Friday, May 10, 2013

Mata Tirtha Aunsi with 103 year old Hajur-Aama of Assam-Lingzey

GANGTOK, 09 May: Century-plus in age, and still healthy and charming, 103-year-old Kalawati Sharma Dhakal of Assam-Lingzey in East Sikkim received ‘descendants’ going down five generations at her home today on the occasion of Mata Tirtha Aunsi. This day is observed as Mother’s Day by the Nepali community with elaborate expressions of regard towards one’s mother, registering filial piety. Traditionally, those whose mothers have passed away, bathe and offer ablutions to their dead mothers at Matatirtha near Thankot village in Nepal. The fortunate ones visit their mothers with gifts of sweetmeats and receive blessing from them. For the Dhakal family, the day was exceptionally special today, with five generations getting the chance to receive blessings from their Hajur-Aama.
Not only is Hajur-Aama the only oldest living person of the area, but now she has also become a source of inspiration for the region and a glorious example of good and healthy living.
Members of the Dhakal family of Assam Lingzey along with the extended family of relatives, well-wishers, panchayat members and local people of the area gathered today at her residence at Assam Lingzey to take her blessings.
Hajur-Aama was born to Chandra Lall Tiwari and Dhan Maya Tiwari at Gyalshing in West Sikkim. She married Bharat Dhakal of Daragaon in Assam Lingzey. She was barely 9 years old at the time of her marriage and her husband, 10! Her husband was nominated a Panchayat representative of the area at the inception of Panchayati Raj in Sikkim under the monarchy. He passed away on 18 February 1982 at the age of 72.
Hajur-Aama bore three sons and five daughters, and then she welcomed 45 grandsons and granddaughters, with the next generation of 12 great grandsons and great granddaughters, five great-great grandchildren and four in the youngest generation of great-great-great grandchildren, Janaatis!
It was a joyous occasion at the Dhakal family home today, an occasion made more special by the fact that even in her advanced age of 103, Hajur-Aama is still in good health and her only complaints are with regard to low vision and poor hearing.
First-timers might not find her very coherent, but her family understands her well enough and conveyed that she is proud of never having suffered any serious illness and has never seen the inside of a hospital. She has never taken any prescription medicines of injections!
Yes has been the last of her generation for a while now. Back in December 2008, the panchayat members and people of the area had felicitated and honoured her for being an example and source of inspiration for the whole area.
Today, the family was joined by the area MLA, BB Rai, in offering respects to Hajur-Aama. He remarked that she stood as an example of the virtues of organic food and simple lifestyles of the past. 
“Youth should take inspiration from her precious life and stay away from drugs and suicidal tendencies and value life more,” former panchayat president AP Rai commented today. He said that Assam Lingzey was proud to have her among them.
Likewise, Zilla Panchayat Ganesh Chettri mentioned that Hajur-Aama was a blessing for the whole area and that entire Assam Lingzey prayed for her to have an even longer life.
Hajur-Aama’s eldest son, 80-year-old Ram Prasad Dhakal mentioned that she was blessed to have seen her fifth generation and still be in such good health. He added that save some simple illnesses, she never complained for any serious discomfort.
Her second son, Bhim Prasad Dhakal, with whom she is living at present, mentioned that apart from very low vision and problem in hearing, she was totally fit and healthy and takes normal food. He underlined that she was also a very good person and enjoyed good relations with all the people.
Likewise, grandsons MN Dhakal and Yuvraj Dhakal mentioned that on the occasion of Mata Tirtha Aunsi, the entire Dhakal family along with relatives and local people decided to call on Hajur Aama and take her blessings.

Sikkim University to open 11 new departments, cover all left-out core subjects

GANGTOK, 09 May: The new academic session which begins August 2013 at Sikkim University will see the introduction of 11 new departments at the university, and with this addition to the bouquet of courses on offer, the University will finally be offering post-graduation courses in all core subjects being taught at the under graduate level.
A press communiqué received from the OSD-Registrar, KM Deb, Sikkim University informs that starting August 2013, the following post graduate courses will be offered: Anthropology [MA/ MSc], Education [M.Ed], English [MA], Hindi [MA], History [MA], Political Science [MA], Commerce [M.Com], Management [MBA], Tourism [MA], Mathematics [BSc-MSc Integrated and MSc] and Zoology [MSc].
The release informs that the expansion is “in view of the demand from different organisations of Sikkim and to fulfil the objective of the University”.
It may be recalled that one the demands of the protesting students during the term of the last Vice Chancellor was for Sikkim University to offer post graduation courses in all subjects that students were graduating in from colleges here. This has come good now.

New batch of 80 ushered into Nursing training at SMCN

GANGTOK, 09 May: The lamp-lighting ceremony of the ninth batch [2012] of B.Sc Nursing first year students of Sikkim Manipal College of Nursing [SMCN] was held here at the SMIMS auditorium today.
Addressing the function, Sikkim Manipal University Vice Chancellor, Brig. Dr. Somnath Mishra, congratulated the students on having chosen such a noble profession as nursing. “We must salute them for their decision,” he shared.
Principal, Sikkim Manipal College of Nursing [SMCN], Prof. Mridula Das, informed that there are 304 students at SMCN, 80 of whom make up the first year batch. With the ceremony today, the 80 were introduced into the training after taking a pledge to maintain professional loyalty. The lamp lighting signifies the firm decision of these young students to be trained to care for the sick and ailing. The lighting of the lamp symbolizes transfer of knowledge, skills and spirit of nursing.
The VC invited the new batch to take even deeper inspiration from the life and sacrifices of Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp, who used to make rounds of the patient wards with an oil lamp, moving along the lines of the cots with friendly words, smiles and comfort for the patients assisting their recovery. 
“The lamp will always shine bright as a symbol of care and devotion the nurses administer to the sick and the injured,” he said, stressing that the ritual provides opportunity, guiding the students and making them aware of the responsibility they carry as nurses.
Likewise, the SMIMS Dean, Air Marshal Dr. GS Jonega, in his address, congratulated the new batch on their decision to become nurses and held up their role in healthcare as indispensible.
“Smile and always be compassionate,” he offered by way of advise.
Meanwhile, the SMCN Principal, Prof. Das presented the annual report of the college and informed that college has been achieving 100% job placement.
The function was also attended by the Vice-Chancellor for ICFAI University, SG Tashi, faculty members, HoDs of SMU and SMIMS and students.

Hishey serves notice on Companies Bill; Frequent adjournments keep discussion pending

