Friday, November 30, 2012

On Seventh Heaven!


GANGTOK, 29 Nov: 25-year-old Dr. Bishal Sharma completed his MBBS course from the reputed JIPMER College in Pondicherry in January 2012. While most would have been satisfied with an MBBS degree from the nation’s third ranked medical college, he set his sights higher. And how he has excelled! He was among the 1.5 lakh or so doctors who took the AIIMS Post Graduate Examination on 18 November 2012. The results were declared today. This son of a farmer father and Primary School teacher mother finds himself in the elite clique of the nation’s top-10 – Dr. Bishal Sharma, Roll No 1312548, is ranked Seventh in the all-India entrance exam, considered by most to be the toughest entrance in the country! His achievement is definitely a first for Sikkim, and probably a first for the entire region, including the North East.
Born to Hem Prasad Sharma and Kaushila Sharma [who teaches at Nandugaon Secondary School] at Nandugaon, South Sikkim, Dr. Sharma has set a new benchmark for students from Sikkim. His is a story of perseverance and passion. Definitely not from what can be called a privileged background [in purely economic terms], he received his primary education at Tendong Educational Institute in Namchi and then joined JNV, Rohtak, West Sikkim. He completed class XII in the year 2006 and aced the Common Entrance Test of the State the same year. And when one says aced, it’s literal, for Dr. Sharma not only topped the merit list for medicine, but also came third in the engineering option.
He chose Medicine, because as he told NOW! over the phone tonight, his “dream” was to become a doctor.
He enrolled into JIPMER that year, and the “world opened up”.
Dr. Sharma oozes humility even over the phone, and in a free-flowing conversation, when asked whom he would like to credit for his continuing success, named his parents first. And this was not just because it was the expected thing to do, but because, as he points out, “It is not easy to put someone trough six years of medical college.”
“Graduate courses are over in three years and a person ready for the job market, while in medicine, we are still studying when some of our juniors have completed graduation. My parents deserve special mention because they supported me financially, emotionally and socially through my education, and unconditionally at that,” he said, while reiterating that the financial burden on them was substantial. “It is difficult,” he says.
His parents are undoubtedly special, because even as one son prepares for a PG course at AIIMS, another son about to finish an engineering course while the third child, a daughter is starting college to become an engineer. Dr. Sharma is the eldest of three siblings.
He also makes special mention of his teachers at JNV Rohtak for having given him a sound foundation and all his friends for the support they have extended.
He became a doctor on 19 January 2012, and took his first PG exam the next month. This was for JIPMER itself, but because he ranked around 40 in this all-India exam, he did not take the course offered to him because his passion [for specialisation] lay elsewhere.
“The next entrance exam was for AIIMS in November, so I started preparing for it,” he shares.
But wasn’t that a risky proposition; he was after all leaving the proverbial bird in hand for the one in the bush?
It could not have been an easy decision to make, but his parents obviously backed him, and by then he had also acquired more confidence.
He admits: “When I first joined JIPMER, I was, like I am sure many from Sikkim are, intimidated. Coming from a State quota, rubbing shoulders with among the best minds in the field can give one a complex. The competitive environment is new for us. But I decided to soak in everything – see and learn, and the more I overcame the ‘small place hesitation’ the more I realised that academically there was not much separating those from larger states and bigger cities from us from Sikkim. The only aspect in which the score over us is that they have the benefit of exposure which we sorely lack in Sikkim.”
Once that complex was overcome, Dr. Sharma says, he started benefitting from the experience and counsel of his seniors in college and the teachers there. No ambition was beyond reach then and once he set his sights on the AIIMS PG entrance exam, he committed fully.
After a brief visit home after he picked up his MBBS degree in January, he shifted to Trisur in Kerala. The alumni and professors at Trisur Medical College run a non-commercial guidance centre for Medical PG candidates there. “It’s good and affordable,” he says.
He went for classes once a week when he would confer with the minds there and studied hard.
When the results were declared today, he was ranked an all-India Seventh!
As for the specialisation, the passion which had convinced him to pass the JIPMER option in February, and is now for the taking for him – its paediatrics. He wants to become a Paediatrician because, one, he always wanted to, second, the country and Sikkim need more of them, and third [with a wink, albeit over telephone], it has good future prospects.
Dr. Bishal Sharma will report for a counselling session at AIIMS on 12 December and is looking forward to it now. But already, with his staggering feat, he has reflected pride on all of Sikkim by ranking Seventh in the AIIMS PG Entrance Examination.
Thank you, and Congrats!

Chamling appears before Patra Commission of Enquiry

GANGTOK, 29 Nov: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today appeared before the Patra Commission of Enquiry to reply to and clarify allegations leveled against him by the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee. The Patra Commission, it may be recalled, was instituted in January 2011 to enquire into allegations leveled against the Chief Minister and his Cabinet Ministers by the SPCC in its official publications. The Commission is chaired former Chief Justice, High Court of Sikkim, Justice RK Patra.
A press communiqué issued by the Sikkim Democratic Front spokesperson, Bhim Dahal, underlines: “Shri Pawan Chamling, as a true democrat, today appeared before the Commission and presented his points. This is a unique occasion in Indian polity that an incumbent Chief Minister has appeared before the Commission to respond the allegations leveled by political opponents.”
Holding up this latest development as being “completely in conformity with the rule of law and democratic values”, Mr. Dahal adds that these are virtues that the Chief Minister has been “ever adhering to”.
Sources inform that the CM deposed before the Commission for around 40 minutes, presenting his statement on allegations leveled against him by the Congress in its official mouthpiece publication in the year 2010.
This deposition, it may be added here, is in addition to the detailed report already submitted to the Commission by the Chief Minister and is [former] Cabinet colleagues named in the publication in question.
Earlier this year, Justice Patra had issued summons to the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee (SPCC) members involved in the publication of the magazine in question to appear before the Commission with their allegations and supporting documents. SPCC president Nar Bahadur Bhandari and Congress youth leader Avinash Yakha and two others refused to depose before the Commission [in May 2012] while another Congress member has moved the High Court challenging the appointment of the Patra Commission of Enquiry.

Despite unfavorable environment, Border Trade crosses Rs. 7 crore mark

GANGTOK, 29 Nov: The Nathula Border Trade closed today for the seventh season bringing down the curtains to one of most unstable trading seasons, which was also the most productive thus far. Unpredictability in fact marked this trading season with GoI surprising everyone by first enhancing the list of items allowed to be imported over Nathula and then throwing a wet blanket over the announcement by not clarifying the Customs Duty status of these goods. And then there were border personnel here fighting traders and them arresting one on charges of espionage.
Many days were lost to boycotts, sometimes by traders from Sikkim sometimes by their counterparts from Tibetan Autonomous Region and then more days were lost to snapped roads. Despite all of this, year 2012 saw the highest trade turnover thus far, the consolidated accounts crossing the Rs. 7 crore mark. Even imports, which had remained officially zero for two years, returned with a bang this year and broke the Rs. 1 crore mark. It is obvious that trade will only pick up from here on.
Trading closed at Sherathang Trade Mart amidst the usual bonhomie and fanfare which accompanies the last day of trading both Indian and Chinese traders closed their accounts and said farewell to each other; this was marked with small picnic groups and finally khadas for each other.
After 6 seasons of an import drought the total worth of imports from China through Nathula for 2012 was over Rs.1 crore. The exact import value computed till 27 November from the start of the season comes to Rs. 1,00,24,982.
This figure includes imports of Chinese goods at the Sherathang trade mart as well as those imports brought in by Indian traders from Rinchengang, the trade mart on the Tibetan side of the border. Direct imports brought into Sherathang has been calculated at Rs. 67,10,732 and imports brought in by Indian traders from Rinchengang is at Rs. 33,14,250 as of 27 November.
The handsome showing on the imports side of the Nathula Border Trade ledger is thanks to the enhancement in the list of goods allowed for import over Nathula. This was done in May earlier this year, and after some initial confusion over Customs Duty, on 14 June 2012, the Government of India clarified that even these new goods were exempt from Customs Duty. The five items added to the list allowed for import are: readymade garments, shoes, quilts/ blankets, carpets and local herbal medicine.
As for exports, this season saw over Rs. 6 crore worth of goods being exported to China with the figure till 27 November coming to Rs. 6,06,87,685. The sales made at Rinchengang by Indian traders was calculated at Rs. 1,37,94,795 while sales recorded at Sherathang trade mart itself by Indian traders to their Chinese counterparts was worth Rs. 4,68,92,890.
In fact August 2012 was the first month when the Nathula trade recorded official imports of listed Chinese goods at Rs. 1.8 lakh. A total of 284 Chinese traders crossed over this season compared to around 260 Indian traders crossing over to Rinchengaang.
As for today, there were as many as 44 trucks from Tibet which crossed over to Sherathang and about 20 vehicles from India carrying Indian traders to the other side. In fact the last week or so has been witnessing a large number of Chinese traders crossing over to engage in trade. On average there were around 150 to 180 Chinese traders coming over every trading compared to 50 – 60 Indian traders crossing over.
This is largely due to the fact that many traders have to now close their accounts with each other or wait for the next 6 months; the other reason for the large number of Chinese traders coming over is also due to the fact that trade was shut for the whole of the second week of November. Traders could be seen huddling together with sheets of paper calculating their transactions for close of accounts.
There was lots of trade as well, even on the last day. And that is a good sign. For the past 6 seasons there was nothing much to trade and Nathula seemed a dead end as far as border trade and its growth was concerned. After this season, which also saw an expansion in the list of items of trade, we can expect much more transactions next year on as well as expansion of trade itself given the kind of response both Indian and Chinese traders have displayed this year despite several causes for tension.

