Friday, May 18, 2012

Olympic Archers begin training at Paljor Stadium

GANGTOK, 17 May: The Archery Olympic Camp for the Indian Olympic Archery Team, being hosted in Sikkim for the first time, began at Paljor Stadium today. Due to unfavourable weather conditions in Kolkata, the Archery Association of India [AAI] shifted the Archery camp to Paljor Stadium, it is informed. The coaching camp is scheduled to continue till 07 June.
The men’s and women’s archery teams comprising of three members each will be undergoing around three weeks of coaching here. The women’s team comprises of Deepika Kumari, L Bombyala Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro, who have already qualified for the upcoming London Olympics 2012 in the individual and team events. Likewise, the men’s team has Sikkim’s own Tarundeep Rai, Jayanta Talukdar and Rahul Banerjee, among them only Jayanta Talukdar has qualified for the London Olympic 2012 in individual category so far. Tarundeep and Rahul have their last chance to qualify for the Olympics in the 3rd Stage of the Archery World Cup Tournament scheduled to be held at Ogden in USA from 17 to 24 June.
The archers are undergoing training under chief coach, Limba Ram Ahari and assisted by coach, Ravi Shankar and coach, Purnima Mahato. The team is also accompanied by physiotherapist, Jaideep Das Choudhuri and masseur Anup Das.
Addressing a press conference today, AAI general secretary, Paresh Nath Mukherjee mentioned that due to very hot and humid weather at Kolkata, which is not suitable for archers for practice, the archery Olympic camp has been shifted temporarily to Gangtok from its home camp at SAI Kolkata. He further mentioned that although some other places also have similar weather like Gangtok but due to the interest shown by the Sikkim Archery Association [SAA] the camp is being held at Gangtok.
Mr Mukherjee stressed that these three weeks of the camp are very crucial and important for archers to prepare themselves for the competition. He encouraged archers to make the best use of the condition and facilities available at Gangtok.  He mentioned that these six archers have been selected for the Olympic team, in which Tarundeep Rai and Rahul Banerjee now have to get their quotas for the London Olympic.
He mentioned that the Olympic games will have 12 teams each in men’s and women’s and 9 have already qualified in the men’s category and the Indian Archery men’s team now has to qualify for the London Olympic in their last chance at the 3rd Stage of the Archery World Cup Tournament at Ogden. He expressed hope that the men’s team will make it to this year’s London Olympic.
SAA president, PHE Minister, TT Bhutia, stated that it was a proud moment for Sikkim to host the Olympic camp in the state and it was also a big achievement for the SAA. He further mentioned that such a camp would also encourage local players in their game.
He wished the archers luck for the Olympics and added that the SAA has also planned to demonstrate traditional archery to these international archers during the camp at Gangtok.
Chief Coach, Mr Ahari mentioned that the weather conditions at Gangtok is suitable for archers to continue long sessions of practice and its similarity with conditions in London would also help them prepare better.
Tarundeep mentioned that at present the confidence level of the men’s team is quite high and in good form. He added that the team has high hopes to qualify for the London Olympic in their last chance at Ogden. Likewise, other archers stated that the camp at Gangtok would help them to concentrate more on practice and help in their upcoming competitions.
As on 12 May 2012, Indian Women’s Archery team is on second position and Indian Men’s Archery team on the fifth position in the world, while Indian women’s archer Deepika Kumari is on the fifth position in the world ranking.
It may also be mentioned that impressive performance in international level competitions by Sikkim’s Tarundeep Rai and Chungda Sherpa is also a reason for the AAI choosing Sikkim for this prestigious camps.

Sikkim surrenders to Astad Deboo’s enthralling performance

GANGTOK, 17 May: Padmashree Astad Deboo, along with his 8-member dance troupe, mesmerized Sikkim with his dance recital, ‘Interpretation of Tagore and his works’, today. The programme was organised as a part of the 37th State Day celebrations and also to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of the Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. Padmashree Deboo along with his group performed dances choreographed to 3 Tagore poems - Surrender, Ekla Chalo Re and Awakening.
Organised by the Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department at the Defence Auditorium here, the programme had Governor Balmiki Prasad Singh as the chief guest. The Governor in his brief address mentioned that Tagore is widely known through his poems, short stories, novels, paintings and drama and stated that Deboo and his cast through their astounding performance having given a new expression to some of the finest works of Tagore.
Notifying that 1860’s gave birth to three great men of the country namely Rabindranath Tagore [7th May 1861], Swami Vivekanand [12th January 1862] and Mahatma Gandhi [2nd October 1869], the Governor added that these three added a new dimension to the history of the nation. Lastly, informing about the 37th State Day he said that the day marks the start of a democratic era in the history of Sikkim for it connects with the hopes and aspirations of the Sikkimese people to become a part of democracy. The Governor also congratulated Deboo and his crew for a successful and a ‘never seen before’ performance.
Deboo, the main protagonist of today’s dance recital thanked the Governor, Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department and the Army for their cooperation and help in making the show a success. Introducing his troupe, Deboo mentioned that all of them belonged to underprivileged families. Further expressing that it was hard to train them in the beginning he informed that he along with this troupe gave their first performance on the theme ‘Breaking Boundary’, which was quite successful.

A Special Educator

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

“At the end of the day, when I see a special child I have worked with being able to walk normally even if it is just a few metres, make sense when he or she talks, or just be able to go through one day like everyone else, it makes it all worthwhile,” shares SWETA RAI, a special educator working at a reputed inclusive school in Bangalore. Sweta, who hails from Sikkim, has been working in the education sector for the past five years or so.
Following her graduation from St Joseph’s College, Darjeeling, she went on to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Loyola College of Education at Namchi. She then moved to Bangalore where she first worked in the mainstream education sector as a teacher for ‘regular’ children. It was during this time that she came across special children since the school she was teaching at was an inclusive school. An inclusive school is one that allows children with special needs an opportunity to interact with a community of teachers and able-bodied students in a normal school environment. It is different from a “mainstream” education because there is no differentiation between general education and special education.
A lot of people might recall Aamir Khan’s “Taare Zameen Par” where the child protagonist suffered from dyslexia, a disorder which occurs when there is a problem in areas of the brain that help interpret language. However, there are numerous other disorders like Autism, ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], Dyspraxia, Asperger’s Syndrome, Learning Disability [LD] and others that children suffer from but are often ignored or mistaken for a behavioural issue. Such children need special attention and education strategies also need to be accordingly wired to suit these children. This is where special educators figure in. Educators or teachers trained to handle and teach special children. Although the concept has caught on in urban India, most schools that provide special education or even inclusive education are concentrated in the urban centres and there is still a huge lacunae in the rural areas. In this context, Sikkim lags far behind.
The dearth of special educators is nation-wide and not many venture into this field. Teaching as a profession ranks quite high in popularity in Sikkim and unlike the metros, is still seen by many here as a viable career. However, there are very few like Sweta who have made special education a serious career choice. If making a difference in the individual lives of children with special needs where everyday offers a gratifying experience and a challenge to overcome seems to be your calling then ponder over and make that choice as Sweta tells us all...

NOW: How did you get into this line of work?
Sweta: Well, I was teaching at this inclusive school here which had some special children as well. There were these Tibetan twins with ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] in my class who were uncontrollable. They were hyperactive and would get violent with other children in the class. It was very difficult to handle them. There was a special educator in the school and I got to know of this course that the Spastics Society of Karnataka offered. During the one-year course at the Society where I was trained and volunteered as well I got hands-on experience of working with children with special needs, some of whom suffered extreme disorders. After completing the course I then joined the school that I am currently working with as a Special Educator.

