Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gangtok meet for Karmapa reiterates faith and patriotism of Buddhists


GANGTOK, 05 Feb: A sizeable gathering of devotees, carrying Buddhist religious flags in one hand and the Tricolour in the other, turned out at the Guards Ground here at Tathangchen today to attend a meeting organised jointly by the All Sikkim Buddhist Organisation, Joint Action Committee [JAC] and the Karmapa Reception Committee [KRC] in support of the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
The programme began at 10 a.m. with a group of monks and Gyamu reciting prayers.
In his welcome address, the JAC president, Kunzang Sherab, clarified that the cash recovered from the Sidhbari Monastery [where the Karmapa has been living in transit for the past 10 years] were accumulated donations. The delay in receiving permission from the Indian government to deposit this stash of foreign currency in a bank was the reason why it was found during the raid, he added. The allegation of the Karmapa being a Chinese spy could very well be the work of an “enemy”, he alleged. “We hope that after the investigation is over, and his name cleared of all allegations, he is allowed to come to Rumtek,” he further added.
President, Sikkim Buddhist Duechen Association, Passang Namgyal, in turn, said that the media wields a lot of power and one expects it to carry out thorough investigation before reporting on anything, but this did not happen in the case of the Karmapa.
He expressed that, “unbiased, just and transparent” investigation is what is expected and hoped for now, adding that “the allegations against the Karmapa are a matter of grave concern for Buddhists across the world”.
Member, KRC, Gay Tshering, informed that around 150 people are on their way to Majnu ka Tila in Delhi and have plans to stage a dharna there in support of the Karmapa. He also clarified that according to Indian law, under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, foreign currency can only be deposited in a bank by a trust or other registered institutions that have received government permission to do so, also known as FCRA permission, he added.
The Karmapa Office of Administration created a trust, Saraswati Charitable Trust, which repeatedly applied for but did not receive permission to deposit foreign currencies. It thus created another trust, Karmae Garchen Trust, whose application for FCRA permission to deposit foreign currency was submitted last year and is still pending. With no legitimate means of depositing or exchanging this foreign currency, the money was left to pile up over time, awaiting the day when it could be legitimately deposited.
“There are currencies of around 25 other countries as well in the cash hauled during the raid, so does that make the Karmapa a spy of all the other countries as well?” he asked.
He went on to condemn the book, “Buddha’s Not Smiling” by Erik D. Curren which speaks of corruption in Tibetan Buddhism. This was followed by the burning of the book amidst shouts from the public.
President, Tibetan Youth Club, Chung Chung, ridiculed the terming of ‘Dharamshala’ to ‘Dhanshala’ by some national media houses, expressing deep disappointment and anger at such cheap reportage. He further stated that the allegation of land acquisition in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh is baseless since Tawang does not even have a Kagyu monastery.
The All Sikkim Tamang Buddhist Association president, Kumar Yonzon, in his address, denounced the use of the word ‘chor’ for Ogyen Trinley Dorjee by Shamar Rinpoche’s candidate Thaye Dorjee in the local media, further adding that such behaviour is unbecoming of a spiritual Buddhist leader.
He also drew attention to the fact that this incident could very well take a positive turn by reviving the issue of bringing the Karmapa to Rumtek. He further appealed that the investigation should continue with all the respect that a Dharmaguru deserves.
Member, Machig Rimed, Mrs Dolkarla, in her address requested the media to show and publish authentic news. “Greater the darkness of the night that falls, quicker will be the sunrise,” she added to console the distraught followers of the Karmapa.
Member, KRC, NT Bhutia, in his address questioned the opening of the Nathula border for trade by the Central government if there was such a serious threat of espionage from China. He further demanded that all central security forces be removed from the Rumtek monastery.
KRC general secretary, Karma Tshering, in his address, clarified that the Karmapa is not personally involved in the management of finances and that even Union Minister, Veer Bhadra Singh has expressed support for the Karmapa on this matter.
JAC’s Thukchuk Lachungpa, appointed the spokesperson for JAC and KRC recently, said that media allegations of the Karmapa visiting Hong Kong to meet Chinese representatives were unfounded and untrue, in fact, it is the Shamar Rinpoche and his candidate who frequently visit Hong Kong, he said.
All the speakers today, condemned the manner in which the issue has been taken up by the media and expressed full faith in the Karmapa. The vote of thanks was given by Rinzing Bhutia and the resolutions adopted today read out.
Following are the resolutions:
1. We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to the Government of India for giving shelter to His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorjee, after he escaped from Tibet.
2. The State government has so far been extending full support whenever necessary. We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to the chief minister and the state government.
3. It was resolved to strongly condemn the malicious and unsubstantial allegations levelled by some of the media on our revered Guru, the 17 th Karmapa. The media needs to behave more responsibly.
4. It was resolved to condemn baseless allegations being levelled by some individuals with vested interests, thus harming the very Dharma, which they claim to be followers of.
5. It is resolved to request the government of India to conduct a fair, thourough and transparent investigation into the whole matter at the earliest. We have full faith in the justice system of the country.
6. It was resolved to place on record our thanks and appreciation for the support and confidence shown by the Dalai Lama on the Karmapa.
7. It was resolved to place on record our thanks and appreciation for the support and solidarity shown by the followers of the Karmapa and all Buddhists in general and even the people of other faiths to the Karmapa in these trying times.
8. It was resolved that some time in the near future we may have to undertake a long march to Delhi if need be.
9. It was resolved to condemn the book ‘Buddha’s Not Smiling’ by Erik D Curren.

CM makes surprise inspection of Namchi offices, finds 40 officials playing truant


NAMCHI, 05 Feb: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling made a surprise inspection of government offices here in the South district headquarter town and discovered firsthand that 40 of the personnel posted in the district had decided to take an unauthorised extended weekend. Yesterday, it may be recalled, was Sonam Lochar [a gazetted holiday in Sikkim]. With today a Saturday, and another holiday tomorrow, these personnel had obviously decided to enjoy a 3-day holiday while still ‘officially’ on duty.
Perturbed by this lackadaisical work ethic, the Chief Minister directed that all the 40 personnel, 26 officers and 14 office staff, who were found absent [without authorisation] from their posts today be recorded as being on leave without pay [for which he has directed a file to be put up], and has directed that explanations be called from all of them.
This was at the District Administrative Centre here were most of the government departments are housed.
The Human Resource Development Department topped this list of ignominy with 22 of its personnel not having reported for duty today. Of the 22, 14 are officer rank personnel including the Joint Director, eputy Secretary, AEOs and Junior Assistants. Eight members of the office staff at HRDD who were absent without intimation included the accountant, junior accountants and LDCs from the general and establishment sections and SSA.
At the Agriculture Department office, five officials were found AWOL- the Joint Director, Deputy Director and Assistant Director and two members of the clerical staff.
Three personnel from the Accounts Section of the DC office were also absent without leave as was the CDPO from the Social Justice Department.
From Cooperative Department, 4 names were taken down, including the Audit Officer. Similarly, at the Pay & Accounts office, three officials were playing truant – the CAO and Additional Director included.
At the Irrigation & Flood Control Department, the Assistant Engineer was absent without leave.
To the personnel were on duty, the CM urged that they deliver on their duties and responsibilities diligently and extend the best service to the people. This was the least expected from them following the best salary packet in the country enjoyed by government servants in Sikkim, the CM stressed.
During the visit in the Confidential Section of Land Revenue Department CM said that the general public is unaware about sophisticated system of the time, they cannot understand it well so the department officers should not make any delay to get the Identification Certificate.
He also left specific directions for the different sections here on how they should process public applications – prioritising efficiency and people-centric service.
The Chief Minister also ordered the District Collector, South, AK Singh, to direct all absent [without leave] personnel to be recorded for leave without pay and call for an explanation on their absence from office.
The CM was accompanied on his surprise inspection by the Namchi-Singithang MLA, Binod Rai, chairman, Tea Board, Gagan Rai, the DC, SDM (HQ) Yanchen Tamang, ADC SL Rai and other officers from the various departments.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister met members of the general public at the SDF party office here. During his interactions, the CM also expressing his dissatisfaction with the limited progress made by the cooperative movement in Sikkim and asked the panchayats and party workers to motivate the people to form effective cooperatives.

