Friday, August 29, 2008
GANGTOK, August 28: The Reserve Bank is phasing out old currency notes in the denomination of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 of 1996 series and replacing them with new ones with added security features.
RBI spokesperson Alpana Killawala from Mumbai told PTI that the public will not be put to inconvenience by the phasing out of these notes, which merely means that these currency notes would not be reissued after they are deposited with banks.
These notes will be replaced with 2006, Mahatma Gandhi series notes, which have more security features, she said.
Initially, only Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 are being phased out, which may be extended to other currency notes of old series as well.
When asked whether these notes are being phased out because of the problem of counterfeiting, she said replacement of old currency notes with new ones is an exercise followed by central banks all over the world.
The spokesperson made it clear that these notes are not being withdrawn, as is being speculated in some circles. Withdrawal of notes basically means that a currency note will no longer be a legal tender after a stipulated date.
She said no target date has been put for phasing out of these notes, as it all depends on when they are deposited with banks.
As such, notes which are not deposited with banks will continue to be legal tenders in the hands of the public.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
GANGTOK, August 25: The 4th Pay Commission constituted by State government earlier this month said today that it will make the 6th Pay Commission recommendations of the Central government as its ‘basis’.
“We have requested the Centre to send a copy of its 6th Pay Commission report. This will form the basis for us to work out as the instructions and directions of the State government”, said RK Patra, former Chief Justice of High Court of Sikkim today in a press meet held at the conference hall of Tashiling Secretariat. We are yet to receive the report but we are trying to get it as quickly as possible, he added.
The two member state Pay Commission had been constituted on August 18 headed by Mr Patra as its chairman to examine the pay structure of different state services and submit is final report with appropriate recommendations by March 31, 2009.
Bijoy Pratap Pradhan, the MD of State Bank of Sikkim is the other member of the Commission and was also present during the media interaction. CL Sharma, Special Secretary, Department of Personnel and a host of other government officials were also present on the occasion.
The 4th Pay Commission has been entrusted to examine pay scales of all categories of state government employees and to suggest changes which may be feasible and desirable.
“We will keep every aspect in view and submit a report keeping in mind the financial constraints of the state”, said Mr. Patra.
It is the also first pay commission notified by any Northeast state after the Centre announced the adoption of the Sixth Pay Commission.
Regarding the state government’s directions to the Pay Commission to submit its interim report by October, Mr. Patra remained non committal. “Hopefully we will be able to submit an interim report in two months time”, he said adding the works have not begun as yet. “We will also have to wait for the Central Pay Commission report and data from the state government departments on the basis of which we will work”, he said.
The Commission is banking on the formula of the Central Pay Commission report as it will be the guideline on which the recommendations will be made.
The last Pay Commission of Sikkim had submitted its report in 1988 recommending pay hike of 2.5 times.
In the last ten years inflation has risen considerably in the country and time has come for the revision of pay scale of government employees, said Mr. Patra. “Efficiency of the government services has to improve as it is basis government will work and reach to the common people. Unless it is improved, fruits will not reach the common people”, he added.
After studying the existing grades in Government Services, the Commission will suggest changes for ensuring uniformity in scales of pay commensurate with duties and responsibilities expected from each grade and also to suggest increase or reduction in the number of grade.
The Commission will also suggest the date to the state government from which the changes or improvements recommended by it should become effective.
“We may give a retrospective effect but we have also to consider the financial constraints of the state government”, Mr. Patra said.
The Commission has also been empowered to co-opt services of other officers of the stat government if required.
The Commission will be functioning from the State Police Guest House near the Tashiling Secretariat in Gangtok.
Monday, August 25, 2008
‘My neck can also go if Gorkhaland does not happen by 2010’
GJM leader seeks elder brother help
GANGTOK, August 24: Ever since taking charge of a revived Gorkhaland movement in Darjeeling, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung today made a maiden visit to Sikkim and appealed ‘his elder brother Dr.Pawan Chamling’ to lend a few words of support to the ‘neglected smaller brother’.
Sikkim and Darjeeling share brotherly relations for ages and will continue till Teesta-Rangit flows, said the GJM chief in his address during a spiritual programme organized by ‘Heavenly Path’, a spiritual body here at Paljor Stadium. He had been invited to listen to the spiritual discourse of the founder of the body.
“Gorey Salam to Sikkim with whom we share blood relations. I have also come today to erase out the recent minor misunderstandings between the people of Sikkim and Gorkhaland. The road between these two regions have reopened today”, said Mr.Gurung.
The GJM chief then presented the tale of two brothers-elder being Sikkim and smaller being Darjeeling or ‘Gorkhaland’ in his words.
“The smaller brother is suffering a stepmotherly treatment from the makers of this nation and the elder brother (Sikkim) must come forward to help”.
Mr. Gurung said that he has been regularly appealing the ‘elder brother Dr.Pawan Chamling to impart some love to the smaller brother’. Please speak a few words for the smaller brother, that’s our only request, he said.
Mr.Gurung also acknowledged the support of Sikkim to Darjeeling since the 1986 agitation. “Sikkim has been helping Darjeeling. We will never forget the contributions of Sikkim and we are ready to return this gesture in future if Sikkim ever needs help from Darjeeling”, he said.
Later, the GJM chief interacted with the local press at Norkhil hotel on various issues specific to Sikkim and Gorkhaland movement. The excerpts of the interaction with the press is presented below
On his visit to Sikkim
I came here to attend a religious programme. I could not meet properly the Guru in Darjeeling and I have given my promise to attend his programme in Sikkim. And on this basis I have come today.
On the other objective
There were a kind of environment between Sikkim and Gorkhaland which was going some other directions. To address this also, I came here. I also took this occasion to tell the people here that we came from the same family tree and nobody should forget each other.
Sikkim and Darjeeling share blood relations. We share the same customs, culture and language. There is no different between these two regions. The only thing is that the smaller brother is presently suffering from a stepmotherly treatment.
Sikkim is our home. Darjeeling is also the home of the Sikkimese people. They are always welcome. Both areas are our family grounds.
On his maiden visit since taking leadership of the Gorkhaland movement in October, 2007
This is my first visit since the movement began. I should also respect the status of the place and people here. We have internal brotherhood and a pleasant environment exists between us which we don’t want to destroy.
Though we speak several things from mouth, but our internal feelings are the same.
Sikkim and Darjeeling are brothers. We want to tell our elder brother that the father has given everything to them but not to us. We want to tell them to render some vocal support. Just tell a few things to the father. That’s what we want. The smaller brother is telling respectfully to the elder brother.
On the support from the elder brother
We understand that it is not a simple thing as he is the Government and have to consider the sentiments of all people. Nobody can openly support. They will do on their own.
On the Gorkhaland resolution demand from Sikkim Assembly
We will keep on sending delegations till he (Chief Minister) says yes. Brother should help brother.
