Friday, June 12, 2009

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHIVA THAPA (16yrs)- Young International Boxing Champion

Shiva with his parents Padam Thapa (Father and first Coach) and Goma Thapa (Mother)
I was born to be a boxer –Shiva Thapa
Shiva with Journalist
Nanda Kr. Dewan
He played soccer like any other next door guy, cricket never could fascinate him and barely at 7 he donned the boxing gloves that brought international gold medal for the nation and glory for the 16 years old boxer from Assam, Promising young Indian boxer

Shiva Thapa in an exclusive interview with Nanda Kirati Dewan at his Birubari residence in Guwahati spoke his heart out. In a reply to a question "If not a boxer What would Shiva Thapa be?"….. After a pause with a sweet innocent smile "Sir, I was born to be a Boxer." Recently Shiva won a bronze medal at the World Junior Boxing Championship in Armenia. Here are the excerpts of interview.

NKD.:- Shiva, Congratulations for the laurels you brought for the nation and state!
Shiva.:- Its my pleasure and I m really honoured. Thank You Sir.
NKD.:- Shiva be formal…. No more Sir OK.
Shiva.:- No Sir…. I m OK.
NKD.:- But I m not OK dear … Shiva how did boxing happen?
Shiva.:- Initially like any other next door guy I too played soccer and I need to admit that I was good with soccer too. Later at one stage I tried myself with taekwondo and I excelled in it too. But finally under my father I took up an individual game as my brother Gobind Thapa is also a boxer. I was only 7 years when I donned the boxing gloves.
NKD.:- Where were you trained initially?
Shiva.:- Intially I was trained in this room ( We are in the drawing room of Mr. Padam Thapa’s residence where medals, citations, trophies, jhapis and other felicitated decorative items were decorated) by my father. I should say that my father Padam Thapa is a cultured sportsman and has this spirit even today. He is my first coach. It was he who took me to Sports Authority of India(SAI), Guwahati and got admitted their for nurturing my talent at that time I was barely 7.
NKD.:- Technically boxing is known to be a power game. How does Shiva generate that power?
Shiva.:- The concept that boxing is a power game; I as a boxer totally disagree with it. Boxing is more a mind game. More than a healthy person an intelligent man with good fitness can take up this game. It is not that the hard hit gets point. Boxing today more than a power is a mind game.
I work out everyday in the gym, go for a morning walk early morning, eat lot of salad and drink adequate water. I avoid junk and oily food. I take a total balanced diet as suggested by my coach and federation. And the best part is I practice everyday.
NKD.:- How do you plan your game in the ring? Not the secrets but the truths that every body has seen you?
Shiva.:- There is no harm sharing secrets to you because game plan is always very flexible. It differs from game to game and opponent. For instance if my opponent is tall I would prefer to play like a tempo boxer. The best thing is to "Float like a Butterfly and Sting like a Bee"- a famous quotation on boxing by Mohammed Ali however my idol is Myke Tyson.
NKD.:- Then Shiva idolizes Myke Tyson? What do you like about him. How would you react on meeting him?
Shiva.:- Yes Myke Tyson has been my idol before I donned the boxing gloves. I saw him playing this game on television when I was 6 as my boxer brother used to watch it. I like Tyson’s respect and love for the game. He executes each punch so skillfully that he always tries to gain a point from every punch he blows. His techniques are fabulous I wish I can learn his techniques in future. His will power and fitness is also enviable.
Meeting Tyson would be a part of dream coming true. However my dream and aim is only one to bag a gold medal at the Olympics donning the tri-colour for my country. I would love to meet him in any of the international event or at the 2012 Olympics. On meeting as per a tradition of my nation and Gorkha community I would bow before him and seek his blessing.
NKD.:- I wish all your dreams comes true. The nation’s blessings and best wishes are always with you.
Shiva.:- Thank You. I would love to make my countrymen proud and I seek their prayers and blessings. I thank all my country men for their support till date I hope the shower of love and blessing would continue on me till I answer them with a gold medal at the Olympics and even there after….
NKD.:- What are you doing as of now other than boxing?
Shiva.:- I am 12th class student in Poona College. Academically too I am not crammer, I secured 1st division in my HSLC exam as well I have several times topped my class. Recently I passed my 10+1 exam and enrolled myself in 12th std. I stay in Pune and getting trained at Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune under Mission Olympics. However my interests are 80% on boxing and 20% on studies. I skip lot of classes following my practice session and events.