GANGTOK, 09 May: Rajya Sabha MP from Sikkim, Hishey Lachungpa, it may be recalled, has served a notice for the Upper House seeking an amendment to the Companies Bill 2012. Sikkim’s reservations on certain clauses in the Bill, already pushed through the Lok Sabha, are expected to be presented by Mr. Lachungpa. The Notice of amendment which was to be moved at a sitting of the Rajya Sabha could not be taken up after the Bill was tabled in the Upper House due to frequent adjournments, an official communiqué from the MP’s office informs. And now the Budget Session of the Parliament has been adjourned Sine die [from 08 May, 2012].
The MP, it is informed, had desired that the mention to the Registration of Companies (Sikkim) Act 1961 at Page 9, line 9, Section 1 (67) of the Bill be deleted and amended. Similarly, the MP has also desired that mention to the Sikkim Act in Page 231, lines 34 and 35 under Section 465 (1) and 465 (3) also be deleted.
Mr. Lachungpa, the communiqué adds, also held discussions with various leaders on the Bill including Union Minister for Corporate Affairs, Sachin Pilot.
The Companies Bill 2012 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 18 December and was passed the same day. Chapter 29, Section 465 (1) states that “The Companies Act, 1956 and the Registration of Companies (Sikkim) Act, 1961 shall stand repealed” with the passage of the Companies Bill 2012.
The Bill was much in the news across the country for the FDI regime it facilitates into the retail sector. After extensive exchange of allegations and counter-allegations, it was passed surprisingly quickly, within a day. This also caught Sikkim off-guard, but as details of the Bill became known, protests against the repealing of an Old Law of Sikkim began. The State Government, on its part, engaged a Constitutional Expert to study the repeal of the Sikkim Registration of Companies Act, 1961 with the passage of the Companies Bill, and help draft an appropriate response for the central government. Mr. Lachungpa, was part of this study along with the Lok Sabha MP PD Rai and the constitutional expert.
It may be mentioned here that the new Bill clearly allows or companies already registered and operating under the old law to continue to be valid and deemed already registered.
Even as debate on the Companies Bill is awaited, the MP has kept busy, seeking answers from the concerned Union Ministers on a host of Sikkim-specific issues ranging from Constitutional recognition of Bhutia, Lepcha and Limboo languages to Centre’s commitment to infrastructure development in the State.
In a query submitted on the inclusion of Bhutia, Lepcha and Limbu languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution as official languages, the MP was informed that an Inter Ministerial Committee had been constituted to evolve a set of objective criteria with reference to proposals/ representations to include more languages [including Bhutia, Lepcha and Limbu] in the Eighth Schedule and to examine such proposals. A final decision is however yet to be taken on demands for inclusion of 38 more languages including the ones from Sikkim, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, RPN Singh, informed the MP on 08 May.
The Minister of State further informed that an “in-depth study of the whole gamut of the issue, including recommendations of Shri Sitakant Mohapatra committee to suggest a set of uniform criteria was being made by the Inter Ministerial Committee”.
On a question seeking updates on upgradation, widening and carpeting of North Sikkim Highway, the Minister of State for Road, Transport and Highways Dr. Tushar A. Chaudhary, informed that the improvement of North Sikkim Highway from Gangtok to Mangan has been included under Phase ‘B’ of the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in North East (SARDP-NE), which, however, has not yet been approved for implementation by the Central Government.
As for the Railway to Sikkim project, the latest anticipated cost of the project is Rs. 3,380.58 crore, against which Rs. 102.63 crore had been spent up to March 2013. An outlay of Rs.25 crore has been proposed in Railway Budget 2013-14 for it. The Sevoke-Rangpo new line project (44.39 km) was included in Railway Budget 2008-09. This was stated by the Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Choudhary while replying to a question tabled by Mr. Lachungpa in the Rajya Sabha.
The Minister also said that the Final Location Survey of the project has been completed and the work had been entrusted to M/s IRCON, a PSU under the Ministry of Railways, for execution. Target for completion has not however been fixed.
The MP was also informed that the grant-in-aid to NGOs is considered on receipt of complete proposals along with recommendation of State Level Committee on Voluntary Efforts along with Inspection Report duly countersigned by the District Collector and subject to availability of funds in a particular scheme during a particular financial year. This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Ranee Narah on a question put up by the MP on pending approvals for the welfare of tribals. The Minister also said that receipt of proposals for grant-in-aid to NGOs and processing thereof for release of funds is a continuous process as per the scheme guidelines.
The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region in turn informed that it has sanctioned 338 development projects with approved cost of Rs. 3,487.65 crore under Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources, out of which 24 projects worth Rs. 313.82 crore pertained to Sikkim.
Out of the 338 projects sanctioned in the last three years, 129 projects are delayed, and in the case of Sikkim, completion is delayed in 12 projects. This was stated by the DoNER Minister on a question put up by Mr. lachungpa on the programmes of the DONER ministry.
The MP also put up questions on Zoological Parks and Global Warming during the current session. Several other questions could not be taken up after the House was adjourned sine die on 08 May, his office further informs.
The Minister of State (independent charge) for Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, responding to a set of questions posed by Mr. Lachungpa, informed that a study to assess the impact of climate change on four key sectors of Indian economy, namely agriculture, water, natural ecosystems & biodiversity and health in four climate sensitive regions of India, namely the Himalayan region, the Western Ghats, the Coastal Area and the North-East Region has been conducted and a report titled “Climate Change and India: A 4X4 Assessment - A Sectoral and Regional Analysis for 2030s” was published in 2010. The study projects a mixed picture of implications for climate parameters and related impacts on the relevant sectors in all four regions. The study also projected overall warming, increase in precipitation variable water yield, change in the composition of the forests, spread of Malaria in new areas and threats of its transmission for longer duration, which are likely to cause adverse impact on the lives of human beings.
She further informed that during the 12th Five Year Plan, a new thematic scheme on “Climate Change Action Programme” with an outlay of Rs. 300 crores was approved to build capacity and support implementation of relevant actions at the national and state level.

TAR trader convicted under Official Secrets Act pushed back

GANGTOK, 09 May: The trader from Tibetan Autonomous Region arrested by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police on 04 November last year was convicted by a local Court here at Gangtok on Monday and returned to TAR from Nathula today since he had already served out his time [of six months] in Judicial Custody as an under trial.
Liangki Jiancen, the 20-year-old resident of Shigatse in TAR, who had been taken into custody near Nathula on charges of taking photographs of restricted areas on his mobile phone, was convicted Sessions judge Meenaskhi M Rai on charges framed under the Official Secrets Act and sentenced to six months imprisonment. Mr. Jiancen is a trader who was driving up to the Sherathang trade mart when he was detained by ITBP and handed over to Sikkim Police.
Since he has already been in Judicial Custody for six months and 26 days, he was released shortly after his conviction on Monday and today escorted to Nathula and returned to TAR.
The Court, while pronouncing the sentence, directed his release since he had already served the prescribed time in judicial custody since his arrest and directed the Indian authorities to push him back to China and accordingly informed the Chinese side, Chewang Bhutia, counsel for Liangki Jiancen told Sikkim NOW! over the phone.
Superintendent of Police [East] Manoj Tiwari confirmed that he was handed over to Chinese authorities by Sikkim Police at Nathula today along with a copy of conviction and sentence served by him. 

High Court orders presence of private respondents for hearing on Power Deptt land allotment case

GANGTOK, 09 May: The division bench of the High Court has directed all the 14 private respondents to be present in the next hearing of the case in person to enable the Court to decide the writ petition correctly. This direction has come with regard to the Public Interest Litigation filed by Padam Bahadur Chettri, Sikkim president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, last year alleging that the State government has allotted Power and Energy Department land at Ranipool to SDF party workers including VIPs instead of the Power Department linesman who was supposed to receive an allotment having been handicapped due to electrocution in the line of work.
While passing the direction to the 19 respondents, including that of 5 official respondents, the High Court has directed the Official respondents to ensure that the private respondents are present in person before the High Court on 12 June, adding that it was the obligation of the state respondents to ensure that the private parties were present while hearing the matter.
“As we strongly feel that their personal appearance before this court is essential to enable us to decide the various issues involved in this writ petition correctly, we order that all the party respondents shall appear before this court in person,” the division bench observed.
Out of 13 private respondents, only one respondent who was served a notice through a special messenger of the High Court of Sikkim last month was present in person.

SKM-aligned Lanco employees petition CS for Govt takeover of Teesta Stage-VI

GANGTOK, 09 May: Sikkim Kranti Kari Morcha’s labour unit, the Krantikari Majdoor Morcha, called on the Chief Secretary today and urged her to declare Lanco, the project developer for Teesta Stage-VI HEP, a ‘defaulter’ and take over the project, work where has been suspended since November last year.
An SKM press release informs that a KMM team headed by Pem Tshering Lepcha met Chief Secretary R Ongmu today and submitted a memorandum urging that the government to take over the defunct power project and reinstate the employees without any conditions.
On the behalf of Lanco Employees Organisation, allied to Krantikari Majdoor Morcha, the memorandum informs that construction has been suspended by the company and that the provident fund of the employees along with other allowances have not been paid by the company.

Bhutia Kayrab Yargay Tshogpo elections on 11 Aug

GANGTOK, 08 May: The Bhutia Kayrab Yargay Tshogpo [BKYT], at a meeting of the executive body chaired by Norden Tshering Bhutia on 02 May, decided to hold elections for the new executive body on 11 August 2013 at Khimcheen, SNT Colony, Gangtok.
A BYKT press release informs that the meeting appointed Tashi Bhutia as chief election commissioner for the executive body elections, along with Bhaichung Tshering Bhutia, Kenzang Bhutia and Rinchen Bhutia as election commissioners.
The BYKT CEC also dissolved the existing executive body during the meeting [the body will continue as caretaker till the formation of a new executive body] and invited nominations for the August elections. Nomination forms, priced at Rs. 100, are available with the organisation’s election commissioners and can be procure till 07 July 2013, the release inform.
13 July has been fixed as the last date for the submission of nomination forms and the last date for withdrawals is 21 July, 2013. The voting, counting and declaration of the results are scheduled for 11 August 2013 at Khimcheen from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m..
Voting is open only to members of the Bhutia Kayrab Yargay Tshogpo and all district presidents and executive members have been requested to submit the names of the existing members as well as the new members to the Election Commissioner by 30 June without fail, the release adds.

Researchers & Academicians of Sikkim call on CM with blueprint for scientific and research management

