Writings of Sikkim since 2007

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mazhitar Food and Drink Festival 2016: Towards wider audience

Prashant Tamang, Indian Idol winner, Remanti Rai, Sikkim State Awardee, Damber Nepali, famed singer from Nepal was among the artistes who wrapped up the closing night of the three day long Mazhitar Food and Drink 2016 held at Mazhitar SS’s ground.  The combination of music and food supported by innovative glimpses of West Pandam Constituency made a huge impact to the people of Mazhitar and beyond. Interested visitors (thanks to its huge publicity) from places like Siliguri, Darjeeling, and different corners of the State have made the organizing committee think big for the next season.
Sikkim is no new to organizing such events and is known across the globe for promoting its culture, costume and traditions. But in few reasons, Mazhitar Food and Drink 2016 were different from others. As an observer, I hereby would like to share some of my favourite that made the event something different from the rest.
What I appreciated the most at Mazhitar Food and Drink 2016 was the presence of less known Mazhi Community. The growth and development of a then small place Mazhitar has grown up over the last couple of decades, the name Mazhitar is now synonym with famed SMIT and the Medicine Factory. Despite that a small community of around 27 houses thrives in this area from whom the name of the place was set up – the Mazhi community.
Mazhitar, the flat land of the Mazhi community as it was known in the early days. It was very pleasant to lookout their traditional fishing items and foods made from fishes being offered at their provided stall. I had an opportunity to talk with a senior Mazhi man who thanked the organizing committee for inviting them in their first ever presentation of their culture and tradition. I was very sad to hear with a population of less than five hundreds limited to Mazhitar surrounding and Jorethang, this community is fighting for the survival in Sikkim. All credits to the people behind the event for proving an opportunity for the general public to learn about Mazhi community.


Next to it, Ashbir Rai Memorial Gorkha Museum from Singlebong exhibited old traditional items used by the Gorkha communities. I got a chance to closely feel those rare old-style items of the past. Most of the household items were made from bamboos, woods and straws, collectively more than 80- 90 years. Watching those items, it seemed the wheel of clock had stopped. We should encourage such events where apart from fun and entertainment we do get a taste of our heritage. Credits should be given to Sukdeo Rai, person behind the collections for preserving such old heritage for our coming generation. Rai says the fast moving today’s generation needs to know about these items, they are part of our legacy. How true!!
Sikkim Photographic Society, Singtam made its first public appearance with exhibition cum sale display of over seventy photographs taken within Sikkim. The photo exhibition was one of the crowded stalls of the three day event. All thanks to Suresh Lama, promoter of Mazhitar Food and Drink 2016 for inviting PSS.
Historical findings at the popular Pandam Gaari were another path breaking thought that presented the heritage of West Pandam Constituency. It is amazing how those historic materials make an impact in the development of a place. I am afraid to say, despite the unearthed tools being displayed in different places before little has been done to know more about it.  Litti, a popular Bihari community food items found many lovers. People whole heartedly enjoyed the taste of Bihari cushine, Sherpa cushine, Gurung cushine and others.
And who can forget the singing stage debut of young phenomenal teenager Barsa Rai from South Sikkim.  Popularity of Barsa Rai, all thanks to social media was justified by her song. Her stage appearance on the final day of the event was the most anticipated performance despite celebrated singers making their presence. We got to see the other side of Sikkim State Awardee Remanti Rai who shared her stage with Barsa Rai and encouraged her.  Truly a Sikkimese style!!




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Friday, January 29, 2016

Sachin Tendulkar Temple at Bihar

According to Hindustan Times, in 2013 a mandir was inaugurated  by Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwary along with Kaimur district magistrate Arvind Kumar Singh with a life-sized (5.5 feet) statue of the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar at village Atarwalia, in Kaimur district, about 170 km south-west of state capital Patna. 
The white marble statue, which dons the official blue jersey of the Indian national cricket team, weighs 850kg and was crafted at Rajasthan’s Nathdwara at the cost of Rs. 8.5 lakh. It has been installed on a 10-feet high brick platform. Tiwary also laid the foundation for a temple which would house Tendulkar’s statue. 
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Modi Mania at Gangtok



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After Dendrobium Atal Bihari Vajpayee, its turn for Cymbidium NaMo


After Dendrobium Atal Bihari Vajpayee, its turn for Cymbidium NaMo, an orchid hybrid variety in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi on his first visit as the Prime Minister of Sikkim was honoured with an Orchid name at Gangtok on January 18.
PM Modi unveiled three orchid varieties in the Flower Show where he named the two orchids after Sardar Vallavbhai Patel and Pandit Deendayal Upadhaya while the third one was named Cymbidium NaMo by Pawan Chamling, Chief Minister of Sikkim.
Dendrobium Atal Bihari Vajpayee was named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India on his visit to Sikkim in 2003.


