Representing and Performing the Contested Trans-Himalayan ‘Shared heritages’ of ‘Gorkha’: Virtualisation of the Public Sphere and the Aesthetics of ‘being Gorkha’ in South Asia
The backdrop of the discussion in this study is the native Nepali speaking people in India and their quest to cartographically chart their emic self-defined identity in a map called Gorkhaland in and around Darjeeling in the directional construct ‘North Bengal’ located in the Indian state of West Bengal. The phases of the demand for Chuttei Rajya (separate state) from Chiyasi ko Andolan (1986 Movement) and the current imbroglio (stretched from 2007 to 2017) though showing signs of peculiarities and particularities in terms of the movement, styles of leadership, political agency, participations etc., continues to showcase commonalities, connections, and continuations in the indelible question of identity of the people and its place.
The claims of belonging to martial race- ‘Bir Gorkha’ and linked ‘Gurkha/Gorkha/Gorkhey Identity (Chinari)’ has been strongly contested. ‘Being Gorkha’/‘Being Nepali’, ‘Feeling Gorkha’/ ‘Feeling Nepali’ is severely webbed and caged into experiential and existential paranoia. The virtualisation of the public sphere and the multifold media (both old and new), SMS Jokes, satire, cartoons etc., unleashes a virtual viral wave. The discussion in the paper by weaving across poetry, literary works by the Nepali speaking communities in India, select speeches of political leaders of the Gorkhaland Movement(s), recorded nationalist songs and music videos, local plays such as ‘Bhanu ra Pala’, the ‘viral videos’ (2017) such as Seema Subeidi Shrestha versus Nepalese Gorkhas (and also Darjeeling Gorkhas) attempts to bring to the fore the complex politics of representations, performance and aesthetics of the contested claims to the Trans-Himalayan ‘Shared heritages’ of ‘Gorkha’ in South Asia.