Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Adieu dear friend Ameet Oberoi

We lost a dear colleague and close friend in Ameet Oberoi [1971-2015] when he passed away on 24 August 2015. He will be sorely missed and is deeply mourned. It is difficult to express the sorrow one feels at such times, but even the process of sharing some memories helps as much to heal as it does to celebrate a friendship. SUBASH RAI musters the courage to say good bye...

Early on the morning of 24 August, I was surprised to receive a call from Pema [our editor] enquiring whether I had any details on Ameet. He had apparently received a call that Ameet had been admitted into the Central Referral Hospital with some severe complications. He checked with me because my father-in-law had also been admitted there and thought I would know more details about Ameet’s condition. But I didn’t have any information to pass on since my father-in-law had been discharged a day earlier. I informed Pema about the same and assured to try and find out about Ameet.

Sikkim Milk continues its profitable ways

After 28 years of losses, Sikkim Milk posts eight straight years of profits!

In these times of depressed economies and failing public sector undertakings, Sikkim Milk Union continues to impress. A loss-making unit for the first 28 years of its existence till the year 2006-07, Sikkim Milk has now posted profits for eight consecutive years! At the 19th Annual General Body Meeting of the Sikkim Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd held yesterday, it was announced that the turnover of Sikkim Milk Union has grown from Rs. 3,733 lakhs in the year 2013-14 to Rs. 4,417 lakhs in the year 2014-15, an 18.32 % growth. The profit before depreciation was Rs. 65.23 lakhs. The depreciation claimed was 9.51 Lakhs and the tax payable is Rs. 16.91 Lakhs. The net profit after depreciation and tax stands at Rs. 38.82 lakhs which is 27.7% higher than the previous year.

Rs. 1.42 cr for creation of barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities

The Sikkim Cabinet, during its 22 August sitting, approved and sanctioned Rs.1,42,44,000 proposed by the Social Welfare Department for the creation of “barrier free environment for persons with disabilities under the implementation of Disabilities Act,1995”.

ASHA honorarium dues for six months sanctioned

The honorarium due to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) has been delayed for a while and the same for the two quarters – from April to September 2015 – was sanctioned and approved by the Cabinet in its recent sitting of 22 August. The Cabinet has sanctioned Rs. 119.88 lakhs towards paying the monthly honorarium of ASHAs for the two quarters, it is learnt.
Other proposals of the Health Department sanctioned and approved by the Cabinet on the day were:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Documentary film on Pang Lhabsol to premiere on Wednesday

Pang Lhanbsol, a festival unique to Sikkim held in worship of its guardian deity Dzonga and Sikkim's other land guardian deities, falls on Saturday, 29 August, this year. Making the celebrations even more special this time will be the release of a documentary film on the festival, “Pang Lhabsol: Sikkim’s National Ritual of the Land and its Guardian Deities”, on Wednesday, 26 August. Produced by the Namgyal Instituted of Tibetology and helmed by Dr. Anna Balikci Denjongpa as Anthropologist and Project Coordinator, the 1:06 hour long documentary features cinematography by Phurba T. Bhutia [who has also edited the feature], Birendra Rai and Dawa T. Lepcha. Filmed at location across Sikkim over the past decade or so, the documentary, in keeping with other NIT productions, promises to be exhaustive and authoritative. The premiere is scheduled for 26 August, 2 p.m. at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and is open to all.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

No Plastic Bhaijaans, please

text & Combo scene by TSERING TASHI

BAN THE BANE: Children all over the world are taught to abstain from using plastic shopping bags and plastic disposable products because of their adverse effect on ambient environment and ecology. Our children go hammer and tongs at every opportunity to support the ban of plastic products in our daily life. However, our film stars and the film industry appear unaware of the earnest appeal of conscious children. Stopping use of plastics in any form is next to impossible but acceptable containment and/or reuse can be achieved comfortably with appropriate techno-legal frameworks in place. The images, as seen in the latest hit film called “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” and street scene created by children indicate clear divisions between reel and mundane real world. Cigarette smoking scenes in movies need to carry warnings and disclaimers in India now. The Censor Board should do the same thing with plastic product usage in cinematic scenes.

Dance, Sikkim Dance!

