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Late night, sometime in the hours before dawn, Rajen Lama* of Kurseong, a town in the West Bengal’s mountainous Darjeeling district, drives down to Siliguri, about 35 km away in the foothills. The first thing he buys when the shops open is formula milk. Next, he picks up some vegetables and rations for his family…

Read more Food shortages intensify in Darjeeling hills but the statehood movement remains strong

If you have visited Sikkim and taxied in the “cushioned unity” of a crowded jeep , with Nepali music backdropping a boisterous gang of local strangers, you’ve lived a story by Chetan Raj Shrestha. If you have read his published fiction – The King’s Harvest, a suite of novellas, and The Light of His Clan,…

Read more ‘Because Sikkim is small, and its realities are graspable, it can behave like a character’

Want a Chetan Bhagat? Stay away from Rachna Books, the independent bookstore in Gangtok. Raman Shresta, the idealistic 40-year-old bookseller, still has to borrow money from his parents “well, almost every year” but refuses to stock some of the bestselling authors because of their “dubious literary merit”. In fact, he waits in ambush for unsuspecting…

Read more Sikkim’s own independent bookstore is a hotspot for culture

The packed plenary chamber of the World Conference Centre resonated in a thundering applause as Rafida Bonya Ahmed received the Deutsche Welle Bobs-Best of Online Activism award for the blog, “Mukto-Mona” (Free thinker), in Bonn last Tuesday. The blog was founded by her husband Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death on the streets of Dhaka in…

Read more Bangladesh: International awards no protection for secular writers, says slain blogger’s wife

The Bharatiya Janata Party has had to reevaluate its position on a number of issues since coming to power, from rail ticket prices to classified documents dealing with wars in India’s history. One little discussed instance is the party’s changed stance on the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh, signed in 1974. The LBA – also…

Read more Why Sushma Swaraj’s little-noticed change of tune in Dhaka is a good sign