Discursive Hills – Book Review

Discursive Hills (295 pages)
Price Rs 450
Publishers: St Joseph’s College

Requires Recall 
-by Sonam B Wangyal 

From: Darjeeling Times: (Must read review which clarifies the fallacies found in the two articles of the book Discursive Hills)
Only the first two most important essays in this collection of academic papers will be considered and the readers are left to decide whether these articles justify the continued the sale of the book. My opinion is that a stray error is admissible but a series of distortions, disinformation and misinformation, should drive the publishers from taking the book down from the sale counters. The Publishers have a formidable reputation built up over decades of good record and this book tarnishes their so-far-unshakeable reputation. 

(1)    KEYNOTE ADDRESS: “The History and Development of the Hill Stations in India” Professor Mahendra P. Lama (Vice Chancellor, Sikkim University)

The Keynote Address by the redoubtable scholar, Prof. Mahendra P. Lama, must not be taken as the gospel truth on account of his formidable reputation and weighty scholarship.  The first page of the paper has it that Csoma de Koros, along with three other illustrious writers, put into record, “the enchanting mountains and the socio-cultural dynamics of hill societies in their travelogues.” Let it be known that Alexander Csoma never wrote a travelogue and in whatever else he penned there was nothing about “the social-cultural dynamics of hill people”. The author is from Darjeeling and the scholar extraordinaire, Alexander Csoma of Koros, also lived for sometime, died and was interred in Darjeeling and therefore the proximity of association should have precluded such a massive error. As a note of interest I would like to add that Alexander Csoma’s writings can be divided into two categories: (a) Tibetan Grammar and Dictionary and the essays published in various journals and (b) his manuscripts.
Lama states that “The Anglo-Gorkha War created cantonment in Dehradun and the Anglo-Bhutan War (1864-65) [did the same] in and around Darjeeling.” (P 13) One cannot ignore the fact that the territory could not have been British without the war, and going by the same logic the hill stations there could not have been possible without the conquered land. These give rise to the notion that the Himalayan hill stations were a direct product of the Anglo-Gorkha War and almost all historians unanimously swear by this assumption. But history is not a dead subject and must be probed regularly and wherever possible a fresh breath of life has to be injected. Consequently, I would like to propose a different version. 

The War was only partially and somewhat indirectly responsible for the cantonments/hill stations but never directly responsible. First, it must be emphasized, the objective of the war was not cantonments/hill stations. Second, following the successful campaign the victorious British did not go searching for spots that would eventually metamorphose into cantonments/hill stations (nor were there official decrees to search for such a place), third, when most of the cantonments/hill stations were discovered they were generally results of unintended discovery. Fourth, even after their discoveries there was no immediate enthusiasm to make these havens into European habitats, and fifth, there were considerable gaps between termination of the war to the discoveries and subsequent development of the station/cantonment. 

Derhadun, in fact, was accidentally discovered in 1826 by Captain Young and the first house came up in 1827, i.e. after twelve years of the war and the cantonment grew sluggishly over the decades. Now compare this with Darjeeling which was ‘ceded’ in 1835 and by 1839 there was already a Superintendent. One must be wary of conferring undue credit to an event and to admit the discovery and development of Dheradun to the Anglo-Gorkha War would be equivalent to saying that the old Tista Bridge would have never come about if the British had not taken over our district. It may be apt to add that Simla too does not fit into the proposed conjecture since historical records show that it was “acquired” in 1830, fourteen years subsequent to the war through an exchange agreement with the Maharaja of Patiala and the Rana of Keonthal, the joint proprietors of the land. Two Scots brothers, Gerad, while on a survey mission discovered Simla on 30 August 1817 (note the proximity of the year to the war) but nothing emerged from the sighting. The fillip came only in 1827 (note the distance of the year to the war) when Lord Amherst decided to spend his summer at Simla. His entourage consisted of about 12,000 people, 850 fully loaded camels, several hundred horses, and 150 elephants, complete with mahouts The tiny village of Simla became a prosperous town overnight. Subsequent annual visits by Governor-Generals added to the prestige and commerce of the pretty town. Keeping the chain of events in mind is it even tenuously possible to say that Simla was a product of the Anglo-Gorkha War?

