Saturday, February 2, 2013

ACT’s Dawa to join Golay’s party

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: Founder-member and general secretary of Affected Citizens of Teesta [ACT], Dawa Lepcha, announced plans to join the new political outfit aligned to dissident SDF MLA PS Tamang when it is launched in Soreong on Monday. Making the announcement at a press conference held here at the Press Club of Sikkim today, Mr. Lepcha also informed that he has also resigned from ACT to reiterate the organisation’s apolitical credentials, but stressed that he will be taking is anti-dam position to his political career as well. His joining the new party, he underlined, would be conditional to the assurance that the party adopts an anti-dam stand and does not implement any hydel project if it forms the government.
Mr. Lepcha’s decision to join the new party has been welcomed and endorsed by all members of ACT.
Explaining his decision, Mr. Lepcha expressed that after hunger strikes, demonstrations, representations and other activities, he is convinced that there was now the need to pursue the cause of the dam affected citizens in more resurgent way. “Hence I decided to explore other options to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people,” he said of moving into politics now.
He informed that as an activist, he sat on a 63 day hunger strike in 2007 and then again for 96 days in 2008 and achieved the scrapping of 4 hydel projects out of 6 planned for Dzongu.
On the current scenario, he informed that the process of issuance of environmental clearance for Teesta HEP Stage IV has reached an advanced stage in the concerned Ministry despite the promoters having failed to hold a public hearing twice.
He shared that as an activist he has delivered all he possibly could in that role and since more needs to be achieved, he has decided to seek out political solutions by joining politics himself.
ACT working president, Tseten Lepcha, who accompanied him to the press conference, mentioned that the decision has been accepted by members of the organization and stressed that Mr. Dawa Lepcha will however always be part and parcel of the movement to defend the rights of the Sikkimese people. He also put on record that ACT acknowledges his sacrifices and contributions to speak for dam-affected citizens and thanks him for all that he has done so far. 
On the organisation’s latest concern, its working president said, “The ACT expresses serious concern over the fact that the process of issuance of environmental clearance for Teesta HEP stage IV has reached advanced stage in the MoEF especially since this project has been opposed by all resident of Dzongu, particularly by the Power Minister, who is also area MLA, all panchayats and members of ACT.” He added that the grant of environmental clearance based on incomplete public hearing is a violation of basic rights of the Sikkimese people and went against the spirit of environmental policies of the country.
He added that even the issuance of Wildlife clearance by the State Wildlife Board was a serious violation of the rights of the stakeholders of the region and such major decisions without the prior informed consent of the local bodies like the Eco Development Committees and the JFMCs has defeated the very concept of Public Participation in Protection and stakeholders of the region.
He added that such major decision without the prior informed consent of the local bodies has also defeated the very concept of public participation in protection and preservation of the rich bio-diversity of the ecologically fragile region.
“This action has also contradicted the stand of the State government which had boycotted the public hearing twice,” he added. ACT has urged the concerned agencies to take necessary remedial step to stop the devastation of the region.

Vigilance raids two former Power Secretaries

GANGTOK, 01 Feb: Vigilance Police carried out simultaneous raids on two former Secretaries of the Energy and Power Department yesterday. Retired Secretaries DD Pradhan and Pema Wangchen, both of whom retired as Principal Chief Engineer cum Secretary, Power Department, have been booked by the Vigilance directorate for possession of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. With the twin raids yesterday, Vigilance Police completes a busy week which started with a raid on Additional SP, Sikkim Jails, Kado Tshering Bhutia, on Sunday.
Both the Vigilance cases were registered on 31 January and raids conducted simultaneously on the residences of the two retired government servants.
Director Vigilance, N Sreedhar Rao, confirmed that the search operations started in the late afternoon on 31 January and continued well past midnight. Mr. Pradhan’s house at Tadong and Mr. Wangchen’s residence at Burtuk were raided by the police after obtaining search warrants from the designated Court for the Prevention of Corruption Act. It is informed that during the raid, documents relating to properties and bank accounts were seized.
They have been charged under section 13 (1) (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act which concerns possession by a public servant of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income and which he cannot account for.
The cases were registered on the basis of source information alleging that both the former Secretaries were in possession of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income; it is stated that the disproportionate assets had been amassed by the accused during their tenure in government service. While Mr. Pradhan is accused in the Vigilance case to be in possession of disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs. 63 lakh, in Mr. Wangchen’s case this has been projected at Rs. 85 lakh.
However, it is also learnt that the check period in relation to the two cases is yet to be established by the investigating agency. It is informed that the source information was first verified from the field from sources and also taking into account their known sources of income and assets along with their living expenses.
Mr. Pradhan retired from service as Power Secretary in the year 2007 and was succeeded as Secretary, Power by Mr. Wangchen who retired from service in the year 2011. In fact, Mr. Wangchen had also received a one-year extension after his superannuation. Officials inform that there is no time limit [limitation] in taking cognizance of acts of corruption by government servants and it did not matter how many years a former government servant had been in retirement.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fighting Scam Schemes

The State Government has constituted a committee “for oversight of un-incorporate bodies in Sikkim”. This is essentially a coordinating body to facilitated cooperation between various agencies of the State and Central governments and the Reserve Bank of India in checking the facility with which con-artists have been selling scam schemes in Sikkim. The committee is also tasked to recommend ways and means on how the intent and guiding principles of Sikkim Protection of Interest of Depositor (In Financial Establishment) Act of 2009 can be better implemented. While this development is welcome, it needs to be accepted that just more rules and laws cannot provide enough defence against cons. All acts of fraud, whether through ponzi schemes or with the deployment of IT tools, are after all already punishable offences, but that has not saved too many from losing fortunes. It is possible that having an official committee in place will move the concerned agencies to act against such potentials scams even before a formal complaint is lodged, but it would be unrealistic to expect any departmental or inter-departmental exercise to provide a watertight defence against scams. The committee would have delivered handsomely if it can recommend watertight laws and clauses to ensure that the perpetrators of such scams are traced down and convicted. When it comes to ‘protecting the people’ from such cons, the challenge is handicapped by the combined strength of gullibility and greed. It is after all individual naiveté or greed, and in most cases both, which entrap people into parting with cash against fantastical promises. Government intervention cannot bestow wisdom or suppress greed.
So what can one do? Inform people better. Information is the best defence because rules and laws will never be able to keep up the frequent mutations that the scams undergo to slip under the official radars. If one were to go over the scams to which Sikkim has lost massive money to in recent years, they begin with job cons in which youth [and their parents] were sold dreams of enormous salaries in foreign locales against large deposits. Some lost their money in Gangtok itself while many suffered penniless for days in the metros. There are still jobs on offer which demand security deposits and these are always scams. In the background, there always were the down-line schemes being sold from office to office and their success fuelled the ‘investment’ scams. Unfortunately, while the rest of the world has wizened up to bulk-mailing/ SMS attempts to convince people that they have won millions in lotteries they never purchased, this is still relatively new to Sikkim and as more and more people move online or acquire mobile phones, they are more at risk. What is more, these cons have taken another minor mutation and graduated from cold SMSes to actual voice calls with people speaking in Nepali and seeking to convince people to deposit money to pay for the delivery of prizes they have won. The quickness with which scamsters can change track requires an adeptness which legislation of rules and laws cannot provide. This brings one back to the need of information instead. And this is where community organizations and groups and even panchayats and councilors need to be involved and all forms of media harnessed to warn people against falling prey to the guile of operators selling scams. Apart from just sounding people off on the kind of scams being attempted [the moment a new one is born], receivers of such feelers should also be informed about and encouraged to leave complaints with the appointed authorities.

