Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chinese diplomats visit Sikkim to expedite release of Chinese national in custody here

GANGTOK, 21 Nov: Three Chinese diplomats were in Gangtok recently to expedite the release of fellow Chinese citizen languishing in the State Jail at Rongyek here. It is now learnt, and verified, that the sole purpose of their visit was to arrange for the release of the trader from Tibetan Autonomous Region taken into custody at Sherathang trade mart and now facing trial on espionage charges in Sikkim. The matter is now in the Courts. Media reports coming out of New Delhi had suggested that the diplomatic delegation was in Sikkim to reaffirm China’s acceptance of Sikkim’s status as an Indian state. This was obviously not why the delegation was here.
During their daylong visit to Gangtok on 19 November, the diplomats visited the state jail and met with Langki Jiancen, the 20-year-old who is in custody under the Official Secrets Act for having allegedly taken photographs of restricted areas at the border while travelling in these parts as a trader engaged in border trade.
In fact, what prompted the diplomats, who had arrived from the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, was the report suggesting that Mr. Jiancen had opted not to be pushed back to China. When produced before the courts at Gangtok in late October he had been further remanded to judicial custody for a period of 2 months.
Interestingly, the accused had reportedly made known that he was not in favour of being deported or pushed back into China.
The refusal to be pushed back, as reported, must probably stem from the unpleasant prospect of being grilled for days on end by Chinese authorities on the other side once he is pushed back into Tibet. While the court is yet to give its final order it is being speculated that the plan of the Chinese national is to be ‘handed over’ to one of the Tibetan associations in the state for ‘deportation’ via Rangpo and eventually end up in Dharamsala.
The Chinese delegation from the Embassy are required to check in on their citizens caught in situations as Mr. Jiancen finds himself in, assure his return and more importantly report back to Beijing on the status as well as the efforts put in by them to secure their citizen. The three-member delegation included Minister Counsellor Fan Fei; Second Secretary, Hao Jian and Second Secretary, Jian Zhen.

Tibetans to undertake peace march to Salugara

GANGTOK, 21 Nov: The Tibetan Youth Club [TYC] and the 5,000 plus strong Tibetan community living in and around Gangtok will be undertaking a peace march from Chandmari here in Gangtok to Salugara in Siliguri, West Bengal starting 23 November, informs Chung Chung Bhutia [president, TYC], while speaking to the media-persons here today.
“We will begin the peace march on 23 November from here in Gangtok and the five-day march will end on 27 November when we reach Salugara”, he added. Around 150 people from the Tibetan community [young and old] will be participating in the peace march.
“We are holding this peace march to protest against the atrocities being carried out against the Tibetan people in Tibet and also to express solidarity with the people who have self-immolated themselves for the Tibetan cause,” he said and added that the situation in Tibet was going from bad to worse. There is no freedom of religion or education and above all no freedom of speech for the Tibetans in Tibet, said Mr Bhutia and added that there is gross violation of human rights as well.
Speaking further on the peace rally, he informed that the rally will also be joined by Tibetans from Ravangla, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Mirik and Kurseong. While the people from Ravangla will join the rally on 23 November, others will join along the way.
“We plan to cover around 20 to 25 kilometers in a day and will also be making halts during the nights. On the first day we will halt at the Water Garden at 32 Number, the second halt will be at Tarkhola, then at Rimbi, next at Sevoke before reaching Salugara,” he informed. He also stated that such peace rallies were also being organized in the other North East states.
He has further appealed to the people of Sikkim to come forward and support the peace rally and has also asked them to join them in the rally. This is the first time such a peace rally by the Tibetan community is being organized in the state, he added.
“During our march, we will be addressing the people we meet in the different towns and villages we cross in the way and also hand out pamphlets regarding our issues,” he stated. Then on 28 November, we plan to take out a mass procession from Salugara to the SDM’s office situated at Court More in Siliguri.
As on date [till November], a total of 78 people have self immolated themselves since 2009, 17 having set themselves on fire this November alone. In India there have been three deaths and four attempted self immolations till now.

SDF propose names of Zilla Adhyakshyas and Upadhyakshyas

GANGTOK, 21 Nov: The ruling Sikkim Democratic Front today released the list of names proposed by it for the posts of Zilla Adhyakshyas and Upadhakshyas for all four districts.
Informing that the list has been approved by the party president, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, an SDF press release informs that Bimal Dawari’s name has been proposed for a second term as East Zilla Adhyakshya, and Kalpana Moktan, a lawyer turned politician has been proposed as Upadhyakshya.
For South district, Chabi Lal Gurung from Yangang has been proposed for the Adhyakshya’s post and Devi Maya Baraily the Upadhyakshya.
For West district, Devika Subba’s has been proposed as Adhyakshya and Laxmi Prasad Kafley of Gerethang the Upadhyakshya. Similarly, for North district, the party has endorsed Anguli Lepcha for the post of Adhyakshya and Nim Tshering Lepcha is the Upadhyakshya.
The 50% reservation for women at the panchayat level has been maintained at the Adhyakshya and Upadhyaksha level as well.
In South Sikkim, the announcement was made in a meeting held by the ruling party here at the party office which was chaired by party vice president-cum in- charge South district, GM Gurung, Chairman, Passang R Sherpa, outgoing Adhyakshya South, BM Rai, party leaders of South Sikkim and the Zilla Panchayat members from 20 Zilla Territorial Constituencies out of the total 28 TCs.
South district has a seat reserved for MBC in the post of Adhyakshya and SC women for Upadhyakshya. The party today declared the name of CL Gurung from Yangyang as the new Zilla Adhyakshya South while the lone woman SC, Zilla Panchayat from Namthang-Maneydara, Devi Maya Baraily will be the new Upadhyakshya South.

Two teens arrested on charges of sexual assault

GANGTOK, 21 Nov: A 13-year-old has been taken into by the Gyalshing police for allegedly raping two minor girls aged 5 and 9 years in two separate incidents in West Sikkim. The accused is reportedly a resident of 5th mile, Malbasey, Gyalshing.
The first complaint was lodged by the father of the 5-year-old victim reporting that the accused assaulted his daughter at around 11 AM on 20 November. The victim is reportedly in a serious condition and has been referred to STNM hospital, Gangtok.
The second complaint is actually for what now appears to be juvenile’s first crime – a sexual assault which took place a few days before the incident reported above. This relates to the sexual assault by the 13-year-old on a 9-year-old girl.
This came to light after the mother of the victim was informed about it by a neighbor and later the girl related the harrowing experience. She too was sent for medical examination.
In another incident of sexual assault, a 19-year-old boy has been arrested by the police for having sexually assaulted a 69-year-old woman. In fact here, too, the boy is accused to having sexually assaulted the woman twice in her house. A case has been registered at the Namchi police station.
The aged victim was assaulted by the teen for the second time at around 2 a.m. on the night of 20 November. The accused, a resident of the same area, reportedly broke into the victim’s house knowing she was alone. As per the complainant this was the second incident as she had been assaulted by the same person earlier too.

