai tribals, whereas Maney, Dhaney and Maili represent common Gorkha names.
Similarly, a tribal folksong in Mundari language runs thus :
If you flee to the jungle fearing a two-legged tiger
The four legged tiger will eat you up in the jungle.
And if you run away from the four-legged tiger
The two-legged tiger will eat you up in the open land.
The people of Dooars possess a very rich culture but have no Governmental patronage to preserve and to promote it at the national level. In the demographic map of India, Dooars is an island forlorn and foreshaken. If accorded statehood along with its contiguous areas of the hills, it would make a culturally distinct twenty ninth state of India.
Testimony to the above facts is borne out by history: there has not been a single instance of communal, religious or cultural tension in Darjeeling-Dooars region between Indian Gorkhas and Adivasis; the proposed state of Gorkhaland would be an example of secularism and brotherhood in the truest sense.
It is in the context of identity that the clamour for a separate state for the Gorkhas of India has arisen. The demand for Gorkhaland by no stretch of imagination signifies a Gorkha versus Bengali confrontation. The quest for statehood of Gorkhas is also founded on their demand for a rightful identity in the political firmament of the country. Therefore Gorkhaland is the dream of over a crore of Indian Gorkhas living all over India, not merely that of the 25 odd lakh Gorkhas in Darjeeling and Dooars in West Bengal. This means that the political battle for a separate state, while based on identity, is not against other cultural or linguistic or racial identities. It is not a movement directed against Bengal, because this demand is also the demand of Gorkhas in Assam and other states of the Northeast, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and all other states of India. The battleground for this demand has perforce been located in present day West Bengal for historical and geographical reasons. But it does not mean that the Gorkha identity is being pitted against Bengali identity.
It is important to understand the meaning of identity that the Gorkhas presume will come from the creation of a state. The demand for the irrevocable establishment of an Indian political identity for the Gorkhas may seem incomprehensible to the rest of India. After all Gorkhas do carry passports that identify them as Indians, have voters’ cards that say they are eligible to vote in elections in India, and have other identity documents that say they are Indians.
Executive or judicial action will not resolve the question of identity for the Gorkhas since the intrinsic association of Gorkhas with the country of Nepal lies in the minds of the Indian people, and not in the country’s statute books.
The demand for identity means the Gorkhas want to be treated by the polity with the same level of political trust as it does other Indian communities. When the Gorkhas ask for a separate state, there is immediate talk of conspiracies and security threats and danger to the integrity of the nation. The bogey of Greater Nepal promptly raises its head. Every time the Gorkhas does something, the rest of India sits up and starts seeing bogeys where there are none. No questions of such a nature are raised when other regions ask for autonomy or for their language to be recognized. What is it about the Gorkhas that makes them suspicious in the eyes of the nation? The Indian identity of the Gorkha stands warped by the mainstream.
History itself proves how illogical this sort of thinking is. The Gorkhas in Darjeeling and Dooars have been demanding separation from Bengal since 1907, when the Hillmen’s Association was formed. This demand for an administrative divorce from Bengal was also enunciated by the Hill People’s Social Union formed in 1934 and by the All India Gorkha League. A look at the memoranda presented by these bodies clearly disproves any theory that the Indian Gorkhas want to consolidate themselves into a Greater Nepal or break away from the motherland; patriotic Indian Gorkhas have always wanted to have a home within India. Theirs is an angst of belonging, not of separating. The Hillmen’s Association and the Gorkha League variously suggested that Darjeeling should be constituted into a separate province with Jalpaiguri and parts of Assam or be merged into Assam. All this scarcely reveals the mind of a community that wants to secede from India.
When the Gorkhas reiterate their Indian identity, they are asking the rest of the country to accept them as political beings with a stake in the country’s future. They want the country to trust them and assimilate them in the task of nation building. They are only asserting their right to self-esteem in a country that they helped to build. They are saying that by creating a separate state of Gorkhaland, the polity will be seen as unambiguously accepting the Gorkhas’ Indianness.