GANGTOK, 09 May: A group of local PhD degree holders, under the aegis of “Researchers and Academicians of Sikkim”, called on Chief Minister Pawan Chamling at Samman Bhawan yesterday, representing the aspirations of young academicians of Sikkim and seeking the creation of a Directorate for Scientific and Research Management, establishment of a State Government funded research institute, and formulation of rules for the recruitment and promotion to the Group ‘A’ Gazetted posts (Scientific and Technical) - Sikkim Scientific and Technical Service (SSTS).
A press release issued by Dr. Shiva Kumar Sharma, Chief Co-ordinator, Researchers and Academicians of Sikkim, informs that the delegation comprised of him, Dr. Tika Prasad Sharma, Dr. Bharat Pradhan, Dr. Arun Rai, Dr. Prakash Sharma and five other researchers, all of whom are from Sikkim.
The release states that several Central Government funded institutions such as Sikkim University, Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development, National Research Centre for Orchid, Botanical Survey of India, Geological Survey of India, GB Pant Himalayan Institute, Spices Board, Meteorological Department etc. have been established in Sikkim, but none have recruited academicians and scientists from Sikkim.
“These institutions, except one or two, have not recruited Sikkimese candidates even for Group C and D grade employees. All Indian sates have their own research institutions in addition to the centrally funded institutions. Sikkim has no research institutions to provide platform and placement for highly-skilled human resources, such as research doctorates, professional doctorates and other research degree holders of Sikkim origin. We people always dream of major scientific discoveries and inventions to cover the daily news headlines! Sikkim can achieve such dream partly by establishing the Sikkim Himalayan Research Institute for Biological Sciences (SHRIBS),” Dr. Shiva Kumar Sharma states in the press release. He adds that a draft of the proposal was also included in the memorandum submitted to the CM yesterday.
He goes on to add that scientific research differs from other forms of works and services as it relies on the application of scientific methods, a harnessing of curiosity and makes practical applications possible. “Highly-skilled human resources such as, research doctorates, professional doctorates and other research degree holders are essential for the development, flow of knowledge and innovations in science and technological applications. But, after achieving the highest degree on regular basis, doctorates and researchers are not getting placement in the State to explore and harness their hidden talents and potentials. Injustice has been done to those doctorates and researchers who have obtained the degrees on regular basis. Increasing the employment of highly-skilled human resources in science and technological applications should be a part of the government’s initiatives to strengthen innovations,” he underlines.
The situation, the group believes, can be redressed with the formulation of rules for the recruitment and promotion to the Group ‘A’ Gazetted posts (Scientific and Technical)- Sikkim Scientific and Technical Service (SSTS). Such an initiative is urgently required to uphold scientific research and innovative activities in the state, he adds.
Similarly, the creation of a Directorate for Scientific and Research Management was also of “paramount importance” for a state like Sikkim because Sikkim is rich in terms of natural resources and geo-diversity “and all the policies and planning of the state depend on these resources and geographical features”. Unfortunately, the state lacks a strong organization to formulate policies and evolve strategies based on factual data (technical), knowledge and scientific reports, the group highlights.
To drive home the point, the release points out that nearly all departments of the State government have data recorded for 30-40 years “but these are not being utilized for scientific analyses and policy-framing purposes”. A separate Directorate for Scientific and Research Management will make sense of this data and help formulate informed policies and strategies for development, the release explains.
During the meeting, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling shared his views on intellectual freedom, role of intellectuals in a society and towards providing leadership to Sikkim, the release informs.
Since the state government always depends on professionals from outside Sikkim for consultancy services and the like, the CM suggested that the group develop expertise in the areas of consultancy and developing planning and policies. The Chief Minister also shared his dream of making Sikkim “a hub of knowledge in India” and assured to look into the matters placed with him seriously to fulfill the demands. 
“We expect that investment in research, education, development and skills to constitute a key policy area for Sikkim as these are elements essential to inclusive growths, to the development of a knowledge-based economy and to achieve the dream of self-reliant statehood,” the release concludes.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Freedom Detoxification Centre – addressing relapses

GANGTOK, 08 May: Addiction and alcoholism have always been and will remain diseases, the battle against which, as much at the societal level as at the level of the individual, will remain a continuing fight, something which even recovering addicts and alcoholics accept by counting how long they have remained clean and sober and never claiming sobriety as a permanent state.
Addicts and alcoholics, even the recovering ones, are considered tainted by the society which prefers to remain ignorant, making the mainstreaming of recovering addict even more difficult and also contributing substantially to the high number of relapses. Discharged addicts and alcoholics, one must bear in mind, are emotionally vulnerable and hence susceptible to relapse.
Despite efforts of several social organizations working in this field to keep the relapse rate to a minimum, easy availability of alcohol and substances of abuse within the State also lead many back to the rehabilitation centres, sometimes within a few days of being discharged!
Like a former addict puts it, “What is there even after treatment? The stigma of having been an addict remains throughout our lives. We are never accepted as a part of the mainstream society and are looked down upon.”
It may be informed that the detoxification and rehabilitation period for an addict at a rehab is three to six months during which the addicts have to work on a prescribed programme that takes a long time during which they have to follow a routine which can go up to 144 days. 
“For many addicts who have already completed the treatment process of five months at a rehab, going back there again and following the same programme takes away another five months of their most productive years,” points out Raju Subba, Project Coordinator, Freedom Detoxification Centre.
Speaking to NOW! today, he informed that keeping these factors in mind, Freedom Detoxification Centre  (FDC) for Addicts and Alcoholics at Upper Burtuk has started a detoxification centre that concentrates on treating and detoxifying relapses.
The concept of establishing a short-stay rehabilitation centre was conceived by the Project Director, Hem Kumar Pandey, a resident to Upper Burtuk, who has supported this project along with Hope Foundation since there are many relapsed individuals who do not need to spend such a long time in rehabs once again.
“These patients just need a short period to understand the situation they are in and our treatment process, which is just 25 to 30 days, is enough to get the priorities in order for them again. Instead of being admitted in a rehab for another 144 days, these addicts now have the facility to go to a short-stay home and in the process save valuable time to get back into mainstream society once again.”
Project Coordinator, Raju Subba informs that the 15-bedded centre, since January 2013, has already treated and discharged 12 patients and is presently housing 5 inpatients at the rehab in Upper Burtuk. It may also be informed that Raju Subba who had worked at ‘Jagriti’ Rehab for the past 8 years has a total in-house staff of 5 recovering addicts who are working in different capacities such as councilors, male nurses and wardens at the centre.
What is unique about Freedom Detoxification Centre is that during the 25 days of treatment here, the patients are taken out to movies and outings so that they remain connected with the mainstream society. This free and cordial atmosphere between the clients and the administration is now proving to have a positive outcome since all the 12 patients discharged from here are still clean.
At the rehab, patients are provided meat twice a week along with a diet menu that is strictly monitored by a doctor who visits the centre twice a week. Patients have the option to choose between vegetarian and non-veg meals depending on their requirement in the three meals that they are provided each day.
Patients are strictly monitored and the morning session starts at 6:30 am and lights are put-out by 10 pm. In between there are sessions on meditation, input classes and yoga therapy. The patients also have access to television, newspapers and actually remain in touch with the world making it is easy for them to fit in after being discharged from the centre.
“A homely environment is what we have created here at FDC which we feel is the best way to treat a patient suffering from the disease of alcohol and addiction. The fees here for 25 days is Rs.6000 which includes various extracurricular activities as well. However if a patients requires more medical treatment in a hospital then the families will have to pay for the medical charges.
So, if you feel that you or a person known to you have a similar problem and need help then contacting 9593371879 will definitely change your lives for the better.

Tibetan Parliamentarians in Sikkim seeking solidarity and support for the Tibetan cause

GANGTOK, 08 May: A three-member delegation of parliamentarians of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile is in Sikkim at present as part of a massive nationwide “All Indian Parliamentary Lobby Campaign” of the Central Tibetan Administration. The team has been led by Pema Jungney, a former Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in-Exile [TPE], and includes Yangchen Dolkar and Dhardon Sharling.
The Tibetan Parliament in Exile has launched a massive ‘All Indian Parliamentary Lobby Campaign’ this year to highlight the critical situation inside Tibet and to seek timely support of the Indian leaders and people in powering a global intervention to end the crises inside Tibet.
Addressing a press conference here today, Mr. Jungney highlighted that since the year 2009, Tibetans inside Tibet have been increasingly resorting to a new form of non-violent protest- that of self-immolation. He informed that there was record of 117 Tibetans including men, women, monks and nuns having set themselves alight from 27 February 2009 to 24 April 2013 protesting the brutal Chinese rule in Tibet. 100 of these Tibetans have succumbed to their injuries.
“They have raised a clarion call for freedom inside Tibet and the return of HH the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Tibet today remains under virtual lockdown and there is a communication blackout exacerbating the situation,” he added.
Mr. Jungney informed that the fight leg of North-East zone lobby campaign started with Gangtok on 03 May. He informed that over the past five days, the delegation met the Sikkim Legislative Assembly Speaker and Deputy Speaker, HRDD Minister, Power Minister, PHE Minister, Agriculture Minister, Tourism Minister, Health Minister, Lok Sabha MP, and Gangtok MLA and Chief Secretary, Rinchen Ongmu and explained the situation inside Tibet to them.
Mr. Jungney informed that Sikkim’s leaders expressed full support for the Tibetan cause and likewise, other MLAs were also appraised of the campaign and its goals through a memorandum sent via priority mail. The delegation, along with the Tibetan Settlement Office and other Tibetan organizations of Gangtok, also organized a mass candlelight vigil on Tuesday evening here to register solidarity with the sacrifices made by Tibetans inside Tibet.
Responding to media queries, Ms Dolkar expressed that in comparison to other states of India, Sikkim and its people have always been more supportive to the Tibetan cause. She stressed that there have been no instances of discrimination against Tibetans in Sikkim where Tibetans have always enjoyed at par status as citizens here. She conveyed the community’s thanks to the state government and the people for providing such status to Tibetans in Sikkim and expressed hope continued support in future as well.
Ms. Sharling, in turn, mentioned that during their present campaign, the delegation has been meeting political leaders of different parties and urging them to stand together in support for the Tibetan cause. She added that the TPE has been requesting for expressions of solidarity and condemnation of Chinese atrocity in Tibet.
“A number of governments around the world have openly pressured the Chinese government on the current crises in Tibet. We appeal to the Central and State governments in India to engage in similar urgent diplomatic action,” they appealed.
The delegation further appealed Indian leaders for substantial and public expression of solidarity and support amid the unprecedented spate of self-immolation by Tibetan inside Tibet and the subsequent deepening crackdown by Chinese government. They have further urged the Indian leadership to engage in urgent diplomatic actions pressuring the Chinese Government on various fronts.
After a successful lobbying campaign in West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Sikkim the delegation will now visit Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya for the campaign.