Before my induction into the institute, I learnt to trade punches at the Sports Authority of India centre in Guwahati under coach Amar Deka. While representing the state, I won my first the Sub-Junior Nationals three years ago. It was at the ASI Pune where they selected me for the boys scouts programme.

NKD.:- You were noticed as a amateur boxer by Assam when bagged Gold in Titabor Jorhat at All Assam Invitational Junior/ Sub Junior tourney in 2004. When was Shiva noticed as a pugilist by the country?
Shiva.:- It was at the 21st Sub- Junior National Boxing Championship 2005 in Noida UP where I ended up with a gold medal after beating services boxer having very good tract record. It was my first national appearance. Assam recognized me as a boxer the day I joined SAI Guwahati and donned the gloves.
NKD.:- How does it feel the country recognizing Shiva Thapa as an international boxer whose family has a record of serving the nation in defence?
Shiva.:- My ancestor has served the nation as defense personnel and I got the opportunity of serving the nation as a pugilists. It really feels proud wrapping the tri-colour standing in front of the globe. My first international appearance for my country was at the Hyder Aliyeve Cup at Azarbaizan in Russia in 2008 where I won a gold medal. My country erupted with joy and cheered me. Out of love and encouragement they nicknamed me "SHIVA ALI" after Mohammad Ali-the veteran Indian pugilist.

NKD.:- How do you feel to be known as a Gorkha of Assam in a national side?
Shiva.:- Many veteran Gorkhas have palyed for this country. Ace shooter Jaspal Rana, Arjuna awardee Jaslal Pradhan, sensational footballer Sunil Chetri to name a few. I am one just Indian citizen. It doesnot make me feel different as a Gorkha but I am proud to have donned the tricolour. I as a Gorkha of Assam have been an integral part of composite Assamese society. My community has been a mainstream ethnic community of Assam as I have learnt. Assam applauds my success and encourages me. It is really a great feeling. Not only the Gorkhas, people of entire North East have extended huge support for me at the national events. I am pleased to have represented the North East.
NKD.:- On writing "Gorkhali" as your mother tongue in your International profile?
Shiva.:- Everyone knows about an Independent nation Nepal which our closed neighbour. The citizen of Nepal writes Nepali as their citizen and mother tongue. If I use Nepali anywhere in my profile I would go to represent Nepal. My mentors in Pune tell me that Indian constitution recognizes Nepali language as Gorkhali in the constitution so in order to avoid confusion in the international arena I recognize myself as a Gorkha. My grandfather was a Gorkha soldier and I am a Gorkha boxer certainly not Nepali.
NKD.:- Your happiest moment?
Shiva.:- To be honest with you. The gold medal at Hyder Aliyeve Cup at Baku in Azerbaijan in Russia was my happiest moment. I am the 1st Indian ever till date to have won a gold medal in this tournament. My gold came in the 50kg category against Azerbaijan’s Gurbanzade Saikhan.
NKD. :- Tell us something about your family?
Shiva.:- I am the most pampered and youngest in my family. My father by profession a small scale business man owning small steel furniture shop a leading telecom franchisee in Guwahati. My brother Gobind Thapa is a silver medalist boxer at the 33rd Guwahati National Games. All four of my sisters are very supportive. My mother Goma Thapa is a house wife.
NKD.:- Apart from boxing what does Shiva love to do in leisure time?
Shiva.:- I listen to music a lot. I listen scores of English, Nepali, Hindi and Assamese music. I am tuned with music than the lyrics. It energizes me as it gives relaxation after practice. Whenever I have sufficient leisure time I love to swim. I do all activities like any guy of my age does.
NKD.:- How does this golden boxer handle success?
Shiva.:- I am never carried away by success. Fame coming by the way of my success is a moral booster. Organisation from different background has felicitated me. I thank them all through you.
NKD.:- "If not a boxer What would Shiva Thapa be?"
Shiva.:- After a pause with a sweet innocent smile ...….."Sir, I was born to be a Boxer."
NKD.:- Your take on our conversation?
Shiva.:- Honestly more than interview it was like a chat at my home with a relative. Anyways it was really very pleasant talking to you. Thank you for your efforts to highlight me in your esteemed publication. I look forward for your association in future too.
NKD.:- Sure Shiva. Thank you for sparing your valuable time with me.
Shiva.:- Mention not. Lets go for lunch Sir.
NKD.:- Finally one sentence for budding pugilists..
Shiva.:- "Float like a Butterfly and Sting like a Bee"
NKD.:- All the Best for your future Shiva.
Shiva.:- Thank You Sir.
Thereafter Shiva started packing off his luggage as he was leaving Pune that evening and thereafter to Uzbekistan for two months. He is also all set to play for Assam at the 34th National Games in Jharkhand. He is expected to represent India at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 in New Delhi. The pugilist is confident of booking a ticket to London 2012 Olympics and bring home a gold medal.
Photo Courtesy:- Pitamber Newar(PTI), Padam Thapa and N K Dewan(UB Photos)