What is the work all about? A typical day on the job.
A special educator’s job is not just about academic teaching but about enabling a child with valuable life skills. There are some kids who cannot even tie their shoe laces so we have to find a way to teach such skills, that may seem ordinary to normal people, but can be mind boggling for such children. I don’t take regular classes but for particular children who need help I take 45 mins to 2 hour classes in the afternoon session, depending upon the intensity of the child’s disorder. Say when a new child joins the school, I first observe the child’s behaviour and make an informal assessment of the child. Then we talk to the parents and if there is a need ask them to go for a formal assessment which means taking the child to a psychologist. Depending upon the result of this formal assessment I discuss it with the parents and other staff of the school to chalk out a plan. If the child is in class 2 but his/her learning and other skills are that of a class 1 child then my job is to get this child on track and bring him/her upto the required level. I also advise parents on how to handle their child at home. We also make IEPs or Individualised Education Plan for such children and chart out the requirements of each individual child.
Like, there was this 4 and a half year old child with Down’s Syndrome who could not walk on his own and could not talk properly but by the end of the year he could walk on his own and I also taught him sign language so he could communicate. At the moment I am working with this child with cerebral palsy whose one half of the body is affected which means he cannot walk, talk or write normally. Including him in activities with other normal children is important so in the football team he has been kept as the goalkeeper which does not require him to run around.

Job satisfaction?
Oh it is extremely satisfying! I enjoy my work and look forward to going to school everyday. When you see the progress in a child it makes all the hardwork worthwhile so, I would say it is a very satisfying job.

What are the challenges of working in this line?
It takes time to adjust in the beginning, as it also takes time for the child to get used to you and develop that trust. Convincing the parents of a child with disorders is another challenge. Very often it is difficult to convince parents that their child is suffering from a disorder. Working with special children can also be unpredictable at times because sometimes you might see rapid progress in a child and the next moment the child would have gone back to behaving like he/she used to so you have to be patient and take it up as a challenge.

What are the best and worst parts of the job?
This job keeps me on my toes most of the time, not just physically but also mentally. You have to be creative in handling these kids and devise new and different methods of dealing with different disorders and children. There is no fear of stagnancy as you have to keep coming up with new ideas, which also means you have to keep yourself updated and undertake research on the different disorders. Also as you have to physically handle these kids fitness is important, so it keeps me fit as well!
On the not-so-positive side, I would say is that you have to be ready to take work home as well. Your patience is tested to the limits as well in this line. There was this kid that I was working with who had an attention span of 3 seconds! You have to be really patient and focussed in dealing with such cases.

What is the pay package like?
For starters one can expect maybe somewhere around Rs 15,000 but it all depends on your experience and the kind of school. In a reputed school you could get Rs 20-25 thousand plus.

Do you have plans of coming back and working in Sikkim? 
Yes, I do hope to come home after some years and start something there...maybe collaborate with someone who is also interested, let’s see. Right now I feel I need to gain more experience here.

Your views on special education in Sikkim.
Awareness on special education is one important thing that Sikkim needs I think. My mother is also a teacher working in Sikkim and she calls me up at times to ask for advice on how to handle such kids. I think teachers there also need awareness. The schooling there is all auditory based that is the teacher talks and the children listen and no other learning skills are taken into consideration. If a child has problems interpreting what he hears then the teaching fails. There are various other modes of teaching and learning. Howard Gardner has this theory of multiple intelligence. If a child who takes more time to master simple multiplication may best learn to multiply through a different approach, may excel in a field outside of mathematics, or may even be looking at and understanding the multiplication process at a fundamentally deeper level, or perhaps as an entirely different process.

Your honest advice to those who want to work in this line?
Lots and lots and lots of patience!

Aspirants can pursue any of the various specialised courses that are available at all three levels - bachelors, masters as well as diploma. Before enrolling for any of the courses a candidate must ensure that the institute where he/ she is pursuing the course is approved by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). Professionals who have been trained at institutes not approved by the RCI are not eligible for employment or practice.  
BEd/ MEd/ Diploma in Education (Special Education) - Visual Impairment/ Hearing Impairment/ Mental Retardation
Diploma in Education - Special Education (Deaf/blind)
BSc (Special Education and Rehabilitation)
PG Diploma in Early Intervention
Master/ bachelor of Prosthetics and Orthotics
Diploma in Prosthetic and Orthotics
BEd (Special Education) - Locomotor and Neurological Disorder
PG Diploma in Developmental Therapy (Cerebral Palsy and Neurological Disabilities)

Where to study

  • National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad
  • Shishu Sarothi, Centre for Rehabilitation and Training for Multiple Disability, Guwahati
  • Action for Ability Development and Inclusion (AADI), Formerly The Spastics Society of Northern India, New Delhi
  • Training College for Teachers of the Deaf and Blind, Ahmedabad
  • All India Institute for Speech and Hearing, Mysore
  • All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai
  • National Association for the Blind, Mumbai

What is special education?
Special Education is that component of education which employs special instructional methodology (Remedial Instruction), instructional materials, learning-teaching aids and equipment to meet educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities. Remedial instruction or Remediation aims at improving a skill or ability in a student. Techniques for remedial instruction may include providing more practice or more explanation, repeating information, and devoting more time to working on the skill. For example, a student having a low reading level could be given remediation via one-on-one reading instruction, phonic instruction, or practice in reading aloud.
Anyone with a Bachelors degree education who has an aptitude for teaching can join a course on Special Education. There are institutes which offer Bachelors and Masters Program in Special Education. There are many organizations which offer short term programs (2 weeks to 1 month) in Special Education. It is always advisable to join courses of atleast 1 year duration. There are very few institutions offering a 1 year program.
When does a child need special education?
Special education teachers work with children and youths who have a variety of disabilities. A small number of special education teachers work with students with mental retardation or autism, primarily teaching them life skills and basic literacy. However, the majority of special education teachers work with children with mild to moderate disabilities, using the general education curriculum, or modifying it, to meet the child's individual needs. Most special education teachers instruct students at the elementary, middle, and secondary school level, although some teachers work with infants and toddlers. Special educators provide programs for specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, multiple disabilities, hearing impairments, visual impairments, autism, combined deafness and blindness, traumatic brain injury, and other health impairments. Students are classified under one of the categories, and special education teachers are prepared to work with specific groups. Early identification of a child with special needs is an important part of a special education teacher's job. Early intervention is essential in educating children with disabilities.


“In Sikkim, people reign supreme and democratic decorum prevails uninterrupted”

