Friday, May 11, 2012

Modernizing Sikkim Police will make state crime-free, says CM

GANGTOK, 10 May [IPR]: An interactive session between Police officials and Chief Minister Pawan Chamling was held at Chintan Bhawan today. The session began with the welcome address presented by DGP Jasbir Singh who also presented a brief report on the activities of the Police Department.
At the outset, the Chief Minister emphasised on the importance of good policing and added that the ultimate aim of the Police is to provide security to the people. Better police can create a better state, said the Chief Minister and added that they have enormous responsibilities and duties towards the people for prompt and speedy services.
However, he also asked them to upgrade and enhance skills and capacities as he said that yester year’s knowledge and capacities would not fulfil today’s demands. Therefore, capable and skilled Police forces have to be created in the collective interest, which is also the need of today’s world, he added.  Stressing on systematic improvement, the Chief Minister said that modernization of Sikkim Police is necessary for making Sikkim a crime free state.
Elaborating further on the responsibilities of the Police personnel, the Chief Minister stated that Police are the law enforcement agency and they should discharge their duty as per the prevalent laws without any vested interest. At the same time he also congratulated the police force for their good image which has been maintained through out the country.
With regard to recruitment of Home Guards the Chief Minister directed the department officials to upgrade the educational qualification required for the recruitment of Home Guards to Class X pass. Strict and proper interview should be conducted during the recruitment process, he added.
He also assured to look into the demands and grievances put forward by the officials. He also gave positive assurances to the repair of all Thanas of the State and asked the officials to maintain cleanliness and to be well equipped with everything required for good policing. Like wise, the Chief Minister also deliberated on the required additional manpower at various places, strengthening and giving more impetus to the Sikkim Anti Drug Act (SADA) through legislation.
The Chief Minister also assured to give emphasis to the establishment of Sikkim Fire Training Institute, parade ground, creation of joint Task Force in coordination with various committees to look into traffic congestion in Gangtok, up-gradation of skills of Sikkim Police to combat cyber crime, up-gradation of communication and wireless equipment and also the forensic laboratories, libraries in districts as well as in Thanas.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister stressed on the security of the state for peace and tranquillity and asked the police force to ensure that the miscreants do not take advantage of the peaceful atmosphere of the State. The Chief Minister also expressed hoped that the interactive meeting with the police force will boost their endeavour towards the peace and security of the state and the police force will work with renewed vigour and commitment.

Govt wants Prof Lama replaced with an institution builder

GANGTOK, 10 May: It was no secret that there was no love lost between the State Government and the Sikkim University Vice Chancellor, and now the gloves have truly come off. While a section of faculty, students and representative groups of unemployed youth and affected people of Yangang have been openly protesting against the VC, Prof. Mahendra P Lama, on the streets and in the courts, the government had, till recently, maintained a studied silence. Yesterday, the Chief Minister broke this silence and accepted in a meeting with protesting college students that the VC has not been fair to Sikkim either in the bouquet of courses designed for the university nor in prioritising local employment [among a host of other criticisms of the VC’s style of administration]. Today came news of an official demand placed with the Union Minister of HRD, Kapil Sibal, by Sikkim’s Lok Sabha MP, PD Rai, seeking that Prof Lama be placed.
The MP, in a letter dated 08 May 2012 to the Union HRD Minister, a copy of which has been marked to the United Progressive Alliance Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, begins his letter by underlining that in light of the “untenable situation that has been obtained in the State between the State Government and the Vice Chancellor of the Sikkim University, it would lead to a very bad situation if the Vice Chancellor of the Sikkim University continues in his post.”
“In fact we would like the Ministry to remove him forthwith,” the letter stresses.
The MP has appealed to the Union Minister to “take immediate steps to replace the incumbent with an institution builder... Someone who will not put himself in front but will put the institution in front and give it the priority that it deserves should be appointed”.
Stating that a “long list of issues that have arisen from poor handling of the administration in the process of building of the University” can be furnished if the Minister so desires, the letter contends that “neither are the teachers and faculty happy barring a few, nor are the students”.
The letter details that the “war of words” that has come out in the open is “not doing the institution any good” and accuses the VC of having created obvious bad blood. “Public washing of linen is not expected of him. He has to respect the will of the people and no one is above that,” the letter puts on record.
The letter further points out that the environment provided in Sikkim was “one of the best to nurture a good University”, the MP points out how private universities like Manipal are indeed doing well in Sikkim. “Sikkim is peaceful and hence thus far there have been no untoward incidents. Our Government is committed towards this end but this must not be viewed as a weakness,” the MP stresses.

A soul full of music...

iNSPIRED: A new section in NOW! to peek into options beyond the routine

Ipsita Roy
[Pic courtesy Mahima Bhatia]
Music feeds the soul, but many, especially in this part of the Himalaya, would retort with a ‘but it does not feed the stomach!’ A career in music is a difficult choice to make but there are people like 25-year-old IPSITA ROY of Delhi who have found a way to keep the soul alive.
By day, Ipsita works at Sufi Kathak Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO, and come night she transforms into a soul diva belting out originals and covers with her band Big Bang Blues. The Sufi Kathak Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Manjari Chaturvedi to create awareness on Sufi Kathak and other related performing arts traditions. The Foundation works towards providing scholarships to students pursuing classical music and dance, and also pension and medical insurance to artists in need.
The main objective of the Foundation is to create centres for spiritual dance and music, folk & classical dance and organise training classes, workshops and musical concerts to promote Sufi Kathak and classical music in India as well as across the world. The society’s mission is also to provide financial and technical assistance to retired artists as well as to needy students who are committed towards Sufi music and dance.
Although it is clear that Ipsita’s heart lies in her band, her work at the NGO has also widened her knowledge on other forms of music. For someone whose passion is music, it seems like a dream come true to be working for and making music at the same time. However, Ipsita is also honest about what puts her off regarding her work at the NGO. With a Master’s degree in Sociology from Jamia MIllia Islamia, New Delhi, working for an NGO came as the natural choice but she also demystifies that ‘social work’ is not just about staging dharnas or finding your way into remote villages. Her work at the Sufi Kathak Foundation entails a lot of not-so-exciting administrative work which she would be more than happy to trade for a jam session with her bandmates.
While the Foundation pays most of her bills, her band Big Bang Blues also manages to roll in some pocket money. But it’s not money that BBB is about, its just pure love for music. BBB happened, in the band’s own words -“When Blues and Good Ole' Rock 'n' Roll had a baby!” Formed in 2009, Big Bang Blues takes its spirit from the times when Blues was born. Fathered by voices that sang of angst and misery... backed by rusty stringed guitars and harps - is how the band describes itself on its Facebook page.
Ipsita performs with her band - Big Bang Blues [pic courtesy Jay Handa]
BBB draws inspiration from the likes of Muddy Waters, BB King, Clapton, Janis Joplin, amongst others. Blues, Rock n Roll, RnB and Jazz is what they play and the band has been slowly climbing the popularity charts across Delhi. With three originals – Moonless nights, Lovestruck blues and Wild about that thing up on BBB ranks 4th on its Delhi Blues charts. The band regularly plays in and around Delhi and has also toured other parts of the country.
The band has Shivam Khare- Keyboards, Kapil Chetri - Harp/Guitar/Slide, Sushant Thakur - Guitars/Slide, Devang Baheti - Bass/Backing Vocals
Rahul Sengupta – Drums, Ex- members Mark Mowry - Harp/Guitar/Vocal and of course Ipsita as the front-woman.
NOW! got her talking. Excerpts:
NOW: How did you get into this line of work?
IPSITA: I never thought I would get into this kind of work. I didn’t expect to make a life out of music. Back in the college years, I knew it was something that I really wanted to do, but never expected too much out of it. We have heard everyone talking and saying things like arts is an unpredictable field. So, I knew I had to treat my music like a vocation, something to do on a part-time basis. So I landed up finishing my Bachelors and Masters in Sociology, getting a job in an NGO n all. But then music has always been my passion so today even the NGO that I am involved with (Sufi Kathak Foundation) is into preserving Sufi and Qawwali Music.
However, now the more I am getting involved with my music, the more I am inspired to get into full time music. Starting this month, I leaving my full time job (actually taking the same thing as part-time so support me in terms of finances, as “music is an unpredictable field”), and concentrating more on my music. So basically, I am trying to handle and balance out two jobs (Lead vocalist of my band “Big Bang Blues” which I am also extremely passionate about) and Research Associate for Sufi Kathak Foundation.

What is the work all about? A typical day on the job...
I am currently employed here as a Research Associate. But being a small organization, I am the only fulltime employee here apart from my boss and therefore my role becomes much more than what the term “Research Associate” denotes. So, I am involved with admin work (writing letters and taking calls, cataloguing books, music etc.), fund raising work (handling donations, making grant proposals for national and international organizations, drafting sponsorship letters), event management work (events and concerts organized by the Foundation in Delhi and other cities), and of course research work (research on Indian Classical Music, Sufi Music, field based interviews and recordings of music and musicians and other related stuff.)
My other job as the singer of the band starts in the evenings: Performances, shows, practices and Jam sessions.