196 students receive degrees from Soreong B.Ed. College

SOREONG, 08 May: A total of 196 students, the combined strength of the first two batches of the B.Ed. College here, received their degrees at a special function organized here today at the college with the HRD Secretary, CS Rao, as the chief guest, accompanied by the Dirctor, Higher Education, Deepa Basnet, as guest of honour and Additional Director, School Education, NK Subba, as special guest.
The College has achieved an impressive merit list with Kaveri Sharma topping the first batch of 97 students with 91% marks, with Ritu Rai and Prashana Rai securing joint second position with 87% and Bishwa Darjee, Rasi Rai, Raozi Rai, Pandi Ongmu and Susan Karki on third position with 86%. In the second batch of 99 students, although the marks were marginally lower, the competition was much fiercer. Bijaya Subba, Manita Tamang and Sumana Katwal took first position with 88%, while Pooja Chettri and Dependra Gurung came second with 87% marks and Meena Gurung and Surendra Rai secured third position with 86%.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Principal, B. Ed. College, Bimal Rai, informed that the college was set up in 2009 and after affiliation with Sikkim University, it was granted recognition by NCRTE and has been functioning in full capacity since 15 May 2012. The first batch of 2010-11 and the second batch 2011-12 were awarded their degrees today. Total 196 students are being given their certificates 97 students from first batch and 99 students from second batch.
Also today, certificates were handed over to secondary school level teachers who have completed an English teaching course.
Addressing the function, the HRDD Secretary congratulated the students on having successfully completed the B.Ed. course commended their pursuit of becoming quality professional teachers as a commitment which will benefit Sikkim in the long run as now they will be able to teach and groom school students much better.
He further said that such professional training played an important contributing role towards implementing policies and provisions to reach quality education to schools. Such training, he added, also developed teachers with a stronger sense of responsibility and aptly as the best minds of society.
Director, Higher Education, in her address, congratulated all the students and highlighted that skilled teachers for primary and elementary level education was the need of hour to strengthen the foundations of school education. The B.Ed. graduates thus had an important role to play and carried a big responsibility on their shoulders now, she said.
The programme was also attended by JD, Higher Education, YP Nepal, JD (W) Bimla Rai, Deputy Director (S) DK Rai and other officials from various departments and the members of the civil society of Soreng.
After the function, the Secretary also visited the offices and classrooms and suggested that the college begin offering M.Ed. courses assured that the Department would provide two professors and other required staff for such an initiative.

35 yr old mother of two commits suicide

GANGTOK, 08 May: A suicide has been reported from Dumbra basti, Mangley, in South Sikkim. A 35 year old working mother, married since 1995 and a mother of two, is reported to have committed suicide at home on Tuesday.  The suicide was discovered by the husband at around 7 a.m. yesterday. The victim committed suicide by hanging in her kitchen, it is informed.

UD&HD officials inspect Mangan bazaar

MANGAN, 08 May:  A team of UD&HD officials headed by Chief Engineer CP Tongden, Joint Secretary P Tenzing, engineers and other officials along with Mangan Nagar Panchayat councillors KJ Bhutia and PK Malu, MTDC members and contractor inspected the recently constructed 6-storied taxi stand, the cut off road of old Mangan bazaar and the Lall bazaar shopping complex yesterday.
The team inspected the taxi stand and satisfied with the work, directed that minor damage to the lower floors of the taxi stand be repaired and the facility handed over at the earliest to the Mangan Nagar Panchayat.
The team also inspected the old Mangan bazaar road which was damaged by a landslide in September 2012 and still remains closed to traffic. The MNP councillors have proposed that these repairs be undertaken from the remaining funds of approximately Rs. 3 crore from the taxi stand. This route was shorter and more convenient, they pointed out as at present traffic has to ply from Chandey towards old Mangan bazaar covering an extra 3 kms.
The UD&HD team informed that a DPR has to be prepared and discussed with higher authorities. They also inspected the old Mangan bazaar area for beautification works, the budget for which has been sanctioned by the government. 
Earlier, a team of experts from the Department of Mines & Geology had conducted a soil test and surveyed the area and reported that the old Mangan bazaar road, aligned along slope rocks which have suffered extensive erosion, could still be stabilized with proper technical treatment.
The UD&HD team also inspected the new shopping complex at Mangan Lall Bazaar which is under construction and directed the contractor to expedite the work. MNP councillors informed that to develop and beautify the old Mangan bazaar area, the road will need to be opened first.
The UD&HD officials also visited Dikchu Bazaar where the public had submitted a demand for the repair and cleaning of drains, construction of a public toilet, jhora training works near Springdale School and protection wall at the entrance of Dikchu Bazaar.

SKM to begin door-to-door outreach prog in Singtam-Khamdong on 10 May

GANGTOK, 08 May: A constituency-level meeting of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha was held at its Singtam party office for Singtam-Khamdong constituency, chaired senior citizen of the area, Sagarmal Agarwal, today.
The meeting, which had SKM secretary [organization], Pawan Gurung, as chief guest, passed three resolutions after discussion, an SKM press release informs.
The first resolution was to launch a village-to-village, house-to-house tour of the constituency from 10 May onwards to inform people of SKM policies and principles and to convey the party’s call for change in Sikkim. The meeting also resolved that all members of SKM in the constituency will mandatorily put up the party flag at their houses and that before visiting any village, the CEC will be briefed with complete details of the proposed programme.

Violence Against Women

 Wednesday was International Women’s Day. Given the rising awareness and growing societal engagement to end violence against women and girls, it would be apt for Sikkim too to address this issue, focussing not only on violence visited by strangers, but the violence that too many women suffer at home. Most women who call a helpline dedicated to counselling women in distress in Sikkim are victims of domestic abuse. Victims who dial for help secure a chance to escape the violence they suffer. Unfortunately, they form a very small percentage of the women who actually suffer domestic violence; most of the cases are not even reported. Even as claims are made of the laws being strengthened and women empowered, fact remains that domestic violence not only continues, but more unfortunately, also remains largely unaddressed. Strengthening laws alone cannot make women safer until and unless the social conditions that trap women in abusive relationships are reformed. Family members and even neighbours mostly get involved to sweep such incidents under the carpet and keep the couple “together”, instead of trying to at least secure professional help by way of counselling for the abusive partner. It is not the fear social stigma that keeps the problem unaddressed, but the lack of societal support.

Panchayat Director tours remote GPUs of West SikkimPanchayat Director tours remote GPUs of West Sikkim

Upper Mangnam, West Sikkim
GANGTOK, 08 May: Special Secretary, Rural Management & Development Department, LM Pradhan, who is also the Director, Panchayat Cell, toured GPUs under Chongrang and Yuksam BAC’s, interacting with the Panchayat members and checking on rural development projects there.
Starting the tour on 01 May, the Director sat in interactive sessions with the members of the Gram Panchayats of Tashiding and Arithang-Chongrang GPUs. The Director then visited the remote gram panchayats of Karjee-Mangnam, Dhupi-Narkhola, Kongri-Labdang and met the panchayats at their respective gram prasashan kendras, a press release informs. He visited the handicrafts and handloom unit at Karjee and also handed over four completed CMRHM pucca houses to beneficiaries from Karjee-Mangnam GPU.
The Director discussed tourism opportunities and apprised the panchayats of Gerethang, Yuksam, Thingling-Khecheoperi and Melli-Aching GPUs about the various avenues for fund procurement for potential tourism projects in the area. During his interactions, he also discussed at length the various schemes being implemented through the RM&DD with the panchayats.
He informed the panchayats about the recently-launched Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Shashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA). He pointed out that gram panchayats can undertake a wide range of activities, including capacity building initiatives and strengthening of training infrastructure under RGPSA. He also urged the panchayats to initiate Bal Panchayat in their respective gram panchayats and delved on the benefits of doing so.
The District Project Manager (West), Lhendup Choekyi, in turn informed the gram panchayat members and other RM&DD field staff about e-Panchayat and laid especial emphasis on PRIASOFT.  She said there will be improved transparency in the workings of the panchayat with the Panchayat data made available online. The Director was accompanied by BDO Tashiding, Suraj Gurung.

North District Disaster Management Authority convenes coordination meeting

MANGAN, 08 May: A coordination meeting on roles and responsibilities of the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) was convened here yesterday chaired by the District Magistrate (N), CP Dhakal, who also chairs the DDMA, Zilla Adhyaksha, Anguli Lepcha, who is also the co-chairperson of the Authority, Upadhakshya NT Lepcha, Sr. SP (N) BK Tamang, ADC RK Yadav, CMO (N), KT Lepcha, DFO (T), SDMs of Mangan and Chungthang, DCSO (N), officers of the Power and Roads & Bridges Departments, MNP councillors, DPO, LR&DM and other department heads.
In his address, the DM, reiterated that all departments should submit their respective requirement lists for disaster management to the DDMA. He referred to the recent flash-flood in Dikchu to reiterate the need for all agencies to stay alert.
He also pointed out that people are coming for natural calamity grants for fields and domestic animals lost to hail and heavy rains and the concerned BDO’s and executing officers should play consciously undertake a more active role to attend to the people’s requests and carry out prompt and proper survey of the claims. DM’s office alone cannot handle all the cases, he stressed.
The engineering cells will have to work in coordination with the administrative wings and follow prescribed rules and guidelines properly, he said.
Meanwhile, the District Administrative Centre has also started SMS service and prepared a telephone directory of all the concerned personnel, Panchayats and MNP councillors to ensure quick action and response to disasters, he added.
Sr. SP (N), in turn, informed that the police was invariably the first responder to disaster events and shared that improved civic arrangements like proper drainage would go a long way towards ensuring safety.
The co-chairperson, the Zilla Adhakshya, in her address, stressed that ward level disaster relief teams need to be mobilized and adequate safety measures initiated forthwith to reinforce the district for the monsoons. Discussions on disasters alone offer no solution if it did not lead to proper preparation, she said, adding that in Dzongu, above Lingzya, the people were facing problems of water supply, irrigation, lack of ICDS centre and road connectivity since 18 September 2011 earthquake, restoration works for which were still pending at several places.
North district highways are not only for the movement of VIPs as at the time of VIP movement, the roads are repaired and then neglected again, she added.
The Upadhakshya focused on the need for proper awareness and instructions on rules and regulations concerning road reserve areas. He also sought that adequate stocks of essential commodities be maintained well in advance of the monsoons.

