Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Darjeeling (un)limited

Train Times goes global with a look at the work of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (DHRS). Winners of 'Best International Achievement' at last year's Community Rail Awards, DHRS Chairman David Barrie shows the impact the society is making on the lives of those served by the railway ...

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) is probably the most famous narrow gauge railway in the world, offering spectacular views and a journey that is unrivalled in atmosphere.

Since first opening in 1881 to develop the hill station of Darjeeling, the railway has attracted enthusiasts from around the globe. In the days of the Raj, the coming of the railway not only reduced the journey time by several days, but travellers were whisked through the daunting jungle - home of wild tiger and malaria spreading mosquitoes - in a few short hours. In addition, the tea bush flourished to the Darjeeling climate and the railway found itself busy transporting tea and other goods in addition to plentiful passenger traffic, the previous alternative being a bullock cart.

The building of the line was achieved in less than two years, its original 51 miles criss- crossing the track known as the Hill Cart Road 180 times in order to gain height and to lessen the gradient, which rises from 300 feet above sea level to 7,407 feet at the summit- twice the height of Snowdon. The Sight of a
Victorian steam engine pulling its train around a spiral or reversing up a zigzag In order to gain height, or perhaps inching through a crowded bazaar, remain the iconic Darjeeling image.

The railway's fortunes were promising, even with the regular wash aways that occurred during the monsoons, when sections of track slid down the hillside, resulting in a whole new alignment having to be built. However, by the early 1990s, taxis had taken over, reducing the trip to Darjeeling from eight hours by train to just three by car. Goods traffic had also been lost to the road. Owned by Indian Railways, the line wheezed on because that's what it had always done - progressively more unreliable and trapped in a time warp.

In the mid 1990s, DHR fans around the world, fearing the railway might close, began to think seriously about its future. In 1997, the DHR Society was founded by a group of rail enthusiasts based in the UK. It quickly gained an international membership and crucially the ear of Indian Railways, who decided that the railway should be preserved for future generations. A fillip was the granting of World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1999. Then began the rejuvenation of the DHR, with the building of new coaches and locomotives and a promising future. It was at this point that a very interesting development occurred.

The town where the DHR starts is Siliguri and in 2001, an influential businessman, Rajendra Baid, made contact with the DHRS. As Chairman, I met him in a small hotel room in Earls Court. We spent the evening talking and soon found that our views melded. With the line now more secure, the Society became directly drawn into the community aspect of the DHR. Initially, this was because we were part of visiting tour parties, but guided by Rajendra, we saw that much could be done to help those who live in the area, which even by Indian standards is a poor region. We saw the hardship, the lack of healthcare, schooling and employment opportunities and resolved to do something about this.

Ably assisted by his son, Vivek, Rajendra devised a number of projects, for which we in the UK raised the funds, via everything from selling DHR DVDs to giving talks to interested groups and even buying local handicrafts and selling them in the UK. As such, our charity arm, the Darjeeling Railway Community Support, set to. We started small but last year alone raised £5,000; every penny (or should that be rupee?) spent on the projects, overseen by Rajendra and Vivek, who also raise funds internally.

To give some idea of where the fundraising goes, to send a doctor to a village for a day to treat everyone costs £50. To buy a sewing machine transported by DHR train to a remote village and training someone to use it costs £30. That person then not only has a job, but can train others. Aside from making their own clothes, the surplus can be sold at market. In one village, there was a teacher who struggled to teach the children because there was no school, so they met in a bus shelter. To find a suitable building, renovate, equip and rent it for a year cost £300.

But don't think that this is all one way. like us, the people we help want to achieve things and make something of their lives; they just need the opportunity. In one village, some youths constructed DHR model engines and coaches to sell to tourists. It was also realised that more people would visit if the railway looked smarter, so the local communities began planting shrubs and painting and tidying stations. Another project pioneered by Rajendra was the training of guides for the tourism market !

Whilst Rajendra was busy extending his projects working his way up the line, another of our UK offshoots, the Education Group, forged bonds with a number of Darjeeling residents and became directly involved with the schools. Money was raised in the UK and funded competitions amongst the children to design a DHR poster, write a DHR poem, perform a DHR play - all activities designed to allow the children to see the importance of the DHR in the fabric of their lives. A reward would be to have a day out on the DHR with a picnic lunch - something they could never afford.