On the Chief Minister
I am just a small person. Today Dr.Pawan Chamling is the Chief Minister of Sikkim. The Gorkhas of the world recognize him. I am just leading a population of 30-35 lakh Gorkhas. We have great respect for him.
Talks should be there between the two brothers. I can come any number of times.
On his coming to Gangtok on a GL number
There was no problem. I tell that I am coming to a home ground. A brother is coming to a place of an elder brother. Even if I was not allowed to come in a GL number, I would have come in another vehicle.
I will go to Siliguri in this GL number. It is a part of our non-cooperation movement to the West Bengal government.
(This is the first time a GL no vehicle has entered Sikkim. Two other vehicles carrying GJM workers with GL nos also accompanied the GJM chief)
On his claim of Gorkhaland by 2010
It’s our take. Gorkhaland will happen before 2010. If does not happen then my neck can also go. I have accepted this also. We will compel Bengal government to ask us to take Gorkhaland.
YAHOO INDIA MOVIES
Mumbai, Aug 21 (IANS) Actor-producer Suniel Shetty is all set to pay a tribute to his friend, philosopher and guide Danny Denzongpa by making a film for him.
Danny is one man who initially taught him everything there's to learn about good, positive, healthy living.
'I simply love and respect that man to death. He was my co-star in my very first film 'Balwaan'. I owe my image of action star to him,' Suniel, who was recently seen in 'Mission Istaanbul', told IANS.
'It was Danny sir who urged me to take him on in a climactic combat in the film. I was very shy. How could I fight a man I had hero-worshipped for so long? But he made me do it.
'He even made me pick him up and throw him on the ground. The impact was deadly. Audiences immediately accepted me as a deadly action hero. They reasoned that if I could beat Danny Denzongpa, I must be the real 'balwaan' (strong person),' he added.
'He has always been a source of inspiration, whether it's in the way he keeps his house or in the way he has brought up his children - Danny sir is an amazing man.'
And now Suniel is all set to repay Danny.
'My company Popcorn Entertainment is planning a film that would do justice to his awesome personality. It's the least I can do. I mean, just look at that man - at his age he puts younger, supposedly fit men to shame. I had actually offered him another film. But I decided to hold back. The role didn't do justice to him.'
Friday, August 22, 2008
AUGUST 17, 2008 - Mumbai : Model Actress Yukta Mukhi and MP Rajiv Shukla present footballer Baichung Bhutia with the Rajiv Gandhi Award 2008 celebrating it's 11th year In Mumbai on Sunday.
PTI Photo by Shirish Shete.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
This was decided in a meeting of the association held today at its new office here at Dechenling.
As mentioned in the press release, the meeting also disclosed that a team would be set up to collect and research the necessary information and pictures of Late Chogyals-The 12 Maharajas of Sikkim. Stressing that the subject was sensitive, the president of the association, Kesang Wangchuk Bhutia appealed the team to collect correct and viable information by consulting the matter with experts.
The meeting also felt the need to reform festivals like Pang Lhabsol, which is losing its importance, identity and significance, though it has been “observed quite uniquely and in grand manner all over the State.”
The president also urged the importance of active participation of all the members in order to carry out the works of the association.
Karma Sonam Bhutia, general secretary appealed his fellow members to work hard. “Work hard for our betterment and not for self improvement,” he said adding that one must take the example set by Padmashree Bhaichung Bhutia”.
The meeting further applauded on the success of Padmashree Bhaichung Bhutia and extended sincere congratulation on his recent achievement of bagging the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
Meanwhile, the association also condoled on the sad demise of Lt. Thupten Kunga Bhutia, veteran State Table Tennis Coach and extended hearty condolence to the bereaved family.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
According to figures released by the Sikkim Commerce and Industries Department, the turnover of export from India reporting a figure of Rs 7.20 lakh in July.
The export turnover at Nathu La, which reopened on May 19 this year, for the two till June stood at about Rs eight lakh export turnover. The total export turnover up to now stands at Rs 15.67 lakh.
Textile products like shawls, blankets, utensils and copper items were much sought after by Chinese importers in view of the growing demand for them by the people of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Commerce and Industry Department officials said.
Products like vegetable oil, canned food, tea, cigarettes and coffee were also much in demand by Chinese importers, they said.
Expressing satisfaction with the growth of bilateral border trade this year, the officials said that with Beijing Olympics 2008 coming to an end on August 24, the volume of the bilateral border trade was expected to pick up with the larger participation of traders of the two countries. PTI
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
SILIGURI, August 18: Chote Ustaad finalist Prakriti Giri inaugurated Neeldavid’s Hair and Beauty Academy here yesterday.
Neeldavid, who has three saloons and a hair academy in Kathmandu is running a beauty saloon in Siliguri for the past four months.
The saloon located at City Mall Bazar Kolkata, Sevoke Road in Siliguri also offers one month, three months and six months and six months hair, beauty and make up course.
The famous hair designer promises value services for both men and women. It offers 100 percent guarantee hair straighten, latest hair cuts like Razor, slice and Korean, multi colour hair extension and hair treatment. Besides, it offers different facial, bleach, manicure, pedicure, threading and face pack while makeup & Bridal & Groom Package will be through home service.
Registered members will be availing a discount of 25 percent.
Interested people can contact Santosh Upadhaya (MD), Neeldavid’s Saloon or call 973591215.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Pinak Priya Bhattacharya & Deep Gazmer,TNN
SILIGURI/DARJEELING: Her last journey had to be cut short as GJM did not allow the body of Dhanmaya Ghisingh, wife of GNLF president Subash Ghisingh, to be taken to her ancestral home in Ghoom. Sources said she will be cremated in Siliguri on Sunday.
Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leaders, who came to Mallaguri in Siliguri after Dhanmaya's death on Saturday morning, had decided to take her body to Ghoom and then cremate her in Darjeeling.
But as soon as that news spread, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders declared that they would not allow GNLF to take Dhanmaya's body to Darjeeling under any circumstances. GJM supporters also started picketing along Hill Cart Road and NH-31B to prevent GNLF leaders from entering the Hills with Dhanmaya's body.
To avoid the blockade, the GNLF convoy, accompanied by police, took Rohini Road to reach Darjeeling and Ghisingh was not present in that convoy. But they were stopped by GJM supporters at Kurseong and sent back.
"We did not want Subash Ghisingh to enter the Hills. So, we stopped the convoy," said Pradip Pradhan, secretary of GJM's Kurseong unit. He pretended as if the GJM supporters did not know that Ghisingh was not in the convoy.
This inhuman act was fully supported by the GJM top brass as it found nothing wrong with what their supporters had done.
"Nobody in the Hills would go to the funeral if the GNLF leaders came to Darjeeling with the body. This is considered as utmost humiliation in our society and such a situation might have erupted in violence. So, our supporters were on the roads from morning to prevent them from entering Darjeeling," said Binay Tamang, GJM's press and public relations secretary.