Consider also Naini Tal which was discovered in 1839, twenty-four years after the war, by an English businessman, Mr. Barron, simply because he was lost and while trying to head home he stumbled upon a hidden lake called Naini Tal. In 1842 there were only twelve houses and in 1845 i.e. after thirty years of the war, Naini Tal had only sixteen houses. Along with the comment on Dhera Dun, Lama also adds that the Anglo-Bhutan War also brought the founding of cantonments “in and around Darjeeling.” The Anglo-Bhutan War (1864-65), in truth, brought Kalimpong under the British but the cantonments in the district did not have even the remotest of connections to the episode. 

Senchal Cantonment came up in 1844 (abandoned 1867), Jalapahar Cantonment in 1848, and Katapahar Cantonment was a part of the Jalapahar Cantonment. Lebong Cantonment came up initially as a part of the Jalapahar setup in 1882 and became a separate Cantonment in 1895 while the Takda Cantonment was initiated in 1910. All the dates clearly testify that Anglo-Bhutan war had nothing to do with these cantonments since all of them were built well before that war with the exception of Lebong which came up sixty-six years after and became a full cantonment seventy-nine years after the war. Takda Cantonment came up after ninety-four years of the signing of the Treaty of Sinchula. Even if we exclude the pre-war cantonments, since they cannot possibly be a consequence of the war, the two other post-war cantonments, one seventy-nine and the other ninety-four years of the Anglo-Bhutan War, make any association far fetched simply because of the enormous time lapsed in between. The conclusion derived by the scholar is just a reproduction of what many have written in the past and a small bit of personal input is sorely missing. 

Anyway, if a cantonment had to be created in the Darjeeling district, as a consequence of that war, the most logical place would have been Kalimpong, after all the place was taken by the British as spoils of war from the Bhutanese and also because the sub-division bordered Bhutan. What is interesting is that O’Malley does not mention of any cantonment existing in Kalimpong or something similar being constructed as a consequence of the war. And the same goes for chronicler Dozey, gazetteer Dash and statistician Hunter. We can only conclude that not only were the cantonments unrelated to the war but it must be viewed with due curiosity that, despite the Professor’s verdict, no cantonment was built in Kalimpong which became part of British India as a direct aftermath of the Anglo-Bhutan war. 