How many hours do you put in each day?
The usual 8 hours, 10 am – 6 pm. But now days I spend more time in the Delhi libraries going through books for some research work as a part of Sufi Kathak Foundation. With the band, we usually practice or perform from 8pm - 1 am types. Performances are for about 2 hours, but then there is sound check n all.

Most importantly, for some and maybe not for others, how much does it pay?
20,000 a month for Sufi Kathak Foundation and with the band there in nothing fixed. So per member we may get about anything between 1000- 3000 per show with an average of 3-4 shows a month.

Job satisfaction [if such a thing exists!]?
Haha, I think job satisfaction is a utopian concept! But nevertheless, initially with the NGO it was a little unsatisfactory with the admin work n all. But now with a more research oriented role, it’s comparatively more satisfactory. One gets to learn so much and knowledge is always good.
With the band, it has always been satisfactory, because its something that I love doing. I am not just a singer who’s playing to make money or a living. My day job supports that. I am chasing my passion and my love for music. Even if it doesn’t make me enough money today, I am happy because I am getting to do what I love.

Your honest advice to those who want to work in this line.
It’s all worth a shot and be patient.

Best and worst part about the job?
Sufi Kathak Foundation- (absolutely hate the admin work!)
Band- Nothing! I love every part of it.

You would leave this job for?
Music:D (but then I am doing music also and I wouldn’t leave that for anything)

Describe your job in two words [or one if you want to].
Sufi Kathak Foundation- paying bills
Band- Passion

Lachung Rinpoche leads 4-day Neysol prayers held at Chungthang

CHUNGTHANG, 10 May: Four days of Neysol prayers were held here at Rikzing Choeling Monastery in Chungthang in North Sikkim from 07 to 10 May. The prayer was jointly organized by the Travel Agents Association of Sikkim [TAAS], the public of Lachung, Lachen and Chungthang, Hotel Association of Lachung, Chungthang Kiduk and North Sikkim Taxi Drivers’ & Truck Driver’s Associations.
The prayers, led by the Lachung Rinpoche, were performed by around 100 monks representing different monasteries of North Sikkim including those at Shipgyer, Naga, Singhik, Lachung and Chungthang.
The prayers were held for world peace and for those who lost their lives in the 18 September earthquake last year.
“We also believe that after this puja, the landslides at some trouble-spots will be stabilized,” shared Chungthang Panchayat President, Lendup Lepcha while briefing mediapersons here today on the concluding day of the prayers.
Special prayers have also been conducted at several troublespots like Khedum near Lachung, the Theng slide, Bop and Rangma Range on the road Lachen road where the “Sakchog Boomter” brought from Deorali Chorten has been installed underground after prayers by the Rinpoche and monks.
The final day today had the “zenshek puja” offered at the Rikzing Choeling monastery and “kawang” offered later by the Rinpoche.
Zilla Adhyaksha North, Khamsoong Lepcha while speaking to NOW! expressed gratitude towards all the zindas (patrons) and the well-wishers for supporting the prayers and making it such a success. The devotees and zindas from Lachung, Chungthang and other parts of North District attended the prayers including Lachung Pipon, members of TAAS headed by Palzor Lachungpa (Advisor), members of Hotel Association Lachung and North Sikkim Taxi Driver’s Association.

20 shortlisted under ‘Search for More Bhaichungs’

NAMCHI, 10 May: The ‘Search for More Bhaichungs’ selection trials for U-13 football players was held today here at Singithang playground, Namchi, South Sikkim. A total of 105 young hopefuls from all over the State were tested for their skills by football coaches Suren Chettri, Mayal Lepcha, Amosh Subba and Jigmee Wangchuk, Joint Director (S/W) Kamal Chettri and Assistant Directors, Anand Prakash Subba and Sonam Palzor Lepcha.
The selection saw players being tested on different aspects of the game. Finally, the top 20 players were selected from the 105 participants.
Joint Director, Mr. Chettri informed that the 20 players selected will go through a final selection from which the final list of candidates to be admitted in the Namchi Sports Hostel will be decided.


India is a democratic country and has got the longest written constitution in the whole world. But sometimes it feels that can we really feel proud of it, specially when an like the Haryana government’s comes in. Recently the Haryana Govt had ordered to maintain dress code in the work place especially for women and termed Saree and Salwar as decent outfits and by disallowing jeans, branded it an indecent outfit. But can one really say the saree can always be termed as a decent outfit especially with the growing trend of fashions in the sector of wearing saree, it can be worn in the most attractive way. People has also agreed that Indian girls looks more attractive when they wear saree, so does our Haryana Govt want to show our Indian ladies in attractive outfit in working sector.
I am not all against the order of Haryana Govt but one should give the freedom to choose what to wear and what to not because decency does not comes by what you wear but how to wear it and carry yourself.
On the other side imposing restriction on what should be wear or not can be termed as a indriect censorship in the freedom of women. India has got a long history of imposing restriction of women and this order can be said as an inclusion on those restrictions.
Shashi Subba
Student of Journalism and Mass Communication, Sikkim University, A Central University established by an Act of Parliament of India, 2007

Two minors injured in explosion in a Mangan canteen

MANGAN, 10 May: In an explosion that rang across Mangan last night around 9:15 pm, two minor children were injured. The blast occurred in canteen being operated from a private building at Upper Zimchung block, near the North Sikkim Academy here.
Nong Ongmu Lepcha, who runs the canteen, was away at the time of the blast while her brother who owns the building and his family were sleeping in their ekra house next to the canteen. The two children injured in the blast are Zarong Lepcha [13] and Tarong Lepcha [10], both students at NSA and who were under the care of Nong Ongmu. The children have sustained injuries on their faces and were taken to the district hospital by social worker, Padamshree Keepu Lepcha, who had also provided first aid to the kids.
A team of experts comprising of the Bomb Disposal Squad and Explosive Vapour Detector [Sikkim Police, Special Branch, Gangtok] reached the spot today to investigate the cause of the blast. During their investigation, no explosive materials were found and it is suspected that the blast could have been due to some “accumulation of incendiary gases” in the canteen’s kitchen. This, however, awaits confirmation.
While speaking to NOW!, Sr SP North, BK Tamang said, “No explosive material was found and we are yet to determine the exact cause of the explosion. The case is under investigation”.

Veteran’s Badminton Tournament at Namchi this weekend

NAMCHI, 10 May: Badminton Association of Namchi (BAN), has decided to hold the 3rd Himalayan Veteran's Badminton Tournament from 12 to 13 May at Namchi Indoor Stadium, South Sikkim, in a meeting held recently.
This is the 3rd edition of the veteran's tournament organised by BAN and players from all over Sikkim and neighbouring Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong are expected to take part in the competition. The tournament will be conducted in four categories of 42+ Men's singles, doubles and mixed doubles and 55+ Men’s doubles.
The main objective for holding this tournament is to encourage middle aged citizens to stay fit.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Civilian Awards to be conferred on State Day

GANGTOK, 09 May: The Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department today announced the State Government’s decision to confer Sikkim State Civilian Awards in recognition of “sterling contribution and achievements” by individuals in various disciplines and fields of activities. The awards ceremony will form part of the Sate Day celebrations on 16 May and will be conferred at a special function hosted at Chintan Bhawan on the day.
The Civilian Awards will be conferred in three categories - Sikkim Ratna [category A], Sikkim Sewa Ratna [category B] and Sikkim Sewa Samman [category C] and will be given in varied disciplines like social service [Sewa], Sports [Khel], Music and Arts [Kala], Literature [Sahitya], Trade & Industry [Udyog] etc.
The objective behind instituting these awards is to felicitate individuals “who have worked relentlessly for the cause of their community in their individual capacities so that they are encouraged to rededicate themselves with renewed vigour and in process serve as an example for others to follow”.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Conference Hall of Land Revenue & DM Department, New Secretariat, Gangtok today Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department , Secretary, Nalini G Pradhan informed about the awards and also presented the Department’s activities in a nutshell.
The Sikkim Ratna will be awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; Sikkim Sewa Ratna for distinguished service of high order and Sikkim Samman for distinguished service in any field.
“Such awards are being announced for the first time by the State Government and for the year 2012 no one has been recommended for Sikkim Ratna [category A]. Meanwhile, nine persons have been recommended for category B [Sikkim Sewa Ratna] and 20 persons for category C [Sikkim Sewa Samman],” informed the Secretary.
The Sikkim Sewa Ratna Award carries a citation, shawl, gold plated- silver medal, a memento and a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh. The Sikkim Sewa Samman Award carries a citation, shawl, silver medal, a memento and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.
Speaking on support extended by the Department to recipients of various awards in the state, Ms Pradhan said, “We do help them in every way possible. We have appreciation pension for the National Sahitya Academic Award and provide them with Rs 1000 every month. At present, we have 23 such awardees enjoying this benefit”.
She also took the opportunity to call on the people to visit the State Library housed in the ground floor of the Land Revenue Department and avail the facilities. There are libraries at the district level as well, in Namchi, Mangan and Gyalshing, informed Ms Pradhan, adding, “In fact, we are trying very hard to tie up with Raja Ram Mohan Roy Library and are also trying to bring the concept of e-library, so that anyone can access it on the internet”.
Mentioning that during the Chief Minister’s 42 days tour across the state, many demands from the people came up regarding the restoration and preservation of cultural and heritage sites, the Secretary further said “We have our own heritage sites and we want to regulate these heritage sites”.
IPR Secretary, KS Tobgay was also present for the press briefing today.