Christian youth promote ‘Sikkim Festival’ astride motorcycles

One of the bikers rides into Deorali, Gangtok

Industries Minister Neeru Sewa flags off the UCWSS
motorcycle rally from Rangpo

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: A sizeable group of Christian youth powered in a motorbike rally of around 80 motorcycles from Rangpo to Gangtok today to promote the 3-day “Sikkim Festival with Will Garham” scheduled to be held at Guards’ Ground here at Tathangchen from 11 to 13 February. The rally was put together by the United Christian Welfare Society of Sikkim (UCWSS), the organisers of the special event which will feature the internationally renowned Evangelist, William Graham.
The rally was flagged off by Commerce & Industries Minister, Neeru Sewa, after a brief function held at Rangpo ground. Ms. Sewa congratulated the UCWSS for having organised the event to promote peace and communal harmony in Sikkim.
Earlier, Zongmith Pakhrin, the president of the UCWSS, informed that Will Graham, a third generation evangelist of the Billy Graham Evangelist Association (BEGA), will be speaking at the 3-day event which is expected to be attended by more than 10,000 people from all over Sikkim.
The rally also took a round of Singtam Bazaar and ended at the Paljor Namgyal Girls Senior Secondary School ground where a brief thanksgiving ceremony was held.

5 SCS officers appointed to IAS

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: A press communiqué received from the Information & Public Relations Department informs that five officers of the State Civil Service, Sikkim, have been appointed to the Indian Administrative Service by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Personnel & Training for the “select list” years 2006, 2007 and 2008 and allocated to the Sikkim Cadre of IAS under Rule 5 (1) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954.
The officers are:
Select List 2006- Nalini G. Pradhan, allotted to the year 1996
Select List 2007- KT Chankapa, year of allotment- 1997
Select List 2008- KK Pradhan, Nim Yethenpa and AK Chettri, all three with allotment year 1998.

New Post added to Urban Woes

A new post has been added to the Urban Woes section. Check it out.

Cease character assassination of the Karmapa, his office appeals to media

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Those who have been following the Karmapa affair would have noted, definitely with some consternation, the street-corner gossip which appears to be informing not only reportage in the media, but also influencing the government machinery.
Every since Himachal Pradesh police tom-tommed as “unexplained”, its recovery of donations in cash from the Karmapa’s office at Gyuto Monastery at Sidhbari, frequent aspersions have been cast on the Karmapa, with the concerned agencies allowing reports suggesting that the GoI suspected him of being a Chinese agent to continue unchallenged.
More recently, officials in Himachal Pradesh have “shared” more information on how the Karmapa has displayed pro-China tendencies when he was in Tibet. The Karmapa fled Tibet a decade ago when he was barely a teen.
Only the most poorly trained and insensitive of security/ police officials can find the gumption to pick out incidents from a person’s conduct when barely 12 to 14 years old to accuse him of an ideological stand when he is a mature youth of 26 [the Karmapa’s age now]. The authorities in Himachal are and central agencies are keeping busy with just such a game, with the media at large offering itself up as willing hand maiden to such mindlessness.
Thankfully, the Karmapa’s office of administration has also become quicker and clearer in releasing its side of the story as well.
The Karmapa’s office, in a statement issued late last evening, has “firmly” denied “published allegations that His Holiness the Karmapa has rallied in support of the communist Chinese government”. The statement stressed that the Karmapa fled the oppression of communist China eleven years ago and that “the preposterous claim that His Holiness is a Chinese spy or agent is a complete fabrication, utterly baseless and reckless slander”.
“The Karmapa Office of Administration appeals to the press to cease its character assassination of His Holiness the Karmapa, one of the most revered figures in Tibetan Buddhism, and a spiritual leader to Buddhists worldwide.
The Karmapa Office of Administration respectfully requests the press to refrain from publishing further uncorroborated and unfounded charges,” the statement adds while releasing details of the Office’s spokesperson, “beseeching” the press to seek confirmation or denial from them, “in accord with the standards of responsible journalism.”
The details of spokespersons, Karmapa Office of Administration:
Karma Topden, Former Indian Ambassador to Mongolia, Former Member of Parliament, Adviser to Karmapa Office of Administration
Deki Chungyalpa, Adviser to Karmapa Office of Administration; (91) 8894 502 910

Get Reading

A new section has been added to the blog in keeping with the weekend's need to be serviced with some relaxed reading options. The litNOW! section will feature fiction, translations, poetry, travelogues and samplings of creative writing generated in Sikkim or inspired by it. We start with a translation of Shiva Kumar Rai's, "Tibbatko Hullaak Path", a story set in Gnathang below Jelap La on the border with Tibet.
Check it out and let us know what you think of the translation and the section

Friday, February 4, 2011

A new post has been added to the Obituary Notices section of the blog

Karmapa’s office issues strong condemnation of fabricated media claims

A candlelight vigil in support of the Karmapa in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 04 Feb: It is now a week since the controversy surrounding the recovery of crores in cash [on 27 Jan 2011] from the Gyuto Monastery at Sidhbari near Dharamsala, where the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje has been residing since he fled Tibet in 2000, hit the headlines.
Back in Himachal Pradesh, the issue is being played out dangerously as a local versus non-local issue by the administration there [the HP Chief Minister wants the Buddhists to stop taking out peace rallies in support of the Karmapa because he sees them as creating a law and order situation]. Meanwhile, elsewhere around the world, even lay observers have been revolted by the viciousness of the speculative media reporting on the issue.
As public support grows for the Karmapa and condemnations becomes stronger against the situation being drummed up against him, the Karmapa Office of Administration is also finding a stronger voice is responding to the issue.
In a statement dated 03 Feb 2011, the Karmapa Office of Administration has issued a strong denial of all “links” being ascribed to the Karmapa and his followers and has also dismissed media speculations point by point. The tone, as readers will note, is noticeably stronger and more confident and condemnation more direct and clearer than earlier statements issued by the office.
The statement from the Karmapa Office of Administration, issued yesterday is reproduced below:
“The Karmapa Office of Administration adamantly denies the baseless fabrications touted by some media claiming that His Holiness the Karmapa is a Chinese spy or agent. Specifically, reports have circulated recently claiming that His Holiness the Karmapa has acquired lands along the Sino-Indian border. We state categorically that His Holiness owns no such property whatsoever, nor does the Karmapa Office of Administration. 
Additionally, some reports cite an unnamed source claiming that the Enforcement Directorate seized Chinese SIM cards and possess records of conversations between His Holiness the Karmapa and Chinese government officials. Such inaccurate reports constitute fiction masquerading as journalism and slander one of the most highly revered figures in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, the Karmapa Office of Administration respectfully requests these media sources to cease and desist its defamation of character of His Holiness the Karmapa.
We reiterate that the presence of Chinese Yuan among the 20-plus other currencies found by police has been put forward by some media stories as indicative of spy activity. In response to this preposterous claim, we wish to point out that the currency used in Tibet is the Chinese Yuan, and therefore Tibetans from Tibet often make donations in Yuan, as do Buddhists from mainland China. We further stress that the donations in Yuan formed less than 10% of the total cash amount. 
The notes came in multiple denominations, ranging from one-Yuan notes upward, clearly reflecting their origin as donation from multiple individual sources. Some of the Yuan were new notes bundled together, reflecting a practice among Chinese and other cultures of offering only new currency notes to high abbots or spiritual leaders. Furthermore, disciples from Chinese cultures often visit India in groups, pool their offerings and make a single collective donation. 
The Karmapa Office of administration maintains records of all visitors who receive private audience with His Holiness the Karmapa, and these lists record numerous groups of individuals visiting together from Tibet as well as from mainland China.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has publicly expressed his confidence in His Holiness the Karmapa. The Tibetan government itself unequivocally demonstrated its support of His Holiness the Karmapa, who is the revered head of a 900-year old order within Tibetan Buddhism. Members of groups across Tibetan society have voiced unwavering support for His Holiness the Karmapa. His Holiness himself stated yesterday in public that he had faith in the Indian rule of law and that the truth will prevail in time. He emphasized that India is a second homeland to Tibetans.”