Finally it is necessary to mull over Shillong and Cherrapunji since Lama has mentioned them and hinted the two as products of the Anglo Burma war. Cherrapunji was an army station (cantonment) for the duration of the war but it never developed into a hill station (cf. the subject of the paper: The History and Development of the Hill Stations in India) for many decades and Shillong came about as an alternative to the unhealthy and unpleasant Cherra. When the cantonment shifted to Shillong the war had long since terminated and the shift to the present place was not a consequence of the war but an outcome of Cherra’s unhealthy climate and Shillong’s salubrious environment. Cherra, the rain-capital of the world never developed for decades and even today it is a just a township but not a hill station in the sense that we know of. It simply is nothing more than a town (station) on a hill. Even as late as 1992 a scholar commented, “Tourism … makes little contribution to Shora’s economy. There are no hotels worth the name … The civil life in Shora also lacks drive and thrust … Shora has practically nothing of civic amenities … narrow rods and lanes, much of which are in want of repair.”
It is mentioned that the Sidrapong power plant was built in 1897 “in order to run these various economic systems” and if the ‘economic systems’ meant tea and cinchona then the Professor is far from exactness. The manufacture of cinchona will not be considered for it hardly requires any power in comparison to tea manufacture. In the old Darjeeling Gazetteers there is absolutely no mention of the tea gardens receiving power from Sidrapong station on the contrary we have O’Malley informing us, “A large number of the tea factories have been built in situations where full advantage can be taken of the water-power available in the mountain streams on the estates. …During the last decade or so, the old water-wheels have all given place to the more modern and effective turbine as a driving motor.” The power generated at Sidrapong did not roll the machines in the tea gardens and because of that the plantations had to generate their own electricity. Some gardens not blessed with a nearby mountain streams even resorted of using coal to generate electricity at a cost that was prohibitive and barely profitable.     
The same page claims that (Christian) missionaries “came with a great zeal of public service.” This is only partially true. The Scottish Mission and the Catholics at Pedong were about the only missionaries that can be classified as truly Christian in spirit and in deed. Most of the other missionaries came to educate and minister their own folks. Schools like Goethal’s Memorial School, Loreto Convent, Mt. Hermon School, St. Joseph’s College, St. Paul’s School, Dr Graham’s Homes etc were never meant for the native child. The Christian Principles and Rectors indulged in an indirect form of segregation for decades after decades without any embarrassment or guilt. Even Victoria School and Dow Hill School, run by the government, were meant for the children of the financially lesser endowed Europeans or Anglo-Indians. Dick B. Dewan writing on the early years of Darjeeling minces no words: “Barring the German Moravian missionaries, all other missionaries that followed, have appeared to be interested in the education of the domiciled European children rather than in the education of the native children…” Somehow Dewan has missed Rev. Macfarlane and the Catholics in Pedong, otherwise the quiet and humble scholar is on excellent track. He singles out St. Paul’s School as an example with a rather severe but acceptable comment: “The school hardly served any purpose of the native children of Darjeeling hill track or of the Indian people at large.”[17] Only when circumstances changed with Indians becoming more powerful financially, socially and most significantly ‘politically’ that the portals of these great schools began to open up by the inches. Arthur Jules Dash, writing as late as 1946, is very specific in the objectives of these schools and he is on record writing, “Their aim was to provide for European and Anglo-Indian children the type of education and upbringing to which the parents had been accustomed to in their native country.” 
An assertion is made that because the missionaries made numerous schools, children traveled to Darjeeling with their parents and this, in a way, boosted tourism. After that assertion Lama adds that “Tourism in turn promoted the development of basic infrastructures and put in place more effective governance.” Even though I am in partial agreement to this claim I must say that the decisive factor must be tea, tea and tea. Tea was and is so much a distinguishing factor, a silent ambassador, the largest employer, a great revenue earner, foreign exchange winner, and, for the sake of argument, without tea where would have Darjeeling been! Not surprisingly, The Concise Oxford English Dictionary does not describe Darjeeling as a town or a hill station but rather as “Darjeeling/ da:’dzi:liŋ/ n. a high-quality tea from Darjeeling in NE India.”
The generalization that the hill stations “served as major producing grounds for very specific crops like tea and cinchona” (p. 14), is flawed. This may be true of Darjeeling and a few tea plantations in south India (tea and coffee) but what “specific crops” did Gulmarg, Chail, Naini Tal etc (in the Himalayan region), Ranchi, Hazaribagh etc (central region), Matherar, Pune, Lonavla etc (western region) produce? In the same page the Professor declares that following the influx of missionaries and students “the food habit changed” in the Darjeeling hills and in the following page (last para.) he contradicts himself with the statement “The food habits across the hill towns have remained deeply influenced by their strong village roots.” Both cannot be correct.  
Lama mentions (p.15) that hill towns were used for signing international agreements and mentions the Tripartite Treaty done in Simla but significantly forgets to mention that Indo-Bhutan Treaty of 1949 was done directly under his nose at Darjeeling. At the bottom of the page a few lines are allotted to the local brew. Lama say that tongba is the popular wine and this needs a bit of examination not because it is hugely important but since Discursive Hills is written by intellectuals, scholars and enlightened persons and errors will invariably be quoted in the future as facts. Therefore, even at the cost of being a bit semantic, the following minor corrections would be appropriate. The drink in the Tibetan and its related languages is called chhang (not tongba which is the container for the brew).Chhang incidentally is not a wine, I presume Lama is not given to alcoholic indulgence and therefore the error. Chhang is a crude native beer made of millet or rice and at times even corn or barley. The Nepali equivalent to chhang would be janr and the tongba is called dhungro.   
A few words about the Che(e)bu Lama of Sikkim who has been touted as “one of the finest diplomats.” Cheebu was NOT a diplomat, the British never gave him that status, no historian has ever acknowledged him as such and he never claimed to be one simply because he was not. He was a translator for the British officers at Darjeeling and for those visiting the place on official work. He went with Ashley Eden to Bhutan in the capacity of a translator, a messenger boy, guide and as a man who could procure labour and supplies (sardar or labour contractor). Besides it was his duty to deliver letters and bring back replies when needed. The Bhutanese were very bitter that a man from Sikkim had guided the British officers to Bhutan and on 23 February 1863 the Governor of Paro and the ex-Governor threatened him with dire consequences for “daring to bring Englishmen into their country..” The Tongsa Penlop also threatened imprisonment, an intention hardly appropriate for “one of the finest diplomats”. He was a Sikkimese Lepcha and committed treachery by aligning with the British against his king, country and people and for this act of treachery he was rewarded an unbelievable 49 square miles of land in the north-west of the district immediately making him the largest land owner in the district. The History of Sikkim quoting Government letter no. 266 dated the 9th of March 1862, from the India Government Secretary to the Secretary of the Bengal Government, reports that Cheebu appropriated a large part of the Chogyal’s annuity, a lion’s share of Rs. 20,000/= given to the King by the British and the amount obtained by the sale of Chogyal’s horses: the total loss to the Chogyal amounting to Rs. 24,262 and 8 annas, a clear fortune in those days. I would not like to hazard a guess as to what lofty designation he deserves but of this I am positively definite that he was no diplomat and by calling him “one of the finest diplomats the author berates and does injustice to men of stature like Knox and Hodgson. 
By the way, one of Cheebu’s descendants today still owns large tracts of Darjeeling tract and amongst them is the prime property, the Belleview, close to Chowrasta. 
(2) Origin    and    Development    of    Darjeeling: Chittabrata Palit, Professor of History, Jadavpur University.
This is the second successive essay that is being reviewed. It is a very poorly researched paper. This Professor has killed the book making it an embarrassing and absolutely worthless and casting a shadow of unreliability upon the other essays. The professor by shaping the whole paper around Brian Houghton Hodgson has risked the possibility of either being partially correct or in error from the first to the last word. Unfortunately for him the latter proves to be true. Hodgson was a man placed too far away from the corridors of power and being ensconced in the mountain fastness of Kathmandu he had very little leverage as far as Darjeeling was concerned and even lesser officers, several grades lower in the pecking order, had better access to the eyes and ears of the powers that were because the reports they presented had superior value since they were done after actual field work at Darjeeling or close by, unlike Hodgson who was several hundred miles and many days’ marches away. But he makes Hodgson a central figure in development of Darjeeling. Where Hodgson did obtain the eyes and ears of his superiors was in the event of any Darjeeling issue which could lead to repercussions in Anglo-Nepal relations. Period, and no more! He enjoyed no other powers or privileges as far as Darjeeling was concerned. There is very little doubt that Hodgson was a scholar of the highest order and his contribution to the studies in language, literature, religion, social sciences, ethnology, ornithology, history etc will forever remain in many cases seminal and generally superior examples of scholarship. He championed the case of vernacular education and continuously proposed and promoted the cause of recruiting the Gorkhas in the British Indian Army.
Palit’s topic concerns itself with two well-defined foci, “origin” and “development” of Darjeeling. Even an occasional meddler of Darjeeling history knows that the esteemed Hodgson had nothing whatsoever in the “origin” or “development” of the station. On the contrary, if Hodgson had had his way Darjeeling would have been a stillborn phenomenon. There would have been NO Darjeeling. The Professor has inconveniently left out names like Captain George Alymer Lloyd and J.W. Grant, the Commercial Resident at Malda, the two who accidentally co-discovered the place. Captain Herbert, the Deputy Surveyor General, who along with Grant went as guinea pigs to study and survey the land and environment before the commencement of negotiations and Dr. Chapman who repeatedly visited Darjeeling have also been neglected. Another name associated with the origin, but yet again omitted, is Lord William Bentinck who in 1830 proposed to commence negotiation with the Chogyal for the transfer of the tract. In summary all the names of the personalities actually connected with the “origin” of Darjeeling have been omitted and the one person who should not have been included finds honourable mention and credit. How unfortunate and how grossly flawed! 

