Sunday, October 28, 2012
21 Years old Sangey Udenla who held from Gangtok had been selected for Doordarshan Primetime Television Serial “Ek Tha Rusty” based on Ruskin Bond famous author. Shooting for the serial will take place at Mussorie, Dehradun. She is one of the findings of Sikkim Model Hunt 2012. She is a final year student of Political Science (Hons) in Daulatram College, New Delhi.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
It has been a wonderful response from different places of the state including Darjeeling District regarding my findings on the Postal History of Sikkim. I am happy that my readers found information that they have less heard. Continuing to the previous article I here share about the Postal System of the British Expedition of 1888 that played an important in turning over of Sikkim of what it is today.
Geoffrey Flack in “Sikkim Field Force 1888-89; Precursor to the Younghusband Expedition” published in Postal Himal (No.78, 2nd Quarter 1994) writes ……. on March 20th 1888 Brigadier General T Graham was send with a force of 2000 men to retake the lands of Sikkim that was invaded by the Tibetans. The Tibetans offered little resistance, crossed the Jalepla and attacked Gnatong, The British men forced the Tibetans to drive them to the frontiers.
Brigadier General T Graham requested for the extension of the telegraph line towards the Tibetan side of Jalepla that was later sanctioned making the entry of Arthur Edmund Sandbach to the land of Sikkim. Sandbach was a Royal Engineer to the Bengal Sappers and Miners. Arrival of Sandbach to Sikkim plays an important role in the early development of postal systems in Sikkim. It was due to his letters send from the frontiers of Sikkim and Tibet during his 11 months staying with the British Field Force that had surfaced new addition of the long forgotten postal history of Sikkim.
Sandbach and his unit arrives at Sikkim and immediately makes into Tibet frontier, camping at a place called “Byutan”, an unknown place name till now east of Jalepla frontier near Bhutan border on November 9th, 1888. Sandbach and his unit stays at Tibet for three weeks before returning to Gnatong on December 3rd, 1888. Along with the telegraphs, EXPERIMENTAL P.O. C-7 of the British Forces was also with the Sandbach’s unit at Tibet.
EXPERIMENTAL P.O. C-7 was established at Gnatong and it might had travelled with Sandbach’s unit to the Tibetan frontier cannot be denied. The website Invaluable.com states the description of an auctioned Post Card as “1889 (3 Dec.) 1/4a. brown stationery card from Private John Sullivan of the Connaught Rangers at Sikkim to Bombay, cancelled with a good strike of the "experimental po/c-7" c.d.s. and with Market Bombay arrival c.d.s. alongside; the contents requesting the addressee to send a catalogue to the writer at Sikkim; most unusual. The card with a couple of small faults though a rare item of mail from this obscure military operation.”
Sandbach’s correspondence provides a great deal of information about the postal history of Sikkim Field Force. Another remarkably cancellation received from the Sandbach’s correspondence used inside Sikkim are the ‘EXPERIMENTAL P.O. C-3’ and ‘EXPERIMENTAL P.O C-22’.
‘EXPERIMENTAL P.O C-3’ is the rarest of the cancellation of the Sikkim Field Force of 1888-89. Only 3 covers had been found dated October 3rd and 5th, 1888 used most probably at Rangpo where Sandbach had stayed on his visit. Ten covers from ‘EXPERIMENTAL P.O C-22’ had been found cancelled at Rhenock Ridge. The covers was used between December 16th, 1888 to late May 1889.
For a stamp sized state of Sikkim, 6th November 2006 hold a moment of glory and recognisation in terms of world philately. Indian Postage had featured a postal stamp on Changu Lake in a group of five lakes from different part of India. The Changu Lake stamp with Rs 5 denomination features among the five Himalayan Lakes of India that include Roop Kund, Sela, Tsomo Riri and Chandra Tal. The stamp and First Day Cover had been designed by Bharati Mirchandani and Cancellation designed by Alka Sharma. The stamp is printed in photogravure process and printed at India Security Press, Nasik. It was for the first time in the history of Indian Postage, an individual theme from Sikkim got introduced in Indian postage stamp. For the last few years efforts were made on to feature individual theme from Sikkim. Along the lines various tourist destinations including Rumtek Monastery, Changu (Tsangu) Lake, Guru Dongmor Lake, Nathula Pass and cultural diversity of Sikkim were discussed but it was the more popular Changu (Tsangu) Lake that made the history. Truly no doubt Changu Lake has been one of the major tourist attractions over the years and its incomparable scenic beauty reflects the charisma of the small state of Sikkim.