Astad Deboo- Pioneer of Modern Dance –to perform in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 09 May: As part of the State Day celebration, a dance recital by Padmashri Astad Deboo on “Interpretation of Tagore and his works” to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, is being organized by the Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department on 17 May at the Defence Auditorium.
Astad Deboo is respected as the pioneer of modern dance in India. He has extensive training and knowledge in Kathak and Kathakali styles. He was presented the Sangeet Natak Akdemi Award in 1996 and Padmashree in 2007- honours given by the Government of India in recognition for his contribution in contemporary dance. Padmashri Deboo has been described by many as the “father of modern dance in India”.
Astad Deboo has performed with Pink Floyd at the Chelsea Town Hall in London and was also filmed by Channel Four of London for his innovative works. He was also commissioned by Pierre Cardin to create a dance for the legendary Maya Plissetskaya – prima ballerina of the Bolshoi ballet company.
For many years, Astad Deboo has been working with deaf children in India, USA, Mexico and Hong Kong. He has collaborated with Indian martial artists, puppeteers, actors and musicians, creating distinct and innovative works across many genres.
The programme will begin at 4 30 PM on 17 May which will have the Governor as the chief guest and the Chief Minister as the guest of honour.

Namchi college students approach CM with complaints against VC; CM admits VC has misused power

NAMCHI, 09 May: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who has thus far refrained from commenting on the series of allegations and counter-allegations surrounding the Sikkim University Vice-Chancellor, broke his silence today when a delegation of students from the government college here called on the CM with a litany of complaints against the VC and demanding reservation to ensure that more students from Sikkim received the opportunity to pursue higher studies at SU. The CM met the students at the SDF Party office here today.
“The Sikkim University Vice Chancellor is misusing his powers and running the administration on his own whims and fancies, favoring those willing to do his bidding and penalising those who speak for the people of Sikkim. His actions have not been healthy for Sikkim’s students,” Mr. Chamling said while speaking to student delegation.
He explained that the State government had brought a Central University to Sikkim hoping that it would facilitate quality higher education for students here and also generate employment. “The VC’s actions have however delivered the opposite,” he said.
He agreed that the VC had introduced many subjects at the post-graduate level which cannot be taken up by Sikkim students and has also violated the established norms for employment which prioritise local absorption.
The CM informed the students that he had himself urged land owners at Yangang to provide land for the Sikkim University campus and they had agreed to it as well, but at the time when the land acquisition was in process, the VC offended the landowners by allegedly threatening them to evacuate the land within a week. This, the CM said, turned the landowners against him and now they have expressed that they will give their land only after the VC is removed from the post.
During his interactions with the people through the day, the CM stressed the need for joint effort and cooperation among the people to develop the state to its true potential. He also interacted with party workers and the public today and also sanctioned many demands placed by the public.

Suicide discovered after 5 months

GANGTOK, 09 May: A dead body in advanced state of decomposition was discovered in the Tinkitam forest area yesterday. This was an apparent case of suicide and the deceased eventually identified as a 68-year-old resident of Tinkitam who, as per a police report filed by a relative, had been missing since 05 December last year. The case has been registered as one of Unnatural Death [UD] by the Ravangla Police.

Unexplored potential of Community Radio in the North East

Intro: As on, November 2011, there were 121 functional community radio stations in India, of which the north-east operated only two. North-eastern States are in urgent need of this medium, writes PRIVAT GIRI for Media South Asia...

The prospect unlocked by the February 1995 landmark judgement of the Supreme Court that the airwaves or frequencies are public property, still seems to be awaiting recognition from the educational institutions, non-governmental organisations, and civil society in Sikkim and other north-eastern States.
The approval of the Community Radio Policy by the Government of India in December 2002 was a follow-up of this judgement. Initially, only the well-established educational institutions, including IITs/ IIMs, were eligible to get licences for setting up community radio stations. The matter has now been reconsidered and today all the non-profit organisations such as the civil society and voluntary organisations can apply for licence.
The liberation of radio technology in the public domain is the most crucial development in the history of radio broadcasting in India. The history of radio is older than the history of Independent India and since its early days, radio broadcasting has been a government enterprise fully controlled and managed by the Government of India. It is enthralling to ascertain that radio was introduced in India not by the government but by a handful of members of the British civilians during the late 1920s and early 1930s who promoted community listening systems on the rural outskirts of Lahore, Delhi, Peshawar, Madras, and Calcutta.
One of the most influential champions of rural development and community broadcasting was Frank Brayne. Brayne directed the powerful radio technology towards eliminating social ills of rural life, empowering women, and imparting education on health and hygiene. Unable to sustain under the expansionist policy of the government-controlled All India Radio, by 1937, all the operations were taken over by the government (then British). With their closure went the commitment of broadcasting towards development, participation, and social change. Though the idea of community broadcasting was short lived, it has set the basis for the future use of radio technology at the community level.
It is under this framework I argue that the initiative of the government to sanction frequencies at no cost to community radio programme is an opportunity revisited and a breakthrough in attaining those unfulfilled dreams of using radio for community development and social change. The community radio policy guidelines are specifically designed to involve the “community” in all aspects of management and programme production. It has an approach that is different from conventional broadcasting. Community radio’s fundamental priority is to give voice to the voiceless and make its audience the main hero.
So, where do Sikkim and other north-eastern States place themselves in this unexplored arena and how can they make use of this great technology? As on, November 2011, there are 121 functional community radio stations in India of which the north-east operates only two. Both these stations are based in Assam and are run by educational institutions, Gauhati University and Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University. In Sikkim, one NGO and Sikkim University have applied for a licence. The situation is more or less the same in the other north-eastern States. Tamil Nadu, with its 20 operational stations, has the highest number community radio stations.
The figures from the north-eastern States make one wonder why the non-profit organisations from this part of India are first from the bottom in the realm of community radio. The question also demands investigation to affirm how the community radio can be used here. In March, a three- day workshop on “Community Radio Awareness” was hosted in Sikkim by Sikkim University and organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India in collaboration with Commonwealth Education Media Centre for Asia. The workshop was in particular an exercise to orient the NGOs in Sikkim and the adjoining region, on the various aspects of community radio technology and its uses.
Although only a handful of NGOs attended the workshop in comparison to their huge presence, the major subject that concerned all those present was funding. The cost of establishing an ordinary radio station comes to around Rs. six lakh, and the government has no provision for funding a community radio project. However, in the context of north-Eastern States what is more severe than the crisis of funding is the reluctance and increasing dilemma among the concerned on how and where to direct this technology.
North-east India has been identified as one of the most vulnerable regions with regard to drug abuse and spread of HIV/AIDS besides domestic violence. The latest figures show 2114 HIV positives cases the seven north-eastern States, almost 91% in Manipur. Further, several studies have revealed inextricable connections among drug abuse, spread of AIDS, and domestic violence. Of the nearly two lakh IDUs (Intravenous Drug Users) in India, 50,800 are from Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya.
Gary Lewis, representative of United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, has reported that the issue of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS in the north-east region has reached “terrifying dimensions”, with Nagaland and Manipur showing strong links between drug abuse and HIV transmission. Experts from NACO have also held that HIV/AIDS epidemic in the north-eastern States is spread by intravenous drug-users who pass it on to their partners by way of unprotected sex.
Research by Equal Access, supported by the UN Trust Fund in Nepal, has found that HIV positive women are likely targets of violence and discrimination. To address this challenge and the link between violence against women and HIV, Samajhdari, a weekly grassroots radio programme, has been effectively broadcasting programmes highlighting the link between HIV and violence, and o informing the listeners, particularly women, on ways to stay safe.
The civil society, voluntary organisations, and NGOs in north-east should learn from the good experiences of the community radio programmes such as ‘Samajhdari and make use of radio technology for tackling the immediate concerns of society. There are also several other areas where community radio may be employed. North-east India is home to a multitude of conflicts ranging from separatist movements to inter-community, communal, and inter-ethnic conflicts emerging out of diverse outlook of its people and their culture. Such conflicts are halting the emancipation of society from all social odds and undermining the progress of the country. Against such backdrop, community radio can be used as a vehicle to facilitate and contribute in unification and integration of various stakeholders involved in the conflict, ultimately bringing the diverse communities towards peaceful co-existence.
North-east India is also seismically one of the six most active regions of the world, the other five being Mexico, Taiwan, California, Japan, and Turkey. It is placed in zone 5. The region has experienced 19 large-scale earthquakes including the great earthquakes of Shillong (1897), Assam-Tibet border (1950), and Sikkim (2011). The recent earthquake in Sikkim uncovered huge flaws in the formal disaster management institutions of the State and their inability to cope with the situation. Prof. Mahendra P Lama, Vice-Chancellor, Sikkim University, in an interview with The Hindu, said: “The robust system of community-based voluntary management of natural calamities, which remained the most pre-dominant phenomenon for centuries, is fast vanishing. The disaster management task has become government centric whereas traditionally it used to be essentially community centric.”
During such crises, community radio can serve as an alternative to the formal disaster management institutions and simultaneously help the affected people sustain and rebuild their community. It can facilitate people’s participation and also assist in restoring community-based voluntary management of natural calamities. WQRZ-LP, a non-profit low power FM radio station located in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, operating in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is an overwhelming example of such an exercise. It was successful in providing vital emergency communication – including information related to evacuation procedures, search and rescue operations, and distribution points for food and water, when other local media outlets had gone silent.
In addition, community radio can provide a platform to those individuals and groups, whose voices are often being marginalised by the profit-oriented commercial media enterprises, to express the distinctive needs and socio-political interests. Its colossal potential can be directed towards reflecting and promoting local culture, encouraging participation and democratic process, promoting development and social change, and good governance. This will contribute in the integration of the people of the north-east region with the rest of India. Likewise, the government should also assist the organisations concerned in the north-east in the process of establishing a community radio station by providing funds. If the government could commission 22 transmitters the 1982 Asian Games, which was seen as a prestigious event, it also becomes imperative on its part to support community radio which caters to the  to diverse needs and interests of society.
[The writers is an MA student at Sikkim University. This article was originally posted by Media South Asia on its website,, and is reproduced here by arrangement with the writer]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Role of police vital to development, CM reminds new batch of constables