So to some 12 short years, not only has the DHR been transformed, but so have the lives of a growing number of communities who live along the line. All this has been achieved not only by Indian Railways, but many dedicated individuals from two continents - ourselves in the UK and Rajendra and his team in India. By continuing to work closely together, the future for the unique Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is brighter than ever.

For further information about the work of the DHRS, please contact David Barrie at david@Well· or visit their website at

If you want to contact Rajendra Baid, President of DHR India Support Group,Siliguri, you can email :

Monday, January 25, 2010

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway,
an UNESCO declared world Heritage.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) is an UNESCO declared world Heritage. The DHR is an outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of multicultural region, which was to serve as a model of similar developments in many parts of the world.

The uniqueness and the vintage of this railway system, along with the charm of the steam locomotion, make the DHR Experience an object of ultimate desire for rail-lovers all over the world.

The DHR journey takes one through some of the most breath-taking scenic panoramas from the plains to lofty Himalayan snowscapes and all else in between. Over the decades, many have decreed that this is the best scenic terrain that they have encountered anywhere.

Adding to the great green experience are the numerous tea estates that one passes through or sees. Tea adds another unique dimension to the DHR Experience.

The cultural offerings of the ‘DHR Zone’ include a major attraction in Buddhist religion, philosophy and shrines – all oases of spiritual uplift and soul-soothing serenity.

This remarkable 2 ft. gauge line begins on the hot, dusty Indian plain and in the course of its 55 mile journey rises to almost 7,500 feet as it ascends to Darjeeling in the Himalayas. The journey is regarded as amongst the most amazing in the world, and many travelers see it as a gateway to a region of mystery and imagination. The landscape can only be described as spectacular and the views of the Himalayan peaks breathtaking. Travelers are awed by both the scenery and the railway, truly an engineering masterpiece and without doubt, one of the wonders of the world! It is probably the ultimate dream of every narrow-gauge railway enthusiast, at some time in their life, to visit the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Built in the late 19th century, this railway is unique in a number of ways. Rising at an average gradient of 1 in 30 the line uses loops and zig-zags to work its way up the mountainside, crossing itself and the road many times in the process. Even today we are amazed at the tenacity of the Victorian engineers! The little ‘B’ class tank engines with their extraordinarily short 0-4-0 wheelbase, haul their trains entirely by adhesion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Comments from UK Writer

Local Hero - Shri Rajendra Baid.
President, India Support Group, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society.

(This article was published in Association of Community Rail Partnership, UK ‘s magazine “ Train Times” written by Paul Salveson )

What many people probably don’t realise is that, in the 1990’s, this little line, some 55 miles long, was on the verge of closing, and being lost forever. The reasons were a combination of coping with the annual monsoon washaways, that some years rendered the line out of action for months at a time, life expired equipment represented by worn out Victorian museum piece steam locomotives clawing and wheezing their way up the hills each day, and an ever busier road up to Darjeeling that is constantly criss crossed by the DHR as road and rail fight for space on the same hillside ledge. The sheer cost of rebuilding after the monsoon season when over 300 inches of rain fall in a 3 month period is expensive enough, however add into the equation the gargantuan task of renovating the line and coping with the traffic and you have a daunting proposition indeed.

As the railway seemingly entered its twilight, support manifested from a number of unlikely places. From the UK emerged a number of supporters, including the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society. In India, the DHR, owned by the State owned Indian Railways found both supporters and those who wished it closed, in equal measure in the corridors of power. At this time the very idea that someone who was not a railway employee might have an interest in the line’s survival was, frankly, eccentric. Step forward newspaper owner, hotelier, and philanthropic businessman, Rajendra Baid.

So it was that he travelled halfway around the world from Siliguri, a town through which the DHR runs, also where he has his hotel, to the UK. His purpose was to interest travel companies in the much-neglected yet supremely beautiful potential tourist destination of the Darjeeling area in northeast India. That, and to meet this DHRS, run by these enthusiastic Englishmen.

Here was Rajendra, a man who had made his way in the world, looking to give something back. Being involved in the newspaper and tourism business in the Darjeeling area, he wondered how to get more tourists to visit this beautiful scenic region. The traditional destination for those India bound is the Golden triangle in the west, or Goa. It was only the hardy souls, the devout rail fans, that made the difficult trek eastward to West Bengal. Those that came fell in love with the unrivalled scenery, the Tibetan monasteries, the virgin rainforest, the abundance of beautiful flowers and shrubs, and of course, this brave little steam railway that gamely shuffled its way upwards through the clouds. At some point, Rajendra decided to dedicate the rest of his life to encouraging eco friendly tourism to the area, with all the benefits that would bring to the local people, and the key to this was that unique jewel, known throughout the world, the DHR. It would act as a magnet if it were marketed well.