Nathula trade season ends 29 Nov

GANGTOK, 21 Nov [IPR]: The Indo China Border Trade via Nathula is scheduled to close on 30 November, 2012 as per the Office Memorandum no. 4/12/2003-Infra (ii) dated 30/3/2007. However, for the current year 30 November, 2012 being a non-trading day, the approval has been obtained from the State Government to close trade on 29 Nov which is a trading day.


GANGTOK, 21 Nov: A 27-year-old man reportedly committed suicide in his house at Pakyong at around 5 PM on 20 November. He was alone in the house at the time of the incident. The deceased was a originally a resident of Assam Lingzey c urrently residing at Upper Dugalakha, Pakyong.

Student killed in fall

GANGTOK, 21 Nov: In a tragic incident, a student of Sang Senior Secondary School accidentally fell to his death at the school premises. The incident took place on 19 November and the boy, Kamal Darjee, succumbed to his injuries at the Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, on 20 November.
As per reports, the deceased was a Class XI student of Sang SSS. Late in the evening on the fateful day, he was reportedly showing some stunts to his friends in the school after school hours when he fell down from the first floor of the school building and landed on a hard surface. He was immediately rushed to the CRH, Tadong in serious condition and he succumbed the following day.

Editorial: Children Deserve Better

20 November was Universal Children’s Day. The day observed to mark the UN’s adoption of the Declaration of Children’ Rights in 1959. The Convention which followed is a legally binding treaty that obliges governments to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children through legislations and policies. Child rights include the right to life, health, education, participation, and protection from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. All of these rights are equally important and reinforce each other, and the denial of even one Right compromises the potential of all others. As for whom to count as ‘children’, we go here with the generally accepted age bracket of 0-14. This section makes up one-third of the population of the India, and a significant portion is on the threshold of becoming young adults preparing for bigger responsibilities. Now, let’s look at what India has achieved sixty-five years since it gained Independence and 53 years since the Declaration of Children’s Rights was passed. As per the report, report, ‘Children in India 2012 – A Statistical Appraisal’, prepared by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, 48% of children under five years of age are stunted (too short for their age) which indicates that, half of the country’s children are chronically malnourished! 19.8% of the children are in turn suffering from acute malnutrition, as evidenced by wasting, results in a child being too thin for his or her height, while 43% of the children are underweight for their age. Some states where the figures are extremely appalling are Madhya Pradesh (60%), Jharkhand (56.5%) and Bihar (55.9%). With a substantial chunk of the children already underprivileged and suffering denial since birth, it is hardly surprising that child labour continues to remain a challenge. The latest statistics on this count are unfortunately of 2001 vintage and reveal that the number of child labourers increased from 11.28 million in 1991 to 12.66 million in 2001. The major occupations engaging child labour are Pan, Bidi & Cigarettes (21%), Construction (17%), Domestic workers (15%) and Spinning & weaving (11%). And then there are crimes against children [while every denial is a criminal lapse, we speak here of cognisable offences as covered by the Indian Penal Code]. It is alarming that, in 2011, Crimes against Children reported a 24% increase at the national level from the previous year with a total of 33,098 cases of crimes against Children reported in the country during 2011 as compared to 26,694 cases during 2010. In 2011, among the IPC crimes, an increase of 43% was registered in Kidnapping and Abduction, while rape cases increased by 30%, Procuration of minor girls recorded an increase of 27% and Foeticide reported an increase of 19% over 2010. Meanwhile, the conviction rate at national level for the crimes committed against children stood at 34.6%.
Given this scenario, the observance of Children’s Day becomes important to draw attention afresh to the problems. In India, we observe Children’s Day on 14 November to mark Chacha Nehru’s birth anniversary. Unfortunately however, the observance of Children’s Day has been reduced to a celebration as Student’s Day. As the statistics quoted above bear out, the children who manage to remain in school [no matter how deplorable the condition of the schools], can actually be considered privileged in our country. It is the army on the streets which rummages through trash to pick a livelihood, the domestic servants engaged in household chores when they should be playing with friends, who need to be reassured that they are still important and that their problems are being addressed, one tiny step after the other. Or dump it. That would be plain hypocrisy. No one is really concerned. What should be done instead is to pick these children up, put them up on a dais, or better still, march them through the streets recounting the lives they live. The mirror will be turned on the people and maybe the reflection will rattle some people into action. Another option would be to add more to the observance of Children’s Day in schools. Instead of class picnics and partying, we should show them how the underprivileged in their age-group subsist. If they grow up with this knowledge, may be they will do something about Child Rights when they grow up and sit in positions of power. As for us, the present generation, we can continue paying lip-service to these issues till the next generation grows up and does our work for us.

Central IT officials to review exemption demand of Old Settlers

GANGTOK, 20 Nov: The old settlers community of Sikkim is gearing up for another round of negotiations with central Income Tax officials to push their case seeking Income Tax exemption at par with other Sikkimese who were granted exemption by the centre in the year 2008. Ever since the Sikkim Subject and Certificate of Identification holders in the state were granted exemption from paying direct income Tax, the Old Settlers [mostly members of the old business community] have been petitioning both the state and central governments to be equated with the Subject/ CoI holders in Sikkim and given the same benefit.
A senior Income Tax official along with officials from the Siliguri IT circle is reportedly scheduled to arrive in Gangtok on 22 November for a meeting with the community members. The agenda is primarily to understand the demand seeking IT exemption as put forward by the old settlers of the state. While their demand has already been explained often and extensively to central officials, the change of guard following transfer of officials especially in the IT department and in the Siliguri IT circle has led to the demand having to be explained again.
On the other hand, it is also informed that the IT officials will also be here with the aim to look at implementing Clause 26AAA of the Finance Act, 2008 in the state whereby those without Sikkim Subject Certificates or Certificates of Identification are liable to pay central income tax. Those falling under the liability aspect of this clause are largely members of the business community and though the Income Tax office here in Gangtok has been repeatedly sending them notices to file their IT returns, the community has remained adamant on their stand claiming exemption.
This has created problems for the income tax officers as they are directed by New Delhi to meet targets [on IT collection]. In other words there is a particular amount set as target which the IT office here has to collect.
Their main ground of ignoring the notices is that their petitions for IT exemptions are in process of being considered by the central government. The old settlers have been pushing to be granted exemption to end discrimination and their primary demand is that those having settled in Sikkim before 1975 be given exemption. As for those having settled here post 1975, they have been demanding that the process of filing IT returns, being new to Sikkim, be explained to them for which some kind of workshop or seminar be organized by the IT office.