Dhanmaya's body was taken to her cousin's house at Khaprail near Siliguri. Ghisingh's relatives from Darjeeling have headed for Khaprail to attend the funeral.
The 65 year-old woman suffered a heart attack early on Saturday and died on the way to hospital. She was staying at Mallaguri with her son Mohan for the past few days after she fell ill.
Dhanmaya, also known as Dhan Kumari, had come to Siliguri and was staying with her husband at the Teesta Barrage bungalow at Tinbatti More after GJM had driven out Ghisingh from Darjeeling in July.
The GJM's attitude has irritated people of all sections in the plains. They are finding it difficult to explain the heinous act. Even a large section of GJM supporters in the Hills are anxious over the issue.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Rangpoo, August 15 (IST 06:02): Shyam Thapa, legendary Indian footballer, today felicitated by the 62nd Independence Day Celebration Committee, Rangpoo, East Sikkim for his lifetime achievement in Indian football. The Agriculture Minister, Somnath Poudyal felicitated him and offered â€˜Angabastra' (Shawl). James Michel Lee from USA and Khare Basnet from Bhutan on football, Late Narayan Pradhan and Jonabeel on Education, Shanti Rai on bravery, Ganga Devi Sharma, Kalyan Majumdar and B B Subba on social service, Til Bahadur Basnet and Duga Chettri on progressive farming and Priyanka Chettri are also felicitated by the committee.
Speaking in the programme Agriculture Minister conveyed the message of Chief Minister of the state. Minister Poudyal also said that in the Agriculture sector, continued efforts will be made to increase production of flowers in Sikkim . Government will also explore the state's potential in organic farming. Highest priority will be given to horticulture and food processing enterprises for generating employment in the rural areas. ( Photo: B P Bajgain)
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS/ RELATIONS, SOCIOLOGY, MICROBIOLOGY and PCSM ADMISSION NOTICE 2008-2009 - SIKKIM UNIVERSITY
(A Cenral University Established by an Act of Parliament of India)
6TH MILE, SAMDUR, P.O., TADONG, GANGTOK-737102, SIKKIM
Tel/Fax: 03592-251438/ 251020
Dated: August 11, 2008
Sikkim University, established by an Act of Parliament in 2006 (Act No.10 of 2007), started functioning w.e.f. July 2, 2007 at 6th Mile, Tadong, Gangtok. Being located in a very peaceful, accessible and naturally magnificent surrounding, this University is expected to contribute substantively to the nation building process by mobilizing the rich intellectual heritage of this region, by galvanizing the academic fervour and creative instincts of the youths and by developing agencies and institutions that will facilitate cross border interactions, Sikkim University is being designed in such a way so as to make it known for academic excellence and research, for its all inclusive institutional character and a strong instrument of regional development and cross-border integration. The University expects to attract students and faculty members form both within India and the immediate neighboring countries including Bangaladesh, Bhutan China, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand.
During 2008-2009 academic sessions, the University proposes to offer two year postgraduate programmes (4 semesters) in the 4 discipline:
(1) INTERNATIONAL POLITICS/ RELATIONS (SCHOOL OF GLOBAL STUDIES)
(2) SOCIOLOGY (SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES)
(3) PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES AND MANAGEMENT (PCSM) (SCHOOL OF PEACE, CONFLICT & HUMAN SECURITY STUDIES)
(4) MICROBIOLOGY (SCHOOL OF LIFE SCIENCES)
1) Detailed information regarding admission procedure and eligibility etc. in given in the Prospectus-cum-Application Form 2008-2009.
2) Prospectus –cum-Application Forms can be obtained in person form the Sikkim University office form 9.30 am to 5.30 pm till 1st September 2008 against cash payment of Rs.200/-. Prospectus-cum-Application can also be obtained by mail paying Rs.25/- extra as postal charge. Prospectus –cum-Application will not be sold after the last date.
3) Filled-in Applications should reach the Coordinator (Academics) at the above addresses within 1st September 2008.
Note: University will not be responsible for any postal delay. Applications received after the last date will not be entertained. Candidates are, therefore, advised to apply well in time.
Officer of Special Duty – II
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Photo from Reuters PicturesBollywood actor Danny Denzongpa arrives at the 9th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Bangkok June 8, 2008.
New Delhi: The Sikkimese Sniper has been one of the best Indian players in the ongoing AFC Challenge Cup ’08 and that has also put him in the reckoning for the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
The 32 year old has had a role in almost the goals scored by the Men in Blue in the AFC Challenge Cup ’08 and always looks a threat to the opposition’s defence.
While every member of the Indian team has been waxing lyrical on Coach Bob Houghton, the skipper is no different. “I won’t say that he (Bob) drastically changed me as a player. Under him, one gets to learn a lot not just as a player and that motivates.”
When Bhaichung mentions the word ‘motivation’ it is to be taken very seriously as a few years back, he mentioned the lack of it which made him consider hanging his boots. “I never said that I was retiring then. I said that I’m considering quitting too. It was primarily due to lack of motivation.” Enter Bob Houghton and the Englishman was impressed with the Mohun Bagan star’s active presence in front of the goal and as a leader.
“Bob wanted me to re-think my decision,” said Bhaichung reflectively. What has kept Bhaichung going till today? “Wanting to win and to score goals... The last two years, our team has done outstandingly well. We have lost only three or four times. It’s a great achievement.
“We have played many good matches. A good Nehru Cup and a good SAFF Cup as well. Only the game against Bhutan in SAFF Cup, we didn’t play that well.” Post-SAFF Cup, certain circles criticized the national team, but everyone in the team seems unperturbed by all of it for good.
“We defeated Maldives in the group stage but lost in the finals towards the end. It’s like India (cricket team) play six games against Bangladesh and loses the final. That doesn’t mean that India plays worse than Bangladesh.”
At 32, Bhaichung is fit and fine, and his alertness still makes defenders sweat. Ask him about post-retirement plans and the striker says, “Once I stop playing, I would want to be in a position where you have the decision-making power. “As a player or a coach, one can’t do a lot.” (Agencies)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The chief coordinator of ACT, Tseten Lepcha, said except for an FIR, no proper action had been taken.
“The forest department has been dragging its feet ostensibly to secure local witnesses, which is not possible as the project site is overrun with labourers and company employees, none of whom are residents of Sikkim,” Lepcha said.
The FIR lodged by the forest department after the serow’s death mentioned that the animal was found with a broken horn and there was blood all around it. Lepcha said the post mortem findings of the veterinary doctor at Chumgthang were also “shocking”.
“The veterinarian found a blood clot in the brain and concluded that the animal had eaten cardboard and plastic sheets lying around in the construction site and had died because of the resultant respiratory problems,” the chief coordinator of ACT said.