Youth Congress leader seeks change in make-up of ruling as well as Opposition leadership

GANGTOK, 04 Jan: A set 50 youth members of the Congress party, led by the AICC and Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee member, Abhinash Yakha, will be attending a 3-day capacity-building training at Kolkata in West Bengal from 07 to 09 February.
This was shared by Mr. Yakha, who has also been appointed the returning officer of the Youth Congress for Hooghly and Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal by the Indian Youth Congress, at a press briefing today.
Mr Yakha stated that the Youth Congress has now started working on the field in Sikkim to strengthen the party from the grassroots for the next assembly elections scheduled for 2014.
He stressed that strengthening the party in Sikkim was more important than the leadership issue, which was secondary.
That did not however stop him from taking a jab at the present leadership of the Congress in Sikkim. He contended that the party high-command has still not certified the Pradesh Congress Committee of the Congress in Sikkim and alleged that due to the continuing leadership of Nar Bahadur Bhandari, even PCC members are not visiting the party office or getting involved in party works.
“The one-man system needs to be broken in the State and for that, the PCC should work as a national party and not behave like a regional party,” Mr. Yakha said.
He rued that most people in Sikkim have still not been made aware on the true ideology of the Congress party and that old prejudices about the party were still rampant. The Youth Congress which he heads in the State was now resolved to address this issue, he said.
Speaking on the Residential Certificates issue, he argued that the maximum influx into Sikkim was recorded between the years 1973 to 1975, so the cut-off year to issue RCs should be 1970, and not 1975 as has been decided by the State Government.
He went on to allege that the SPCC president was hand-in-glove with the State Government to divert attention from the RC issue to the non-issue of a CBI enquiry into the Chief Minister.
Claiming to be one of the complainants who filed an FIR alleging corruption by the Chief Minister as his Ministers, Mr. Yakha stated that he has not received any word from the CBI on his complaint yet. He was implying that the CBI has not moved on the complaint yet, Mr. Yakha alleged that public spats on the issue between the ruling party and Congress leaders was only to divert attention from the Residential Certificates issue.
He stressed that it was important for upcoming political leaders of Sikkim to not only stand up against the Chief Minister but also seek a change in the make up of the Opposition led by Mr. Bhandari.

Big Bazaar personnel receive firefighting training

GANGTOK, 04 Jan: A training on firefighting skills and the use of firefighting equipment for employees and security guards at the recently opened “Big Bazaar” was organized by the Gangtok Fire Station yesterday.
The fire station team briefed the Big Bazaar personnel on how to respond to emergency situations and coached them on the correct use of the firefighting systems installed in the building.
The fires station team was led by the Deputy Fire Officer, Prakash Rai, assisted by fire station officers Phuchung Lepcha and Subash Subba and other fire personnel.
The Deputy Fire Officer, while speaking to NOW! today, informed that the training was held on the request of the Big Bazaar management. Around 80 employees of the Big Bazaar took the training.
The Gangtok Fire Station also organized similar training for around 80 employees of Sun Pharma Ltd at Setipool below Gangtok recently.
The training will come in handy given that employees and security guards are almost always the first responders to a fire outbreak.

Announcing a New Link

We have added a new link to extend the coverage of this blog.
Check out the Urban Woes section to begin a process of getting involved in how we choose to live in a stressed urban-scape.

New Post

A new Land for Sale post has been added to the Buy & Sell section

New Post

New employment notice posted in the Jobs in Sikkim link

SJS, Rhenock, holds winter coaching for ICSE 2011 batch

GANGTOK, 04 Feb: Special coaching classes have been underway at the St. Joseph’s School, Rhenock, for its ICSE 2011 since 06 December, 2010.
As per a press communiqué received from Anand Bose of SJS, Rhenock, the special features of the coaching session are:
It is target-oriented: Each student has set a goal for himself/ herself for the ICSE examination due to commence on 28th of February and each student is focused on achieving that target.
It is student-oriented: All students, whether they are slow learners, weak or brilliant are given individual attention during the classes so that the process of teaching-learning has remained interesting and academically motivated. When contacted, one of the students said that “We all like these classes very much because we understand very well what they teach. I am aiming for 95% in the exam.
It is test-oriented: Internal tests are held to find out the effect of the classes and the guardians are informed about the results.
Fr. Paul D’Souza, Principal, further informs that the slow learners have improved a lot during the coaching period.
Mock test exam begins on 08 February.

New Post

A new post has been added to the Obituary Notices section. 

North Sikkim rallies for the Karmapa


MANGAN, 03 FEB: Around 1,500 devotees joined a candlelight peace rally at Thingchim-Mangshila in North Sikkim on Thursday evening in support of Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
The rally was organized by the Thingchim Development Committee, a Thingchim-based NGO, and was joined by the people from all walks of life. The rally started from Thingchim monastery and covered nearly 16 kms to Namok via Mangshila and back to the monastery.
People came in from Mangshila, Namok and Swayem to join the monks from Thingchim monastery.  Special prayers were offered by the monks before the rally began.
Speaking to NOW! last evening, the Dugey Lama from Thingchim Monastery, who led the rally, asserted that the cash recovered from Gyuto Monastery at Sidhbari near Daharmsala were donations made by the Karmapa’s devotees from all over the world and it that only vested interest could infer this to suggest that the Karmapa was a Chinese agent, as a large section of the media was speculating.
He demanded that a proper CBI enquiry be conducted into the incident and expressed confidence that this would clear the Karmapa’s name and expose those who played this unsavory trick on the Dharma.
The peace rally at Thingchim was also joined by Zilla member, Thingchim Mangshilla, Jomin Limboo and panchayat Secretary Sarki Bhutia.
Similarly, a peace rally was also taken out here in the North district headquarter town of Mangan and was joined by people from all communities and all walks of life. The rally marched from the bus stop to Lower Mangan Bazaar and was headed by the Rigzing Choling Monastery Acharya, Pema Dorjee, Monks, lay people, youth, people from all faiths, members of the SDF Cheli Morcha and councilors, Mangan Nagar Panchayat, joined the rally.