Democratic re-awakening- post 1994
Respected fellow Sikkimese
You are aware that post 1994 era in Sikkim marked a clear departure from the past both in terms of gradual lifting of political uncertainty, guarantee unfettered democratic freedom and giant leap forward in the socio-economic development of the State.
In order to lend complete meaning to our integration and follow the Constitution both in letter and spirit, the Sikkim Democratic Front Party and the Government has made unprecedented sacrifices over the decades. December 12, 1994 marked the watershed in the political history of Sikkim. On being sworn in as the Head of Government, I instantly announced that I am the first servant of the people and that I belonged to no political party and that safety and well being of all people including the opposition leaders was my full responsibility.
My friends, I started a new thought process to promote democratic principles in a different light and from a new perspective in the context of decency in public life, promises being fulfilled or unleashing of development era. Over the decades, this has helped re-kindle the values and idealism that inspired our forefathers and elders to seek for democracy culminating on this day in the seventies.
For a comprehensive and holistic development of the State, we have initiated large number of programs cutting across development sectors and in the process created many unique and the first-of-its-kind schemes in the interest of Sikkim and the Sikkimese people.
In the priority sector like education and health we have introduced many innovative programs including meritorious Scholarship and Special scholarship, interest free educational loan. National Institute of Technology has been established at Ravangla, new Colleges at Namchi and Rhenock started. Another Degree College is being established in North District, Post Graduate course has been introduced in Law College, Limboo, Bhutia and Lepcha languages are being taught upto Graduate level since 2000.
Under Health sector, the State Government was the first Government to provide for free Hepatitis B vaccination for children between 0-1 age group. Over the decades, we have launched many health programs like Mukhya Mantri Jeewan Raksha Kosh, Mukhya Mantri Sravan Shakti Yojana, Mukhya Mantri Netra Jyoti Yojana, Mukhya Mantri Antodaya Upachar Bima Yojna, Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-up for Healthy Sikkim (CATCH) to provide for comprehensive health coverage reaching right up to the doorsteps of the poor and the needy. The ambitious 570 bedded super specialty Hospital at Sichey shall be completed within the next two years.
Under Social Justice, we have introduced large number of safety nets. Bhujel, Dewan, Gurung, Jogi, Kirat Rai, Manger, Sunuwar, Thami, communities recognized as Most Backward Classes in 2000; Bahun, Chettri, Newar, Sanyasi, communities recognized as Other Backward Classes at the State level in year 2000-01; Old Age Pension raised to 600 to 1000 per month, special residential schools for the differently-abled, Samajik Sewa Bhatta introduced for faith healers, free ration for senior citizens etc.
In the area of women empowerment, Sikkim has already accomplished path-breaking measures by offering affirmative share to our womanfolks. Through certain preferential legislation, we have been able to ensure equitable participation of our women members in diverse areas including state administration and political decision making bodies. 30 percent of seats in government employment is reserved for woman and 50 percent in panchayati raj institution. Unlike in the past, women have been adequately represented in State Legislative Assembly and the State Cabinet. That means, over the decades, through our own policy intervention we have totally demystified false ideas that handicapped women and their development for centuries together.
Under Panchayati Raj, we have village panchayats and urban municipal bodies actively working in the interest of the State as provided under 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution. Under the bottoms-up approach, the State Government receives development projects as passed and ratified by gram sabhas. This has enlarged people’s participation and a sense of ownership has been developed in all social assets being created in village areas. A holistic development plan has been drawn up under the Village Development Action Plan being prepared in consultation with Prof. Bernard Dafflon, Professor in Fribourg University in Switzerland.
In order to bring about revolution in urban renewal measures, the State Government has drawn up perspective urban plans so that available urban utilities are evenly distributed in all parts of urban habitation. Ever since, the re-laid MG Marg has served as a benchmark for urban expansion plan. We have started work to transform all urban markets in the same fashion like that of MG Marg, Gangtok and the Central Park in Namchi. In fact, we were the first State in the NE region to lay passenger ropeway from Deorali to Tashiling Secretariat to ease urban traffic congestion. We have hired consultancy from Surbana International of Singapore to locate or relocate urban facilities on the basis of city-state concept.
As a Himalayan State, environment conservation is our foremost responsibility. While we provide environmental security and water security, we have limited elbow space left for development options as are generally available with the mainland states. This means, we have to find a middle path to appropriately balance development imperative with that of environmental conservation. From the very beginning, we have tried to bring about mass awareness among people about our responsibility. As a result, we have been able to ban number of activities detrimental to the health of eco-system. We have imposed blanket ban on killing of wildlife. We are the only State in the world to ban grazing in reserved forest. Felling of green trees is banned and felling of one tree from private land holdings for bona fide use, should be compensated by planting 50 more trees, all roads would be transformed into eco-road with large number of avenue plantation. These are, part of, a large number of other environmental protection measures undertaken by the State Government to maintain our ecological balance.
Way back in 1995, we observed the year as Harit Kranti Vasha. Subsequently, we undertook many green campaign including Smriti Van, Sikkim Green Mission and the Ten Minutes to Earth. We have created Biodiversity Park, Birds’ Sanctuary and Herbal Gardens across the State. Environment conservation forms part of our continuous commitment and conservation comes first when we embark on any development program. We were also voted as the Greenest Chief Minister of India in 1999 for our comprehensive green initiatives and where all our green indices have improved over the decades since 1995.
We are rich in natural resources and this must form the backbone of our development, the sure foundation for our progress and prosperity. Every State and every Nation relies on its available resources to design appropriate development intervention both for short term gain and long-term benefit. Our neighbour Bhutan is an example where they have harnessed their hydro-power potential as the main source of revenue.
We are aware that in Sikkim we find five wonderful climatic zones within a distance of 114 km from South to North. This way we are truly blessed by Nature. We have the third highest mountain range of the world, different mesmerising peaks and mountains, glaciers, valleys, different species of floral and faunal wealth. Therefore, we have designed our development models on the basis of huge natural resources and judicious harnessing with conservation uppermost in our mind. Hydro-power, eco-tourism, floriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry, small scale clean industrial ventures are some of our strengths that we seek to harness.
You are aware that eco-tourism with all other aspects like village tourism, homestay tourism etc. have been properly integrated with pilgrimage tourism through opening up of different heritage sites with man-made attraction based on faiths and belief of the people. Tallest statue of Guru Rimpoche, Siddheswara Dham, Buddha Park, Statue of Chen regiz together with development of Ramayana Busty at Barang, Shakti Sthal at Mungrang, Kali Mandir, Siddhivinayak Mandir and prayer tower etc. are indication that Sikkim has already occupied a prominent place in the tourism circuit in the Country.
Based on analysis as on today, the hydro-power potential is estimated to be of the order of 8000 MW, which may further go up if generation capacity is further assessed and accounted for all mini and micro potential available with us in Sikkim. If we keep our commitment above petty political upmanship and not linked to unfounded sentiment and emotional blackmail tactics, we can together harness hydro-power to its full potential and make Sikkim economically sound and stable.
In fact, hydro-power sector has truly launched an industrial revolution in the State of Sikkim. Hailed as the "Temples of Resurgent India" by our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's dams have helped provide water and electricity to millions of citizens. Some of the biggest dams in India include the Tehri Dam, Bhakra Dam, Hirakud Dam, Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Sardar Sarovar Dam, Indirasagar Dam, Bhavanisagar Dam and Reservoir, the Koyna Hydroelectric Project, Idukki Dam and the Mettur Dam.
Our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, while addressing people in 1948 had said, “If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of the Country." This was in relation to fear of displacement caused by Hirakund Dam. In Sikkim also, we decided to harness our water resources for the welfare of State and the Nation through hydro-power generation. On a rough estimate we have plans to generate over 5000 MW by the next 3-5 years, thereby contribute an annual Rs. 1500 crores into state exchequer. And in our case, we will have only seven houses displaced while developing the entire projects with a very handsome rehabilitation package. However, there are illogical and unfounded fears being fanned by vested interest group who are neither ready to see reasons nor ready to listen to patriotic appeal made by Pandit Nehru himself.
In order to provide gainful employment to the growing numbers of educated Sikkimese, the State Government has started Directorate of Capacity Building, Institute of Capacity Building in the State and one Livelihood School in every constituency. This is with a view to train our people for diversified trade and occupation from carpentry to aviation industry. Generally, our regular educational system produces children with formal certificates although without any marketable skills, skills that enable our children to compete in a global economy.
Therefore, we have today about 2000 trainees undergoing different training courses in the State including in ITIs and the placement record over the years has been very encouraging. The State Government has future plan to train another 17000 youths in the next two years. Many of our trained manpower are gainfully employed in 5-star hotels including in mainland China. I would like to recall that Singapore alone needs 30,000 immigrants every year to keep its economy moving. Apart from diversified training programs, we also promote our younger generation into different sporting fields like football, archery, boxing etc. Our boys and girls are already placed in a number of reputed national and international clubs.
The Sikkim Democratic Front government has surely and steadily brought about this political cleansing where the power of people reign supreme and decency and democratic decorum prevails uninterrupted. On the basis of your continued support and blessings since 1994, I have had the privilege of working with a number of Prime Ministers belonging to different political parties. Beginning with late PV Narasimha Rao, I have worked closely with Shri HD Deva Gowda, Shri Chandra Shekher, Shri IK Gujral, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and presently with Dr. Manmohan Singh. With all of them, I have maintained a very cordial relation and collectively worked in the interest of state and the nation. On this occasion, I pay tribute to late PV Narasimha Rao for his great service to the nation. I am equally thankful and deeply indebted to all other Prime Ministers for their support and assistance to us.
Similarly, I have also worked closely with a number of Governors who have been very kind and supportive to the State Government. I offer my thanks and sense of gratefulness to all of them for the guidance and support provided to us all these years. At present we are privileged to be guided by His Excellency, respected Shri BP Singhji, who besides being the Head of the State, is also a distinguished scholar and a well known historian.
As part of social tradition that we started, we have today honoured a number of Sikkimese people who have rendered valuable service to the people of Sikkim. I would congratulate all of you for this outstanding achievement and for being the torch bearers. In the making of modern Sikkim, you have made great contribution. This is an act of recognizing your long service and whatever you have achieved will remain in the memory of all Sikkimese for all time to come. You are history makers, and I appeal to you to continue to shoulder greater responsibility for the future of Sikkim and the Sikkimese people. You will guide the coming generation and offer constructive suggestions and advice to Government for taking up various development schemes and welfare measures in the future.
We understand that material prosperity alone will not make Sikkim as the best State of the Country. There must be progress in terms of knowledge and scientific temperament. There must be development in terms of people’s thinking propensity promoting a positive outlook among the citizens. We must forever promote peace and a sense of security. The people of Sikkim must continue to live with due respect and dignity as Indians. They must be prepared to shoulder their duties and responsibility in greater measures as much as they enjoy their rights and privileges as democratic citizens. As the first servant of the Sikkimese people, I have been working very hard to secure to the people ultimate happiness and perfect socio-cultural existence.