SUSA to support Golay’s party

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: Sikkim United Students Association [SUSA], formed some months back, today announced “full support” for the political party of dissident SDF MLA PS Tamang scheduled to be launched on 04 February at Singling, Soreong in West Sikkim.
Addressing a press conference today, SUSA president, Karma Tashi Bhutia, explained that the association’s support for the new party was because the State government has not been able to deliver quality education despite claims and assurances.
While on the topic, SUSA advisor, Meghraj Chettri, informed that the class XII batch of Sombaria Senior Secondary School, which will be appearing the board examinations in March, has still not given their Physics practical so far.
Another SUSA advisor, Kamal Neopaney, in turn contended that the new party in the offing provided the only viable alternative to the SDF government. He further claimed that SUSA has around 2,000 members across the state and that the decision to support the new party was taken in consultation with all members.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bhutia contended that student drop-out rate was high in primary section and that there were no job opportunities created by the government for students upon completion of their studies. He also argued that while cash incentives have been announced for sportspersons, no efforts have been made to establish sports academies or adequate infrastructure to groom such talent. In this regard, he made special reference to Bhaichung Bhutia, who, he said, has not been provided land to establish a football academy in Sikkim.
Mr Bhutia alleged that the state government only works to bring private educational institutions into the state but was not working to bring institutes like IIT and IIM or even support the Sikkim University in true sense.

Committee formed to reinforce efforts against scam schemes

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: The State government has taken serious note of the alacrity with which people are being duped by companies floating various dubious schemes which attract investments and then fold up. Recently, [NOW! dated 29 Jan 2013] had detailed how several individuals had recently lost money to such scamsters and how such operations continue to haunt the State and its people. Despite the infamy of such companies as Bharosa and Tina Finlease in which hundreds of people lost lakhs people here continue to be lured by such offers and in the process, continue to be duped.
In this connection, it is informed that the state government recently constituted a committee under the Chief Secretary called the ‘Committee for oversight of un-incorporate bodies in Sikkim”; the purpose of constituting such a committee, it is informed, is to “strengthen the regularity and supervisory cooperation amongst agencies of the central government, state government and the Reserve Bank of India.”
This committee has members from various agencies and includes the DGP, Finance Secretary and the RBI General Manager. The committee was put in place after frequent reports of companies and even un-incorporated bodies raising large sums of money by floating innovative schemes in the “note of pyramid or ponzi schemes and defalcating the money of common people in the name of profitable investment”.
It was noticed by the concerned agencies that individuals and companies were taking advantage of loopholes in the legal provisions and lack of clarity on the role of the different agencies involved.
It is informed that such an initiative of the state government is consistent with the enactment of the Sikkim Protection of Interest of Depositor (In Financial Establishment) Act, 2009 under which rules have also been framed.
The committee has also been tasked with recommending the further course of action to be taken in implementing the Act and its Rules. In this regard, there will be initiation of necessary improvements and even amendments to the Act and Rules as the case may be especially where hindrances in the implementation and enforcement wherever are noticed in order to make it more stringent. An effective mechanism is to be evolved to facilitate exchange of information among the concerned agencies of central and state governments. Any un-regulated activity and dubious entities engaging in the raising of money from the public with a view to defraud the people are to be curbed and prevented.
Other members of the Committee include the Law and UD&HD Secretaries, GM, Non Banking Supervision (RBI), representatives of SEBI and MCA, Government of India and Principal Director, FRED as member secretary.

Assault victim dies, assailant booked for murder

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: A case of murder has been registered against one Dorjee Tshering Lepcha of Mamru basti on the death of Phurba Tshering Sherpa of the same village at the Ravangla Police Station today.
Dorjee Tshering Lepcha [24], it is suspected, had some personal issues with Phurba Tshering Sherpa [52], a quarrel which is alleged to have led him to beat up the 52-year-old grievously on the night of 27 January. The injured victim was first admitted to the District Hospital at Namchi from where he was referred to the Central Referral Hospital, Gangtok, the next day.
It was here at the CRH that the victim succumbed to his injuries today at 9 a.m.
The assault charge on the accused was immediately converted to murder and a case under Section 302 [punishment for murder] of the Indian Penal Code registered against Dorjee Tshering Lepcha who has been taken into custody by the Ravangla Police.
The deceased used to work as a water fitter in the village.

Aadhar cannot be accepted in Sikkim, asserts SNPP

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Sikkim National People’s Party [SNPP] has condemned the state government’s move to introduce Aadhar Cards in the state as also the recent statements made by the ruling SDF party in favour of Aadhar.
In a press release issued by vice president, Tika Chettri, SNPP alleges that Aadhar is being implemented in all four districts of the state in contradiction with the notification that mentions that these are to be implemented only in two districts.
“SNPP agrees with the Congress party that in the haste to implement this scheme, people without Sikkim Subjects and also illegal foreigners have also been successful in getting these cards, which has a direct effect on national security”, the release states.
The party has further demanded that central laws which have jurisdiction over corruption cases and the CBI be extended to Sikkim first if the Old Laws of Sikkim are done away with despite being provided protection under the Constitution. SNPP has reiterated that a public burning of these cards will be organised if the process is not withdrawn by 16 May.

SUS ‘Guiding Juniors’ at 5 villages

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Student Union of Sikkim [SUS] took its programme ‘Guiding Juniors’ to five villages in South and East Sikkim this year. Launched by SUS last year, the programme provides free coaching to students at their homes during the winter vacation.
An SUS press release issued by secretary SUS, Pankaj Rai informs that this winter, members of the Union undertook voluntary teaching at Pathing, Dojak, Satam and Karongthang schools in South Sikkim and Lingtam school in East Sikkim from 12 January onwards. It is informed that classes are being attended by students from classes III to XII.
The release informs that apart from academic classes, students are also provided career counseling along with conduct of sports activities. “SUS volunteers have established a friendly relationship with students to build their confidence and invite students to attended the classes if they are facing problems in their academic curriculum,” the release states.
The Union has been getting encouraging response this year with an increase in participation. At present 120 students have been attending this programme at Dojak School, 70 each at Karongthang School and Pathing School, 40 at Satam School and 74 at Lingtam School.
Parents and villagers informed SUS that such programmes are useful and beneficial for students during the vacation and have urged the SUS to continue with this programme in their areas every year, the release mentions.
Although the Union has been getting an encouraging response, organizing this programme on a larger scale still poses some problems and in this regard SUS has urged the people, parents, panchayat members and members of different organizations to support this programme to reach out to every village in the state.

White Paper on 18 Sept Earthquake tabled in Assembly

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Also during the one-day Legislative Assembly session today, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, in his capacity as the Chairman, Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority, tabled the “White Paper on the High-Intensity Earthquake of 18 September, 2011 in Sikkim”.
The 160-page document prepared by the Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department details the impact of the 2011 earthquake and the rescue, search, relief, reconstruction, rebuilding and management efforts that have been underway since.
In his foreword to the White Paper, the Chief Minister explains: “I have decided to present this document in response to assurance given to the general public of the State. It may also contribute to an informed debate and a more effective and constructive policy response as we move forward to building an earthquake and disaster resilient State in the years ahead”.