KVK-North introduces Tumin-Shaley farmers to improved sickles

GANGTOK, 08 May: Krishi Vigyan Kendra, North Sikkim, conducted extensive demonstrations across North district on the importance and efficacy of the improved “Vai-Bhaw Sickle” towards facilitating Organic Farming Systems in the state. This, because KVK believes that Organic Farming can be best served if farmer-friendly and cost effective technology is made available at the grass-root level.
The Vai-Bhaw sickle was introduced in the state by KVK, North Sikkim, because to its practical relevance under Organic Farming System, an official press release states. This sickle is light and its blade made in such a way that its efficacy is far greater than the conventional village sickle. Because of the unique angle of the blade, it can cut the paddy from its base delivering into higher straw yield [upto 25% higher] compared to harvesting done by ordinary conventional sickle and at the same time minimizes the incidence of one of the major pests of Paddy i.e., Stem Borer in the succeeding seasons, the release explains.
Impressed by the popularity and acceptance of this technology in the rice-growing belts of North Sikkim, the Jagriti Farmers’ Club of Tumin-Shaley ward of East district approached KVK with a request to organize an awareness programme on the technology at their area. Accordingly, KVK, North Sikkim conducted training cum demonstration programme on Vai-Bhaw Sickle on 05 May at Tumin-Shaley.
The programme had Zilla Panchayat Hemraj Adhakari as the chief guest accompanied by Panchayat of the concerned ward, Tara Ghimirey, as guest of honour. TT Bhutia and TN Bhutia of KVK were present as resource persons.
40 farmers and co-ordinators of the Farmers’ Club attended the programme and were provided with the Improved Sickle free of cost by KVK, North Sikkim.
The motive behind organizing such a programme by KVK, North Sikkim beyond its jurisdiction was to benefit the farming community through horizontal spread of proven technology demonstrated under FLD.

Community initiative cleans up Chakung Bazaar

GANGTOK, 08 May: A cleanliness drive was carried out today at Chakung bazaar under Soreng-Chakung constituency in West Sikkim by the Block Development Office. The drive was participated in by members of different non-governmental organizations, panchayat members led by panchayat president, DP Mukhia, officials and staff of different departments, Chakung Senior Secondary School and local residents.
An official press release informs that more than 200 people participated in the cleanliness drive. It is informed that during the drive garbage were collected and beautification works carried out in the bazaar area. The drive was conducted under the supervision of BDO, PK Subba.

4th Himalayan Open Badminton C’ship to begin 10 May in Namchi

NAMCHI, 08 May: The 4th Himalayan Open Badminton Championship will begin here at the Indoor Stadium on 10 May. The final matches are scheduled for 12 May 2013. Organized by the Badminton Association of Namchi (BAN), the championship will include various categories, and will be participated in by players from Sikkim and neighbouring Darjeeling Hills. The tournament will be inaugurated by the Minister, Roads & Bridges, RB Subba.

SDF’s Cheli Morcha convenes coordination meetings for Lachen-Mangan and Dzongu constituencies

MANGAN, 07 May: Constituency level coordination meeting of SDF’s women’s wing, the Cheli Morcha, were convened for Lachen-Mangan and Dzongu constituencies on 06 and 07 May respectively.
ForLachen-Mangan, the meeting was held at Naga and began with a welcome address by Ashokmit Lepcha (vice convener, Cheli Morcha), followed by Upadhakshya, NT Lepcha, speaking on the SDF Government’s consistent efforts to sustain and nurture Lepcha culture and traditions.
The Cheli Morcha general secretary, Manita Mangar, in turn detailed the initiatives of the SDF Government towards women’s empowerment and calling on the Cheli Morcha members to coordinate efforts with their area MLA to spread wider awareness on the party’s ideology, commitment and delivery on women’s issues.
The North Zilla Adhakshya, Anguli Lepcha, invited members to undertake a detailed analysis of the SDF Government’s achievements of the past 19 years, compare it against the situation of the past and the claims of the party’s detractors to understand what would be at stake if misinformation was allowed to spread unchallenged.
Similarly, former MLA, Ringzing Ongmu, member State Planning Commission, underlined the role of the Cheli Morcha and its responsibilities towards the party.
Former Speaker, Kalawati Subba, also a member of the State Planning Commission now, then shared the party’s growth since it was launched to its elevation to government in Sikkim and its various policy initiatives which have consistently been pro-poor and pro-women.
The function winded up with vote of thanks being delivered by Songmit Lepcha, zilla member. Also present for the meeting were Khamsoong Lepcha, North District president SDF, former Upadhakshya  Pintso Doma Bhutia, panchayat and zilla members and the women from Lachen-Mangan.
The team then convened a similar meeting for the Cheli Morcha or Dzongu constituencyat Namprikdang Ground yesterday chaired by Ms. Kalawati Subba and also attended by the area MLA Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, apart from the party leaders who attended the Naga meet.
This meeting started with a welcome address by Dawden Lepcha, Cheli Convenor, Dzongu constituency.
During the meeting, the names of convenors and vice convenors of the Cheli Morcha for ward level and GPU level cells were announced by Khimoo Lepcha, North District convenor of the SDF Cheli Morcha.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

'Sikkim Greengrocers' lays out fiery treat

GANGTOK, 07 May: Dalley, that fiery chilli pepper that the hill folk are so fond of, has found a new promoter in Sikkim Greengrocers, an enterprise of a local youth based out of Lower Sichey, publicity hoardings of which have begun attracting some attention around town. Dalleys, sold at haats fresh off the fields or in their packaged and processed avatars, have always been around, and spicing up the treat are the five new products from Sikkim Greengrocers - Dalley Fire, Dalley Paste, Hot Dalley [with spices], Green Dalley and Mixed Dalley in 200 gm and 400 gm bottles.
30 year old Mahesh Dawari, the proprietor of Sikkim Greengrocers, informs that customer response has been very encouraging throughout the three years that the company has been in existence, and adds that the unit in Lower Sichey near Banjhakri Falls now plans to serve international markets. The fact that the Dalleys are organically grown and hygienically pickled and now also have scientifically endorsed medical benefits, he is convinced has opened a larger market for the value added produce from Sikkim Greengrocers.
“Apart from Sikkim, our products also go to Delhi and Guwahati and we are preparing to explore more markets next year,” he shares.
As for how the company has grown, he informs that when they began in 2011-12, the company packaged some eight quintals. For the current year, the Greengrocers are projecting to lift up to 3.5 tonnes! Needless to add, the unit is staffed by a resourceful team. Its Lower Sichey unit has 10 employees. “Every single employee has been putting in the best effort with complete devotion in accomplishing the aim and targets of Sikkim Greengrocers,” Mr. Dawari shares.
They pick up raw materials once a week directly from farmers at Namphok [South], Namthang [South], Melli etc.
Sikkim Greengrocers was set up with funds secured from the Chief Minister’s Self Employment Generation Scheme and started with an initial investment of Rs. 1.5 Lakhs, Mr. Dawari informs.
He is now hopeful that the government support for local enterprise will facilitate ambitions of units like Sikkim Greengrocers to reach international markets.
Interestingly, Sikkim Greengrocers has also been providing training in food processing to unemployed youths and school drop-outs. Chalk one up for engaged  CSR initiative as well.

Counseling sessions begin today to select youth for grooming to join armed forces as officers

GANGTOK, 07 May: The Rajya Sainik Board, on behalf of the State Government, has arranged motivation and counseling sessions for students at various schools and colleges to inspire more of them to pursue careers as commissioned officers in the Indian Army, Navy or Air Force. This series will roll out in phases with the first one starting Wednesday at the Sikkim Government College here. A Delhi-based coaching academy, “the Cavalier”, has roped in to carry out the motivation and counseling sessions with students.
The Rajya Sainik Board initiative is in support of the State Government’s efforts to encourage youth, especially students towards elite services, including the armed forces. The State government has already begun sending potential candidates on full scholarship to reputed coaching centres outside the state to prepare for competitive exams and has now taken the initiative to provide coaching to potential local candidates for the defence services.

Arrested EIILM Univ officials make bail

GANGTOK, 07 May: EIILM University, Sikkim, Vice-Chancellor, Dr. OB Vijayan, Registrar, Col [redt] Alok Bhandari and Examination Controller, Bijay Dahaia were released on surety bail bond by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court at Gangtok today.
The CJM, after hearing the state and defending counsels at length, released the EIILM University administrators on bail. The Sikkim Police, following an FIR lodged at Sadar Police Station here, had arrested the trio from Jorethang on Monday for charges framed under Sections 467/ 468/ 471/ 167/ 181/ 120B of the IPC. This in connection with alleged violation of University norms after a lady from Haryana was allegedly awarded an M.Ed degree even though no such course is offered at EIILM University here.
Senior Counsel of the EIILM University, KT Bhutia, along with Bandana Pradhan and Nisha Agrawal argued that the police have arrested the accused persons without proper investigation of the case and that their arrest was premature at the present stage and hence they be released on bail.