16th Karmapa Gave Me My Name

KARMA PALJOR, senior correspondent with the CNN-IBN television news channel, on how he weathered through the media mindlessness which hounded the Karmapa issue and where things stand at present. This is his blog posting on the CNN-IBN website.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

United Christian Welfare Society to host ‘Sikkim Festival’ with Evangelist William Franklin Graham IV

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: The United Christian Welfare Society of Sikkim [UCWSS] is keeping frenetically busy preparing for the three-day “Sikkim Festival” being hosted by it at Old Guards’ Ground from 11 to 13 February.
Churches from around the State have come together under the banner of UCWSS to host this programme which will have William Franklin Graham IV from the “Billy Graham Evangelistic Association” [BGEA] of USA as the main speaker of the programme. For those aware of the BGEA, William is the grandson of the celebrated evangelist Billy Graham and the eldest son of Franklin Graham.
Addressing a press conference today, the UCWSS president, Pastor Jongmit Pakhrin, informed that the “Sikkim Festival” will “help strengthen the peace and prosperity of the State and bless development and progress in Sikkim”.
The coordinator of the festival, Pastor Daniel Chettri, further informed that apart from preaching love and peace, the BGEA is also involved in rehabilitation and developmental works across the world.
A bike rally of 100 motorcycles is planned to motor from Rangpo to Gangtok on 05 February to promote the event. This rally is scheduled to be flagged off by Industries Minister, Neeru Sewa from Rangpo, it is learnt.
A similar bike rally is also being organised to tour from Jorethang to Namchi promoting the event and also Mangan to Chungthang.

Commercial vehicle owners want notification on HSNP revoked

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: The All Sikkim Truck and Taxi Owners and Drivers Joint Action Committee [ASTTODJAC] has requested the Transport Department to revoke its recent notification on high security registration number plates and first convene a meeting with the association to discuss the issue.
It is informed that the Transport Department issued a notification on 17 January 2011, directing that all the vehicles which have still not acquired the high security registration number plates do so by 31 January. That deadline is already past.
Addressing a press conference today, executive members of the committee informed that they will not be opting for the high security registration number plates because they still do not have a proper understanding of it since the concerned authority has not briefed them adequately on the matter.
They have demanded that the notification in question be withdrawn and they be consulted before any such enforcement is mooted.
“In our earlier meeting, we had arrived at a mutual understanding with the department that after government and private vehicles had acquired these number plates, the committee will sit in a meeting with the department discuss the matter and negotiate on how this could be implemented for commercial vehicles,” they informed.
The executive members contended that this meeting was chaired by the Transport Minister, TT Bhutia, who is also the chairman of the ASTTODJAC.
And yet, the Department pulled the latest surprise on them by putting out a notice on the department’s notice board on 17 January.
They have further argued that despite the long time for which the rule has been in place for government and private vehicles, barely 20% of the government vehicles [as per their claim], have acquired these new plates. It was thus unfair to expect commercial vehicles across the State to do so with 13 days, they add.
The association has now called a general meeting for the second week of February at Gangtok, which is expected to be attended by members of all 28 associations registered with the committee.
The committee has also rejected the Rs. 2,048 price tag for the new registration plates as too expensive.
The press conference was addressed by the committee president, Dhanraj Philemon, vice-president, Chung Chung Bhutia, general secretaries, Dinesh Tamang and Lakpa Sherpa and advisors, Tshering Bhutia and Pempa Tshering Bhutia.

Karmapa addresses followers in Dharamsala, comforts them not to worry

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje addressed a huge gathering of supporters this afternoon at Dharamsala, a press statement issued by the Karmapa Office of Administration informs.
The office of the Karmapa informs that in his address to his followers, the Karmapa acknowledged the “difficult situation” gripping the organisation at present but stressed that he “trusts that the matter will be cleared in time”.
A peace rally taken out in support of the
Karmapa in Ravangla, South Sikkim,
on 02 Feb, 2011
The Karmapa also contrasted the rule of law in India to the authoritarian system of communist China, calling India a second homeland for Tibetans. This public celebration of the Indian system, despite the universally accepted fact that the system here has not always been fair to the Karmapa, slams in the face of media speculations which had sought to portray the Karmapa as never having spoken against China.
“We usually hold public audiences on Wednesdays and Saturdays,” the Karmapa said in his address, adding, “Today, so many people have gathered to show their love, sincere intentions and support, and I want to especially thank you and express my heartfelt gratitude. We are now facing such a situation, which has arisen due to misunderstandings and mistakes, that it has even caused concern to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“India has become a second homeland to Tibetans. We all have taken refuge and settled here. India, in contrast to communist China, is a free country, a democratic country that is based on the rule of law. Therefore I trust that things will improve and the truth will become clear in time. So please be at ease. There is no need to worry.
“You have all borne hardship to come here under this hot sun, and I thank you for that too. It seems there are too many people here today to receive you individually. You can see me from there and I can see you, so perhaps there is no need to give individual blessings.”
The comments marked the first time that the Karmapa has spoken publicly since investigations into the recovery of crores in cash from the Gyuto Monastery, where the Karmapa has been living for the past ten years.
The Karmapa, his office informs, was speaking at the behest of several thousand Tibetan supporters who had staged a march from the residence of the Dalai Lama in McLeod Ganj to the Karmapa’s residence in the Kangra valley, a march of several hours.
Shops were closed in McLeod Ganj, as virtually the entire Tibetan town joined the 20 km march to register support for the Karmapa, the press communiqué informs.
The organizers of the march, members of the Free Tibet movement, specified that it was not a protest, explaining that they were not opposing anyone, but merely showing their unequivocal confidence and trust in the Karmapa.
In a show of solidarity towards the Karmapa, the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Dolma Gyari, and seven other members of the Tibetan government shared the stage with the Karmapa while he spoke, the release adds.
The Karmapa’s office adds that since the investigation began, the Karmapa has continued to receive visitors and participate in a major annual rituals while also offering his full cooperation to the investigation.

World Wetlands Day observed at Thegu below Tsomgo

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: The World Wetland Day was observed on the theme, “Forests for Water and Wetlands”, at Thegu near Tsomgo lake in East Sikkim yesterday with a special programme jointly-organised by the Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management Department [FEWMD], the 17 Mountain Division and WWF-India [Khangchendzonga Landscape Programme, Sikkim]. The event was attended by army officers and personnel and local people of Thegu and Tsomgo.
Priyadarshinee Shrestha, Landscape Coordinator, KLP, spoke on the wetlands of Sikkim and gave a brief description of WWF and its activities in Sikkim.
She underlined the significance of World Wetland Day, informing that it marks the anniversary of the adoption of the “Convention on Wetlands” held on 02 February, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and citizen groups resolve on this day to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness on the value of wetlands and its benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular, she informed.
With the army as a major stakeholder of high altitude wetlands of Sikkim, it was felt that the objective of this programme would not be met unless the army was involved, she added, explaining the strong armed forces presence at the event yesterday.
“Wetlands and Forests” was chosen as the theme for World Wetland Day 2011 because this is the UN International Year of Forests.
Similarly, Lak Tsheden Theengh [Senior Project Officer, WWF] made a power-point presentation on the High Altitude Wetlands Project and its activities in Sikkim with special reference to Tsomgo.
She informed that there were more than 220 water bodies in Sikkim, but since work was not possible on all of them, WWF [Sikkim] and the Forest Department have selected 11 high altitude lakes [located above 3,000 meters] to undertake conservation work on priority.
Of the 11 high altitude lakes, five are in West Sikkim, two in North and four in East Sikkim. Tsomgo headlines the priority list being a much visited tourist spot and because of its proximity to the capital city of Gangtok, she informed.
As part of the programme, the participants were sensitised and made aware of the environmental issues related to high altitude wetlands and a short rally was also taken out from Thegu to Tsomgo and cleanliness drive undertaken around the lake.