Gorkha Autonomous Council (GAC) in Assam – a Journey
Nanda Kirati Dewan, Guwahati .
Gorkhas in Assam I am referring to are those communities in Assam which have been living in ancient Assam i.e Kamrupa days and even before, which also has its roots in various regions of present day in India like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Sikkim and proposed Gorkhaland and subsequently in British days the ex-Army Gorkha soldiers who were settled in Assam. “Today all their descendants in the geography of Assam here I am using the terminology ‘Gorkhas of Assam or Gorkhas’ certainly not the Nepali (Nepali nationals in India and Assam who migrated to a foreign land abiding a treaty) the reciprocal one.
Assam embarked on a decision of decentralization of power by granting community and tribe specific autonomous councils. Starting with the creation of Bodoland Autonomous Council in 1993, Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council and Missing Autonomous Council also presentday Tiwa Autonomous Council formerly Lalung (Tiwa) Autonomous Council in 1995, Deuri Autonomous Council, Sonowal Kachari Autonomous Council and Thengal Kachari Autonomous Council were created in 2005ahead of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s second term. However Karbianglong the largest hills district of Assam was given territorial autonomy long back.
When eight communities of Assam got its constitutional protection and development funds from the Union Government in the form of Autonomous Council the indigenous Gorkha settlers of Assam to decided to demand constitutional identity and all round development and fundamental safeguarding at the historic Tezpur Silver Jubilee conference (on 25-28th Dec 2002) of the apex students organization of Gorkhas the All Assam Gorkha Students Union (AAGSU) by demanding Special Protected Class in Assam by forming Special Protected Class Demand Committee (SPCDC). Later on consultation with AASU and other indegenious students’ union AAGSU passing a resolution came to a decision and demanded Gorkha Autonomous Council within the geography of Assam strictly on satellite basis thereby forming a demand committee naming itGorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee(GACDC) its founder supremo as Harkha Bahadur Chetri- the former three termed students’ union President. Then AAGSU leaders Harkha Bahadur Chetri , Bhaskar Dahal, Dillu Sarmah, Dil Bahadur Limboo, Birendra Subba, Purna Chetri, Padum Baraily, Bhim Bahadur Rai, Krishna Rai, Uday Singh Limboo, Purushattam Subba, Krishan Newar, Madahab Karki, Dirgha Tamag , Rajen Thakuri and others played a vital role in campaigning for the cause of Gorkha Autonomous Council.
The issue of Autonomy for the plain people started of Brahmaputra valley more particularly for the Gorkhas has undoubtly been one of the most contentious for political leadership of Assam and also for the civil society as while resolving such issues in earlier Assam witnessed lot of violence and bloodshed over the past few years. The political and identity consciousness of the Gorkhas in Assam has been only possible as the present day students leaders involved young educated, energetic and dynamic youths in leadership leaving aside as advisors to school teachers, semi govt. employees. The emergence of Gorkhas in this field is the credit of AAGSU and its workers. Lot of research and inquisitiveness for security and identity and emergence of youthful exuberance amongst the Gorkhas and rising spirit finally culminated in a popular movement for Gorkha Autonomous Council. Each Gorkha of Assam today dreams of Gorkha Accord signed with AAGSU by the state government leading to the formation of Gorkha Autonomous Council. Back to the historic Assam Agitation or the Assam Andolan under the leadership of All Assam Students’ Union(AASU) –the Gorkhas had also participated but at that time even the many of us were tortured in a movement to drive out the illegal Bangladeshis and foreigners. Since