Friday, January 11, 2013

CS chairs meeting to discuss containment of crimes against women and weaker sections


GANGTOK, 10 Jan [IPR]: A meeting on crime against women and weaker sections of the society was held here at Chintan Bhawan, Gangtok today. The meeting was chaired by Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim, Karma Gyatso and was participated by Chairpersons of State Commission for Protection of Child Right, State Commission for Backward Classes, State Commission for Women, State Social Welfare Board, OBC Welfare Board, Juvenile Welfare Board, Additional Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, Secretary Labour , Secretary, Welfare Department, District Collectors, Superintendents of Police of all the four districts, representative from State Legal Services Authority, HRDD and public prosecutors.
At the outset, the Chief Secretary while welcoming the members in the meeting informed the gathering about the meeting held on 04 January in New Delhi between the Home Ministry and the Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of Police of all the states wherein the participants suggested that punishment for gangrape should be stronger and there should be an amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act to lower the age to 16 years and grading should be based on the magnitude of offence.
He informed that the participating states also suggested that crime prevention is very important and there should be zero tolerance for petty offences as the offender can escalate in crime ladder and especially for cases under section 509 of IPC, which deals with sexual harassment of women.
Further detailing the meeting held at in New Delhi, the Chief Secretary added that the states have also suggested that cases need to be registered as and when women reach a police station. Recording of information should be only by women and if necessary by audio/video recording. Medical practitioner who examines a rape victim must be a woman. Police protection for the victim till the trial ends should be given.
The participating states have also suggested that fast track courts are necessary and court procedure should prevent humiliation of the victims and character assassination must be stopped. There should be no adjournments once trial starts with day-to-day hearing and the rights of the victims should be defined. Judges and prosecutors should be women. Discretion in grant of bail for heinous offences should be removed and prosecutor should be of the victim’s choice.
The Chief Secretary said that the Centre has pointed out that accountability of police is essential and gender sensitization needs to be made a part of the curriculum, if not done in police training schools and colleges. Awareness programmes are necessary. Expansion of civil police is necessary and reluctance of women to join should be reduced by reserving posts for them in police. Deputy Superintendent of Police should be the nodal officer for crime against women in every district. One additional Director General of Police should be designated as nodal officer in every state.
The CS during the meeting urged everyone to be very serious on this issue and cooperate with each other to prevent such types of crimes in the state. The meeting which was actively participated discussed threadbare the crimes committed against women and strategies to eliminate Crime against women/children in the state. The meeting also outlined the necessity of awareness programmes and councelling from the village level. The Chairpersons of various commissions also suggested the identification of vulnerable areas and sensitization of the people of such areas. Establishment of one all women Police Station, posting of at least one lady cop in every police station were also suggested during the meeting.
The meeting also suggested that as almost all labourers in the state are coming from outside the state proper registration of labourers should be done by the labour department. The meeting also discussed substance abuse and alcoholism as the main reasons behind such crimes therefore proper mechanism and legal procedure has to be adopted to prevent substance abuse and alcoholism. Engaging the children in a positive way through various extracurricular activities will also keep them occupied thereby preventing negative thoughts in their mind, it was suggested.
The Chairpersons of various commissions and boards while appreciating the cooperation rendered by the state police in combating such crimes suggested that people-friendly policing plays a pivotal role in encouraging the victims to be more open with the police whenever such crimes occur. Establishment of Forensic Lab in the state will also help in speeding up the trial process it was suggested in which the Director General of Police informed the meeting that the Regional Forensic Lab will be functional by February 2013.
Representative from State Legal Services Authority, Matilda Rai, informed the meeting that the SLSA is clearing all the cases speedily with regard to the victims’ compensation scheme and also conducting various awareness programmes with welfare officials, commissions and police officials. She further informed that free legal aid is also being provided to the victims of such crimes.
The Additional Chief Secretary, R. Ongmu during the meeting said that the government is fully aware of the problem and has taken steps for welfare and protection of the women and children and the weaker sections of the society. In this regard she sought report from the District Collectors about the activities of the various committees set up by the government to look into matters relating to crimes against women and children.
The District Collectors and the Superintendent of Police also highlighted about the activities taken up at the district level on this issue.
The Chief Secretary while concluding the meeting appreciated the manner in which every participant registered concern against such crimes in the society. He said that substantial and concrete opinion came out in the meeting which shows the commitment of the society towards this issue. He further thanked all the participants for attending the meeting which he said is a step taken by the state administration to prevent such crimes in our society.