The principal chief conservator of forests and forest secretary, S.T. Lachungpa, said an inquiry initiated by the chief wildlife warden, N.T. Bhutia, was underway.
“The chief wildlife warden has convened a meeting on the issue tomorrow. In any case, the death of the animal was accidental as it ranges freely in the mountains,” Lachungpa said.
Bhutia added that all forest employees from the region as well as senior officials would attend tomorrow’s meeting.
ACT, however, has also challenged the environment impact assessment (EIA) and the environment management plan (EMP) of Teesta Stage III, which had declared that there were no wild animals in the project zone.
“This is a figment of their imagination as the site falls within the buffer zone of the Kanchenjunga biosphere reserve. Despite this, the chief wildlife warden issued a no-objection certificate to the company carrying out the work on the 1,200mw hydel plant,” Lepcha said.
“It is very surprising that no forest department official was present during the public hearing of the EIA and the EMP. They were only interested in securing the money that the company had to pay for afforestation and plantation in some other area. Now we have a Schedule I animal, protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, dead in the project side and no one is held accountable,” Lepcha said.
ACT, an NGO that is spearheading a movement against the construction of mega-hydroelectric plants in North Sikkim, has also accused the state government of giving “unconstitutional protection” to the company involved in the projects.“How can they pollute the environment by allowing all kinds of toxic material to lie around the site that is causing the death of wildlife?” Lepcha asked
Without naming the minister (Asok Bhattacharjee), point to point rebuttal has been given to his insinuations regarding democracy, labour law and other matters in a press release issued by SDF General Secretary, Mr. Bhim Dahal.
“The pro-people labour friendly SDF government under the Chief Minister Dr. Pawan Chamling does need any coaching from the West Bengal minister who can not solve even an iota of problems in his own constituency, let alone the problems of his state”, the release says. It adds, “the minister is trying to divert attention of the people of his state”.
GANGTOK, August 11: The statue of Guru Rinpoche, maintained by Dodrupchen Rinpoche at Chorten Lhagang was today carried in the Guru Chyendren procession with the chanting of Vajra Guru mantra to mark Guru Rinpoche’s Trungkar Tsechu.
Led by the monks blowing ritual instruments and followed by devotees and students, the solemn procession followed the route from Deorali, Metro Point, Zero Point, Dukhi Pan Dokan, Sonam Tshering March, Nam Nang, Deorali and back to Chorten Gonpa.
Revered as the patron saint of Sikkim, the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava is observed every year with prayers organized for all sentient beings.
The rally was organized by the Sikkim Buddhist Duechen Organization along with other associations.
Talking with SIKKIM EXPRESS, Passong Namgyal, the president of Sikkim Duechen Organization said that Maha Guru Padmasambhava popularly known as Guru Rinponche or the precious master is the supreme tantric master and had exhibited mystic feats in sub duing evil spirits and demons thereby reforming them to guard the religion and protect the followers of Dharma.
“Guru Rinpoche had performed miraculous feats on the tenth day of every month of the year to defeat the evil forces and negative elements thereby establishing his invincibility. That is why every 10th day of the lunar month is observed as Guru Tsechu, Mr. Namgyal said.
Meanwhile, a complete reading of the 108 volumes of Kajur texts was also performed from August 8, particularly to generate blessings for harmony, peace and happiness for all sentient beings.
“Tshogs and Choedmes along with prayers were offered at Tsukhakhang Gnyamu Lakhang, Decehen Choeling Gonpa, Sichey, Uygen Choling Gonpa, Burtuk, Guru Kusum Lhakhang, Deorali and Gyaltsen Tshogpa Gonpa, Arithang on the Drukpa Tseshi day,” he added.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Nachou (Bishnupur), Aug. 10: The village that saw Monika Devi lift her first weight forgot to cook its meals today.
Choking on tears, men huddled outside tea-stalls and women in courtyards to mourn the death of Indian sport and a potential medal.
It took just a three-word verdict — “It’s too late” — from Beijing yesterday to throw Monika Devi out of the Olympics and spell catastrophe for Nachou that has sent seven of its players to the national sports arena.
At Monika Devi’s home, pain hung in the air, with most in her family too shattered to hazard words.
“Olympics is the ultimate dream of every sportsperson. Monika has been unjustly prevented from realising her dream. Where shall she demonstrate her talent now? Her career is as good as dead and so is Indian sport,” sobbed Mamata, Monika’s elder sister.
The family did not sleep last night. Most remained glued to the TV screen, though they knew it was futile to stare on.
Any attempt to make them talk out the grief only yielded tears.
“What is the point of writing about her? We don’t want anything now,” said Mamata Devi.
Hopes rose yesterday when chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh rushed to Delhi and the Sports Authority of India cleared Monika’s name from the dope test controversy.
However, Indian Olympic Association secretary general Randhir Singh’s veto — “It’s too late” — sealed the weightlifter’s fate.
Better known as Ngouba in her village — Monika is a product of SAI regional centre, Imphal. She joined SAI in 1996. Under SAI coach Ranjan Singh, she won a silver in the Commonwealth Games 2006 held at Melbourne.
She won a gold at Commonwealth Championships 2004 at Malta and a bronze at the 17th Asian Senior Women and 36th Asian Senior Championship 2004, held at Almaty, Kazakhstan.
“Ngouba (a male name accorded to her for her ‘manliness’) is loved by the entire village. She is strong-willed. She had the confidence that she would bring us a medal. Why are they (the SAI officials) so wicked?” B. Mema Devi, a neighbour, asked.
Born to Laishram Naba and Mema in a poor farming family, Monika is the fourth of seven sisters and one brother.
Before joining SAI, she played football. “She had a good physique since childhood and SAI chose her for weightlifting,” Naba said.
Despite her sterling sporting credentials, Monika Devi did not receive any help from the Okram Ibobi Singh government, the family alleged.
“She was forced to join the CRPF as a havildar after our own state denied her a job. She would still love to come back and represent Manipur,” her father said.
The family also complained that the CRPF treated her shabbily. “After she won the 2006 Commonwealth silver, the CRPF promised her the post of sub-inspector, which never happened,” he said.
The entire village now blames “dirty” Indian politics and the “lackadaisical” response of the Ibobi Singh government for Monika Devi’s fate. “Had the Ibobi Singh government acted swiftly, Monika would be competing in Beijing,” said a village youth.
Nachou is a village of sport. It has produced several national players, including Kiran Singh, who now plays football for the SSB.
Monika Devi’s younger sister, Shyamashakhi, too, is also a national fencing player.
“We have lost count of number of players we have produced. Monika’s episode, however, has discouraged parents,” L. Premjit Singh, secretary of Nachou Sports Development Association, said.
“We now want the Centre to give a medal to Monika. If they had sent her, she would have brought back a medal.” Naba said.