Assembly adopts Resolutions seeking Limboo and Tamang seats, ST status for all Sikkimese and protection of Sikkim Companies Act

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: A one-day Sikkim Legislative Assembly session (Seventh session part- iii of the Eighth Assembly) was held today. Among the more significant businesses taken up today was the adoption of three Resolutions, moved as Private Member’s Business, each touching on a different aspect of identity and norms of Sikkim’s uniqueness within the Union of India. The resolution cover aspects of Assembly seat reservation for Limboo and Tamang communities by virtue of their being recognized as Scheduled Tribes, ST status for all ethnic communities of Sikkim, and protection of Sikkim Companies Act of 1961.
Resolution No. 2 of the day, moved by Chief Whip, the Tumin-Lingee MLA Ugen T Gyatso, sought “equality among all Sikkimese communities in categorization of Scheduled Tribes Status”. The resolution was seconded by PL Subba.
Presenting the Resolution, Mr Gyatso highlighted that before Sikkim’s merger with the Indian Union, all ethnic communities were treated equally in all respects as a single entity with due regard given to their origin, migration history, political, cultural history and assimilation in the Sikkimese society.
“After the merger, however, it is being increasingly felt by the people of Sikkim State that a few communities only have been categorized as Scheduled Tribes by the Central Government that are entitled to special benefits leaving aside the rest of the ethnic communities in the lurch,” said the Chief Whip.
Referring to the judgment of the constitutional bench of Supreme Court of India in State of Sikkim versus Surendar Prasad Sharma where it acknowledged the fact that all ethnic Sikkimese communities are a single entity, Mr Gyatso said that the central government has also acknowledged this commonality of Sikkimese communities while granting direct tax exemption [for all Sikkimese, defined as Sikkim Subjects and their descendents] thereby recognizing them at par with Scheduled Tribes of other Northeastern states and Ladakh.
“Inspite of this fact, the formal categorization as Scheduled Tribes has been granted only to some of our ethnic Sikkimese communities,” he rued while suggesting a Resolve for all elected MLAs to “restore” the equality of treatment among all ethnic communities of Sikkim as was the practice before the merger. This he proposed could be done by categorizing all Sikkimese [excepting the Scheduled Castes] as Scheduled Tribes on the same principle as adopted by the Government of India in granting exemption from Income Tax as elucidated under Section 10 (26AAA) of the Indian Income Tax Act.
The House also adopted the Resolution seeking reservation of seats for Limboo and Tamang Tribal communities in the State Legislative Assembly. This was the third time that such a Resolution was adopted as a private member resolution.
MLA Tulshi Devi Rai, while moving the resolution seeking Assembly seat reservation for Limboo and Tamang communities [included in the list of Scheduled Tribes] said that the bonafide and Constitutional right of these communities cannot be refused for long.
Highlighting that the State Government has already provided 14% reservation in jobs for the Limboo and Tamang communities and also provided them reserved seats in the Panchayat bodies as Scheduled Tribes, Ms. Rai pointed out that reservation of seats in the Assembly is a Parliament subject which falls under the Union list.
She moved the resolution to “urge the Government of India to enact reservation of seats for the Limboo-Tamang communities in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly without any further delay as considerable time has elapsed after the grant of Scheduled Tribes status to them and the Census of India has also been completed”.
The resolution was seconded by MLA Madan Cintury and adopted by the House.
The third resolution adopted by the Sikkim Legislative Assembly today was moved by Daramdin MLA, Tenzi Sherpa, seeking protection of Sikkim Companies Act 1961.
The Sikkim Registration of Companies Act, 1961, is slated for annulment with the passage [in the Rajya Sabha] of the new Companies Act by the Centre to replace the Companies Act of 1956. The new Act specifies that it would also replace the Sikkim Registration of Companies Act of 1961, an Old Law of Sikkim.
In his private member’s resolution, Mr Sherpa argues that the Constitutional protection provided to the Old Laws of Sikkim represents “an assurance to the people of Sikkim by the Government of India that the state of Sikkim would enjoy a special position within the constitutional framework and its old laws would continue to enjoy the protection till the people of the state feel the need for any change”.
“However, given the position and experience in the wake of extension of Income Tax law, the people of Sikkim have shown their inclination to continue to enjoy the protection to their old laws and would definitely seek the status quo as has prevailed so far and would not like to dilute the position,” Mr Sherpa conveys on the Companies Act issue.
He recommended that the MLAs join him in urging the Central government “to ensure due protection to the Registration of Companies Act, 1961, Sikkim by adopting such measures as may be necessary and also to ensure that the proposed new company law is not extended to the state of Sikkim.”

We are not goons or drug addicts, counter Golay’s youth supporters

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: The youth wing of the soon to be launched political outfit of dissident SDF MLA, PS Tamang [Golay], addressed media persons today for the first time. “We have come out openly to change the system and bring about good governance in the state,” said youth supporters of the dissident MLA at a press conference. The new party is slated to be launched on 04 February at Singling, Soreong in West Sikkim.
Members of the youth wing strongly condemned being branded as “Golay’s goons, robbers and drug addicts”. “The state government has become outdated and there is a need for new age leaders”, said Bhanu Rasaily during the press meet today.
He alleged that the ruling government has created divisions in the society making people isolated, weak and uncreative. He further alleged that the government has destroyed the entrepreneurship spirit of the youth by creating obstacles along the way. 
“The state has numerous hydel projects and pharma companies but the healthcare system in the state is pathetic and local people still need to go out for treatment. The government does not have any long term plans and does not offer enough support for entrepreneurship,” Mr Rasaily further alleged.
“It is high time that the youth came out and worked together to bring change,” added Arthur Targain of Gangtok, contending that the youth have now finally come out to bring this change for the state and its people.
Another youth wing member, Shakti Prasad Adhikari of Chujachen alleged that despite the presence of hydel projects and industries, the youth are still unemployed and remain neglected by the government. “Due to the lack of opportunities frustration is high among the youth, which is also leading them towards drug addiction,” he claimed.
Mr Adhikari alleged that the government is misleading the youth with ad hoc jobs and demanded that vacancies in the state government be filled with permanent service and not temporary ones.
“Although the policies and programmes of the ruling government are good on paper, in reality nothing has been happening. Even when a youth wants to take an initiative, their projects are rejected by the authorities concerned,” alleged T Wangyal, also of Gangtok. An environment of fear prevails in the state where people are made to feel like outcasts if they are not with the ruling party, he added.
Zigmee Bhutia of Gangtok in turn explained that the youth wing of the upcoming political party will work both as a political organization as well as a social one especially focusing on issues of the youth. “If the government was serious about its work, it should have solved the problems of drug addiction and unemployment in the state by now”, he alleged.
Pawan Parsai of Ranipool, speaking on unemployment, alleged that the skill development programmes being conducted are on irrelevant subjects which are useless for the youth of the state.
“Development should result in employment generation and revenue for the state but in Sikkim nothing of the sort is happening”, alleged Tilak Basnet of Melli. He went on to allege that victimization and political pressure on government employees is hampering the proper functioning of the state administration.
The press conference today was also addressed by Junu Chettri of Namcheybong.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sikkim gets an Overseas Employment Skill Development Centre at IHM Sajong

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Aspire Human Capital Management [Aspire] and Institute of Hotel  Management [IHM], Sikkim launched the first Overseas Employment Skill Development Centre in Sikkim, here at the Institute situated at Sajong, Rumtek today. The centre is being supported by Directorate of Capacity Building.
IHM was selected for this project by Aspire, the knowledge partners for this Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs [MOIA] sponsored project, jointly implemented by India Centre of Migration [ICM] and International Organisation of Migration [IOM], while the certification comes from Edexcel, a Pearson group company, United Kingdom.
Speaking at the launch, chief guest, Secretary, Labour Department CT Wangdi, remarked that such centres would provide exposure to students to different kinds of trainings which would help them apply for any kind of job in any part of the country. This is a pilot project and is being done for the first time in Sikkim, he added.
The state government started the Directorate of Capacity Building with a vision for the children of the state so that they could learn different skills and apply for placements in various fields, he informed.
Students of the state have a good command over the English language as they are taught to speak from an early age and they also dress up reasonably well which is needed in the hospitality industry, thus this gives them a plus point amongst others, he said and added that even if 20 students get placements after this project, it will be a huge boost for the state. This is a big opportunity for the students, so the students should not miss out on this chance, stated Mr Wangdi.
“There is ample scope in this industry, it is just that there is the need to harness this potential. There is a lot of money going out of the state in terms of human resources, which can be curtailed as it is not necessary for students to go out of the state to work”, he said. He added that people here are not ready to work hard so work force has to be brought in from outside, thus, there is the need to change the mentality of the people first.
The programme was also addressed by Ravindra Singh [Vice President, Vocational Education and Training, Aspire] and Mr. Paul from Edexcel, UK, who are also the resource persons for the two-day programme and by JT Gyaltshen [Principal, IHM].
The Aspire-IHM [Sikkim] Overseas Employment Skill Development Centre will provide short-term vocational training programmes targeted at the youth who wish to take up overseas employment, while the certification is by Edexcel, UK’s largest awarding body offering academic and vocational qualifications and testing to schools, colleges, employers and other places of learning in the UK and internationally.
The Aspire-IHM [Sikkim] Overseas Employment Skill Development Centre also launched its first programme, Aspire Edexcel BTEC Hospitality level 2 Advance Certificate Programme for the students of Sikkim. Trainers from IHM [04] and Assam Downtown University [09], another Aspire venue in Guwahati, Assam will be trained at IHM by Edexcel UK to roll out the programme.