Soreong resident accuses PI of assault

GANGTOK, 29 Nov: A resident of Soreong has lodged a written complaint with the Director General of Police [DGP] against the Police Inspector [PI] of Soreong Police Station.
In the complaint, Jigmee W Sherpa of Soreong Dara Bazaar has accused Karma C Bhutia [PI, Soreong] of assaulting and detaining him for four hours on 13 November, allegedly without any complaint or FIR lodged against him and trespassing into his house. The complaint letter further alleges that police personnel sent by the PI searched his house without a search warrant.
Stating that it is a complete violation of his fundamental rights, he has also alleged that Rs 30,000 has been missing from his house since the police conducted the search. The amount, he informs the DGP, had been given by his mother to buy a laptop. He has also hinted at some personal reasons of the PI as having been behind the attack.
Mr Sherpa has further added that the complaint could not be lodged earlier since he was recovering from the injuries sustained while in custody and was compelled to inform the DGP because no action was taken by the other police personnel.
The complaint was accepted at Police HQ today and the SDPO Soreong directed to enquire into the matter and report back.

English weekly ‘Pro-Sikkim’ launched

GANGTOK, 29 Nov: A new weekly newspaper, Pro- Sikkim, with the tagline ‘the Thinking News Weekly’ was launched by Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee president Nar Bahadur Bhandari, here at Press Club of Sikkim today.
The four-page tabloid is published and edited by Tenzing Bhutia and will come out every Sunday. The publisher also has plans to start an online version of the newspaper in the near future.
Addressing media persons today, Mr Bhutia mentioned that apart from issues related to Sikkim and the Sikkimese people, the newspaper will also carry analytical reports on different incidents and news covered during the week. “There is a need for such newspapers as Sikkim has failed to preserve its identity for which political leaders and the civil society are equally responsible,” he said.
Mr Bhutia mentioned that the merger of Sikkim, Article 371F and where Sikkim is headed are important issues and added that people have to move forward by looking into Sikkim’s history.
Extending his congratulations on the launch, Mr Bhandari said that it is a historic day as such a newspaper is the need of the hour for the Sikkimese people. Appreciating the initiative of Mr Bhutia, he stated that although the newspaper might have problems surviving in such times, they should continue with the good work. He further assured all possible support from his side.
Stating that “I am not anti-India but I am pro-Sikkim,” Mr Bhandari opined that Article 371 F has eroded in the hands of the present government. The SPCC president also informed that he will soon be starting Street Corner meetings all over the state.

Editorial: About HIV and AIDS

Talk about HIV and AIDS has become so routine and commonplace that many groups do not even blink when someone suggests that World AIDS Day be ‘celebrated’. There is nothing celebratory about HIV or AIDS, but people get inured too easily nowadays and this Virus, although it is still as lethal and communicable as it was in 1986, when the first case in the world was detected, the statistics or the conditions of the HIV+ve or AIDS patients do not seem to evoke much genuine response. It appears that before any genuine understanding on the challenge, its impact and risks could be fully understood, AIDS awareness in the country has taken a backseat, the concerned agencies preferring to gloat over the fact that the number of new infections has started scaling down. Neither the nation as a whole or Sikkim can afford to let its guard down on HIV. And it is no longer only about first generation infections, there is also now the issue of children being born HIV+ve. A quick primer of HIV in Sikkim is perhaps required here. The first HIV+ve case in Sikkim was detected in the year 1995, nearly a decade after the Virus arrive in India. It broke the 3-figure mark sometime in the year 2008, and as of now, there are 271 confirmed HIV+ve cases in the State. The numbers might appear inconsequentially low when compared to what other parts of the country and the world are suffering, but one must bear in mind that these detection are from the voluntary testing centres and the compulsory HIV screening of expecting mothers. This is a very small pool, and one must add that given the small size of the State, many people fearing that they might have contracted the virus would prefer to get themselves tested in the more assured anonymity of testing centres outside Sikkim. Should their tests come back positive, they will get counted in States where they got themselves tested and not here. That said, the snow-balling effect of the Virus is already palpable. Against the 6 cases where people living with HIV collapsed into full-blown AIDS between 1995 and 2006, in 2007, 12 HIV+ve people developed AIDS. The first case of AIDS in Sikkim was detected in 2005. This figure stands at 67 now.
The reason why these figures are detailed here is to drive home the point that AIDS Awareness demands fresh direction in Sikkim. The still low numbers can be misleading and that is because of the national policy on how “official” data is collected and confirmed. Then, the pool from which these cases have been detected might not be as inclusive of segments at high risk as required. These are the limitations of operating in a small state with models drafted for larger states. What Sikkim has to realise is that HIV prevalence can explode if awareness and education is not delivered coherently. This can happen only if the national models are customised for local target groups, local developments and future situations. The fact that the 271 HIV+ve figure includes teenagers demands that awareness in schools in among teen peers groups be more than token processions on World AIDS Day. The Red Ribbon Clubs were a positive effort towards addressing this target audience. It is time that their impact is studied in deeper detail and fine-tuned to ensure even more effectiveness. The entire awareness exercise has to be more earnest, more involved.
HIV and AIDS are no longer dirty little secrets Sikkim can afford to sweep under the carpet and ignore. A generation which has lived ignoring issues like substance abuse cannot afford to ignore this disease which has the propensity to grow into an epidemic before a community has realised it is in its midst. Look at India. The first case was detected in 1986 and we are already clocking 4 million HIV+ve people. In Manipur, the AIDS bomb has already exploded and this even before the State had come to terms with the presence of the disease in its streets. Why we say the problem can no longer be ignored in Sikkim is because now it has started surfacing in the coming generation. Newborns have arrived in this world with the virus we passed on to them. Why? Because Sikkim still, in many ways, refuses to believe that the laid back climes of the State could provide the breeding ground for the Virus.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ward Panchayats take office, select office-bearers

East welcomes 290 new panchayats
GANGTOK, 28 Nov: The 290 Panchayats of the 290 Wards falling under the 52 Gram Panchayat Units [GPUs] of the East District took their oath at the District Administrative Centre situated at Sichey here today. The oath was given to them by D Anandan [District Collector, East]. After their swearing-in ceremony the Panchayats of their respective Wards then elected their President, Vice President and General Secretary for their GPUs, respectively.
While all the GPUs had their respective president, vice president and general secretary, the post of general secretary of Budang Kamerey GPU went vacant and the post of vice president of Rongyek Tathangchen GPU also went vacant.
Speaking after the elections, one of the elected presidents, SP Machongpa of Martam Nazitam, Martam Rumtek constituency informed that it was for the second time he had been elected as Panchayat uncontested. He stated that the reason for being re-elected un-contested was that the facilities and schemes facilitated by the state government for the welfare and benefit of the people were dispatched transparently by holding a Ward Sabha.
He also expressed his gratitude towards the ruling party and the voters of his ward for believing in him and re-electing him for a second tenure.

North Panchayats awarded portfolios 
MANGAN, 28 Nov: The newly elected Panchayats of three constituencies of North Sikkim were awarded with their portfolios here at Mangan community hall today. The portfolio nomination process for the 20 GPUs of North district; 11 from Dzongu, 05 from Kabi-Lungtsok and 04 from Lachen-Mangan was conducted by ADC (Development) RM&DD, CG Bhutia, SDM Mangan, PW Lepcha and BDOs of different BACs.
The ADC (Development), in his address informed about the Panchayat portfolio process for nomination and election. He also stressed that after the declaration of the portfolio process the panchayat executive members have to meet their respective BDOs to submit their specimen signature for approval.  
Speaking on the pending MGNREGA daily wages due to the Panchayat election, he said that they have to be now released as soon as possible as per the official process.  For the MGNREGA 2013-2014 tenure, Gram Sabha has to be conducted by Panchayats before the Lossoong festival.  He further warned that the Panchayat’s proxy signature would not be entertained from now onwards.
All the GPUs’ Panchayat portfolio results were declared uncontested and the programme concluded peacefully.

