Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gangtok traffic – closed at one end, clogged at the other

GANGTOK, 18 Feb: Traffic moving at a snail’s pace has been bothering Gangtokians for the past week or so. Traffic snarls during peak office hours is routine on the highway, but over the past week, traffic has been particularly heavy and slow along Bhanupath, Tibet Road and the road upto Vajra Cinema. This has been due to the Namnang-Deorali road being closed as road repairs and carpeting works are underway there. As a result, all vehicles that enter MG Marg are also diverted to Bhanupath via Tibet Road or move through to Namnang and up Kazi Road and back into Bhanupath.
According to the Traffic Police, the road repair work will take another week to complete.
PI [Traffic], Pravin Lamichaney, agrees that the Namnang-Deorali road being closed has been causing traffic snarls elsewhere and highlights that the Traffic personnel have also been working extra hard to regulate traffic around town.
“Taxis making stops at inappropriate places like Hospital point further adds to the problem”, he adds.
“We would like to urge commuters to bear with us for some time. The Bye Pass road is now in good condition as it has been repaired and commuters can take that alternate route as well,” urged the PI.
It is also informed that the Namnang-Deorali road is being widened and when it re-opens the road might be made two-way. At present the road is one-way wherein vehicles can only come downhill towards Deorali during day time.

Calling for cooperation from the public in managing traffic better, he also appealed to the public not to park along the highways. Stressing upon the need for traffic awareness he said, “We give traffic awareness classes every Tuesday at SP East office, DAC from 9 30 am till 4 pm. Not just those applying for driving licenses but anyone can attend these classes”.

Sikkim is best in India in implementation of rural tourism projects

fotoCaption: Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, presenting  the National   Tourism Award 2012-13 to Sikkim tourism minister Bhim Dhungel at a function in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, today

New Delhi, 18 Feb [IPR]: Sikkim has been declared as the best state in the country in implementation of Rural Tourism Projects by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Shashi Tharoor presented the National Tourism Award 2012-13 to Sikkim’s Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel in a function held at Vigyan Bhawan New Delhi today
According to the Union Tourism Ministry, Sikkim is the perfect destination to experience warm hospitality, rich culture and scenic splendour of natural beauty.
State Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel said that Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has launched an ambitious Rs 140 crore project for developing various tourism convenience facilities, view-points, halting points, conferences, retiring units and other infrastructural facilities projects in the state.
He said that Mr Chamling  has sanctioned Rs 50 crore for setting up facilitation centres at the state capital Gangtok and various other important  tourist destinations of the state. Twenty facilitation  centres will be set up in the state for strengthening  tourism facilities, said Mr Dhungel further adding that capacity building, training, marketing, manpower and human resources will be strengthened under these facilitation centres.
The main facilitation centre will be set up at Gangtok at total cost of Rs 40 crore while the other facilitation centres at small towns and major tourist destinations will be constructed at a cost of Rs 50 lakh on each facilitation centre. All the facilitation centres will start functioning by the year 2015, he added.
“At present around 80,000 tourists visit rural tourist destinations in the state annually and target has been fixed to attract 1.50 lakh tourists to rural tourist destinations in the next five years by creating additional infrastructural facilities in the state”, said Mr Dhungel.
The Minister further informed that so far 500 home-stay units have been registered in the state which are providing direct employment to around 1500 persons and added that target has been fixed to double the home-stay units and employment opportunities to 3000 persons in the next five years.
The state government is providing various incentives like electricity on domestic rates to these home-stay units to make them economically viable and create additional beds and modern facilities for the visiting tourists in rural areas, he added. 
The state Tourism department has tied up with Kerala, Maharastra, Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka Tourism for ensuring maximum tourist flow from these states to Sikkim, said the Minister and added that the state Tourism department is also negotiating with Nepal Tourism and Bhutan Tourism to ensure maximum international tourism flow from these areas to Sikkim.

Sikkim Tourism Secretary, C Zangpo, DE(P) Sanjay Singh, AD Shova Lama, PRO Tourism Binita Rai and Vijay Thapa were part of the official delegation from Sikkim who attended the function.

SKM convenes meeting in Phodong party office

MANGAN, 18 Feb: A meeting was organized by Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) at its party office at Phodong, North district today. The meeting discussed the grievances of the public and steps being taken by the present government and district administration to address these problems.
The North district has the highest number of hydel power projects in the state but people of the district still face power shortage, it was stated. On the Chief Minister’s recent announcement during the Janta Mela of providing 100 units of free electricity in the rural areas, SKM workers demanded to know if a notification has been passed on the same and when this provision would begin.
The party has asked the District Administration to provide the list of beneficiaries of North Sikkim to find out if the benefits were distributed in a proper manner. The meeting also raised the issue of bad road conditions in the North district.

The programme concluded with vote of thanks delivered by ex-Panchayat, Rinzing Dorjee Bhutia. The meeting was attended by vice president, central executive committee, Youth Affairs North, Kado Lepcha, general secretary, North district, Ugen Nedup Bhutia, ex-Panchayat secretary, Phensong GPU, Thinlay Yoezar Bhutia, ex-Panchayat president, Men-Rongong, Norden Lepcha, ex-Panchayat president, Ramthang-Tanek GPU, Danny Lepcha, CEC Phodong, Subash Subba and public.

SPCC’s chances of bringing Karmapa to Sikkim dwindle

GANGTOK, 18 Feb: The confidence of the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee to bring the 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, to Sikkim is low with the chances of this happening virtually over for now. The Congress high command, as informed by sources, has conveyed that this may not be possible before the elections.
An SPCC delegation, led by their president, KN Lepcha, is informed to have met with the State Congress in-charge, Luizinho Faleiro in New Delhi on 17 February. A few weeks ago, while talking to NOW!, Mr Faleiro had informed that the proposal of the state unit of the Congress to bring the Karmapa to Sikkim had been forwarded to the government of India for further action.
However, on 17 February, when it is informed that the state Congress leaders had a meeting with Mr Faleiro, they were told that this may not be possible at least not before the general elections were over.
This will be seen as a setback to the state Congress which had invested much hope into their campaign to bring the 17th Karmapa to Sikkim, claiming to having won this permission and staking exclusive credit for the development. During the latest meeting with Congress high command, it is informed that the State Congress leadership had also taken along a delegation of monks to New Delhi in order to impress upon the party high command the urgency of the desire of the people of Sikkim to see the Karmapa in Sikkim. 

It had earlier been publicized by the SPCC that the central party leadership had agreed to their proposal to allow the Karmapa into Sikkim; the virtual about-turn by the central party leadership would come as a rude shock particularly this electoral season. However the SPCC leaders are informed to still be trying their luck with an appointment scheduled for today with the UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi in which the monk delegation is likely to be present. 