Repairs constrict supply, power cuts follow

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: The capital and other parts of Sikkim have been suffering erratic power supply for the past few weeks. While most parts of Gangtok were without electricity for most part of the day today, load shedding has been around for a while, coming mostly during peak load hours between 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The peak electricity demand for the entire state during winters is recorded at 80 MW per day, but Sikkim is currently receiving barely 50 MW. This shortfall of 30 MW in supply has been cited as the reason necessitating load-shedding by rotation in Sikkim.
Sources at the department inform that the Power Grid Corporation India Ltd has been shutting down the Siliguri-Melli 132 KV transmission line and the Kurseong-Rangit 132 KV transmission line on a continuous basis since 27 January; a procedure which is scheduled to continue till 02 February 2013. This shutdown, it is informed, is being done for emergency stringing of transmission line conductors at a new tower location (No. 194) situated near Kurseong in West Bengal.
With the two transmission lines down, the Eastern Regional Load Dispatch [ERLD], Kolkata, which is the main grid that supplies power to Sikkim, has restricted Sikkim’s net withdrawal to 50 MW [against a peak demand of 80 MW] to avoid tripping of power in grid disturbance. This has necessitated load-shedding during the peak demand hours from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM.    
As for the power cut in Gangtok today, officials explain that this was owing to new maintenance works on the 66 KV double circuit transmission line and bay at Tadong. The maintenance will continue on 30 Jan as well and similar power cut is expected. The power cut has affected New Cantt, Tadong, Syari, Deorali, Pani House, Nam-Nang, MG Marg, Lingding, Bye-Pass and Ghattey, Rumtek on 29 and 30 January.
While consumers will not have complaints against repair-related power cuts, they are unanimous in complaining that these could have been announced more widely and more in advance.

Govt expected to introduce 3 major resolutions, Golay to stay away from Assembly session today

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Dissident SDF MLA, Prem Singh Tamang will not be attending the Sikkim Legislative Assembly session called for 30 January, Wednesday. Meanwhile, official sources inform that the State government is expected to introduce three important resolutions along with the supplementary budget for financial year 2012-13.
Former MLA, Bhojraj Rai confirmed that the dissident MLA will not attend the winter session of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly following the fiasco last year in June during the budget session when Mr Tamang had been evicted from the house midsession.
Mr Rai said that the dissident MLA is busy preparing for the launch of his own political outfit on 04 February. He also hinted that Mr Tamang is expected to vacate the Upper Burtuk seat publicly on 04 February, before hoisting his own political banner in Chakhung, West Sikkim.
Invitation cards for the launch have been sent out across the state, he further informed.

Sikkim sends 20-member squad for Santosh Trophy

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: A 20-member team will be representing Sikkim in the 67th edition of Senior National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy 2013 scheduled to be held at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh from 01 February to 03 March.
The final list of the 20-member team was announced by the SFA general secretary, Menla Ethenpa today at Paljor Stadium. A total of 36 footballers attended the trials, of whom 20 were shortlisted to represent the State at this prestigious tournament by a selection committee constituted the SFA headed by SYA Deputy Director [coaching], Thupden Rapgyal.
The team will be led by Tenzing Tsephel as team captain, while other team members are Tshering Zangpo, Chandan Chettri, Abhishek Rai, Tempo Bhutia, Bikash Thapa, Pawan Chettri, Khusen Mangar, Nicolas Rai, Bibek Bhutia, Yougyal Lepcha, Soraj Rawat, Sagar Rai, Pema Bhutia, Inchen Yonzon, Karma Dorjee, Narayan Chettri, Yakub Biswakarma, Pahalman Rai and Samir Pradhan.
Amos Subba has been given the responsibility of the team coach for the first time, while Dorjee Tamang of SFA will also accompany the team as manager.
In the qualifying round, Sikkim has been placed in Cluster D along with Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Pondicherry and Uttarakhand. Sikkim will be playing its first match against Madhya Pradesh on 03 February followed by the second match against Pondicherry on 05 February, then with Uttarakhand on 07 February and finally against Tripura on 09 February.
While announcing the names of team members, Mr Ethenpa mentioned that this time the SFA has given emphasis to young players so the team mostly consists of U-20 players. He further expressed that due to financial constraints SFA could not rope in Sikkimese players playing in different clubs of the country.
While congratulating the selected players, he encouraged the team to maintain discipline as they will be acting as ambassadors of the state. For those who could not make it in the team, he urged them not to get disheartened but to put in more effort to get through next time.
Likewise, Mr Rapgyal mentioned that this time a young team will be representing the state and added that participating in this prestigious tournament was big opportunity for the young players. In this regard, he urged them to put in all their efforts and to maintain good discipline for the sake of the state.
The team will be leaving for the tournament on Wednesday.

Special Olympics Bharat organises sports meet for the differently abled in Pelling

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Special Olympics Bharat [SOB], Sikkim Chapter, the Nodal Agency for conducting sports meets for the differently abled, is conducting the sports for all communities viz. SOB-differently-abled person, PCI, Paralympics Committees of India-Orthopedically Challenged and Visually Challenged person, and person with Hearing and Speech Impairment, at Pelling SSS Ground from 28 - 31 January 2013.
Events will be held in the disciplines of five-a-side Football, Athletics, Badminton and Bocce. A press release informs that SOB will conduct the Community Coaches Training (CCT Level I) Programme for the local level Volunteer/ Coaches on 28 January to identify athletes in the community. The games will begin from 29 January.
The main purpose of the programme is to motivate and identify talents among the differently-abled communities as sports is the only means towards mainstreaming these people, the release states.
Selected athletes will be sent to represent the state in the 3rd National Games scheduled to be held either in Jharkhand or Delhi later this year.
The participants are advised to bring warm clothes, sports gears and the accommodation is arranged in the Girls Hostel. The participants will be supplied with T-Shirts, Medals, Certificate and TA along with food and accommodation, the release adds.

Martyrs’ Day today

GANGTOK, 29 Jan [IPR]: Martyrs’ Day will be observed on 30 January, 2013 at all Government Offices in Gangtok and Districts as well as the Sub-Divisional Headquarters with the observance of two minutes silence in the memory of those who gave their lives in the struggle for India’s freedom. All work and movement including the traffic will stop exactly from 11 AM throughout the State wherever available, the commencement and termination of two minutes silence period should be indicated by sound of siren. The day will be observed with due solemnity.

12-yr-old commits suicide

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: The disturbing trend of suicides has begun to alarm now as more and more young people, especially those who have not yet or just reached their teens has begun a new trend in the suicide graph of Sikkim.
A 12-year-old school boy is informed to have taken his life in Pakyong; this follows closely on the heels of news of a 15-year-old girl having committed suicide at Zoom, West Sikkim just a day earlier. In fact it is astounding how minors have reportedly been committing suicide; a few months ago there were reports of an 11-year-old child committing suicide.
The 12-year-old suicide victim was residing at Karthok, Pakyong, reportedly in the house of a guardian. As per police records, the pre-teen committed suicide by hanging on 28 January at around 2:30 PM in hi guardian’s home. The victim was a resident of Hingdam in South Sikkim but was living at Karthok and was a Class IV student.