SIKITEX-4 and 3rd e-North East Award Summit begin Thursday

GANGTOK, 20 Nov: The fourth edition of SIKITEX and the 3rd e-North East Award Summit 2012 is going to be held at Chintan Bhawan here in Gangtok on 22 and 23 November and is being organized by the Department of Information Technology, Human Resource Development Department and North East Development Foundation, informed KK Pradhan [Secretary, IT Department] while addressing a press conference at the venue this afternoon.
This edition of SIKITEX is being held with much stronger focus on how Information Communication Technology [ICT] tools and applications can provide need-based and sustainable solutions to the problems of connectivity, public service delivery and building trust in governments in North East India, he added.
There are going to be over 40 stalls from the NE States and various other private parties from over the country, of which 10 are also from Sikkim, informed Rajesh Verma [Principal Director, IT Department] and added that there will also be one stall displaying IT tools for the disabled. The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology [NIT] situated at Deorali will also be showcasing their digitization of the various scriptures of the monasteries of Sikkim, he stated.
SIKITEX was launched in the year 2009 as a flagship IT programme of Sikkim, he said and added that the focus of SIKITEX is on showcasing and exhibiting best ICT solutions and practices including e-Gov solutions relevant for public sector programmes across departments in Sikkim and other NE states. In the past three editions, more than 200 exhibitors, producers and innovators have showcased their innovative solutions, he informed.
Speaking during the conference, Syad S Kazi, Chief Executive of North East Development Foundation [NEDF] stated that the 3rd e-North East Award Summit, an annual feature and an initiative of NEDF would also be held in the evening of 23 November, after the IT event. This is the first time the award function is being held in Sikkim, while the first was held in Assam the second was held in Nagaland, he added.
This year, the Award Summit will recognize and felicitate 27 winners, special mentions, special jury mentions and finalists in as many as 12 categories, he said and added that this year there were a total of 81 nominations of which these 27 have been selected. The award summit is about scouting good practices in ICT for development and governance in NE India and the focus is on citizen services delivery, health, education, livelihood, enterprise promotion and youth and women empowerment in the region, he stated.
He further informed about the five technical sessions which will be held during the two-day event where 22 presenters and about 10 to 15 special invitees [well known personalities from the NE] will be delivering their presentations and addressing the gathering. The theme of the inaugural day is ‘Digital inclusion for inclusive growth in North East India.’
Others supporting this major ICT event as partners are North Eastern Council, National Internet Exchange of India, Digital Empowerment Foundation [New Delhi], NASSCOM, Internet Society, Sikkim Manipal University, Microsoft, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology, VAR India, IAMAI, AVAYA and others.

Yangang School gears up for Platinum Jubilee celebrations

GANGTOK, 20 Nov: Yangang Senior Secondary School established in 1937 is completing 75 years of education this year and will round up the milestone with a grand Platinum Jubilee celebration stretching over three days from 06 to 08 December.
Several events have already begun under the aegis of the celebration committee and other committees formed for the purpose. Sports selection, inter senior secondary school level quiz and debate competitions and finals of various events will be held during the three days.
More than 17 schools from around Yangang will be participating in different events. On the final day of celebration, on 08 December, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is an alumni of the school is scheduled to be present as the chief guest, the release informs .
Preparations for the celebrations are underway and preparation of the souvenir and magazine is going on in full swing. Various construction work in the school premises are also getting the final touches.
Singer and composer, from Nepal, Susan Lama is taking charge of the cultural events like dances, songs, etc where students of Yangang Sr Sec School and other institutions are taking part. With the support of local NGOs and other organisations, local food, arts and crafts will also be displayed during the celebrations.
Many dignitaries, who are former students of the school have extended support to make the event a grand success. All ex-students are invited for the event, the release adds.

UD&HD sets up committee to look into public grievances

GANGTOK, 20 Nov: The Urban Development and Housing Department has constituted a five-member committee with the Additional Secretary as the chairperson to address public grievances in the department. The committee came into effect 28 August earlier this year.
The committee is required to monitor and ensure the speedy disposal of grievances of the public, however with almost two months passed since the committee was constituted, there have still been no complaints placed before it.
Speaking to NOW! today, Additional Secretary Dhan Jyoti Mukhia informed that the committee will look into all complaints and grievances related to the department as soon as a complaint letter or an application is received by the department. She informed that a separate Grievance Cell has also been setup within the department which shall look into these complaints directly.
“After the committee receives a complaint, the same will be forwarded to the concerned cells by the Grievance Cell. These complaints might take one to two days to about a week to be addressed keeping in view the extent of the complaint that is filed,” informed the Additional Secretary.
The five-member committee also includes the Joint Secretary, Town Planner and Divisional Engineer as members and the Deputy Secretary (II) as the Member Secretary.
It was also informed that grievances directed to the department could be works pending for too long, clearance of bills and files still under process within the department and other works and orders that have either been announced or submitted to the department but have still not been looked into or implemented.
With the institution of the committee, the department plans to ensure that all pending works and complaints are addressed immediately and the cases speedily disposed.

Court adjourns order on corruption charges against Golay

GANGTOK, 20 Nov: The Special Court, Prevention of Corruption Act, East District at Gangtok, has, for the second time, adjourned the order on corruption charges against Upper Burtuk MLA, PS Tamang [Golay]. This pertains to the corruption charges framed against the MLA by the Vigilance Directorate and the order could go for or against the MLA.
In the event that it goes in his favour he will be acquitted of the charges framed by the Vigilance police; on the other hand if it goes against him and the court considers the charges to be sustainable, then the trial phase on the Vigilance case will begin.
At the East District courts, the order, which was scheduled to be pronounced today, was postponed for 15 days on the submission of Mr. Tamang’s advocate that the latter was unwell and so could not be present in the court. Initially, the date set was for 05 November and then for today.
It was on 31 October that the Special Court, PC Act, had conducted a comprehensive hearing on the ‘consideration of charges’ as leveled against the dissident SDF MLA pertaining to allegations of corruption when he was Minister for Animal Husbandry Department.

Mobile phone trail leads Singtam police to gold cache

GANGTOK, 20 Nov: The arrest of a suspected mobile phone thief by the Singtam police led to the recovery of a small cache of gold jewelry and the solving of another burglary. When the Singtam police, acting on source information, searched the house of Jiwan Rai at Bardang, East Sikkim, they only expected to recover a mobile phone reportedly stolen from the house of Rajesh Pradhan of Lall Bazaar, Singtam.
The phone reportedly belonged to his son.
Not only was the mobile phone recovered, in course of the search the police recovered gold coins, gold earrings, gold nose ring, a green gemstone, a silver statue of Lord Ganesh, 2 pieces of moti, 2 laptops, 3 more mobile phones, an ipod, coins worth Rs. 1,065 and a cash amount of Rs. 6,400.
All the items were seized on suspicion of being stolen goods. Soon enough this was proved right when information came in that the same had been stolen from a house in Baghey Khola, Rangpo. A couple of days ago the Rangpo police had received a complaint from Dhan Bahadur Subba of Baghey khola wherein he had stated that the above mentioned items had been stolen from his house along with cash amount of Rs. 18,200.
The Singtam police have arrested Jiwan Rai, 23 and his suspected accomplice, Debabrata Roy, 20 of North Dinajpur, West Bengal.

Gyalshing SADA arrest

GANGTOK, 20 Nov: In a well coordinated effort, the West district police arrested one person in possession of contraband substances. A 19 year old resident of Old Petrol Pump area in Gyalshing was arrested on 18 November and booked under the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act.
It was the head constable of the Legship police station who informed the Gyalshing police that the accused had boarded a vehicle in Siliguri and was on his way to Pelling with contraband substances. The vehicle was intercepted at Gyalshing bazaar and a search of the belongings of the accused landed the police with 344 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon, 50 tablets of N10 and half a bottle of a cough syrup.