YANGYANG, 08 May: The passing out parade of 199 newly recruited constables of Sikkim Police, Indian Reserve Battalion and Sikkim Fire Services was held today here at the Police Training Centre, Yangyang, with Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who also holds the Home portfolio, inspecting the parade as the chief guest.
Out of 199 passing out personnel, 114 are with IRBn, two from Sikkim Fire Services and 83 Sikkim Police women constables. Khilbarna Gurung is the Training Superintendent of Police while KD Sangdarpa is the Principal PTC under whose supervision this nine-month training was conducted.
The passing out parade took the oath to serve the country and state whole heartedly. The Chief Minister inspected the passing out parade and took the salute of the contingent. Director General of Police Jasbir Singh in his address said that the PTC was shifted in May 2008 from the two acre plot in Ranipool to its present location spread across a lavish 14 acres in Yangyang.
Barracks with a capacity of 200 with mess facilities and quarter guard have already been constructed. The administrative block with adequate number of classrooms at a cost of Rs. 2.4 crore under the 13th FC Grant with Rs. 50 lakh provided under the state plan is nearing completion, he informed. He further said that Sikkim was the first state in the entire country to have 30% reservation for women including the civil police.
Principal, PTC Yangyang, Superintendent of Police KD Sangderpa presented the training report where he informed that the training started on 22 July 2011. After its establishment in 2008 this is the second passing out parade held at PTC Yangyang, the first one was held in 2009.
Later, Chief Minister handed over the award of Best all round performer to Amber Bdr. Manger of IRBn and announced Rs 15,000 cash award to him from his side. Similarly, Outdoor best performer award to Jigmee Wangchuk Bhutia of IRBn, best women outdoor performer to Pranisha Tamang of Sikkim Police, Best Indoor performer to Bir Bdr. Jairu of IRBn, best women indoor performer to Karishma Rai of Sikkim Police were also declared.
In Cross Country Race Silash Gurung of IRBn, Ganga Maya Tamang of Sikkim Police in women cross country race. Similarly, Saroj Rai of IRBn received the award of Best Marksman (shooter) and Rekha Rai of Sikkim Police as best markswomen. Karma Pintso Bhutia of IRBn was adjudged as the Best Disciplined recruit constable. The Chief Minister announced the cash award of Rs. 10,000 each to the winners of these awards.
While addressing the passing out parade of Sikkim Police and IRBn at Police Training Centre, Yangyang today the CM said that, the responsibilities of Police personnel are the same as that of the leader of a state and country with the ultimate aim to provide security to the people living inside the boundary.
“Even though we are in third word countries but the Police in Sikkim should work with the mindset of the police personnel of first world countries”, stating this he further said that the Singapore Police has played a great role in making the Singapore of today, similarly, Sikkim Police should also play a vital role in making Sikkim a model state of the country. Better Police can only create a better state, he added.
The CM further said that, police should not be aligned to any political party, religion or caste. Today, in most of the states, the police does not have a good reputation, stating this the CM further said that the police has been empowered by the constitution of India to work for the safety of the common people and not to overpower and harass them.
He further said that, Sikkim under his governance was the first state to upgrade home guards to police constables. He also assured to provide PTC Yangyang with more infrastructural facilities and expressed his vision to change this PTC into a Northeast Police Training College.
Further, he urged the common people to stay away from people who are misleading them for their personal benefits. The Chief Minister stressed that Sikkim was a peace-loving state and there were fewer headaches for the police but the recent arrest of a KPP militant in East Sikkim has brought forth the need for the Sikkim Police to be more vigilant regarding such cases. He also said that today such antisocial elements are taking advantage of the peace and tranquillity of Sikkim and are attempting to make it into their den.
Cultural programmes and band display by Sikkim Police also marked the occasion.

‘Miss Lee and the Mosquito’ makes a buzz


GANGTOK, 08 May: A children's picture book set in our very own Sikkim has made a quiet debut. Until now.
Published by Scholastic, 'Miss Lee and the Mosquito' is a finely-nuanced collaboration between two hugely talented women, writer Maria L. Denjongpa and illustrator Anna Vojtech.
Ms. Denjongpa describes herself, rather intriguingly, as 'an English teacher, writer and maker of paper mache masks'. What she does not mention is that as one of the founding members of Taktse International School and currently the Acting Principal there, her deep commitment to giving our children an alternative education where learning is fun has been creating quite a positive buzz in the field of education in Sikkim, much like her mosquito does in her book.
Award-winning illustrator, Ms. Vojtech has, with her usual finesse, captured Sikkim's landscape and ethos in deft brushstrokes, and provided the perfect launch-pad for this little symphony of a story. Her fine attention to detail thus peppers the pages of the book with a wonderfully detailed Buddhist shrine room, as well as monasteries, chortens and tharchoks, scenes so ubiquitous to the Sikkim landscape. Why, she has even worked in a Nepali daily into the book!
With its alliterative prose and very simple storyline, that of Miss Lee who visits her friend in Sikkim and then spends most of her night engaged in a vain tussle with a wickedly persistent- or should that be a persistently wicked, or both epithets? - mosquito, this book will surely find resonance with children, and I daresay, adults worldwide.
My boys were rather awed that a story written by their Acting Principal should have come out in print, from the Scholastic stable at that; the book is definitely another feather in Taktse’s cap. Congratulations, Ms. Denjongpa! The best part of the book for me was, hands down, spotting Ms. Denjongpa herself cleverly woven into the very first page of the book by Ms. Vojtech!
The book is priced at Rs. 175 and is available from Scholastic (

Excise Dept collected Rs 93.79 crore revenue in 2011-12

GANGTOK, 08 May: The Excise [Abk] Department’s revenue collection for the year 2011-12 was Rs 93.79 crore, which is 40% higher than the original target of Rs 67.44 crore, informs a press release issued by Secretary, Excise Department, N Yethenpa today.
The release claims that with the revenue collection of 2011-12 the Excise Dept has surpassed the Power sector in terms of its share of the revenue generated for the State Government. This achievement is also due to the efforts put in by officials of the department both at the head quarters and at the field level through constant monitoring and assistance to the units set up in the state, the release adds.

Conclave on student leadership concludes in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 08 May: “Young Leaders – a Conclave on Student Leadership” to help school captains, prefects and seniors in schools understand the responsibilities that come with powers entrusted on them by their respective institutions, was conducted by ‘24hours Inspired’ at Mt. Zion, Tadong and Baha’i school, Tadong on 05 and 06 May.
A press release informs that the two-day conclave endeavored to help senior students, school prefects and captains from different schools across Gangtok understand and experience the essence of leadership.
The conclave not only had the students getting a hands-on experience on leadership but also provided them an opportunity to interact with various teachers from different institutions and understand different aspects of student leadership, the release mentions.
The program was conducted by 24hours Inspired, a leadership and personality development organization and was facilitated by its Chief Learning Officer, Dewaker Basnet.