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Looking Ahead

By PD Rai


January has been full of negative news starting with terrorist attack on our Air Base at Pathankot. For a nation hungry for good news Sikkim has provided one. Sikkim has been declared a fully Organic State by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. No mean achievement this. Congratulations all around.

Organic Mission accomplished. How many States can say this for any Public Policy carried out in mission mode? This milestone could not have been achieved but for the complete cooperation and coordination of all sections of our society. There are still the naysayers. There will always be the fringe elements. They also serve an important purpose and we are grateful to them.

We wake up to another day. Anything changed? Apparently not. But from now on it is about building on the success of the achievement. By no stretch of imagination is this a small task. It is also an onerous one too.

Chief Minister Chamling is a proud man. Having crafted a shared vision of a Fully Organic Sikkim he has managed to provide the political leadership to ensure its timely implementation. None other than Prime Minister Modi has made the announcement of Sikkim having achieved this huge task. His narrative in his inaugural speech said it all. The challenges faced along the way. The lack of support from many quarters. The loud opposition and noise of many of our farmers. Yet he and his supporters stayed the course.

Gradually he won over people from all walks of life to back the mission. The tipping point came when the world started discussing the positive impacts of Organic Farming for clean food security, for soil health and for overall health in general. It works well for combating Climate Change too.

Today we have to be grateful for the work put in by many. The Ridge Park Floriculture Show is a tremendous piece of art. Many visitors have commented that they have never seen such a floriculture spectacle. I am sure we can fill several coffee table books with the photographs of the flowers exhibited. No participant has spared any effort to make the Sikkim Organic Festival 2016 a grand success. The extent and quantum of orchids on display tells us how deeply energized and involved are many of our floriculturists. I must mention Mrs. Tikamaya Chamling and her family for the amount of effort put in not just presently but over the decades to imbibe a spirit of learning and scientific temper in growing orchids in particular. There are others like Mohan Pradhan, the quintessential Orchid man from Sikkim. Sanjog Raya, architect, has helped in the three dimensional conceptualization of the Ridge Park super show. And many like them.

The display in Saramsa Garden is another grand scale idea. Here the farmers from different parts of Sikkim display their produce, mainly vegetables. Fantastic array of Organic Farming output. There is an educative exhibition of what goes into the soil that is important. A full display of how soil health and nutrition for the plants. It would be of immense help if many schools arranged children to visit Saramsa Gardens. It is a  visual treat but also education.

There is also a glimpse of value added product exhibits which gives a peek of the potential of value addition. Many young entrepreneurs are needed to take full advantage of our big bang Organic State Status.

I encourage everyone to go and have a look. The displays will be made available for some time. One has to go and soak in the fruits of the labour of our farmers. However, more important will be the recognition of the intent and hard labour. If the display is any indication of overall effort, then we can be sure that if coordinated well we will be able to supply huge amounts of our produce to markets elsewhere even abroad.

The Department of Agriculture and Horticulture have worked tirelessly in trying to present a commendable grand finale to the mission. They have done it and we have to commend them for their hard work and dedication.

Now the question is what next?

We need to take a deeper dive into many of the issues presented to us by the Mountain Specificities. Small and scattered land holdings, irrigation issues and market access were some of the issues flagged by Dr. Ramesh Chand, Member NITI Aayog unsurprisingly. Mountains present other sets of issues which inflate the cost of production. How do we overcome this without subsidy is a very important question?

We cannot lose the momentum and so we have to go back to the drawing board to find high quality innovative solutions to many of these and other questions that will inevitably arise.

We have crafted many great things together. Peace and harmony in a critical border area of India is just one of them. I am sure this has played a vital role in our march to attain Organic State status. That is the how we as a society can move forward together. That is also a great sign of progress and a progressive society.

Immortalized in the words of poet Robert Frost, “And Miles to go before I sleep; And Miles to go before I sleep”. These aptly apply to Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.

Well done.



(The author is the sitting MP Lok Sabha, Sikkim and the opinion shared is personal)


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Former Sikkim Governor V Rama Rao passes away

Former Sikkim Governor and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ventrapragada Rama Rao died at a private hospital in Hyderabad on Sunday following illness. He was 81 and is survived by wife and son.
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Monday, January 18, 2016

PM Shri Narendra Modi's visit to Sikkim and Assam





 

PIC: Ministry of Information & Broadcasting
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Sunday, January 17, 2016

StartupIndia and OrganicSikkim – the perfect Jugal Bandi for our youth

By PD Rai

In India many startups are actually happening in the Organic Agri space. Little is known of or about them. They may not have found space in Vigyan Bhawan during the inauguration of #StartupIndia. Of course, overwhelmingly the glitz of Technology led startupswere there for everyone to see. They are the now famous ones in online marketing like Flipkart or those in transportation aggregation like Ola.