GANGTOK, 20 Nov: Two suicides have been reported in the last couple of days.
At 5th Mile, Tadong, a 26-year-old youth reportedly committed suicide by hanging on 19 November.
In another suicide case, a 51-year-old resident of Deythang basti under Soreong sub division in West Sikkim committed suicide by hanging on 18 November.

Editorial: Curb Intolerance, Not Comment

When the Shiv Sena supremo took ill last week and it became clear that he was now on his deathbed, the media and the Maharastra Government went on an overdrive and ended up whipping emotions to a frenzy. Mumbai, as per media reports and the street-to-street deployment of police, the nation was told, was tense. No one wondered aloud why there should be tension when the founder-Shiv Sainik was dying of natural causes. Sorrow one could understand, but why fear a backlash? And why was enough not being said about how illogical and ill-informed a backlash would be because there was no culprit (perceived or real) to lash out against?
That said, one also realises that mobs in our country have a disturbing track-record of receiving sad/ bad news with violence. Why, even Sikkim has taken to this lapse of reason with its susceptibility to post-poll violence when overall victory celebrations are routinely marred by resentful violence in pockets where minor battles were lost. But the Mumbai episode did not even have these minor issues at play in the run up to the passing away of the Shiv Sena chief. And yet, the city was tense throughout. It did not help that later the media, politicians, industrialists, and even filmstars eulogised the departed leader, each, obviously in a race to pay the richest tribute. What this achieved eventually was not just a celebration of the man, but also de facto justification of his ideology – an ideology of paranoia, intolerance, hate and macho parochialism. These might not be character traits with which most of the nation or even Mumbaikars are comfortable with, but is obviously an ideology which sells enough to win votes and receive the endorsement of the more powerful. Not only was the cremation accorded State Funeral status, it also received wall-to-wall coverage on television news, with one channel even claiming to have deputed 50 cameras and reporters to cover the ‘event’. The passing away was a significant moment for Mumbai and Maharastra no doubt, but was it of as staggering a national impact as the media coverage made it out to be? Obviously not, but that is the message that went out and must have also whipped up not only emotions, but also the brand of provincial pride that Shiv Sena promotes. And into this mess of priorities arrived a 21-year-old girl from Thane who logged into her facebook account and posted what many must have been thinking and some might even have posted. To her circle of friends in her online social network, she wondered aloud why when the death of thousands does not grind the city to a halt, should the passing away, by natural causes, of a politician demand such exaggerated mourning. A friend ‘liked’ the comment and before any of their other facebook friends could advise them to play safe, they were arrested by Maharastra Police on charges of promoting hatred between classes (Section 505[2] of the IPC) and posting offensive messages “through electronic communication that are grossly offensive or has menacing character... for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will” (Section 66A of the IT Act). That was not all. An orthopaedic clinic run by the uncle of the Facebook poster was also ransacked by apparently protesting Shiv Sainiks in mourning. Apparently, there is no private space among online tattlers in our country anymore.
It is plausible that the Shiv Sainiks would not have reverted to vandalism so early in the wake of the funeral had their ideology and past conduct [the party has been consistently violent since it was launched in 1966] not been so outrageously celebrated all over the media. The police response [to the facebook post] was expectedly over the top because they had been on their toes anticipating a violent mourning. They found a convenient hook in the obnoxious Section 66A of the IT Act which is invoked routinely to ‘protect’ the image of the influential and the powerful. Some recent invocations of this section to arrest individuals for private comments about public figures are: the 31 October 2012 arrest of an industrialist for tweeting about the wealth amassed by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s son; the 18 September, 2012, arrest of a lady in Chandigarh for posting abusive comments against the police on the Chandigarh traffic police website; and the arrest of a Kolkata University Professor on 13 April 2012 for sending an email of a cartoon that poked fun at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee. The nation would be served better if the passing away of Bal Thackeray was analysed not so much for the jingoistic rabble rousing skills of the man but for the incidents, born from the legacy he leaves behind and which many others continue promote, which followed and what they say about some of the things disturbingly wrong with politics and governance in the country. Admittedly, the scale is not a patch on what some self-professed secular groups have unloaded on the citizens of the country in the past, but the incidents are still disturbing signals on aspects which need correcting in the nation and among its leaders...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Border trade hiccup at Nathula, again

GANGTOK, 19 Nov: Nathula and border trade have not been easy this season, both for traders as well as the different security agencies manning the border with China. Border trade between Sikkim and the Tibetan Autonomous Region was once again suspended for a week and resumed only today, Monday, after much uncertainty.
There have been several disruptions in trade this 2012 season, and now, with barely a couple of weeks of trading left for the year, the latest unscheduled break in trading activity has many traders, mainly Indian traders, rather distraught.
No clear reason is officially available as to why trade was suspended the whole of last week, but as per reports, Chinese traders refused to engage. Reasons forwarded ranged from elections to bad roads. In fact China has just witnessed a leadership change with the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China having selected new leaders for the next 10 years to lead China just last week. This was forwarded as one plausible reason and it is suspected that the selection process would have caused anxious moments for the Tibetans in TAR.
On the other hand, reports coming in suggest that the trade was suspended due to bad road conditions and landslides. This seems highly unlikely as this time of the year there are hardly any rains especially the kind that can trigger landslides. On the other hand traders going across never miss a chance to eulogize the high quality road infrastructure in the Tibetan Autonomous Region either.
Whatever the reason Indian traders kept going up to Sherathang in the hope of meeting up with their Chinese counterparts and those that crossed over to the Chinese trade mart also did not meet with much business, it is informed.
Today, eventually, and after much uncertainty, Tibetan traders finally showed up and trading resumed.
Some are of the opinion that these are Chinese pressure tactics not only targeted to achieve the release of Liangki Jiancen who is in the state jail facing charges of espionage but also to put off paying their Indian business partners. The Chinese national who was arrested for taking photographs will be holed up in jail at least till late December.
On the other hand, Indian traders are anxious as many have dues, running into lakhs, yet to be recovered from their business partners across the border. If they fail to recover their deposits and investments by 30 November, they will have to wait 6 months before they can meet the Chinese traders to recover their dues next May.

BRO begins blacktopping of Rangpo-Rorathang road

GANGTOK, 19 Nov: The Border Roads Organisation has begun the blacktopping of the Rangpo-Rorathang road in East Sikkim. This work has been taken up by the BRO in addition to its black topping work underway in Gangtok where it has been engaged in black topping of the Ranipool – Gangtok highway for the past almost one year.
In an appeal to the public the BRO has requested that commuters and others desist from using the Rangpo-Rorathang stretch between 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM for the next three weeks.
As informed by the BRO, it will take around 3 weeks to complete the blacktopping of the road stretch which is 10.91 km in length.
Additionally, it may be informed that the Rangpo to Rorathang road was previously under the state PWD and recently handed over to the BRO. The road agency has also appealed to the state police in a letter dated 14 November to assist it in the road carpeting. The police has deployed 2 personnel but apparently this is not sufficient for the BRO to execute its work without interruption.