More than 600 to sit for written test for Sikkim Scouts and other units of Indian Army on 26 May

GANGTOK, 07 May: More than 600 candidates will be sitting for the written examinations for the second round of recruitments for Sikkim Scouts Battalion and other Indian Army units on 26 May.
A total of 412 candidates have passed the medical tests from the second phase of recruitment held last month and are now ready for the written examination. In addition, 110 candidates from the first phase of the recruitment rally held in March who have been medically referred to base hospital, Bengdubi, have now been found medically fit and issued admit cards to sit for written examination.
Addressing a press conference today, Rajya Sainik Board Secretary, Colonel DN Bhutia, informed that there were 236 candidates from the second phase of the recruitment rally who have also been referred to the Base Hospital at Bengdubi. There will hence be more than 600 candidates appearing for the written examinations on 26 May.
“Seeing the trend, it is expected that at least 300 to 350 of 600 candidates will pass the written examination and be ready to join the Armed Forces. Therefore, it can be safely estimated that approximately 750 candidates from Sikkim would have joined various units of the Army by July this year,” he pointed out. This achievement within a single calendar year, would be a huge achievement for Sikkim.
Col Bhutia informed that at present 460 candidates selected from the first phase of the recruitment are undergoing Military Training at 11 GRRC, Lucknow, or are in the process of being dispatched to various training centres later this month. He added that the process of recruitment for raising Sikkim Scouts Battalion will continue in phases until the full authorized strength of the battalion is met.
The next recruitment rally is scheduled to be held in October at Paljor Stadium.
In this regard, the Secretary encouraged all young eligible youth to start preparing themselves in terms of Physical Fitness and the written examinations. He further urged them to also start preparing their documents so that rejections during the document inspection process are reduced. “There were a large number of young students who got rejected because of tattoos on their bodies. The loss of a good job due to Tatoos is unfortunate and is a lesson for others,” he added. 
The Secretary also thanked the officials and staffs of different government departments for their support in these recruitment rallies and is raising the Sikkim Scouts Battalion.

SIBLAC petitions Governor with demand for action against Law Secy

GANGTOK, 07 May: Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee has petitioned the Governor with a request to initiate immediate action against Law Secretary, RK Purkayasth, for what the organization believes was insensitive and incorrect advice to the State Government on the Tashiding Hydroelectric project. SIBLAC believes that Mr. Purkayastha was misleading not only the government, but also the judiciary on this project.
SIBLAC convenor, Tseten Tashi Bhutia, told the reporters today that a memorandum was submitted to the Raj Bhawan and the Chief Secretary yesterday urging them to take immediate action against the Law Secretary.
SIBLAC is offended by the legal opinion given by Mr. Purkayastha to the State Government on Tashiding HEP. This, after the high-powered committee chaired by the then Chief Secretary did not make a clear recommendation on what the government should do about this project. The committee, instituted to study hydel project proposed on the Rathong Chu in West Sikkim, had recommended the scrapping of two projects and not given a clear verdict on Tashiding HEP. Two projects, Lethang and Ting-Ting, were scrapped by the government.

SKM opens constituency-level party office at Parkha

GANGTOK, 07 May: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha opened a constituency level party office for Gnathang-Machong constituency at Parkha near Pakyong yesterday in the presence of dissident SDF MLA Prem Singh Tamang [Golay] and working president Bharati Sharma.
While addressing the gathering, Ms. Sharma alleged that the Sikkim Democratic Front party president, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, has not come through on his claims of having worked for the empowerment of women in Sikkim. The SDF party has instead targeted women leaders with crude character assassination attempts, she alleged further.

SIRD hosts panchayats from Rajasthan on exposure visit to Sikkim

GANGTOK, 07 May: A team of 29, comprising of elected Zilla Pramukh, Panchayat members and officials from the Panchayati Raj Department of the Government of Rajasthan, is on an exposure tour to Sikkim to study water and sanitation initiatives here. The panchayats and officials from Rajasthan arrived here on 05 May and are scheduled be in Sikkim till the 11th, an SIRD press release informs.

EIILM Univ top brass arrested on charges of forgery and criminal breach of trust

GANGTOK, 06 May: Senior Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management [EIILM] University officials were arrested by Sikkim Police today from Jorethang in South Sikkim in connection with a case registered at Sadar Police Station here. A police team led by SDPO [Rangpo], DSP L Palmu Chettri took the EIILM University Vice-Chancellor, Dr OB Vijayan, Registrar, Col [retd] Alok Bhandari and Examination Controller, Bijay Dahaia, into custody from Jorethang today.
The team was on its way back to Gangtok at the time of going to print.
Speaking to NOW! over the phone, Superintendent of Police [East], Manoj Tiwari, confirmed the arrests and the registering of a case against them at Sadar Police Station here.
It is informed that a lady, Mandip Kaur, of Karnal in Haryana got a teaching job based on an M.Ed. certificate purportedly issued by the University and that the Principal of her school sought details through an RTI application from the District Collector [East] on her MA [Education] certificate from the university. It is further learnt that enquiry by the ADC [East] revealed that university neither has any Education Department nor any faculty for the subject. That being the scenario, a case was filed at the Sadar Police Station leading to the arrests today.
The SP informed that trio have been booked under sections 467 [Forgery of valuable security, will, etc], 468 [Forgery for purpose of cheating], 471 [Using as genuine a forged document167], 181 [False statement on oath or affirmation to public servant or person authorized to administer an oath or affirmation] and 120 B Punishment of criminal conspiracy] of Indian Penal Code.
More details on the case should emerge as the case is processed and more evidence shared. Meanwhile, it may be recalled that EIILM University here has been under the police scanner since September last year on charges similar to the latest one. Its offices in Jorethang were subjected to a police raid on 01 Sept 2012 and its officials, arrested today in connection with a case registered at the Sadar Thana here, were presently out on bail in connection with a similar registered against them at Jorethang Police Station. Even in that case, the management of EIILM University was charged on various counts including criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy. Even then, the University was accused of doling out false degrees and certificates and offering courses for which it had neither the required infrastructure nor the required permissions.

Lost Investments

When the Saradha chit fund scam imploded in neighbouring West Bengal, one wondered how the company’s dubious credentials had not won over depositors in Sikkim. The State has after all earned itself quite a reputation of having an incorrigible weakness for down-line and chit-fund rackets, drowning crores in such scams of just about every make and scale. While the money carted away from Sikkim depositors in the Saradha scam remains unverified, the weekend brought proof that another suspicious operation based out of West Bengal –the Rose Valley Group – had been in operation for at least the past seven years in Sikkim.
The police raid on the company’s branch office in Gangtok recovered several documents, including receipts and registers, and while these may provide details on how much depositors here have risked in the company, this is only of secondary interest. The police will do its job of scrutinizing the documents and preparing its case, and while this is necessary to discourage future scams, one hopes that some agency pays enough attention to the profile of depositors who have put in money under the various schemes floated by the company. Irrespective of whether formal charges are drawn up against Rose Valley or not, it is necessary that the data collected is studied, analysed and a proper response developed to ensure that companies selling dubious products don’t continue to have it so easy in Sikkim. This section has spoken often about the need to involve more agencies and organizations in generating wider awareness of banking procedures and managing investment portfolios. On one hand, it is obvious that awareness about chit-fund schemes is reasonably high even in Sikkim, hence money deposited into these schemes would not necessarily be as ignorantly made as generally believed. That said, promoters of such schemes are continuously repackaging their sales pitches to tempt even the more skeptical potential depositors and managing to keep one step ahead of even the regulators. The only reliable defence against such schemes then is to ensure expansive awareness among people so that they can differentiate between secure and unreliable investments. This is necessary in Sikkim, and although this should have been initiated several years back, hopefully, it is still not too late. Those who have seen the down-line and chit-fund schemes play out in Sikkim will notice that in the initial years, they were limited to circulation among government employees. At that time, only government servants had the cash liquidity [thanks to their salaried status] and hence ‘agents’ of such schemes targeted government offices. Of late, liquidity has reached rural Sikkim as well with the opening of more opportunities for enterprise and the spate of land acquisitions. In many cases, these are first generations handling so much cash, uninitiated to banking and ripe for the plucking by motivated agents. This has been the case in the past with chit funds registering high turnovers from rural areas. A study of the depositors list of Rose Valley in Sikkim will hopefully shed even more light on the ‘at risk’ group in Sikkim.
But such information will be of little use if it is not used to address the situation and arrest the continuing loss of people’s money. Admittedly, the government is not really responsible for what people do with their disposable incomes, but by notifying the Sikkim Protection of Interests of Depositors Act, the State Government has appropriated this responsibility. Since awareness delivers the only real defence, this option needs to be more earnestly pursued. It would have been ideal if there were good NGOs on the ground to carry this message, but that not being the case, the task will have to be taken up by the panchayats. The Reserve Bank of India now has an office in Sikkim and it has been trying to warn people here against such companies. RBI’s reach will now need to be enhanced by involving the panchayats. One must also bear in mind that nothing works better for awareness than personal stories, and the campaign should involve people here who have lost money to such schemes. They will be able to deliver the warnings more convincingly.