Sikkim Manipal College of Physiotherapy organises Futsal tourney

GANGTOK, 18 Feb: The Sikkim Manipal College of Physiotherapy (SMCPT) organized Red Athenea 2014, a Futsal (5-a-side format of football) tournament as part of an AIDS awareness campaign under the aegis of SSACS facilitated by NACO.
A press release informs that the five-day tournament saw the participation of 17 teams representing the various courses running under the University as well as the ancillary staff comprising of Sikkim Security Force, Sikkim Home Guards, Store Boys and the Engineering Section Team to mention a few. 
The inaugural match was attended by Consultant Architect RMDD, Doniv Rai as the chief guest. The program started with felicitation of the dignitaries by the faculties of SMCPT.
Assistant Professor SMCPT, Dr. Remon Chettri also the Peer Educator Red Ribbon Club delivered the welcome address and gave a speech on AIDS Awareness and measures of Rehabilitating HIV positive people back into the society.
Lecturer SMCPT, Dr Pratik Chettri informed that this is the fourth year of the tournament and now has become a much awaited calendar event for the staff and students of Sikkim Manipal University. The final match was held on 16 February between Tiger 5 and Political Science Boys. The well fought match saw Political Science boys emerging as winners with a score of 3-1, the release informs.
The chief guest for the day, CEO Physiocure, Dr. Tharkela Bhutia gave away the medals and trophies. Man of the Tournament title went to Gabriel of Pol Sc. Boys.

The RRC of SMCPT and Allied Health Sciences has thanked the sponsors, Sikkim State Aids Control Society and NACO for their continuous support in organizing such events with a message of AIDS awareness and emphasizing the role of a community in rehabilitation of the affected people, the release adds. 

Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan to hold meditation session

GANGTOK, 18 Feb: Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan of Dera Sacha Sauda, Haryana will be holding a session of meditation from 5 PM to 6 PM on 19 February at Manan Kendra, New Secretariat, Gangtok.
A press release informs that Dera Sacha Sauda is a confluence of all religions and is also a social welfare organization. The main aim of this organization is the service of humanity. There are about 5 crore followers of this organization throughout the world, it is mentioned.

The release informs that the method of meditation being taught is according to the norms of every religion and is common to every religion and donation of any form is not required. This form of meditation can cure diseases and relieve stress. All are invited to participate in the meditation session.

Shanti Sharma appointed gen secy of BJP-Sikkim

GANGTOK, 18 Feb: Bharatiya Janta Party Sikkim state-unit president, Padam Bahadur Chettri has appointed Shanti Sharma as the general secretary of the state-unit. She was serving the party as the president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha so far.
A press release issued by BJP Sikkim Pradesh office In-Charge, Shiva Kumar Sharma informs that this is part of the party’s plans to strengthen its core unit. As per the view of the party president, Ms Sharma has been persistently working with the party with commitment and diligence and has been appointed as the general secretary with the hope that would continue to do the same, it is mentioned.

The party also inducted Narayan Bhattarai as the president of North district, Param Kush Sharma as president of the East district and Nar Bahadur Chettri as the state secretary of BJP. It is informed that the party would soon be appointing members of the constituency and booth level committees.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mountaineer Shanti Rai cycles 2,500 km for greener and cleaner India

NAMCHI, 17 Feb: Sikkimese mountaineer Shanti Rai is back from a challenging 35-day bicycle expedition covering 2,500 kms across the country. The expedition, Go Green Girls (GGG), was organized by the Women’s Adventure Network of India (WANI) between 05 January and 07 February, 2014.
The participants cycled through the west coast of India from Kutch to Kerala covering distance of approximately 2,500 kilometers. Fifteen women took part in the 35-day cycling expedition that was flagged off from Bharuch, Gujarat.
The team cycled 50-120 kilometers every day which amounts to about five to seven hours of cycling each day. The aim behind organizing the expedition is to promote a greener, cleaner and healthier India and encourage younger women to higher levels of achievement through presentations in schools and colleges.
Shanti was selected after a tough physical endurance test in Nagpur and is the first woman from Sikkim to participate in such an adventure event. 28-year-old Shanti has an MPhil in Botany and had never cycled before. She reached her home town, Namchi today.
WANI is a women’s organisation committed to empowering women through adventure. It is the brainchild of a few passionate women adventurers who decided to get together to create a powerful movement that will sweep across India. This initiative resulted in the birth of the Women Adventure Network of India (WANI). One of the missions of the organization is to bring women of all adventure sports on one platform.
WANI had organized a similar cycling expedition from Kolkata-Kanyakumari where 15 women cycled 3000 kms in 35 days from 26 Jan-28 Feb in 2011.

“Western Disturbances” to blame for the extra chill in the air

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: The ‘extratropical storm’ originating in the Mediterranean, that brings sudden winter rain and snow to the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent, called the Western Disturbance is behind the sudden dip in temperatures for the past few days.
The Western Disturbance has moved towards East India, leaving a trough line in the foothills of the Himalayas. The cyclonic circulation will persist over the northeastern states for another 24 hours and move away thereafter.
The Western Disturbance is a non-monsoon precipitation pattern driven by the Westerlies. The moisture in these storms usually originates over the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Extratropical storms are a global, rather than a localized, phenomena with moisture usually carried in the upper atmosphere (unlike tropical storms where it is carried in the lower atmosphere). In the case of India, moisture is sometimes shed as rain when the storm system encounters the Himalayas.
This is what is causing the rain and the cold we are experiencing here in Sikkim. However, it is expected that temperatures will rise in the coming days. Expect pretty cloudy weather and some more rain tomorrow though. Interestingly, despite the chill that it brings with it the Western Disturbances are important to the development of the Rabi crop in North India.

Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals set up

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: The state government has constituted four single-member Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals for the purpose of adjudicating claims for compensation in respect of motor accidents.
The tribunal is to adjudicate on those claims of compensation of cases of motor accidents involving the death or injury of persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles; the tribunal will also look into matters of claims of compensation for damages to property of a third party due to motor accidents.
The Transport Department has constituted this tribunal with the concurrence of the high court of Sikkim.

The respective district and sessions judge of each of the four districts are members of the tribunal with jurisdiction over their respective districts.

Two more suicides

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: The spate of suicides in the state of Sikkim continues unabated. Following reports of about 7 suicides last week, this week also starts with the more gloom. A 45-year-old woman took her life on 16 February at Sherathang, East Sikkim.
The deceased had reportedly been suffering from depression for a long time. The cause of the depression was reportedly a pain in her left leg which refused to heal. The deceased was found hanging from a tree in the jungles below her house.

On 14 February, another suicide had been reported. A driver with the HRD Department committed suicide by hanging in his house. The 45 year old was a resident of Adampool, under Ranipool police jurisdiction. This is reported to have been his second attempt at committing suicide, an earlier attempt having been made about a year ago. 

Cong social media gen secy resigns to join SKM

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: The Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary [social media and communication] cum vice chairperson [media], Doncee Lama, has submitted her resignation to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She will soon be joining the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, Ms. Lama informs in a press release. She was scheduled to join the party today but could not since she has developed health problems and is under treatment in Delhi, the release details.
On the reasons behind quitting the Congress, Ms. Lama states that she was dejected when her best efforts to work for the party and the Sikkimese people were met with unconcern and inaccessibility of the central leadership which appeared unmoved by the regional concerns and problems of Sikkim.

