Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sikkim appoints 3 addl secretaries

Gangtok: The Government of Sikkim has transferred CT Wangdi, Additional Secretary in the Transport Department, to the Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department.

LP Pandey, Additional Secretary in the Transport Department (Siliguri),who had been transferred as Additional Secretary in the Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department, has been appointed as Additional Secretary in the Transport Department of Sikkim.

Meanwhile, the state government has also appointed Benu Gurung, Under Secretary of Administration in the Home Department, as Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) in the state Public Information Department.

Those settled in Sikkim to pay taxes: Chidambaram

Those people who are not natives of Sikkim but have settled there will not be exempted from taxes any longer, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha Tuesday.

'Since the late 1980s, income tax was to be levied on Sikkim (but was opposed). After intensive discussions for the last 18 years by successive governments, it has been decided that only those in the Sikkim subject register will be exempt,' said Chidambaram.

This would mean that those who have settled in the state will not be exempt from tax in the manner that Sikkimese natives are let off. The natives figure in the 'Sikkim register', which will now form the basis for this differentiation.

Those falling under the tax ambit now will have to pay taxes with retrospective effect from April 1, 1990.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tibetans observe Black Monday - Shaven heads held high in protest against China

Darjeeling, April 21: Lakpa Bhuti overcame her natural embarrassment and got tonsured in public to show the Tibetan men and women standing around her that nothing should come before their love for phayul (fatherland).

It was 10am at Chowrastha in Darjeeling and the Tibetans had gathered there to observe Black Monday to protest against the recent Chinese crackdown on their brethren in Tibet.

Until the moment Bhuti came forward and got her head shaved, the crowd appeared hesitant about its chosen form of protest. Bhuti’s act broke the spell.

Within seconds, the men and the women made a beeline for the nine barbers sitting at the busy crossing.

For the next one hour, the barbers worked without a break as 60-odd Tibetans from across the hills followed Bhuti’s example.

“Genocide is the only word to describe what is taking place in Tibet under the Communist rule in China. We are protesting against the Olympics because a successful Games will encourage China to carry on with the genocide,” said Bhuti, speaking with emotion after tonsuring her head.

The protesters were all dressed in black to observe Black Monday.

“It was on March 10 this year, which also happened to be a Monday, that our brothers in Tibet were brutally suppressed by the Chinese. That is why we decided to observe Black Monday. If we do not fight for our phayul, who else will?” Bhuti said.

Emotions ran high among the protesters, regardless of age and gender. The younger ones seemed bubbly and excited not just to cut off their hair but also to spend time painting each other’s tonsured head with messages for Free Tibet and the country’s flag.

The elderly, on the other hand, were deep into mediation, remembering their brothers and sisters back home.

Tsamla, 85 years old and the eldest member to take part in the protest, was seen silently turning the prayer wheel after getting tonsured.

Tashi Pecho, pushing fifty but his sense of humour intact, said: “I do not remember the last time when I did not have a single hair on my head.”

The community members also took part in a ritual where butter lamps were lighted in memory of those who had died in the Tibetan uprising. Later, members of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress marched through the town.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Prakriti Giri to sing in capital

Gangtok: Prakriti Giri of Darjeeling, one of the top three ‘Chhote Ustads’, will come to Gangtok on 26th April to sing at an evening programme at Palzor Stadium. This was informed by Mr. SB Subedi, Forest Minister and chairman of Patrakar Manch Committee at a press conference in a local hotel on Sunday.
On the occasion, Prakriti Giri and Mr DD Bhutia, UD&HD Minister and chief patron of Swar Sikkim Bal Tara will be felicitated. Moreover Bal Tara winner Mr Ivan Lepcha, runner up Mr Bishwadeep Bashnet, 3rd ranking Mr Pranay Adhikari, last year’s Swar Sikkim finalist Mr Dichen Bhutia and Sonia Group from Singtam will present songs. Tickets are available at Jainco, Somani Building and Deorali Rathi. Entry fee for the evening musical programme is Rs 10 and Rs 30 for students and adults respectively, it is informed.