Sikkim thanks the Sun

GANGTOK, 19 Nov: Chhath Puja, also called Dala Chhath, is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God also known as Surya Shashti is being celebrated at Thakur Bari Mandir from 17-20 November by the Chhath Puja Committee of Gangtok.
Gangtok MLA, Dorjee Namgyal, accompanied by HRDD Minister, NK Pradhan, RM&DD Minister, CB Karki, and other dignitaries joined the prayers in which thousands participated this evening.
The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes where the Sun, considered the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath festival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress in Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders informed the president of the committee Kaushal Kashyap. The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water [Vratta], standing in water for long periods of time, and offering Prashad [prayer offerings] and aragh to the setting and rising sun.
Although it is observed most elaborately in Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern UP and the Terai regions of Nepal in modern times, and is more prevalent in areas where migrants from those areas have a presence, it is celebrated in all regions and major urban centers in India. The festival is celebrated in the regions including but not exclusive to the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai and Mauritius. These days the community comes together to celebrate this festival which is a good sign of unity and can help promote peace in the whole world, said Mr Kashyap.

Fire breaks out in building near Lall Bazaar flyover

GANGTOK, 19 Nov: Prompt action by neighbours and the Gangtok Fire Station team helped avert a major disaster in the capital this morning. A fire broke out on the first floor of an RCC building situated some distance below the Lall Bazaar fly-over across NH 31A this morning at around 11 AM.
This flat, on the first floor of a four-storied building, belongs to one Tenzing Yangchen and fortunately no one was present in the house when the incident occurred.  It is informed that those residing on the upper floors and nearby neighbours noticed smoke coming out of the flat and proceeded to break the lock on the main door and take out an LPG cylinder from the house and tried to control the fire.
In the meantime, a Gangtok Fire Station team led by Fire Station Officer, Subash Subba reached the spot with one fire tender and 2 AFT backpacks and immediately started firefighting operations and later the operation was also joined by Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Gangtok Fire Station, Prakash Rai. After an hour long effort, the fire was totally brought under control.
DCFO, Mr Rai informed that the fire destroyed the belongings in the kitchen and bedroom, however, it was brought under control before it could spread to other rooms on the floor. He added that the fire could have turned into a major disaster if it was not controlled in time.
Mr Rai urged people especially of the urban areas to be alert and follow fire safety measures to avoid such incidents. He pointed out that there are many congested narrow stairs and passages in many buildings in the capital and in such case residents should ensure proper management to minimize risks.

Rural journalism award for Dikchu’s Wangchuk Bhutia

GANGTOK, NOVEMBER 19: The first ‘Grameen Patrakarita Puraskar’ [Rural Journalism Award], jointly instituted by the Raj Bhavan and Press Club of Sikkim to recognise rural reporting, will be conferred on North District correspondent of Sikkim NOW!, Dikchu-based Wangchuk Bhutia. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Selection Committee held today at Press Club of Sikkim.
The award has been instituted by the Press Club of Sikkim to encourage journalists reporting on rural news in Sikkim. The Governor of Sikkim Balmiki Prasad Singh contributed an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh to the PCS last year to institute the award.
The Minister for Information and Public Relations Department, CB Karki will hand away the award comprising of Rs 10,000 cash, citation and a shawl during the celebration of National Press Day on 23 November in Gangtok.
The celebration will also include presentation of positive grants to five journalists of Sikkim by the IPR Department.
The selection Committee had invited interested reporters to file their nominations supported by news paper cuttings or video footage. The last date of filing the nominations was 18 November and the Committee received six nominations.
Mr. Bhutia also contributes news for the local channel Nayuma TV and Nepali daily, Samay Dainik.
The Press Club of Sikkim has expressed ‘sincere gratitude’ towards the Governor for encouraging the scribes on rural reporting.

Alok Srivastava on deputation to NHRC

GANGTOK, 19 Nov: Alok Srivastava, erstwhile Principal Secretary, Social Justice, Empowerment & Welfare Department, has joined the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi. The state government has allowed him to go on deputation to the NHRC as Joint Secretary. It is informed that the NHRC itself had written to the state government on 10 October, 2012 seeking the deputation of Alok Srivastava on foreign service basis for a period of 3 years.


Cracks on the hill side gallery of Paljor Stadium are now seeping with water and require immediate attention of the concerned department to avoid further damage. As the accompanying photograph reveals, seepage from the drain running above the hillside gallery, which is believed to be the main reason behind the cracks developing in the first place, is now a cause for worry. The ongoing dry weather could be utilized well to repair the damage because if left unattended, the problem will escalate when the rains arrive.

Artistes pay tribute to late Krishna Chettri

GANGTOK, 19 Nov: A condolence meeting to pay tribute to late Krishna Chettri, an actor [comedian] and a dramatist hailing from Namchi in South Sikkim, who passed away on 13 November, was held here in the capital today. The condolence meet was held to celebrate his contributions to the field of acting and drama in the State and pay homage to his craft as an actor. The meet was attended by Thukchuk Lachungpa, Chunnilal Ghimerey [Director, Channel ACE], DK Lepcha [senior artist], Arun Rai [artist] and Bhim Rawat [president, Press Club of Sikkim].
Speaking at the meet, Mr. Lachungpa stated that late Krishna Chettri was a great artist, who could perform any role and that his death was a big loss to the acting fraternity of the state.
“He was a versatile actor and would do the job given to him with full heart and soul”, he added. He further asked the people attending the meet to come together and decide on how the family of late Krishna Chettri [his wife and two kids] could be helped in the coming future.
Earlier, stating that late Krishna Chettri was a very good actor and was always smiling and friendly with all the people whom he worked with, DK Lepcha informed that due to certain reasons this condolence meet for late Krishna Chettri could not be held earlier, so it was being held today. “He was an asset for the state and his loss will be deeply felt by the acting fraternity”, she added.
Although his profession was painting and writing, late Krishna Chettri was a very versatile actor and had a very dynamic character, informed Chunnilal Ghimerey [Director, Channel ACE], while recalling his time spent with the late actor. “Of the more than a dozen films and dramas that late Krishna Chettri had done, he had acted in four films directed by me”, he added.
“We will be collecting money and donations from various people including those connected to this profession [from artists], which will be handed over to his wife, as late Krishna Chettri was the sole bread earner of the family”, he said.
The condolence meet was also addressed by Bhim Rawat [president, Press Club of Sikkim] and Timothy Rai [actor], where they spoke about their time spent with late Krishna Chettri, during their acting days together.
Late Krishna Chettri was born on 25 July, 1973 at Dambu Dara in Namchi, South Sikkim. He had undergone theatre training from National School of Drama [NSD], New Delhi. He had taken further training under NSD, when the school had visited Gangtok. Some of the well known dramas he had acted in are Ani Deorali Runcha and Andhi Aayo Pachi.

Shyari duo announce plans for new political party

GANGTOK, 19 Nov: A duo from Lower Shyari, Santosh Darjee and Kaushal Rai, today announced plans to launch a new political party in January next year. The two are part of a Gangtok-based NGO, Link Himalayas Foundation.
Addressing a press conference at the Press Club of Sikkim, they informed that they recently toured various parts of the state and ‘analyzed’ the social and political situation of these areas and also observed the recently concluded Panchayat Election in the state.
“At present, the paper work process is going on and the party will be launched in January next year with new and young faces”, said the duo. They added that fresh faces will lead the new political outfit and leaders from other political parties will not be allowed in.
However, they added that the party will allow support from outside. The duo further stated that since leaders keep shifting allegiance to different parties for their own personal interests, such acts will not be entertained by their party.
“Corruption has become part of the system in the state and the state also has huge debt at present. For this, all democratic leaders from the past to the present are responsible,” they said. They further stressed that the CBI has to come to Sikkim and added that the party will contest the 2014 general elections.