“The course of action will be decided by the people of Manipur. Though Monika is our child, she now belongs to Manipur.”
The mother was too weak to speak. She has been lying in bed ever since Monika Devi was dropped from the Indian squad.
The immediate concern of the family, however, is Monika Devi’s safety. “We cannot say what will become of Monika after August 13 (the day when she was to compete). The government should be held responsible if Monika takes any drastic step out of the humiliation,” the father said.
Hyderabad, Aug 8 : Footballers from the Northeast in the national team Friday rallied support for dope-charged Manipuri weightlifter Monika Devi, who was pulled out of the Indian Olympic contingent at the last minute.
Led by captain Bhaichung Bhutia and senior-pro Renedy Singh, the group comprising Surkumar Singh, Gourmangi Singh, Govin Singh, Bungo Singh and Sushil Singh said Monika should be given a fair trial.
Except Bhutia, who is a Sikkimese, the other players are from Manipur. But none of them knows Monika personally.
"We sympathise with Monika Devi and appeal to the powers-that-be that she be given a fair trial. We are not coming to a conclusion but at times sportspersons take substance without proper knowledge," the Indian captain told reporters here at the team hotel.
Monika tested positive for a banned substance July 29 in a pre-Olympic test conducted by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and was dramatically withdrawn from the Olympic squad late Tuesday night. Pleading innocence, the weightlifter alleged she has been `framed`.
Monika was the only Indian female weightlifter to participate in the Olympics and her selection was also marred by controversy. Earlier, Shailaja Pujari, who also served a two-year ban for doping, was selected for the Olympics but was dropped following accusations that she had bribed her way through.
The issue has created turmoil in Manipur`s capital city of Imphal, and Renedy said: "The reaction in our state is very strong. We can`t do much for her, and by speaking through the media we can voice our support for her."
"It is true that some Northeast sportspersons have been charged with doping offences, but we can`t generalise the case. However, I feel Monika has made a very strong statement by saying she can be killed if her second sample tests positive. I feel her case should be handled properly. Having not represented India in Olympics, I know how much the Games means for an athlete," said Bhutia.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
This is something which I have been thinking about for quite some time now. How much do we Indians really know and care about the North-East? I personally feel that the seven sisters and Sikkim (maybe with the exception of Assam), have been a neglected lot in our country. This goes not only from development point of view, but from other aspects as well like sports, culture, entertainment – Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh – are pretty much obscure as far as the rest of the country is concerned.
Lets start with the example of Television. All movies, serials, news channels concentrate on “mainland” India. Its all set in Delhi, Mumbai or Punjab. These days even South India is figuring in movies and television. But, what about the north-east? The consequence of this is not limited to entertainment alone. Thanks to TV, your average Indian aam admi in the Rest Of India (ROI - I call it that for a want of a better term – no intention of “dividing” NE from the ROI) has a fair idea of what life might be in Mumbai, Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat etc. This is true even if that average Indian has never been to any of these places. But, do we have even a remote idea of what its like in the NE? The only TV program where I have seen extensive coverage of the NE is the travel show called Exotica, on StarOne.
Now come to sports. Other then Baichung Bhutia, the football star of India who hails from Sikkim, there's hardly any mainstream sportsperson from the NE. I cannot recall any cricketer or tennis player or even hockey player from NE (again, that might be due to my ignorance too). I suppose there are a few names from NE in the athletic and sports meets who get us medals at SAARC games etc (for example in sports like archery) – but hey don't u know that in India, “sports” equals “CRICKET+Tennis+hockey+f1” ?? The rest of them dont qualify – their achievements are not counted. Anyways – that's not the topic of this post!
I am unaware about how ROI is perceived in NE. Is the influence of Bollywood present in NE? Does the aam aadmi in NE have a fair idea about life in ROI? Do they follow cricket and national politics just as we in ROI do?
Successive governments at the Centre have been announcing special economic packages for the development of NE. I am not aware of how much of this has really translated to results. Maybe the one aspect that stands out in this regard would be the road infrastructure development projects (NHDP) – these seem to have made a positive impact during the last few years.
The encouraging trend is the good representation of NE in reality shows. Remember Amit Paul from Meghalaya who was the runner up in Indian Idol 3? Remember the host of singers from Assam (Debojit, Kalpana, Prakriti to name a few)?
The reasons for the negligence about NE in ROI could be many. For one, the North-Eastern states are geographically isolated from ROI. They are “connected” with ROI through a narrow strip which is just 20-odd kms wide (this is called the chicken's neck and is situated in Siliguri in West Bengal with Nepal in the North and Bangladesh in the South). Secondly, the NE states are culturally very different from the ROI – the culture here has elements of South-East Asia and China (Tibet in particular).
Nevertheless, the NE states are part of India; NE contributes to a sizable chunk of the India - area-wise, population-wise and culturally. Thus it is imperative for ROI to start viewing NE as they would Rajasthan or Punjab or Tamil Nadu. And also for people in NE to get a feel of what life is like in ROI. Only then would it be possible to foster a sense of unity and oneness. And, in my opinion, the media plays the most important role in increasing awareness .
ROI needs to know that just like elsewhere in India, NE too has a diverse culture. That there are several languages spoken here. That the climate, vegetation, topography, flora and fauna are as varied here as in ROI.
ROI needs to know about Assam's natural beauty, the tea gardebns, about Kazhiranga and the rhinos, about the ULFA's, about the political scenario and about the issues facing the nation along its border with Bangladesh.
ROI needs to know about the Chinese Government's claim to Arunachal Pradesh and about how the Army is on its toes there to prevent China from making mischief. About the sixth Dalai Lama being born here in AP. That there exist places in India where your constitutional “right to freedom of movement anywhere within the country” is restricted – that one needs a permit to enter some places in AP.
ROI needs to know about the mostly Himalayan state of Sikkim, the second smallest State in India by size and the least populated. ROI needs to know the history of the Nathula pass, the flourishing trade route which passed through here, and not to forget the Kanchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world.
ROI needs to know about the WW-II battles fought in Manipur which stalled Japan's progress and which had a major impact on the outcome of the war. About the history of the princely state of Manipur (just like many more in ROI) before it was integrated into the republic of India. About the UNLF, its demands and its activities in Manipur. About the troubles along the border with Myanmar.
ROI needs to know about the history of the mountainous state of Nagaland, about the Naga tribe, about how Nagaland was part of Assam and underwent lot of unrest before being declared a state in early '60s. About the present-day culture which still revolves around the tribes and their shawl-weaving tradition. About the 90+% Christian population. About the Nagamese language – which is not the mother tongue of any of the tribes in Nagaland, but is the common language spoken everywhere in the state.
ROI needs to know about the plateau of Meghalaya, the Garo and Khasi hills. About the matriarch system followed by many of the more populous tribes in the state. About Cherrapunji, which was once the wettest spot in the world.