4th edition of State Open Chess Tournament to be held in Feb

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: The 4th edition of the State-level Open Chess Tournament is being organized by Sikkim Democratic Front Bhawan Trust with technical support of Sikkim Chess Association [SCA] from 09 to 12 February here at SDF Bhawan.
More than 150 players are expected to participate in the tournament which boasts of around Rs 1 lakh as prize money in total. The tournament will follow the Swiss League System.
Addressing a press conference today, coordinator of the tournament, Kabita Subba mentioned that since the establishment of SDF Bhawan Trust, it has been engaged in different activities in the field of social upliftment.
“On these lines the Trust will be organizing the state-level open chess tournament for the fourth time this year. Participation in the tournament has been increasing every year especially when it comes to students,” she said.
Ms Subba informed that the Trust is also organizing a voluntary blood donation camp at SDF Bhawan with the support of STNM Hospital blood bank on 15 February. She invited the public to be a part of this initiative by donating their blood.
SCA general secretary, Mahendra Dhakal, who is also an international arbiter, informed that players would also be selected during this tournament for the upcoming North-East FIDE Rating Chess Tournament scheduled to be held in the last week of February in Manipur. He informed that the selected players from the tournament will be representing the state in the said North-East tournament.
“The objective of the tournament is to provide more platforms to local players to evaluate and improve their game to reach higher levels. In a short span of time Sikkim has produced 9 young FIDE rated players at present”, said Mr Dhakal.
Rated players from Sikkim are Rakesh Gurung [1853], Thendup Tamang [1678], Durga Sharma [1674], Leela Prasad Acharya [1670], Rahul Gurung [1593], Phurba Bhutia [1570], Sushmita Lama [1540], Pranisha Gurung [1513] and Jonah Lepcha [1549].
Interested participants can collect the forms of the tournament from the SDF office at Indira Bye Pass road.

Still Waters: LEGACY releases new single online

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Gangtok rock band ‘Still Waters: LEGACY’ recently released a new single, “Step By Step”, online.
A press release informs that the song is based on the overall acceptance of HIV victims by their families and the society in general and the recording was sponsored by the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society.
Uploaded on the internet about a week ago, the song has been getting good response with 150 downloads on within the first five days itself, the release mentions. The band and its new song got a huge breakthrough when a University radio station in Canada, covering 3 Canadian universities, offered to air “Step By Step”.
First station/centre to air it was the University Of Calgary, Canada as the band, StillWaters:LEGACY and its song made its Canadian debut on 27 January 2013 at 7 PM (Canada time), the release informs further adding that other stations will soon follow.
The band’s current line-up has Ananth [vocals], Basu (Guitars), Sameer (Guitars), Raaz (Bass) and Milan (Drums). The band intends to keep making and recording other such originals till they have enough material  to compile and release their debut album soon, the release adds.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Aadhar will not dilute sanctity of Sikkim Subject Certificates or CoIs, DESME reassures


GANGTOK, 28 Jan: “The implementation of Aadhaar Card, Unique Identification Authority of India will not dilute the sanctity of Sikkim Subject Certificates or Certificates of Identification preserved under the Old Laws of Sikkim guaranteed under the 371F of the Constitution,” reassured Director, Department of Economics, Statistics, Monitoring and Evaluation [DESME], SD Tshering today at Chintan Bhawan.
He was speaking at the inaugural session of a workshop on Aadhaar-enabled direct cash transfer strategy and implementation organized by DESME with District Nodal Officers, Block Development Officers and Gram Panchayats. It may be recalled that a section of the Opposition here has been opposing the implementation of Aadhar Cards in Sikkim claiming that these dilute the significance and sanctity of SSCs and CoIs. The DESME Director dismissed such charges outright.
“This card will only enable and help the government departments and agencies identify and verify the genuine beneficiaries,” he said.
He stressed that people should not be confused on the issue of Aadhar cards and SSC or CoI adding that there is no conspiracy to tamper with or dilute Sikkim’s identity and Old Laws protected by the Constitution of India.
The Government of India has directed them to implement 10 schemes out of 34 in Sikkim by 01 February, next month and enable beneficiaries to receive direct benefits of the government schemes without any middlemen or lengthy processes, explained Mr Tshering.
He informed that Sikkim has completed nearly 80 percent of enrolment and that direct cash transfer will be implemented in two districts - East and West Sikkim - which have the highest number of UIDs generated.
Seven schemes of the Ministry of Social Justice, three of Human Resource Development Ministry, Tribal Affairs and one under Health & Family Welfare will come under direct cash transfer schemes in Sikkim in the first phase. These schemes are mostly scholarships for students and special girl child Janani Suraksya Yojana.
According to the data available with the DESME, North Sikkim has generated the least percentage of Aadhaar cards with 57.11 percent [24,756 people] of the population covered followed by South with 77.23 percent [1,13,330]. West Sikkim has recorded the highest percentage of Aadhaar cards generated with 86.15 percent [1,17,416 ] followed by East district with 80.85 percent [2,27,419 nos].
Under the existing system, the Central government transfers the welfare schemes to the State exchequer which then proceeds to beneficiaries. This is a long process. However, with the implementation of direct cash transfer enabled by the Aadhaar Card numbers with core banking system, the beneficiaries will receive direct benefits into their bank accounts without delay or mismanagement, said Mr Tshering.
He added that the BDOs and Gram Panchayats play a crucial role in the implementation of Aadhar card and direct cash transfer and urged them to perform their duties responsibly.
Direct cash transfer will be implemented in 51 districts of the Northeast Region by 01 February.

Financial scams continue in Sikkim, several more duped

GANGTOK, 28 Jan: People in Sikkim continue to be drawn in by the lure of easy money and susceptible to fantastical claims of financial windfalls. While the nature of financial scams associated with non banking financial companies such as Tina Finlease and Bharosa are not heard of much nowadays, it does not mean that there are no longer similar agencies operating in the state. It’s only that the mode of operation has changed from ‘companies’ giving way to individuals who lure people. While the Reserve Bank of India and also the CID have been issuing advisories regularly to alert the public, several people have succumbed to the temptation and have been caught up by the intrigue of a slick hand.
The Crime Branch of the Sikkim Police has registered a number of complaints from individuals in the state who have lost significant amounts of money to SMS, Email and lottery scams. In such kinds of economic fraud a “prospective” client receives an SMS message on his/ her mobile phone or even over email that he was won a lottery, usually a foreign based lottery which is either in dollars or pounds. If the person bites the bait, s/he is then asked to deposit a certain amount of money in an account for transfer of the award money to India and finally into his bank account.
In one such case, a woman in Gangtok received a message informing her that she had won 1 lakh pounds of MNS lottery. When she called the number from which the message had come, a foreign-accented voice asked her to deposit Rs. 25,000 into a bank account at ICICI Bank. A few days later, she was asked to deposit another Rs. 49,000 for transfer of the money into her account. A total of Rs. 74,000 was thus deposited into the account by her.
Finally, she got a call asking her to deposit a further Rs. 2.25 lakh into the same account.
This made her suspicious and the CID was approached. Thereafter investigation by the CID with the help of ICICI bank officials traced the bank account to New Delhi. This was a joint account opened by two men by the name of Amit Pal and Parag Rastogi; their addresses were also traced by the CID as given in the bank account. CID officials from Gangtok visited the address only to find a basement instead of a company office and further a permanent address of the two acquired from the bank also led to a dead end. However what the police have done is frozen the joint account into which the money was deposited. Photographs of the two accused have been circulated by the police throughout and also put up on its portal under the Wanted list. A case has meanwhile been registered under Sections 420 and 120 B IPC.
In another case, a woman was informed through an SMS that she had won a Rs. 26 lakh lottery. When she called the number from which the SMS had been sent she was asked to deposit Rs. 99,000 in an account of a bank outside the state. The money was soon deposited and thereafter the mobile phone she had been calling kept returning switched off.
In another instance, a local boy deposited Rs. 1.78 lakh into a bank branch located in Jharkhand on being informed that he had won a lottery. The police did freeze the account but it was too late, the money had been withdrawn.
There are some fortunate enough to get their money back though. A woman from Tumin, responding to an advertisement placed in a local Nepali paper had deposited Rs. 30,000. The advertisement promised easy loans from Rs. 2 to Rs. 20 lakh. She was asked to deposit the amount in the Agra branch of the Punjab & Sind Bank. However, when she was asked for more she immediately approached the CID which froze the account of the person on the other end. Later the woman went to court which directed return of her money.
However, not all are as fortunate. As per reports, there are numerous such cases in Sikkim where people continue to be duped by the scamsters who promise easy money. The RBI itself is informed to have several complaints from individuals. Such scams are difficult to trace and it is even more difficult for the police to make arrests as the perpetrators disappear by the time people realize what is happening. In such a situation it is best to stay alert. The emails and SMSes continue to come in with amazing regularity.