South Panchayats sworn in
NAMCHI, 28 Nov: The swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected local self government of South Sikkim was held today here at Indoor Gymnasium Hall, Namchi. The ceremony was chaired by the District Collector, South, AK Singh while it was also attended by Zilla Adhyaksha South, CL Gurung, Upadhyaksha Devi Maya Baraily, ADC (Dev) DK Pradhan, SDMs and other officials of South district. 
On the occasion, the elected Panchayat President, Vice President and Sachivas were presented with their respective certificates while the members also received their certificates.

Of 55 GPUs, consensus still awaited on Presidents for 2 in West Sikkim
GYALSHING, 28 Nov [IPR]: The newly elected Gram Panchayat members of West District took the oath of office in a function held at the Community hall, Gyalshing today. 
The DC West, L P Chettri presided the election procedure for the post of Presidents, Vice Presidents and Secretaries of 55 GPUs out of which 53 presidents were unanimously accepted by the other members. President for Sangadorjee GPU and Kongri-Labdang GPU did not receive the majority and is due for further declaration. 
One post for Vice President of Arithang-Chongrang GUP also remained undeclared due to the lack of majority among the members.
During the oath taking ceremony, the DC West in his brief note congratulated all the Gram Panchayat members and also urged them to provide the best service to the people. 

Liquor license fee hiked, 4-year blocks introduced

GANGTOK, 28 Nov: The state government, through the Excise Department, has amended the Sikkim Excise (Indian Made Foreign Liquor Imported from Other States Licensing and Warehouses) Rules, 2005. With the amendment, an IMFL dealer will be paying 8-times the license fee. Besides this, the security deposit required to be paid up at the time of applying for license has also been enhanced by the state government 8 times to Rs. 2 lakh from Rs. 25,000.
This will apply to any individual, firm or company desiring to obtain the Excise License to import IMFL.  These rules mainly pertain to individuals or firms interested in the warehousing or storage of liquor.
By the amended rules, which are now the Rules of 2012, the tenure of a license has been divided into blocks with each block being for 4 financial years. So the tenure of a license will be valid for a block of 4 years and the commencement of the block year has been given as 01 April, 2012.
Under the earlier rules, the tenure of a license was 1 year to be renewed annually on payment of Rs. 25,000. There were no block years either.
Furthermore, by the amended rules a licensee is now required to pay an amount of Rs. 2 lakh for grant of license. This is to be accompanied by a security deposit of another Rs. 2 lakh. So at the time of applying for license a dealer will have to shell out Rs. 4 lakh.
The annual renewal fee is at Rs.25,000. This will have to be paid annually for the remaining 3 years of the block year. This is a huge enhancement from the earlier license fee under the earlier rules. Previously the annual license fee was Rs. 25,000 along with a security deposit of the same amount.

Registered Co-ops to now pay audit fee

GANGTOK, 28 Nov: All Cooperative Societies in the state registered with the Cooperation Department will now have to pay an audit fee fixed by the Department. The audit fee payable has been fixed depending on the annual turnover of the particular cooperative society.
The audit rates payable range from Rs. 500 to Rs.10,000 depending on the volume of business.
In the process, the department has done away with the lump sum audit fee being earlier charged from the Apex Cooperative Societies.
Further, those cooperative societies whose audits were being conducted by empanelled chartered accountants are to remit 10% of the fee payable to the chartered accountants to the state government as audit fee. This remittance of the audit fees is to be made into the audit fee fund maintained by SISCO and administered by the Registrar, Cooperative Societies.
Only newly registered cooperative societies have been declared to be exempt from payment of this fee for a period of one year from the date of their registration.

Stories of Jhamphey Mung reach Mumbai

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: Acoustic Traditional’s work in Sikkim, especially in Dzongu, and neighbouring Darjeeling over the last few years seems to have finally received the nation’s attention. Yesterday Mid-Day, the afternoon English daily in Mumbai, carried a full page article on Acoustic Traditional [AT], the NGO behind the hard work, and Dzongu storytellers with their tales of Yeti or Jhamphey Mung.
“This is really great news for us and for the storytellers with whom we have been working all this time. Mr. Merek and Mr. Netuk Lepcha have been pictured in the article with their testimonials. It’s great because there is so much in our oral literature to tell. What people think is that our stories are just as much as they have come to know through books or documented works. Everything in the region is so much about storytelling that it is hard to believe that we have that much. Our oral traditions are as old as the sacred Earth and there is so much to know and listen to. It’s inspiring to know that interest in our work in growing. It’s time to tell our stories again, this time to the world,” said Salil Mukhia Kwoica, founder AT.
The article comes at a time when Acoustic Traditional is busy preparing for their upcoming Confluence, Festival of Indigenous Storytellers at Darjeeling between 07 and 09 December at the Windamere Hotel. Now in its 3rd year, the Confluence actually was initiated in Sikkim with the support of State Culture and Heritage Department. Last year, it was held in Bangalore.
The Confluence is a travelling Festival of Storytellers and the reason why it travels is because it aims to focus on a region’s folklore and storytelling. The focus in 2010 was Sikkim where around 12 storytellers from across various communities participated. In Bangalore, the focus was on the Southern tribes. This year, it is on Darjeeling. From Sikkim, storytellers from Dzongu will be participating this year.
AT will be nominating storytellers from the region to participate at the global Tera Madre Movement being organised in Shillong around 14 December 2012. “We are hoping that one storyteller from Sikkim and one from Darjeeling could be supported to represent there,” added Abhishek Pradhan, Programmes and Communication Manager, AT.
For the Confluence festival, AT is providing a concession especially for community-based associations to encourage their participation. The registration fee with concession is Rs 800 for three days as compared to the Rs 5,500 for non-regional participants.
For more information on how to register, please contact: 8972 313 930


The management of Sikkim Milk Union has taken the news report on the quality of packaged milk processed at Sikkim Milk’s Dairy Plant in Jorethang seriously and even discussed the issue at a board meeting held today. The dairy plant is implementing all necessary steps to ensure that the milk is safe and of acceptable quality. Jorethang receives milk from various village milk co-operatives, the quality of the milk is tested at the village level and is collected and transported to the dairy plant. In the dairy plant, technicians test the milk for its quality and accept the milk. After the news report, the milk reception quality control has been asked to be more careful and directed not to accept milk with even a small amount of smell and variation in quality for processing.  All the field supervisors are directed to monitor their routes for procurement of quality milk. The laboratory in the plant tests with the help of NDDB testing kits for all possible parameters including various adulterants. Milk is now despatched to the market only after proper testing and printing date of packaging on the pouches will be printed within two day’s time. As such the milk dispatched by the Jorethang dairy plant will not have any quality complaints as necessary quality control has been strengthened in order to further ensure the same.
Managing Director
The Sikkim Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd.,
Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Veterinary Services Department
Tadong, Gangtok

Zilla Adhakshyas and Upadhakshyas confirmed, only North sees a contest

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: The Zilla Adhakshyas and Upadhakshyas for the four districts were elected today with all the names proposed for the said posts by the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front from among its elected panchayats confirmed for the posts. While South, East and West districts saw the top-two posts get confirmed uncontested, North Sikkim saw a contest for both posts in SDF vs SDF race to the post. Here as well, the SDF nominees won.

MANGAN: The North District today saw elections for the Zilla Adhakshya and Upadhakshya; a first for the district which has traditionally elected these representatives unopposed. Interestingly, the contest at both levels was between SDF Zilla panchayats and eventually the official party nominees won. This was not without hiccups though as the Upadhakshya post was secured on a narrow margin of 12-10. North district has 22 Zilla panchayat representatives, all of whom participated in the voting today.
Anguli Lepcha has been elected the Zilla Adhakshya of North Sikkim, while Nim Tshering Lepcha who is also the declared SDF candidate was elected Upadhakshya.
Anguli Lepcha, the Zilla panchayat from the Hee-Gyathang GPU of Dzongu, secured 18 votes out of 22 votes while her opponent Lakmit Bhutia who was the uncontested zilla candidate from Rongong-Tumlong GPU of Kabi-Lungtsok constituency secured only 04 votes.
The post of Upadhakshya saw a close contest between Nim Tshering Lepcha [the uncontested zilla panchayat from Toong-Naga GPU] and Kado Lepcha [an uncontested SDF zilla panchayat from Ramthang-Tangyek GPU of Kabi-Lungtsok constituency]. The former secured 12 votes out of 22 while the latter secured 10 votes out of 22.
The 22 Territorial Constituencies from three constituencies of North Sikkim - 11 from Dzongu, 05 from Kabi-Lungtsok and 04 from Lachen-Mangan and 2 Dzumsas (one each from Lachen and Lachung) - elected the Zilla Adhyaksha and Up-Adhyaksha today here at District Administration office in the presence of ADC (North) who is also an Asst Returning Officer, Prabhakar Verma, DDO North, Chewang Gyatso Bhutia and SDM Mangan PW Lepcha.
Before starting the election procedure, the DDO North Chewang Gyatso Bhutia highlighted the rules and regulations of Sikkim Panchayat Election. After the results, the ADC North offered garlands to the new Zilla Adhakshya and Up-Zilla Adhakshya.