More than thirty years since the state of Sikkim joined the Indian Union, Sikkim has been struggling for its presence in Indian postal stamps. Apart from four Mt Kanchenjunga stamps on three separate occasions (1955, 1978 and 1988), Red Panda (1955), Blood Pheasant (1963), and Flora and Fauna of North East India (2006), a single illustration of Yumthang valley in 1982 Himalayan Flowers First Day Cover and handful of Sikkim Special Covers, it was a long wait for Sikkim Philately to rejoice.
Despite the fact that Sikkim first made its presence felt in the world of philately way back in 1935 when in this small Himalayan Kingdom a unique postal experiment was conducted by a man named Stephen Hector Smith. The postal experiment got popular with the name Sikkim Rocketmail Experiment 1935.
Although few people know or remember that Sikkim was home to a unique experiment in mail delivery. In fact Sikkim was one of the very few countries ever in the world during the reign of the Chogyal, the Sikkim king, to perform this ambitious achievement. The parcels along with letters and other items were sent from the rockets to the confined destinations. Rocket mail was being sent across the rivers. In fact, there are many covers sent successfully that actually has signature of the late Sir Tashi Namgyal, the Chogyal. In the book “From the diary of Stephen Smith” written by Stephen Smith relating to rockets mail experiments, it has been mentioned that the Sikkim experiment was the most successful among all the pioneering efforts in rocket mailing the world over. The five places where the experiments were conducted were Gangtok, Sarumsa, Ray, Singtam and Rangpo.
Stephen Hector Smith, a pioneer in Indian Rocketmail history chooses Sikkim for his experiment because of its geographical features and mountains. Sikkim is also the first country in the world to successfully dispatch by means of a rocket, a parcel containing small quantities of such useful articles as medicine, tobacco, tea, sugar, etc. Those people who helped Sikkim Rocket experiment succeed included Chogyal Tashi Namgyal, CE Dudley, General Secretary to the Chogyal, Tashi Dadul Densapa, Private Secretary, Rai Sahib Faqir Chand Jali, the state engineer and F Williamson, British Political Officer.
This note on history of Philately in Sikkim shall not be completed without the mentioning of the Revenue Stamps of Sikkim that has been continuing prior to 1917. The oldest found cancellation on Sikkim Revenue Stamp dates back to 8th October 1928 dispatched from Mangan B.O to Gangtok. The central design of the stamp has the south-east face of Mt. Siniolchu, in the north of Gangtok. The Photograph was taken by Hoffmann in the illustration of Claude White’s book “Sikkim and Bhutan”.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
October 5th, Day 1: Even a 5.30 am drive from Dalapchand was not enough for us (the Bee Fest Team from Dalapchand SS) to reach the venue at TNA, Gangtok on time for the opening ceremony of the Bee Fest 2012. It was already 10 am when we reached there. There was an excitement and anxiety both mixed in the looks of our small group. I had told my students we were giving our best and we shall all enjoy the moment of being part of first of its kind Bee Fest 2012, an inter-school scholastic competition to be held at our state of Sikkim.
Sushil Rai, a 13 year old from class viii from Dalapchand SS, the same student who had been featured in my earlier article on Bee Fest was the youngest from our group. He was one of the two students participating at the Bee Innovate from our school. People looking at him were wondering anxiously to find whether or not he was the same person whose photograph had been featured in a Bee Fest article at . The shy looking Sushil never understood his popularity.