ROI needs to know about Tripura, the second-most populous among the NE states (even though it is relatively small in area). About the Bengali-dominant culture of the state (Tripura is surrounded on three sides by Bangladesh and is around the same latitude as West Bengal); about its festivals, indigenous dance forms and music. About its millenia-old history (Tripura is said to have had mention in Mahabharata).
ROI needs to know about Mizoram, the Indian state with the highest literacy rate. About the events which led to the formation of the state (famine, insurgency, bombing by the Indian Air Force to quell this insurgency); about the largely unexplored bamboo forests which covers about one-third of the state.
I think that Indians need to take a keener interest in the North-East. Probably if a few people from NE broke into the scene in some mainstream field, then that would function as a catalyst to increase the visibility of the NE states among ROI. This does not mean that they have to deviate from their culture and adopt cricket as a religion or get Bollywood-crazy. The NE is rich in dance and music. It would help if the media and entertainment industry took the initiative to showcase this cultural diversity to the rest of the world.
With the spurt in domestic tourism, more Indians are exploring “far-flung” regions within the country, including the NE. So also more people from the NE states are flocking to the mainland, be it for tourism, education, business or jobs. This exchange will only be for the benefit of either side.
I am hopeful that there will be more cultural, economic exchange between the NE and the ROI in the near future. Looking forward to an India where there is tighter bond between North-East and the Rest of India. JAI BHARATH.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Singtam: Taking into account the diabetic scenario of Sikkim, Government Fruit Preservation Factory, (GFPF), Singtam, launched organic sugar free Pear Fruit Drink, Passion Fruit Drink, Orange Fruit Drink and Ginger Drink in 200 ml bottle on August 7. All the drinks are RTS (ready to serve) drinks which can be consumed directly without addition of water. Other new products, namely, Aakashey Chilli with curd and Pear Squash were simultaneously launched on the day. Many more are in the pipeline, it is learnt.
The RTS drinks will be available in the market with GFPF’s brand name ‘Sikkim Supreme’ at the rate of Rs 15 per 200 ml bottle. The Pear Squash would be available for Rs 43 per 700 ml bottle and Aakashay chilli can be obtained at Rs 10 per pouch.
GFPF has acquired 4.5 metric tonnes of Aakashay chilli from Zoom till date for producing different products. Pears are being obtained from Kabrey, Sadam, Burmeik and Soreng in Sikkim. GFPF has also utilized tomatoes in bulk to produce different tomato products like tomato juice (RTS), tomato chilli sauce ‘Chatak Matak’, tomato chutney and hot and sweet tomato ketchup with dallae flavor, which are already in the market. About 30 metric tonnes tomato were procured from Sadam, Daramdin and Tashiding.
With its organic products, GFPF has done business of Rs 63, 38, 384 from April 2008 to August 6.
GFPF has taken the initiative of acquiring organic produces from the local growers and utilizing it for producing various kinds of organic products as per the direction by Chief Minister Dr Pawan Chamling. The given policy is to encourage organic farming in the state by giving incentive to the local farmers, it is informed.
Dorjay Lama and Kinchey Ongmu Bhutia had won gold medals each in the 11th State Junior level Taekwondo Championship Tournament 2008, which was held at Paljor Stadium on August 2, 3 and 4.
Among the 18 students from North Sikkim, who participated in the state level tournament, eight students won bronze medals, four students-Puran Gurung, Angila Lepcha, Sonam Dorjee and Tek Bahadur Chettri won silver medals.
The students were from Mangan Sr Sec School, North Sikkim Academy and RJHS.
GANGTOK, August 08: Tendong Lho Rum Faat, the indigenous festival of the Lepchas was today celebrated with pomp and splendour at the Sikkim Government College auditorium with Chief Minister Pawan Chamling as the chief guest here today.
The two-day festival, which commenced from August 7, also saw Bongthings offer prayers in honour of Mount Tendong and also for world peace and prosperity.
Talking about the importance of the festival, Norzang Lepcha, the president of the Tendong Lho Rum Faat Celebration Committee said that the Lepchas worship Mt Tendong as their God. “On the occasion, the Lepchas make a model of the Mountain in the facade of their homes and worship. The mountain is exclusively made of nine stones and the people dance and sing donning mask seeking blessings of the Lord,” he explained.
CT Lepcha, the President of Renjong Mutanchi Rong Tarjum (RMRT) in his address said that a unique age-old ritual like the Rum Faat maintained by the Lepcha forefathers is a matter of great pride. He further said that the present government has been kind to give all the political and social rights to the Lepcha community.
RB Subba, the Chairman of the celebration committee said that the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has given equal importance to all the communities of Sikkim and has been able to maintain communal peace and harmony in the State. He also appealed the Lepchas not to get carried away by any attempts of creating communal disharmony through several issues.
In the meantime, the Tarjum felicitated the Chief Minister for his effort in exempting Central Income Tax for the Sikkim Subject holders.
During the programme, Tashi Tshering Lepcha was conferred with the Tendong Award for his outstanding contribution towards the upliftment of Lepcha culture, literature and tradition. Choda Lepcha received the citation and the award on behalf of his father.
Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association also felicitated Jeffrey Wangjong Lepcha with Mayal Marnew Award for his pro-active role towards the development of Lepcha Youth Association.
Tshering Ongmu Lepcha, a student of Padma Odzer Choeling School was honored with an award for securing highest marks in Lepcha language in class ten board examinations recently.
Lepcha cultural shows were also staged during the programme.
Britt Smith, Kent, Washington
This paper was prepared for and presented at the national meeting of The American Rhododendron Society in San Francisco May 1972. Unfortunately, the color slides which illustrated the paper cannot all be included here.
Interest is renewed at this time because a group of members of the ARS departed on April 21 for a six-day trek through the rhododendron forests of Southwest Sikkim. Future issues will present the story of that trek.
If we were to journey half way around the world to Calcutta and thence northward approximately 450 miles we could arrive at Darjeeling, India. There the British established in about 1850 a rest (R and R) station at 7,000 feet elevation on a Himalayan ridge. For us as foreign tourists, this is the gateway to Himalaya as it has been through the intervening one hundred twenty years. Another sixty miles aboard a jeep, nearly a full day spent, and after registration at three checkpoints and official stamping of our papers, we can arrive in Gangtok the capital of Sikkim.
Sikkim is a tiny country nestled in the valleys of Himalaya. It is tiny in all respects except in the peace, the happiness, and the beauty which are found there. Its north-south dimension is approximately seventy miles, and its east-west dimension is only forty miles. It is so rugged that cartographers put a diagram on the map to explain that a large portion of Northern Sikkim is not accurately mapped. The climate varies from tropical in the southern river valleys to alpine and under perpetual snows on the high mountains to the west, the east, and the north. Sikkim's neighbors are Nepal to the west Tibet to the north and east but for a short portion of the eastern border where Bhutan is her neighbor and to the south India stands as advisor, protector, and neighbor.