Bentinck’s proposal could not go forwards because Sir C. Metcalfe, a Member of the Supreme Council, believed that both Nepal and Sikkim would view such a move with suspicion. Once again in 1833 Bentinck, now better placed, raised the issue and once more faced opposition from Metcalfe. This time around the latter had the support of the British Resident in Kathmandu, none other than our Brian Houghton Hodgson, who argued that a British station (Darjeeling) so close to the Nepal frontier would adversely affect British ties with Nepal. It is patent, as black from white, that Hodgson did not want Darjeeling to happen. 
Where “development” is concerned a rejection has been made of the numerous people who contributed to the initial growth and progress of the station. Campbell, by the very nature of the title of his office, Superintendent, was meant to superintend or supervise the station. He should have been acclaimed as a workaholic who facilitated progress in all fronts. Except for his uneasy relationship with the Sikkim ruler and some sections of the natives his record is enviable. The man stands tall in the annals of the district but Palit has credited Campbell for purposes beyond his brief. The construction of initial road (Old Military Road) was done by Lt. Col. G.W.A. Lloyd and Lt. Gilmore and completed by Lt. Robert C. Napier (later Lord) but they find no place in the paper. In the matter of road building I cannot hold Palit responsible for omitting a certain Anglo-Indian named Mr. Dewar for constructing the Hill Cart Road (Tenzing Norgay Road) in 1861. Every historian seems to ignore him outright and even Dozey finds the achievement worthy of only a mention in the footnote. The pioneer hoteliers who encouraged people to visit Darjeeling: in particular Samuel Smith and D. Wilson in Darjeeling and H.M. Low in Kurseong find no mention and similarly and in the domain of education the Catholics at Kalimpong and the Scots Mission in the entire district, Rev. William Macfarlane in particular along with Rev. Start and German Missionaries who called themselves Moravian Brothers, are all omitted. 