Robin Mukhia has Talent, Passion and also Enterprise


Dancing is fun, dancing is an art form and dancing can be more than just a hobby. 24-year-old Robin Mukhia of Tadong has proved just this. Starting out as a hobby to participating in dance competitions, he has now set up his own dance institute.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Yuksom Breweries helps Nepal rebuild

Sikkimese enterprise constructs classrooms and shelter homes in earthquake ravaged villages

Yuksom Breweries Ltd., the promoters of which have had a long association with Nepal, further reinforced its relationship with the country by assisting the rebuilding process there. The Yuksom family has constructed 10 classrooms for Surya Primary School at Khani village, ward no 4, Riyale Village Development Committee, Kavre district and Chapakharka Primary School, Triveni-Chapakharka, ward no 6, Bishankhu Narayan VDC, Lalitpur district, a press communiqué from Yuksom Breweries informs.
An additional 52 shelter homes have been built in the village of Dungkharkh, Kavre Palanchok.

The Rey Khola dilemma

The killer eddy of Rey Khola
Rey Khola


Once crowded with paddy fields and surrounded by thick jungles, Rey Khola below Gangtok is now packed with parked vehicles and picnicking groups, the farmlands pushed away from the khola, the stream used for washing vehicles, quarrying and swimming. It was always popular with students playing truant from school, and now more people have discovered it. The sudden infrastructural development with huge parking spaces and a reasonably clean stream can be regarded as factors which attract substantial numbers of people here especially during summers.

Aisa bhi hota hain :-o

Right in the middle of watching a documentary that mocks most things religious [Religulous by Borat director, Larry Charles] I get a call from a friend who is not in station.
“Hey, I hear it has been raining continuously there for the past few days but it is not raining today, right?” she asks.
I am a little baffled about why she is so interested in the weather; but she is right, it didn't rain on Sunday. At least, not during the day.
There will be no rain on Monday either she continues.

Sharchhopas be careful!

Sharchho, 1998

Sharchho, 2011

 text & pictures by TSERING TASHI

A view of Sharchho from Phakha, Lachung village, North Sikkim.
Sharchho, as confirmed by the photograph of the area from 1998, is built up on debris brought down by a past glacier lake outburst flood. The landform is unchanged in the 2011 photograph but the Army and the civil residents have started settling down within the flood plain. This is dangerous because there are reportedly three or four unstable glacial lakes upslope of Sharchho. The Dzumsa and Pipons should consult glaciology experts at the Sikkim State Science & Technology Department for a reality check.

SKM MLAs petition High Court with challenge on appointment of Lokayukta

The Division Bench of Sikkim High Court comprising of Justice SP Wangdi and Justice Meenakshi M Rai on 21 August admitted a writ petition filed by two Sikkim Krantikari Morcha MLAs, Kunga Nima Lepcha and Ugen Nedup Bhutia, challenging the appointment of Lokayukta Chairman for Sikkim, Justice [retd.] Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta. The SKM duo has argued that the State government has not followed the statutory law while constituting the selection committee to appoint the Lokayukta.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sikkim Govt to assist GTA’s capacity building initiative


Sikkim will support the Gorkha Territorial Administration of Darjeeling in its developmental activities by providing intellectual support and providing technical inputs for Capacity Building activities, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling said while addressing a joint press conference with the GTA chief Bimal Gurung here in Gangtok today.
He said that Sikkim will provide the human resource to train GTA officials on improving capacity building measures to provide job security in the Hills.

Sikkim and Darjeeling join hands to pursue tribal status for all Nepali-speaking Indians


The SDF-helmed State Government of Sikkim and the GJMM-led Gorkha Territorial Administration of Darjeeling have resolved to jointly pursue the demand for tribal status for all Nepali-speaking people of the country. This was announced at a joint press conference addressed by Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and GTA chief Bimal Gurung in Gangtok today.

Final batch of Mansarovar Yatris returns

The fifth and final batch of Yatris who took the Kailash Manasarovar pilgrimage via Nathula for the year 2015 returned to the capital on 20 August. The Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, along with the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation hosted a dinner for the 48 Yatris and the five supporting staff at the Conference Hall of the Tourism & Civil Aviation Department on Thursday. [from an IPR Deptt Press release]

Inter Public School football begins at TNA

The Inter Indian Public School under-19 Football tournament being hosted by Tashi Namgyal Academy in Gangtok officially kicked off with the draw of fixtures at the school library on 21 August. The 12 participating teams were represented by their respective Managers/ Coach, informs a press communique received from the TNA principal.

Killer Slope Failures

text & pictures by TSERING TASHI

Because of geological fragility, high relief, frequent earthquakes, Indian summer monsoon and drainage basin characteristics, Sikkim and Darjeeling in particular, and rest of the Indian Himalayas in general, will be eternally plagued by natural hazards such as earthquakes, mass wasting processes (destructive or benign), differential settlements and/or subsidence, floods etc.

