Saturday, February 7, 2015

Kiwis for Raj Bhavan

GANGTOK, 07 Feb [IPR]: A  Kiwi plantation drive was organized under the aegis of the Governor at the Raj Bhavan complex today.

Frozen at Muguthang

A NOW! fileFoto of a Dokpa and his yaks in North Sikkim

Snow might have imperiled the Dokpas and their yaks now, but their way of life has been on the brink for a while…

Muguthang in Spring [foto: Karchoong Diyali]
Muguthang this winter [foto: Hill Media Network]
Dokpas, the yak herders, are hardy folk. They need to be, living as they do beyond the tree-line in the cold desert of North Sikkim. They live in near isolation and are a dwindling tribe who rarely call out for help, knowing full well that when a situation is too difficult even for them, assistance from those who do not know their life is a bit too much to expect. So, when they send out an SOS, it demands attention because they are clearly flagging a dire emergency. And they have sounded an SOS now. 
Even though they number only a handful, in fact because they are so few, Sikkim should pay heed and deliver what is actually very little that they are seeking. 
For the immediate future, the Dokpas [of Muguthang in North Sikkim] want fodder to be airdropped for their yaks, next, they want telecom connectivity, and for the long term, they want one of their more educated younger ones to be trained as a paramedic and posted among them with at least some basic medical supplies. 
Why they are making these demands will be explained in more detail in the following paragraphs, but what cannot be ignored is that the demands are very basic and can be met through the corporate social responsibility kitty of even a mid-sized company. Some proactive engagement from the administration [which was on welcome display in the latest instance] and more civil society concern [still awaited] should power through the political engagement required to iron out the situational kinks which could obstacle delivery of even these simple demands.

Borders versus Border People

Geopolitical realities have no respect for traditional linkages, but people should

The news report about how the Dokpas of Muguthang in North Sikkim have been snowed in this winter is about much more than just a seasonal hardship. Read about their situation and it becomes clear that they are being imperiled not so much by the snow, as by the march of time which is fast pushing their lifestyles to extinction and by changed political situations which have conspired to deny them survival practices which had evolved over centuries of living in the cold desert. The Dokpas themselves give their traditional lifestyles just another decade. A unique way of life is in the final flickers of being extinguished, and while even the Dokpas will not want artificial life support, it is important for Sikkim, and in fact the world at large, to understand what conditions are playing the villains in conspiracy here.

EIILM wants govt to take over

The Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management [EIILM], a private state university  based out of Malbasey in West Sikkim, has almost always since its inception in 2006 been in the news for the wrong reasons. Matters for the institute came to a head towards the end of last year when the Enforcement Directorate attached all its bank accounts in end-October 2014. The institute is facing several charges, some of which have reached the courts, and now, with even its bank accounts frozen, its sponsoring body, Malvika Foundation, has written to the Chief Minister seeking that the State Government take over the university. This letter is dated 01 January 2015 and the institute and its sponsoring body have since then also approached the High Court with an appeal to make the Sikkim Government take over the university.

The employment/ unemployment conundrum

Sikkim, used to awards and all round appreciation, ended the year 2014 with the rather disconcerting broadcast that it has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Needless to add, this created quite a flutter, much embarrassment, quick denials and strong criticism.
This statistic is also in contradiction with other socioeconomic indicators of the State since Sikkim does boast a very high per capita income and has registered growth of a faster clip than most other states of the country. While in eyes of the lay people, employment and unemployment are clear cut identifiers, in the hands of data crunchers, it becomes a complicated status update. This leads to contradicting reports and widely different projections by different agencies. The unemployment rate in Sikkim also appears caught in a similar conundrum.

Rising to the top and still dreaming high!

Urban Inc brings hip-hop back on the scene

Trailblazing their way through the swarm of pop and rock, Sikkim’s first hip-hop crew, ‘Urban Inc’, marks the beginning of a resurgence of hip-hop in the State. While Sikkim rode the hip hop wave in the 90s along with the rest of the world, it extended only to hoarding Tupac albums, oversized clothing, loud accessories and hip hop slang. It could not go much beyond that. Now, two-albums-old [their second album was released in September last year], Urban Inc symbolizes the coming of age of hip hop in Sikkim.
The last few years have seen a growing trend in terms of the number of youngsters taking to hip hop not just as a ‘look’ to sport but as a medium to express themselves. ‘Breaking’ and ‘b-boying’, hip hop dance crews like BRSTP and others are also an emerging trend while graffiti art, long associated with the hip hop culture, has popped up in certain corners of the capital. Although too early to say that this popular culture has taken over Sikkim, there is definitely a whiff of it spreading across this hill state.

STDC to manage Kailash Mansarovar luxury Yatra through Nathula

With India and China having exchanged notes on modalities for opening Nathula as a second route for pilgrims undertaking the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra, the state nodal department, Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, has handed over the responsibilities for the entire management and coordination with Ministry of External Affairs for pilgrims to Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation [STDC]. The Yatra through Sikkim is scheduled to begin from June. This is the first luxury route to Kailash Mansarovar from India and pilgrims, after crossing over from Nathula, will travel on to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet, from where they will take the Kailash-Mansarovar highway. Thus far, from India, the only route to Kailash involved an arduous and dangerous trek through Uttarakhand. The only vehicular travel option was via Nepal.

Starting on a startup?

STPI to host workshop series for aspiring entrepreneurs

TotalStart Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Developers along with Software Technology Parks of India [STPI] has announced plans to organize a series of workshops themed, ‘How to Start Up a Start Up’, starting with the first workshop scheduled for 05 March 2015 here in the capital. TotalStart Sikkim Innovation & Incubation Center will also be inaugurated at STPI Tadong on the day.

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