Sikkim archers string up for Senior Nationals

The Sikkim archery squad training at the Old Guard's Ground, Gangtok

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: A team of four archers with Jigme Dorjee Denzongpa as captain and comprising of Rapden P Kazi as manager-cum-payer, Dr. Ongden Gyatso, Dr. Passang D Phempu and Karma Loday Bhutia will be participating in the 31st Senior National Archery Championship scheduled to be held at Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh from 05 to 10 Feb. The team is scheduled to leave for the tournament on 04 Feb.
The championship, a press communiqué received from the Sikkim Archery Association informs, is dedicated to the memory of the celebrated Indian Archery coach, the late CH Lenin.
The Sikkim team was shortlisted after a selection trial conducted by the SAA, following which they went through an extensive training camp.
Meanwhile, 16 teams- Sangtong, Ranka, Pedong Gumpa, President’s Seven, Mamring Gumpa, Pachey, Pakyong, Mangan, Sichey, Lamaten, Rorathang, Assam Lingzey, Dapen, Tathenchen, Sernya, Naitam, Yawachi, Samdong, Ranka Rai Gaon and Chagey - have made to the second round in the ongoing 2nd President’s Bamboo Archery Tournament underway at Tathangchen, the release adds.

Chaff-cutters distributed to 182 dairy farmers

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: The Sikkim Milk Union today launched the distribution of chaff-cutters to dairy farmers aligned with Village Milk Cooperative Societies. This tool is expected to make fodder preparation for dairy cows more efficient. The chaff-cutters have been supplied by the Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare Department, a Milk Union press release informs.
Today, this equipment was released to 182 beneficiaries from the scheduled tribes at Jorethang Regional Dairy Plant.
Animal Husbandry Minister, Dawcho Lepcha, was present as the chief guest, accompanied by chairperson, Sikkim Milk Union, MB Rai.
Of the 182 beneficiaries, 50 are from East Sikkim, 97 from West district and 35 from South Sikkim. Welfare Officers of all three districts also attended the program and explained the purpose of this assistance being forwarded to the beneficiaries, while the Joint Director, Karfectar Farm, explained the working of the chaff-cutters and explained the benefits of its use.
Managing Director, Sikkim Milk Union, Dr. P Senthil Kumar, in turn, detailed the special “attention and guidance” being extended by the State Government and Sikkim Milk Union to dairy farmers. One such effort, he said, was “to enhance efficiency of feeding by providing fodder properly chaffed”.
The Animal Husbandry Minister highlighted the significant strides made by the dairy sector in Sikkim, where more than Rs. 65 lakhs was being paid out every month by the Sikkim Milk Union alone towards procurement.

East district farmers trained on organic cultivation of ginger

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: A training programme on “Organic ginger production technology” was oganised here at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, ICAR Research Complex at Ranipool, on 01 and 02 Feb under the DBT-sponsored project on ‘Bio-technology led organic farming in NE region’. East Sikkim is one of the 14 districts in the North Eastern Hill region selected under this project for enhancing the organic production potential of the region.
30 farmers from nine villages of East Sikkim – Rey-Mindu, Sajong, Sama-Siwik, Ranka-Perbing, Namrang, Sirwani, Namcheybong, Basilekha and Saramsa – took the training, an official press release informs.
Dr. H. Rahman, Joint Director, ICAR Sikkim Centre, inaugurated the programme and highlighted the importance of organic farming for Sikkim and its future. He advised farmers to adhere to scientific organic management practices while adopting organic production technology and informed that in addition to ginger, this project will also cover crops like citrus, large cardamom and turmeric.
SR Gupta, a retired Joint Director (Horticulture), Govt. of Sikkim, while speaking as the guest of honour, gave a detailed account of the benefits of organic farming. He also shared his vast experience of disease management in ginger.
The training programme was scheduled to be followed by a field-level demonstration.

Rs. 12 crores made over to landowners as Govt acquires land for 23 km Ranipool-Burtuk byepass

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: The East District Administration, over the past couple of days, has paid out Rs. 12.44 crores in compensation for land acquired for the construction of a two-lane Bye Pass road project from the National Highway near Ranipool to Burtuk, above Gangtok. Work on the project is expected start in the earnest shortly and even as many would be worried with the sheer scale of road projects underway in the State, the enormous traffic snarls which have become the norm for Gangtok roads nowadays, will definitely ease with this byepass.
The District Administrative Centre, East, assigned with the acquisition of land for the aforesaid project by the Sikkim Public Works Department [Roads & Bridges], is almost finished with the first phase of releasing compensation to affected landowners.
Speaking to NOW!, District Collectorate [East], D. Anandan, confirmed that out of Rs. 15,55,85,823, calculated as the total compensation to be paid out for the land acquisition, a total of Rs. 12,44,68,685, roughly 80% of the total, has been disbursed.
The landowners also confirmed that the District Administration started disbursing the compensation on 31 January through State Bank of Sikkim cheques.
The DC adds, “The remaining 20% will be disbursed within two-three months time.”
A total of 310 landowners in the area have been affected by this acquisition process which will be acquiring a total of 27.3023 hectares of land for the project. Official sources confirm that 310 cheques have been prepared, or which 200 have already been collected by the respective land owners.
Official documents related to the project do not mention compensation rates for those whose houses will need to be evacuated to make way for the road, the present round of compensation being only of lands without any built up property. Some of the landowners, whose houses fall under the project informed NOW! that a fresh estimate was being prepared to factor in what they need to be paid for losing their houses to the proposed byepass. This is expected to be completed in a couple of months time.
Land for the project has been acquired at three different rates - Rs. 35.73, Rs. 55 and 58.75 per square feet.
Clarifying doubts expressed by some landowners over how these different rates have been worked out for the same project, the DC explained, “Marchak block, which is the starting point for the bye-pass, because it is already aligned to the national highway at Ranipool fetched a higher evaluation at Rs. 55 per sq. ft. and were thus offered this rate.”
According to available government documents, 0.9020 hectares has been acquired here for Rs. 73,41,509.
Similarly, landowners at Penlong block, where the byepass will link up to the North Sikkim Highway, because of this existing proximity to the highway and being near Gangtok, received Rs. 58.75 sq.ft. Here, a total of 1.2786 hectares has been acquired for Rs. 1,11,99,976.
“The rest - Ranka, Barbing, Luing, Sangtong, Lingdum, Rawtey-Rumtek, Sajong and other blocks were given Rs. 35.73 per sq. ft., which is equivalent to the compensation awarded to landowners here for the Khel Gaon project at Resithang, Ranka, and Tourism Village in Barbing ward,” Mr. Anandan detailed.
The government documents available with NOW! reveal that the residents of Barbing block who contributed 4.5680 hectares of lands have received the highest total compensation of Rs. 3,28,70,775.
The Road & Bridges Department, in its ‘Invitations for Bids’ issued under National Competitive Bidding in December 2009, had estimated the value of the work at Rs. 99,16,39,000 for the 23.14 km long new byepass.
The tender notice also mentioned that the project was an SARDP-NE, Phase-A project with a completion time set at 36 months.