She goes on to contend that “certain elements” in the AICC and SPCC maintained “indirect approach and lobby” with the SDF Government and mislead both, the people and the party leadership. 

SNT launches Online Bus Ticketing System

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: Taking a much-needed step forward Sikkim National Transport has now launched an Online Bus Ticketing System jointly developed and implemented by Information Technology Department and the Transport Department. The launch today was attended by Transport Secretary, Tsegyal Tashi, IT Secretary, Rajesh Verma and officials of both the departments.
Initially, this service has been started with the AC buses of SNT plying between Gangtok and Siliguri. The service will be starting from 24 February. Through this service, a person can book tickets online and also choose the seat as per their convenience. There is also the provision to cancel the ticket.
During the launch, the Transport Secretary shared that this was a humble beginning and an effort towards the modernization of SNT.  He added that SNT was committed to provide continuous, safe and convenient services to the people and plans to come up with better services in a phase wise manner.
Speaking on other future plans, Mr Tashi informed that in the new phase, the city runners in Gangtok will be enhanced with the introduction of better quality buses in Gangtok and in other cities of the state as well.
The IT Secretary said that the online ticketing system is a milestone for SNT in providing better services to the people of Sikkim. He also briefly mentioned about the various services and initiatives of the IT Department. Mr. Verma informed that the IT Department will soon be introducing online application for Inner Line Permit.
SNT Chief Engineer, Raju Basnet gave a presentation on the Online Bus Ticketing System.

SKM’s student wing visits Vinayaka Mission Univ’s Nursing college

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: Sikkim Krantikari Vidyarthi Morcha [SKVM], a frontal organisation of Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party today visited and met with the faculty members and students of Vinayaka Mission University’s college of nursing at Chandmari here to enquire about the problems faced by them [read NOW! issue dated 17 Feb 2014].
An SKVM release informs that it was brought to its notice that teachers’ salaries were not paid in time therefore forcing the teachers to call a pen-down strike which was later called off.
SKVM was represented by Dilip Rai (vice president), Karma Tashi Bhutia (chief convenor) Bhanu Pratap Rasaily (general secretary), Minjo Lama (secretary), Dr. Mechung Bhutia (chief co-ordinator).
SKVM has said that the University has not got recognition from the Indian Nursing Council for the academic session 2013-14 and has demanded that the University initiate action regarding this at the earliest.
SKVM has also demanded the setting up of Sikkim Nursing Council by the state government to address the grievances of the nursing students within the state and outside the state; the state government should appoint at least two members out of the five members in the board of directors in the University for the well being of local employees and the students; the University should come up with service regulation in order to ensure the regularisation/ job security of the local employees who have been serving the university for a considerable period of time.

Golay has bared his “violent nature”, SDF counters

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: Sikkim Democratic Front [SDF] has contended that Sikkim Krantikari Morcha president, PS Tamang [Golay], revealed his inclination towards violence when he told his supporters at Singtam on Sunday to “attack Mintokgang” [the Chief Minister’s official residence] in response to every attack on them.
In a press release issued today, SDF spokesperson Bhim Dahal argues that the SKM president’s use of words like “attack” in a public meeting did not come as a surprise since the party has already been involved in random and rampant acts of violence. It is not wise to issue such threats as power cannot be acquired through violence, the release advises.
The ruling party has said that the SDF government has been providing development and benefits to the people for the past 20 years and has been organizing Janta Melas as well in the state. The release informs that this time the government has distributed different benefits, relief and developments worth Rs 800 crore in the Janta Mela.
In such a situation, a statement from Mr. Tamang dripping of violence shows his desperation and lack of political agenda, the release adds.
The SDF has further alleged and protested against what it sees as the use of “outside elements” by SKM in Sikkim’s politics.

Stating that the CBI was a central investigation agency and works as per the rules and law of the country, SDF argues that using the CBI in state politics proves Mr Tamang’s lack of political maturity and wisdom. It is surprising that Mr Tamang, who had praised the CM for his works in the 2009 elections, is now accusing him of not fulfilling his promises, the release adds. 


Rotary Club of Gangtok would like to invite all the children of age less than 12yrs belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category with heart diseases for operation and treatment absolutely free of cost through the program called Heart to Heart.
The treatment and operation will be done at Mission Hospital, Durgapur.
Free Screening camp for detections and listing out beneficiaries will be organized on 23rd Feb 2014 at Siliguri. Rotary Club of Gangtok appeals to the masses to kindly take maximum benefit of this program and get your child treated for heart diseases free of cost.
For further information, please contact Rajesh Somani, Ph# 09832013133 or Dr. Praveen Somani, Ph# 9232604048 before 21st Feb. 2014.

South District deliberates on Labour Laws

NAMCHI, 17 Feb: Co-ordination Meeting cum Awareness Programme on Labor Laws was conducted here at Community Hall Namchi today. Organized by the Labor Department the programme was attended by Chairman Labor Welfare Board, Passang R Sherpa as the chief guest, while SDM Namchi,  Ravindra Kumar was present as the guest of honor.
The meeting cum awareness was attended by workers and employers of private companies from various parts of South District. Around 150 workers along with their employers participated in the awareness cum co-ordination meeting.
In his welcome address Deputy Labor Commissioner South, Shiromani Neopaney briefly highlighted on the programme. Commissioner cum Secretary Labor Department, KK Pradhan in his speech explained the need to conduct such awareness and co-ordination meetings on labor welfare laws; and the legal aspects.
He also informed about many facilities that are in the pipeline for the welfare of laborers in South District and mentioned that health and education facilities for the children of laborers along with other basic facilities is important. In a nutshell he informed about various works carried out by the labor department for the welfare of the laborers engaged in various works within the state, and also mentioned the child labor act in brief where he informed that engaging of child as labor is a punishable offence. He appealed to the gathering to help fight against child labor.
Joint Labor Commissioner Headquarter (HQ) DS Kunwar in his address highlighted on important Central and State Rules pertaining to labor like Inter State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979, Sikkim Shops & Commercial Establishment Act, 1983, Employees’ Compensation Act 1923, Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provision Act, 1952, Payment of Gratuity Act, Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996, Building and Other Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996 and Minimum Wages Act, 1948. He also urged the employers to understand the social obligations of laborers and provide incentives and promotions to them based on seniority basis and talents.
Joint Labor Commissioner East, KR Limboo talked on Bonded Labor Act, 1976, Child Labor (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1986 and Sikkim Labor Protection Act, 2005. He informed that the concerned department has been working to make Sikkim a child labor free state.
While, SDM Namchi, Ravindra Kumar who was present as the guest of honor talked on the need of motivation and how the laborers and employers can work in coordination for the betterment of both the parties. He said that whenever a laborer feels that he/she is exploited then they can approach the committee at the district administrative level and also assured every possible help and assistance in solving their problems and in addressing their grievance.
The SDM suggested and explained the gathering in brief citing examples pertaining to labor and employer welfare. Representative from Namchi Police Station, Bikash Rai kept forth the problems faced by police when it comes to handling cases related to laborers from outside the state. He mentioned problems like incomplete maintenance of details of laborers including their permanent address and other information; he also talked on need of uniform for laborers, proper accommodation, water supply and other basic necessities.
The chief guest Chairman Labor Welfare Board, Passang R Sherpa, in his address, mentioned the need to provide some benefits to MR workers and laborers working under state government departments. He said that company owners in Sikkim should provide training to local laborers and help them in sharpening their skills, while at the same time highlighted on the need of such meeting cum awareness programme on labor laws. He further requested the concerned department to look into labor welfare aspects.
The programme also included open discussion between the representatives of companies and the departmental officials wherein many queries were answered.