How do borders create identities? A seminal work on the purpose of mapmaking came with historian Thongchai Winichakul’s book, Siam Mapped, in 1994. In it, taking the case of Thailand, he argued that modern nations become established through the imposition of borders, boundaries, and categories of configuration upon previously borderless, unbounded, or un-categorized regions, peoples, and spaces. The University of Wisconsin-Madison professor said that for a people who shared links of culture, language, political unity, it was still necessary for them to be ensconced within definite boundaries for them to achieve a political identity-that it was the demarcation of boundaries which decided who and what they were from who or what they were not. Winichakul also concluded that this was effected through the state-sponsored definition of boundaries and peoples.
In simpler words, it is the delineation of geographical boundaries that gives a community-or a nation-an identity as a political entity. A nation is a self-defined cultural and social community. Members of a “nation” share a common identity, and usually a common origin, in the sense of history, ancestry, parentage or descent. By this definition, the Gorkhas are a nation. A state, on the other hand, is a political association with effective sovereignty over a geographic area.
Professor Ian Barrow, in his book, Making History, Drawing Territory, has similarly drawn an equation between history and territory and writes that the colonial Britishers took such pains to survey and make maps and to enumerate the demographics of all places they colonised because having properly bounded territory reinforced the construction of their own sense of national identity.
Both these scholars viewed a community of people as a fluid, amorphous group lacking a concrete identity until they were categorised within politically defined spaces with boundaries that could be reflected on the map. Indeed, sociologists will tell us that territoriality-or the taking over of a well-defined territory for itself-remains a basic instinct of humans, who after all are evolved from tribes whose identities were defined by their territorial spaces. Without these landmarks that kept them within a certain space, the tribes lost their self identities.
But it does not need treatises and scholars to emphasise that creating boundaries can create identities, as it did in 1947 when the Radcliffe lines created three separate identities for West Pakistanis, Indians and East Pakistani, each so sure of his identity that the other, on the morrow, became an enemy. Good neighbours on one day, enemies suspicious of each other the next-this was what the demarcation of West Pakistan, India and East Pakistan achieved most facilely. Borders, then and now, are the lines between identities.
Since it is geographical space that will ease the way out of this half-consummated national life for the Gorkhas, it is quite clear that a state of their own is now imperative for them to assert a full Indian identity–a state that roots them to India, a state that they can give as an address should someone in Connaught Place in Delhi ask them where they come from, a state that tells everyone that an Indian Gorkha is not a migrant from a neighbouring country but a landholder in India.
The state for the Gorkhas will be an emblematic home for all the Gorkhas of India-for those in Assam, in other parts of the Northeast, in Uttarakhand, in Himachal Pradesh, in every other state of India. The earlier agitations for a statehood in the current territory of the Darjeeling hills were prompted by the need of that underdeveloped area to be properly nurtured. In that sense, the demand for a separate state-of Uttarakhand and Gorkhasthan earlier and then of Gorkhaland under the GNLF-represented a local solution for a local problem. The current demand, in this aspect, is patently different in its objective. The new state will not be premised on economic solutions to the problems of a particular region. The new state, instead, is a political entity that will create, with no ambiguity whatsoever, a political identity for a people who were landholders in a territory that later became current day India.
A home state for the Gorkhas will serve various purposes. It is, foremost, an anti-mindset construct that will finally tell India that the Gorkhas are a vibrant part of the country’s diversity. It will create an Indian identity for the Gorkhas. It will concretise for the Gorkhas their centuries-long commitment to Indianness. It will remove all ambiguities about their origin and status. And it would, fortuitously, obviate the negative aspect of Article 7 of the India-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950. The treaty, which allows citizens of Nepal to freely come to India and settle down here, will no longer contribute to the impression that Indians Gorkhas are people who have taken advantage of Article 7 to settle down in India.
Giving the Gorkhas themselves their true sense of identity is vital if they are to assume their true destiny. An example can be cited of the Gujaratis. Till 1960, there was no Gujarat, just Bombay. Then that state was bifurcated and Gujarat was carved out, leaving the rest of the parent state to be called Maharashtra. Today that Gujarat stands as an icon of identity, fights and achieves economic prosperity on the strength of its Gujarati identity. It is a matter of conjecture that Gujarat could have achieved all it has had its people remained as Mumbaikars. The new state gave them a sense of self-fulfilment that fuelled their innate strengths and they are now able to flaunt their identity as bona fide Indian Gujaratis. In a similar way, a separate state for the Indian Gorkhas will help the community finds its own feet and march in tune with the forward movement of the great country of India.