Memorial of martyrs inaugurated by CM

Chief Minister Dr Pawan Chamling inaugurated the ‘Water Shed Memorial’ at Sherathang on April 19. Those present included serving and retired Army personnel and their families, cabinet ministers, government officials and civil guests. The Memorial has been erected to honour those soldiers who became martyrs dom in defence of the State of Sikkim at Sheratheng, in close proximity of the famous Nathula pass on the Sino-Indian Border.
The Memorial site is the old Army Training Area and Golf Course at Sherathang which is easily accessible by road so that the brave martyr soldiers’ comrades, family members, friends and other visitors to pay homage. The site also presents a grand view of the famous Natula pass at the towering heights on the Sino-Indian Border, where the brave soldiers of the Indian Army stand to guard the frontiers. Black granite and grey Kota stones have been used in building the Memorial to blend with the surrounding grey and black rugged terrain. The Canopy above the inverted rifle, depicting the unknown soldier, has been made in Sikkimese design. It stands magnificently etched against the skyline like a brave soldier. The plaque ‘Amar Jawan’ at the base of the Canopy is a luscious tribute to the soldiers.
Maj Gen KVS Lalotra, GOC of Black Cat Division in his address assured that the Indian Army will always defend the State and the Nation. He said that Indian soldiers are recognized by the whole world for their bravery but the coming young generation does not have much knowledge of the brave soldiers of our nation which they should know. “I believe that the brave martyrs of our nation would be honoured and recognized by the people and this Memorial will inspire the young generation of Sikkim in realizing their responsibilities towards their mother nation. It is a pilgrimage where a nation pays homage and tribute to the brave soldiers”, he said.
“Sikkim is a small State where we work like Jawans to safeguard our land even being civilians. Sikkim is a very peaceful, safe and terror-free State which has set an example in the country and other States of India should learn from Sikkim in this regard”, Chief Minister said. He said that Sikkim is a tourism State and its natural beauty and environment comprise the wealth of the State, adding, defense has a significant role to play in protection of the State and development of tourism. He underlined that the State Government is always prepared to help the Army in its needs.
Dr Chamling emphasized on the need of people’s awareness about national integration. He focused on support of Army for maintaining law and order in the area. Saying that Changu Lake is the most significant tourist spot in the whole country, he urged on shifting army quarters and civilian houses from the lake area to Thegu, for conservation of the lake.
CM felicitated retired brave soldiers of Indian Army and family members of the martyrs. On the occasion, GOC in behalf of Indian Army presented a 100 mtrs Russian Gun to Sikkim Government which is cited in the Memorial area. The Russian Gun was used in the Second World War and came to the possession Indian Army in 1967.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

State observes 117th birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar

GANGTOK, April 15: The 117th birth anniversary of Baba Sahib Bhim Rao Ambedkar was observed yesterday here at the vicinity of Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
Organized by the Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare, the birth anniversary of the father of the Indian Constitution was graced by Governor Sudarshan Agarwal as the chief guest.
The function started with a Baba bhajan followed by an offering of garlands to the bust of Dr. Ambedkar.
While placing his brief remark, the Governor said, “Baba Ambedkar is always remembered as the visionary figure of India who not only drafted the Constitution of India but also empowered the weaker section of the society making them use of their social and political rights.”
He also said that Dr Ambedkar emphasised on national integration in promoting harmony and brotherhood among all the communities of India. “Swarajya was what BR Ambekdar wanted long time back in India,” the Governor added.
The Governor also released the annual magazine of All Sikkim Welfare Association titled ‘Bhim Chetna’ on the occasion.
In his address, the Minister for the State Family and Health Welfare Department Hissey Lachungpa said that the day reminds India about the contribution of Baba Ambedkar.
Talking about the recent reportage on Sikkim by a national television channel, he said that the media had a great responsilibty in guiding the nation and that it should be the voice for positive development and progress.
Earlier, the president of ASWA BB Lohar addressed the gathering.