Rose Valley raided in Gangtok on suspicion of being chit fund scam

GANGTOK, 05 May: Flagged by the Reserve Bank India for its suspiciously irregular ways and under inspection of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the Rose Valley Group - Rose Valley Real Estate & Constructions - was served its first police raid on Saturday when the Sadar Thana here raided its branch office in Tadong and seized documents and other records. The Kolkata-based Rose Valley Group is suspected of being a chit fund scam, and one of even larger proportions than the Sarada racket which shook West Bengal up last month.
A Sadar Thana team led by SP [East] Manoj Tewari and accompanied by SDM [Gangtok], Tashi Chopel, and armed with a search warrant issued on Friday evening under Section 93 of the CrPC, arrived at the Rose Valley branch office here on Saturday at around 10:15 a.m.
The office was locked, and even its signboard taken down [a few days earlier, it is informed]. The search warrant allowed the police to break the locks and carry out the raid. The police have seized registers, files, receipt books, other documents and a computer. These will now be studied and charges filed if evidence is found of the company’s operations being illegal.
The Superintendent of Police [East], informed media persons that complaints of suspected chit fund companies had come in from the people and through media, and Rose Valley Group was found having operations in Gangtok, but initial checks revealed that the office had been locked for the past few days raising suspicions.
He informed that while this preliminary investigation was underway, the company removed its signboard on Friday night and concerned personnel there could not be contacted, raising suspicions. One must bear in mind that all this was happening in the wake of the Sarada bust and with murmurs against Rose Valley already circulating. Accordingly, a search warrant was procured and the raid carried out on Saturday.
The SP informed that the police also tried to contact the MD and GM of the company at the regional office, but they did not show up. Following the same, he informed, the police obtained a search warrant from the District Magistrate and carried out the raid in the presence of the SDM Gangtok.
He informs that during the search, registers on depositors and other documents were recovered which indicated that the company had collected money from people in a manner which preliminary scrutiny is in violation of the Sikkim Protection of Interests of Depositors Act.
“To protect the interest of the consumers we took suo motto action, and after verifying the facts we will register a criminal case against the company and its officials,” the SP said. He informed that the list of depositors along with their contact numbers and details reveal that money had been collected from people and deposited to the Rose Valley office.
The SP further informed that the MD of the company informed the police that the branch office was not collecting money from depositors anymore and contended that they were only paying depositors on the maturity of their deposits.
One may add here that as far back as on 05 January 2011, the capital market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), had, in an interim order passed on 04 Jan 2011, barred Rose Valley Real Estate & Constructions from raising public money and from launching any scheme. At the time, SEBI had also ordered Rose Valley Real Estate, the flagship of the group, not to divert funds raised from public, which is kept in the bank account or in the company's custody.
Last month, SEBI imposed a penalty of one crore on Rose Valley and filed an FIR against its officials.
Meanwhile, the SP further informed that the company also has a branch office in Gyalshing and that this information has been passed along to the SP [West]. Meanwhile, the SP urged people to be alert and vigilant against chit fund scams and immediately bring such suspect schemes to the notice of the concerned authorities.
Chit fund scams are not new to Sikkim, and apprehensions among depositors must have been high in the wake of the recent collapse of Sarada in West Bengal. It is not clear as to how much Rose Valley collected from Sikkim, but media reports quoting Sebi sources on its activities suggest that the group could have mobilised as much as Rs 4,000 crore. Its operations, it is informed, were extensive in West Bengal and the North East as well as Sikkim.
A recent Times of India report further stated that after the Saradha fright, customers and depositors are queuing up at branches of Rose Valley to collect their money prematurely, but the company is not giving them cash. They are being handed a coupon and a token slip as an IOU. How the depositors in Sikkim are faring is not clear at present.

Ringhim Monastery completes phase-1 of reconstruction, seeks Rs. 2 cr more to complete process

MANGAN, 05 May: Upon completion of phase-I of the reconstruction of Ringhim Monastery damaged by the 18 September earthquake, the Ringhim Gumpa Committee convened a special meeting at the monastery yesterday to table the utilisation details of the Rs. 1 crore released to it by the State Government as the first instalment of the reconstruction process. The well attended meeting which was open to the public was chaired by the Lachen-Mangan MLA, Tshering Wangdi Lepcha, and was also attended by former DC [North], TN Kazi, SDM Mangan, PW Lepcha, former Zilla Adhakshya Lobzang Tenzing, representatives of the monk body headed by Acharya Sherap Rinzing along with invited monks, members of the Mangan Nagar Panchayat headed by president Karma Jigdel Bhutia, panchayat and zilla members, Gumpa committee and the local residents.
The committee also placed a requisition for another Rs. 2 crores for completion of the monastery. The architectural design of the new monastery includes earthquake resistant features.
While presenting the detailed expenditure report, Mr. Lobzang Tenzing, who is also the advisor to the Gumpa Committee, informed that while Rs. 70 lakh was used for procuring construction material, Rs. 10 lakh went towards site development, Rs. 3 lakh to architects and survey, Rs. 11 lakh was expended on labour payment and Rs. 6 lakh was spent on dismantling of the old monastery.
He underlined that the Ringhim Monastery hosts several rituals and prayers, three of which were unique to the monastery and involved the participation of monks from several other monasteries of the state under the guidance of Dodrupchen Rinpoche. This made the monastery special and the need for completion of the reconstruction process more urgent, he said.
Also on the day, five locals were felicitated with tokens of appreciation by the Gumpa Committee for their unconditional support towards the monastery and its activities. The felicitated persons are Sonam Wangdi Bhutia, CT Kazi, Acharya P Dorji, Lazang Lepcha and Phituk Kazi.
Acharya Sherap Rinzing informed that Ringhim Monastery was one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim, having been in existence for 309 years. He further extended gratitude towards the Chief Minister for his spot-sanction of Rs. 1 crore for the first phase of reconstruction during his tour to North Sikkim after the September earthquake.
Addressing the meeting, the area MLA expressed satisfaction over the timely completion of first phase of the reconstruction. He further informed that the Chief Minister has developed several projects for Buddhists in Sikkim and has left no stone unturned to bring development to the state.
He also informed today that the beautification of Mangan bazaar project was in the pipeline on a Rs. 12 crore budget.
Meanwhile, CT Kazi, president of the Ringhim Gumpa Committee informed that the reconstruction was targeted for completion in one year. Earlier, the function was welcomed by Phituk Kazi and winded up with a vote of thanks proposed by the ward panchayat.

Modern School to represent Sikkim at Coca Cola Sub-Junior National Football Tournament

GANGTOK, 06 May: Modern Secondary School will be representing Sikkim in the Coca Cola Sub-Junior National Football Tournament 2013 to be held from 14 to 23 May at Kalyani, West Bengal.
Playing the final match of the interschool U-15 boys football tournament here at Paljor Stadium today, Modern School thrashed Tashiding Senior Secondary School 7-1 and with this victory, qualified to represent the State in the next level.
Modern Secondary School was the winner of Gangtok leg while Tashiding SSS topped the Pelling leg of the tournament. The tournament recorded the participation of 28 schools in the Gangtok leg and 30 schools in the Pelling leg.
For Modern SS, Roman Subba scored four goals in the 25th, 36th, 52nd and 68th minutes, while a brace was scored by Navin Gurung in the 16th and 60th minute and one goal netted by Rinzing Ongdup Lepcha in the 19th minute. The face saver for Tashiding SSS was scored by its substitute player, Keshav Pradhan in the 62nd minute.
In the Coca Cola Sub-Junior National Football Tournament, Sikkim has been slotted in Group-D with Uttrakhand, Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh. Sikkim will play its first match against Arunachal Pradesh on 14 May followed by Gujarat on 16 May and finally Uttrakhand on 18 May.
The semi-final match is scheduled for 21 May followed by the finals on 23 May.
The Modern School boys are scheduled to leave for the tournament on 11 May.
The Tashiding SSS team was accompanied by the school PET, Kiran Khaling and Namgyal Bhutia. Mr Bhutia expressed that despite the loss in the final match, all players were extremely happy for having played at Paljor Stadium for the first time. He expressed his gratitude towards Sikkim Football Association and Coca Cola for providing an opportunity to players from rural West Sikkim to play in such a big tournament. He mentioned that the tournament has boosted the morale of the players.

Foundation stone laid for Thami Naem in Aritar

GANGTOK, 6 May: Akhil Sikkim Thami Sangh organised the foundation stone laying ceremony of the community’s tradition house, a ‘Thami Naem’, at Aritar, Rhenock, on3 May. The foundation stone was laid by the Panchayat president Binod Gurung after ritual prayer offerings by a Thami priest, ‘Guru Appa’ Dhan Bahadur Thami.
The occasion was also attended by gram Panchayat member Chewang Norbu Bhutia along with a strong presence of Thami community members, informs NB Thami, executive member of the construction committee in a press release issued today.
The building plans for the traditional house include a section for archives, library and guest room along with a conference hall. The house will be fronted by a ‘Bhumey Thaan’, the worship place of the Thamis, the release adds.
The community is confident that the traditional house will also come up as a tourist spot.
Chandra Bahadur Thami had donated land to the Sangh six years ago to develop a place of worship of the Thami community of Sikkim, the release informs.
A major component of the funds for the construction has been provided by the State government, informs Sheela Thami.