Road status as of 10:30 A.M. 21 Aug 2015

Sikkim Police update on Sikkim roads:
> Gyalshing-Tashiding via Yuksom - blocked at Ridang
> Rabong-Yangang - blocked at Dojek

Congratulations, Megha Nidhi! And Thank You!


Megha Nidhi Dahal has cracked the UPSC exams and is now headed to IAS-dom. His success has been inspiring, and his journey thus far, despite his barely 28 years of age, has been uplifting as well. In a feature originally published in Sikkim NOW! edition dated 11-17 July 2015, TSHERING EDEN touches on some aspects of what makes Megha Nidhi special…

“If you think you can, you certainly will”


NOW: Now that some time has passed since the initial euphoria of getting through the UPSC exams, how does it feel?MEGHA NIDHI DAHAL: I definitely feel happy. Sometimes, I find it a little hard to believe as well. But then again, I feel that it is no big deal. If not me, someone else would have been there, probably from a State that has poorer social indicators than ours. This result is a testimony to the fact that the education system in Sikkim is equally competent as any other states in India, perhaps even better.

Taking Inspiration, Securing Hope


Sikkim has a responsibility towards its young – it needs to allow them to dream and create an environment which allows them to pursue their dreams

When Megha Nidhi Dahal, a 28 year old youth who was already “settled” and “secure” as a software engineer in the software capital of India at Bangalore, discovered his passion for public service and decided to pursue his real calling, he reaffirmed the faith Sikkim needs to have on its youth. He may be the first Sikkimese to crack the UPSC exams in the general category, but his success is bound to inspire many more youth to many more successes. What Sikkim needs to ensure is an environment which inspires more of its young to pursue more divergent dreams.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

SGC-Tadong alumni in Limca Book of Records for obtaining 14 PG degrees from 09 Univs!

Alumnus of Sikkim Government College, Tadong, and St. Xavier’s School, Pakyong, Anil Kumar Yadav has entered the “Limca Book of Records”. Mr Yadav’s name will feature in the 2016 edition of “Limca Book of Records” for obtaining “14 Post Graduation Degrees from 09 Universities covering 7 States and Union Territories”.

Onions start hurting kitchen budgets, again


Onion prices have once again got the entire country in tears, and the spiraling prices because of supply crunch have also started showing adverse effects in the Sikkim market. As recently as till last week, Onion was selling for between Rs. 45-50 per Kg. As of 20 August, Thursday, the price has climbed to Rs. 60 at Lall Bazaar in Gangtok and the same is attested to in the rate board updated by government authorities at Lall Bazaar.
“We had bought Onions at Rs. 40 per kilo even during the weeklong National Highway disruption last month and this Rs. 60 price tag is back-breaking for me,” said a canteen owner whose fastest moving item is momo, for which onion is a necessary ingredient.

SDF revokes expulsion of Rangang-Yangang panchayats, RM&DD reinstates them


The Sikkim Democratic Front has withdrawn expulsion orders served last September to the Zilla Panchayat of Rangyang Yangang constituency and 14 Gram panchayat members from there. They had been expelled for alleged anti-party activities in the wake of the assembly bye-elections which SDF lost from Rangang-Yangang. Nearly a year since, the party, on 11 August last week, issued an order stating that the expulsions stand cancelled.

AIDS awareness for IRBn trainees

The Sikkim State AIDS Control Society organized a sensitization programme on HIV/ AIDS and Tuberculosis for 260 IRBn trainees and officers at the SAP Camp at Pangthang above Gangtok on 19 August 2015.

We succeeded where SDF and SKM have failed, GAC counters

The immediate years after an election are usually less about politicking and more about announcements and new beginnings. The current term in Sikkim has however developed a knack to keep “politics” alive even if it is by dusting up issues and attitudes which have been with Sikkim ever since it has been a democracy. Even as the in-office Sikkim Democratic Front and opposition Sikkim Krantikari Morcha play the allegation-counter allegation game on a spool, joining the mix now is the Gorkha Apex Committee, which, on 20 August, condemned and refuted allegations of its being aligned to SKM attributed to Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.

250 Green Teachers in training

A three-day training for 250 Green Teachers from various schools of the State by the ENVIS Centre at the Forest Department began today at the Forest Conference Hall in Gangtok. The training has been an ongoing initiative to strengthen and implement the National Green Corps Eco-Club programme being implemented in Sikkim since the year 2000.

Press Club gets new executive body, Bhim Rawat returns as president

Twelve members were elected uncontested to the executive body of the Press Club of Sikkim today, 20 August 2015. The sitting president Bhim Rawat returns for a new term as president with Dilli Ram Dulal as the new working president.

Are we doing enough?