On sighting ‘hangrayo’, the Great Pied Hornbill

Hornbills are one of the most spectacular birds, instantly recognizable by their huge bills. The Great Pied Hornbill is among the ten species, found in India. It is the largest bird among hornbills. In Sikkim it can be sighted at lower altitudes, locally called "hangrayo". It can be upto 120 cm tall. There is no exact number of species recorded from Sikkim although 2-3 species have been known to occur. Hornbills are large birds that live in the forest in natural hollow tree-trunks. Maina tree is a favoured nestling tree. This bird plays a helpful role in dispersing large -seeds in the wild. Hornbill bird is the logo of BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) a prominent nature conservation society of India. All species of hornbills found in Arunachal Pradesh are the state birds.
My first sighting of a hornbill was at Singtam in the first week of April 2011. I was on the sixth floor balcony of a building and the single branch of one ficus tree in front of the building was swaying at intervals. Although there was no breeze and other branches were motionless. I kept an eye open on the branch for seconds, and then it happened. It flew onto the next branch! I was fortunate that my timing was spot on to catch a glimpse of a hornbill.
Now I could distinctly observe its long yellowish beak, pecking on golden-reddish figs which are their main diet. Because of its heavy weight it was causing the branch to sway while it pecked away. Its wing and tail pattern was conclusive proof of a Great Pied Hornbill. It was my long desire to see this majestic bird. I was completely mesmerized. I dashed for a camera but on my return, I found the bird had made away. Memory of years ago came gushing in. My father telling me that a long huge yellowish beaked bird used to visit the ficus tree in front of our building decades ago - was definitely true.
Another time but same place, same building on 21 October 2011. Alone on the roof-top of our building leaning against the railing looking at children playing cricket, hopscotch, etc on their respective roof-tops. That evening, a cool strong breeze was blowing as it snowed (the season’s first fall) the other day at higher altitudes. The cool strong breeze was making the branches of a pipal tree tremble, the common myna were not bothered but kept swaying with the branches.
Out of the blue, below my eye-level at a distance of 100ft. a huge hornbill passed by gliding, silently without flapping, completely exposing its long yellowish pointed beak. Its stunning wing in a curved shaped, striped with yellow-white-black feathers was marvellously arranged. Tail feather expanded into stripes of yellow- white- black. It is one of the most handsome birds in flight. I did not wink at all. It was again a Great Pied Hornbill. Children playing on their roof-tops gestured excitedly with their cricket bats towards the hornbill, causing the bird to alter its flight-path by a 45 degree turn. I guessed the bird was retiring to its nest after the day’s last meal. It flapped 4-5 times and flew above the decades old mango trees and perched on a tree on the other side of the river. The bird was now not visible to my eyes. Children resumed their activities. My eye, however, was still on the tree. Soon all hell broke loose. Resident crows erupted into a cacophony of kawk, kawk, kawk from a nearby tree. Few started fluttering overhead, encircling, and the hornbill took-off. As it took-off flocks of crows began following in a single- line. I kept following the hornbill as far as my eyes could see. Soon it became a blur and passed above the faraway sal tree top. It was a pleasant experience to watch this majestic bird in flight, so close.
A cherished memory!

Editorial: Growth, Salaries and Delivery

Sikkim’s smart rate of growth, as measured in GDP and GSDP terms and as calculated by DESME and reported in the Monday edition of this paper, makes for interesting reading. Sikkim is powering ahead on a stronger clip than the country but when one looks beyond the 8.14% growth posted by Sikkim for 2010-11, one will realise that the economic buoyancy is essentially floated by the State exchequer and the purchasing power standards held up by what the State pays out by way of salaries and wages to its employees and payments for supplies and contracts since it is also the largest consumer here. GSDP is the total income of the State or the market value of goods and services produced using labour and other factors of production at current prices. Since government salaries and wages make up nearly 24% of the State’s Gross State Domestic Product, this sector should perhaps be understood better.
The latest Report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India for Sikkim [for the year ended 31 March 2011] informs that salaries and wages alone accounted for 41.01 per cent of the revenue receipts of the State for the financial year 2010-11. This was an increase of 6.30 per cent over the preceding fiscal. When it comes to revenue expenditure, the pay out on salaries consumed 43.85 per cent of this head. Pensions, in turn, accounted for 7.44 per cent of revenue receipts and 7.86 per cent of the total revenue expenditure. For comparison, consider the salary account for preceding years - salaries accounted for nearly 32.91 per cent of the revenue receipts and 42.98 per cent of the revenue expenditure in 2007-08. The expenditure on salaries increased from Rs. 355.97 crore in 2003-04 to Rs. 492.91 crore in 2007-08 registering an increase of 38.47 per cent. In 2010-11, salaries and wages cost the State exchequer Rs. 882.31 crore. If broken up into plan and non-plan expenses, salaries and wages made up 66.01 per cent of the Non-Plan Revenue Expenditure in 2010-11. The pressure of paying out salaries and wages is so huge that it is now eating into the development expenditure of the State.
Dry economic terms serve well to downplay the import of what the figures tell and hence we explain these terms to drive home the share of salaries to what the government spends. Revenue receipts, of which salaries use up 41.01%, comprise interest and dividends on investment made by the government. Revenue expenditure, nearly 44% of which is towards salaries, is the cost of resources consumed or used up in the process of generating revenue. With 44% already spent on salaries, it is hardly surprising that not enough is left for the other components of revenue expenditure like maintenance, loan servicing, subsidies, etc. This is very superficial economics at best, but should serve the purpose for now. To get a better grip of the kind of money the government pays its officers to work for the people, revenue expenditure should be compared to capital expenditure. Revenue Expenditure is the cost of maintaining the bureaucracy and other liabilities of the State and Capital Expenditure is the amount spent on creating real assets. The commissioning of a new road for example, is capital expenditure, and its maintenance, revenue expenditure. Of all the expenditure incurred by the Government, the most important, as far as the lay citizens are concerned, is Capital Expenditure and the non salary component of Revenue Expenditure. As things stand, Revenue Expenditure makes up a staggering 81.50 per cent of everything that the Government spends. In lay man’s terms, for every Rs. 100 that the Government spends, nearly Rs. 82 goes towards paying salaries and maintaining offices and assets to ensure that the remaining Rs. 18 gets spent properly. The need to realign the allocative priorities to improve the quality of expenditure is obvious. Unfortunately, if one were to look at the existing debates in the public domain, no one is even alluding to it yet – not the government, and definitely not the employees. The slant is instead towards further increasing the Revenue Expenditure share even more. Since the resources are not limitless, maintenance is the first casualty and then the Capital Expenditure will get curtailed.
This confounding economic model is now the one from which there is no escaping anymore, and what should perhaps be drawn into sharper focus is that the handsome remunerations are at least matched with dignified delivery of services.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sikkim outdoes nation in per capita GDP growth