In the field of industry mention has been made of Campbell, Withecombe and Major Crommelin (Palit spells it with a K) as tea planters but an exclusion has been made of the real big guns like Mrs H.C. Taylor, Dr. Chas Graham, Grazebrooke, Martin, Mason, Smith, Brougham, The Kurseong and Darjeeling Tea Company, Darjeeling Land Mortgage Bank, and Louis Mandelli. The first doctor of Darjeeling, J.T. Pearson, and the benevolent Maharajah of Cooch Behar, Nipendra Narayan, are rewarded through exclusion. Palit has discredited himself with the error of omission by ignoring all the people concerned with the “origin” and “development” (save for Campbell who is honoured for the wrong reasons), and by proposing Hodgson as protagonist of origin and development.
We will leave Hodgson for wee bit of time and then come back to him. The opening line reads thus: “The treaty of Sagauli (1816)…” I am sorry Professor! The Treaty was signed on 2 December 1815.[42] The sentence continues proclaiming that the Sagauli Treaty “marked the junction of British trade en route to Tibet.” Utterly wrong. After the Treaty the British were able to post a Resident in Kathmandu but despite numerous attempts the British were, in regard to Tibet trade, never given a single staging posts, trade marts or transit routes through Nepal. The first Resident, Captain Knox, tried and the subsequent Residents also tried but the commerce to Tibet via Nepal never came through. Much later the issue became redundant with Nathula and Jelepla opening up.
In the above paragraph Prof. Palit writes: “The conquest of Nepal, fuelled the British desire to do business with Tibet and China. Hodgson gave shape to this desire.” It is common knowledge that there was NO CONQUEST of Nepal. Defeat, there certainly was but conquest is a different matter altogether and that never happened. It has already been mentioned that the British did not get any concession from Nepal in regard to commerce with Tibet and so Hodgson could not have given “shape” to something non-existent. But we can credit him for giving the government a dream of a profitable commerce to Tibet through Nepal. Hodgson did his utmost to convince Kathmandu to acquiesce, and almost succeeded. Yet, we still have to credit him otherwise because as the Resident from 1833 to 1843 he did play a major role in the promotion of trade between British India and Nepal and the 30 lakh rupee Nepali import export swelled to 330 lakh rupee by 1891.
Para 2 reveals that Kathmandu  had 52 Nepalis and 34 Indian businessmen and despite the figures being correct it is difficult to believe that there were only 86 traders in the capital city of Nepal even if the figures refer to the first quarter of 1800s. What Palit has missed out is that these 86 traders were no ordinary shopkeepers, for shopkeepers there must have been many and of whom the Foreign Office would hardly have any interest. What Palit has missed out are two indispensable words which in Hodgson’s report is the businessmen were “merchants engaged in foreign commerce both with the south and the north…” and south and north obviously meant India and Tibet. Now that would have whetted the East India Company, after all it was basically a trading company and commerce for money was its primary goal. 
In page 22 we are told that Hodgson visited Lhasa whereas our protagonist never set his foot on Tibet let alone travel all the way to Lhasa. Towards the end of the page Campbell is portrayed as the “successor” to Hodgson and it is true that Campbell held the dual position of the Residency Surgeon and Honorary Assistant Resident but being an “Honorary” Assistant Resident does not translate as a “successor”. Being a “successor” or “The Resident” amounted to a position equal to a Commissioner or Sub-Commissioner and Campbell’s transfer to Darjeeling as a superintendent of a village unmistakably bears out that he was never meant to be the successor. The same paragraph also adds that Darjeeling was taken from Sikkim “at a price lower than fifty thousand rupees (which was the revenue from Darjeeling in the year 1815)”. Professor Palit must be joking. The revenue collection in 1841, thirty-five years after Palit’s date and also after the British had streamlined the administration, came to ₤ 472.8.0 about Rs. 9,450  which is a great deal below the magical figure of  Rs. 50,000 given by Palit. (Incidentally, in page 15 Palit says the revenue of Darjeeling in 1850 was Rs. 36,000) It beats me how a historian can assert that some form of revenue assessment of Darjeeling was done in 1815 when such an exercise came into being only after the British annexation in 1835. Even if Palit’s fanciful date and amount are taken as correct, he would still be wrong simply because the Chogyal of Sikkim never received such a handsome compensation. All he got was (1) a double-barelled gun, (2) a rifle, (3) 20 yards of red broad cloth, (4) a pair of shawls, superior and inferior. 