The challenges imminent:
In a borderless world where ideas and fashion move free and unhampered, Sikkim is increasingly vulnerable to outside influence. In this global world, we see negative factors influence our life like that of culture of consumerism. I mean consumerism not only in respect of material goods and production, but consumerism also in respect of negative thinking, harmful feeling and undesirable habits and culture that we tend to imitate and imbibe from the outside world.
We are already consumers with regard to First World influence that include threat of AIDS, drug abuse, illegal human trafficking. And it has been our sincere endeavour over the last two decades to keep Sikkim free from negative influence so that the State is not converted into a dumping ground of alien culture and devastating human habit found elsewhere in the world. This is time, that we encourage our people to imbibe the goodness of the first world society and learn from the strength that they have gained due to positive qualities and positive output. Today and now, let us define the threshold and stop imitating them blindly but go on to learn from their qualities.
With the same objective, we have to devise appropriate and socially relevant and culturally enriching development roadmap to ensure that we imbibe good qualities and grow on our own strength and not get destroyed because of influx of negative factors acting upon our society.
While the world is passing through a period of uncertainty, Sikkim has remained consistent as a democratic State to promote collective wellbeing of its citizens. Further empowered by the enlightened ideas of the modern age, we at the same time, protect our civilizational legacy of mutual brotherhood, respect and co-existence and a peaceful society. Recent development across the world quite clearly demonstrates people’s inborn dreams of living a life of dignity and their longing for self determination and self rule. On the other hand, Sikkim and the Sikkimese people made free by the historical event of the seventies are marching forward as the most promising citizens of the Country and also the world.
In fact, we have remained the catalysts and shining example in exercising our democratic rights and also uphold democratic principles as envisaged and inherent in the basic understanding of Democracy as an institution of the people.
The people of Sikkim must not forget that time prior to 1994, where there was widespread culture of head hunting, with leadership ever committed to finish anyone or anybody with courage enough to oppose the then establishment. We have discouraged this trend and stopped it altogether granting honourable space for one and all. The present generation of Sikkimese are not adequately aware of what Sikkim used to be in the past. That is why in majority of cases, they are not in a position to arrive at any objective judgement to differentiate today from yesterday- both in terms of socio-cultural prosperity and the huge infrastructural development.
Today we have fully established a conducive atmosphere for self-development and broader space to contribute towards progress and prosperity of the State.
Sikkim used to be generally considered far from the mainstream. To further compound the issue, many of our leaders in the past, fanned anti-India sentiment to garner support for their own selfish motive. And mainstream in India is often linked up with the national capital. We sincerely feel that the basic understanding of mainstream in India is wrongly perceived. Over a period of time, I have consistently raised this issue at the national forums duly coining it as ‘reverse integration’. As part of our continued efforts, I also called upon the countrymen to replace the term ‘Sindh’ in our national anthem by Sikkim to honour the changed scenario and the altered situation. This way, Sikkim has always tried to strengthen spirit of nationalism and a sense of integration with the Indian states and fellow Indians.
Although integrated with the mainstream 28 years later, Sikkim has emerged as the front-ranking State in the Country. All the four organs of governance are fully independent to function as per constitutional provisions. As I often say, all the organs and democratic institutions came into being for the interest of people and to serve the collective interest of the Nation at large. However, in Sikkim there are certain interest groups trying to misuse democratic instruments for their selfish motives in the garb of politics, caste, fundamental rights, freedom of press and expression and in the name of social organizations. Similarly, in majority of cases, RTI and PIL are misused for personal gains and as blackmail tactics. Certain opposition leaders, long discarded by the people and consigned to the pages of history, are using them as political weapons to destroy the good image of the Government. Through false representation and fabricated papers, they seek to mislead the Honourable Courts on multiple occasions. This is outright misuse of Democracy and this does not augurs well for the growth and promotion of democratic values and democratic atmosphere in the State. For a civilized society, this is a matter of deep worry and constant reflection.
I personally feel that today the standard of politics and the process of electioneering, have greatly degenerated- looking more like a personal agenda. In genuine case, people must always win and the country must always prosper under the democratic system. Today what we see is increasing case of politics being played out as personal blame game, character assassination, vendetta, mud-slinging and name calling of the most depraved nature. This has put the image of the whole state and the country at great risk. As per my understanding, politics must be practised as an intellectual, clean and decent game. This will lead to healthy competition among political parties to prove themselves better than the others or more resourceful than others to serve the collective welfare of the people, State and the Nation. And I am sure that this is absolutely necessary to bring about change in our thought process on this line, to give justice to people and the Country. People discuss reforms on various subjects like social reforms and economic reforms. However, foremost we require reforms in politics and political philosophy for all other reforms to bear fruits in our society. Time has come to think about it seriously to bring about desired changed in our basic understanding of politics as the mother of all philosophies.
As true democrat, I have found it my dharma to forever serve the cause of democracy and serve the people for their upliftment. I intend to draw a clear distinction between leading a movement for socio-cultural emancipation and of course leading a government for the overall development of the State and of the people. Therefore, as long as I lead the government, I would function as per constitution to do my best in the service of the people and the Nation. However, as person leading a movement, I shall continue to speak for the welfare of the people and continue to work for their overall development. I am not one of those, who would promise a life of sanyas on losing an election or a life of Hitler on winning it!
I am confident that while the Country commemorated the 60th anniversary of Indian Parliament recently, the countrymen and the policy makers would find our experiences worth emulating to further the cause of democracy and the democratic polity. Stressing on the basic principles of tolerance and pluralism, the central leaderships emphasized on commonality and inclusion rather than superiority and exclusion, dialogue and reconciliation rather than conflict of interest. As a historical decision, the Sikkimese people also decided to merge into the Indian mainstream thereby strengthen integrity, sovereignty, pluralism and socio-cultural diversity of the Indian Nation. Due to great sacrifices we made, we also enjoyed the great fortune of becoming the proud citizens of this great nation.
It is said that Government is the force of good not only force. And I find it my rare privilege to lead the government that do good for the people and work in the collective interest of the people at large. I send my greetings to my fellow citizens and commend them for this peaceful rise evident in the maturity of our economy, socio-cultural strength and all round development.
My fellow citizens, in few months time now, we will again come together to celebrate the great democratic tradition to hold the next Panchayat elections in the State. I would call upon the Sikkimese people to fully participate in the elections to chose their representatives with due care and consultation.
I am aware that my political adversaries are hinting at new political equation. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, once asked, “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” By the same token, I am happy to know that I have at least some to keep me alert and creative in the interest of the people.
Under the democratic dispensation, anything constitutional is possible and admissible. We must welcome them. But we cannot and should not remain mute spectators when certain group of people take freedom for granted to sow the seeds of discord and disharmony by their irresponsible words and actions and who chose to dishonour elected government formed with full public mandate.
On this auspicious occasion, I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Sikkim for the love and blessings given to me. Humbled by the processes inaugurated on May 16, 1975 and all the democratic provisions inherent in the spirit of our Constitution, I for one, will always work for the collective welfare of the people of the State and never ever fail my Constitution, never betray my State and my Nation.
Today, I would like to remember the great work accomplished by late Tashi Tshering and late LD Kazi, Father of Democracy in Sikkim, and pay rich tribute to their rare contribution. On this auspicious occasion, I would like to recognize and name late Tashi Tshering as the First Democratic Soldier and take this rare privilege to announce installation of life-size statue in his memory. To honour all other contemporary democratic workers, I take pleasure to inform that a Book on their lives, struggle and their contribution shall be published to make them immortal for posterity.
With these words, I once again offer my warm greetings to the fellow Sikkimese and also congratulate them once again for the historical decision to be part of this great democratic Nation.
Jai Sikkim
Jai Hind