GANGTOK, 18 Nov: Sikkim is doing much better as a state than the nation as a whole in terms of growth. This may come as a surprise to many given the size and lack of any visible or vibrant economic activity, but fact remains that the state has a per capita Gross Domestic Product much higher than the national GDP. Not only that, but the Gross State Domestic Product growth rate has been relatively constant at between 7% to 8% on a very modest estimated average over the past decade when that of India as a country has been languishing at 6% on average and for the first quarter of this year was even below 6% at 5.3%.
The most spectacular story is of 2009-10 when the state growth rate went off the charts recording 73.61% growth as per figures with the state. This came down to 8.14% in 2010-11 and presently for 2011-12 the provisional growth estimate, as officials inform is at 8.16% which, too, is much above the national average.
The union government has been constantly lambasted and scandalized on the economic front particularly in view of the grim economic landscape that the present growth rate portends for the country and what it does with the exchange rate with the dollar which has gone up over 10 units over the past year. On the other hand Sikkim has been showing a spectacular growth story with the state economy recording a record and unbelievable high of 71.59 % per capita growth rate for the year 2009-2010, as per figures with the state government!
The per capita GDP in actual figures for that year was Rs. 73,106 lakh. For the financial year previous to that, 2008-09, the per capita gross domestic state product (GSDP) growth rate was recorded at 14.81% or Rs. 42,605 lakh in rupee terms. This, too, is double the national growth story. In 2007-08 the growth rate was recorded at 6.53%.
However, for the past year, 2010-2011 the per capita GSDP came down drastically from the previous two year’s GSDP to register a still positive performance at 6.90%; in rupee terms the GDP stood at Rs. 78,151 lakh. At a growth rate of almost 7%, the state is certainly doing much better than the rest of the country. And to think that Sikkim at one time had an almost negative growth rate when in 1994-95 the GSDP growth rate recorded was less than 1% at 0.8%!
The provisional estimate for the current fiscal in terms of per capita growth rate of the state GDP is 8.16% or Rs.514761 lakh, just a touch higher than the previous year’s. In terms of per capita GDP the figure is 6.93% compared to 6.90% of the previous year and in rupee terms it is recorded as Rs. 83,565 lakh compared to the previous year’s Rs. 78,151 lakh.
There is an explanation for the spectacular jump of growth of GSDP in the years 2008-09 and 2010-11, the figures which have been calculated on a provisional basis. Officials explain that this was the year when the Pay revision was being sorted out. In 2008-09 there was the payment of arrears to the government employees while the following years the pay revision was announced.
This led to tremendous purchasing power with the public and it also goes on to indicate how much the economy depends on government employees who compose the largest single category of work force in the state.  Even the central government employees got a pay revision; the pay revision which led to enhanced purchasing power also led to increased expenditure.
The per capita GSDP is calculated by either adding up everyone’s income during the period or by adding the value of all final goods and services produced during the period or the total expenditure during the given period. It is therefore an indicator of the standard of living as well.
The primary contribution to the GSDP in Sikkim is the Tertiary sector which includes storage, trades, hotels, banking, transport, private businesses and enterprises. While this is the largest contributor to the economy, the exact estimates of its contribution is not quantified as not all private businesses and enterprises have been accounted for.

820 graduate from Sikkim Manipal University

GANGTOK, 17 Nov [IPR]: The 12th Convocation of Sikkim Manipal University (SMU) was held here at the auditorium hall of SMIMS, SMU, 5th Mile, Tadong on 17 November. The programme began with the academic procession led by the students of College of Nursing, academic senate members, Governing Council, chief guest, other dignitaries and the Governor, Balmiki Prasad Singh, who is also the Chancellor of SMU. It was followed by the declaration of Convocation open by the Governor.
Eight hundred twenty graduate and post graduate students including one PhD from different disciplines in regular courses and twenty graduates from distance course of SMIMS and SMIT were conferred with degrees and certificates in the Convocation. Out of these students, nine students bagged the gold medal in various disciplines.
The gold medallists were: Shashwat Singh, MBBS, Maheshwari Thapa, BSc (Nursing), Vimal Kumar, B.Tech (Electronics and Communication), Hemant Jindal, MBA, Chewang Yolmo, BCA, Rajat Agrawal, BBA, Pooja Rai, MCA, Prakash Chhetri, MSC (Chemistry), Priyabrata Karmakar, M.Tech (Electronics and Communications).
While presenting his address, the Governor said that Sikkim Manipal University is marching ahead in catering to the educational and health care needs of the people of North East region. Considerable efforts have been made by the University in the pursuit of transforming the dreams of the younger generations to reality. The Governor hoped that the University will continue on the path of excellence in providing quality education and healthcare and developing skilled manpower for the overall socio-economic development of the nation as a whole.
Sharing his experiences the Governor said to the young graduates ‘forget the past and look to the future’ and added that with the lessons learnt the students should contribute to the task of nation building as well as in outstanding success in their career.
Vineeta Rai, Member National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission who was the chief guest of the programme in her address mentioned that the University situated in the pristine state of the country, Sikkim, established with a primary objective of providing quality education and health care is now a well recognized University in academic excellence nationally and internationally. She added that the rate of progress in medical sciences and technology is rapidly growing and there is a paradigm shift in other areas as well. Therefore huge unfinished tasks are lying in front of the younger generation to take the country ahead of others.
Highlighting on the potential of North East region which occupies a special place in India because of its rich natural heritage, the chief guest appealed to the young graduates in the development of this region as there are large number of opportunities. She also urged the students to be good human beings coupled with great human values.
On the occasion, the Governor also released the annual report of SMU followed by the report on the achievement of the University by the Vice Chancellor, SMU, Brig. S.N. Mishra. The programme rounded off with the declaration of Convocation closed by the Governor.
Earlier the welcome address was proposed by the Pro Chancellor, SMU, Dr Ramdas M. Pai and later vote of thanks proposed by the Registrar SMU, Vandana Suhag.

Malpani Trust to provide free training to SICB trainees

GANGTOK, 18 Nov: The State Institute of Capacity Building and the Malpani Trust of Bajwada, Madhya Pradesh signed an agreement today at SICB.  A press release informs that the objective behind SICB and Malpani Trust coming together is to assist, facilitate and add value to provide practical training in organic farming for a period of one month to all trainees of Livelihood Schools for Agriculture and Horticulture related courses at their farm at Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.
The purpose of the training is to harness the potentiality of the trainees on organic and sustainable farming through NATUECO Science.  The Malpani Trust is highly impressed with the State Government’s initiative to declare the State as Organic by 2015 and the process started towards that direction, the release mentions.
The Trust believes in individual growth and development through Capacity Building in the Agriculture and Horticulture Sector including value addition and entrepreneurship leading to the prosperity of the State.  The Trust will not only train the youth on farming but simultaneously develop their inner confidence to be a new breed of farmers who is consciously aware for his better livelihood.
The concept of capacity building is highly appreciated by Malpani Trust as both the institutions have the same concept and motto to develop the capacity of youth.
The Malpani Trust has offered training free of cost in their farm alongwith food and accommodation to the trainees of the batch of 40 trainees at a time for a period of one month.  It was also decided to depute the first batch from 01 to 31 December 2012, the release informs.
The SICB is sponsoring all the trainees of Livelihood Schools related with Agriculture and Horticulture with a batch of forty each alongwith two Trainers.  It is also agreed that the training will be conducted throughout the year except in the months of April, May and June.
This is being done as the trainees of the hill area find it difficult in these months due to the hot temperature in the plains. The Trust has also offered to provide consultancy and follow-up in each Livelihood School related with Agriculture and Horticulture quarterly without charging any fees to SICB, the release further adds.