One does not have to be a genius to understand that the recompense was not only unfair but it reeked of contempt: so much land for two pieces of weapon and 20 yards of cloth and two shawls. It is a small wonder the Chogyal kept on pleading for fairer reparation and the British offered him Rs. 1,000 annually. But even this offer was laced with a rider that the Chogyal should agree to a “free intercourse between Darjeeling and interior of Sikkim.” In 1841 a partially satisfactory settlement was reached when the British eventually conceded to give an annuity of Rs. 3,000 but did not compensate for the years that had lapsed. The Professor has erroneously increased the district’s total area to four thousand square miles when in reality it was 1,234 square miles only. The Professor seems to be purveying wrong information for he mentions that after the 1850 punitive action the annuity of the Chogyal was not reduced but in reality it was totally removed. At this juncture the history teacher retains little interest. 
Page 15 tells us of Hooker’s incarceration by the Sikkimese and his rescue by the “British army” and that after the defeat of Sikkim Hodgson’s dream of “robbing the Sikkimese king of all his wealth” was accomplished. This is another binge of fanciful writing. The British army never rescued Hooker and Campbell. They were released and walked into Darjeeling as free men.Hodgson must be crawling with rage in his grave for he never espoused robbing any one, and least of all the Sikkim king, to penury. These are fairly outrageous claims! The last paragraph of this page makes a downright trashy contention by alleging Hodgson’s saplings were responsible for the mushrooming of more than two thousand tea gardens. Even all the tea plantations of the world put together today will not add up to that astronomical number. But what offends us even more is his attack the sensibility and intelligence of us born in Darjeeling by telling us that tea saplings from Hodgson’s small experimental garden in Kathmandu were used to plant out the tea gardens in Darjeeling. The saplings and deeds used in Darjeeling were mainly from Kumaon and a few from Assam. Palit also mentions that there was a “green revolution” in Campbell’s garden while in truth the work was just an experimental one and the plot never rose to become a full fledged tea estate.  At the bottom of the page the author claims that the process of making tea in Darjeeling was the ancient ‘Brick-tea’ mode and it appears that he is innocent of the fact the British who were steeped in taking imported Chinese black tea would ever humble themselves to imbibe coarse brick tea. 
Campbell was transferred from Kathmandu to Darjeeling in 1839 and he started his small plantation in 1841 using Chinese seeds from Kumaon (not indigenous Nepali variety that Hodgson had experimented with). Small private commercial cultivation commenced around 1852-53 with Campbell, Dr. Withcombe, and Major Crommelin having a good run in their efforts but large scale commercial plantation was initiated by Kurseong and Darjeeling Tea Company in Alubari and Darjeeling Land Mortgage Bank in Lebong in 1856. On the other hand Assam had already produced black tea by 1836 and since the plant takes about five to seven years to mature Darjeeling would be making tea around 1860s. This would mean Darjeeling planters would not be unaware of the fine honed technology and methodology of tea production improved upon over the decades which was readily available in Assam plantations, and so the Darjeeling planters would not be so foolish as to manufacture brick-tea when they had access to the manufacturing methods tried and tested for almost three decades in Assam.  
At the very end of the page a mention is made of the legendary tea explorer Mr. Robert Fortune, at least that is what he is called in all recorded literature, but Palit has to sink, yet again, by calling him Mr. Goodfortune. At this point Palit runs the risk of losing all credibility as a historian.
It is a pity that North Point, has come out with such a poorly edited work. We all know and accept that to err is human, but to err ad nauseam and brazenly display them in a book as historical actualities puts a major question upon the Professors’ acumen and intent. The publishers would go a greater service to the people by recalling this book.