SBJM Lall Bazaar group demands elections for new executive committee

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: A section of Sikkim Bihari Jagaran Manch [SBJM] Lall Bazaar branch has demanded that elections for the new executive committee of the branch be held immediately. The group plans to merge with other organizations or open a new organization if the elections are not held within this month.
Addressing a press conference today, a member of Lall Bazaar branch, Sanjay Prasad claimed that 90% of the members of the branch want the new executive committee to be formed immediately to carry out social welfare activities.
He informed that the tenure of the Lall Bazaar committee ended in September last year and even its committee president, Suresh Prasad had submitted his resignation to the SBJM president, Swaminath Prasad during a function on 05 September last year. He alleged that despite this, Swaminath Prasad is acting as the president and is not starting the process to elect the new body.
Sanjay Prasad informed that a memorandum signed by 216 members out of the total 280 members of Lall Bazaar has also been submitted to SBJM East district president, Birendra Prasad demanding his immediate intervention on the matter. They also demanded that a committee should be formed to conduct the election.
“No welfare activities are being conducted by the body and members now want the young generation to come forward to work for the people”, he said. He added that even after the completion of 19 years, the branch still does not have an office of its own.

RMDD Minister inaugurates Gram Prashasan Kendra at Maniram Phalidara

NAMCHI, 17 Feb: Minister, Rural Management and Development Department, CB Karki today inaugurated the well-equipped Panchayat Bhawan [Gram Prashasan Kendra] of Maniram Phalidara Gram Panchayat Unit under Namchi Singhithang constituency today.
In his inaugural address, Mr. Karki spoke on Panchayati Raj and its success in Sikkim. He urged people to take full benefit from the developmental programmes and schemes initiated by the State government and appealed for people’s participation in making Sikkim a model state of the country. He also congratulated the panchayats and local people for the new Gram Prashasan Kendra.
It may be mentioned here that Maniram Phalidara Gram Panchayat Unit has also started a single window system in the Kendra with CCTV cameras installed in the Kendra. Maniram Phalidara is the only GPK of the state that has also installed CCTV cameras at Bhanjyang Bazaar.
Panchayat President of Maniram Phalidara, Tobda Bhutia in his welcome address informed about the developmental works initiated in the GPU through a Power Point Presentation. He handed over the technical report of the Gram Prashashan Kendra to the Zilla Panchayat Member, Dawa Tshering Bhutia.
The chief guest also handed over the allotment order to the 22 beneficiaries of REDRH schemes. Minister Karki also inaugurated the Perbing-Dovan GPK under Rateypani-Namthang constituency today.

Invest in Social Capital

In these days of fiscal projections and factionalised politics, it would be wise to perhaps discuss Social Capital, that wealth counted in the richness of one’s relationship with others in a community and that which is considered of good value when citizens have a tendency to engage in civic affairs, band together in voluntary groups, come together for collective action. This Social Capital, once it has matured into an instinctive collectif of ‘concerned citizens’, becomes what we know as a Civil Society. All are aware that in the present times of multiple sources of information it becomes difficult to sift the rumour from the news and it is expected of a Civil Society to become the conduit that filters this barrage of information and then also mould public opinion. This is definitely a tall ask and the responsibility is tremendous. What makes the challenge even more daunting is that one is never sure whether a society has fully awakened or is still in the process of doing so. A Civil Society after all is culled from the same faculties that make the people and its leaders and has no one above it to judge maturity or wisdom [of the civil society]. This irony apart, it is still a state worth aspiring to.
Where does Sikkim figure on this ladder? Community participation is the first investment into building a healthy reserve of Social Capital. Sikkim is yet to witness spontaneous public participation [and one is not speaking of political meetings here]. It has however seen some instances of voluntary community participation, but it is unfortunate that this participation has not cut across caste and community divides. In that sense, the Sikkimese society is yet to find its collective voice. Politics forms a very small part of this cohesiveness which is more about people-sponsored initiatives for universally felt social concerns. It is also about more than neighbourhood cleanliness drives because social capital is expected to be invested in issues of even larger concern. Community mobilization has been too sectional in most instances and has not grown from there. Such initiatives provide the experience necessary for wider nets to be cast and a more resolute civil society to be formed. The problem of sectional groupings is also that it limits itself to raising issues, and finds its relevance tied to such issues – resolve the issue and they lose relevance, or so they believe. A civil society begins where such grouping end because it is more concerned with resolutions, consensus, participation and compassion where factions and sectional groups are about paranoia and suspicion. There is nothing new being shared here, but why has Sikkim which clearly knows better, still denied itself a Civil Society? It is perhaps because civil societies do not happen by accident and do not always grow organically [at least not quickly enough], they have to be nurtured and groomed until they become instinctive responses. The American democracy, despite all reservations one might have about the government there, is vibrant not because it is a super power or even because of economics or literacy; it is so because the Americans, through centuries of grooming, come together in groups and share opinion as a reflex action. The Alcoholics Anonymous, by far the most effective forum for recovering alcoholics has its genesis in America, as do the more socially active organisations like Rotary and Lion’s Club. While few might agree that Woodstock is representative of a Civil Society, it does stand out as an example of a sea of humanity coming together to find its high-water mark of a shared experience. People need to replicate these experiences in Sikkim if they want a Civil Society without having to go through the strain of suffering radical voices before better sense prevails. This can be achieved by inculcating a sense of community participation among the students. The first step would be to get them comfortable in a group. Just the classroom will not do. Something more focussed like book clubs, art groups, even a more effective Scouts and NCC culture. Once their comfort level increases, they should be inducted into more serious issueslike those relating to children and environment. Issues that are more immediate for them. Of late we have seen massive student involvement in AIDS awareness drives, but such initiatives have mostly been only cosmetic. If the people pace the grooming well, a Civil Society will be at hand within a generation.