When we reached TNA school ground, the students from over 150 schools had lined up in four groups according to their participating events. The view my eye was watching felt me no less than an aura of watching the line-up for the Olympic Games. It was simply awesome!! I could see many of my Sikkim Express friends moving around making me feel happy and at home. I had been associated with Sikkim Express since 2008 and to me it’s like my family. After NK Pradhan, HRDD Minister officially announced the opening of the Bee Fest 2012, the four teams led by their flag bearers left for their respective event room.
With preliminary rounds going on, I was enthusiastically with my crossed fingers waiting for some good news from my student’s performance. The only thing I could do at that moment was move around different innovate models from different corners of the state. Some of them were very interesting and few out of context from my small head. I am surprise whether that was really a student’s concept or worked on by their teacher.
Few of them had innovative thoughts with small things yet something different. I would surely like to mention few of the school’s work I did enjoy. East Point SS was the best with a crazy looking innovative idea of TE-JAC, boatle- boat on plastic bottle from Duga SS was interesting, similarly Solar House from Bahai SS, the low cost refrigerator, bio-gas electricity from Dikling SS and others should be applauded for their effort in doing something different.
Among the crowds of wonderful exhibition of models there were these two boys from our school, Sushil Rai and Purna Kumar Rai with their small oven like model. Probably the youngest in the exhibition, one of them was from class vii and the other from class viii. They had made a theoretical presentation of Non Bio-degradable Electricity Generator Oven that has a multi-purpose function.
By the evening there was mixed news for our school, we had participated in the four events where the Turn Bee team and the Bee Innovate team qualified for the next day.
October 6th, Day 2: Prabha Sharma and Apeksha Chettri, Turn Bee team from our school was selected in the Top 50 from the 350 odd participants that was part of the Turn Bee competition. But at the end of the day there was no lady luck for them they failed to make it through to the Top 8 finalists.
There was a varied response about the Bee Fest on the second day. Most of them appreciated the concept behind the organization of such event while few were not satisfied with the way of organization. Nevertheless from my side there is an applauding gesture towards the team ofSikkim Express and 24 Hours Inspired for at-least making it possible to assemble the schools of Sikkim from different corners of the state under one roof. Although Bee Fest 2012 may not be the grandest of an event but without doubt it succeeded in celebrating the winners of the talent at the rural practice. To organize an event that had over 150 schools and more than 1200 students is not a matter a joke; it is an acclaim, a pat on the shoulders of those behind the scene that dreamt for the students of our Sikkim.
As the day winded up, a news of happiness arrived to us, our young school team for Bee Innovate was among the Top 12. The moment was something even I had lost hoped off. It was a moment I wish to remember for a long time, my school team was at the Top12 from the odd 150 plus schools.
October 7th, Day 3: The finals of Bee Fest competition started with an unhappy news that APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India was not arriving at the function. It was a major blow for the students as well as to the teachers who had hoped to catch a glimpse of the great leader and hear him. But it was a surprise entry of Bhaichung Bhutia, our football legend into the TNA auditorium that brought smile and joy to everyone’s face.
The final result of the four competitions was very different than I had expected. I had earlier talked with Deewakar Basnet, Chief Learning Officer from 24 Hours Inspired and I still remember my words and I had said whatever is the performance of the participants, the ultimate winners of the competition will be the students from the urban areas and most preferably it will be the students from Gangtok surroundings. The lists of winners included Rumtek SS, Namchi SS, Central Pandam SS and PNG SSS at Quiz Bee, Turn Bee, Buzz Bee and Bee Innovaterespectively. The ultimate King and Queen Bee Crown went to Central Pandam SS and TNA.
Our school failed to get the first two spot at the Bee Innovate but I am happy and satisfied that my two young students was able to break their barriers and make their presence in the big event. When I write these lines I do wish to share a small incident that I was having a call from Purna Kumar Rai’s father knowing that when shall his son return back to home as due to his absence the work at home had been messed up. His poor father did not understand that his talented son was selected among the Top 12 schools from the 150 schools at the finals of the Bee Innovate. (firstname.lastname@example.org)