SPSC candidates cry foul; Commission refute allegations of discrepancies in question papers

GANGTOK, April 15:
Candidates writing the Civil Service Examinations conducted by the Sikkim Public Service Commission (SPSC) have brought to light several discrepancies on the part of the department in conducting the exams.
Few candidates on conditions of anonymity today told SIKKIM EXPRESS that the decorum of conducting a civil service examination have been vastly neglected by the concerned department.
According to them, the rules and syllabus for the open competitive exam for the candidates for the appointment to the junior grade of the Sikkim State Civil Service has not been fully exercised. The question papers for various subjects were full of errors and in some cases, questions were totally out of context.
In what could be called a rare occurrence, candidates for the Geography subject (optional paper) were caught off guard when they realized that there were no marks mentioned for the Section III questions of Geography paper.
Irritated over the oversight, the candidate said that even the Economics paper did not carry marks. “Without mentioning the marks for the required question, we failed to understand as to how many words the answer should be. Our future is at stake here but the Commission seems to be least bothered,” a candidate from Gangtok said.
In another gross oversight, the Geography paper carried questions that had nothing to do with the subject. Sample this: “Describe the salient features of Sikkim’s economy.” “A question on Sikkim’s economy should be carried in the Economics paper and not in Geography paper as done by the Commission,” the candidates complained.
Moreover, candidates are also unhappy over the General Knowledge paper. They said that although the syllabus excluded Sikkim-related affairs, the GK paper carried questions on Sikkim. “It is not that we do not want questions on Sikkim. But what we want to say is that the syllabus should be followed strictly,” they said. “I was shocked to learn that one of the questions in GK, which read- “who won the recent under 19 tournament” was not specific. It did not mentioning which tournament - hockey, cricket, kabbadi or football,” another candidate informed.
The candidates also complained that the question papers were brought in open without being bundled or with any official seal in the examination halls. Most of the question papers were in photo-copied form as well. “The question papers were brought loose and that too photo-copied. There is every chance that the papers could be leaked,” one candidate said.
When they tried to apprise the invigilators with the discrepancies, the invigilators simply responded by saying that they were only deputed for the exams and have nothing to do with the matter, the candidates alleged.
Most of the students have been preparing for the exams since the past two years, it is learnt.
Earlier, the candidates had complained the Department for declaring the examination dates on a very short notice.
On the other hand, Secretary of SPSC, KK Pradhan while talking to SIKKIM EXPRESS said that although the General Knowledge syllabus did not mention Sikkim, it was accepted that the candidates should know everything about their State.
He also said that the Principals of every schools and colleges where the examinations were held were the supervising authorities who opened the question papers.
The Secretary ruled out the complaints that it was not mandatory to have the seal of the Commission on every question paper.
All the questions are being set up by experts from various Universities outside the State, he informed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rains fail to dampen Prakriti’s maiden show in Sikkim

RABONG, April 13: The rains threatened to be put a dampener to the much-awaited event, but it failed to deter the spirits of thousands of enthusiastic fans, who braved the hostile weather to see their Chote Ustaad perform live.
The grand finale of the five-day Rabong Discovered festival held at the Cho-Dzo lake here on April yesterday was an event to remember with Prakriti Giri being the star attraction.
For the Chote Ustaad top 3 finalist, it was her maiden performance after her run for the title was cut short in the final attempt for the top 2 spot.
The Cho-Dzo lakeside venue lit up with her energetic performance, in spite of bad weather and the inability of Indian Idol Prashant Tamang to make to the event because of the prevailing tension in Darjeeling. Sources indicated that Prashant's security did not want to risk driving him in the storm to Sikkim.
The fact that this was Prakriti’s first show anywhere after Chote Ustaad was reason enough for the crowd to wait patiently through the storm.
Prakriti was accompanied by her parents and her sister during her first ever trip to Sikkim. For more than five hours, Prakriti enthralled the audience with her renditions. "I want to thank you all for the love and support you have shown to me throughout. I am very happy to be here in Sikkim and thank the organizers for having invited me,’ Prakriti said to the much delight of the Sikkimeli Janata.
Prakriti was also felicitated by the Rabong Tourism Development Committee (RTDC), the organizers of the Festival for her spirited performance in the Chote Ustaad contest during the show.
Two star performers from Kathmandu invited by the organisers had already kept the crowd enthralled much before Prakriti took centre stage.
Sudip Giri and Anju Pantha both from Kathmandu belted out their popular numbers. Aaja Bholi from Sudip Giri's album is his first major hit. He also has to his credit another album called Frenz and his videos are aired on Nepali music channels.
Anju Panth is a Nepali playback singer and her remixes of old folk numbers are popular some of which were released in a new Nepali movie. DIG Range, Akshay Sachdeva who was the guest of honour and a singer and musician himself, also belted out two numbers.
Earlier in the day, the chief guest, additional chief secretary TT Dorji handed over the prizes and certificates for the State level flower festival, handicrafts and the photo exhibition and contests.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sikkim benefits from Everest trekking ban