Govt employees from Dzongu hold coordination meeting

MANGAN, 17 Feb: Government employees from Dzongu constituency organized a coordination meeting at Forest guest house, Namprikdang, on 16 February.
The programme was chaired by Joint Director, HRDD North, Sonam Lepcha, accompanied by Assistant Director, HRDD North, ST Lepcha, Samten Lepcha, Mika Lepcha and other government employees.
The meeting urged all the employees to refrain from getting involved in direct political activities and perform their duties in service with full dedication. Proper coordination with Panchayat and public for the development of Dzongu was also stressed.
The house also discussed allegations of lack of coordination between the government employees, Panchayat and public and condemned the same. The issue of educated unemployed youth of Dzongu was also discussed, wherein it was suggested that they should be properly guided in the right direction by their elders and seniors.
The meeting also resolved to reject government employees forcibly transferred to the area as, it was stated that, the public suffers from their incompetence and carelessness. The need for urgent repair of the road from Pheedang to CWC via Sankalang, lower Dzongu which comes under BRO needs and the road from CWC to Lingzya, upper Dzongu which is funded by Himagiri HEP Pvt Ltd and executed by PWD Roads & Bridges was highlighted. It was stated that these roads are in deplorable condition and maintenance works are not in progress due to which the public are facing transportation problems.
Poor telecommunication services and the lack of broadband connection in senior secondary government schools as mandated under the Right to Education Act were also highlighted. There is no such provision in Dzongu and such facilities must be provided at the earliest, it was stressed.
It was also informed that for the up-coming general election the Sikkim Democratic Front party’s candidate for Dzongu will be nominated by the general public. They have also demanded that the Pheedang and Sangkalang Checkposts be strengthened in view of the upcoming elections.
The meeting further urged for maintaining peace and unity in Dzongu and thanked the government for other facilities and schemes especially the Chief Minister’s Meritorious Scholarship scheme wherein the maximum number of scholarships have been provided to students from Dzongu.
The programme concluded with vote of thanks delivered by Headmaster, Samten Lepcha.


Dell computers opened its first exclusive store in the State here at Tadong near Krishi Bhawan on Saturday, 15 Feb. The store has live demos of DELL Alienware, XPS, INSPIRON, and AIO & Desktops. 

BJP Sikkim collects donations for Modi

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: The Bharatiya Janta Party’s Sikkim unit started its “Aeuta Note, Kamal-ma Vote” donation campaign for “Narendra Modi for PM fund” on Sunday. The campaign started from Thakurbari complex and covered all the shops of MG Marg, a BJP press release informs.
The campaign had to withdraw for the day due to rain and continued today from Ranipool. “It is an all India campaign and will conclude by 18 February,” the release adds.

The release explains that the reason behind the campaign is to raise funds from the general public and use the same for Narendra Modi’s election campaign. 

SBI opens its first “e-corner” in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 17 Feb: The State Bank of Sikkim [SBI], MG Marg, Gangtok opened its first "E-Corner" here in the capital today. The e-corner has three ATMs.
The e-corner was inaugurated by Chief General Manager, State Bank of India, L.H.O., Kolkata, Sunil Srivastava while Deputy General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, Gangtok, AK Yadav was present as the chief guest. Mr Srivastava dedicated the “e-corner” as a 24X12 alternate banking channel to the people of Sikkim.
Mr Srivastava also handed over a cheque of Rs 11,30,000 to Captain S. Yongda, Chief Executive of Mayul Liang Trust, West Sikkim for a School Bus and a cheque of Rs 3,51,000 to Bhaichung Bhutia for the Indian Football Foundation as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of the Bank.
Mr Srivastava said that the State Bank of India has been undertaking community services under the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative by keeping aside 1% of the Bank's profit (which is being enhanced to 2%) towards community services throughout the country. He applauded the efforts of the Mayul Liang Trust in the field of education for the underprivileged.
He also commended the efforts of Bhaichung Bhutia in character building of the young minds through his initiative to train the younger generation through his Football Training Camps being organised in the hills. On this occasion the team members of the under-14 age group who had reached the semi-final in the all India under-14 Football Team were also felicitated with gifts.
Mr Srivastava also announced that the Bank will start Sikkim Snow Lion Rolling Trophy in the coming years. Both Captain Yongda and Bhaichung Bhutia thanked SBI for their support.
The programme ended with vote of thanks from Deputy General Manager, State Bank of India, Zonal Office , Siliguri, Satish B. Patwardhan.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Self-reliance loans to be interest-free for two years and fetch 6% interest thereafter
GANGTOK, 16 Feb: Added to the many schemes initiated by the State government to encourage the youth to take up meaningful employment is the Chief Minister’s Self Reliant Scheme. This is being implemented under the Human Resource Development Department which has now established criteria and guidelines on eligibility and other conditions. These criteria also pertain to the grant of training and vocational courses under the Sikkim Youth Empowerment & Self Reliant Mission under the same department.
Under the CMSRS, loans will be disbursed only to holders of Sikkim Subject Certificates [and Certificates of Identification] and their descendants with those holding CoI’s on the basis of land parchas also being eligible.
The age-group for which this loan is available is 18 to 40 years.
Employment Card will have to be presented at the time of applying for loan to SIDICO along with affidavit stating that there are no outstanding dues with any financial institution. This card will be in the custody of SIDICO till the total loan amount is repaid.
Only one member per family will be permitted to avail this loan except in the case of BPL families.
Meanwhile, those youth who have already applied for loans under the Chief Minister’s Self Employment Scheme will not be eligible for this scheme.
Under the CMSRS the minimum amount of loan that a person can avail is Rs. 50,000 and the maximum is Rs. 1 lakh. A processing fees and application form fee of 1% of the sanctioned amount will be charged to cover the administrative expenses of SIDICO. There will be no other deductions.
As for cases of default of loan or death of a loanee, the guarantor/ surety will be liable to pay back only the principal amount within 1 year.
The loan is interest free for the first 2 years from the date of disbursement of the first installment. Thereafter, each loanee will be required to pay interest at 6% per annum. As per the guidelines laid down by the HRD Department, the loan is to be repaid on EMI basis in 5 years [after a moratorium period of 2 years]. It is also provided that the loanee can make the repayment before the due date.
SIDICO has been entrusted with the charge of accepting applications and disbursing loans with due regard to the conditions set out by the HRDD. Each application will be checked for genuineness and it is stated that preference will be given to candidates who have undergone higher/ specialized training in the field for which the loan is sought.
The HRD department is to ensure wide publicity of scheme and the last dates of submission of applications so that all interested have a fair chance of selection. Disbursement itself will be done only after final approval of the government.

Training on wildlife disease surveillance held for fringe villages of Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve

GANGTOK, 16 Feb:: Department of Forest Environment and Wildlife Management, in collaboration with the Animal Husbandry, Livestock, Fisheries and Veterinary Services Department, organized a two-day training on Wildlife Disease Surveillance for fringe villages of Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve and the frontline staff of the Forest Dept. at Namprikdang in Dzongu on 11 and 12 February.
The objective of this exercise was to reduce instances of diseases, especially skin diseases among wild animal like Goral, Serow and Himalayan Tahr and domestic animals like goats, an official press release informs.
Field staff of Forest Dept. and EDC/JFMC members were trained on collection of samples of skin, blood and feces so that diseases can be properly identified in laboratories. Training was also imparted on handling techniques for wildlife, including birds, in case of emergencies.
Resource persons for the training included Foresters JB Subba, Director KNP/ KBR and Zoo, Usha Lachungpa, Principal Research Officer  (Wildlife); Sangay Gyatso Bhutia, DFO (KNP/KBR/HZP); Veterinarians Dr. CP Rai, (Dy. Dir, Dzongu) and Dr. Dechen Kaleon (Dy. Dir, Mangan).
The training was attended by Nim Tshering Lepcha, Upadhyaksha as chief guest.
More than 30 members, including Eco-Development Committees of Leek, Bey-Pentong, Saffo, Shipgyer, Tingvong; Joint Forest Management Committees of Lingdem/Laven, Hee Gyathang, Lingtem, Gor, Tarang and the MLAS NGO attended the training.
The programme concluded with distribution of Wildlife Disease Surveillance Kits and certificates to the participants by the Zilla Upadhyaksha and Mr. Subba.