Joint inspection pins blame on Sneha Kinetic

MANGAN, 05 May: DC [North], CP Dhakal, visited the flash-flood hit Dikchu PHC yesterday and assured that if the incident was proven to have been caused by negligence of Dikchu HEP developer Sneha Kinetic, then strict legal action will be initiated against them. The flash flood was triggered when muck from a Dikchu HEP surge shaft tunnel being excavated below Tumin [directly above Dikchu Naya Bazaar] slid off and poured into the Kaluk jhora which broke its banks on Thursday night deposited slush into the PHC compound. Work on the surge shaft excavation has been suspended for now and the project developer directed by the district authorities to depute men and machinery to clear out the muck from the PHC compound.
The Dikchu PHC has lost its power and drinking water to the flood and even the generator has been damaged.
The DC said that this was a matter of serious concern. The DC further assured that necessary priority will be given to the safety of the PHC and the market area.
It is further learned that the project developer had been directed by the Mangan BDO three months back to undertake necessary protection works before beginning excavation of the surge shaft tunnel. BDO Chiran Rizal, when contacted, informed that his office had received no response to its notice from the project developer. The district authorities, it is informed is processing follow-up action on Sneha Kinetic’s non-compliance of the notice issued by the BDO office.
Meanwhile, following a joint inspection of the spot below Tanek, SDM Mangan, PW Lepcha, confirmed that the flash-flood had been triggered due to excavation work on an approach road to the under construction surge shaft tunnel of the 96 MW Dikchu Hydroelectric Project.

THREE SIKKIMESE GIRLS CLEAR UPSC 2012! Congratulations, my dear Girls! You have made every Sikkimese proud!

To learn that our girls competed in the AIS examinations at the national level and came out successful out of hundreds of thousands is a matter of joy. Our present Chief Secretary heads the list for Sikkim as the first from here to secure direct recruitment into the IAS followed by only a few others in the decades since, the latest breakthrough is hence of significant importance. To know that Sikkim has come of age on the educational front is very comforting. The Chief Minister’s educational scholarships for meritorious children at the primary level, so thoughtfully considered, is bound to make a considerable impact in the years to come. This is a long term investment par excellence which the people of Sikkim will realize only in the future.
When I come across bright young officers, like the 40-odd who underwent a short course in administration in Singapore, I wonder why they did not give the AIS examinations. Apprehensive perhaps that they will be slotted to some obscure posting in the country. But compete for competition’s sake and if you get a slot not of your liking, you can always opt out, but your prestige will grow manifold. You are as good as any AIS officer. Just some sincere advice.
One also remembers here the brilliance of the late Sangay Doma, who, selected in the IAS in the UT Cadre, made a mark in Arunachal Pradesh as one of the finest officers they have ever had, a service they have immortalized in Arunachal by naming the Institute she got established there as a World Bank project in her memory.
Now coming back to these bright three girls. It would be worthwhile to analyze who they are. What was their early educational schooling? The story of each of them speaks volumes of their hard work and determination for others to emulate. To know Aparajita, daughter of one of our finest forest officers who lost his life in a torrential flood that struck Pani House in Deorali some ten years back, did the State proud with her ranking of 358th. Her consistent attempts, right since 2009, and coming 768th in her second attempt and getting offered Indian Defence Accounts Service did not satisfy her. She appeared again as an in-service candidate and in her third attempt she secured a ranking good enough for IPS which she likes, it appears. Her determination and consistency speaks volumes. She had her schooling in TNA and graduated in Law.
Yangchen, with her 542nd ranking, hails from the far away village Tinkitam of Baichung Bhutia and Orchid Fairrieanum fame, has excellent educational background with her early schooling at the coveted St. Joseph’s Convent, Kalimpong, and again finishing her schooling from TNA and ultimately graduating from St. Stephens in Delhi, products from where are the policy-makers of the country, and completing her post graduation from JNU.
Then comes Tshering with her 838th ranking. She comes from Pelling with her primary education in Kyi-de-Khang, completing schooling from TNA and Masters from University in Delhi.
So it is TNA that comes in as a common factor for all three, attesting the good schooling provided there. To know we have school of such standing good enough for our youngsters to go out and compete in the national level speaks volumes and people of Sikkim at large should applaud the institution as a whole and its teachers in particular with a deep sense of gratitude. It would go good for the Government to give all impetus and support to this school so that it can continue to groom the younger generations with a sense of competitiveness and determination to plunge in this wide competitive world where brilliance rules. TNA has one of the finest campuses with 12 acres of sprawling compound and a school groomed by eminent educationists like VN Langer (he headed TNA for a good 16 long years), Madhusudhan Singh, Fantomes (father and his son) and such other eminent educationists in its formative stage of establishment. It was the vision of the Durbar as early as 1956 to establish a premier public educational institution in Sikkim to prepare youngsters for the best institutions in the world. The school could take shape only after 1966 once the TNHS was moved out to its new campus at Development Area. As Sikkim is marching ahead in all fields with commendable success, it is even more necessary that the vision behind TNA’s establishment is remembered and efforts made to raise it to such prominence public schools like Doon, Sanawar, Rishi Valley or Mayo.
But primary education is quite a different matter. It needs a set of teachers with quite different caliber. In this region, it is St. Joseph’s Convent in Kalimpong that has produced and is still producing the best brains. One can know a girl is from this premier school just by seeing the handwriting- a real calligrapher. So far, our Primary Education has received a shoddy deal. Only in recent years has there been a serious effort to improve it. The neglect of the past led to mushrooming of so-called private English Schools in every nook and corner of Sikkim. On a short drive from Reshi to Jhum via Hatidhunga we came across a dozen. So is the case in faraway Daramdin as also anywhere else in the state. How we can bring the best primary education system to Sikkim, whether based on Montessori, Kid-zee, Kindergarten or with some of the improved version like the Alice Project- an offshoot of Montessori based in Italy- in Sarnath and Bodh Gaya- is food for thought. Manjushree, the brain child of Lodey and Wendy –the well qualified and well travelled husband and wife team- with a small beginning at MG Marg and now off to Temi is the forerunner of truly best schooling Sikkim could possibly offer. It will do good to establish a Primary Education Teachers Training Institute with the best of methodology as adopted in Finland, Korea, Singapore and elsewhere which are rated among the 20 best in the world in this field. That should be our benchmark. In the process, even if we slide halfway, the job is well done.
I also strong feel that the so called English Primary Schools established by private initiative should also be brought under the fold as even students there are after all our children. Parents from the interiors like Karchi and Dhupidara have moved to Rabongla working menial jobs only so that they can give their children English School education. This is the story I heard wherever I travelled. They are of the view that English Education is the only security for the future of their children.
So, as we clamour for higher education and Universities of which we have lined up so many for reasons unknow, it is time we gave more thrust to our Pre- and Primary Education where 70% of our children are currently enrolled. This, not by pumping more money alone, but by providing the best of teachers who are temperamentally and psychologically well tuned to teach children in their formative, impressionable age and working in the knowledge that “Every child is unique and has infinite potential”. These teachers should be offered the best salary and accorded the highest respect and status as they are the persons who lay the foundation on which the future of Sikkim will be built. May the tribe of the late Hon’ble Mary Scott, Shankha Gurung, Ganga Devi Rai, Pedong Guruama (Lydia Lucksom) etc. proliferate. We remember them with a deep sense of gratitude as teachers who had love and concern for the mental makeup of every child under their care as they marched ahead in their noble mission without wavering. They had in them the essence of ‘child centric learning methodology’.
Thanks to the vision of the present Chief Minister, this blessed land of Guru Rimpoche has really become the Mecca of all religions with special emphasis on Buddhism and Hinduism at a time when the world at large is beset with materialism and consumerism – the maddening trend set by economic pundits. The inner philosophy of all religions is to imbue in every human being, a true sense of tolerance, humility with wholesome personality. This has been repeated by HH the Dalai Lama during a recent visit in clear terms at his sermon to the at large at Rabongla and to the children at Mannan Bhawan in Gangtok. While we search for such schooling based on values and ethics percolated from religious saints, Gurus and philosophers, we come across Rishi Valley based on the vision of eminent philosopher J. Krishnamurti, Vivekananda University on the philosophy propounded by Swami Vivekananda, Alice Projects as an off-shoot of Maria Montessori philosophy of child education and in operation in Sarnath and Bodh Gaya, Sai Schools based on the philosophy and preaching of Satya Sai Baba. It will augur well if we establish educational institutions based on such values and ethics to enable our future generations to give be able to reevaluate and rethink, rather unwind, the past and the present and come up with a balanced approach of a wholesome living ethic for the world order. This is the only remedy to overcome the ills currently inflicting the society.
In the same vein, it is good to understand how important it is to be Scheduled Tribe or OBC at the national level. Food for thought for all Sikkimese to be Tribals. Let the loaves continue to be divided between tribes, castes, class and non-class with all their Constitutional rights within the State, but outside the State let all Sikkimese have a common level playing field. This is possible only if all Sikkimese as clearly defined in the Financial Act are bestowed with deemed Tribal status. It is time everybody, irrespective of their differences, political or otherwise, pulls up their socks and ponders on the possibility. It is an issue where there should be no differences. Time is now. Tomorrow is too late.
[The writer is a former Chief Secretary, Sikkim]