The future of Indo-Nepal treaty and its impact on Indian Gorkhas?

By D B Rai  (From Darjeeling Times)

Nepal communist party chief Puspa Kamal Dahal aka Prachand has raised the issue of the review of historical treaty, 1950 Indo –Nepal treaty, rippling the political wave in India and Nepal.

In his interview in Devils Advocate, a popular programme of NDTV, the top Maoist leader said, “Our people have put forward this concern that they feel that the treaty lacks in equality and that it is not beneficial for Nepal. We thus want to review all the points of the 1950 treaty and want to revise it according to new necessity.”

The Indo Nepal treaty, a treaty of peace and friendship signed at Katmandu on 31 July 1950 between Chandreshwar Prasad Narain Sing, ambassador of India in Nepal on behalf of government of India and Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, Maharaja, Prime minister and supreme commander in chief of Nepal has ten articles that describes the condition of the friendship of both countries. Now-a-days, it has become a debatable issue in both countries, India and Nepal.

Its impact among Indian origin Gorkhas

The issue of the abrogation of the treaty has brought reaction among Indian Nepali/Gorkha, too. Most of the Indian Gorkhas feel that 1950 is the stain for them as 1950 treaty’s article ‘7’ has not clearly mentioned about the status of Indian origin Gorkha/Nepali.

The treaty’s article  ‘7’ reads:” the government of India and Nepal agree to grant , on a reciprocal basis , to the nationals  of one county in the  territories of the other  the same privileges in  the matter of residence, ownership of  property, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of  a similar nature”

The Gorkhas feel basing on this very treaty they are alleged of being migrants of Nepal. Mr. R.B.Rai, ex-M.P. and a veteran leader of Darjeeling also says the treaty has become the weapon for them to assault on Indian origin Gorkhas. On the issue of revision of treaty, he further said, though it is India and Nepal’s political business, the issue touches the Indian Gorkha also. He also wants there should be abrogation of treaty thereby making effective mechanism to check the influx of foreign Nepalese in India.” If such system were made, there will be record of the population of Gorkhas of Indian origin and Nepali who come from Nepal. This record will also be an evidence for us being Indian origin and tomorrow the day will not come to be called migrants by anybody.”

 Gorkha  Jana Muckti Morcha chief Mr. Bimal Gurung also agrees that there should be revision of 1950 treaty but he didn’t  clarify the reason as to why it should be reviewed. He said his party hasn’t taken any decision on it yet to speak on it. 
However, Madan Tamang, one of the veteran leaders of Hill, has otherwise views. He said the revision of 1950 treaty has nothing to do with Indian Gorkha. “Our citizenships (the citizenship of Indian Gorkhas) are never challenged by anybody in India. So there is not any interest for us to talk about the treaty” he said adding that only Nepal origin Nepalese who come here for labour and drudgery are humiliated by calling them ‘Migrants.’. 