T’Nites meet to discuss golden jubilee of alma mater

GANGTOK, 16 Feb: A meeting of the executive members of T’Nites Alumni Association [of Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School] was held here today chaired by the association president Thukchuk Lachungpa.
The meeting discussed preparations for the golden jubilee celebrations of the school.
“The school will complete its 50th year of establishment in 2015. There will be a yearlong program lined up to commemorate the event. The meeting decided to prepare a road map on the same,” Mr. Lachungpa states.

The alumni has requested all ex-students of the school to participate in and support the initiative to make the program a grand success. Also present in the meeting was the former president of the alumni association, BK Roka, and others.

Sikkim students on exchange programme learn at institution founded by Mahatma Gandhi

GANGTOK, 16 Feb: A group of six students accompanied by two faculty members of 24hours Inspired have returned from a 10-day student-exchange program to Gujarat Vidyapith University. This program is a part of the annual learning exchange program undertaken by “Connecting Champions”, the students exchange program wing of 24hours Inspired, a press communiqué informs.
Speaking about the initiative, Dewaker Basnet, Chief Learning Officer, 24hours Inspired, says, “The students exchange program is our effort to provide an exposure to the school students from our state to schools in different states of India during their winter holidays. The objective is to provide them an engaging platform where they connect with students from other schools and learn from each other. This year we took the students to Gujarat Vidyapith, an institution founded by Mahatma Gandhi and who was also the founding chancellor of the University.”
Talking about the experience, the release quotes Ujjwal Khawas, the faculty who accompanied the students to Gujarat, as saying, “It was indeed a very fruitful program and the students were introduced to a new way of learning. The students learnt how to be self reliant and how to live a simple lifestyle.”
Issac Cintury, a student from Bahai Secondary School, Tadong, adds, “It was an exciting trip with a lot of fun filled activities and lots of knowledgeable aspects. I hope such educational tours will continue year on year.”
The feeling was echoed by Emu Lepcha, a student from Singhik Secondary School, North Sikkim, who said that beyond the exchange program, she learnt aspects of money management and communicating confidently with people.
The parents were also thrilled by the exposure that their wards received.
Speaking on the overall feedback, DK Cintury, father of Issac Cintury, said, “It was a very enjoyable trip for my son and he seems to have learnt a lot from the 10 days of the exposure.”

SKM supporters celebrate party office opening anniv in Dzongu

DIKCHU, 16 Feb: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha supporters celebrated the party office foundation day here at Lingdong, Dzongu, on Saturday. The SKM party office was opened there on 15 Feb last year.
The anniversary function was chaired by former chairperson, Chopel Lepcha of Hee-Gyathang, accompanied by SKM vice president Tashi Lepcha; general secretary, North district, Ugen Nedup Bhutia; former GMC councilor Neelu Chettri; CEC member Dawa Lepcha; SD Bhutia, Jampen Lepcha and party supporters from Upper Dzongu, Lower Dzongu, Tibuk ward, Namok and Kabi-Tingda.
The programme started with welcome speech by Sonam Dupden Lepcha.
Anil Mukhiya of Rangrang ward stated that party supporters were working well towards transformation and healthy politics.
The former GMC councilor Neelu Chettri spoke on the reasons he left SDF. He claimed that he supported the SDF president, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, through his difficult times only to be cast away and abandoned later. He leveled a series of allegations against the CM and challenged the policy announcements and decisions of the State Government.
Other speakers aired similar condemnations of the ruling party and government and reiterated the SKM call for change.
CEC member Dawa Lepcha shared his experience of working with the SKM high command and shared that the party president PS Tamang [Golay] was clearly not motivated by personal ambition and was keen to work for the people.
The programme concluded with vote of thanks delivered by Ongchuk Lepcha.

SDF mourns KS Topgay’s passing away

GANGTOK, 16 Feb: Sikkim Democratic Front has conveyed deep condolences on the passing away of the Land Revenue Secretary, KS Topgay, due to a heart attack on 14 February. While paying homage to the departed soul, the party has expressed that Mr Topgay’s death was an irreparable loss to the state. An SDF press release conveys that the party prays for the entire family of the departed soul and for strength for them in this trying time.

Faculty-Management tussle leaves students unattended at Vinayaka Missions’ nursing college

GANGTOK, 16 Feb: The Vinayaka Mission Sikkim College of Nursing at Chandmari here has been in the throes of a management crisis with faculty members reportedly going on a resignation spree in protest against non payment of salaries and a prolonged disagreement with the management of Vinayaka Missions Sikkim University over facilities, or rather lack thereof, for the nursing students. The Nursing College was established by the Vinayaka Mission University, here in Gangtok in 2008; the university has its headquarters in South India.
The issues facing the students and faculty members of the college stick out like a sore thumb and those bearing the brunt of this are the students at the college in Chandmari. The faculty members have been on strike off and on for the past almost 2 months now as they have not been paid their due salaries since October 2013, it is informed.
Last week, there was another strike by the faculty which has now led to the reported resignation of 10 staff members. Among those who have handed in their resignations are 6 chemical instructors and 4 lecturers. However, it is not clear whether their resignations have been accepted by the Principal.
Last week when the faculty had decided to stop work, which went of for two days, there was a meeting with the management and it was agreed to by the management that the payment of salaries would be initiated from the very next day. However it seems that they have failed in their word leading to the present situation.
On 15 February, the institute was visited by the Secretary, HRD Department, Thomas Chandy. He had a meeting with the students, some guardians and the faculty as well.
It is informed that the facilities available at the institute are also not adequate. The nursing students have had to put up with both the lack of adequate facilities and the whimsical nature of the strikes by the faculty along with the seemingly casual approach of the university management.
One of the students informs that this problem has been going on for the past almost 3 years as a result of which their education and training has been adversely affected. On average the students are paying over Rs. 1 lakh for their 3 year nursing course.
The HRD Secretary is informed to have assured the students and faculty members that he will meet with the VC and the Pro Vice Chancellor of the SVSU to sort out the issues. The Vinayak Mission University was established here in Sikkim after a bill was passed in the Sikkim Assembly for its creation.
Sikkim United Students Association visited the campus on 11 February, Wednesday, last week and interacted with the students, an SUSA press release informs. The release goes on to details the complaints aired by the students which ranged from irregular classes, lack of qualifies faculty, lack of equipment, the fear that the West Bengal Nursing Council will cancel the institute’s affiliation etc.
SUSA has demanded “proper inspection” of the universities and colleges established in Sikkim at the earliest .