GANGTOK, April 8: The current ban on scaling Mt. Eve-rest from Tibet and Nepal is proving a boon for mountain tourism in Sikkim. China froze expeditions to Mt. Everest after the crackdown in Lhasa, which has made Nepal divert trekkers to Sikkim as an alternative mo-untain tourism destination. “With no choice left we are diverting our clients to Sikkim for mountain expedition as the state has five peaks to offer to the mount-aineers,” Mr Pravath Prad-han an expedition organiser from Nepal said.
He further added: “International clients made their bookings a month ago in advance. Therefore, we cannot refuse them as they have already made their payments. Under the circumstances, Sikkim is the best alternative to offer to our clients.”
His counterpart in Sikkim Mr Barap Namgyal, secretary of Sikkim Amateur Mountaineering Association said they have received various bookings from Nepal especially for mountain expedition. “We are receiving a good number of clients from Nepal for mountain expedition. Recently four US trekkers scaled Mt. Jopuno and now we are aiming Mt. Thinkhang,” he added.
Sikkim is gradually developing into a major mo-untain tourism destination but it lacks in infrastructure. “We do not have any rescue operation system for mountaineers in our mountains as Nepal has. The state government will have to think of building such infrastructure to boost the sport in Sikkim,” said Mr Namgyal. He also urged for a flexible permit system in the state to make movement simpler for foreigners in the state.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Prakriti Giri to perform at Cho-Dzo

GANGTOK, April 7: Here is some good news for fans of Prakriti Giri.
The Chhote Ustaad top 3 contestant will perform during the annual Rabong Discovered Tourist Festival which will begin from April 8.
The organisers of the festival, the Rabongla Tourism Development Committee (RTDC) have confirmed that Prakriti would be attending the Festival and also performing at the Cho-Dzo, the venue of the fest at Rabongla.
Besides Prakriti, two well known singers from Kathmandu, Sudip Giri and Anju Pantha have also confirmed their participation at the Festival. Sudip Giri’s latest albums “Canvas” and “Frenz” have done exceedingly well. Anju Pantha, a Nepali playback singer, also has to her credit a private album.
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling will attend the Inaugural day’s function of the Festival as Chief Guest on April 8. The grand finale of the Swar Sikkim Bal Tara will also be held on the inaugural day.
Over the years, the Rabong Discovered Festival has become one of the biggest tourist festivals held in the State. The Festival is being held for the fourth successive year and is coordinated and implemented by the RTDC with Minister and area MLA, DD Bhutia as its chief patron.
The State Tourism Department is the patron Department. The festival is supported by the Commerce and Industries Department. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department and Sports and Youth Affairs are the co-partners.
Like in the previous years, the main theme of the festival is handicrafts and handlooms. The North Eastern states, Nepal and Bhutan and Sikkim will be participating in the Festival. Exhibition and sales of handicrafts are part of the Festival.
An open Photo Exhibition-cum-Contest on Nature, Culture, People and landscape of the Trans Himalayas and a State-level Flower Show-cum-competition with attractive cash prizes will also be held during the Festival. A special exhibit corner on Padma Shri Bhaichung Bhutia will be organized by TNA Alumni Association at the Festival.
Other attractions are traditional cuisines, fashion shows by professional models, both from the State and outside, boating, camping, mountain biking, etc.
A special presentation of Lok Dohri by the finalists of the Swar Sikkim Lok Dohri along with troupes from outside is also on the cards. There will be love musical shows, inclding rock shows on all five days of the Festival.