USFC succumbs to another last minute draw

KALYANI, 28 Jan: Pailan Arrows’s never-say-die attitude was exemplified when it scored the equaliser in the 87th minute to hold United Sikkim FC 1-1 and extend their unbeaten run to three successive rounds in the I-League. Substitute Tirthankar Sarkar found the net for Arrows after Anwar Ali had given United Sikkim the lead with a spectacular effort.
The 18th round match at Kalyani’s Municipal Stadium was not a soccer humdinger but it was definitely an occasion for the developmental side of the All India Football Federation to prove their maturity and talent.
Set amongst the top clubs of the country, who flaunt multi-crore budgets and spend big on acquiring foreigners and top professionals, Arrows have become a force to reckon with under their young manager Arthur Papas. The Australian is the only foreigner in the team that relies entirely on homebred talent.
As it came out on Monday, Arrows had the right recipe for almost every kind of opponent they have faced so far. United Sikkim is not the best of the opponents in the tournament being currently placed 13th among a total of 14 teams in the table.
The first half turned a listless exercise as both the sides preferred to hold back their offensive intent. There were hardly any notable shots, head or an attempt that could spell danger in the either ends of the ground.
Arrows played a waiting game apparently realizing the desperation of the opponent, who would be more eager to attack to seek a deliverance from relegation fears. But the Sikkim team remained tentative throughout and really opened up to allow the Arrows the opportunity to ambush.
Second half started more purposefully as Arrows took the initiative to attack and pushed for a break. Employing three specialized forwards in their ranks, it was natural for the host to play the aggressor.
The Arrows attacking-line – with Holicharan Narzary, Alwyn George and Seiminlen Doungel (who is on loan from East Bengal) – set up a wave of attacks but found them running into dead ends for want of proper finishing. With United Sikkim also deciding to be more expressive in the second half the action became more lively with greater frequency of attacks on either ends.
Anwar Ali broke the deadlock first in the 73rd minute with a delectable scissors kick to send home a half-hearted clearance from the Arrows defender Souvik Ghosh. The late concession queered the pitch for Arrows, who did not have the time in allowance.
Papas made couple of quick changes hereafter to refresh Arrows’ offensive. The ploy worked well as Tirthankar Sarkar, who replaced Rajinder Kumar in the midfield in the 81st minute, found the equalizer in the 87th minute saving the hosts’ blushes. The leveler came off a low cross from the right which was left by Holicharan to fox the Sikkim defence as Tirthankar came up from the far side to find the net.
Pailan Arrows had 19 points from 17 games while United Sikkim had 12 from 18 matches. [courtesy: AIFF]

Teen commits suicide

GANGTOK, 28 Jan: A 15-year-old girl reportedly committed suicide at Zoom under Nayabazaar police jurisdiction, West Sikkim on 27 January. The incident took place on the afternoon of 27 January and as per reports the girl committed suicide by hanging herself at her residence at Daragaon, Zoom. It is informed that the girl’s mother had also committed suicide in 2004.

Golay condemns Vigilance raid on ASP

GANGTOK, 28 Jan: Dissident SDF MLA, PS Tamang [Golay], has strongly condemned the recent Vigilance raid on Sikkim Jail ASP, Kado Tshering Bhutia. The MLA has alleged that the raid was “an example of how the ruling party uses political pressure on innocent and honest officials of Sikkim”.
A press release issued by Mr Tamang alleges that the ruling government started harassing ASP Bhutia after “an incident that occurred on 15 May 2002” following which he was frequently transferred. The MLA has also stated that conducting a raid at night is an attack on the fundamental rights of a person. The first raid on the said officers residence was conducted on the night of 24 January. Condemning the raid he has said that such acts have been devised to “terrorize” government employees.
Mr Bhutia and some others have become victims of official investigation since the Rolu Picnic of 21 December 2009 and even after the completion of the whole investigation on 10 September 2012 the concerned department has still withheld the final report.
The release goes on to allege that the government is not allowing the CBI to enter the state to investigate the corruption allegations against the CM through different notifications, by setting up one-man commissions and by passing different bills in the assembly. On the same, Mr Tamang has demanded that the government allow CBI to carry out its investigation before initiating vigilance raids on its own government officials.


It was a matter of great joy and pride when I came across a news item in your daily (Jan 24, 2013) about the conferring of “International Status Award for intellectual development” on Mr. ML Koirala, Head Master of the Lower Samdong Sec School by Global Achiever Foundation at Bangkok a few days back. In fact, the award apart being a personal recognition on Mr. Koirala, is more, a step forward that ensures recognition of Sikkim in world education scenario. This development, I believe shall definitely explore means and modality for other teachers in Sikkim to commit and re-dedicate themselves in the field of human service. The teachers, particularly, the government teachers must be sincere enough in their deliveries. They must not deliver their ‘duty’ only for the sake of ‘huge economic incentives’ which they receive in turn from the government. Rather, their very approach has to be result-oriented. Lastly, I am confident that the achievement that Mr. Koirala has achieved shall go a long way in further galvanising our people towards sincere and efficient delivery that ensures a viable society and human service.
Sonam Doma Denjongpo, Dikiling, Pakyong [recvd on email]

Editorial: All’s Not Well

There is nothing new in what follows, so if you are tired of comments on suicides in Sikkim, stop reading further and switch to some other story. However, if the continuing spate of suicides worries, stay with us.
A 15-year-old committing suicide should be an aberration. It should never happen, and if it does, it should be a rarity. Unfortunately, it is not so anymore for Sikkim. Too many teenagers are succumbing to suicide, a problem which grips all age groups and social strata and location in the State. Suicides are a worry, and even more so in the case of lives so young. The phenomenon is now so ingrained that it is not rare anymore to learn of more than one suicide in the same family. In the suicide of a teenager reported in today’s edition, it is disturbing to learn that the victim’s mother had also been lost to suicide some years back. It is obvious that depression is a common ailment among suicide victims, but what cannot escape notice is the fact that one does not even associate such problems as depression and stress with the teen years [at least not of an intensity that would lead to suicide]. Yet, a disturbing number of Sikkim’s young have taken their own lives. There might be even more who have survived a suicide attempt. While one can theorise endlessly on why the present day youth is so troubled, it is urgent to start caring for them. It is understood that the splitting of the joint-family system into its nuclear slivers has taken away the support system that acted as a salve for the fragility of younger years. This is not to state that the nuclear families don’t care for the child enough, but they could inadvertently lack the tenderness which a child needs. Urban pressures, peer pressures, hormonal pressures, academic pressure - these are only some of the tensions which one goes through growing up. Until newspapers started reporting incidents of suicides and the police started document such unnatural deaths more diligently, Sikkim lived in an idyll believing that this could not happen in the relaxed environs of the hill state. That idyll now stands shattered and it is for this reason that experts should start sensitising teachers and community groups on recognising and handling such psychiatric symptoms as stress, depression and trauma in school-going children. Since no concerted effort has yet been launched to address suicides, an initiative should now begin with cushions for the young.
While psychiatry might be an iffy science for most, it has been proven that if symptoms are recognised in time there is a cure for every psychiatric ailment. This comment does not even try to raise a red herring that every Sikkimese child is getting suicidal. All that is being attempted is to recognise the fact that the younger generation is growing in conditions much different from earlier times. They need special care and understanding. A new academic session will begin soon, and it would be advisable for the Health and Human Resource Development Departments to collaborate and put together a refresher course focussed on depression and suicides among the young for teachers. On our part, as teachers, parents and elders, we have to change our approach towards addressing juvenile issues. Why do people, especially such young people, commit suicide? Several thousand articles and books have been written about the cause and prevention of suicide, but the problem is not so simplistic as to lend itself to cut-and-paste solutions. Sikkim will have to engage more closely to identify the triggers, address them and save more lives, save younger lives. It also becomes everyone’s duty to recognise suicidal tendencies and address the issue and if need be seek professional help. Given the present times, changing the situations [triggering suicidal thoughts] is not always possible, but if we know the problem, then we can at least work on a solution. Sikkim, of course, will have to start feeling before it starts resolving...