GANGTOK: Bimal Dawari who represents Dalapchand Rongli Changelakha Territorial Constituency was elected uncontested for the post of Adhyaksha, East District Zilla Panchayat today. Likewise Kalpana Moktan who represents East Pendam Territorial Constituency was elected uncontested for the post of Upadhyaksha, East District Zilla Panchayat.
Earlier, the District Collector, East, D Anandan administered the oath of office to all the elected Zilla Panchayats of East District at the Conference Hall of District Administrative Centre, Sichey, East Sikkim.

NAMCHI: Zilla Panchayat members of South Sikkim who were elected in the recently held Panchayat polls were sworn in today before the returning officer DC South, AK Singh. The oath taking ceremony was held at the District Administrative Center conference hall, Namchi, South District following which Adhyaksha and Upadhyaksha for South district were also chosen from among them.
The SDF nominees for the two post, CL Gurung [Zilla Panchayat from Rangang-Yangang Territorial Constituency], and Devi Maya Baraily [from Nagi-Pamphok ward Namthang constituency] were elected uncontested as Adhyaksha and Upadhakshya respectively for South District.
Sunita Tamang from Sorok Sampani GPU could not attend the oath taking ceremony due to her ill health. She will be sworn in on a later date it was informed.
During the oath taking ceremony all the Zilla Panchayat members were welcomed with traditional khadas and declaration certificates were presented to all the elected representatives. DC South, AK Singh congratulated all the elected representatives including the newly elected Adhyaksha and Upa-Adhyaksha.
The DC said that the people had trusted them and expressed hope that the representatives would take their respective areas to new dimension of development and work together to build a better society.
After the oath taking ceremony newly elected Adhyaksha CL Gurung and Upa-Adhyaksha Devi Maya Baraily formally visited their respective offices and took charge.

GYALSHING: Devika Subba and Laxmi Prasad Kafley proposed by the ruling party for the posts of Zilla Adhakshya and Upadhakshya respectively were elected uncontested here today.

Zilla Adhakshyas and Upadhakshyas confirmed, only North sees a contest

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: The Zilla Adhakshyas and Upadhakshyas for the four districts were elected today with all the names proposed for the said posts by the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front from among its elected panchayats confirmed for the posts. While South, East and West districts saw the top-two posts get confirmed uncontested, North Sikkim saw a contest for both posts in SDF vs SDF race to the post. Here as well, the SDF nominees won.

Thangu HEP developer moves HC to challenge termination of agreement

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: Another hydropower developer has approached the High Court of Sikkim challenging the State Government’s decision to terminate its agreement for developing a hydel project in North Sikkim. Himalayan Green Energy Private Limited has taken the government to court over the cancellation of its agreement to develop a hydel project on the Teesta near Thangu.
The company was developing the 280 MW Teesta Stage-I HEP near Thangu, North Sikkim. Earlier this year, the State Government had terminated a total of 4 hydel projects in North Sikkim. The developers of the other three projects have already challenged the decision in the high court, and now, the fourth developer has also approached the Court seeking redressal.
The petition challenges the order of the state government issued on 21 June, 2012 which states that the government has decided to terminate the agreement for developing of the respective hydropower projects. The court has issued notice to the state government.
Furthermore, the court, for now, has directed that the state respondents are not to create any third party interest with respect to the project related works and also directed the state through the DGP to ensure that the property of the petitioner in the area is adequately protected.
The other 3 terminated hydel developers who have challenged their project termination include Lachung Hydropower Private Ltd which was engaged in the development of the 99 MW Lachung HEP on the Lachungchu; Teesta Hydropower which was engaged in the development of the 99MW Bhimkyong HEP also on the Lachungchu at Bhimkyong village, North Sikkim and Chungthang Hydropower which was engaged in the development of 99 MW Bop HEP also on the Lachungchu in Bop village.
The Lachungchu is a tributary of the Teesta and these projects are located upstream of the 1,200 MW Teesta Stage-III being developed by Teesta Urja at Chungthang.
Earlier, while terminating these projects, State Government officials had informed of a host of factors behind the decision to scrap the projects. These included disinterest of the affected people and the post-18 September earthquake apprehensions along with the potential environmental impact. While the letter of termination was issued on 21 June the Cabinet decision on this had been taken earlier.

HC directs HRDD to consider PGT candidate’s case

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: The High Court of Sikkim has directed the state government, particularly the Human Resource Development Department, to consider the case of a Post Graduate candidate, Narmaya Dhungel, for appointment as a teacher. The woman’s candidature had been rejected by the department for appointment as a Post Graduate Teacher (Nepali) despite the fact that she was a topper in the examinations for the post.
This direction of the High Court was also made to the department in light of the fact that there were many posts in the department vacant for PG teacher in Nepali language. One of the arguments of the state was that the candidate was overage. However, it was submitted before the court that at the time of application, the candidate was well within the age limit. The petitioner is an in-service candidate.
The High Court has given the department 10 days to consider her case; the petition had come up for hearing last week.

A West Sikkim family struggles to prove identity

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: 33-year-old Subash Chandra Gurung from Dentam in West Sikkim is a man in a dilemma because even after running from pillar to post for the past two years, he has still not been able to give himself and his family a proof of identity, not even a voters ID which would prove that he is a resident of Sikkim and was born and brought up here. The West DC’s office has assured to look into his case favourably, but the story is recounted here to highlight a peculiar situation which might not be very rare in Sikkim.
Mr. Gurung, the eldest of four brothers and a sister, was born in Dentam to Dil Bahadur Gurung and Pem Diki Sherpa. His father had come to Sikkim from Nepal in the 1940s and had settled down eventually at Dentam Tar in 1977. The father died of a prolonged illness some years back in Dentam which left Mr. Gurung, his younger siblings and his ailing mother to fend for themselves.
“My mother is a Sikkim Subject Certificate holder and a resident of Bega ward under Kaluk Police Station in West Sikkim; unfortunately my father did not make any papers that would guarantee his family security after he was gone which has left us in a condition where we cannot avail any facilities, nor make a modest living because we do not have any papers, not even birth certificates that would help us in the present day,” Mr. Gurung narrates.
His mother too has taken ill while Mr. Gurung himself suffers from stomach ailments. One of his younger brothers, 21-year-old Babel Gurung died in a road accident in 2004. While other families who lost their dear ones in the same accident were provided ex-gratia, his family did not receive any ex-gratia due to the lack of any documents to prove their identity.
 “I dropped out of school because after my father died I was required to help my ailing mother to provide for the rest of my family. Without proper documents, continuing to study would also not help since the school authorities were asking me to provide a birth certificate at least. The same situation has now come upon my nephews and my youngest brother who is now being asked to submit documents of identification to continue studying. I do not know what to do now and have promised my mother that I will do something before I go back to Dentam,” he says.
He says that approaching the media is his last attempt since he has lost all hope in trying to convince people in government offices. He has already acquired a Panchayat recommendation that says that he and his family have been residing in Dentam since 1977 and has also got school certificates of himself and his other siblings proving that they were students of that school, a document he needed to get himself a birth certificate, which was also later denied to him.
“I got the documents needed for the birth certificate from the school but when I went to Dentam PHC, a person there alleged that I had bribed my way to get the said school papers and the Panchayat recommendation. I never got my birth certificate,” he says.
Mr. Gurung who is, at present, living with his siblings and his mother in a rented house at Dentam Tar has lost everything he had in his two-year long endeavor to get himself and his family some documents that would help make their lives easier.
He also mentions that the previous DC West had asked him to come to his office in the month of October so that he could enroll his name in the voters list for the recently concluded Panchayat elections.
“When I went to the office in October, I directed to the concerned official for the voter ID at the district collectorate, however, the officer there refused to enroll my name since I did not have any documents to prove that I am Subash Chandra Gurung. My father did not make the papers because he was illiterate and for reasons he understood best, but now that has led us all into a state where we cannot live our lives with dignity and respect. We have become outsiders even when we were born and have lived here our entire lives,” he rues.
Meanwhile, when NOW! contacted the DC [West], LP Chettri, and told him about Subash Chandra Gurung’s ordeal, the DC asked Subash to meet him soon and also assured that the district administration would look into his case and bring about a concrete solution soon.