CM felicitates role players in International Florishow 2008

Gangtok: On Monday at Palzor Gymnasium Hall Chief Minister Dr Pawan Chamling felicitated flower grower-participants of the ‘International Florishow 2008’ and other role players who made the first event of its kind in Sikkim a grand success. Mr. Somnath Paudyal, Minister for Agriculture and Horticulture, other Cabinet Ministers, senior officials and farmers were present.
CM felicitated Mr. Navin Pradhan (Arthitect), Mr. Pankaj Thapa and Mr. Kamlesh Agarwal for their immense support and contribution in the Florishow. He gave Sikkim State Award, Rs. 1 Lakh each, to Dr. Ratan Kamal Dewan and Mr. KC Pradhan, the two most renowned floriculturists for their contribution in promotion of floriculture in Sikkim. The felicitation function was organized by the Department of Horticulture, Government of Sikkim. On the occasion Chief Minister released two books, titled
“Sikkim, India: Sanctuary to Horticulture Estate” and “Directory of flower growers of Sikkim”. More than 35 flower growers and 18 off season vegetable growers were given citation and cash Rs. 10000 each. The farmers had participated in the International Florishow 2008.
Chief Minister as chief guest of the programme said the government wanted to acknowledge the contribution of the farmers whose support was key to the resounding success of the international event. He urged the educated youth to come forward and start agro farming as a good livelihood.
“Now it has been proved that floriculture not only fethces money but also earn fame for the growers”, CM said, adding, “farming would make the people self-reliant”.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Nirmal Pleased To Be In National Camp

Air India defender Nirmal Chhetri expressed excitement over being named for the senior national camp and credited a number of individuals for the same.

Nirmal was part of the pre-national camp wherein he impressed Coach Bob Houghton and thereby was asked to stay back in Goa.

Speaking to, the youngster said, “My aim is to play for the senior national team and I’m happy for having pleased my coach here. I hope to continue that and gain a final spot in the squad.”

“I’m just step away from the door to the national team. That excites me.”

Nirmal mentioned that coach Bob Houghton asked him to play like he did at Air India and for sure, he shall blossom.

On the pre-national camp, Nirmal said, “We would train in the evenings and have a gym session in the mornings. On some days, we were rested in the mornings. It was a refreshing experience.”

The Sikkimese defender firstly credited his native coach Hangu Norden Litcha for his success.

“I want to thank Mr.Litcha who was m coach in Sikkim. It was he who instilled the belief in me that I can play at the top level.

“Nextly, my Air India coach Bimal Ghosh who first gave me a chance to perform in the top division. Our U-19 coach Colin Toal also deserves a big credit.

“Bhaichung is always a role model for all the Sikkim players and for me too. Mr. Arjun Rai from United Sikkim Sports Club also helped shape my career.”

Rahul Bali.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

China using Sikkim to push Arunachal claim?

NEW DELHI: China continues to play cat and mouse game in the eastern Himalayas despite having implicitly accepted Sikkim to be a part of India as a quid pro quo for New Delhi's unequivocal recognition of Beijing's claim over Tibet.

There have already been already as many as 40 "intrusions" by Chinese troops across the 206-km border between Sikkim and Tibet since January this year, say top sources.

"Chinese intrusions largely take place in Ladakh, Arunachal and other parts of the Line of Actual Control but now the transgressions across the border into Sikkim are also going up," said a source.

While the heightened Chinese cross-border activity in Sikkim has not actually alarm bells ringing in the Indian security establishment, as of now since the intrusions are being dubbed "minor", it has certainly raised some eyebrows.

Some officials feel this is part of China's game plan to use Sikkim as leverage in its policy of exerting relentless pressure on India over the Tawang tract in Arunachal Pradesh.

As reported earlier, in 2007 alone, India recorded well over 140 intrusions by Chinese troops across the 4,057-km LAC in all the three sectors - western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) - in a bid to strengthen Beijing's claim over disputed areas and ensuring India does not change its Tibet policy.

India, of course, does not see Sikkim as a "disputed area", especially after a compromise formula was worked out during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China in 2003.

Under the arrangement, India recognised the Tibet Autonomous Region as a part of China. In return, through a border trade agreement, Beijing recognised the "Sikkim state" to be a constituent of the Indian union.

Subsequently, China even handed over a new official map to India, clearly showing Sikkim as part of Indian territory. "But China continues to treat Sikkim as a grey area, recognising it one day, and then derecognising it soon after," said an official.

"China, in fact, had lodged a complaint of Indian military activity in Sikkim soon after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Beijing earlier this year," said an official.

Though India has well over 40,000 troops in the tiny Sikkim state, which provides depth to the crucial Siliguri corridor linking Assam and the other north-eastern states with the country, its border management posture remains largely defensive.