Institutional perception of the people of the proposed new State of Gorkhaland presents a curious paradox. Whilst on the one hand the people of Darjeeling and the Dooars namely the Indian Gorkhas have sent the best of their young men to guard the nation’s frontiers ( the regular arrival of coffins to Darjeeling and the Dooars during and after the Kargil conflict bearing mute testimony to this fact), Indian intelligence and media along with Bengali intelligentsia have lost no time in smearing the popular demand as being separatist or as a threat to national integrity.
The track record of Indian Gorkhas, when it comes to preservation and strengthening of the unity and integrity of the country, is second to none. How else can one explain the fact that the statehood movement, with over 100 years of history, has never mutated itself into a secessionist movement inspite of an environment that can be described as very conducive for such a venture.
The answer lies in the patriotic spirit of the Indian Gorkhas who fought alongside their other Indian brothers and sisters to secure the freedom of the country. From Shahid Durga Malla, whose awe inspiring statue stands in the premises of Parliament, to other freedom fighters like Dal Bahadur Giri, Lal Bahadur Basnet, Lachuman Limbu, Bhim Bahadur Khadka Narbir Lama, Tej Bahadur Subba, Digbir Singh Ramudamu, Jangbir Sapkota, Gaga Tshering, Bhakta Bahadur Pradhan, Pushpa Kumar Ghisingh, Putali Maya Devi, Pratiman Singh Lama, Harish Chhettri and Helen Lepcha.
This spirit of nationalism over time has been tempered by years and years of service by Indian Gorkhas in the Indian Army. From the 1965 Chinese aggression to the Indo-Pak war in 1971 to the Kargil ingressions, Gorkhas have ever been in the forefront to fight for the country and to safeguard its borders.
There has been the argument that creation of smaller states will amplify instability and lead to balkanisation of the country. That it will lead to ethnification of Indian society, at the cost of national integration. There is not an iota of evidence in support of such a contention which stems from an imaginary paranoia. To assume that granting more administrative and fiscal powers to the states, or creating a large number of states, may weaken the country is a far fetched proposition that has no basis in fact.
In fact, the country can only benefit from smaller states. Creation of sub-national units offers an institutional solution that can help check growing economic divergence among states, without sacrificing economic efficiency.
For the Union of India, the presence of an enclave of loyal soldiers and patriotic citizens in a new and separate state will have the effect of creating a veritable fort against foreign incursions and subversion in the sensitive region which is only hours away from the borders of Bhutan, China, Nepal and Bangladesh. It is also idle to imagine that the interests of national security will be better served by keeping the region within the control and administration of West Bengal in the light of the well known fact that a large proportion of the ostensibly ‘Bengali’ population of Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and the adjoining areas consists of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who owe no allegiance to the Indian Union.
The region of Darjeeling and the Dooars have always been perceived merely as a source of revenue even when the nation’s borders were being drawn in 1947. The inclusion of Darjeeling and the Dooars in present day Bengal stemmed more from the desire for revenue prompted by colonial traditions rather than nationalist feelings. As narrated above, socio-economic devastation was wrought upon the area due to a sub-colonial policy pursued by all the Governments that came into power in Bengal. Decision making, located as it is five hundred kilometres away ensured that no project or plan could be implemented without incessant delay and bureaucratic bungling. Even critical projects for potable water were bungled with unceasing regularity.
This region has very little to do with the state of West Bengal in terms of geographical features, natural resources, socio-cultural pattern and livelihood system. A separate state comprising of Darjeeling district and Dooars region will be economically most viable and the people will ensure this once the new state is created. This new state could also usher in a comprehensive military, environmental and human security.
The people of this region have realised that the West Bengal Government would not be able to do any by way of substantive development activity for them. Instead the State Government has ruined the entire forest resources, cinchona plantation, tea industry, opulent biodiversity, opulently endowed water resources, rich human resources and most importantly all traditional institutions. The economy of this region remains in tatters and unmanageably scattered.