SAI and SAG Centre Namchi to scout for fresh talent

NAMCHI, 27 Nov: The Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Special Area Games (SAG) Centre Namchi, South Sikkim will be conducting Talent Scouting camp for admission to SAI and SAG Centre Namchi under residential and non-residential category.
SAI is going to launch a talent scouting camp to select trainees to undergo in-house training at SAI SAG Namchi in the age group of 14-16 years. However, age relaxation will be considered in case of meritorious individuals.
The selection trials will be conducted in various disciplines like archery for boys under residential category, boxing for boys under residential category and for girls under non residential category informs a press release issued by the office of Assistant Director In-charge SAI SAG Centre Namchi Penpa Tshering.
Similarly, trials will also be held in football for boys under residential category and in taekwondo for boys under residential category and for both boys and girls under non residential category. Accordingly, a selection trial will be conducted at SAI SAG Centre at Allay Namchi for two days i.e. 07 and 08 December, 2012.
The selection will be made by a Selection Committee comprising of District Collector South, Superintendent of Police South, Joint Director Sports and Youth Affairs South, Assistant Director Department of Sports and Youth Affairs South, Assistant Director SAI SAG Centre Namchi, Medical Officer and coaches of the respective disciplines.
The players will be adjudged in various categories based on their participation and performance at various levels and will be considered accordingly. Automatic admission will be given to players who are members of winning/runner-up team at State/National Level meet and players who have participated in a National Level tournament in the last two years will be subjected to medical fitness test.
Whereas players of the winning /runner-up team at District Level/National CBSE competition, National Kendriya Vidyalaya or at the District or State level tournament on having been found to have the required potential will be considered for admission and will be assessed by a battery of tests. The winner/position holder (first three) of District Level Championship of Public Schools, CBSE, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya Vidyalaya will also be considered and assessed by a battery of tests.
Apart from the above, raw talents will also be selected from survey and identification of talent. While conducting the trials, sports persons having the following specification will be given advantage, for boys within the age group of 14-16 years with 175cms height and for girls within the age group of 14-16 years with 165cms height.
Preference will be given to the players of Sikkimese origin. The selected candidates will be admitted at SAI SAG Centre Namchi under residential category and they will be nurtured at this centre to attain the peak of excellence. Am amount of Rs 1 lakh approximately will be incurred per selected candidate by Sports Authority of India towards boarding and lodging, sports kits, competition exposure and insurance along with educational expenditure in a year as per scheme.

Link failure problem at SNT railway ticket counter resolved, for now

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: The frequent internet link failure at the railway ticket reservation counter at Sikkim Nationalised Transport bus stand has been sorted out and is now working properly, informed Arvind Bajaj [General Manager, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited], while speaking to NOW! today.
“There were certain problems with the link, but it has now been sorted out and I have been informed by SNT officials that it is working properly”, said Mr Bajaj.  He stated that he was unaware of any problem till a meeting with the Secretary and General Manager SNT where he was informed about the problem, which he added was taken care of by the operational team of BSNL.
“I was informed that there was a certain problem with the software because earlier the railway booking counter had one machine but now they have three machines working there”, he further said.
Speaking on the issue of link upgradation, he stated that the demand for upgradation has to be given by the railway officials as the counter comes under their jurisdiction and only then can the BSNL take up the issue and work on it.
“Our job is just to provide the cable link between the railway booking counter situated at SNT and the BSNL office situated here at Metro Point, the rest is looked after by the railway, but as of now the matter has been sorted out”, he added.
Meanwhile, KN Bhutia [Joint General Manager, SNT] informed that two maintenance personnel [service engineers] from the railways had come to check on the problem on Monday. As of now the problem has been rectified and there is a slight improvement, he added. The main problem was not here in Gangtok but the link between Siliguri and Kolkata, which has been sorted out.
The railway booking counter uses a 64 kbps modem and the maximum output the modem gives is of 9 kbps and this is because the modem being used is very old, therefore it takes more time to process the tickets, he said and added that there were talks underway between BSNL and railway officials regarding the upgradation of the system at the counter. The booking counter is looked after by railway officials and the system and link is looked after by BSNL, SNT is just the coordinator in between, he informed.

Editorial: Women to the Fore

The 50/50 power-sharing arrangement between the sexes continues in the allotment of Zilla Adhakshyas and Upadhakshyas. Just as the 50% seat reservation for women in Sikkim panchayats marked a first for rural empowerment in Sikkim, so does their equal representation at the top panchayat level. A 50% representation is a major leap over the format of the tenure of the last panchayat which had 33% reservation for women [the enhancement to 40% was announced midterm and by the time the elections were held, this had been scaled up to 50%]. This is a positive development and apt recognition of the involvement with which women in Sikkim have taken to participatory democracy as reflected in their turnout for elections. Unfortunately, the voter turnout details and break-up for the panchayat wards and zilla territorial constituencies which went to poll this time is still not available, but if recent trend is any indicator, the women would have voted well. The record for women’s participation in elections already belongs to Sikkim. This was achieved in Assembly Elections 2009 when women outperformed men in celebrating democracy [again for the first time] with 82.77% of the registered women voters casting their votes against 81.46% of the male voters who did so. The feat remains unparalleled in the country. Generalisations, admittedly, are by nature inaccurate and unscientific tools to draw conclusions, but one cannot help but comment that just as the 2009 elections in Sikkim were remarkably peaceful, despite the acerbic campaigning, so were the Panchayat elections 2012. While the poll management of the concerned authorities helped deliver peaceful polling on both counts, it can also be safely implied that the increased participation of women must have played a role in keeping violence in check. As for the reasons behind the increased participation of women, there are a multitude of factors obviously at play, but one of the most substantial motivators must have been the increased attention being paid to women in Sikkim which convinced them that they had a stake in governance and electing representatives. Factors such as improving literacy, increased representation [in panchayat and urban bodies] and slew of other women-centric interventions contribute to this increased voter turn-out, and even as one frowns at sops and quotas, these must be working towards empowerment because that is what the data is posting. This is perhaps a trend whose time has come, and one which would automatically require political planners to position there stands with improved consideration of women interests. Because women’s participation in voting is on the rise, their mandate will require delivery more than rhetoric and this is already noticeable in the manner in which genuine initiatives towards women’s empowerment have been rewarded in Sikkim and how comprehensively tokenism and regressive mindsets vis-a-vis gender-equality trounced. There are still many politicians, who, even if they have shed overt male chauvinism, remain insensitive towards women’s issues and some have even displayed boorish poor taste in the recent past. For anyone with any serious political ambitions, gender sensitivity will be a good investment to make. The sooner that wannabe leaders recognise the due rights and aspirations of women, the better it will be for their political futures because women voters are becoming the decisive factor in elections and their increasing participation is now directing representative democracy in Sikkim.

Vigilance registers corruption case against a Forest Deptt AE

GANGTOK, 26 Nov: A Vigilance case has been registered against an Assistant Engineer in the Forest Department with the police agency finding prima facie case of corruption against the said official. The case was registered on 23 November and the Vigilance police carried out two raids at different places of residence of the said engineer the same day.
Officials inform that the case has been registered against Gangaram Sapkota, an Assistant Engineer, Civil, presently with the Forest Department.
It is informed that the Vigilance police received, what they call ‘source information’, that the accused had amassed wealth beyond his known sources of income. This was examined and a process of verification by the police agency convinced that prima facie, the accused had assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Officials, however, stopped short of disclosing the actual amount that has been found disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The raids by Vigilance police were conducted at Gangtok and Chota Singtam, both places where the AE is known to have his residences. Several documents and other articles have been seized by the police in the course of the raids which are in the process of being examined. Officials stress that a search warrant was obtained before the raids were conducted.
The AE in question has been in government service for over two decades and had joined service in the year 1986. The check period, however, is yet to be set by the Vigilance.
A vigilance case has been registered under section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act read with Section 13 (1) (e) of the same Act. The sections deal with criminal misconduct by public servants; it also stipulates that any person on his behalf, if found in possession of assets which the accused cannot satisfactorily or disproportionate to his known sources of income. This means that his relatives can also be investigated.

IT wiz from Sikkim presents mobile e-Governance solutions at World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly

GANGTOK, 26 Nov: Karma Bhutia, originally from Sang in East Sikkim, who has made a career in the Information Technology sector of which he has been a part of for close to two decades now, was in Dubai recently to unveil a mobile e-Governance solution pioneered by SourceN, a company he has co-founded and is managing partner of. SourceN is a global provider of online community-building and technology consulting services.
Mr. Bhutia presented “Citizen Initiative System”, a mobile e-Governance solution, at the second of the three events at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly on 22 November at the Dubai World Trade Center. WTSA is held every four years and defines the next period of study for International Telecom Union. The event draws on the findings of ITU Focus Group by discussing international standards to capture the best of innovations rooted in developing countries that positively impacts lives.
Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, opened the event and four invited speakers, including Mr. Bhutia, shared their experience on ICT Innovations in emerging economies.
The Citizens Initiative System is a “participatory Mobile eGovernance solution” which allows Governments to empower citizens (using smart-phones) in identifying and reporting issues that require the government’s attention/ action. As Mr. Bhutia informs, the CIS is used for Public Health, Infrastructure, Public Works & Utilities, Public Safety & Emergency issues that needs Government action for resolution and features AR (augmented reality) that utilizes GPS/ GIS to spatially locate/ report issues
The benefits, as detailed by Mr. Bhutia are:
- Improves, facilitates & promotes interaction between Government & Citizen.
- CIS is available for anyone who has a smartphone
- No need for expensive hardware & software solutions
- Empowers Governments to have more eyes and ears on the field without incurring the expense.
- Encourages citizens to benefit by participating & facilitating government work
- CIS is a complete mobile eGovernance solution for Issue reporting, tracking & validation
- A mobile egovernance solution that is available 24/7/365 (Goverment never sleeps)
He was joined at the presentation by his co-founder and CTO at SourceN, Deepak Ramachandran.