Sikkim martial artists win 4 medals for India at Commonwealth Taekwondo Championship

Ugen Gurung, Trilok Subba and Savitri Pradhan
Naksum Bhutia

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: Martial artists from Sikkim are coming of age. Four players of the Sikkim Amateur Taekwondo Association who were selected to play for India at the 5th Commonwealth Taekwondo Championship, held at the Indoor Stadium, Chennai, from 28 to 31 Jan, fought their hearts out for the country, and in a welcome feat, each one of them bagged a medal!
Ugen Gurung, a 2nd Dan Black Belt, the son of MB Gurung and Pranita Lepcha and a student of Holy Cross School, won a gold medal in the Junior Individual Poomsae category, defeating martial artists from Singapore, England, Australia, New Zealand and other countries to make the nation and Sikkim proud.
Trilok Subba, the SATA chief coach and a 6th Dan black belt, son of PL Subba and Renu Leena Subba, and Savitri Pradhan, a 4th Dan black belt of Sikkim Police, won the bronze medal in the Senior Division Taekwondo Poomsae event. In this category, Australia won the gold, England the silver, and India (Trilok and Savitri) the bronze medal along with Scotland.
Similarly, Naksum Bhutia of Linkey, a 1st Dan black belt, the daughter of Karma Bhutia and a student of Dikiling Senior Secondary School at Pakyong, won a bronze medal in the Kheorugi event.
Delighted with the performance of the SATA quartet in the national team, the SATA president, YB Thapa, joined all executive and general members of the association to congratulate the players on their achievement, conveys a press release issued by the SATA joint secretary Rajen Subba. [both photos courtesy SATA]

Sonam Lhochar greetings from CM

GANGTOK, 03 Feb [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Mrs. Tika Maya Chamling have extended warm greetings and good wishes to the people of Sikkim on the occasion of Sonam Lhochar which falls on 04 February 2011.

UPF-Sikkim members return from Original Divine Principle Seminar in Nepal

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: A 58-member team of the Universal Peace Federation, Sikkim, has returned from Kathmandu after attending a 5-day “Original Divine Principle Seminar” organized there by the “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification-India”. The team was led by Chairman, UPF-Sikkim, GM Gurung, a press communiqué received from Dendup Sherpa, Director, UPF-Sikkim, informs.
The seminar, the release informs, dwelled on issues like “Degradation of Family Values, Spiritual Values, Social and Religious Conflicts, Problems of Drug Abuse among Youth and other problems of the world”.
Dr. Chung Sik Yong, Continental Director of UPF-Asia, Ek Nath Dhakal, Chairman, UPF-Nepal, Dr. Robert S. Kittel, Educational Director, UPF-Asia, Krishna Adhikari, National Director, UPF-India and Richell Jalipa from UPF-Phillipines were the main resource persons at the seminar.
The seminar also included a musical performance by Sishir Yogi, “Ambassador of Peace of UPF-Nepal”, popular in Sikim as the singer of the Nepali Song, “Malai Sikkim Maanpancha” composed by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
During the concluding ceremony, Ashok Gurung, Chairman, OBC and MBC Welfare Board, Tshering Sherpa, Executive Board Member, UPF-Sikkim, and Sneh Thadani of Delhi were appointed as “Ambassadors of Peace” of the UPF.
The seminar was inaugurated by the former Prime Minister of Nepal, Lokendra Bahadur Chand.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rabong marches for Karmapa

NAMCHI, 02 Feb:  Monks from the Palchen Choesling Monastery and members of the Tibetan community living at the Tibetan refugee settlement at Ravangla [in South Sikkim] were joined by devotees and the followers of the XVIIth Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to march in a peace rally taken out in Rabongla today. The rally had more than 150 monks and 200 devotees and began from the Palchen Choesling Monastery and walked up to the power station at Ravangla and returned to the monastery where it dispersed.
The rally was taken out to extend emotional support to the Karmapa in the face of the media witch-hunt launched against him [painting him as a Chinese agent] and the sensationalism which appears to be fanned along by the concerned government agencies.

Sachet Swarojgar Berojgar Sangathan condemns media speculation on Karmapa

GANGTOK, 02 Feb: Sikkim Sachet Swarojgar Berojgar Sangathan, an association of self-employed and unemployed Sikkimese youth, has condemned, what it brands “sinful allegations” by the media which is seeking to paint the XVIIth Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje as a Chinese agent.
In a press statement issued today, the president of the association, Karma Gyurmey Bhutia, has conveyed the hurt being felt by the Karmapa’s followers all over the world over the manner in which the media running speculative pieces projecting the Karmapa as a Chinese plant in India.
“It is to be noted and analysed that mere possession of foreign currencies does not prove a person anti-national. Therefore, how can His Holiness be blamed or accused as being anti-India on mere finding foreign currencies in his possession?” Mr. Bhutia states.
“Buddhists are hugely outraged by these false allegations against him [the Karmapa]. Therefore, we request the Government of India… to take appropriate action so that the false allegations and news are stopped and a strict action taken against the persons responsible for it,” he concludes.

Gyaltsen urges people to ignore divisive politics and prioritise development

SDF's constituency level meeting for Syari underway at the Chongey Primary School Ground on 02 Feb 2011

CHONGEY, 02 Feb: Area MLA, Syari, KT Gyaltsen, today urged people of his constituency not to allow communal and sectarian issues to distract them away from the developmental momentum picking up in the constituency in step with the rest of the State. What should concern Syari at present should be the challenge to become a model constituency of Sikkim, he stressed.
Mr Gyaltsen, who is also the Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, was addressing a the constituency-level meeting of the Sikkim Democratic Front here at Chongey Primary School ground, about half an hour’s drive from Gangtok.
He highlighted that the SDF Government has a perfect election result [secured in the last Assembly elections held in 2009] to attest its pro-people track-record and delivery in Sikkim. What was required now was for the people to join the development initiative as proactive participants of the process, he stressed.
The Speaker, while on political issues, delved on the allegations being leveled against the State Government and the Chief Minister by the parties in Opposition in Sikkim. While accepting that the right to dissent and protest was guaranteed in a democracy, and allowed in Sikkim, he stressed that criticism should be ideologically sound and productive instead of the reactionary rants which define Opposition stands in Sikkim.
There were sections in the Opposition, who, scared by their almost negligible appeal among the people, were fanning paranoia and communal issues in the hope of remaining relevant in the State. Allowing these sections any credibility will compromise development, he contended.
Addressing fellow party members, the area MLA rued that some were only focused on personal benefits and when these were not accommodated, were joining the chorus being raised against the party to the extent that they were even trying to derail people-centric works.
“I am just a medium between the Chief Minister and the people and there to ensure that all benefits and programmes of the government reach the genuine beneficiaries and development impacts the grassroots,” he said.
The meeting was chaired by the SDF vice president [administration], KB Chamling, as the chief guest and included the handing over of solar lamps from SREDA and agricultural tools from the Social Welfare Department to beneficiaries from the constituency.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. KB Chamling detailed the 16 Missions adopted by the SDF government for Sikkim and invited the people to support these missions and ensure their success.
He also assured the people that unlike being projected by the Opposition camp, the Sikkim Subject Certificates were adequately protected and that the issuance of Residential Certificates [to people who have been residing in Sikkim since before 26 April 1975] would not affect the status of Sikkim Subjects in any way.
The meeting was also addressed by SDF vice presidents DT Lepcha and Somnath Poudyal, the party’s East district in-charge JK Bhandari and organization secretary, Kalpana Moktan.