A new State will be a very viable entit
y on five very significant grounds. Firstly, this new state will be the only state in the country to have four international borders viz. with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China (through Sikkim) and Nepal. International and regional trade through land customs at Phulabari, Phuntsoling, Jelep la and Pani Tanki/Pashupati respectively on a regulated framework would could earn millions of dollars. As the regional and global trade scenario becomes increasingly liberal and the cross border connectivity improves with the implementation of international projects such as the Trans-Asian Highway, these trade routes are likely to become more and more robust and vibrant in very near future. Unlike in the past the trade linkages could now count not only on goods and products but on services like tourism, health, education, communications, banking and insurance.
Secondly, this will be the only state where two topographically varied plantations and agricultural systems will be available. Tea , cinchona, floriculture, horticulture and direct access of these farm items to both national and international markets mostly towards the South East and East Asia through even ports like Chittagong and Mongla in Bangladesh and Sittway in Myanmar could have no parallel. For instance, Darjeeling and Dooars together constitute 20% of the total land under tea cultivation in the country. These two regions contribute almost 7 percent of the total world tea production (3577 million kgs in 2006) and earn over Rs. 301 crore annually from the exports of tea alone.
Some of the developmental possibilities in the new state would be:
1. Agri-Export Zone: On the event of formation of the proposed new state, the region would be promoted as an Agri-Export Zone (AEZ) for a number of agro-horti produces, viz., Darjeeling orange, large cardamom, exotic vegetables and floricultural products. It will increase agricultural exports from the country and fetch remunerative returns to the farming community in a sustained manner.
2. Organic State: Agro-horticultural scenario of the region is mostly traditional and the concept of farming itself remains organic. The new state as a whole would be developed and promoted as an organic state which eventually would help increasing the exports from the state.
3. Establishment of an Agricultural University: There is a need for establishing an Agricultural University as agriculture will be the major component of the economy of proposed new state. The modern agricultural technologies were initiated at the Farm started by the colonial British for the supply of vegetables and cereal crops to Dr. Graham’s Homes (school) in Kalimpong started by a missionary Rev. Dr. John Anderson Graham during pre-independent India was handed over to the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of West Bengal by the school authorities in 1950. Agriculture Department utilized the farm by converting this unit into a District Seed Farm for the supply of quality seed materials to the farmers and established the Zonal Adaptive Research Station (ZARS) for solving the local problems of farmers. The same unit under Department of Agriculture was handed over to the Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyala (BCKV), Mohanpur, Nadia for setting up of a Regional Research Station for the Hill Climatic Zone in 1991. The entire establishments of Agriculture Department viz Block Seed Farm, Pedong (28 acres); Temperate Fruit Research Station, and Tropical Fruits Research Station, Dalapchand (60 acres); ZARS and the District Seed Farm, Kalimpong (80 acres) were transferred to the BCKV. There was All India Coordinated Research Project on Tropical and Sub-Tropical Fruits in Pedong which was shifted to Kalyani in 1998 for the benefit of the plains people depriving the simple, ignorant people of the Hills. The university added one Krishi Vigyan Kendra in 1993. Further, West Bengal government bifurcated the BCKV in 2001 to start a second State Agricultural University named Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya with its headquarter at Pundibari, Coochbehar. All BCKV establishments located at Kalimpong, Dalapchand and Pedong were transferred to the newly established UBKV. The existing infrastructure like land, buildings, human resources and road connectivity are all available which is sufficient to initiate an Agricultural University and
4. Gene Bank: A Gene Sanctuary has to be established to conserve and exploit a vast gene pool of indigenous crop plants available in the region.
5. Developing Efficient Post-Harvest Processing and Marketing System for Agro-Horticultural Products: Despite having very high potentiality of producing agro-horticultural crops in Darjeeling hills, the region is lagging behind in comparison to other places due to following reasons. Firstly, there is inadequate transport and marketing facilities which compels the farmers to sell their products locally. Secondly, due to poor socio-economic condition, the small and marginal farmers are forced for distress sale. Lastly, there is lack of adequate grading, storage and processing facilities.
6. Establishing National Institute of Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry.
Existing institutions related to agriculture:
1. Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Regional Station, Kalimpong: Indian Agricultural Research Institute, headquartered at New Delhi, established one of its regional stations in Kalimpong in 1956. This regional station was mandated to carry out the research work on virus and virus-like diseases of economically important crop plants & extension work.
