The outgoing Governor V Rama Rao spoke about his experiences and the areas that needed special attention in the State in an exclusive interview with SIKKIM EXPRESS’ Nirmal Mangar.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: How do you sum up your experience in Sikkim for the last five years?
A: I am fortunate enough to be in the land of the Gods, Sikkim for the five long years. I really had a good time and got an opportunity to interact with the people. Over all development is going well. People are getting educated and I hope in the course of time the State will develop much more than it is today. I wish the peace, prosperity and development in Sikkim for the coming years.
Q. According to you, which are the areas in which Sikkim can really excel?
A: People are getting educated and the Panchayat system is strengthening more rapidly, it is working efficiently and with the little more effort it will be the strongest, the first pillar of democracy.
Q: The hydroelectric power projects planned in the State have been received rather ambiguously. Would you like to say something on it?
A: The Government of Sikkim has formed a committee over the hydel power projects. The committee will go into details taking its positive and negative effects, let us wait for the report. Every citizen has to think for the development of the State and this development should be rapid not slow and this angle has to be taken into consideration by all. The power projects will contribute towards the development of the State in due course.
Q: You also happened to be the part of the historic reopening of Nathula Trade after 44 years.
A: Yes. The re-opening of Nathula trade has positively generated goodwill between the two countries. Sikkim will also benefit as the trade signifies a positive development between the two Asian giants.
Q: According to you, which are the areas of development that need special focus in the State?
A: Sikkim can excel more in three priority sectors such as tourism, education and health. It can also concentrate more on medicinal plants, floriculture, horticulture which can be exploited but steadily.
Q. What is your opinion on the State Green Mission?
A: This programme is perhaps the best in the country. When I spoke to people outside Sikkim about this programme they respond by asking why Sikkim needed a Green Mission when the already has a maximum green cover. I responded by saying that Sikkim has set up an example by starting a unique mission such as the Green Mission and the effort of the Government and people should be appreciated. I urge all to plant more trees and save the forest cover in the State.
Q. Railway connectivity and the construction of an airport in the State are two of the long-pending demands of the State Government before the Centre. Your views on this
A: The Central Government has already responded positively to these two demands. The survey for the rail connectivity has already been done and the initial ground work has also been completed on the construction of an airport. I think over the next two years Sikkim will have both the facilities which will attract more tourists to the State.
Q: Do you think the rich biodiversity of Sikkim can be its asset in the road to development and prosperity?
A: Absolutely. Sikkim has a bright future and its rich biodiversity can be a true asset. Also the State Government’s friendly investment policies will attract more foreign investments in the State. Sikkim’s natural beauty has already made it as a favourite tourist destination and it will continue to attract more domestic and international tourists. The way the tourism is rapidly progressing is great for the State. Well, ecotourism practices should be adopted in earnest in the State.
Q: Your opinion on industrialization and globalization in Sikkim.
A: Yes, Sikkim should embrace it but at the same time, ensure that it should be sustainable and not hamper or disturb the environment.
Q: The youth are considered to be the backbone of the society. Any word of advice for them?
A: Go for higher studies, reach for your peak and look beyond Sikkim. There are a lot of opportunities outside of the State. Indians are considered to be the best in terms of service industry. The younger generation should explore more and think high. You all are fortunate enough to be the part of India, so always keep your aims and goals high.
Q: How have you found the people of Sikkim?
A: They are simple, good and very humble. I remember during my visit to the villages I used to ask the people about their problems they used to say, “We got an opportunity to see the Governor that is enough for us,” (laughs). It reflects their innocence and purity.
Q: What are your plans after returning back to your hometown of Hyderabad?
A: I intend to continue to be in public service but in which form will be decided later.
Q: Will you be more involved with your party (BJP) now?
A: Look, public service can be in any form. It may be through politics, non-politics, NGO, social organizations. So I may serve it in any form that will be decided later.
Q: Finally, something for the people of Sikkim?
A: Let me extend my best wishes to all the people of Sikkim. I thank them for their tremendous love and affection shown towards me and my family. I wish more peace, prosperity and development for this beautiful and tiny Himalayan State. May God bless all the people of Sikkim.