then the Gorkha students’ politics got glorifications as scores of people supported the cause of then All Assam Nepali Students’ Union (AANSU) as since 1976 to 2002 the now AAGSU was AANSU then. After shedding the critical Nepali identity conscious Gorkhas in Assam have been considered as main stream Assamese. It is notable to mention that AAGSU is one of the convenor of the Peoples Committee for Peace Initiative in Assam (PCPIA) an organization of as many as 42 democratic organizations and students’ union. GACDC spokesman and author of well researched book “Hami Gorkha Hami Bharatiya” Purna Chetri's article “Conspiracy to term Indian Gorkhas as Nepalis nationals in India” published in Balidan Divas souvenir and compiled in his book “Gorkha Chintan” tells how Gorkhas were subjected to indecent and unworthy behaviour by the administration. However the scenario has changed now and Gorkhas too are emerging and now fighting for themselves. They have fought among themselves for various reasons best known to them for a longtime but today they stand as one. Interestingly the transformation to Gorkha and thereby immediately demanding Gorkha Autonomous Council invited lot of criticism from so called Nepali intellectuals but other intellectuals of Assam and civil society supported the genuine demand citing reasons that the demand has to however cover only genuine Gorkhas of Assam but not legal foreigners Nepalis the reciprocal one. All 42 organisation of PCPIA has moral support for formation of Gorkha Autonomous Council in Assam while 27 has given written assurances. The major Opposition political party of Assam Legislative Assembly Asom Gana Parishad(AGP) had incorporated the formation of GAC in their election manifesto in 2005 and gave assurance in written to AAGSU and GACDC.
Though political tycoon Mani Kumar Subba lead Assam Gorkha Sanmelan(AGS), Nepali Sahitya Parishad, Assam, Assam Nepali Sahitya Sabha and some other state level organizations were enjoying mass people support but the political assertion and aspirations of Gorkhas started under the able leadership of AAGSU. I need to mention here that Assam Gorkha Sanmelan(AGS), is the Assam Pradeshik Committee of then Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League(ABGL) formed by Babu Dambar Singh Gurung which was later transformed into present day AGS at the Goalpara convention soon after independence in early fiftees. In 2003 a mass rally with 80,000 people was organized at Joymati Pathar in Tezpur of Sonitpur district of Assam subsequently in several small programs were held. In 2003 AAGSU got its first martyrdom as Martyr Birbol Limboo of Borjan(Doyang) Golaghat who died in an unfateful accident. The state other day observed mourning day to pay tribute to the martyr. All the district offices of AAGSU overturned their flag in honour of the martyr. Martyr tomb has been constructed and all important functions and gathering thereafter were named after him in his memorium. In 2005 the capital city Guwahati stood still when several thousands double the 2003 gathering amalgamated at Sonaram High School field Local media estimated that around 1.5lakhs people should have participated in the mass gathering program. All central programs were a huge success that rejoiced the grass root workers. They started working ever harder than earlier. Memorandum were submitted to CM, Governor, Leader of the Opposition Lok Sabha and Prime Minister through various program viz Raj Bhawan Chalo, sit in demonstration at every district head quarters, Dispur Chalo, Assembly Gherao and Mass Dharna in Last Gate close to the Assam Legislative Assembly while the session was in progress. More or less all agitations were peaceful other than exchange and war of words with the administrations and arrest of a few. Now the martyr toll is nine they are namely Martyr Birbol Limboo, Martyr Krishna Bahadur Ghimirey Chetri, Martyr Puspahlal Siyakoti, Martyr Pritha Gurung, Martyr Supar Singh Rai, Martyr Krishna Bahadur Newar, Martyr Ghanashyam Luitel, Martyr Tarapati Luitel, Martyr Om Prasad Luitel.