Three arrested in two days for peddling drugs

GANGTOK, 17 May: Three persons were arrested in the past two days [15 and 16 May] for being in possession of contraband substances, one under Temi Police Station and the other two at Sadar Police Station in Gangtok.
According to sources, a person hailing from of Adarsh Gaon, Manpari in South Sikkim was nabbed in possession of the drugs. The Temi police accordingly registered a case and the accused was intercepted at Adarsh Gaon. Following a body search, 24 tablets of Nitrosun-10 were found on him. He was arrested and booked under section 9 (b) 11&14 of SADA.
In another incident, on 16 May around 5 P.M. the Sadar Police Station received information that an individual identified as Sonam Gurung alias Rajan Kumar Gurung, resident of Lingding, Rai Gaon was frequently engaged in peddling of contraband substances in the locality. It was further informed that the said individual had reportedly brought a huge cache of contraband substances and had concealed these substances in his rented room in Lingding from where he was peddling the same.
Acting on the tip-off, the rented room of Sonam Gurung was raided whereupon 179 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon were recovered. The contraband substances were concealed underneath a decorative fan.
The contraband substances were accordingly seized and Gurung was arrested. He has been booked under section 9 /14 of Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act.
Meanwhile on 15 May at around 12.45 in the afternoon the Sadar Police received a telephonic information from HC Bal Bahadur Tamang of Beat XII [Vajra Booth] mentioning that he had a prior source information that one peddler identified as Bal Bahadur Chettri suspected to be in possession of contraband substances at Vajra Taxi Stand situated at Balwakhani was peddling the substance at the Taxi Stand.
During the course of investigation, the room rented by Chettri at Vajra, Balwakhani was searched which led to the recovery of 66 loose capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon.
The recovered contraband substances were seized and Chettri, resident of Vajra, Balwakhani was arrested and has been booked under section 9 /14 of Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act.

Common Platform asks ruling and opposition to enunciate stand on alleged hydel scam

GANGTOK, 17 May: Members of Platform for Joint Action Against Hydro Projects held an emergency meeting today to discuss recent reports of a hydro power scam in the state amounting to Rs 20,000 crore in a national weekly magazine, informs a press release issued by SIBLAC, convenor, Tseten Tashi Bhutia, who is also the coordinator of the group.
The Platform consists of Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee (SIBLAC), All Sikkim Educated Self Employed and Unemployed Association (ASESE&UA), National Sikkimese Bhutia Organisation (NASBO 371F), Save Sikkim, All Sikkim Monasteries’ Association (ASMAN), Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim (CLOS), Affected Citizen of Teesta (ACT), Denjong Chyarig Tsogpo and People’s Forum on Earthquake (PFOE) .
According to the release, the meeting noted “with concern” that an alleged scam of such magnitude has escaped the attention of the civil society and political leaders. “The revelation made in the national print media portrays a bad image of Sikkim,” the release underlines.
The Platform also condemns the “inaction of opposition political parties on matter of such immense significance” and remaining “mute spectators”.
Further stating that political leaders of both the ruling and opposition should have played the roles of whistleblowers to combat corruption, the Platform has made an appeal to them to “make their stands clear on this Rs 20,000 crore mega power scam”.

Sikkim BJP thanks Balkrishna for raising Gangtok DD Kendra issue in Parliament

GANGTOK, 17 May: Bharatiya Janta Party Sikkim unit president, Padam Chettri has expressed gratitude towards the BJP MP, Balkrishna Shukla, on behalf of the people of Sikkim for raising the issue of making the Doordarshan Kendra here at Gangtok functional in the Lok Sabha session of 16 May. He further thanked the MP for drawing the attention of the Central Government to the issue.
Addressing a press conference today, the Sikkim BJP president informed that the Minister of State of Information and Broadcasting, Dr S Jagatrakshan had stated in the Lok Sabha on 15 May that “Doordarshan Kendra in Gangtok is functioning.” On the same, he countered that the Kendra is not functioning at all and it was a sad commentary on the functioning of parliamentary democracy in the country that a Minister “stoops so low” as to mislead “the holy temple of democracy”. He further added that it was a contempt of the Parliament where every minute supposedly costs Rs. One crore when a Minister “unabashedly tells a lie”.
“The fact that the Minister told the Lok Sabha that the Kendra is functioning, presupposes that all the expenditures in connection with its running, such as salary, programmes, news broadcasts etc are being incurred without any work being done,” he alleged. On the same, he demanded an immediate CBI enquiry into the matter to find out the facts.
“The people of Sikkim hope that Shuklaji will continue to take further actions on account of the Kendra till it is made functional, since our SDF representatives in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have maintained complete silence unmindful of their responsibility towards the people of Sikkim,” he stressed.
Mr Chettri alleged that the people of Sikkim do not feel that they are a part of India as the Centre “consistently and deliberately has not made any effort to bring them into the national mainstream”. He added that despite several past requests in writing and approaches to the highest constitutional authorities in the country including the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister-in-Charge, they have doggedly refused to inaugurate the DD Kendra in Gangtok.
He further alleged that the Central Government squandered an amount of more than Rs 14 crore in 2003 for the Kendra. Mr Chettri informed that as per information received on 03 June 2008 from Assistant Director of Programme, Ashok Bhan, in reply to a query under the RTI Act, “Tentatively, inaugural ceremonies of studio at Gangtok had been planned in May 2002 and October 2002.”

Editorial:Awareness on Environment

Readers would have noticed a sudden spike in government schools organising special programmes under the “National Environment Awareness Campaign”. The theme for this year is “Forest for sustainable livelihood”. It is always welcome to engage students in efforts aimed towards generating wider awareness on matters of environment, especially in the present times when urban lifestyles have reached even rural homes and the connection with land and nature is no longer as immediate as it used to be until even very recently. It is important for the young to be introduced more intimately to environment because lives nowadays have become too cosmetic for the importance of environment to life to sink in. Despite all the talk of the Sikkimese people being essentially agrarian, fact also remains that the number of producers is going down. As more people get weaned away from the dependence on land, and as consumption veers increasingly towards manufactured goods, the relevance of environment, despite whatever may be included in Environment Studies textbooks, loses significance.
As mentioned, this disconnect is partly because of changes in lifestyles. A major contributor is however the imposition of rules and laws which have upset the traditional cohabitation between people and nature. With the State taking over the forests and with it the role of conservation, rules framed in offices too far removed from the resources they sought to preserve ended up dismantling the strongest protection nature has always had – traditional lifestyles adjusted to ensure sustainability. Such sustainable lifestyles were of course not unique to Sikkim, and are being lost across the world, but that should not mean that a course correction should not be attempted. In fact, it is time to resuscitate traditional knowledge and discover in its nuances the devices which will be urgently required to adjust to global challenges like climate change. For the non-believers, here are some Sikkim-specific examples. Villages in Sikkim have traditionally attached divinity to natural resources, and this was not ignorant blind faith, but an ingenious device to regulate sustainable use. This role of setting aside green cover as sacred groves for use in rotation or using faith to discourage defiling of water bodies was effected by monasteries and other religious organisations and worked very well for the State. When government departments take over this task, it is seen as an imposition and the law ends up alienating people from their surroundings. This alienation is regrettable because no forests have been lost to people who dwelled within or near them – the havoc has been wreaked by the demand of urban settlements far away. Also, with the alienation, all that exploitation needs is the promise of profit to win cohorts. For another example, take the case of organic farming. Again, this is welcome, but before any “awareness session” on organic farming begins, the government and its officers should first apologise to the farmers for having forced them away from organic farming practices in the first place and for having made them discard native crop species for hybrids. Organic was the only farming option for Sikkim until pesticides and chemical fertilizers were subsidized and promoted without enough education. Now the process is being thankfully reversed, but the task remains difficult because farming has become too dependent now.
Returning to the theme of events being hosted around the National Environment Awareness Campaign, the best way to observe it would be bring the senior citizens into classrooms and then take the students out with them to the surrounding areas where the elders will point out where a spring existed till a decade ago, identify medicinal herbs and their uses, explain what biodiversity means and how much of it has been lost... and the list can go on. If this is attempted at a large enough scale, maybe environment awareness will succeed as a campaign.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sikkim’s Jewels celebrated on State Day

SIKKIM’S RATNAS: Kipu Tshering Lepcha, BB Gooroong, CD Rai, Dr Trilochan Singh, Sanchaman Limboo and Bhaichung Bhutia. [not featured in pix above] Tarundeep Rai, Phul Maya Tamang and TT Dorjee.