Prime Minister Modi flagged off #StartupIndia in New Delhi on 16th January. This is a fantastic initiative and we all applaud it. It has the architectureof giving entrepreneurs the space to do what they do best, creating products and services from ‘ideas’ and making them work – the startup ecosystem. After making them work finally curating them to be able to monetize it before ramping it up in terms of scale.

That an idea can fail and hence needs that exit route is planned well. Self certification is a key ingredient. This will take away the ‘babu’ or small time bureaucrats who have no clue as to what entrepreneurship is all about impeding the process. They do not even want to understand it. They just want to get in the way. They add friction and costs. All counterproductive. If I am writing all this, believe me I have had the opportunity to going down this road myself. But better, I have had the opportunity to listen to thousands of young people who have had to contend with this ‘harassment’. In one sweep our Prime Minister has gotten rid of this. Thumbs up to that.

Making it easier to register and get loans is the next big thing. Creating a tidy Rs. 10,000 Cr fund for start ups is also a great initiative.

If the Ministries all ensure that there is minimum Government, then I am sure the #StartupIndia will lift off.

Now to making the main argument. Why should this be limited just to Technology led start ups. What we need to do is to connect it to Agriculture. Make AgriTech Startups cool. This is where the real fun is going to be because India’s teeming millions of young people will have to be part of the food security apparatus. This needs careful handling as there is a message in the Startup plan that only Tech Startups are in. Agro-Startups will enhance our ability to grow our food locally and build the largest food basket in the world. Such startups will have the resilience to adapt to the vagaries of weather induced by Climate Change.

Will NABARD be up to the task? Can they leverage the fundamental momentum that is being given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in solving the key issue of young people leaving their farms and going elsewhere?

Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is playing host to the Agriculture Ministers of India Meet which was flagged off by Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh and Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling yesterday. Sustainability and welfare of Farmers is the thematic which all Ministers have to deliberate on and come up with some concrete suggestions for the Prime Minister, who is going to listen to the outcomes before he speaks on the occasion today.

The keynote speech was given by Dr. Ramesh Chand, Member NITI Aayog. He is a long time professional in the field of agriculture. What he said was remarkable. He aligned completely with the theme of this article. How can we make #StartupIndia available to the farming sector? Hence there is a meeting of minds here. It is not just about giving sops but now turning to making farming profitable once again with cheaper input costs.

Critically technology is available for the farms. Many young and Tech background people have found solace and their calling in buying poor and degraded land and making them into vibrant Agri businesses. There are many instances out there. Take for instance the Lumiere Organic, headed by Manjunath and headquartered in Bangalore. They started with just growing what is now known as Organic Food and Vegetables. They now have a roaring Organic Food Restaurant. Guess who are their main customers? Technology fatigued souls from Bangalore’s millions working in all the Hi Tech industries! All looking for the Organic balm.

Manjunath wants to source products from far away Sikkim.

So now what is required? Get young entrepreneurs to do just what Manjunath and many others have done. Young people need to get the space to start and if need fail. This is what entrepreneurship is all about.

Sikkim, under Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has created a State that is fully organic. Sikkim is the brand. Sikkim needs to be leveraged. Can we now marry Prime Minister Modi’s #StartupIndia with #OrganicSikkim and field a 1,000 young entrepreneurs? This is a challenge worth taking. This is a partnership worth exploring.

This perhaps is the opportunity of the decade before us. What it needs is to be able to have a quick mechanism like an incubator in Sikkim to leverage the full potential of #StartupIndia.

Welcome to Sikkim, Hon’ble Prime Minister to!



(The author is the sitting MP Lok Sabha, Sikkim and the opinion shared is personal)


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Main January mein Sikkim aunga : PM Modi

Nirmal Mangar, my good journalist friend shares his anecdotes meeting with Prime Minister Modi. He was among the Sikkim Journalist Team that got an opportunity to witness the proceedings of parliament at New Delhi last year. 
Nirmal Mangar in his facebook status writes.... "It was last monsoon, I got an opportunity to meet the man of India in Parliament House, I felt pompous and happy to thank him on mentioning Sikkim's organic mission in both the parliaments ( of India and Nepal) also not to forget his Germany visit.
I still have a strong memory of him telling ' Main January mein Sikkim aunga (I will come to Sikkim on January) and will declare your state as the first in the country to adopt organic farming'
Finally, the great moment has arrived."
Truely a great moment has arrived, we all Sikkimese is awaiting this big moment when PM Modi will declare Sikkim as the fully Organic State.

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When i started my blog on Sikkim way back in 2007, i had it clear on my mind that this blog shall help people look out for knowledge on Sikkim. I always wanted a knowledge house about Sikkim, its past, present and future. I do not know over the years how much did i succeed but my determination to let other understand my Sikkim is always giving me a push. with regards Shital Pradhan (himalayanreview@gmail.com)

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