North farmers pick up orange cultivation tips in Nagpur

DIKCHU, 16 Feb: Thirty-six orange growers from North Sikkim were sponsored to an exposure tour to Krishi Vishant Fair in Nagpur by Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Mangan. Nagpur is a renowned centre of orange cultivation and the North Sikkim farmers were there from 09 to 15 February gathering advanced technical knowhow on orange cultivation.  
For farmers who could not make it Nagpur, KVK-Mangan put together a live telecast of the Nagpur tour from 10 to 13 February at its office in Mangan.
Around 150 farmers from the different villages attended the live telecast function which was conducted by Project Director, TT Lepcha, and BTMS and VLWs.

Namchi District Hospital conducts eye check-ups in rural areas

NAMCHI, 15 Feb [IPR]: The National Program for Control of Blindness [NPCB] wing of the District Hospital here organised a three-day awareness camp on eye diseases and also held cataract screening camps at Lingmoo [on 11 Feb], Temi Tanak [on 14 Feb] and finally at Sumbuk on [15 Feb]. The initiative was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Bimal Rai, Chief Medical Officer (South).
Ophthalmologist at the District Hospital, Dr. Twinkey Bhutia, made the people aware about the different factors causing eye diseases and also informed them about cataract and its signs and symptoms. After the awareness session, Dr. Bhutia with her assistants from the hospital screened the patients. This process was carried out at all three venues.
It may be mentioned here that eye diseases are on the rise and could lead to blindness if not controlled in time.
The Namchi District Hospital has taken this initiative to reach out to the people in the rural areas and make them aware about the disease and provide them free of cost check up together with other required medical aid.
Those detected with cataract shall be operated phase wise free of cost at the Namchi District Hospital.

Kateng hosts grand Sonam Lochar celebrations

KATENG, 16 Feb: Sonam Lochar was celebrated in grand manner on Saturday here at Kateng village in South Sikkim with Chief Minister Pawan Chamling present as chief guest accompanied by area MLA, Buildings & Housing Minister Tilu Gurung.
Sonam Lochar, the traditional new year of the Tamang community, was declared a state holiday in Sikkim by the SDF Government, and addressing the gathering yesterday, the CM underlined that the individuality of most communities were neither nurtured nor promoted in Sikkim until the SDF Government was formed in 1994. Apart from extending state patronage to festivals and special occasions of different communities, the State Government, the CM said, has also consistently supported cultural aspects of different communities.
With regard to the Tamangs, he pointed out how their language was now accorded state language status despite opposition from some sections which argued against such recognition since the Tamang language did not have a script. He also underlined the Scheduled Tribe status that was secured for the community thanks to the consistent pursuit of the demand by the State Government.
This support for communities was being misrepresented by the Opposition camp as attempts to break up the society, the CM rued, stressing that such criticism was counter-productive because safeguards for individual communities made society stronger, not more fragmented.
“We cannot merge one caste with another but we can work for the welfare of each and every caste and community. We believe in the security and identity of every individual in the state,” he added.
“Following this policy of the party, every community has been given tickets to contest the assembly elections and the same will be followed in the upcoming polls. We dropped a senior party candidate from Chakung constituency and gave the ticket to a Tamang candidate. The SDF government was the first in the history of Sikkim to make a Tamang Minister,” he highlighted.
While urging the youth to seize the several opportunities now opened for them in Sikkim, the CM also announced a mega tourist centre at Namthang Nagi Dara in the constituency.
Performing artists from Nepal Tulasa Waiba, Indira Yonzon, Bishal Kaldang, Devika KC, Deep Sagar and Fauda Singh from West Bengal, Carnival Band from Darjeeling led by Chandan Lumjal entertained the people during the evening.

Picnickers treated to stunt riding at Gulmohar picnic spot

GANGTOK, 16 Feb: Gulmohar Picnic Spot Management Committee under the Joint Forest Management Committee organized a daylong “Bike Stunt Show” here at the picnic spot at Kumrek near Rangpo.
During the show, popular stunt-rider from Tashiding, West Sikkim, Milan Pradhan, accompanied by four fellow stuntmen, entertained the gathered audience with some thrilling display of stunt driving.
While addressing the media, GPSMC president, Dil Kumar Gurung, said that the main reason behind conducting the show was to promote the Gulmohar picnic spot and also to provide a platform for the upcoming stunt-riders.
About the GPSMC, he informed that the committee was now almost a year old and occasionally holds such events to promote the picnic spot and as additional publicity for it.
The function was also attended by the Rangpo PI, Tshering Sherpa, accompanied by the members of the committee. Cultural activities were also organized as part of the day’s festivities.

Golay reiterates claim of support of all youth for elections 2014

SINGTAM, 16 Feb: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha president, PS Tamang [Golay], insisted today that the SKM campaign was a non-violent movement launched to free Sikkim from what it sees as a dictatorial regime which toyed with the sentiments and aspirations of the people. Mr. Tamang was addressing a zonal party meeting organized by the party’s farmer and labour wings.
“This is not the Sikkim or the youth of the 1990s, these are the youth of the 21st Century and youth is power now; a force which is educated and informed now desirous and ready for change,” he said, adding that the youth were ready to fight for change and even sacrifice their lives for it if the need arose.
“The youth of Sikkim have awoken and are ready to fight for change and if needed then I will myself come forward to fight for that change,” he said.
Mr. Tamang, who was clearly out of favour with the ruling front at the time of the last elections itself but went on win on an SDF ticket, was kept out of the Cabinet after having served three consecutive terms as Minister, and resigned from the party and automatically losing his MLA berth earlier this year, stated today that he has not been sitting idle since 2009. He has been preparing and readying the youth of the State for the movement for change.
He went on to announce that the full strength of the SKM’s youth has not been presented yet and will be unveiled at the right moment.
He alleged that the ruling party was spending heavily on party meetings and party promotion and bring people from outside the State to bolster its ranks. He contended that the ruling front does not have youth with it anymore and said that SDF be held responsible if any law & order situation arises when the SKM youth take to the streets in the coming days to protest instigation by SDF.
He went on to dismiss recent policy announcements and the janta melas as face-savers by the SDF Government in a last ditch effort to woo the people with freebies and announcements. These, he said, will not bear fruit. He also challenged the State Government to prove its allegations against him and also claimed credit for the regularization of temporary employees being undertaken by the State Government. This move, he said, came because SKM announced regularization of all temporary employees when it comes to power.