A life reclaimed thanks to the Mayalmu Sangh initiative

Bishnu Maya Tamang, 26, when she was brought to Mayalmu Sangh as a destitute and now, as she heals from traumas too many for her young mind to have handled without help.
GANGTOK, 08 May: Twenty six year old Bishnu Maya Tamang is originally a resident of Namthang in South Sikkim and like hundreds of others, a victim of last year’s devastating earthquake. Already unsettled by a series of unfortunate incidents, the earthquake proved the final straw and she snapped. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Mayalmu Sangh, she is recovering... learning to start living again.
While speaking to media persons today, Bishnu Maya recounted how she reached the destitute home here at Tadong. She had been married to Namgyal Tshering Bhutia for 5 years and also bears a 2-year-old son from him. Unfortunately, her husband passed away in an accident in 2010 and since then she had been ill-treated by her mother-in-law as well as other family members, she informed.
When the earthquake struck on 18 September last year, she panicked and jumped into a nearby river along with her son. When her mother-in-law found her, she took her grandson away, leaving Bishnu Maya to fend for herself.
Already suffering, the harrowing experience of the earthquake and the trauma of losing her son proved too much for her fragile state; she lost her mind and ended up walking through the jungles for the next 2-3 months before she was finally located by her brothers who then brought her to Mayalmu Sangh. At the Sangh, she received medical treatment from psychiatrist, Dr CL Pradhan and her condition is now better.
Dr. Pradhan visits the Sangh twice in a month of his own accord and does not take any fees for these visits and Bishnu Maya’s brothers only pay for the medicines he prescribes. It is the rescue of such lives of the brink which make the Mayalmu Sangh initiative important to support and sustain.

The dilemma at Sikkim University

Day in and day out we read of the happenings at Sikkim University located in my neighbourhood. The mudslinging which has been going on for some years now, makes me wonder where this much hyped institution is heading. On the one hand we read of its prestigious leaps as one of the most sought after educational centers of learning, and on the other we learn of all its feeder colleges languishing for want of better standard as demanded by the University. To be told at the recent interaction between SU and the Heads of Colleges that the colleges, some of which like Government College in Tadong have been in existence for decades, are still not permanently affiliated and thus denied all the benefits accruing from the UGC [which they were incidentally availing when tagged to NBU] is quite a revelation. The forthrightness with which Director of Higher Education of Sikkim HRDD spoke at the recent Meet when she pointed out that “Sikkim University is meant for the people of Sikkim and Sikkimese must be prioritized”, speaks volumes.
We know all is not well in our colleges in the educational front, but once the University is in place, it is expected that they are guided, goaded and assisted to come up to the standard as called for in the quickest possible time – in fact, eve time-bound manner; a process for which both, the State Government and the University work in tandem. The University came into existence in Sikkim after a lot of effort and perseverance of the present Government in the sanguine hope that the children of the State will have a quality institution of learning right at their doorsteps. The central Government, in its wisdom, thought it to be a legitimate demand and the SU came into being. The bon-hommie soon came to an end for reasons best known to them. But at what cost and who is at the receiving end - our own children on whom the future of Sikkim depends. This lackadaisical attitude, both on the part of the State Government and the University authorities, is not in good taste to say the least, and people of the State as a whole should not be allowed to be meek spectators of this drama. The discord must end.
Who could be the most appropriate mediator in the present embargo - perhaps, in our humble opinion,  only the Head of the State as the representative of the Centre in the State as it is a Central University of which the President of India is the Visitor and the Governor of the State as the Chief Rector. We plead, let some sense prevail and let our children get a just deal that is their due.
We know it will be a matter of pride to have an institution of excellence in Sikkim for which SU is rightly striving for. But it is equally important to see that there is a sound foundation and the feeder-cum-catchment colleges are brought up to the mark in the shortest possible time in a collaborative effort. The importance of this synchronization should not be lost sight of lest we miss the wood for the trees.

The Urja hawa methai


In the section ‘Revenue From Sale Equity Energy Component’ in the White Paper commissioned by the state government on hydro electric projects in Sikkim, it is clearly mentioned that:  “The state government is to have 26% equity share in all the independent power projects that are being implemented in the state”. The capital amount for this equity is to be arranged as loans by the companies, which will be paid back at approximate interest rate of 15%. The bleak prospect of this arrangement is mentioned that, even if there is a 25% return of the equity, the state will be left with very meager amount until the time the loan for the equity share is paid off. Which means we are not sure when we will be getting the full revenue benefits that is being touted so much, from these hydro power projects.
It is also mentioned that, the state being a minority stake holder in all these projects (IPPs) it will have very little say in the decision making. Is this what is exactly happening in the case of Teesta Urja 1,200 MW power project. As per a national daily, the company sold 50.9% of its stake to a company from Singapore without the knowledge of the state government! It is also alleged that the company has denied the government the 26% equity share, a pre- condition in the MoU! Why is this condition being blatantly violated? What is happening? Will the other companies follow suit? Has the state government put in the equity amount? These are just the tip of iceberg. We don’t know how much is hidden underneath.
Teesta Urja is certainly in a bad shape post September 2011 earthquake and the Jagan Mohan Reddy episode, so it naturally is trying to wriggle out of the quagmire and the state. One of its ex-engineers, who is engaged with some other project now in north Sikkim pointed out that work progress was only about 20%. At this rate he was not sure when the project will be completed.
All said and done, at the end of the day, if we are not careful, it is us the common man who will have to face the music in future and bear the burden.


Twelve of us from all across America recently returned from a 16-day trip to India with most of it spent in Sikkim.  We love India, its diversity, history, arts and culture, and yes, its magic, mystery and bewildering contradictions that make it a unique travel experience for Americans like us.    Collectively, we have visited the many corners of your country more than fifty times--from Mumbai to Nagaland, from Kolkata to Rajasthan.
This time, we visited Sikkim, lured there by tales of her natural beauty, ancient pathways, sacred monasteries and of course her beautiful people.  We found the people of Sikkim to be gracious, warm and welcoming and our guides knowledgeable, energetic and capable.  So it is with saddened hearts that we write this letter because the Sikkim we travelled halfway around the world to visit, "Green Sikkim,” is fast losing its natural beauty and so, its attractiveness as an international travel destination.
We found its wild rivers subject to huge hydroelectric projects and their banks despoiled with trash.  The Gangtok roads were clogged with traffic and the air, even far from the Capital, was often smoky and smoggy endangering views of one of your most sought-after sights, the incomparable Himalayas.  In Pelling, hotels were planned (some said 90) that would mar the landscape and in Yuksom, the old yak trail was destroyed by road building.  Despite Sikkim’s ban on plastic bags, we found the trails littered with food wrappers and other garbage.
The promise of “Green Sikkim” seemed far from the reality.
Perhaps you do not think that we Westerners should have a say in what happens to your country but it is only because we love it that we are writing this letter in the hope that it will reach the people with the authority to make changes while there is still time. Americans have made their own mistakes by not protecting their natural beauty.  Some of you may recognize the name of one of our most treasured national parks in California, Yosemite.  Far fewer know that its “twin”, Hetch Hetchy, disappeared forever when it was dammed and flooded to provide drinking water for San Francisco.
 There is still time for Sikkim to re-balance overdevelopment by designating large accessible areas as national parks and some of your rivers and lakes as “’forever natural”. Please do not think that we want to place Sikkim in a time capsule so that domestic and international tourists can see “the old Sikkim.”  We understand the pressures you have for electricity, roads, bridge and other infrastructure if you are going to provide your people with jobs, health and modern conveniences .  But, there must be a balance between development and preservation if you want to grow one of your most important industries – tourism.   All the beautiful hotels in the world will not make up for the fact that your natural beauty has been lost forever and that the people who depend on tourism for their livelihood will lose their future.
Rigney Cunningham, East Orleans, Massachusetts; Ralph Hurtado, Pasadena, California; Carol and Ned Cain, Green Bay, Wisconsin; Beth Gertmenian, Pasadena, California; Elizabeth Levitt, East Orleans, Massachusetts; Melissa Boggs, Arroyo Grande, California; Carol Anne Wood, New York City, New York; Jay Murphy, Washington, D.C.;  Lucy Clark , Bakersfield, California