Asar Education Foundation to supplement educational needs of underprivileged children

NAMCHI, 26 Nov [IPR]: Asar Education Foundation, a Non Governmental Organisation, was opened today at Bhutia Basti here with the expressed aim to reach education to children from the underprivileged section of the society who are unable to attend formal classes.
The foundation, conceptualized and created by Komal Chamling and a group of likeminded people, will be providing part-time education to these children and in the absence of any such initiative thus far, is a godsend for children whose parents cannot afford to enrol their wards for formal education.
Classes are scheduled to formally start from 27 November onwards (from 9 a.m. to noon) and will run throughout the year with some mandatory intervals, it is informed.

Celebrate X-Mas through to New Year at Pelling Winter Fest

PELLING, 26 Nov: The Pelling Tourism Development Association (PTDA) of West Sikkim has announced plans to organize the Pelling Winter Fest from 25 to 31 December at Pelling school ground here.
A popular destination with tourists, Pelling is a completely tourist town if there is one in Sikkim, packed with hotels and breathtaking sights and surrounded by fine tourist spots. The Pelling Winter Fest is being pegged as an event around which winter tourism can be promoted at this already popular destination.
PTDA general secretary, NK Karki, informed today that the Fest will offer a host of “fun activities” like local cultural band competition, photo exhibition, meena bazaar, promotional trekking, mountain biking, sightseeing, traditional sports and bird-watching. The festival will also include flower exhibitions, traditional crafts displays and ethnic food and costume stalls.
The Fest is scheduled to open with Carols since it begins on Christmas and timed to end on New Year’s Eve, the closing ceremony will feature a special New Year celebration, Mr. Karki adds.
“The festival is aimed at promoting the diverse aspects of the area to produce a holistic package showcasing its potential for tourism during winters and through the Christmas season,” Mr. Karki explained further. Preparations for the festival have already begun here.

BGP honours three on Gorkha Gaurav Diwas

Suren Singh Rasaily receives the Gorkha Gaurav memento from BGP Working President Dil Kumar Bhandari

GANGTOK, 24 Nov: The Central Programme Cell of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh conferred the Gorkha Gaurav Samman on three - two individuals and a corporate house - in New Delhi on 24 November as part of the BGP’s nationwide Gorkha Gaurav Diwas programme, a press communiqué informs.
At a function held at the NCUI Complex, New Delhi, Suren Singh Rasaily, Dambarmani Pradhan and CK International were held up as the pride of Gorkhas for having excelled in their respective fields and as nation-builders. They were presented with traditional Gorkha scarves and mementoes by BGP president and former Lok Sabha member Dil Kumari Bhandari.
Mr Rasaily, an engineer originally from Darjeeling, worked in the field of Information Technology and was the vice-president of NIIT before he left that company. Today he is involved with a host of IT companies, where as he did with NIIT, he continues to provide to leadership with his innovation and vision.
Mr Pradhan, currently with All India Radio, came to Delhi from Assam and is involved in many community-related activities. He has excelled as a literary writer and translator and has been active in many Gorkha associations in the capital.
CK International, in turn, was cited as a business house that has seen success in a very short time while serving the community by creating employment opportunities. The Gurgaon-based CK International, represented at the function by brothers CK Sharma and Rajeev Sharma, originally from the Dooars, provides BPO services, promotional services and is also in the travel and insurance businesses.
The Gorkha Gaurav Diwas was started by the BGP both to honour achievers in the Gorkha community as well as to hold them up as role models for the young and aspiring Gorkhas.
In her address, Ms Bhandari said that in honouring Gorkhas who have achieved success in diverse fields, the community was also ensuring that the country did not forget the contributions of the Gorkhas in nation-building.
Earlier, six children recited poetry in Nepali to highlight the need for Gorkhas living in different parts of India to make Nepali the family language, seeing how difficult it was for Gorkha children whose language of social interaction was the language of the state or area they lived in. “The loss of their mother tongue can often alienate the children from their community and it is, therefore, all the more important that we inspire them by showcasing our own Gorkha stalwarts and achievers,” said Mrs Bhandari.
The Gorkha Gorkha Diwas is observed by the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh in mid-November every year. On the day, the units of the BGP in 22 states of India line up icons of excellence before the community and the nation as Gorkha Gauravs.

Monitoring keeps CMRHM and REDRH construction on track in South Sikkim

NAMCHI, 26 Nov: The monitoring of CMRHM [Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission] and REDRH [Restoration of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses] constructions continues in South district as the District Team led by ADC (Development), South, DK Pradhan, accompanied by Deputy Secretary, RMDD, Bandana Chettri, concerned JEs and Supervisor of Yangang BAC visited construction sites under the two schemes falling under Yangang Block on 24 November to assess the physical progress of the works.
The team inspected CMRHM house of Devi Charan Khati and Birkha Kr. Khati under Yangang Rangang GPU which have completed shuttering for slab-laying. The concerned JE was requested to expedite the construction as there were no fund constraints in the District at present.
Later, REDRH houses falling under Yangang-Rangang and Sripatam-Gagyong GPUs were inspected.
The house of Bal Bdr Gurung and Mani Kr Shanker of Yangang Rangang GPU were found to be satisfactory as far as physical progress is concerned. Similarly, REDRH houses of Surya Bdr Rai, Jas Bdr Limboo, Pabitra Timsina, Ram Lall Basnett, Jas Bdr Basnett of Sripatam Gagyong GPU were inspected and found to have reached satisfactory stages.
While interacting with the REDRH beneficiaries, ADC (Dev) highlighted that REDRH was a time-bound project and urged all to ensure completion within the prescribed timeframe for which he assured all possible help from the district office.
The difficulties and problems faced by the BAC staff as well as beneficiaries in proper implementation of project were noted down for placing before the Head Office, RM&DD, Gangtok.
The ADC (Development) and Deputy Secretary together with BDO Jorethang and the concerned JE had also earlier visited all the three Gram Panchayat Units under Jorethang BAC (on 22 Nov) to oversee progress of CMRHM, REDRH works and also to see the implementation of other developmental schemes under RM&DD.
The team first visited Labarbotey ICDS which is being run from a rented accommodation since the ICDS building that was sanctioned by Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare Department is not yet complete.
The under-construction CMRHM house of Sonam Tamang of Salghari GPU, the pucca houses allotted to Ganga Prasad Chettri, Lall Bahadur Chettri and Yadu Krishna Dahal were also visited and found to be in the final stages of completion.
REDRH houses belonging to Nar Bahadur Chettri, Devika Rai and Anand Jogi under Tinik Chisopani GPU were also inspected.
ADC (Dev) expressed satisfaction on the momentum that has been gained in construction under REDRH and with the same pace, he said, South District can complete construction of more than 50% of houses by March next year.

SU appeals against Human Rights Commission recommendations


GANGTOK 26 NOV: The High Court passed a stay order today in an appeal filed by the Sikkim University against the recommendations of the Sikkim State Human Rights Commission and directed to serve notices to the respondents.
The Commission, it may be recalled, had passed a strong set of recommendations against the University and individually against the former VC, Prof Mahendra P Lama, on a complaint filed with it by four former faculty members. The duo had complained against the University’s continuing refusal to release their salaries or explain why it was doing so. The University had been advise to release the due salaries of the complainants and also issue them experience certificates. Prof Lama, whom the Commission saw as having intentionally engineered the travails on the complainants, had been directed to pay damages to two of them as compensation.
Madhuchandra Bhattacharjee, advocate for Sikkim University, when contacted, informed that Sikkim University and the former Vice Chancellor had moved the appeal questioning the jurisdiction of the State Human Rights Commission and claiming that they had been provided enough time to defend themselves.
Ms. Bhattacharjee informs that the appeal argues that a ‘service matter’ does not fall under the jurisdiction of State Human Rights Commission and that the Commission had passed the recommendations without examinations of the facts.
The appeal, she adds, also contends that the Commission was biased and had passed recommendations in an arbitrary manner, without, as mentioned, providing her enough time to defend her clients.
The division bench of Sikkim High Court today admitted the case and directed that notice be issues to the respondents and allowed a stay on the recommendations.
The Sikkim State Human Rights Commission headed by former Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court, Justice Ajoy Nath Ray, has recommended, apart from release of pending salaries and expereince certificates by the University, that Prof. Lama “personally payout of his own funds compensation for illegal actions initiated and persisted in by him to the prejudice and loss of the petitioners to the extent of Rs. 2,44,000 to four complainants” and also recommended to the Sikkim University it’s Executive Council and all concerned office bearers, employees and staff to “forthwith cancel the proceedings and decisions of Executive Council dated 16/ 3/ 2012, New Delhi as it is a product of illegal initiation of proceedings and was reached in breach of the rules of natural justice and Sikkim University”.

