Gorkhaland Issue – UPSC GS3

A resurgent Gorkhaland movement and subsequent state crackdown have infused life with violent uncertainty.
What triggered the issue?
  • In May, the West Bengal government announced Bengali as a compulsory language in schools across the State.
  • This triggered protests and claims of ‘linguistic imperialism’ in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts.
  • Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee then decided to hold a Cabinet meeting in Darjeeling for the first time in over 40 years.
  • But representatives of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) or the three hill MLAs, were not included, eliciting protests.
  • Subsequent protests and crackdowns have led to further destruction and deaths.
  • The Gorkhaland movement is a long-standing quest for a separate State of Gorkhaland within India for Nepali-speaking Indian citizens (often known as ‘Gorkhas’).
  • Gorkhaland is a classic sub-nationalist movement, similar to those that have produced other States like Telangana, Uttarakhand etc.
  • Gorkhaland is a desire for the recognition, respect, and integration of Gorkha peoples in the Indian nation-state.
  • The movement is neither separatist nor anti-nationalist; it is about inclusion and belonging in India.
  • It stands as a key means to redress the Gorkhas’ enduring history of discrimination, misconception, and marginalisation in India.
  • By demanding Gorkhaland, the people of Darjeeling-Kalimpong are opting out of West Bengal’s domination, and opting in to the democratic frameworks of India.
Gorkhas hardships on many fronts
  • Gorkhas remain pegged to the lowest levels of employment.
  • Outsiders own the tea industry, and profits flow out of the hills.
  • Gorkhas face discrimination when they seek education and work in places like Kolkata, Bengaluru, and New Delhi. Called ‘foreigners’, ‘outsiders’ and ‘chinkys’, racial discrimination affects aspiring Gorkhas at every turn.
Reasons for resurgence
  • Since 1947, the Darjeeling-Kalimpong region has remained under West Bengal, despite no substantive pre-Partition evidence to support West Bengal’s territorial claims to this region.
  • Conciliatory set-ups like the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (1988-2012) and the GTA (2012-present) have failed to provide meaningful autonomy.
  • Banerjee and others stridently lay claim to Darjeeling, insisting that Bengal will never be divided.
  • Imposition of compulsory Bengali is an extensions of histories of domination that the Gorkhas are trying to escape.
  • West Bengal’s recent creation of the Kalimpong district (2017) and the State’s doling out of Tribal Development Boards to ethnicities within the Gorkha conglomerate (Tamang, Sherpa, etc.) might appear as paving the way for the TMC’s electoral gains.
  • These seems clear examples of ‘divide and rule’ — causing splits in the Gorkha electorate and undermining the already-limited authority of the GTA.
  • By summoning thousands to the streets, the GJM (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) demonstrated its ability to evoke the emotional force of Gorkhaland. But then violence took hold.
  • For Gorkhas, the troubling realities of colonial and present-day Darjeeling are eerily similar: linguistic chauvinism, ethnic and racial discrimination, resource extraction, unilateral territorial claims, the denial of self-governance, political suppression; and ultimately, an unwillingness to respect the ‘native point of view’.

3 thoughts on “Gorkhaland Issue – UPSC GS3”

  1. This article is completely misleading!
    First of all, 50-60% of Gorkhas are illegal immigrants in India! These Gorkhas are non other than Nepali who have illegaly migrated to India without any prior permission from govt.
    Yet, they have received citizenship with SC/ST reservation and all other government facilities(even more facilities than general population of India).
    These people are unproductive not due to the govt.’s role, but because of their genetic slack behaviour. You will understand this when you would spend some time in North Bengal region. Almost all of these people have no interest in studies and are completely inclined towards fashion and attracting girls/boys!(Trust me! this is the reality. Exception hardly exists!) Now, I will write about the disadvantages of granting a new state of gorkhaland-
    1> Majority of Gorkhas’ illegal citizenship status would be consolidated and it would further trigger migration of more Nepali people in these area and further claiming citizenship due to porous Indo-Nepal border.
    2> This would lead to aggressive demand of states like Bodoland, etc. in north-eastern India. Hence, it can turn out to be a disastrous decision.
    3> Separate fund allotted to Gorkhaland will lead to fiscal burden and it would be totally unproductive to India.

    So overall, Mamta Banerjee’s decision to make Bengali language compulsory in all schools of Begal is itself dictatorial, but the demand of Gorkhaland is a complete opportunistic movement with no benefit to nation, but more harm.

      1. I understand. Ofcourse, i can’t write the things mentioned in my paragraph, but my points, ie, point 1,2 and 3 can surely be written in Challenges/disadvantage’s section! 😀

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