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

CM takes stock, calls on administration to be more responsive

GANGTOK, 07 May: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling proposed the development of Pakyong as a Satellite Township for which the government has already acquired land to be used for various projects in service and hospitality, IT, sports sectors etc, while speaking at a stock taking meeting with the Heads of Departments at Chintan Bhawan today. The CM urged all the departmental heads to think on these lines and make collective efforts to develop the area with a long-term view.
According to a press communiqué received from IPR Department, addressing the administrators of the state the Chief Minister at the outset urged everyone involved in the administration of the state to be proactive, responsive and accountable towards the service of the people of the state. He also called upon the heads of the departments to carry out the responsibility of implementing the people centric programmes efficiently.
He also took stock of the actions taken with regard to the decisions taken during the last coordination meeting held on 10 May 2011. Also, on the decisions taken during the 42 days village-to-village tour he said “In the due course of our tour we have sanctioned many people centric schemes and the responsibility of implementation lies on the administrators”.
On the Bhaley Dhunga Sky Walk Project the Chief Minister directed the departments to work with broader vision in the interest of the people. The project after its completion will be one of the wonders of the world, he said and added that the Heads of Departments should take a proactive role in getting various clearances for the projects of the state so that the development initiatives of the state are not jeopardised.
The laws and acts are meant for the interest of the people and hence have to be used in the best interests of the people, the Chief Minister said. In this regard he also urged the heads of the departments to take every possible step to expedite the delivery mechanism as some of the administrative processes are slowing down the expected delivery mechanism, he added. In this context he also talked about the Maney Bhanjyang road which he said on completion will be a major tourist destination of the state whereby many locals can benefit.
The CM went on to address the individual departments regarding various programmes, projects and issues. The Chief Minister asked the PHE Department to bring out a permanent solution to the Ratey Chu source of water catering to the water requirement of the entire Gangtok area. In this regard he directed the department to prepare an action plan in consultation with experts.
With regard to the Health department the Chief Minister said that the CATCH programme will now be introduced in schools from this year onwards. Along with this, health awareness and health classes can also be taken by the department at the schools, the Chief Minister said. He also urged the doctors and health workers to inquire into the rise of various diseases like AIDS, Cancer, MDR TB etc which are affecting the Sikkimese people.
The CM directed the Information and Public Relations Department to document, digitalise and archive all the old records, photographs, news, videos etc in a proper manner. Talking about the government’s initiative on e-tendering the Chief Minister said that such efforts will ensure transparency in the administration and do away with the system of middlemen in such contractual work. In this regard he asked the Public Works department to make norms in the interest of the local contractors.
On the Kutcha House Free State, the CM asked the concerned department to work in coordinated manner to complete the construction of 14,000 houses in the state within this year. For this purpose he directed the RMDD and Forest Department to work in coordinated manner. He asked the Forest Department to cooperate in the provision of timber for the construction of houses under this programme.
The government is working towards capacity building of every individual of the state and for this purpose the State Institute of Capacity Building has been established, he said. In this direction he asked the departmental heads to reflect on the skilled man power requirement of the state so that appropriate training can be given to the youth. “We have brought world class infrastructures in the state and now we have to create man power to run and man these infrastructures”, he said. He also informed the gathering of the plan of the State Institute of Capacity Building to train 17,000 unemployed youth during the next two years.
Terming the entire administrative machinery as a “Think Tank” for the state the CM asked the heads of the departments to be personally involved in the monitoring and evaluation of the government projects and encourage team work in the administration. On the encroachment of government property in and outside the state the CM asked the heads of the departments to take appropriate steps to stop such encroachment of government properties and take strict action upon the encroachers.
He also asked the concerned department to ascertain and regularise the ownership of the government property situated in and outside the state so that the department can take up appropriate action to protect and maintain the property. He also directed the HRDD to re-deploy teachers to those areas where there is scarcity of teachers and also to keep track and monitor all the development works among the various universities set up in the state.
He directed the concerned department to monitor the quality of vehicles, hotels and taxis. He also asked the heads of the departments to come up with ways and means to generate more revenue for the state without affecting the people.
Talking on the various infrastructures created all around the state and especially the Char Dhaam and the statue of Guru Padmasambhava in South Sikkim the Chief Minister directed the District Collector, South to bring out a concrete proposal for running the institution in a proper manner. “These projects have been conceived and constructed keeping in mind the long term benefits for the state and it is our duty to see that these institutions are properly maintained for the benefit of the future of the state”, the Chief Minister said.
In his concluding remarks the Chief Minister while talking about various other schemes of the state government said that during this year all the ongoing schemes of the government will be completed and no new schemes will be started except for few very important schemes.
A stock taking of the 19 developmental missions of the government were also taken during the meeting during which the Chief Minister said that the state has seen visible change during these 18 years and with the collective, coordinated and cooperative initiative of everyone, Sikkim can very soon be a world class state.
Earlier, the Chief Secretary, Karma Gyatso during his welcome address appraised the Chief Minister about the initiatives taken by the administration in expediting the delivery mechanism of the state government. He said that it has been made mandatory for the heads of the departments to conduct monthly tours to the districts and hold monthly departmental meetings. He further informed that the head office is getting regular reports from the districts and added that though much needs to be done but assured that the process has begun in the right direction.

Feral dog attacks on wildlife on the rise in East Sikkim

GANGTOK, 07 May: An adult male Barking Deer which was wounded in an attack by feral dogs in Aritar above Rhenock in East Sikkim yesterday, died today while it was being brought to the Himalayan Zoological Park here at Bulbulay for treatment.
Speaking to NOW! today, the Range Officer of Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary informed that on 06 May at around 11 P.M. about 05 to 06 feral dogs attacked a Barking Deer in the forest near Aritar in Rongli. The deer then strayed out of the forest where some locals and Forest officials rescued it and managed to save it from being further injured by the dogs.
“Yesterday being a Sunday, we could not take it to the veterinary clinic immediately, so today, at around 6 A.M. we brought the animal to the Veterinary Hospital in Rhenock, where it was treated,” said the RO and added that after treatment the animal was being transported to the Zoo at Bulbulay to be looked after and for further treatment. Unfortunately, the deer succumbed to its wounds [the deer had bite marks on the neck and on the legs] while being brought from Aritar to Gangtok, he added.
Speaking to NOW! Divisional Forest Officer [DFO], Wild Life [East] Ravi Kumar informed that in the past one week, reports of feral dogs attacking Barking Deers and other animals has risen in the state, with most of the reports coming from the East District.
“It is very unfortunate that we could not save the animal that was rescued yesterday as it had fatal bites to its neck,” he added.
“These dogs are left by the people once they start to multiply keeping the new ones and getting rid of the old. Then these dogs roam around in packs. We cannot get rid of them but we can bring down their population by capturing them and sterilizing them,” said the DFO and added that they had set up such a camp at the Kyangnosla Wildlife Sanctuary along with WWF and SARAH.
These dogs either have rabies or some other disease so when an animal is attacked by them, most of the time the animal dies because of the injuries, he stated. “This is just one such camp we are starting where we plan to capture the stray dogs and sterilize them so that we can atleast save the animals if they are bitten and also to bring down the population of the stray dogs”, he added.
He further informed that some animals such as Leopard Cats and Civet Cats were also being killed in accidents. These animals sometimes stray on to roads in the night and get blinded by the lights of the on coming vehicles and do not move away and thus fall prey to road accidents, added the DFO [WL, East].
He further appealed to the people to inform the Forest Department or concerned officials if they do spot or hear of such attacks on animals in their vicinity, so that evasive and prompt action can be taken by the department to save the animal.

Students’ Union of Sikkim place 8-point charter of demands with VC

GANGTOK, 07 May: Following the signature campaign at Sikkim Government College, Tadong, and Namchi Government College, the Students’ Union of Sikkim [SUS] placed an eight-point demand charter to the Sikkim University Vice-Chancellor, the HRDD Minister and HRDD Secretary on behalf of the students of SU-affiliated colleges today.
At first, members of SUS accompanied by students from SGC, Tadong and NGC carrying placards went to the Sikkim University Administrative Block at Samdur to submit the memorandum. The representatives of SUS and both the colleges met and interacted with the Vice Chancellor, Prof Mahendra P Lama and submitted the memorandum. The memorandum has also given a seven days ultimatum to the Vice Chancellor to give a positive response.
Later in the afternoon, copies of this 8-point demand charter were also submitted to the offices of the HRDD Minister and HRDD Secretary.
Addressing a press conference later, SUS members mentioned that the submission of the memorandum containing eight of what they see as “genuine demands” of students was “just the beginning” and that “the movement” would continue till the fulfillment of these demands. The press conference was addressed by president, Jiwan Subba, secretary, Pankaj Rai, treasurer, Anand Biswakarma and publicity secretary, Ravi Giri of SUS.
They mentioned that if the VC does not respond positively within the seven days then the SUS will visit every SU affiliated college across the State to gain more support from the students and then block the highway in a peaceful manner until their demands are fulfilled. They informed that during the meeting the VC said that the demands were genuine and raised no objections to these demands.
It is informed that the VC also appealed to the students not to get swayed by rumors spread through various media and to know the truth first. They informed that the VC would respond to their demands through a letter addressed to SUS.
SUS members alleged that the VC has been trying to save himself by putting the blame on the college authorities and State administration on various issues related to the University. They further added that the VC is totally neglecting the students’ needs.
They also questioned the VC that if the infrastructures were not ready then why were the various courses started and why lack of infrastructure is now being cited as the reason behind the absence of PG level regular courses [one of the demands]. SUS members mentioned that they have been fighting for these demands not only for the betterment of the present students but for the coming generations as well.
SUS is also submitting copies of their demands to the President of India, Prime Minister, Union HRD Minister, Chief Minister of Sikkim, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs from Sikkim, SU Chancellor, UGC Chairman, SU Executive Council members and other concerned authorities on Tuesday.
The charter of demands mainly stresses on the demand for post graduation courses in History, Commerce, Education, English, Political Science, Tourism, Botany, Zoology, Regional language and in other regular courses running in the SU affiliated colleges from the coming session. The second demand is 50% reservation for local students in post graduation and higher level studies. Demands also include formation of College Development Committee at the earliest, filling up the full strength of the students in various courses in the university and to bring down the fee structure at par with other central universities in the country.
It also includes the demand for definite and valid results to be put up on the website or else provide authenticated results within one week from the declaration of the results on the website and the need to include college’s faculty members in the executive council and academic council of the university. They have finally demanded a review of the Zero Semester system of the University.