Warm reception for The Gurkha’s Daughter


NEW DELHI, 26 Nov: The 24th of November, 2012 marked a special day in the literary world. It was the India launch of a much anticipated book, that of Prajwal Parajuly’s collection of short stories, “The Gurkha’s Daughter”. The book launch was hosted at the India International Center in New Delhi with Quercus as the principal publisher in collaboration with Penguin India.
Prajwal hails from Gangtok, and his stories are mainly about the Nepali-speaking community all over the world. The event flagged off with an introduction from Chiki Sarkar, publishing head of Penguin India setting the tone of the evening. There was a group of around 240 people who made it to the event, many more than anticipated and many had to stand since the approximated seats were already occupied. It was a mixed group with VVIPs such as Agatha Sangma, an MP and former Union Minister of State for Rural Development, Andrew Langstieh, former Accountant General, Sikkim, Karma S. Paljor, the CNN IBN news anchor from Sikkim, renowned poet Sudeep Sen and many top-shot bureaucrats   equally at ease with students and younger people.
The book was launched by Namita Gokhale, Director of the Jaipur Literary Festival, and Vinod Rai, the CAG who had the audience in fits of laughter with his self-deprecating humour and his clear praise of the book, insisting that he found no faults in it no matter how hard he tried, even though finding faults was his principal job. He even mentioned instances from some of the stories and queried Prajwal about how he managed to get nuances of the wide range of interactions so well especially that of the “saasu-buhaari” antagonism in the very first story of the book. The CAG also said he had a request to make- because of the number of people standing, he requested that the next launch be organized in a sports stadium instead.
Namita Gokhale was the moderator for the event and in conversation with Prajwal who fielded questions with an ease rarely seen in first-time authors. He read out two passages from the book giving the audience an idea about the kind of human relations and interactions he has chosen to share with readers with this book… intimate and palpable with a touch of humour. He spoke in a slightly accented English with familiarity, and all present hung on to each of his witty one-liners and humorous repartees.
On being asked whether English or Nepali was his first language, he took a moment and then replied that both were in fact his first languages, an answer that struck a chord with many of the bi-lingual people in the audience. The current state of Nepali literature and the language in the diaspora was discussed and a consensus agree that it was closeted in a way that did not invite global attention yet was alive and thriving on its own and of how the passion of the authors kept it alive. He also informed that The Gurkha’s Daughter has already been translated into Nepali, with a great deal of help from his parents (90 percent, he says), to his 10 percent and read out a passage to the audience which was reminiscent of the novels and stories read as a part of the syllabi in school. He seemed equally comfortable with Nepali as he was with English, using the correct inflection and gender connotations.
He was also asked about the authors who inspired him and he named Charles Dickens, P.G. Wodehouse, Jeffrey Eugenides, Tom Wolfe and Jane Austen amongst others.
The floor was then open to the audience, making it clear that time would allow only 4-5 questions. He was asked a variety of questions, about whether he drew his characters from real life, why short stories as a genre, why the title and if he had social reforms in mind whilst writing the book. To the first question he replied that characters from the stories may have parallels to people he's met in real life but that the incorporation was in no way conscious or arbitrary, “because that’s what fiction is all about”.
Admitting that short stories as a genre wasn’t encouraged very heartily, especially of first-time authors he candidly admitted to wanting to try it for he thought it was easier than writing a novel, a notion which was utterly shattered whilst writing this book. He also admitted that his agent made sure that he wrote a novel as well, as a balancing act perhaps. The difference between the two, he said, laughing, was that short stories were basically a novel without the frivolous parts.
Upon the choice of the title, anecdotes were doled out on the brainstorming of possible names and having people come up with titles such as Himalayan Sunset etc to do justice to the content. Finally they decided on naming it after one of the eight stories in the book, because not only did it fully justify the content, it also resonated with the British (his publishers) who were familiar with the Gurkhas.
He admitted to not thinking consciously of social reforms, as he was a writer of fiction with stories to tell without any conscious social or political agenda, Art for Art's sake as opposed to Art with a purpose.
The answers were to the point, funny and seemingly honest. The rhetoric was limited and the attention of the audience held throughout the evening. He was very cordial and seemed relaxed as he interacted with the people before and after the event. He joked about feeling like a movie star and he was every bit the star of the evening, signing books and posing for photographs whenever he was requested. The turnout was phenomenal and it was reassuring to see the number of people who were so warmly receptive of the book and the voices he sought to represent.

SAA’s Dr. Gurung elected AAI joint secy for NE

GANGTOK, 26 Nov: Sikkim Archery Association [SAA] general secretary, Dr KB Gurung, has been elected the joint secretary [North-East] of the Archery Association of India [AAI]. He was elected unopposed to the post during the AAI’s executive body election held earlier this month. This elevation makes him the first SAA member to get elected to the central body of the AAI.
The AAI elections were held on 08 November in New Delhi with retired Judge of Delhi High Court, Justice Kapoor, as Returning Officer.
Dr Gurung has been an SAA executive member since 1990 and has been serving as its general secretary for the past one and half years. Earlier, AAI had appointed him as an Observer for a national tournament held in Shillong and had also deputed him to Shanghai with the Indian squad as a team official for the World Archery Championship last year.
Speaking to media persons today, Dr Gurung mentioned that the AAI has recognized the sincere effort and hard work of the SAA by providing him such a prestigious post. In this regard, he stressed that the new post for him in the national body was the result of the teamwork of the SAA led by its president, TT Bhutia. He thanked all members of the SAA and especially the PHE Minister and SAA president, Mr Bhutia for their constant support till date.
Responding to media queries, Dr Gurung mentioned that this new post in the central executive body would help the state in further promotion and development of the archery here. He further mentioned that this new post will also provide him national and international exposure which would ultimately benefit archery in the State.
“With this new responsibility, I will try my best to bring out raw talent from this region and try and attach talented young archers from Sikkim to renowned archery academies of the country,” he said.

BSNL lethargy delinks Gangtok from Tatkal bookings too often


GANGTOK, 25 Nov: Both, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Sikkim Nationalised Transport, have come in for some sharp criticism over frequent internet link failures at the railway ticket reservation counter [at SNT bus stand] which deprives travelers here from securing Tatkal railway bookings. Tatkal bookings open for a brief window between 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and if the irate travelers and hassled SNT personnel are to be believed, the ‘link failure’ at the counter hits during this half an hour slot most often. This observation gains credence in light of the fact that the situation has become so routine that SNT has raised the issue not only with BSNL, but also the concerned Railways authorities.
Concerned officials also inform that there have been times when the ‘link failure’ has lasted the entire day leaving ticket seekers extremely agitated. SNT has reportedly lodged a formal complaint with BSNL as well as with central railway authorities regarding this situation and a solution is expected on Monday. This, one may add, was only possible after a hue and cry was raised by the SNT.
A meeting, it is informed, was held on 24 November between SNT and BSNL officials to thrash out the issue. Attending the meeting were Secretary, SNT, General Manager BSNL and General Manager, Katihar Division of the Indian Railways under whose jurisdiction Sikkim falls.
Officials, while confirming the link failures and regretting the inconvenience caused, informed that the fault lay largely with BSNL and not SNT. It was ascertained at the meeting that the frequent link failure problems was due to the modem provided by BSNL, which, as an official says, “is very slow”. More than a total link failure, the railway booking counter at SNT is plagued by a slow connection taking up to 10 minutes to process a single ticket, it is stated. Link failures during Tatkal booking window is still inexplicable. Apart from a slow modem the BSNL is also informed to have equipped the SNT with faulty cable lines.
It has been decided that the BSNL will provide SNT with a faster modem. The railway booking counter is currently being serviced by a 9.6 kbps speed modem which is now to be replaced by a 64 kbps high speed modem by BSNL on Monday.
Joint General Manager, SNT, KN Bhutia, informs that BSNL officials along with Railway officials from the Katihar division will be here on Monday to sort out the issues.
“It is basically a problem of BSNL,” he said, adding that a complaint has been lodged with them. Hardware maintenance and other railway equipment related matters come under the responsibility of the Katihar division.
There was also an assurance by the GM, Katihar Division that there would be an upgradation of the equipment in Sikkim. In fact all the railway counters which have been opened in the districts will also be upgraded, it was stated by him. Software engineers from the Katihar Division as well as engineers from BSNL are to visit SNT on Monday for the upgradation. SNT has also sought VSAT for its counters in Gangtok as well as in the districts.