 MB Tamang receives the LD Kazi Award for Democratic Movement
GANGTOK, 16 May: The 37th State Day was celebrated at Chintan Bhawan today with a special programme organised by the Home Department and which included the presentation of the Sikkim State Civilian Awards.
Present on the dais for the programme were the Governor BP Singh, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, Minister for Roads & Bridges RB Subba, Minister for Power and Cultural Affairs Sonam Gyatso Lepcha and Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso.
On the day, the LD Kazi Award for Democratic Movement was conferred on MB Tamang of Pachey Samsing under Dugalakha in East Sikkim, while Bibek Sharma of Development Area received the medal and citation of the national award, Jivan Rakshak Padak.
Nine persons received the Sikkim Sewa Ratna and 20 other personalities received the Sikkim Sewa Samman.
BB Gooroong [ex-CM and Chairman, State Welfare Commission]; Sanchaman Limboo [ex-CM and Deputy Chairman, State Planning Commission]; CD Rai [senior journalist]; Dr Trilochan Singh [Director, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi]; TT Dorjee [former Chief Secretary] and Kipu Tshering Lepcha [Social Worker] were awarded the Sikkim Sewa Ratna consisting of a shawl, a silver medal, a citation and cash Rs. 2 lakh, while three persons Bhaichung Bhutia [football], Tarundeep Rai [archery] and Phul Maya Tamang [mountaineer] received the Khel Ratna.
The 20 persons who received the Sikkim Sewa Samman consisting of a citation, shawl, silver medal and Rs 1 lakh each are LB Chettri, Lendup Lepcha and Tar Tshering Lepcha for engineering, others to receive the award were A Karthok [official], Chumsi Doma Bhutia [social worker], Anita Bhujel [nurse], KM Sarda [businessman] and Santosh Nirash [senior journalist].
Jas Lal Pradhan [boxing], Trilok Subba [tae-kwon-do] and Chungda Sherpa [archery] were conferred the Sikkim Khel Samman. Motilal Lakhotia [businessman] and Jagat Prasad Sharma [businessman] received the Sikkim Udyog Samman, while Jas Raj Subba [writer] and Dr Pushpa Sharma [writer] were awarded the Sikkim Sahitiya Samman.
Uttam Pradhan [actor] and BB Rai [artist] were given the Sikkim Kala Samman and Shanti Thatal [singer] received the Sikkim Sangeet Samman. Kul Bahadur Rai [teacher] was given the Sikkim Siksha Samman and Kailash Rana Mangar [farmer] received the Sikkim Krishi Samman.
Three books - ‘Sikkim Brahman 2011 – Chief Minister’s 42 days village-to-village tour’, a coffee table book with photographs of the CM’s Sikkim Brahman [by IPR Department] and ‘Ethno Ornithology of Lepchas of Sikkim’ by Prof Ajeya Jha [Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology] and Ms V Jha were also released during the programme.
Earlier during the programme two patriotic songs by school children of Modern Senior Secondary School and Deorali Girls Senior Secondary School were also performed, while the National Anthem was played by the Sikkim Police Band.
The programme was attended by Cabinet Ministers, MLAs, Chairpersons, Mayor, Deputy Mayor, DGP, Commissioners and Secretaries, senior police officials, officials from various government departments and local gentries.

CM hails Tashi Tshering as Sikkim’s ‘First Democratic Soldier’


GANGTOK, 16 May: “On this auspicious occasion, I would like to recognise and name late Tashi Tshering as the first democratic soldier and take this rare privilege to announce installation of life-size statue in his memory,” announced Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in his State Day address delivered at a special function hosted at Chintan Bhawan today. He added that a book on the “lives, struggle and contributions of contemporary democratic workers” will also be published.
Speaking on the struggle for democracy in Sikkim, he said that 37 years ago, this day marked the “culmination of people’s hopes and aspirations for democracy and to be part of a great democratic nation”. Sharing bits about his role in the democratic movement in the 70’s, he informed that he had the “privilege of working closely with hundreds of others during the people’s revolution that took place in the 1970s”.
“Today, I can clearly remember March 31st, 1973, when one late DM Rai of Karothang, Yangang, handed over a letter from late LD Kazi calling me to lead people of South District and join in the people’s revolution. Consequently, on April 5th, 1973 I was one of the young leaders, leading thousands of people at Singtam with slogans like- ‘we want democracy’ – with that demand of ‘one-man, one-vote’. That day at Singtam also marked my formal entry into active politics for establishment of a democratic State,” he shared.
The CM also included a detailed account of the democratic movement culminating in the Merger in his State Day address today, putting on record, “I pay tribute to all the democratic soldiers for their wisdom and foresight to establish government of the people based on people’s franchise”.
The CM further speaking on the issue stated that the role played by hundreds of political leaders, political activists and workers during this long period of political development for self-determination needs to be properly assessed and recorded for posterity. “Many of our younger generation are unaware of the sacrifices made by our elders and forefathers, so it is necessary that our younger generation read and understand Sikkim’s history in the right perspective to find correct path for the future,” he stressed.
He further informed the gathering of the inclusion of the Limboo and Tamang in the list of STs, while the inclusion of the rest of left-out communities from the list was still pending. He expressed confidence that the Government of India will in due course of time consider the request made for the left-out communities into the list so that the state continues to progress steadily with peace, tranquility and communal harmony as a model state in the country.
Speaking on the Sikkim Democratic Front [SDF] party and his government coming to power 18 years ago, he stated that after he was sworn in as head of the government he had announced that he was “first the servant of the people and that he belonged to no political party and safety and well being of all the people including the oppsoition leaders was his responsibility”.
The CM also detailed the large number of programmes and first-of-its-kind schemes started by the government for the welfare and upliftment of the people. He further spoke on innovative programmes started by the government in various fields, such as education, health, social justice, women empowerment, etc for the overall development of the people as well as the state.
Speaking on the issue of hydro-power in the state, he stated that based on analysis, the hydro-power potential is estimated to be in order of 8000 MW and can further go up if the generation capacity of all mini and micro potentials is assessed and accounted for. He however rued that “illogical and unfounded fears were being fanned by vested interest groups who are neither ready to see reason nor ready to listen.”
“If we keep our commitment above petty political upmanship and not linked to unfounded sentiment and emotional blackmail tactics, we can together harness hydro-power to its full potential and make Sikkim economically sound and stable,” he stated.
Speaking on the upcoming Panchayat elections which are to be held in September in Sikkim, he invited the people to fully participate in the elections and to choose their representatives with due care and consultation.
Taking a dig at the opposition, he said that he was aware that his political adversaries were hinting at a new political equation, but he was happy that atleast there were some to “keep him alert and creative in the interest of the people”. “I am not one of those, who would promise a life of Sanyas on losing an election or a life of Hitler on winning it,” the CM quipped.
Further stating that the standard of politics and the process of electioneering has greatly degenerated, the CM said that increasing cases of personal blame game, character assassination, vendetta, mud-slinging and name calling has put the image of the state and country at great risk and added that as per his understanding politics must be practised as an intelluctual, clean and decent game.
Commenting RTI and PILs were being misused for personal gains and as blackmail tactics, he said that certain opposition leaders “long discarded by the people”, were using them as political weapons to destroy the good image of the government through false representation and fabricated papers seeking to mislead the honourable courts on multiple occasions.

Indian Olympic Archery team to train in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 16 May: The Indian Olympic Archery Team comprising of Tarundeep Rai, Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee, Deepika Kumari, L  Bombyala Devi, Chekrovolu Swuro, Limba Ram (Chief Coach), Ravi Shankar(Coach) and Purnima Mahato (Coach) arrived in Gangtok today to prepare for the London Olympic Games, informs a press release issued by Sikkim Archery Association, general secretary, Dr KB Gurung.
The team will be accompanied by Secretary General, Archery Association of India [AAI], Paresh Nath Mukherjee. AAI had requested SAA to hold the camp in Gangtok since it is much cooler than Kolkata here and the wind conditions at Paljor Stadium would be the same as in London, the release mentions.
SAA will arrange facilities such as the ground, field equipments and manpower for the camp. The release adds that SAA is highly honoured to have this opportunity to host the Indian Olympic team and warmly welcomes them to Gangtok.  Members of SAA were at Rangpo to welcome the team today.
In another release, SAA has congratulated international archers Tarundeep Rai and Chunda Sherpa on being conferred the Sikkim Khel Samman on the occasion of the 37th State Day. The Association has also congratulated Rai for winning the Silver Medal in Men’s Team Recurve Event at the 2nd World Cup, Antalya, Turkey in the second week of May 2012.