Sikkim-based research institutes take stock, compare notes

GANGTOK, 02 Feb: An interactive meeting of various national research institutes based in Sikkim was organized on31 January by the Regional Centre of Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (RCIBSD), Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Tadong, a press release informs.
The meeting deliberated on issues related to conservation and utilization of Sikkim’s Himalayan bio-resources and gaps in scientific interventions towards sustainable development of the region.
Scientists and researchers from different national institutes/ Universities located within the State, including RCIBSD, ICAR, Indian Cardamom Research Institute, College of Agriculture Engineering and Post Harvest Technology, National Research Centre for Orchids, Ayurveda Regional Research Institute, GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development and NCBS-ATREE fielded participants at the meeting and delivered lectures, it is informed.
The forum discussed the status of various research activities being carried out by the respective institutes in the State and aspects of region-specific problems.
Development of agricultural, horticultural and medical crop cultivation packages and their propagation, potential of tapping the rich microbial resources of the region and their sustainable utilization were the major issues discussed, the release informs.

Investors introduced to Sikkim’s potential for food-processing enterprises

GANGTOK, 02 Feb [IPR]: The North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC), a Government of India enterprise, along with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, organized a daylong “Sikkim Food Processing Invertors Meet” at Chintan Bhawan here in the capital today.
Agriculture Minister, DN Takarpa, inaugurated the meet.
In his Inaugural address, Mr. Takarpa appraised the gathering of invertors and stakeholders about how the Chamling-led government in Sikkim has been instrumental in taking agro-based and food processing industries of the State forward with investors-friendly policies and planning and by building the capacity of the people here to prepare them to take over these industries as an sector for employment.
He also detailed how the State government has been “active and involved” in providing marketing facilities to the people who have taken up agro-based industries as their source of employment.
Mr. Takarpa added that the government’s ambitious project of turning Sikkim into a fully Organic State by 2015 is on course and when it’s achieved, the value of the organic produce of the State will yield good value not only in the domestic market but also in international markets.
He also visited the stalls put up at the venue today.
Earlier, the Agriculture Secretary, Vishal Chauhan, in his PowerPoint presentation – “Sikkim, Opportunity Unlimited”, informed how the present government has instituted investor-friendly policies and created the ideal environment for such undertakings.
Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Industries, MG Kiran, who also addressed the gathering, stated that people can take up this industry as a good source of employment and also shared how Sikkim has marched forward in this sector in the past few years.
The meet began earlier with a welcome address by S Bhattacharjee, MD, NERAMAC. The inaugural secession concluded with a vote of thanks proposed by PC Roy, Sr. Zonal Manager, NERAMAC in Sikkim.

Sikkim dazzles at MGNREGA anniversary celebrations

District Development Officer, North District, Tshering Namgyal Bhutia,  receiving the “Excellence in District Administration in the effective implementation of MGNREGA” award from the Prime Minister at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 02 Feb 2011. [photo courtesy: IPR] 
Milan Kumar Chettri, Panchayat Secretary, Chuba Phong GPU, receiving the award for Best Performing Gram Panchayat. [photo: IPR]
A representative of the Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim receives the Rozgar Jagrookta Puraskar. [photo IPR] 

NEW DELHI, 02 Feb: Sikkim bagged three national awards at the fifth anniversary celebrations of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act [MG-NREGA], held in New Delhi at the Plenary Hall, Vigyan Bhawan today.
Sikkim was conferred the national award under the District category [received by Tshering Namgyal Bhutia, District Development Officer, North District], the best performing Gram Panchayat [received by Milan Kumar Chettri, Panchayat Secretary, Chuba Phong GPU] and in the NGO category to Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim.
Awards were handed out for the Best Performing Panchayats from across the country, District MGNREGA Teams and NGOs in recognition of their exemplary performance through the financial year 2009-10.
With this, Sikkim became the only State in the country to bag awards in all three categories.
Today marked the fifth anniversary of this national flagship programme and the Ministry of Rural Development put together a grand celebration which had the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh as the chief guest. He was accompanied to the awards ceremony by the United Progressive Alliance chairperson, Sonia Gandhi.
A press communiqué received from the Information & Public Relations Department holds up this national recognition as one of “special significance” since the implementation of this ambitious programme in Sikkim has been good enough to secure Sikkim mention among the top-10 districts and top-11 GPUs of the country.
The awardees were selected by a National Screening Committee appointed by the Government of India and followed several rounds of presentations and stringent field checks, IPR informs.
North District was selected under the category - “Excellence in District Administration in the effective implementation of MGNREGA” resulting in community-centric development in challenging physical environment.
Earlier the screening committee had carried out evaluation in North District from 22 to 24 Jan 2011 and had inspected the implementation of MGNREGA scheme at Kabi, Mangan and Dzongu. They were especially impressed with the level of community involvement in this remote district of the country with a high scheduled tribe population.
Milan Kumar Chettri, Panchayat Secretary of Chuba Phong GPU, in turn, was instrumental in transforming a village reeling under perennial drought by aligning the MGNREGA programme to the felt needs of the village. With full support from the DDO and the Block Administrative team comprising of the Namthang Block Development Officer, Robin Sewa, Assistant Engineer Ashok Chettri, JE Nirjal Pradhan TA Naresh Pradhan and the village team of Panchayat President Hem Kumar Chettri, Ward Panchayats and Gram Rozgar Sahayak Ms. Padma Tamang, 120 household-level water storage tanks of 10,000 litres capacity were constructed.
The villagers ingeniously filled these tanks from the running drinking-water supply during night time and used the overnight stored water during the day. With winters becoming increasingly dry, this investment in rural water security paid immediate dividends and the villagers were not only able to meet their drinking water requirements but also used the surplus water for vegetable farming and animal husbandry.
Also under the MGNREGA Dhara Vikas program, the Nagi lake at Namthang, which had dried up 30 years back, is now being revived and this initiative will further boost the natural ecosystem and ground water regime of the region.
Under the leadership of Milan Chettri, this village has effectively demonstrated climate-smart governance on how to adapt and mainstream climate change concerns in ongoing developmental programs, to transform the future of a village.
VHAS received the national award - Rozgar Jagrookta Puraskar (Employment Awareness Award) - recognizing its contribution as a civil society organization in the promotion of effective implementation of MGNREGA in Sikkim.
The awards program was attended by a large contingent from Sikkim comprising of the Bimal Dawari [Zilla Adhyaksha, East District], Pintso Doma Bhutia [Upadhyaksha, North District], AK Ganeriwala [Secretary, Rural Management & Development Department] along with other Gram Panchayats, DDOs, BDOs, ADPCs and select job-card holders.
Later in the day, the awardees called on Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, who is currently in New Delhi, who further felicitated and congratulated them on bringing laurels to the State of Sikkim. 
[from a press communiqué received from the Information & Public Relations Department, Govt of Sikkim]