"But China has been posturing aggressively, with regular motorised and foot patrols across the LAC. It also has the capacity to rush in troops to border areas in large numbers with its massive military infrastructure build-up," said an officer.

India, of course, continues to downplay all Chinese intrusions, holding that they take place due to "differing perceptions" of the still-unresolved LAC. Even the question of stepped up incursions, for instance, was not directly taken up during the PM's recent visit to China.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

RISING PRICES AND THE MIDDLE CLASS To eat or not to eat, that is the question

GANGTOK, April 4: The pinch felt by the middle class due to inflation and increasing rise in the prices of essential commodities across the country has not left Sikkim alone either.
Today, inflation shot to an all-time high of 7 percent in the country.
SIKKIM EXPRESS today spoke to a cross-section of people in the market and tried to get their reactions on the rising prices and the dent it has made into the monthly household budget. A large chunk of the consumers comprised of those belonging to the working middle class of the society.
“It is impossible to manage the monthly household expenses any more. Even with two working members in our family of four, we have to be very careful with our spendings,” says Sangeeta, who runs a small business. Her husband works in private company. Both of them bring home about Rs. 10,000 together. With two school-going children, every month is a trial by fire for her.
While the prices of almost all essential commodities have risen over the weeks, it is Mustard oil that has dearer with a hike of Rs 10 per liter.
As per the notification issued by the Department of Food and Civil supplies and Consumers Affairs Department dated March 12, 2008 the rate of one-liter mustard oil is Rs 94 per kg while earlier it was Rs 84 per kg.
The price of vegetable ghee (hydrogenated oils like Dalda) comes second with Rs 82 per kg followed by refined edible oil at Rs 87 per kg.
There has been marginal increase in the prices of other essential commodities like various Dals, rice, flour (Atta and Maida), Suji and Sugar as well.
Mridula Tamang, a house wife from Sichey, is already feeling pinch and finds it difficult to run her household with her husband’s meager income. “I just hope and pray that the State Government will do something to bring down the prices,” she says.
The story is the same with fruits and vegetables.
The vegetable hawkers in the Lall Market here say they are compelled to sell the vegetables keeping a margin of Rs 2 due to higher wholesale prices.
“Even with Rs 500, you hardly get a bag full of vegetables these days. It’s depressing as well as frightening,” says Hari Chettri, a government employee.
However, the whole sellers and vendors say that the change in the rates of essential commodities is a regular feature.
“We can’t presume what happens with the prices every fortnight; it’s very unpredictable,” says Ramlal Sharma, one of a whole seller.
Fruits like apples and oranges have seen a rise of Rs 5 per kg recently. The prices of the essential commodities per kg as per the latest notification of the Department are:

Mustard oil: Rs 94 per kg
Vegetable oil: Rs 82
Refined oil: Rs 87
Masur Dal: Rs 44
Mung Dal: 45
Chana Dal: 40
Arhar Dal: 46
Atta: 17
Maida : 18
Suji: 18
Rice (Mansury): Rs 15
Sugar: Rs 19.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Bhaichung Bhutia a hero for Tibetans

Gangtok, Apr 3 : Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, a Buddhist who has refused to carry the Olympic torch to express his solidarity with the Tibetan cause, has become a 'hero' among the Tibetan community in Sikkim.

According to reports, Bhutia has informed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) that he would not be part of the relay in New Delhi on April 17.

Earlier, he had informed the media that he sympathises with the Tibetan cause and it is his way of standing by the people of Tibet and their freedom struggle.

"We are happy with his decision of refusing to carry the Olympic torch. We feel he is one of those few Buddhists who have not forgotten their duty. We are glad that he is expressing his solidarity towards the Tibetan cause in this manner," said Tenzing Champa , member of Tibetan Youth Congress.

Bhutia's decision to not to carry the Olympic torch and sympathize with the Tibetans in their cause has made him a hero among the exiled Tibetans in Sikkim.

"I felt very happy and touched by his support. I on behalf of all the Tibetans who are staying in Sikkim would like to thank him sincerely for his support in this critical situation in Tibet," said Doma, an exiled Tibetan.

Earlier, the exiled Tibetans had urged Bollywood actor, Aamir Khan to refrain from participating in the relay.

The increasing strife between the Tibetans and the Chinese authorities seems to be casting its shadow over the Beijing Olympics.