PCS and JUS observe National Press Day

GANGTOK, 18 Nov: National Press Day was observed at Press Club by the Journalist Union of Sikkim (JUS) on 16 November with a program chaired by senior journalist Nita Nirash.
Various discussions were held about the current situation of the press fraternity and on future plans and prospects of JUS. During the program the working journalists of Sikkim took a resolution with regard to the security of media houses in Sikkim for which the concerned authorities of the Government of Sikkim will be approached.
They also unanimously adopted the resolution that the Press Club of Sikkim and the JUS will take up initiatives to ensure the security of media houses and the working journalists in the state.
The Press Club has also decided to observe the National Press Day on 23 November in a grand manner in collaboration with the Information & Public Relations Department, Government of Sikkim. On the occasion the first Sikkim Grameen Patrakarita Puraskar initiated by the Governor of Sikkim, BP Singh will also be conferred to a deserving journalist from rural Sikkim.
PCS president Bhim Rawat, general secretary Joseph Lepcha, treasurer Prabin Khaling and executive members Nirmal Mangar, Shekhar Khawas, Prakash Adhikari, Samir Hang, Sagar Chettri, Anand Oberoi, Bijoy Gurung, Kunal Rai and other journalists were also present on the occasion. The chairperson Nita Nirash congratulated the Press Club and the Government of Sikkim for successfully organizing the National Media Conference in the state for the first time.
On the National Press Day, the press club will be organising a debate on the freedom of media.


This lonely, off-season patch of sludge has not only become an eyesore, but vehicles commuting along this route in Bojoghari near the Shiv Mandir which falls under the Gangtok Municipal Corporation also come out sore after they struggle their way across it. A ‘temporary arrangement’ for making ‘masala’ used in road construction was set up here almost 6 months ago but work has been stalled for the past month or so. This arrangement had roughed up the patch of road here and workers were seeing to it that the road was motorable, however, with the work stalled and no workers in sight, the condition of the road has worsened. Small cars are now getting stuck at the spot on a routine basis and have to be pushed out of the sludge. A leak in a water source at the spot has made matters worse. Meanwhile, construction material and equipment lie abandoned at the spot now.

Another disappointment for USFC

GANGTOK, 18 Nov: United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] went down again in the I-League, this time to a Goan club, Sporting Club de Goa [SCG], in a crucial match played this evening at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda in Goa. In its sixth match in the I-League today, the USFC lost to the Goa club 2-1.
In the bottom heap of the I-League table, both USFC and Sporting Club de Goa played hard to avoid listing in the relegation zone. USFC was in the 11th position with four points from 5 matches while SCG was at the 10th position with the same number of points from 5 matches and with this win SCG now has 7 points.
Despite USFC’s good start, the Goa club took the lead with the help of Ogba Kalu in the 10th minute and within five minutes Seiya Sugishita doubled the lead for SCG in the 15th minute. Sandesh Jhingan managed to pull back the margin with a goal for USFC in the last minute of the first half, but there was no more scoring on the cards for the game today.
Both teams failed to score any goals in the second half and the match concluded with the same score of 2-1 in favor of the Goa club. Bhaichung Bhutia also played in the last 15 minutes of the second half.
It may be added here that the USFC took a couple of strong decisions at Kolkata during the Diwali break which started with Chief Coach Phillipe De Ridder being shunted out from coaching responsibilities and CEO Bhaichung Bhutia taking over as interim coach.
The Belgium national was re-designated as the USFC’s football director following a meeting with club officials at Kolkata on 13 November. The loss of confidence on Ridder comes after a humiliating 10-1 drubbing at the hands of Prayag United in an I-League match at Kolkata.
Ridder will be now be handling administrative aspects of the club and is no longer in charge of the team or any player-related responsibilities, USFC announced in a statement. The club has also sacked assistant coach, Syed Altaf Fudden Ahmed.
Till the new coach is appointed, Bhaichung will be handling the coaching responsibilities. Also a player in the United Sikkim squad list, Bhaichung took charge of his new responsibility as coach from 13 November and trained the team at Kolkata for two days.
USFC played a friendly match against Kolkata league team Techno Aryans on 14 November winning the game by a solitary goal scored by Nurudeen Salau.


I read, I forget
I see, I remember
I do, I understand...
Education is incomplete without gaining practical knowledge. For this purpose the students of Government Senior Secondary School, Mamring East Sikkim were taken on an educational tour to Kolkata. The students of class XII (Arts and Commerce), a group of 27, were out on an educational tour along with 5 teacher escorts. It was a week long tour from 05 Nov to 11 Nov, 2012. The students visited a couple of historical sites, amusement parks, zoological parks, beach and other places in the city. It was a great experience and they really enjoyed a lot.
Prior to this tour another group of 14 I.T students of class XII also visited Kolkata for the same purpose.
The principal, staff, students and parents would like to thank Mr. Bhim Dungel, Minister Tourism for extending his help in providing accommodation in Sikkim House and other support he gave to make this tour a memorable and meaningful one. It would not be an exaggeration to state that this trip would not have been possible without the Minister’s support.
Thank you very much indeed.
Principal & Entire Mamring Family

Editorial: Now, Deliver

The panchayat election results are now a fortnight past. The outbursts of post-poll violence are also hopefully in the past and over the Diwali holidays even the realignment of Independents as ruling party panchayats or confirmed as ‘Independents’ has been finalised. Now will come the processes of appointing the Zilla Adhakshyas and other office bearers at the panchayat level. And once even these formalities are done and dusted, will come the challenge for the new set of panchayats, at least 50% of whom are now women, to deliver. The panchayats who have demitted office deserve credit for having done well, a handsome collection of awards at the national level standing testimony to their performance. Admittedly, the last batch of panchayats was also the first to wield substantial powers and enjoy access to funds of any consequence. Rural empowerment is now reasonably well institutionalised in Sikkim and credit goes to the panchayats and the State Government for having found their footing so fast and so smoothly. As the teething problems of power devolution get ironed out and more responsibilities get shouldered on the panchayats, the responsibility of the present lot to not only sustain the process, but also set new benchmarks sits heavy. It is important that they realise this early enough and given that almost all of them wear the SDF party colours, the party high-command should also work in close coordination with them to ensure that slip-ups are few. Rural Sikkim is still in the process of earthquake rehabilitation and important schemes like CMRHM, CATCH and CMSES are still works in progress. These need careful and considerate handling to ensure fair delivery and now, even the pinch of inflation is starting to hurt the rural areas. Panchayats now have important roles to play; roles which extend much beyond the recommendation roles they traditionally played. Here’s to hoping that they deliver well...