Ill-timed repairs heave anxiety on border traders

GANGTOK, 25 Nov: Nathula border traders went through some anxious moments yesterday when they were told that access to Nathula, and hence to trading itself, would not be possible on 26 and 27 November. The information that the traders will not be able to go up to the Sherathang Border Trade Mart or cross over into Tibet came as a worrying update as there are only 4 days left before trade shuts down for the year. The last trading day for the season is 29 November, Thursday. The reason forwarded by Border Roads Organisation, as informed by traders, was that JN Road would be closed for traffic as the road agency will be undertaking repairs on a bridge along the route.
The bridge, on which repairs are supposed to be undertaken, has been identified as the Anda Bridge at 8th Mile on the JN Road en route to Sherathang. This came as a rather perplexing development particularly in light of the fact that only a few days are left for this trading season and many traders have lakhs in transactions still to be recovered.
A delegation of traders soon met with BRO officials as well as Sikkim Police on 24 November and on the request of the traders, BRO has agreed to put off the repairs till next week.
The bridge to be repaired, as informed by traders, is not in such a poor condition that it cannot withstand traffic for a few more days. Incidentally, with trade drawing to a close, there is expected to be a small ceremony by traders up at Sherathang on 29 November, the final trading day.

Grameen Football Gaurav for Mangalbaria WFA’s Bhoj Kumari

GANGTOK, 24 Nov: Bhoj Kumari Subba of Dodak, West Sikkim, was presented the ‘Grameen Football Gaurav’ award, a joint initiative of Sikkim Express and Videocon D2H to celebrate football talent from rural Sikkim, on Saturday. The recognition was accorded at a simple function organised at the Press Club of Sikkim with Thukchuk Lachungpa as chief guest.
Bhoj Kumari is a product of Mangalbaria Women’s Football Academy and marching strong on the path blazed by her academy friends Nima Lhamu and Lako Phuti who now wear the national colours. As he citation informs: “Miss Subba has impressed everyone with her talents and skills during the recently concluded All Sikkim Women’s Football Tournament organized by Sikkim Football Association at Paljor Stadium. She was an integral part of the Norbugang XI team of West district which won the tournament...”
Editor, Sikkim Express, Amit Patro, expressed happiness on a lady footballer being selected for the Grameen Football Gaurav this time. This is the fifth edition of the award.
He credited coach Palden Bhutia, who founded the Women’s Football Academy in remote Mangalbaria of West Sikkim in the year 2005, for the new highs being achieved by women footballers of Sikkim. He saluted Mr. Bhutia’s vision and contributions to the advancement of women’s football in Sikkim.
Mr Patro also pointed out that soccer stalwarts from Sikkim have mostly come from rural backgrounds, reinforcing the talent that the villages harbour. “We look forward to Bhoj Kumari’s wonderful performance in the coming years and celebrate her growth as a footballer. We also wish to see her in Indian colours in the near future. Football lovers remain assured that Bhoj Kumari will mature as the torchbearer of rural Sikkim’s contribution towards the advancement of Sikkim Football, particularly in women’s football,” he said.
The Grameen Football Gaurav consists of a citation and a Videocon d2h set-top box with a free lifelong subscription to the awardee.
Bhoj Kumari thanked Sikkim Express and Videocon D2H for the award and shared that the recognition has reinforced her desire to make a career in football.
In his address, Mr. Lachungpa said that while there are many media houses in Sikkim, the initiative taken by Sikkim Express was unique and deeply appreciable.

‘Leave Permit’ formality hiccup for Tibetan rally

GANGTOK, 25 Nov: The solidarity protest march being undertaken by Tibetans from Sikkim hit a small hiccup when it reached Rangpo yesterday, 24 November. As per reports, the rally comprising of around 150 Tibetans settled in Sikkim, was halted at the Rangpo check post as they had not secured the required permits to leave the State.
It is now learnt that as per directions issued by the Union Home Ministry, Tibetan refugees, if more than a certain number, are required to present a leave permit in order to leave Sikkim. As per SP East, Dr. MS Tuli, he had given permission to the rallying Tibetans for a rally up to Rangpo which is as far as his jurisdiction stretches. At the Rangpo gates, personnel at the Foreigner’s Registration Office directed that the Tibetan Youth Club members produce the Leave Permit. An application was hurriedly written and sent to the FRO office in Gangtok which then proceeded to provide them with the required permit.
Though Tibetan refugees have been settled in Sikkim [as also elsewhere in the country] for more than half a century, they are still, officially, foreigners. Hence, the rule of the Home Ministry on the requirement of a ‘leave permit’ when more than a certain number of Tibetans leave the State. However, it is also understood that this particular rule is not invoked too often by the authorities.

Book Release: The Gurkha's Daughter

IT’S OUT: Prajwal Parajuly’s debut book, “The Gurkha’s Daughter”, was released by Comptroller Auditor General of India, Vinod Rai, at a packed function at the India International Centre, New Delhi, on Saturday evening. Signed by London-based Quercus, Prajwal’s book is being distributed in India by Penguin Books India. The book release was so well attended that Mr. Rai commented: “The next launch should be at a sports stadium so people at the back don’t have to stand up”! The release function included a review of the book by the CAG and a discussion between the author and Namita Gokhale, a respected writer and one of the founder directors of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Forest fells SLA to lift interdepartmental football trophy

GANGTOK, 25 Nov: Forest Department has emerged the champion of the Interdepartmental Football Tournament 2012 held here at Paljor Stadium. In a keenly contested final match played on Saturday, Forest Department edged past Sikkim Legislative Assembly 5-3 to lift the trophy.

Leo Dunma prayers begin at Tashiding

GANGTOK, 25 Nov: One lakh recitations of ‘Leo Dunma’ prayer began at Tashiding Monastery in West Sikkim on 23 November at 5 a.m. on the occasion of Guru Tshe-Chu. Kyabje Gyari Lodoe Rinpoche, Miniling Tulku Penam, Nayten Chogling Rinpoche and Tingkoe Gonjang Rinpoche were present for the inaugural session, joined by around 300 monks representing 30 monasteries, mostly from Nyingmapa and Kagyupa sects, from all over Sikkim, informs a release issued by S Gyatso [Joint Director, Ecclesiastical Affairs Department]. The one lakh recitations of the prayer is expected to continue for around 15 days.
The prayer congregation is being jointly organized by Lobpon Tempa Gyatso of Pemayangtse, monks of Tashiding and Jamyang Dorje under the patronage of Kyabje Gyari Rinpoche, Miniling Penam Tulku,  Kyabje Sogyal Rinpoche, Phagchog Rinpoche, Nayten Chogling Rinpoche and Richard Gary from USA. The Department of Ecclesiastical Affairs represented the State Government at the inaugural session and offered the prayer contribution.
The prayer, it is informed, propitiates Guru Padmasambhava’s blessing to restore peace in the entire world and also to ward off natural calamities. More monks and Rinpoches are expected to join the prayer in the coming days.
Leo Dunma means ‘Seven Chapters of Payer’ and is believed to have been prescribed by Guru Padmasambhava himself on the behest of his closest devotees on his departure from Tibet. He is said to have instructed his devotees that “whenever you are in trouble, you may invoke me by reciting this prayer; I will certainly come to your rescue”. Its power value is immeasurable and is often recited by lamas to remove obstacles during a journey or during the start of domestic or professional works, the release informs. All well wishers have been invited to participate or contribute to make this prayer successful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Health Deptt submits details on available infrastructure to High Court

GANGTOK, 23 Nov: Three months after a public interest litigation was filed in the High Court of Sikkim on the state of health services in Sikkim, the Health Department has managed to compile its report on all health related infrastructure and drugs available for submission to the Court. An affidavit has been submitted by the Additional Advocate General, JB Pradhan, informing the court on the health related infrastructure in the state.
The infrastructure relates to the primary health centres and the sub centres in the four districts. A list of life saving drugs was also forwarded to the court, which, as per the state Health Department, are available in the hospitals and primary health centres.  The division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice P Kohli and Justice SP Wangdi further directed the Additional AG to submit an affidavit on the availability of life saving drugs.
The court had initially, in August, allowed a period of 6 weeks for the submission of the report. When the PIL came up for hearing on 05 October, the report was not still ready and additional time had been sought.
The court had directed the State respondents to furnish details of the facilities available at the district and sub divisional hospitals, the primary health centres including dispensaries with details of the number of such centres. Furthermore, the High Court had directed that the state furnish details on the availability of life saving drugs with their name/ brand and quantity along with expiry dates.
Several deficiencies in the delivery of health services in the state especially in the implementation of the health schemes such as National Rural Health Mission, the Janani Suraksha Yojana have been alleged in the petition along with the allegation of non availability of essential drugs in most government hospitals and health centres in the districts.