AAGSU had two round of bilateral talk till now with the Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi and Chief Secretary to CM Assam Prafulla Chandra Sharma and have come to a decision of accepting the proposed Gorkha Development Council (GDC) along with six other communities of Assam as of now but strictly not in lieu of Gorkha Autonomous Council. The announcement of providing GDC to Gorkhas came in Digboi conference of Assam Gorkha Sanmellan by CM Gogoi where he attended as Chief Guest. It is expected that the GDC will be formed after the General Elections. Sources in the Assam Government say that the process is on and it would be completed in next monsoon Assembly session. Since then the activities of AAGSU has been affected as they are issueless now but however they have participated in all aspects of a composite Assamese society which is gaining momentum.
The 12th binnenial conference of 32 years youth AAGSU at Duliajaan OIL field in Dibrugarh on 21,22and 23rd December 2008 has voted and elected young brigade of leaders a bachelor President Dil Bahadur Limboo and Vice President Birendra Subba, Publicity Secy Digambar Chetri and others with few seniors to lead the movement. AAGSU by far has been the voice of Gorkhas from Sadiya to Dhuburi in the geography of Assam. Lastly let me mention that the demand of Gorkha Autonomous Council(GAC) in Assam noway harms or affects the demand of proposed Gorkhaland in West Bengal. Definitely there are such provisions if not the demand would have been by far rejected by now by the Ministry concerned. Constitution analyst, senior journalists, intellectuals and blogging friends will have to comment on it and suggest AAGSU, GACDC in Assam and GJJM in Darjeeling and Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) in New Delhi. Even Bimal Gurung, H B Chetri and Dil Bahadur Limboo and C K Shrestha should hold discussion in this matter with experts and among themselves as well. The good news from the centre is that the proposed Gorkha Development Council (GDC) has been moved to 13th Finanace Commission as communicated to AAGSU central leadership by the Assam state cabinet. The breakaway faction of then AANSU had expressed its utmost desire to declare unification at the 32ndDiphu annual convention and Special GACDC Convention on 16th, 17th and 18th January 2008 however the proposed program was cancelled due to unavoidable security circumstances in Karbianglong. The unconstitutionally breakaway faction of the All Assam Gorkha Students' Union (AAGSU)-the apex Gorkha students' organisation of Assam AANSU in its abbreviated form All Assam Nepali Students' Union (AANSU) on 15th March 2009 merged into former unconditionally. It was a red letter day for the Gorkha students community of Assam at the Phanidhar Dutta Memorial Seminar Hall Gauhati University as the Special Joint AAGSU-AANSU unification Steering committee declared All Assam Nepali Students' Union (AANSU) merger into All Assam Gorkha Students' Union (AAGSU) unconditionally. AAGSU-AANSU Unification Declaration drafting committee team lead by Deepak Niroula on behalf of AANSU and Harkha Bahadur Chetri on behalf of AAGSU lead the AAGSU President Dil Bahadur Limboo and former AANSU President Kishor Upadhyay to shake hands and exchanged greetings. The unification has further strengthened the Gorkha Autonomous Council movement and now AAGSU is empowered to determine the destiny of Gorkhas.
The writer Nanda Kirati Dewan is Principal Correspondent; Assam Times, North East News Bureau; Darjeeling Times and Photojournalist/Reporter/News Editor with UB Photos. Associated with many journals and online newpapers he is an active human right activist. He also has been voted as TOP 10 Gorkhali of Assam by “Saparivar” magazine and is an active executive member of AAGSU. Mr. Dewan can be contacted at or and at +919864077700 (M)

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