2. Regional Research Station (Hill Zone), Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Kalimpong:
Regional Research Station (Hill Zone) was established under Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya in 1991 which subsequently came under the purview of Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya since 2001. The station conducts basic and applied research on location specific problems for the farmers of the zone.
3. Darjeeling Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Kalimpong: Darjeeling Krishi Vigyan Kendra was established in 1993 under the aegis of erstwhile Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya (now under UBKV) is for the dissemination of technology on agriculture and allied sector to the farmers field to uplift their socio-economic status. The technology is transferred by trainings and demonstrations. The latest technologies are also given to the extension functionaries for further dissemination to the farmers.
4. Regional Sericultural Research Station, Central Silk Board, Kalimpong: Sericulture in Darjeeling hills dates back to 1879 when Rev. W. S. Sutherland introduced the same in school curriculum at one of the schools here which later took the shape of the Regional Sericultural Research Station under Central Silk Board. The station is dedicated to look after the research and development activities and proliferation of improved technology in the region.
5. Citrus Dieback Research Station, Kalimpong: It started to operate at Kalimpong in 1983-84 in the form of ad hoc project on citrus dieback mapping and control under Government of West Bengal. This station was mandated to map the dieback, to determine the causes, to generate technologies and to train the orange growers for rejuvenating the declining orange orchards of Darjeeling hills. After completion of the dieback mapping, determination of the probable causes and documentation of proper management practices, the station has taken up the programs to rejuvenate the degenerating orchards by imparting training to the farmers, organizing demonstration in farmers’ field and production of nucellar seedlings of Darjeeling orange. This enterprise could have been developed into a research institute of great repute but presently it remains almost non-functional due to the lack of proper government support and interest.
6. Spices Board (Ministry of Commerce, Government of India), Kalimpong: The Spices Board has established one of its offices at Kalimpong since 1979 and is primarily involved in improving quality and increasing acreage and production of large cardamom in the Darjeeling hills. The Spice Board promotes large cardamom cultivation through its various schemes, viz., (i) Extension Advisory Scheme for dissemination of scientific know-how to the growers, (ii) Certified Nursery Scheme for producing healthy, high yielding planting materials, (iii) Replanting Scheme for rejuvenation of diseased, senile and uneconomic plantations.
7. Plant Quarantine and Fumigation Station, Kalimpong: One small Plant Quarantine and Fumigation Centre under the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. Of India is operating at Kalimpong. It looks after the inspection of plant, being exported and imported, as per plant quarantine regulation.
8. National Research Centre for Orchids, Darjeeling Unit, Darjeeling: Darjeeling Unit of National Research Centre for Orchids, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Sikkim, carries out research on Orchids in Darjeeling hills.
Soil and Water Conservation:
Since, the area is characterized with steeply sloping topography, unstable and weak geological formation, high rainfall and poor socio-economic conditions, there is potential danger to the ecosystem through excessive land degradation problems in hilly region. Increasing human and livestock population pressures have resulted in denudation of forest land and its conversion for cultivation purposes leading to high soil erosion. The problem is further aggravated due to landslides, torrents, road constructions, new house building, faulty cropping pattern, and mining activities. The precious top soil is being eroded in an enormous quantity and the 2.5 inches thickness of such soil takes thousand of years to form while it takes few hours to get eroded. Integrated soil management practices have not been properly followed these days which shall be given top priority in the proposed state of Gorkhaland. Though the region receives 3000-3500 mm of annual rainfall, there is an urgent need for devising suitable water harvesting and runoff storage structures for irrigation purposes to use during lean periods for sustained productivity. The gigantic soil erosion problems on arable and non-arable lands call for serious effort to take up soil and water conservation measures for enhanced biomass production and ecological stability.
Both Darjeeling and Dooars are covered by huge area of forest where Apis melifera (Putka) colonies are found and are domesticated. The honey they make is of high quality and is sold at a premium price. The scientific rearing of this species has not yet been standardized but even in the traditional system it yields 250 – 500 gm per season from a colony. There are other species like Apis indica and A.dorsata which are reared by the farmers both in traditional and scientific rearing hives. These are not yet exploited commercially either for honey harvest for pollination purposes to enhance the yield of crops like Oranges, Peach, Pear, Oilseeds, and other cross pollinated crops.