Meritorious Service Awards for 10 on R-Day

GANGTOK, 27 Jan [IPR]: State Awards for Meritorious Service were presented to ten Government employees on the occasion of 64th Republic Day celebrated here at Paljor Stadium on 26 January.
The state awardees are: Dr. Semsey Denzongpa, Consultant Grade – I (ENT), Health Care, HS &FW Department; Karna Bahadur Thapa, Assistant Director, Cooperation Department; Nima Choden, Assistant Director (Permit), Tourism and Civil Aviation Department; PI Krishna Kumar Pradhan, Special Branch, Sikkim Police; SI Pema Wangdi Bhutia, India Reserve Battalion; Pempa Lepcha, Asst. Livestock Inspector, AH, livestock, F & VS Department; Dipendra Ghataney, Naik, Excise Department; Ganesh Bahadur Chettri, LDC, Home Department; Tashi Tshering Bhutia, LDC, Cultutal Affairs & Heritage Department; Ram Bahadur Mangar, Peon, Urban Development and Housing Department.
Also on the occasion, the Governor of Sikkim, Balmiki Prasad Singh, presented Surendra Kumar Pradhan [SPS, ASP/Home Guards and Civil Defence] with the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service awarded on the occasion of Republic Day, 2012. The Governor also presented Dawa Tamang [SI/ Sikkim Armed Police, Pangthang] with the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service awarded on the occasion of Independence Day, 2012 and  B.K.Chettri [Fire Station Officer, Ravangla] with the Fire Service Medal for Meritorious Service awarded on the occasion of Republic Day 2012.
The Governor also presented the trophies to the winners of the Republic Day 2013 Parade. Sikkim Armed Police won the over all best platoon, Sikkim Police Band was adjudged the best band while Indo Tibet Border Police received the consolation prize.

Hilda Mit Lepcha to receive Padma Shri award

GANGTOK, 27 Jan: Hilda Mit Lepcha of Sikkim is to be conferred the Padma Shri for her distinguished service in the field of art. The announcement was made on the occasion of Republic Day. The President of India will confer the award to Ms Lepcha in a function to be held at Rashtrapati Bhawan sometime in March/ April later this year. Ms. Lepcha’s is among the 80 names announced for the Padma Shri this year.
Padma Awards, the country’s highest civilian awards, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field.
This year 108 Padma Awards will be conferred which comprise 04 Padma Vibhushan, 24 Padma Bhushan and 80 Padma Shri Awards.
The Sikkim Tamang Youth Society has congratulated Ms. Lepcha on being named for the special honour.
A press release from the Society expresses that Ms Lepcha has made Sikkim proud with this award, stressing that “her dedication towards preserving and promoting Lepcha culture is highly commendable”.
“STYS highly appreciates her contribution in the field of Art & Culture and in the coming days we hope more such personalities come out of Sikkim and make our state proud in every form”, the release adds.

Forest fire at Mangshila

MANGAN, 27 Jan: A forest fire was reported at Mangshila in North Sikkim yesterday at around 2 PM. Under Secretary, Land Revenue & Disaster Management Department, KT Bhutia, first reported the fire which had reached near his house.
The forest fire had reportedly started below the North Sikkim Highway, then crossed the road spreading towards inhabited area by the time the Fire brigade at Mangan was informed. After receiving the information, when the fire-fighting team reached the spot, a team from the Forest department comprising of BO and 4 Forest Guards was already in action assisted by villagers and local QRT [Quick Response Team] of Disaster Management, LR and DM, Mangan.
The fire was brought under control by around 6 PM in the evening although fire personnel continued to keep watch late into the night occasionally spraying water over some burning bushes to stop the fire from spreading.
SDM Mangan, PW Lepcha also reached the spot and urged the people to stay alert as the weather is very dry nowadays and therefore there is high risk of forest fires. He further appealed to the people not to throw cigarette butts carelessly near forest areas.


All auditioning bands from South and West Sikkim through to quarters
JORETHANG, 27 Jan: All the 11 bands from the South and West districts that participated in the second auditions of the Red Ribbon Unplugged Contest 2012-13 held at Karfectar, Jorethang on 26 January are through to the quarter finals of contest.
Red Ribbon Unplugged Contest is part of Red Fest – II under the Multi Media Campaign sponsored by the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society (SSACS), an annual awareness festival involving youth that is held in various locations throughout the state.
All the 11 bands who were either hardcore rock bands or solo artists with classical backgrounds amazed all present including the three judges, SK Pradhan, Albert Gurung and Niki Rai here at Karfectar here which was also a day when the entire nation celebrated the 64th Republic Day.
The venue saw participants from as far as Daramdin and Soreong who enthralled all with their musical antics and talent. The bands showcased genres that ranged from Nepali folk, classic rock and fusion during the auditions. The auditions hosted many epic performances that were either original compositions or rendition of songs by legendary bands and artists like Deep Purple, Fire House, Nirvana, Coldplay, Indian Ocean, Smokie, CCR, John Mayer and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  
The judges who will be judging the contestants during the two-month long contest were so impressed by the performances that one of the judges even saluted a band called ‘Death Toys’ who he claimed was a band that would surely be pioneers of the fusion music scene if they continued in the same way. The band it may be recalled actually fused traditional Nepali instruments like ‘basuri’ and ‘madal’ with classic rock.
Acoustic duos like ‘Casitel’ and bands like ‘Crazy Guns’ along with ‘Lightening Volt’ also received tremendous appreciation for their original self compositions, “Jack in Cage,”  “When you Don’t Care” and “Warriors of Sikkim” respectively. All these originals were based on the theme of HIV/AIDS.
With this year’s Red Fest divided into two categories, one being the open drama competition and the other being the music contest, SSACS is promoting AIDS awareness through two of the most important mediums to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
It may be informed that this is the third consecutive year that the multi media campaign is being organized here in the state and the second year that the Red Fest musical contest is being held. The contest, open for all and without any registration fees, saw a participation of 63 bands during last year’s competition.
This year, SSACS has transformed the Super Band Contest into the Red Ribbon Unplugged Contest 2013 with an aim to reach out to aspiring youth not only doing heavy metal and rock music but also unplugged acoustic, classical, blues and folk in Nepali and Hindi as well.
It may be further informed that the Red Ribbon Unplugged Contest kicked off on 19 January with the first auditions or the North and East districts held at 31-A Studio. A total of 43 bands had registered for the auditions out of which 20 bands were selected for the second round which is the quarter finals.

The quarter finals scheduled for 03 February at Bo’ Lounge (Morf), Adampool is a must go concert since all the 31 bands selected after the auditions are sure to headline the competition that has a prize money of Rs.1 lakh for the winners along with 50,000 and 30,000 respectively for the second and third runners-up. The winners also get to choose between the cash prize or getting their album recorded at Viacom Studio, Mumbai and a video album directed by local film maker, Prashant Rasaily.
The amazing musical extravaganza has been a melting pot and an annual platform where the most talented and aspiring artists from the remotest parts of Sikkim and neighboring hills get the most deserving platform.
The shortlisted bands from South and West districts are Gravity, Yodes, Fical Race, Lightening Volt, Innocent Hooligans, Divine Intervention, Roll Heads, Death Toys, Kandarva, Castiel and Crazy Guns so be a part of the Red Ribbon Unplugged Contest 2013 and ‘let Music Pave the Way’.