On the abrogation of treaty, he holds the view that this would rather hamper the economy of Indian Gorkhas who are more than fifty thousand in numbers in Nepal working in different schools. They have to come back to India quitting their job, if there was abrogation of treaty.

Similarly, in the same line of Madan Tamang, Mr. R.Moktan , an advocate of Sikkim –Darjeeling merger, opines the abrogation of Indo- Nepal treaty is not at all concerned with identity issue of Indian Gorkhas. For, Indian Gorkhas have already started clamoring Gorkhaland issue which will be a strong identity for Gorkhas in the country ultimately, he says.

On the other hand, some Non-Gorkha people are also demanding the abrogation of treaty Mr. Ashru Kumar Sikdar, an academician and writer of Siliguri, said the Indo- Nepal border is being used by people from the neighboring country to settle in several areas of Darjeeling district, particularly Siliguri. The only way to control this problem is to abrogate the Indo-Nepal Friendship treaty immediately.”

However, Mr. Mahendra P. Lama, a prominent intellectual of South Asia and vice chancellor of Sikkim University, thinks that the abrogation of the Indo Nepal treaty is the demand of the some elite section of Nepalese.

He writes: “There has been a protracted demand by some sections of the Nepalese elite for abrogation of the treaty on various grounds. They have used this to demonstrate India’s ‘big brotherly’ attitude and attempt to erode and usurp sovereignty.”

On the demand of Indian Gorkha of abrogation of treaty he says: Interestingly the 10 million –odd Indian Gorkha living in various parts of India have also been demanding the abrogation of the treaty and the closing down of the border. This is because their identity is being diluted by the floating population from Nepal who come to India for livelihood. As a result, Indian Gorkha are dubbed as foreigners in states like Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya.

He also suggests three critical options in determining the future of this treaty. First, let this treaty be drastically rewritten, incorporating likely future needs, second, this treaty could be abrogated forthwith after a kind of referendum, and third is, this treaty could be abrogated and several new agreement like the modalities of open border, movement of people, recruitment of Nepalese citizens in the Indian army and management of non-traditional security issues could be signed.

The prospects of abrogation of the treaty

It is just as well for Nepal that Prachand at least could dare to raise the issue which is lying dormant for more than 58 years not being discussed. But given the political situation of Nepal and other factors, there is least possibility of revision in the treaty

They (Maoist) know the abrogation of the treaty would not be beneficial to Nepal for her sustainable economy. It may be recalled in 1990 when India clamped down the blockade of fuel for Nepal, there was hue and cry in Nepal. Nepal tried to bring the fuel from China, but could not be successful as the cost of the fuel was double that of India.

Not only this, the age-old cultural, religious and emotional ties between the people of the two nations would also be affected. Mr. Lama says: given the very nature, topography and age-old cross border exchanges and interactions the closing down of borders-like with Pakistan-will be impossible, untenable and impractical. It could, at most, be regulated through substantial increase in the number of official crossing points to help make the transition more people friendly.
Besides, Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum, a strong ally of Prachand government is said to have not in favour of abrogation of treaty and influence of pro-Indian lobby. Because of that also Prachand can’t force India to abrogate the treaty as this will create a fear of losing of MJF support for Prachand government

Maoist has just raise the issue to keep happy anti-Indian lobby to maintain their political clouts upon them and to bargain with India to some extent for their political mileage.

But India has agreed to review the treaty. During the India visit of Upendra Yadav, foreign minister of Nepal, the Indian Foreign Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee told him India is ready to sit with Nepal and review 1950 Indo Nepal Friendship Treaty.

India agreed for the reason that she must have felt, Nepal always make 1950 treaty an issue alleging the treaty is completely in favour of India and she wants to make Nepal another Bhutan with the support of the treaty. So in response of it also and to bring back the good image of India in Nepal, India might have accepted the proposal of Nepal. 

Therefore, the corollary is of course there will be bout of roundtable talks between the leaders of Delhi and Katmandu, but the treaty will remain in status-quo. At best, the treaty may end up in just construction of some schools and hospital in the name of India –Nepal friendship treaty; that’s all.

*Mr.D.B.Rai ‘anoop’
(The writer is a freelance journalist by profession and can be reached at dbrai2007@gmail.com)