Search for more Bhaichungs on 10 May

NAMCHI, 07 May: The Department of Sports & Youth Affairs has announced the selection trials for U-13 boys under the ‘Search for more Bhaichungs’ scheme here at Singithang Ground, Namchi on 10 May.
Speaking to NOW!, Joint Director, South & West, Sports and Youth Affairs, Kamal Chettri, informed that through this selection trial the upcoming football talents of the state will be selected and provided with a platform to hone their skills under the guidance of experts. The selected candidates will be taken into Namchi Sports Hostel where they will be provided training to become skilled footballers in the near future.
He also named some products of Namchi Sports Hostel like Sanju Pradhan, Nirmal Manger and Nim Tshering Lepcha who are not only doing well professionally as footballers, but are also making the State proud in both national and international levels.
According to Mr. Chettri, this time the trials are being held at Singithang ground on 10 May since the Bhaichung Stadium is under construction. The trial will begin at 10 a.m. The selected candidates will be taken to Namchi Sports Hostel where their talents will be further nurtured and all expenses on their studies and boarding will be borne by the government, he added.
It may be mentioned here that the Namchi Sports Hostel was started by the government in 1991 as part of the Search for More Bhaichungs scheme. Since then, the institution has been producing a number of skilled football talents who are now playing in reputed football clubs of Sikkim earning name, fame and money.

Sikkim RTI Forum alleges Lanco Energy of violating agreement

GANGTOK, 07 May: Sikkim RTI Forum has alleged that Lanco Energy Pvt. Ltd., a power project developer, is not adhering to the agreement signed with the State Government. A press release issued by the Forum states that, as per clause 4.30 of the agreement the power developers were supposed to adopt one village in the vicinity of the project site and provide facilities for the benefit of the villagers.
However, the release points out that according to the information obtained through RTI from the Energy & Power Department, Lanco Energy is yet to adopt a village which the release adds “clearly indicates that Lanco is not respecting the terms and conditions of the agreement”.
The Forum has requested the Chief Minister to look into the matter at the earliest and ensure that project developers work in accordance with the agreement.


I on behalf of the public of  Martam Lingtam Ward no 3, under Martam Nazitam GPU, Rumtek Martam Constituency, East Sikkim, through this publication would like to heartily thank our Chief MInister Pawan Chamling, Area MLA Menlom Lepcha, Ex-MLA, D.T. Lepcha, Gram Panchayat members and Ward Panchayat, Sonam Palzor Machongpa (DUKO).
I on behalf of the people of our area thank our State Government and our visionary leader, Dr Pawan Chamling with his team of dedicated party workers, Panchayats, and government officials for developing our ward in the speed of geometric progression. The Rural Connectivity (PMGSY) is a boon to the people here. Rural Marketing Centers (Kisan Bazaar) has become a platform for the rural people to develop and enrich their trading/ business skills. Ward Panchayat Sonam Palzor Machongpa and concerned government officers/officials gave their best in the earthquake restoration works and distributed the ex-gratia relief payments fairly, for which act all the beneficiaries were satisfied.
Tshering Tsheten Bhutia, Martam Lingtam Ward No. 3

West Point’s Kinthup Lachungpa in U-17 India team

GANGTOK, 07 May: Another Sikkimese footballer is now set to shine in the national arena. Kinthup Lachungpa, a class XII student from West Point Senior Secondary School, has been selected for the India U-17 Indian Football team.
An SFA release informs that Kinthup was spotted by national selectors deputed by All India Football Federation [AIFF] at the Dr. B.C. Roy Memorial Trophy Junior National Football Championship held at Cuttack, Odisha, three months ago. Kinthup was part of the SFA's junior team at the national championship.
Kinthup is enrolled at the Sikkim Sports Academy in Gangtok.  Youth Development Coach, Colm Toal and Coach, Tony Cabral appointed by AIFF will impart training to the U-17 team which will be held at AIFF Training centre, Goa from 11 May to the end of November 2012, the release mentions.
General Secretary, SFA, Menla Ethenpa said that SFA is very happy with his performances in the Junior National Football Championship and also called upon other Sikkimese players to follow in the foot steps of Kinthup .
Kinthup has thanked the Sikkim Football Association for giving him an opportunity and also thanked Thupden Rapgyal and Suresh Mukhia of State Sports Hostel at Gangtok for nurturing him, the release mentions. President, SFA, BK Roka also congratulated and wished him all the very best.

Editorial:M&E to Deliver Accountability

Monitoring & Evaluation have always been part of governance. The least paid-attention-to part, but a part nevertheless. Now, there appears to be a move underway to elevate this segment of administration to a hierarchy it deserves – right at the top. Addressing a coordination meeting with Heads of Government Departments on Monday, the Chief Minister called on government officers to be “proactive, responsive and accountable” in their service to the people of the state. He also called upon the HoDs to oversee diligent and judicious implementation the government programmes. This is not the first time that the CM is making such an appeal, and he has made frequent reiterations of this advice in the past. When he calls on public servants to be “proactive, responsive and accountable”, he is not asking to deliver something special, he is only underlining an attitude which should have always been the basic code of conduct for them. And yet, this basic quality needs to be held up as a special virtue to inspire better work ethics. There is no denying the fact the work culture in government offices in Sikkim is at least three decades out of sync with what the times and the people require. It is not rare for even the well-meaning officers to talk down when interacting with lay people, and it is obviously this attitude that the CM is calling for a change in when he wants his officers to become more responsive. It is after all, only after the executive becomes truly responsive that they will deliver schemes with a people-first approach rather than the frequent complaints one hears and experiences in department offices whenever clear directions are handed out on how they should work and what they should do. In this light, no amount of reiteration can be too much when it comes to reminding the bureaucracy on attitudes they should wear to work. The latest appeal by the CM is thus welcome. Given the pessimistic times we live in, however, maybe one is speaking too soon here, but from what is available on paper, it appears that M&E is being prioritised. High time! Too many doles, projects, funding and sponsorship have been invested in Sikkim without a scientific appraisal of how far the buck travels here. Frankly speaking, monitoring & evaluation is a simple science. Funds get allocated, the release of payment requires numerous NOCs and clearance certificates to endorse that the work was done – that’s monitoring. People look at roads carpeted last winter disintegrate with the first showers – that’s evaluation. So, when a government officer is tasked with monitoring and evaluation, it is expected that s/he brings something more to the table than the thumb-rule that has the people monitoring and evaluating already. That is where proper training could help. What is it that ‘training’ can deliver that one does not already know? Definitely the science to be able to monitor and evaluate so well that when things go wrong, the figures align themselves in a way that a shortlist of who is to be blamed how much is ready even before the Vigilance Police wakes up. Monitoring and evaluation exercises can be carried out endlessly without delivering any results unless the most important follow-up to the M&E process is codified – accountability. And one does not speak of fixing criminal culpability and corruption charges on failed projects here. The M&E exercise should lead to pulling up lethargic officials who contributed to failed projects, those who compromise the impact of good initiatives with their poor delivery. These can be departmental exercises leading to a red inked ACR or a compulsory admission to “re-learning school”... anything so long as action is seen to be taken after the accountability has been correctly fixed. That would be true monitoring and evaluation because it would be delivering accountability.

Buddha Purnima in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 06 May: A young monk at Enchey Monastery in Gangtok on the occasion of Buddha Purnima celebrated by Buddhists across the world. The day holds special relevance as it marks the birth, enlightenment and the day when Lord Buddha attained nirvana and also parinirvana.

Sunday School advocacy draws focus on AIDS Orphans

GANGTOK, 06 May: An Essay and Painting Competition was organized today at the Gangtok Evangelical Presbyterian Church to mark the World AIDS Orphans Day. Although the Day falls on 07 May, the event at EPC here was timed for today as an advocacy effort among Sunday School children, teenagers, and youth about the issues and suffering of those orphan children who are living with HIV & AIDS.
The First Evangelical Presbyterian Church Association of India [FECAI] and Christian AIDS/HIV National Alliance [CANA] in co-partnership with Gangtok-based NGO, Concerned for Complete life [CARE] organized the competition.
World AIDS Orphans Day is a grassroots campaign to draw attention to and advocate on behalf of the over 15 million children orphaned by AIDS. Today, a diverse coalition of organizations, government officials and everyday citizens is urging the G8 and donor governments to ensure that 10% of all HIV and AIDS funding supports the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.
A press release informs that the program was based on the theme "My response to AIDS Orphans" which was participated by different churches of Gangtok namely Gangtok EPCS Church, Tadong EPCS Church, Penlong EPCS Church, Church of God, Sichey, Baptist Church, Dev. Area and Hebron Church, Syari.
The Essay and Painting competition was held in three age categories: 12 yrs and under, 13yrs to 18 yrs and 19yrs to 24yrs. The 1st Prize in all the three categories is Rs 5000, 2nd Prize in all the three categories is Rs 2500 and the 3rd Prize in all the three categories is Rs 1000. One consolation prize in all the categories is Rs 500.
The program was facilitated Dr. Songmit Lepcha from Govt. Hospital as a resource person who shared information about HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans, the release mentions. She also stressed on the importance and our important part of responding to them with different means.