After our meeting he returned to India and, fired with enthusiasm, set about his mission. We spoke about all manner of matters via the wonders of email. Rajendra, wearing the hat of , ‘President, DHRS India Support Group’, began to campaign to secure the DHR’s future from his office in his hotel. This became the nerve centre from whence his endless energy made itself felt throughout India. Talking with Government big wigs became the norm. On one memorable occasion, when a portion of the line was about to be lost, Rajendra saved it.

It happened like this. At the bottom end of the line, the DHR tracks and the metre gauge run side by side. They cross by means of a diamond crossing before going their separate ways. When the metre gauge was being converted to broad gauge, the engineers declared that a new crossing simply could not be made, thus the first 4 miles of the DHR would be lost and the train would have to start at a new location, higher up the line. It was all but signed and sealed. Rajendra, man of action, contacted his MP and gained his support. They went to Delhi and succeeded in getting an appointment with the Chairman of Indian Railways. By sheer personality and argument, the result was a stay of execution and an agreement to have a new diamond crossing constructed.

Whether it is dealing in the corridors of power, or humbly creating new projects in the region, Rajendra is never still. He has created employment opportunities for local people by training some as tourist guides, others plant flowers and shrubs alongside the DHR tracks, whilst Rajendra has helped with medical support for the people at one village through which the line passes. All this and so much more. As I write this article he has dreamt up another half dozen ideas that will further inspire the local people to see that the DHR is good for them.

To create publicity for the DHR this powerhouse of a man decided to host an annual DHR Lovers conference at his hotel. This to coincide whilst one of our tours was present. A high profile affair, with speakers from the UK and from all over India, this now annual event serves to focus activity, refresh enthusiasm, and remind us all ofour purpose.

I’ve seen Rajendra skillfully negotiate with high-ranking Government ministers in Delhi, also seen him in earnest discussion with the young people who live alongside the DHR. His extraordinary abundance of energy and ideas has ensured the DHR is high profile all over India. I once asked a senior Indian Railways officer, “Is Rajendra a help or a hindrance to you in his quest to save the DHR”. “It’s like this”, the officer replied, “Because he operates outside of Indian Railways, he can either be one big pain to sleepy officers who are passive and couldn’t care about the line, whilst on the other hand, he can achieve things that none of us could.”

You may wonder, what is it that motivates Rajendra? Perhaps some financial objective or position of power? Well, he owns three hotels that are pretty much full, he runs a newspaper, has various other interests. He need never be concerned about finance again. His motivation is simply to build a legacy for future generations. He loves the region, he loves the DHR, for this railway will secure the financial well being of the region and its people. Above all, he loves the people. That’s why he is my ‘Local hero’.

Advice to Diabetic patients

How to be Happy ?
About the person who already has diabetes?

Modern lifestyle with its emphasis on fast food, fast cars and an undying quest to succeed leads to overeating, lack of exercise and mental stress respectively. All these are associated with impaired function of the human body and are the most commonly cited reasons for the increase in the number of persons with diabetes. Conversely, eating enough, exercising regularly and avoiding stress have been shown to lead to a reduction in the occurrence of diabetes. So doctors all over the world are busy reinforcing the message that a healthy lifestyle is called for in all their patients to protect them against diabetes and heart disease. But what about the person who already has diabetes? What does the future hold in stone for them?

Having diabetes is a fait accompli. Diabetes is a constant companion who remains with us; for better or worse, through thick or thin, which threatens to harm us at every stage and which must be held in check by eternal vigilance. Fortunately we have a strong ally who can keep several of the dangers of diabetes at bay. Insulin is one of the most versatile of the dangers of diabetes at bay. Insulin is one of the most versatile hormones in the human body. Single handedly it influences, carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism; provides nourishment to and helps cells utilize nourishment reduces lipid levels, fights inflammation, strengthens skeletal muscle, improves blood flow, prolongs endurance, preserves tissues and in general improves the quality of life of the person with diabetes.