Scenes in Sikkim remind one of rural scenes in the Alps, or the Andes, or whatever mountain vastness and vistas seem more familiar to the visitor - only the mountains of Sikkim are more than any of the others. Dominating all is the holy mountain, Kangchinjunga, home of deities, standing in awesome splendor, the third highest mountain in the world.
Tucked away in the mountains are picturesque places like Tiger Rock, which is really in Bhutan the almost inaccessible monastery which is one of the highest monasteries in those mountains. Mr. Tashi comments that rhododendrons like pendulum abound here but he adds collection is difficult. Also there are valleys like Tholung which according to Mr. Tashi looks like an Oriental painting. We agree. This valley is obviously rugged - so rugged that it is now being searched for rhododendrons for the first time. Mr. Tashi has employed native collectors who it is planned will spend four years searching for superior rhododendrons, and hopefully perhaps even find a new species. During the fifth year, Mr. Tashi plans to go with the collectors to judge and identify the plants selected by the collectors. After that seed will be collected and perhaps some plants will be collected for one of the rhododendron sanctuaries.
Mr. Tashi sent one picture which he labeled "Past glory, present disgrace". Another shows an area which once was "rich in rhododendrons, which are now gone, hence the importance of sanctuaries". His majesty, the Chogyal, is very concerned that some of the rhododendron series may become extinct in their native habitat, and we discussed the possibility of rhododendron sanctuaries when my wife, Jean, and I were guests at the palace for a delightful evening of conversation about rhododendrons. Since then at least one sanctuary has been established, on the road to Nathu-La - this one under the guidance of Mr. Tse Ten Tashi. It is suggested that the palace gardens are becoming another rhododendron sanctuary because personnel of the Department of Forestry are also interested in rhododendrons and are aware of His Majesty's interest. In the course of other departmental activities, personnel notice unusually attractive rhododendron plants, which are marked and moved to the palace garden.
The gentleman whom we went to visit and our benefactor in Sikkim is Mr. Tse Ten Tashi. At our request he dressed in ceremonial attire but he required that his copy of the Quarterly Bulletin be included in the picture. His wife was a Tibetan noblewoman who unfortunately, died in May of 1971. Jean stood with them to show that they are not small people as we expected they would be. Jean is five feet, eight inches tall.
Mr. Tashi has for years been a collector of orchid species and is well known for that activity. Mr. Tashi was originally mentioned in a letter to Mr. H. L. Larson of Tacoma which was sent by Mr. Kessop Pradhan when he was a student at Yale. Mr. Pradhan said that Mr. Tashi is probably the outstanding amateur botanist in Sikkim. This seemed verified when, as we walked along the road with Mr. Tashi he seemed to know the scientific name of every plant we saw and every bird we heard. Mr. Tashi is quite knowledgeable about rhododendrons and seemed to know where to find them, even though few were blooming at the time we were there. Between Ghum and Darjeeling, he found R. edgeworthii, R. dalhousiae, and R. auklandii.
Mr. M. Sain is an artist who lives in Darjeeling and paints beautiful pictures, of the mountains lakes, and streams. For many years he has been an admirer of the rhododendrons which are native there. He has written precise botanical descriptions of the rhododendrons of the Darjeeling area and Sikkim and has an excellent collection of color photographs of them. I feel that we will learn more of the outstanding work of this gentleman.
For lack of a better system, let us consider the rhododendrons which Mr. Tashi found, photographed, and from which he has sent seed, in alphabetical order.
At altitudes of 14,000 feet there are beautiful grassy slopes where in the summer, yak and dri are pastured. I was interested to learn that a yak corresponds to our bull; the equivalent of a cow is a dri. Also at this altitude one finds R. anthopogon. Mr. Tashi has sent photographs of a yellow form which may be variety haemonium, a peach colored form, and a cream colored form. The latter two are typical.
Rhododendron arboreum grows here and there over a very large area of temperate Himalaya and even in Ceylon. Mr. Tashi has recorded for us flowers of a bright red form and a very old R. arboreum tree. R. arboreum subspecies cambelliae is an attractive form of arboreum, with rust colored indumentum replacing the fawn to white usually seen on R. arboreum. The book records purplish-rose as the flower color, but Mr. Tashi's find is deep rose-red with a white center, almost to the point that it could be called a white floret with wide margins of deep rose-red on the lobes.
R. auklandii is one of the reasons that many of us envy those who grow rhododendrons in the San Francisco Bay area. We do not know that Mr. Tashi has found any new variants of R. auklandii. He does insist that R. auklandii and R. griffithianum are different and and seems to be able to defeat the detractors of this.
| R. aeruginosum var. aeruginosum |
(syn. R. campanulatum var. aeruginosum)
Photo by Tse Ten Tashi
R. campanulatum var. aeruginosum is known to us as having blue in their color. Our British friends seem to think that bluest ones are best. Mr. Tashi has selected one with beautiful pink bells, which most any of us would be delighted to raise.
My species book states that R. campanulatum may be from purple to rosy white to white and may be spotted. plants bearing beautiful cream to yellow flowers. We wonder if the pictures Mr. Tashi has sent photographs of could have been mislabeled - or are there yellow R. campanulatum?
Shah-bethang Lake at 13,500 feet elevation is one of the homes of R. campylocarpum. We have one photograph of a form with wide funnel campanulate flowers.
The R. ciliatum of Mr. Tashi's choosing show much pink in the bud and carry the trace of this pink in the fully opened flowers. It appears to be an excellent, compact growing form.
We have read for a long time that hikers have casually picked seed of R. cinnabarinum from which were grown plants which were quite superior to those in the trade. Mr. Tashi must have been the guide for those hikers, because his photographs indicate that he knows where superior forms grow. He also knows where to find an excellent form of variety 'Roylei'.
When we returned from Gangtok to Darjeeling, Mr. Tashi rode with us and stayed in Darjeeling for a few days, during which he escorted us around that area. Between Darjeeling and Ghum, he stopped the driver one afternoon and we scrambled up a steep hillside to where he had spotted R. dalhousiae. The variety there growing bears very large, extremely fleshy, and delightfully fragrant flowers. In the bud they are full length and the lobes begin to separate, these flowers are as green as the leaves. They fade to yellow and finally to white. Mr. Tashi seemed to feel that R. lindleyi is really a white form of R. dalhousiae. That may be - I do know that I have seen no other R. dalhousiae approach the quality of those we saw between Darjeeling and Ghum.
Seedlings of R. dalhousiae and R. lindleyi only one year old have been kept in my cool house through the winter and exposed to temperatures down to 18° F. A few have endured this in excellent shape, so we may get some hardy ones. The same is true for R. auklandii, R. formosum, and R. arboreum.