The Himalayan region of Darjeeling has good scope of Trouts farming which can be initiated and exploited in the higher hills in this region. The trouts have high nutritional properties. The people of Bhutan and Nepal have been farming them since past many years. The normal fish farming is already there in the hills with all required infrastructure and manpower at Block level This infrastructure can be utilized for trouts farming for better economic return which will have export potential .
The fish farming in Dooars region is commercially viable and many types of fishes can be cultured for the economic benefit of the farmers in the region.
The most interesting feature of Darjeeling Hills is low temperature, which is conducive for high milk production. The best temperature for a lactating cow is 10-180C. Since the average temperature is low, this region may be converted into good milk shed area provided genetic potentiality of cattle is utilized and the availability of nutritious feed and fodder assured beside adequate health cover. The Siri breed animals having Jersey blood are a common sight in this region and both the artificial insemination and natural service through Jersey bull are in vogue in this region. The total milk production in this region has been estimated to be 95,000 tonnes which is 3.6% of the total milk production of West Bengal. The entire region is connected with the network of Himalayan Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd. (HIMUL) for collection, processing and marketing of milk and milk products in North Bengal.
There is a tremendous opportunity in agro tourism in both Darjeeling Hills and Dooars region. There are some firms working on this line. The tourists come and enjoy the natural beauty with fresh agri -products from the field. The region is still virgin and needs to be exploited. However, the infrastructures like air connectivity, good road, electricity without disruption, clean drinking water, market access and other required facilities in the area or vicinity is required to be developed immediately for the betterment of agro tourism. West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Ltd. and some private enterprises are involved in this business since last few years in this region. But there is much more to be done in this line where hundreds of farmers can make additional income from this sector. The agro tourism can provide employment to hundreds of rural youths if promoted properly.
Sericulture in Darjeeling dates back to 1879 when Rev W. S. Sutherland introduced the same in school curriculum at Scottish Mission institute.Topography and climatic condition of Darjeeling district offers excellent opportunity for rearing high yielding silk worm. Darjeeling hills has the largest area under mulberry and muga cultivation. Being agro-based, labour intensive and more economically competitive than other industries, sericulture fits very well to the socio-economy structure of rural life of the peoples of Darjeeling hills. The total area under sericulture in Darjeeling hills is about 380 hectares. Out of this muga silk is cultivated successfully in 2 hectares of land and supplies the seeds of muga to North East and plains of West Bengal.
Annual production of – a) mulberry reeling cocoon – 10 lacs number
b) mulberry seed cocoon – 8 lacs number
c) Muga seed cocoon -10 thousand numbers
Items Total land under sericulture Cocoon reeling (numbers) Seed Cocoon (numbers)
Silkworm (bivoltine) 10 ha 2631.57/ha 2105.26/ha
Muga Silk 2 ha – 5000/ha
Prospects of sericulture industries in proposed state of Gorkhaland
1) Area under sericulture can be further be extended by utilizing available wastes land
2) Marketing and Reeling centre can be develop in the area itself so that the producer can get
good price of there produce
3) Seed preservation centre (cold storage) if could be developed at least one in the sub division level so that the farmer can avail the materie
Mineral Wealth and Coal
The district contains valuable mineral deposits. The coal bearing rocks were reported for the first time by Sir J.D. Hooker in 1849 from Pankhabari and Gorubathan (Dalimkot). During 1896-1900 A.D. a total of 7231 tonnes of coal was raised from Gorubathan until the enterprise was closed (Banerjee 1980).
Among the minerals, copper occurs in Kalimpong Peshok, Mirik and Gorubathan, Graphite occurs as embedded in mica schist along Darjeeling-Peshok ridge, Ghaiyabari, Mungpoo, Rakti valley, lower Singalila range and Labha. Iron ores varying from strong ferruginous clay to an impure hematite are reported from Samalbong and Seokbir (Kalimpong) and Lohagarh (Kurseong Terai). Three Iron ores varying from strong ferruginous clay to an impure hematite are reported from Samalbong and Seokbir (Kalimpong) and Lohagarh (Kurseong Terai). Three sources of lime viz. Dolomite, limestone buds and calcareous tufa have been reported from numerous zones, chiefly the junctions of Gondwana and Tertiary. Senchale ridges, Pankhabari, Yangmakum and Great Rangit are important among these. The positive indications of occurrence of uranium have been traced by the Geological Survey of India in 1980-82, from Yangmakum-Tik ridge.