Stimulate Learning

From a time when it as a one-college state, Sikkim sure has come a long way. Once North Sikkim gets its college, all four districts of the State will a degree college each apart from the State having an interestingly high number of colleges offering professional courses and a slew of institutes preparing children not only for board exams but also for competitive examinations. And then there is the state sponsored enrolment at coaching institutes in Delhi for Sikkim students wishing to compete in UPSC and other national level exams. Safe to say then that students now have more options, more opportunities and bigger challenges to aspire for. Of course, none of this necessarily guarantees quality; but before one starts tearing apart the quality of institutions of higher education [or vocational courses], Sikkim needs to collectively look into how it educates its young in school, and even earlier, in pre-primary and primary levels. Inspire learning in the children and they will extract phenomenal results even from mediocre institutions. That has to be the priority, and good place to begin would be with a clearly spelled out educational policy.
Like any place else, Sikkim needs affordable and quality education. This is not always possible elsewhere in the country, but in Sikkim, a combination of state and public investment could subsidize education substantially and should be attempted. The State is already doing a lot with its visionary scholarship programmes, but even more can be attempted with some corporate backing. The private sector will get interested if they were invited into campuses some years ahead of the head-hunting season [the campus job-placement events] when they can meet students when they are still fresh and then offer scholarships and accompanying internship opportunities. The less business and more academically inclined students can be supported with grants to attend seminars and conferences [not study tours, please] outside the State. Initiatives such as these will infuse some excitement among the students, put some perspective into how they approach studies and also introduce them to the world that awaits them after college.

As for education, it needs to be fashioned to deliver students with sound logic and reasoning skills, not necessarily high marks and definitely not learning by rote. Do this, and the young will grow with stronger survival skills, more adaptive traits and as prepared as anyone from anywhere for the job market. The present format of education fails us because instead of opening the minds of the students it ties them down to the curriculum. While a syllabus is required for the discipline that is a part of education, it has unfortunately been allowed to become supreme. A syllabus is designed to present a clear outline, and should not be seen as a fixed boundary wall within which education should be limited. Students nowadays have little time to pursue interests beyond the learning of their books. Sikkim needs institutions of learning that open the mind, not bolt it in; schools that let the young minds breathe. This approach becomes more important now than ever before because now such schools, colleges and institutes are coming up in Sikkim itself; earlier, the young had to go out of the State to receive such education/ training, and if nothing else, gained at least from the experience of living outside their comfort zone. At least in the cities, they are exposed to more stimuli even if the college they go to is the same as the one back home. And that brings us back to basics of starting them on the learning curve early, inspiring them towards learning, stimulating a learning environment from kindergarten itself and abandoning spoon-fed, hand-held classroom lessons. The young will grow better lettered in the real sense and will make even mediocre institutes deliver quality products. Won’t that be nice…

SDF makes DT Lepcha Gnathang-Machong in-charge

GANGTOK, 16 Feb: Sikkim Democratic Front president has appointed the party east district vice-president, DT Lepcha, as the in-charge of Gnathang-Machong constituency. An SDF press release informs that the order, issued on Saturday, will come into effect immediately. 

West District Planning Committee meets

GYALSHING, 16 Feb [IPR]: District Planning Committee, West, conducted the 17th budget session for 2014-15 at the Zilla Assembly Hall here on 14 February chaired by Devika Subba, the West Zilla Adhyaksha.  RMDD Minister, CB Karki, attended as the chief guest and also inaugurated the Assembly Hall at the Zilla Bhawan.
The House approved and unanimously passed all the proposals prepared by the respective Gram Panchayats and Zilla Panchayats of west District.
The RMDD Minister, while addressing the house, appreciated the constitutional manner of conducting the Budget Session and said “this is what democracy and empowerment of Panchayati Raj mean in the real sense”.
He appealed to the Panchayat members to further strengthen public participation at the gram level and give top priority to education, especially in primary level. He also urged the Panchayats to focus on quality works and address all basic needs of the general public.
The Zilla Adhyaksha, in her address, pointed out that the development of the village depends solely on Panchayats and therefore the Panchayat members should form Gram Planning Committees in all GPUs.
DC [West] cum Sachiva, LP Chettri, in his address, appealed to the Gram and Zilla Panchayat members not only to rely on grants-in-aid but also focus on revenue generating avenues. He also urged them to maintain transparency and proper coordination between Gram and zilla Panchayats.
The day also included an Information, Education and Communication programme with LP Kafley, Up-Adhyaksha (W) as resource person on Panchayati Raj Institutions.  He urged the GVAs to disseminate Panchayati Raj Acts and notifications to the panchayats and also assist preparation of budgets.
He also highlighted the need for strengthening of Gram Finance Committee, Village sanitation Committee, Social Audit & Vigilance Committee, Village Level Water Development Committee and Gram Planning Committee in all GPUs of west district. [from Simon Subba, DIO West]

Sikkim loses a thorough gentleman and able administrator

GANGTOK, 16 Feb [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Mrs. Tika Maya Chamling have expressed their profound grief, sorrow and deep anguish over the sudden demise of KS Tobgay, Secretary, Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department, who passed away on 14 Feb, Friday.
In his message, the Chief Minister remembers the late Mr. Tobgay as “a man with amicable disposition, known as a calm, soft spoken, hard working and upright person with impeccable integrity”.
“During his tenure as head of the Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department he showed his ability as a capable administrator and a good human being,” he states.
The Chief Minister in his message remembered the late Mr. Tobgay as a well natured and a thorough gentleman, and an experienced bureaucrat of the state administration who was well versed in administrative matters of the state. “His loss has created a great void to the state,” the CM states.
In his condolence message to the family members, the Chief Minister has wished for strength and courage to his family members to bear this irreparable loss in their hour of sorrow and grief.

Seminar on bodybuilding supplements

GANGTOK, 16 Feb: A two-day Open Seminar on “Supplemention Diet, Fitness Academy, Nutrition and Steriod Cycles” for interested sportsperson concluded here at the SDF Bhawan Hall today. The seminar was organized by Anga Iron Pump, Tadong, jointly with Bobby Fitness Centre, Syari. Sunil Gurung of Anga Iron Pump informs that this was the first such seminar in the entire North East.
The inaugural session on Saturday had Chief Whip Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia as chief guest.
In his inaugural address, Mr. Bhutia urged participants to encourage sports and games and discourage youth from “bad habits and bad company”.
35 participants, including interested sportspersons from Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Siliguri, attended the inaugural day while about 100 participants were seen on the concluding day today.

Gangtok FC wins Teesta-V Football Tournament

GANGTOK, 16 Feb: Gangtok Football Club beat Sikkim Armed Police 07-06 in penalty shoot out to lift the NHPC Teesta-V Football Tournament at Balutar on Saturday. Apart from the winner’s trophy, the team also bagged the Rs. 30,000 cash prize. SAP took home the runners-up trophy, Rs. 20,000 in cash and also the golden boots for Pradeep Gurung who emerged as the highest scorer of the tournament with six goals. Sushil from North Star Mangan was adjudged the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
The tournament, an NHPC press release informs, was organized by NHPC “to promote the rural sports activities and encourage budding young talents around the vicinity of the project area”. The tournament was played from 30 Jan to 15 Feb and was organsied in association with the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs and attracted the participation of 16 teams.
The tournament was a part of CSR&SD activities of NHPC, Teesta Stage-V Power Station.
The final match has Chief Whip, Ugen T. Gyatso Bhutia, as chief guest accompanied by the Temi-Namphing MLA BS Panth, and senior NHPC officials.