This same afternoon during which Mr. Tashi found R. dalhousiae, he found R. edgeworthii growing in a gentleman's garden and talked him out of a truss. Unfortunately it had been marked by rain and hail.
R. formosum varies, but not as much as R. occidentale. Mr. Tashi has sent photographs of a white form, a pink form, and a salmon form.
R. glaucum, which we call R. glaucophyllum, blooms a magnificent pink in Sikkim. The form which Mr. Tashi has photographed seems really outstanding.
R. hodgsonii grows in company with R. campbelliae. Mr. Tashi has selected forms varying from pink to brilliant deep rose. These give no hint of the magenta color mentioned in the handbook description. I like Mr. Tashi's selections.
R. lanatum has been somewhat of a stranger to us, but last year Mr. Tashi sent enough seed of R. lanatum to glut the market with plants for a long time. Pictures illustrate a color variation from light yellow to rich daffodil yellow. Unfortunately the leaf characteristics which we expect on our R. lanatum are not evident in the picture. Mr. Tashi's notes indicate that the seed was from the deep yellow form.
R. lepidotum grows from 8,000 to 16,000 feet elevation and varies from white to pink to red to purple to yellow and greenish yellow. Mr. Tashi's choice is from 16,000 feet elevation, and is a vivid purple-pink color. This form is probably R. obovatum named for its wider obovate leaf form. I think it is exceptionally attractive.
R. maddenii is one of the spectacular rhododendrons which grow so well in the San Francisco Bay area. It is a favorite of Mr. Tashi and he has sent photo graphs of white and pink forms. We are raising seedlings of these in the Pacific Northwest and hope to produce some which will be hardy for us.
R. niveum is really a spectacular rhododendron with beautiful trusses of large flowers and with leaves which are just as exciting. Unfortunately it is of a color which many people find unattractive. Perhaps there are color variations which would be more nearly universally appealing.
| R. setosum |
Photo by Tse Ten Tashi
R. setosum is in the Lapponicum series, and grows at elevations from 11.000 to 16,000 feet. The book describes it as having bright purplish-pink or rose-purple flowers. Mr. Tashi made his selections at 14,000 feet, and photographed two with particularly beautiful pink flowers.
| R. thomsonii var. candelabrum |
Photo by Tse Ten Tashi
R. thomsonii in Sikkim as photographed by Mr. Tashi appears to be the same one which Sir Joseph Hooker used as a model for his famous illustrated book. It is really a beautiful thing - particularly so to me because it shows none of the blue which we see so often in R. thomsonii. He also sent photographs of variety candelabrum and of variety pallidum. This clone of pallidum certainly deserves a better rating than F1-2 which has been assigned.
R. triflorum has been the source of seed which we are growing. These seedlings are not as hardy as we might wish, but we will no doubt grow many which are quite adequately hardy in our Pacific Northwest climate. Mr. Tashi has selected a bright yellow form which many of us would be proud to show.
R. wightii is a joy to everyone who has one blooming. Mr. Tashi has selected two clones one of which has red markings in the throat and the other displays a full truss instead of the one-sided truss of the classical description.
Mr. Tashi sent seeds of these selected forms of rhododendron species of Sikkim and Bhutan. We are growing literally thousands of seedlings of these and other Himalayan species both in the Pacific Northwest and also in the Bay area. Those of us who have sponsored Mr. Tashi's efforts find great pleasure and excitement in the prospect of raising forms of these species which we think transcend the beauty of the award forms. We also join him in hoping he will find a new species which he will have the opportunity to name.
As we noted in the paper which was presented in San Francisco in May 1972. Tse Ten Tashi's wife died suddenly the night of May 26, 1971. That set Mr. Tashi back very hard and little was heard from him for a long time. We know that he grieved - also he was left with four young children (as well as four grown children), and many business activities. These factors kept him very subdued and no doubt very busy, for Mrs. Tashi had been a great help to him in these business activities. Knowing these things, we continued to write to him frequently, although we received infrequent replies.
Tse Ten was unable to make his trips to the rhododendron areas as he had previously done when he was more free to venture forth. Also we learned later that the mourning custom in Sikkim restricts activities of the survivors for a full year. His few letters did not display the old sparkle of the Tse Ten Tashi we had known.
In August of 1972 we were able to inform Tse Ten that we were returning to Sikkim. Then we received a letter from him that indicated he had suddenly lively again! We had been encouraged by Her Majesty, the Gyalmo to organize a rhododendron tour of Sikkim, and we were working on that. Mr. M. Sain had inspired us to print a book of his botanical descriptions of rhododendrons of the area around Darjeeling and of Sikkim.*
*"Rhododendrons of Darjeeling and Sikkim, Himalayas" by M. Sain, 62 pp, may be ordered from Britt Smith, 11031 SE 244 Street Kent, WA 98031 for $2.50 plus 25¢ postage.
Plans were developing rapidly and excitement was running high as we were to leave October 10 for Sikkim via Scotland.
The evening of September 28, 1972, there was a knock on the door. This produced a telegram which bore the words "Father expired twenty-seventh. Paljor Tashi."
It seemed the end. It was the end of many things, among them Tse Ten Tashi's happy thought that he would discover a new rhododendron species. It was also the end of Tse Ten's fond wish that one day he would earn and be awarded the Gold Medal of The American Rhododendron Society. Of course it may yet be proved that he did discover a new rhododendron species which he would have loved to name R. tashii. He spoke of these things several times when we were with him.
We went to Sikkim in spite of the loss and were honored by the family in being invited to participate in the funeral services, which continue for forty-nine days. The twenty-eighth day is particularly auspicious and that was the day of our participation - with twenty three monks praying and one thousand butter lamps burning in the home.
As a result of Tse Ten Tashi's efforts, we are growing thousands of seedlings from the seed collection in Sikkim. Some will bloom this year and others will be coming into bloom for years to come. We have a substantial group of color slides which Tse Ten photographed. Among them is the picture of yellow R. campanulatum, the existence of which is verified by Mr. Kalipada in his book, "Plants of Darjelling and Sikkim Himalayas". Tse Ten sent seed of R. keysii which he said had not been previously reported in Sikkim. To crown it all, there just may be a new species which we can name R. tashii.
Before you read this, a group of approximately 25 of your fellow rhododendron enthusiasts will have returned from a six-day trek through the rhododendron forests loved by Tse Ten Tashi, by M. Sain and by Kessop Pradhan, who will have organized and guided the trek.
We will be so full of enthusiasm, and so loaded with photographs that we hope your interest is insatiable. We will want to tell you and to show you photographs of the first rhododendron trek through part of Sikkim organized through The American Rhododendron Society at the suggestion of Their Majesties, the Chogyal and Gyalmo of Sikkim.
May it all bring honor to the memory of Tse Ten Tashi.