Thirdly, this entire region is declared as one of the 25 the biodiversity hotspot identified and located in the world. Given this and the fabulous mountain ranges, this will be the only state in the country where bio-diversity and scenic beauty led eco-tourism could be blended with educational and health services of a diverse range. Sidrapong power house the first hydel power project in Asia built in 1897 and the entire Darjeeling teas industry mostly initiated in 1860s could fetch additional revenue as heritage infrastructure, Darjeeling will be the only place where in such a small geographical location it would be possible to have three sites (Darjeeling Himalayan Railway built in 1881) in the World Heritage list of UNESCO. This would lead to a huge foreign tourists influx. The schools and colleges in this region have attracted both national and international patronisations for more than a century now and even today students from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Thailand flock to these areas for education.
Fourthly, the new state of Gorkhaland where hydel-power resources have not been commercially harnessed in a big way. There are a range of local, national and international rivers (including Teesta, Mechi, Rangeet, Balsun, Soonkosh) that flow through this region. Hydel power could be exploited as a tradable item to sell power to the national grid and to neighbouring countries also. There is ample scope for mini hydel projects.
Finally, the new state will be the gateway to the entire North East region of India and of course an instrument to harness the opportunities triggered by India’s Look East Policy aimed at integrating with the South East and East Asian countries. The North East region will be free from the clutches of hartals, bandhs, resistance to industrialisation and other labour relatied bottlenecks that characterises modern day West Bengal.
As a new state, Darjeeling and Dooars will complete the geopolitical shape of the North East region. If Assam and Sikkim are a part of North East region there is no reason why contiguously adjoining Dooars and Darjeeling should not be similarly treated. Fulfilment of the statehood demand will also bring a wholesome address mechanism to the Indian Himalayan regions as today Darjeeling and Dooars are the only Himalayan regions which do not constitute a self-contained state unlike Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Police Station, Mouza and Area of the new State of Gorkhaland
Total No. of Police Station- 21 (13 in Darjeeling District, 8 in Dooars)
Total No. of Mouza – 1060 (718 in Darjeeling District, 342 in Dooars)
Total Area- 1543411.20 acres= 2411.58 miles =6246 sq. Kilometers
Block & Police Station No. of Mouza Area in acres
1. Darjeeling (town) 28 25822.67
(40.34 sq. miles)
2. Pul-Bijanbari 21 32753.54
(51.17 sq. miles)
3. Sukhia Pokhri 47 96584.08
(150.91 sq. miles)
4. Rangli-Rangliot 29 71846.1655
( 112.26 sq. miles)
5. Kalimpong I&II 91 150694.72
(235.46 sq. miles)
6. Gorubathan 38 109644.55
(171.31 sq. miles)
7. Kurseong 67 85186.3845
(133.10 sq. miles)
8. Mirik 15 23357.58
(36.50 sq. miles)
9. Siliguri & Matigara 88 43027.8550
(67.23 sq. miles)
10. Naxalbari 105 51273.39
(80.11 sq. miles)
11. Phansidewa 113 76328.23
(119.26 sq. miles)
12. Khoribari 76 35753.15
(55.86 sq. miles)
13. Dhupguri 42 62593.07
(97.80 sq. miles)
14. Kalchini 45 220599.38
(344.69 sq. miles)
15. Kumargram 33 98203.85
(153.44 sq. miles)
16. Madrihat 50 94111.87
(147.05 sq. miles)
17. Mal 107 135587.57
(211.86 sq. miles)
18. Mateli 31 50637.96
(79.12 sq. miles)
19. Nagarkatta 33 68314.34
(106.74 sq. miles)
20. Rajgunj 1 11091.14
(Dabgram) ( 17.32 sq. miles)
Total 1060 1543411.20 acres