Even as the Chinese authorities are keen to stamp out the unrest quickly and restore stability before the Olympics, exiled Tibetans are planning their own games in May with a slogan of 'One World, Many Dreams' countering the Beijing Olympics slogan of 'One World, One Dream'.

Three dead in Indian 'Tibet' bomb

Tibetan protester in Siliguri
Siliguri has a high number of Tibetan exiles

A powerful explosion has ripped through a house in the Indian state of West Bengal, killing at least three people.

A police chief said the dead have not yet been identified, but that they may be Tibetans.

The owner of the house, in the town of Siliguri, said that it was rented by a Tibetan exile who said he was using it in connection with a computer business.

But the police maintained that after the blast they recovered a large quantity of explosives and detonators.

They say that timers were also discovered.

Police said those killed were perhaps members of an underground group who had rented the house by providing false identities.

The BBC's north-east India correspondent says that Siliguri - in the north of the state of West Bengal - has been used as a base or transit point for a number of rebel groups.

Local Kamtapuri tribesmen who want a separate state in northern Bengal are believed to have a presence there, as do Nepalese and Indian Maoists.

Tibetan exiles have a huge presence in the town and in the nearby hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong.

BB Gooroong snubs GM Rai

Gangtok: Mr. B.B.Gooroong, political advisor to Chief Minister, has condemned the statement of Mr. G.M.Rai, president of Sikkim Gorkha Prajantrik Party (SGPP), saying SDF government has given more than expected share of Assembly Seat Reservation to Bhutia and Lapcha communities.
Speaking to this reporter on the issue Mr. Gooroong said, “SDF party respects people’s mandate. The party had gone to the poll in 2004 with the manifesto that we want to give 13 seats to BL community and the public had also allowed us to maintain the status quo. We are only maintaining status quo, nothing else”.
He furthe said “If they (SGPP) think the seats are unjustified then let them obtain the people’s mandate. The Assembly election is not very far. It is coming in 2009. Let them show their strength to denounce this seat reservation system” and asked, “Do they have the guts?”
He also took exception Mr. Rai’s statement on another count. “The statement of Mr. Rai would bring disharmony in the State. He should know what to say and what not”. Mr. Gooroong also debunked Mr. Rai’s statement that Gorkhas have become second class citizen in SDF rule. “The State follows only one constitution which Dr. Ambedkar had framed and all are treated equal. They are just espousing the case of Gorkha. It is not a healthy thing in a democratic country”, he said.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fighting Tibet - Sikkim Field Force 1888

During the course of the 18th & 19th centuries British forces were almost constantly engaged in conflict somewhere on the planet, mostly in and around the periphery of the Indian sub-continent. A consequence of these obscure and long forgotten colonials wars is a sprinking of memorials to the sons of Cumbrian gentry who died in these far flung places. One such is at Greystoke - (I think! This picture was taken by a friend and we omitted to make a record of where). It commemorates Lieutenant Edmund Hudleston, Royal Artillery, 6th son of William Hudleston of Hutton John, who died in 1889 at Padong in the eastern Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim, famous for the great peak of Kangenjunga.

The reason Hudleston was there is quite complicated, a consequence of British imperial shenanigans.
Sikkim came to the attention of the British Raj as a consequence of expansionist Nepalese policies which in 1814 led to war between the two countries leading to the defeat of the Nepalis in 1816. In 1817 Britain signed the treaty of Titalia which restored to Sikkim various territories previously seized by the Nepalis. The treaty had a secondary purpose of establishing Britain as Sikkim's protector. During this conflict the British became interested in acquiring the province of Darjeeling both as a hill resort and an outpost from where Tibet and Sikkim would be easily accessible for trade and following a lot of pressure the Chogyal Tsudphud Namgyal gifted Darjeeling to British India in 1835 in return for an annual subsidy. However, relations between the two countries rapidly deteriorated. The subsidy was not paid and many people left Sikkim to seek work in British Darjeeing thereby threatening the feudal lords in Sikkim who resorted to forcibly getting the migrants back to Sikkim. This annoyed the British who considered these as acts of kidnap. Further, in 1849 a certain Dr. Campbell, the Superintendent of Darjeeling and Dr. Hooker, a botanist, were captured and imprisoned. Though they were released after a month of detention the Brits sent an expedition in February 1850, stopped the subsidy to the Maharaja and annexed Darjeeling and a great portion of Sikkim. The Maharaja proceeded to attack British territory and in 1860 and 1861 the British sent further expeditions that seized the capital Tumlong. Continuing differences between the native Sikkim and Nepalese settlers led to further British intervention. The settlement foisted on the Maharaja was perceived to favour the Nepalese and led to considerable anti-British feeling. The Maharaja, Thutob Namgyal, retreated to Chumbi. Meanwhile the British were making concerted efforts to establish a trade links with Tibet and a delegation led by Colman Macaulay, Financial Secretary to the Bengal Government of British India, was sent to Sikkim in 1884 to explore the possibility of establishing a trade route with Tibet through the Lachen Valley.