Three Sikkim lads selected for FIFA/ AIFF Football Academy

GANGTOK, 27 Jan: Three Sikkimese boys have been selected to attend India FIFA/ AIFF Football Academy for U-13 to be held at Goa from 01 February. Surag Chettri, Smiel Diyali and Ritik Rai of Namchi Sports Hostel have been asked to report to the AIFF Training Center at Goa by 31 January.
A press release from Sikkim Football Association [SFA] general secretary, Menla Ethenpa, informs that SFA had given the opportunity to U-13 boys of Namchi Sports Hostel to attend the AIFF’s U-13 Football Festival held at Kalyani, West Bengal last year from 18 to 24 November. These three boys were spotted during the festival by the AIFF selection committee consisting of Koverman, India Coach, Colm Joseph Toal, AIFF Youth Development Coach and Robert Baan, AIFF Technical Director, the release informs.
At Goa, the boys will be trained under the guidance of foreign coach, Tony Cabral. SFA has also congratulated the boys for their achievement and said that it is a matter of great pride for Sikkim that the concept for the "Search for More Bhaichungs" has started bearing fruit.
Sports and Youth Affairs Joint Director, Namchi, Kamal Chettri expressed his happiness over the selection of the boys from Namchi Sports Hostel. Likewise NSH coach, Suren Chettri has thanked Sikkim Football Association for giving NSH boys a golden opportunity to showcase their talent.

Governor presents Rs 1 lakh cash grant to local NGO

GANGTOK, 27 Jan: Governor Balmiki Prasad Singh met with office bearers and members of Narayani Prathiba Social Club at Raj Bhavan on Republic Day eve and presented the club with a cash grant of Rs 1 lakh in recognition of the club’s activities and significant achievements and to provide encouragement.
A press release issued by the PRO to the Governor informs that the grant is to be kept in a fixed deposit and the interest accrued to be utilized towards meeting recurring expenses in the running of programmes and activities of the Club, especially with regard to re-admission of school drop-outs and imparting of computer education in rural areas, the release mentions.
The Narayani Prathiba Social Club, which is a registered social organization from Dangeythang, Simik Aritar in East Sikkim, has been working with the help of unemployed educated youth of the area in the field of education and health.
The club has been actively engaged in a number of social service activities such as encouraging school drop-outs to rejoin their schools with proper guidance, conducting coaching classes in spoken English, dance and yoga for children of financially weak families and also in various activities aimed at improving health awareness among rural folk, the release adds.

USFC to take on Pailan Arrows on Monday

GANGTOK, 27 Jan: Still struggling in the relegation zone, the United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] will now take on Pailan Arrows in an away match in the 18th round of the I-League at Kalyani’s Municipal Stadium, West Bengal on Monday. USFC’s previous match against Pailan Arrows [in the first leg of this season of I-League at Gangtok] had ended in a goalless draw.
Currently in the 13th position with 11 points from 17 matches, Bhaichung’s club is fighting to stay in the I-League. On the other hand Pailan Arrows is on the 8th position with 18 points from 16 matches.
“United Sikkim is a good side which held Mohun Bagan to a goalless draw here in the last round. They are in the relegation zone and that will make our opponents come hard at us. So we have to be extra cautious against them,” said Arrows’ assistant coach, Sujit Chakraborty in the pre-match press conference posted on the AIFF website.
“Our side will be rejuvenated with the return of striker Holicharan Narzary and defender Souvik Ghosh. This will give more options to our side and we will look to continue the winning form we have gained after beating another north-east side [Shillong Lajong FC] in the previous match,” Chakraborty said.
The youthful Pailan Arrows have definitely made their mark in the top league of the country as they have bettered many of the senior sides being on the eighth position with 18 points from 16 matches. This prompted a big team like Dempo to seek defender Prathamesh Maulingkar on loan.
“Ours is a developmental side and it is a good sign if the top clubs show interest in our players. I wish that the player gets regular opportunity to show his talent. As for us, Souvik Gosh will have to take more responsibility in the central defence in the absence of Prathamesh,” Chakraborty said.
Sikkim United is under the charge of young coach Nathan Hall, who is looking to steer the side out of the woods.
The team  is gradually settling down to the system of the new coach, which was evident in the way the side owned by iconic Bhaichung Bhutia held off the challenge of Mohun Bagan in the previous round. Sikkim United has 11 points from 17 matches and will have to produce some really good performance to get off the relegation zone.
The match will be kicked off at 2 PM on Monday.

Editorial: Appreciate the Constitution of India

The reason we remain one of the rare countries to celebrate a Republic Day is because “Republic” is no ordinary word in the Indian context. With us, it is a commitment under which supreme power is exercised not by some remote monarch, but by the people. Sikkim, in turn, has a special debt to the Constitution of India. Its special status within the Union of States that is India has been written into this document and because it is so, no one can deny this status. Attempts may be made to dilute this status, and some might even succeed, but fact remains that such dilutions will remain temporary. The moment someone holds up the mirror of the Constitution to such dilutions, the status as enshrined under Article 371F will be returned to Sikkim. That is something that no Tripartite Agreement or Old Law can guarantee and that is why Sikkim, even though it was not a part of India when the Constitution was drafted and installed, needs to be grateful to the great minds that gave us our Constitution.
What is safeguarded by Article 371F will always be safe, the Constitution is strong enough to guarantee that, but the real aspirations which moved the people so strongly in 1975 as to become part of democratic India will be achieved only when the true potential of the Constitution trickles down to every corner of the State. For that, a more complete understanding of this document needs to be promoted. For that, Sikkim, its people and its leaders will need to expand their scope beyond Article 371F. Agreed, this is the Article which provides the special arrangement for Sikkim as a part of India, but what should not be overlooked is that this special arrangement is essentially incorporated for the Sikkimese to enjoy the guarantees of the rest of the Constitution. The Republic Day is past, but there is still time to make a resolution to acquire a more complete appreciation of the Constitution of India. Take Article 371F for example, it is almost always exclusively quoted with reference to clause (k) and its opening remark, “all laws in force immediately before the appointed day in the territories comprised in the State of Sikkim or any part thereof shall continue to be in force therein...” This is the inclusion in the Constitution which protects Sikkim’s Old Laws. That sentence however continues to state: “...until amended or repealed by a competent legislature or other competent authority”. The next clause – (l) – had empowered the President of India to bypass the “competent legislature or other competent authority” and “make such adaptations and modifications of the law, whether by way of repeal or amendment, as may be necessary or expedient”. There has not been enough discussion on clause (k) in its entirety and it is perhaps time that the people did so. Agreed these are not times in the country, or even the world for that matter, when one finds much faith in either “competent legislatures” or “competent authorities”, but if one were to look beyond the infectious scepticism of the times, one might emerge with an even deeper respect for the Constitution of India. The attendant clause which allows a “competent Legislature or other competent authority” to amend or repeal existing Old Laws need not necessarily be seen as an instrument to dilute Sikkim’s uniqueness, but instead as empowerments to allow Sikkim to adapt to changing times... on its own terms.
The Constitution of India is nothing if not organic and flexible; it is that rare document which can keep step with the times and has never been regressive. If more informed discussions were undertaken to flesh out its virtues and what it makes possible for Sikkim, the State and its people can set even better terms for their involvement in nation-building while still ensuring Sikkim’s unique identity within India. This is after the document that makes every Indian free, equal and empowered; and in the case of Sikkim even more so. But to secure its true potential, there has to be more faith and more sharing. The Constitution was never offered as a magic mantra to end all ills of society or compromises of governance, it was drafted to strengthen the hands of those who could bring about real change. Speaking on the draft of the Constitution, Dr. Ambedkar had claimed that, “It is workable, it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together both in peace time and in war time. Indeed, if I may say so, if things go wrong under the new Constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution. What we will have to say is that Man is vile.”