Substance abuse continues to challenge Sikkim


International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was observed across the world on 26 June and Sikkim too saw a host of events held to mark the day. The State has been battling substance abuse and trafficking for a long time now, and on this occasion, it is only fitting to ask - are we really doing enough?
Despite efforts at creating awareness on drug abuse, the social stigma attached to addiction and users is still prevalent. The vacuum, in terms of figures and studies on drug abuse in the State is yet to be filled. Almost every week there are news reports of drug busts by the police. Apart from all of these, there is also the big problem of providing proper rehabilitation and de-addiction facilities to those who have fallen prey to this “social evil”.

Push Through the Purple Haze


Sikkim needs to strike wider collaborations to combat drug abuse

June 26, Friday, was the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The United Nations Secretary-General, in his address for the day, said: “In full compliance with human rights standards and norms, the United Nations advocates a careful re-balancing of the international policy on controlled drugs.  We must consider alternatives to criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs and focus criminal justice efforts on those involved in supply. We should increase the focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care, as well as on economic, social and cultural strategies”. Accepting that addiction spikes in an environment of easy availability and societal disinterest, it becomes necessary for a state like Sikkim to pay special attention to the UN Secretary-General’s appeal to stop processing addicts as criminals and focus the criminal justice efforts on those involved in supply instead.

Road situation report as of 11 A.M. 20 Aug 2015

An update from Sikkim Police informs that:
> Chungthang - Lachen - blocked at Munsithang
> Lachung - Yumthang - blocked at km 12 Yaksay
> Rangpo - Rorathang - blocked at Sikkim Distilleries Fatak
> Gyalshing - Tashiding via Yuksom - blocked at Ridang
> Khechoperi - Pelling - blocked at Sallawray
> Rabong - Yangang - blocked at Dojek

Money problem!

The state of the State’s Finances and the fate of major projects have has been imperiled by the Finance Commission


Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has already officially called on the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley thrice in the past year to explain the financial setback caused to Sikkim due to the budgetary allocations worked out by the Union Government which have saddled Sikkim with substantial shortfalls. For a resource-strapped State like Sikkim, even minor adjustments in funds allocations can severely disrupt implementation, and it must have been such considerations which convinced the CM to also take up the matter with the Prime Minister when he called on him earlier this year in April. Sikkim, of course, is not alone in having been left shell-shocked by the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission and how the Union Government is now allocating funds and financial assistance. Several social sector interventions now face uncertain futures and smaller states, with their narrow resource capabilities, are yet to figure out how they are to sustain anything anymore now that the purse strings have suddenly tightened.

Hill people prep for Sustainable Mountain Development Summit on disaster risk reduction


The Integrated Mountain Initiative - formerly known as the Indian Mountain Initiative - was founded in 2010 to raise the specter of Indian mountain ecosystem from a common platform by involving all Indian Himalaya-specific stakeholders. With the support of its founding members - CHEA of Uttarkhand, ECOSS of Sikkim and SDFN of Nagaland, the Darjeeling Mountain Initiative - and partner organizations ICIMOD, GLOBE and SRTT, the Interactive Mountain Initiative convened a number of theme-based annual Sustainable Mountain Development Summits (SMDS). The first such summit was held in Nainital in May 2011, SMDS–II at Gangtok in May 2012 and the SMDS-III in Kohima in September 2013. The SMDS-IV is slated to be held in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh from 07 to 09 October 2015 and the theme of the summit is “Disaster Risk Reduction in the Mountain Region- Policy, Planning & Implementation”.

Simple solutions

On a visit to Ladakh in 2008, I was told by my local guide of how villagers make sure not to dirty the water running along the streams so that those living downstream can also use it.
Big talk or not, it is such a simple solution to so many of our problems today.
Altruism is not just about giving, but saving as well, not just the environment but also big money. Take the instance of landslides peppered across every district of the state every monsoon. Roads washed out, houses destroyed, water and power supply lines disrupted, the loss of private and public property also includes private and public money. Drains filled with rocks and garbage, drains not properly maintained, drains left half-constructed, drains designed or planned badly, drain nothing except money. The destruction brought about by faulty or bad drainage systems eventually costs us more than what repairs or proper designing and planning would have cost. All the technology available is useless if we cannot do simple mathematics. We all talk of sustainable development today but old communities like the one in Ladakh have forever been “living” sustainably.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

CM interacts with students in Ravangla

Namchi, 19 Aug [IPR]: In continuation with the interaction program with students themed “Invigorating Young Minds in shaping State, Nation”, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling interacted with the students of Ravangla and its surrounding areas today at the Tathagata Tsal conference Hall.