Road building was viewed with suspicion by Tibet and in 1886 some Tibetan militia occupied Lingtu in Sikkim near the Jelepla pass. In May 1888, the Tibetans attacked Gnathang below Jelepla but following the arrival of British reinforcements, including young Lt Hudleston, the Tibetans were pushed back.

Finally, in 1889, Claude White was appointed as the first political officer to the country and Chogyal Thutob Namgyal became a mere vassal of the Great White Queen. A further chunk of the world map went pink.

A memorial was built at Gnathang commemorating the British forces who died. If anyone is visiting Sikkim maybe they would get me a photo.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bhaichung Bhutia Nike advertisement

From: zizipoka

CM on a reconnaissance

Chief Minister, Dr. Pawan Chamling, along with a team went on a recce in the capital on Monday presumable to check on the spot the progress of various development work now under way.
About two hour tour on foot started around 2 pm from Tourism Department in MG Marg. The team accompanying CM included Minister for UD&HD, Mr. D.D.Bhutia, Minister for Transport, Mr. Menlom Lepcha, Minister for Sports and Youth Affair, Mr. P.S.Tamang, Gangtok MLA, Mr. N.K.Pradhan, Chief Secretary, Mr. N. D. Chingappa, District Collector (East), Mr. Bishal Chauhan and senior engineers and officers of UD&HD, Power, Public Health, Public Works and Finance departments, among others.
From MG Marg, CM walked towards Tibet Road. At the crossing of Tibet Road and Kazi Road, he told the PWD Chief Engineer Mr. C. Zangpo to make a plan for construction of a flyover at the crossing so that vehicles can have easy access the roads leading to Secretariat and other important offices.
CM then visited Hurhurey Dara aka “lovers’ point” near Assembly building. There he paused for a few minutes and shared some jokes with his team members. He asked the UD& HD Secretary to put some dustbins and appoint two Safai karmachari to keep the Dara neat and clean. The Dara is suitable as a tourist spot so a cafeteria is needed at the location to attract tourists.Walking on NamNam Road, CM directed the Power Secretary to remove the useless electric polls at the earlist for a face lift of the place. On way to Star Cinema Hall, some 30 odd people, tenants of the Hall, met CM and requested for restoration of their electric line which was cut off due to non-payment. Having heard their grievance, CM directed the Power Secretary to restore the line waiving surcharges in the bills. He told the tenants that the Hall is going to be purchased by the government to set up car parking, open theatre hall and shopping mall. He assured the people that they would be resettled in other places.

Rotary Club to sponsor education of two girls

GANGTOK, March 31: Members of the Rotary Club of Gangtok met the Governor Sudarshan Agarwal here at Raj Bhawan today and assured to sponsor the education of two bright girls coming from poor families.
Anita Tamang and Sabina Thapa will be enrolled in Class V from this year to the Him Jyoti Girls School in Dehradun and all expenses including tuition fees, boarding, food and uniforms will be borne by the Rotary Club.
According to the members, both Sabina and Anita study in State government schools and are good in studies although they come from very poor families.
Both the girls along with their guardians and two officials from the State Human Resources Development Department were present at the Raj Bhawan today.
The Him Jyoti School, a bold and ambitious initiative of the newly formed Himalayan School Society, is a residential school for bright girls from socio-economically deprived families of Uttarakhand. It was established in 2003 by Sudarshan Agarwal, former Governor of Uttarakhand and envisages a society replete with dignity, equality and purposeful education to the deserving students of Uttarakhand.