SHRPP alleges scam at Directorate of Lotteries

GANGTOK, 16 May: Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party [SHRPP] claims to have unraveled a huge scam running to crores of rupees involving the Directorate of Sikkim State Lotteries under the Finance Revenue & Expenditure Department. This, according to the party, has come to light from the information furnished by the Directorate to the RTI application filed by SHRPP treasurer and advisor, SB Gurung.
Mr Gurung informed that based on the open tender notice taken out on 25 October 2000 and tender process held on 21 November 2000, the State Government appointed Martin Lottery Agencies Limited, Coimbatore as distributor for minimum of Rs 1,600 crore turnover per annum for Weekly and Bumper Schemes with denomination of rupee one each for weekly and for bumper draws as permissible under the Lottery (Regulation) Act, 1998.
He informed that a MoU was signed on 17 February 2001 and was enforced from 09 April 2001 to 8 April 2006 for 17 weekly lottery schemes and bumper draws.
Mr Gurung mentioned that as per information received from the Directorate through RTI, Martin Lottery Agencies deposited Rs 43.53 crore for the financial year 2001-02 inclusive of Government revenue, prize payment, unclaimed prize and administrative charges. However, he said that there are no records of any payment made by the distributor to the state between 2002-06 and alleged that the state must have received payments but no official records were kept.
Mr Gurung informed that he has also sought the records for the period from 2006 till this year.
Party president, Dr AD Subba stated that SHRPP has been underestimated by the ruling and opposition parties in Sikkim and added that now the time has come to show the real power of the party. Responding to media queries on the upcoming Panchayat Elections, Dr Subba expressed doubts on the State government’s intention to conduct the elections but added that the party would contest if the elections are held.
General secretary, Tara Shrestha stated that in Sikkim’s political history there have been no “movements” as such that brought in change but every time “an event” has led to change in the state, so this year too an event will give rise to change.
During the press conference, the party also introduced its new central executive members, Punya Prasad Koirala, who joined the SHRPP after resigning from CPI [M], Dr Laxuman Karki of Ranipool and Phurba Sherpa. Likewise, the party also introduced its new members Phur Tenzee Sherpa and Chandra Hang Limboo from West Sikkim.

Editorial:State Day Congratulations!

The State Day celebrations in Gangtok featured the conferment of a wide array of civilian awards, a first for Sikkim, to individuals who have established strong social credentials with their commitment to their respective vocations in particular and the people at large in general. Such recognition of personalities who have made Sikkim proud and served its people well is a handsome display of confidence and pride- a gesture which needs to be celebrated and sustained. On the occasion of Sikkim’s 37th State Day, there are also many more congratulations due to Sikkim and its people for the maturity with which it has navigated the complexities of Indian democracy and the sanity with which it has addressed issues. While the rest of the country appears fractured, both in pursuits and mandate, Sikkim has been remarkably consistent and unanimous. The government in office was elected by a 75% mandate of the people. In comparison, the neighbouring State of West Bengal has a government voted into power by 48% of the votes polled [against 42% of its nearest rival]. As much as this is an endorsement of the party in power, it is also a sign of unanimity of political expression among the people here. There will definitely be those who scoff at this as a celebration of the ruling Front, but what they would end up ignoring then is respect for the will of the people. Sikkim’s social indices have been improving and development, its negative fallouts notwithstanding, has sustained an upward graph. The bounties of democracy are obvious now in Sikkim, where, even though there may be sections with get ‘left out’, there is no section which is oppressed. No one can deny that the people have secured a democratic space to protest and be heard. Take the issue of hydel protests for example. While much media space has been devoted to the protests [and rightfully so] and allegations of corruption, what has not been recognised is that Sikkim’s claims of democracy having been institutionalised have not been vacant assertions. Each protest [eg the ACT protest against hydel projects in Dzongu and the more recent protests against hydel plans on Rathong Chu] has received the institution of a ‘high-level committee’ to address the issues in contest. Sikkim also has the unique track-record of being the only State to scrap hydel projects even after they have been awarded. On last count, starting from the scrapping of Rathong Chu hydel project in the nineties, as many as eight hydel projects have been scrapped in the State in response to protests by directly affected groups and in recognition of wider sentiments which claimed hurt. Sikkim is not the only state to have embraced hydel projects, but it is the only one to have scrapped any. This is unprecedented, and even as protests continue and demands for more transparency are made, this is one aspect which should be recognised more widely. This has happened not only because the government desired so, but also because enough people leveraged their democratic right to speak up and did so in an environment which now exists to carry their voices. This environment has not been easy to achieve and it is hence important that people at large and the younger generation in particular understand the processes and history through which Sikkim has coursed. Only then will the young respect the value of their democratic inheritance and nurture it with responsibility. As the State begins its 38th year as a democracy, it should resolve to inform its young better and more comprehensively about how Sikkim’s tryst with democracy came about and how the institution has matured...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sikkim Spring Carnival concludes

GANGTOK, 15 May: The five-day Sikkim Spring Carnival concluded today amidst cultural performances by artists brought in from across the country.
The last day of the Carnival saw performances by cultural artists from Odisha, last year’s winner of ‘Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega’ Abu Salek from Mumbai, Singye Cham, singers from Darjeeling, Swar Sikkim contestants, North East Super Star Remanti Rai, singing star Thupden Bhutia including a special performance by Sikkim Police IGP, Akshay Sachdeva.
Secretary Tourism, R Telang while speaking to media persons said, “The Snow Fest was a good initiative taken by the TAAS; it did lay the foundation for this carnival, which was a great success and had lived up to their expectation. This success has given us strength. It has improved the image of the State and has sent a message to all tourists that Sikkim is safe and sound now. The people are feeling confident to come to Sikkim now”.
There was huge support from various agencies, the Army participated through Military Tattoo, Cultural and Heritage Department played a huge supporting role to make this event successful including the Horticulture department, Police department and the District Collectorate from all the 4 Districts, he further informed.
The Secretary added that this can continue if stakeholders are interested to hold discussions regarding the same with the department.
Lopsang Yonten a monk at one of the stalls in White Hall said that all the tourists were enthusiastic and wanted to know more about the art and sculpture showcased. “The visitors had no idea about the religious items on display and were amazed to learn that they were made of pure butter and a mixture of flour”, said Yonten.
During the carnival 14 communities of the state showcased their traditional food items in which the Department of Food Securities and Agricultural Development [FS&ADD] department had also displayed different food crops like Baby Corn, Sweet corn, Buckwheat, Millet, Maize, and a variety of pickles.    
Tourists from across the world like Denmark, Zurich, New Zealand and Washington DC visited the stalls and appreciated all the items displayed by the different communities. Speaking to NOW!, Terry and Judy Lund from Australia said that they had gone to Yuksom where they took a hike around the village which they found amazing and fabulous. “The Spring Carnival has surprised us as there was nothing happening before 11 May but after the Carnival started, we have had lots of fun. We hope Sikkim will come up with a lot more events and surprises in the coming days”, the couple added.
The department of Tourism also gave away certificates of participation to all the 14 communities who showcased traditional food items. The department also selected the 4 best ethnic food stalls which were Akhil Tamu Gurung Buddhist Association, Sikkim Lepcha Association, All Sikkim Kirat Sangh and Sikkim Bhutia Association.
The evening’s programme was attended by the Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel as the chief guest along with Secretary Tourism, R Telang, Inspector General [IG], Akshay Sachdeva and other dignitaries.

