Gorkha Students Orientation and GYASA public meeting in Delhi

Report by: Sanjay and @Gautam Chhetry (DU Students)

Gorkha Youth and Students’ Association organized Orientation for New Students and Delhi/NCR Gorkha meeting at Gorkha Welfare Center, New Delhi today. Students from different colleges, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and eminent personalities from Delhi/NCR attend the event.
Opening the session, Dinesh Sharma social activist and founder member of GYASA introduced the history, objectives and activities of the association. Explaining the idea of the initiative he says “we don’t aspire to be an NGO claiming to do this and that for the community, but will make sure that the aspirations of the youths and the ordinary people are heard across social and political circle, when pursuing issues related to the welfare and betterment of the community.”

The event was divided into two sessions – ‘orientation for new students’ and ‘general discussion on issues facing Gorkha community in Delhi/NCR’.

Gorkha Students Orientation and GYASA public meeting in Delhi
Gorkha Students Orientation and GYASA public meeting in Delhi

Adarsh Chhetry, Joint Secretary of NorthEast Students Society (NESS), Motilal Nehru College extended a warm welcome to the new students while motivating them to excel in their academic career. He emphasized on the importance of participating in various extracurricular activities and representing the community in every social-cultural aspect of college life. Sharing his own experiences, Aadarsh says “We are like sponges, and there is nothing different in any colleges; it depends on each student how much one can absorb from the teaching.”

Colonel (Retd) Sukul Pradhan then introduced Gorkha Football Club, a registered football society in Delhi. Col. Pradhan is a quiet activist who had raised and educated over 36 students from less privileged background in Bijanbari, Darjeeling. Starting his speech with “Moh ta Nepali ma baat garchu”, Col Pradhan emphasized on the need to build up confidence of the community. While lamenting the hesitation of many youngster in calling themselves Gorkha in public, Col. Pradhan shared his personal experience when he was asked to wash a car washer by his immediate neighbour thinking him to be another low wage labourer. After washing his neighbour’s car, Col Pradhan politely explains his neighbour how every honest job and sincere hard-working should never be looked down upon.

Urging everyone in the audience to help and support Gorkha Football Club, Col Pradhan said that “the idea of GFC is to connect to the community and youth through sports. We all love watching football and spending time with our friends and family doing something nice and positive. Let us all make every GFC match a Gorkha ‘mela’ in the coming days.”

The first session ended with an introduction of new students and address by Tshering Lepcha from JNU, who encouraged students to aspire big and extended all help from the senior Gorkha students from the prestigious university.

Session II
Shri Prem Prasad Sharma and Gopal Koirala of All Assam Gorkha Students Union (AAGSU-Delhi Leaders) opened the session by introducing the various issues facing the Gorkha community. They highlighted on the urgent need for all of us to collaborate as a community and come together for any emergency and urgent situation. Gopal Koirala emphasized the importance of Delhi Police for North East initiative and called upon everyone to work with the team at #1093 for assistance during emergencies.

Renowned social worker and poet Shri Uttam Kumar Chhettri lauded the efforts of GYASA in confidence building and slowing winning the trust of the community. “Sadly, there are still people in our community who hesitate to call themselves Gorkhas in public, or speak Nepali. Unless we speak our language, who else will? Unless we ourselves love and be proud to be Gorkha, who else will, Let us inculcate the spirit of being a proud Gorkha”, he added. Through his experience with Indian Red Cross, Uttam Chhetry also gave an overview of the mechanism behind donating and receiving blood. Requirements for blood being one of the most constant issues, he suggested that rather than donating individually, we must collective donate under the name of a community or organization, so that the blood banks can issue blood on the recommendation of the organization during any emergency.
Ramesh Singh Thakuri, eminent theatre personality, Ex-President and CEO of Dominos Pizza (India) and the son of Gorkha legend Capt. Ram Singh Thakuri mesmerized the audience with his motivational and inspirational address. “We should be confident about ourselves and never be bogged down under any circumstances. Learn good Hindi and English, and respond to the other person in the same language that they speak to you. Don’t be afraid and look into their eyes when you talk” he said. Citing his own example he says “My nickname in school was Chinku, but that didn’t bother me. I was a proud Chinky and I carried that attitude. I always respected the person before me, and that person would automatically respect me in return, without having to ask for it.” He called upon every youth to pursue their interest and not be bothered about parental or peer pressures, “but make sure you at least have a graduate degree because you may need a back-up anytime.”

Prem Chhetri, lawyer and advocate in Supreme Court while welcoming the initiatives by GYASA also focused on the need to distribute responsibilities and work with co-ordination for larger public issues. “We have too many issues to be handled by a single team – social, cultural, political, migration issues, pursuing government welfare benefits, reservations, and many more. A single team thinking about all these issues will burnout the activist on the ground. As a community, we must come forward and discuss how we can distribute responsibilities to various organizations. With a central team to coordinate and monitor the overall progresses, distribution of responsibilities will bring a proper structure and focus to our efforts.” Mr Chhetri also pointed out the as a community, we have been presenting a very confused public perception. “Organizations and individuals should stop representing the community without due consultation with all stakeholders. We must prioritize what we want – SC, ST, or OBC, but there should a consensus on the issues.”

“Today we have IGP Robin Hibu, IPS who is working tirelessly for the benefit of the entire region. What happens tomorrow if Robin sir is transferred or retires? Is it back to square one then? We must bring together all our police officials, bureaucrats, legal experts, and ‘grounded’ intellectuals on a common platform where we can discuss issues that are relevant to the community. This should be the think-tank that should determine what we should do and how, not people with hidden agendas and dubious standings,” Prem Chhetri added.

Adding to the discussion, Rajen Chhetry of GYASA asked “why a team of 4-5 members go about meeting ministers and officials and claim to represent the community?” He asked the audience if anyone of them were informed or consulted about the issues being raised in the memorandum because “seeing their reports on media and facebook, they seem to be claiming they are community representatives. Which community are they representing? Have they discussed about any community issue in a public gathering, outside of Facebook?”

Rajen Chhetry also pointed out the insensitivity of these so called leader and ‘apex organizations’ regarding issues of the North East, and Gorkha settled outside Sikkim and Gorkhaland regions. “While they go about taking names of Gorkhas across India, they don’t even seem to know the ground realities and local issues facing the community in different states.” Warning against any such moves by individuals and organization, Rajen added “Don’t think you can hoodwink and fool the people anymore. Gone are the days when the job of the public was only to clap; we have started questioning now and they don’t like it.”

The event ended with scholarship announcement for meritorious students by Haamro Swabhimaan representatives. Detailing the criteria and subjects for which scholarships are on offer, Mohan Karki, Yog Guru called upon parents and students to reach out to the organization for any such requirements. This was followed by an open forum where people asked questions and clarifications form the presenters.

GYASA would like to extend sincere gratitude to Gorkha Welfare Center Administrator and Manager Jolen Gurung for letting us use the premise for the event. We also like to thank Dipendra Basnet, good samaritan and Gorkha FC mentor, and Major Deepak Bista, NSG for financially helping us for the event. Mothers’ Group (Delhi), World Gorkha Foundation Trust, sister of legendary footballer Shyam Thapa, Gorkha FC boys, JNU community, and students for making this event a success. A big shout out to senior students for such a warm welcome to the new students. We wish you all the best.


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