Public Information Campaign on Bharat Nirman projects begins at Duga

Audience at the inaugural session of the PIC at Duga

GANGTOK, 02 Feb: The Public Information Campaign of Bharat Nirman projects, centrally sponsored schemes underway in Sikkim, began today at Duga, above Singtam in East Sikkim today. The PIC, was inaugurated by the Commerce & Industries Minister Neeru Sewa, who also happens to be the area MLA.
The inaugural session was well attended and the three-day PIC underway at the Duga Block Administrative Centre is already the fourth such event in the State this year. The campaign is organized by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) along with the Directorate of Field Publicity, Song & Drama Division, Kolkata, Doordarshan and All India Radio, Gangtok, and is intended to raise awareness on Bharat Nirman projects through the seminars and infotainment capsules in rural areas.
The three day campaign will focus on the various flagship programmes being implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development through the State government, which includes MGNREGA, PMGSY, NRWDP, Rural electrification, SSA and Mid Day Meal, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM), Ayush & NRHM, Total Sanitation and Census 2011 in Sikkim and other centrally sponsored flagship programmes.
A free medical camp will also be organized by the Research Centre for Ayurveda, Tadong along with quiz, elocution, sit and draw competitions in parallel to it, it is informed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shocked and Hurt in Rumtek

Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, 31 Jan 2011
The gate to the Rumtek Monastery, 31 Jan 2011
Rumtek, a 40-minute drive from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok, is where the XVIth Karmapa settled in exile after he fled Tibet in 1960. The Dharma Chakra Centre there was inaugurated in 1966 and became the Karmapa’s seat in exile. The place thus has a very close attachment with the Karmapa even if not all the people living there are Karma Kagyu, or even Buddhists for that matter. TSERING EDEN visits Rumtek to get a sense of how this town is responding to the entire drama being played out on national TV…

GANGTOK, 01 Feb: The XVIIth Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, the supreme spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, is in the midst of a controversy; a controversy made worse by the far-fetched speculation which the media has indulged in to colour an already complicated haul of cash from the Gyuto Monastery at Sidhbari [where the Karmapa has been residing for the past ten years]. Being a religious leader, the Karmapa has millions of devotees in India and across the world, but it is at the Dharma Chakra Centre at Rumtek that he has his seat in exile and where he is still not allowed by the Indian authorities to reside. In order to get a feel of the atmosphere around the place with regard to the still spooling controversy, NOW! visited Rumtek to speak to the locals there.
There was a palpable gloom in the area. Maybe it was the tourist off-season, or some psychological factor playing on our minds, but the area also appeared deserted. What also soon became obvious was a reluctance among the people to speak or comment on the issue.  This was obviously because of the sensationalism the media at large has approached the whole issue with. Candlelight vigils and rallies being held for the Karmapa are as much to convey moral support to the Karmapa as to register the feeling of hurt over the media’s handling of the issue.
Approaching the monastery, we finally came across two monks, who, after a little coaxing and much cajoling said: “We devotees have no issues with the process of investigation which is necessary since it is the duty of the concerned authorities. We however have full faith in the Karmapa and do not believe the allegations to be true. It is just the fact that Karmapa received devotees from border areas like Sikkim and Arunachal that some people are making assumptions of his being a Chinese agent. How can he help it if his followers reside in these areas?”
“We, however, are very disappointed with the way the national media has covered the issue,” they added.
Right near the entrance of the monastery we met Lhawang Dorjee, a Rumtek resident, who said, “The Chinese currency found in the raid, on which their allegation of the Karmapa being a Chinese agent is based, is ridiculous. His devotees are spread out across the globe and they make donations, does that make the Karmapa an agent of all these other countries as well?”
He also resonated what the monks had earlier said regarding the manner in which the issue has been portrayed in the media.
A candle light vigil in the area was also planned in support of the Karmapa yesterday.  
Notice announcing a candlelight vigil at Rumtek

Sikkimese are Peace Producers who have contributed to integrity and sovereignty of India: Chamling

NEW DELHI, 01 Feb: In his address for the “Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security” chaired today at Vigyan Bhawan by the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling stated: “In this meeting on Internal Security, I am happy to say that Sikkim and the Sikkimese people are peaceful. As peace producers, the Sikkimese people have made considerable contribution towards integrity and sovereignty of the Country.”
“Towards the overall growth and development of the Country, we have made special contribution as a border State in the maintenance of atmosphere of perfect peace, tranquillity, communal harmony and accelerated growth and development. Amidst the multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious communities, the prevailing peace and communal harmony that exists in Sikkim is exemplary,” he shared.
The meeting had started with introductory remarks by the Union Home Secretary GK Pillai, followed by the Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, who presented an overview of the internal security scenario in the country, contending that it has improved over the last two years.
The Prime Minister, in his address, called for “greater centre-state coordination to deal with security matters” and expressed his concern over left-wing violence and stressed on proper monitoring at check-posts and more training for police personnel to deal with extremist activities.
The Chief Minister, while updating the meeting on the internal security situation in Sikkim, highlighted that the relative development in Sikkim was powered by the State Government’s commitment to deliver “due justice to the hopes and aspirations of the people by providing the basic minimum needs and the basic minimum infrastructure to the people with focussed provision and implementation for people belonging to weaker section of the society”.
“The whole environment of social engineering has fetched rich social contentment and happiness among the Sikkimese people. The 100 percent mandate of the people in our favour is reflective of our tract record on peace, security, social justice and development,” he added.
While informing the meeting that Sikkim was free from obvious signs of disturbance like communalism, religious intolerance or labour unrest [as reported in other parts of the country], incidents like the arrest of a Bodo militant from Sikkim in 2003 [he was using Sikkim as a safe haven], the CM said, have “substantiated apprehensions that the peaceful environment of the State can be exploited by extremist or insurgent groups to carry out their nefarious activities”.
“Growing unemployment compounded by influx from neighbouring States and region is cause of concern and may have long term adverse impact on the prevailing peace in the State,” he added.
On how the State was preparing for these challenges, the CM shared that personnel strength was already being enhanced in Sikkim alongside efforts to strengthen the counter-terrorism capabilities of the police force, strengthing of the intelligence wings, adoption of a crime and criminal tracking network system.
He added that, considering the “security challenges likely to be faced in the future”, the annual plan size for Sikkim as approved by the Government of India under the Modernisation of Police Force [MPF] scheme at Rs. 6.4 crores was not adequate for purchase of high value technical equipment “very necessary for the forces today”.
Utilisation of these funds have also been delayed, he explained, mainly because there are no manufacturer/ suppliers of the required technical equipment in the State. “We are therefore constrained to route our proposals through State undertakings but that takes a long time,” he explained, urging that delays on this account should be taken into consideration by the MHA while settling the MPF funds for the State.
The Chief Minister also delved on the hardships faced by the people owing to the movement for statehood underway in the Darjeeling district neighbouring Sikkim.
The Chief Minister called for a permanent solution to the connectivity problems faced by the State at the earliest, reminding the Central leaders of Sikkim’s “persistent demands for early construction of an Alternative National Highway and upgrading the ATR 72 Greenfield airport at Pakyong for enabling bigger aircraft, to operate as well as quickly complete the double laning of the existing 31A National Highway”.
Reliable connectivity, the CM emphasised, is essential not only for Sikkim and the Sikkimese people, but also for the defence establishments in this border State and in the overall interest of the Nation.  
The CM was accompanied to the meeting by the Chief Secretary, TT Dorji, DGP Jasbir Singh, Principal Secretary to CM, RS Basnet and Arvind Kumar, Principal Resident Commissioner, Sikkim House, New Delhi.
[from a press communiqué received from the PS to the Chief Minister]