Buddha Purnima celebrated at Namchi and Namthang

NAMCHI, 06 May: On the auspicious occasion of Buddha Purnima coinciding with Eshwaramma Day, Sri Sathya Sai Samiti Namchi today observed the day in a grand manner with a host of spiritual activities as part of the celebrations.
Organized by Sri Sathya Sai Samiti Namchi, the celebration was attended by area MLA, Binod Rai as the chief guest along with Chairman Passang R Sherpa and members of Namchi Municipal Council.
The celebration, conducted at the heart of Namchi in Central Park, started with a Bal Vikash rally participated by Bal Vikash students, gurus and Sai devotees, with the chanting of bhajan and display of placards with spiritual messages and quotations. The celebration started with the lighting of lamps by the chief guest followed by an opening song by the Bal Vikash students.
Apart from the cultural presentation, chanting of mantras and singing of bhajans also took place during the course of the programme by the Bal Vikash students. The chief guest, area MLA, Mr Rai in his address spoke on the importance of human values and social ethics. He said that such a spiritual programme is the need of the hour so as to streamline the youth towards betterment.
He also cited the importance of spiritual knowledge and its advantages in social development and overall development. He expressed his happiness and satisfaction over the way in which such spiritual activities involving the youth and children is being organized.
In Namthang, the celebration of Buddha Purnima was observed a day ahead on 05 May. Guruji Karma Wangchuk from Takber Darjeeling who was invited for the celebration visited Nima Chholing Buddhist Monastery at Namthang.
He reached Namthang on 04 May and on Saturday he delivered a sermon to devotees in the monastery. The area MLA, Tilu Gurung and Sangha MLA, Phituk Tshering Bhutia attended the spiritual function which was also attended by devotees from South and West Sikkim.
The Buddha Purnima function was organized bythe Hindu Buddhist Coordination Committee of Namthang. During the programme ‘wang’ or ‘prasadam’ was also distributed among the devotees by the monks.

Sikkim Milk Union hikes procurement rate again

GANGTOK, 06 May: The Sikkim Milk Union [SMU] has enhanced its procurement price for the farmers with effect from 01 April 2012. A press release issued by the Managing Director, SMU informs that the decision on this was accorded by the Sikkim Milk Union Board and the same was concurred by the state government.
The Sikkim Milk Union has shown consistent progress in the last four years by making profit and transferring benefit to the farmers in form of price hike and bonus incentives. To go in tune with the business requirement and to benefit farmers, the Sikkim Milk Union recently revised its procurement and consumer price of milk, the release informs.
In the last four years, the Sikkim Milk Union has revised its farmers’ procurement prices with an increase of about 111.76% from the 2007 levels. The increase was done by Rs. 2 per litre in July 2011, Rs. 1 per litre in October 2010, Rs. 1.50 during the month of March 2010, Rs. 1.50 per litre during June 2009, Rs. 2 per litre during 2008 and Rs. 1 per litre in the month of August 2007.
Now, a further upward revision of Rs. 2 per litre has been provided to the farmers.
The release states that with this revision, the farmers’ procurement has gone up by 135.29% higher than the rates of April 2007 to benefit them.
At the revised rate, the price of average milk having 4.0% Fat and 8.0% SNF milk is paid the rate of Rs.22.05 per litre and the minimum acceptable quality of having 3.5 % Fat and 7.5 % SNF is paid at the rate of Rs. 20.00 per litre and good quality milk with 5.5 % Fat and 8.5 % SNF is paid at the rate of Rs. 26.80 per litre to the village milk cooperative societies.
The newly revised milk payment for the month of April 2012 to the village Milk Cooperative Societies was released by the Sikkim Milk Union on 03 May 2012. Subsequently the village milk societies are releasing the payments at the revised rates to farmers for the milk supplied during the month of April 2012. About 10000 farmers’ families are being benefited out the enhanced procurement milk price, the release adds.

Pendam Football Academy enters semis of Indian Chapter of Man U Premier Cup

GANGTOK, 06 May: Pendam Football Academy has reached the semi-final in the ongoing Manchester United Premier Cup ( India Chapter ) being held at JRD Tata Sports Complex, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand.
A press release informs that the Pendam Football Academy held on to Punjab in a goalless draw in their first match played on 02 May. In their second match played on 04 May they defeated Haryana by one goal to nil.
The lone goal for Sikkim was scored by Tika Hang Subba. They have reached the Semi-Final where they will play against the home team Jharkhand, the release informs.
General Secretary, Sikkim Football Association [SFA], Menla Ethenpa has congratulated the team for reaching the semi-final stage and SFA has wished the team all the best for their remaining crucial matches, the release adds.

Editorial:Reconnect With the Land

It will not be too off the mark to suggest that the spate of hailstorms which visited parts of East and North Sikkim over the past month was unprecedented in recent memory. Thunder-squalls and the attendant hail are not rare at this time of the year, but the consistency and ferocity with which the weather has pounded parts of Sikkim, especially areas along the Teesta valley, is unusual [to put it mildly]. While extreme weather phenomenon can be expected in these days of Climate Change, a worrying flag that the latest round of extreme weather condition raises is not in the amount of precipitation, but the general lack of concern it has evoked. The latest round of thunder-squalls, wherever hail has joined the rain has destroyed the orange crop [which was flowering], levelled standing fields of maize, pulverised the large cardamom plantations [which were also flowering] and will also ensure that the supply of local vegetable produce will be constricted in markets here. Unfortunately, around Gangtok, where all decisions are made, the talk around the evening showers is limited to what it means for the water supply status. The concern which one would expect from an economy which is still essentially rural for a majority of the people is missing. This is a looming sign of the increasing disconnect between the people and nature in Sikkim. The urban areas ceased being dependent on the land some decades ago, and even in rural areas, this organic relationship is fraying. This gap renders Sikkim extremely unprepared for the challenges which Climate Change will mount of people in the not very distant future. It is important for this communication to be resumed, not only to ensure that Sikkim respects its natural endowments better, but also to prepare it better for natural disasters which are always a present danger in these hills. A frank appraisal of how much the younger generation knows about the land and how much the elder generation cares will not hand out a very good report card. While these can be explained to the changing lifestyles, they cannot be excused, because in this disconnect seeds not only the abuse of natural resources, but also unpreparedness for disasters which are natural for hills like the ones found in Sikkim. There is already enough evidence of these, and now, perhaps it is time to step back and return traditional knowledge base to the place of prominence in planning it should always have enjoyed.
This urgency is brought home by what has visited the Seti Gandaki valley in Nepal which was hit by a flashflood on Saturday causing extensive damage. Pokahara, the tourist town at the end of this flashflood was itself settled over a flashflood debri of a cataclysmic flood on the Seti Gandaki some 800 years ago [Teesta, experts suggest, flooded so massively about 300 years ago that it changed its course beyond what is now the Coronation Bridge]. The terrain there lends itself well to natural damming due to landslides and these eventually break into massive flashfloods. Flash-floods were always a worry, but the scale of the Nepal incident should ensure that these occupy the same priority positioning as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods do in the Himalayan region. Given the intensity of pre-monsoon showers, it can be safely speculated the monsoon rains will be falling on already saturated slopes, which, one may add, are already weakened by the earthquake. When these slopes fail in the higher reaches, where the rivers are still streams which slides can dam, unless these are spotted in time, they will catch infrastructure and people downstream by surprise when they break. Unfortunately, as new laws and ever-popular issues like security, push even residents away from their natural evirons and force people away from living with the land to living off doles, the intimacy which people have enjoyed for generations with nature is distanced. In such a scenario, weather phenomenons like the present round of thunderstorms which would have warned people enough about which crops not to expect this season and how to prepare better for the months ahead are lost to complaints about snapped water supply lines. While on water supply lines, Gangtokians should also start preparing for a future when the clutch of lakes which provide the headwaters for the Ratey Chu which keeps Gangtok supplied stop getting recharged fast enough due to changing climate patterns and uninformed landuse habits of the armed forces stationed there. A lot of money is being spent on helping Himalayan states like Sikkim ‘prepare’ for climate change; some of these funds could be judiciously spent on reintroducing the students to the land here and reviving traditional landuse practices which have been edged out by central laws and rules...