It is not difficult to understand why insulin is so important for the person with diabetes. After all, what is diabetes but a state where the person has less insulin than they need? As money is the treatment of poverty, so is insulin the treatment of diabetes. To treat poverty money has to be earned and it needs hard work, intelligence, commitment and opportunity. Similarly to treat diabetes insulin must be taken and it needs understanding and insight to accept daily insulin injections as a way of life.

Recent world medical literature reports several pieces of evidence in favour of initiating insulin early for helping persons with diabetes live longer, with fewer complications, and enjoy a better quality of life. Several leading experts have recommended early insulin initiation for better glucose control and in several of the world’s leading diabetes centers insulin is being offered as the first choice to all persons with diabetes.

What then stops insulin from being used more effectively in the management of diabetes? People in general often choose the easy why out – viz. oral tablets rather than injection, compelling their doctors to follow suit. And the situation compounds itself when the same patients return with more severe disease complications. These are not only more difficult to treat, they are more expensive to treat and can never restore the lost function of the affected organ or the patient’s life. Now is the time to break the vicious circle. Insulin therapy has been proven to be of benefit in retarding complications by providing better blood glucose control and doing good to the body far beyond blood glucose control alone. Yes, a few precautions to guard against low blood glucose are necessary, understanding how to be able to adjust the dose is needed and the discomfort of an injection prick has to be endured. But the results are definitely worth it. Ask any doctor.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life is learning

Life is learning

Deliver The Promise
Social Responsibility
Respect for Individual

1.Never try to be successful , pursue excellence
Success is the bye product & the result. Excellence always creates Success & it is a process of continual improvement. Never run after success. Let it happen automatically in life

2. Freedom to Life - Life is beautiful
Don’t die before the actual death. Live every moment to the fullest as if today is the last day. Life is gifted to humankind to live. Live & Live happily towards happiness

3. Passion leads to Excellence
When your hobby becomes your profession , the passion becomes your profession. You will be able to lead up to excellence in life. Satisfaction, Joy, Pleasure & love will be the outcome of the passion. Following your passion for years , you will surely become somebody one day

4. Learning is very simple-Never stop
Be humble. Teachers do fail, Learners never fail. Learning is never complicate or difficult. Learning is always possible whatever rule you apply

5. Pressure at head
Current education system is developing pressure on students head. University intelligence

6.Life is management of emotions & not optimization of intelligence
Memory and regular study have definite value and it always helps you in leading a life. You are able to survive even if you can make some mark in the path of the life. With artificial intelligence, you can survive & win but you cannot prove yourself genius. Therefore, in this process genius dies in you

7.Necessity is mother of invention
Necessity creates pressure and forces you to invent something or to make it
happen or to use your potentiality.

8.Simplicity in life
Life is need base never want base. Desires have no ends. Simplicity is way of life and Indian culture highly stresses on simple living and high thinking, and this is the way of life: ‘Legs down to earth and eyes looking beyond the sky’

Dean of the institute in 3 idiots is showing very typical leadership. He has his own principles, values and ideology, and he leads the whole institute accordingly. This is an example of current institutional leadership. In the present scenario, most of the institutes are fixed in a block or Squarish thinking

10.Love is time & space free
Trust your partner. Love is not time bound and space bound. It is very well demonstrated in this movie same love was demonstrated by Krishna and Meera.
Love is border free, time free, unconditional and space free.

11.Importance of words in communication
If communication dies, everything dies. Each word has impact and value in communication. One word if used wrongly or emphasized wrongly or paused at a wrong place in communication it creates the effect.

12.Mediocrity is penalized
Middle class family or average talent or average institute is going to suffer and has to pay maximum price in the life if they do not upgrade their living standards. To be born poor or as an average person is not a crime but to die as an average person with middle class talent is miserable and if you are unable to optimize your potentiality and die with unused potentiality then that is your shameful truth. One should not die as a mediocre. He/she has to bring out genius inside him/her and has to use his/her potentiality to the optimum level

Seek excellence & Success will follow

Thursday, January 14, 2010

GJMM Movement for Gorkhaland

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's movement for separate Gorkhaland is opposed by Cong(I), Trinmool Congress and CPI(M), all the three leading political parties of West Bengal. GJMM is asking for three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling District, Siliguri City and northern portion of Dooars, where there is good population of Gorkhas. But in Siliguri, there are only 20% Gorkhas, rest are Bengalis. In same way, in North part of Dooars, gorkhas are less than 25%, rest are Adivasis, Kamtapuri & Bengalis. How Gorkhas can claim this territory in Gorkhaland