Entrepreneur announces Rs 50,000 scholarship for State toppers in memory of father

BAGHEYKHOLA, 15 May: Ugen T Ladakhi, Co-Managing Director of Casino Mahjong, has announced plans of launching a scholarship programme for state toppers [of Classes X and XII] from this year onwards. “We will be starting a scholarship programme for state toppers in the name of my late father NT Ladakhi,” informed Mr Ladakhi while speaking to media persons here today.
The Nima T Ladakhi Memorial Scholarship will be given to state toppers from schools in Sikkim and not to Sikkimese students studying outside, he clarified, adding that they toppers will receive an amount of Rs. 50,000 each, a citation and a trophy.
He further informed that in the coming years, the scholarship amount could be increased and even the number of awardees increased. “This is the first year, so we will be taking one topper each from Classes X and XII who can be from private or government schools,” he said and added that this will be done once the results are declared and the names of the State toppers announced at a special function.
“The State has done a lot for the people, but the people are just taking the state for granted and are never satisfied. Look at all the schemes and programmes that the state has started for the people, everything is being provided but the people are still not happy,” he stated. Sikkim being a peaceful state has even provided a safe working environment for the people and its now time for the people of the state to give something back, he stressed.
“Being a son of Sikkim, I too want to contribute for the people and want to do something for them,” he said and added that education was the most important asset one could contribute to. Speaking on the Mayalmu Sangh, he stated that if the government provided a proper piece of land anywhere between Ranipool and Rangpo, he would take full responsibility for the construction of the entire infrastructure of the Sangh, as promised earlier.
“I want to do something for the people of Sikkim and this I want to do in the name of my late father and mother, who themselves were big contributors towards society”, he said and added that very soon he would be starting the Ladakhi Trust as well.

Sikkim State Judicial Academy “Nyaya Dwar” to come up at Sokeythang

GANGTOK, 15 May: Supreme Court Judge, Justice Altamas Kabir, laid the foundation stone of the Sikkim State Judicial Academy at Sokeythang here yesterday accompanied by the Chief Justice of Sikkim Permod Kholi and Sikkim High Court Judge Sonam Pintso Wangdi on Monday.
The Academy will be second in the North East Region after the first one in Guwahati. The 1.5 acre plot at Sokeythang near Lingding basti will house an administrative building, miscellaneous block, and hostel for trainees, conference room, VIP guest rooms, swimming pool and residential quarters.
The cost of the project is estimated at Rs 30 crore and the task of construction has been given to the Buildings & Housing Department.
Justice Kabir while addressing the gathering said that the Judicial Academy would prove to be a milestone in the administration of justice in the State and would also be a place to deliberate on and exchange ideas.
He said that that the powers of judiciary should be exercised for strengthening the common people's faith in the administration of justice and the judicial officers ought to be conversant with the latest legislations and maintain poise and steadiness in their functioning.
“The new complex will cater to the academic, administrative and residential needs of the Judicial Academy in imparting training and judicial education to newly inducted civil judges, judicial magistrates and district judges as well as in arranging continuous judicial education programmes for in-service judicial officers and prosecutors. It will also conduct training courses for new prosecutors” said Justice Kohli in his address.
He also said that the new Judicial Academy would be named ‘Nyaya Dwar’ (the temple of justice).
Justice Wangdi in his welcome address informed that the proposal of setting up the academy was taken up on August 2009 and the 13th Finance Commission has earmarked the fund of Rs 15 crore for the establishment of Judicial Academy in every Indian state.
The Chief Engineer of Building and Housing Department Chewang Zangpo also addressed the gathering.

Theft reported in North Sikkim

GANGTOK, 15 May: A case of theft has been reported from the North District where some unidentified persons made away with some cash after breaking the main door of a shop owned by one Ramesh Kumar Shah in Mangan on Monday.
Mr Shah filed a FIR against unknown persons under section 457/380 IPC at Mangan Police Station. A suspect was brought in for questioning it is reported, but no arrests have been made thus far.

34-yr-old commits suicide

GANGTOK, 15 May: A 34-year-old man committed suicide by hanging in his home on Monday. The deceased, a resident of Sidibong, West Sikkim, is reported to have been mentally unsound and had been under treatment for the past few years.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

CM inaugurates Sakungsaya Mangkhim at Chemchey on Sakewa

NAMCHI, 14 May: On the auspicious occasion of the Rai festival of Sakewa today, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling inaugurated the Sakungsaya Mangkhim at Chemchey, South Sikkim and participated in the prayers conducted by Mangpas at the “Three-Heart Stone” of the Mangkhim. The Chief Minister was accompanied by his wife Tika Maya Chamling, and Political Advisor DD Bhutia.
Organized jointly by the North East Zone Cultural Center, Dimapur and Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department, the state-level Sakewa festival at Chemchey was marked with colourful presentations of Rai traditions, culture and customs along with traditional food and wine.
Addressing the occasion, the Chief Minister stressed that religion should bring change in the life of people and inspire them towards creating a better society. To the educated youth and students in the audience, the Chief Minister said that Sikkim has gained world’s class development and opportunities but people have to become more competitive, hardworking and skilled to benefit from these opportunities.
He further urged the youth to imbibe the positive aspects of developed countries and stay away from its harmful aspects.
The CM said that in the coming Panchayat elections, the party will give priority to the candidates nominated by the people and urged the people in turn to be careful in choosing their candidates.
During the programme, the Sakewa celebration committee also felicitated contractor Prem Tsering Sherpa with a citation for his contribution in constructing the Mangkhim at Chemchey while the CM presented certificates to the different cultural groups.
On the occasion the CM also released books and music CDs. Cultural performances of different forms of Sili dance were also presented during the celebrations while singer Jatin Rai and his group also performed with traditional instruments on the day.
The Sakewa festival was also attended Ministers, MLAs, officers and had a large presence of local public.

CM underlines responsibility of contractors towards development

GANGTOK, 14 May [IPR]: “Contractors are directly and equally responsible in the development of the state as they are always regarded as part and parcel of the government in the course of their work,” said the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling at a coordination meeting with government contractors of the state organized by the Roads and Bridges Department at Chintan Bhawan, Gangtok on 12 May. The meeting was held with the objective to discuss on quality control, management and speedy implementation of developmental schemes chaired by the Chief Minister.
While talking about the objective of the meeting, the CM said that the purpose of the meeting was to provide a platform and opportunity to discuss the developmental activities of the state and also to acknowledge the role of contractors in the development process.
Talking about the various aspects of contractual works, the CM expressed that contractors should work with utmost dedication and honesty towards any project entrusted to them as they are creating infrastructure for the future of the state.
He added that being a part of the government, contractors should not compromise on quality to ensure respect for the profession. The CM also remembered the contractors who had contributed for the society and are an example for the society. In their course of work, besides the profit motive, the sense of belonging towards the state should act as motivation to work for the development of the state, the Chief Minister added.
Talking about the various initiatives of the government the CM added that contractors have a major role in this regard as they are the people who work in the field. Talking about the concept of e-tendering the CM said that this has to be implemented for the larger interest of the contractors as this will keep aside the middlemen involved in the contractual work.
In this regard, he advised the contractors to enhance their computer knowledge and update themselves with the recent developments so as to enable themselves to compete under this system. He also talked about the government decision of allotting works to the cooperative societies to safeguard the interest of the smaller contractors of the rural areas.
The works department has been directed to frame rules to safeguard the interest of the local contractors, the CM added. Stressing on the demands placed by the contractors the Chief Minister assured to decrease the interest rate of mobilizing fund of the work from 10% to 5% and also excuse 1% of labour cess for working contractors. He also assured to give priority on payment of the bills for ongoing schemes of all departmental works and urged the contractors to complete the work in the scheduled time. “ I will protect the interest of the people in any cost and will remain rigid on this commitment forever”, said the CM.
Earlier, Chief Engineer, Building and Housing Department, C Zangpo in his welcome address said that such kind of programme was being organised for the first time in Sikkim with the objective of motivating stake holders in the development of the state. He suggested that contractors should make proper and sincere use of certificate and document provided by the government.
On behalf of the all contractors of Sikkim, Chetan Sharma thanked the Chief Minister for the revision of Schedule of Rates and encouragement of private sector investors in the state which is very much favorable for their profession.
The programme concluded with the vote of thanks proposed by Mr. Uttam Pradhan, Chief Engineer(Mechanical), Energy and Power Department.