Employers briefed on Employees State Insurance Scheme


SCHEME TO BEGIN WITH FACTORIES AND ESTABLISHMENTS WITH KITCHENS
GANGTOK, 10 Jan: An awareness programme on Employees State Insurance Scheme [ESIS] was organized jointly by the Labour Department, Government of Sikkim, and Employees State Insurance Corporation [ESIC], Government of India, here at Hotel Dew Pond situated on Paljor Stadium Road today. The programme was attended by hotel owners, representatives of shops, restaurants and other establishments which will come under the ambit of this scheme which extends insurance cover to employees.
Explaining ESIS, Amitava Dutta [Assistant Director, ESIC, Kolkata] stated that ESIS has been extended in Sikkim with effect from 01 December, 2012 and at present it was only covering factories in the state, including establishments having kitchens.
“The Scheme is being run by ESIC in Sikkim, but the Labour Department will be the coordinating department and for the initial five years all the expenses towards implementation of the Scheme in Sikkim will be borne by ESIC, as we want to really make the scheme work in Sikkim”, he added.
Explaining further, he detailed that ESIS was a social security scheme designed to accomplish the task of socially protecting employees [and their families] in the organized sector against such events as sickness, maternity, disability and death due to on the job injury and to provide medical care to the insured employees and their families.
The scheme provides full medical care to the employees registered under the scheme during the period of his incapacity. It provides financial assistance to compensate the loss of his/her wages during the period of his abstention from work due to sickness, maternity and employment-related injury and the scheme also provides medical care to his/her family members, he added.
The ESIS is meant for establishments, including hotels and eateries which employ 10 or more than 10 people. The employees or workers who are drawing salary on monthly basis not exceeding Rs. 15,000 per month will be enrolled in this scheme, employees earning less than Rs. 3,000 need not pay, but their employers will pay their contribution, while handicapped persons are exempted.
He informed that ESI scheme is a self financing scheme and its funds are primarily built out of contributions from the employers and employees monthly salary percentage. The present rate of contribution is 4.75% of the salary as employers and 1.75% as employee’s contribution.
There are two types of benefits under the ESI Scheme, one is cash benefit and the other is medical benefit. Under cash benefit come sickness benefit, employment injury [accident] benefit and funeral benefit. Under medical benefit come primary care [at ESIC dispensaries with minor ailments], secondary care [at Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, after referral by ESIC dispensary doctor] and tertiary care [CRH, Siliguri, Kolkata or any ESIC recognised hospital in the country with major ailments]. At present there were two ESIC dispensaries in Sikkim, one at Tadong and the other at Rangpo.
An insured person will be provided with two Smart Cards for self and for his or her dependents once the person is registered with ESIC. Employees can also be registered online at the website www.esic.nic.in and information can also be available at the Labour Department, Government of Sikkim.
Earlier, KR Limboo [Deputy Labour Commissioner [East], Labour Department] in his welcome address spoke about the ESI Act, 1948 which was enforced in the state from 01 December, 2012 and that the administration of the scheme has been entrusted to Employees State Insurance Corporation [ESIC], Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.


New Year begins with some transfers and slew of promotions


GANGTOK, 10 Jan: The Department of Personnel began the new year with a flurry of office orders announcing promotions and transfers.
In an office order issued on 05 January, Chief Engineer [Electrical], Energy & Power Department, G Targain, was promoted as PCE-cum-Secretary, Energy &Power Department. The promotion is on officiating capacity, necessitated by the demise of the incumbent AK Giri. The office order in question details that regular promotion shall be made in consultation with the Sikkim Public Service Commission.
Changes at the Head of Department level continued on 09 January when Principal Secretary-cum-Development Commissioner, Development Planning, Economic Reforms & NECA Department, AK Yadav, was transferred and posted as Principal Secretary, Excise (Abk) Department, exchanging places with Nim Yethenpa who is the new Development Commissioner now.
The same day, Monalisa Dash of the IFS cadre currently posted as Joint Secretary, Chief Minister’s Office was transferred and posted as Joint Resident Commissioner, Sikkim House, New Delhi. Meanwhile, the Assistant Resident Commissioner, Sikkim House, New Delhi, Marcus Prabal Rai, has been transferred and posted as Under Secretary, Tourism &Civil Aviation Department, Gangtok, on deputation.
There have been a series of promotions in the Sikkim Police as well with DSPs Dhiren Lama and Sonam Pintso Bhutia promoted to the rank of Additional Superintendents of Police on officiating capacity from the date of joining.
Meanwhile three Police Inspectors –Kul Bhadur Gadaily, Renu Raj Chettri and Santosh Kumar Pradhan – have been promoted to the rank of Deputy Superintendents of Police.
Continuing with promotions, Trilochan Sharma, Additional Secretary, Department of Personnel, has been elevated to the Supertime Grade-II of the Sikkim State Civil Service in the PB-4-Rs.32000-60000 and GP of Rs.9000/-,as Special Secretary, in an officiating capacity with immediate effect.
At the Health Department, sixteen personnel of Sikkim State Sub-ordinate Para Medical Service (Technicians Grade-I) have been promoted as Technical Officers (Non-medical) in the Junior Grade of Sikkim State Para Medical Service. The sixteen are: Dadi Ram Dhakal, Ram Prasad Dhakal, Anil Pakhrin, Purna Singh Subba, Sancharaj Subba, Khemraj Koirala, Dalman Gurung, Ramesh Dahal, Bhaichung Bhutia, Indra Kumar Chettri, Bhawani Dhakal, Suraj Kumar Sujee, Love Mohora, Tashi Dorjee Bhutia, J.P.Uniyal and Tulshi Sharma.
Still at the Health Department, two doctors - Dr. Sandeep Pradhan and Dr. Sarita. Gurung – have been promoted, on the recommendation of the SPSC, to Consultant Grade-II (Dental) in the Selection Grade-II with immediate effect.
The promotion of Tashi Wangmu Sherpa and Shiromani Neopaney as Deputy Labour Commissioners on officiating capacity has also, on the recommendation of SPSC, been made on substantive capacity.
Similarly, Additional Director, Food Security and Agriculture Development Department, YK Pradhan, has been promoted as Director in the PB-4 of RS.32000-60000 and GP of Rs.9000 in the Sikkim State Agriculture Service with immediate effect.
Still at the Agriculture Department, seven Deputy Directors have been elevated to the rank of Joint Directors with immediate effect. They are: Tshering Phuti Bhutia, Palzor Namgyal, Namgay Dorjee, Mani Kumar Pradhan, Sherab Tshering Bhutia, Navin Karki and Asha Lama.
Meanwhile, Dr. LD Lepcha, Mission Director (NRHM), Health Department, has been promoted as Principal Director-cum-Mission Director (NRHM) in an officiating capacity with immediate effect.
Also at the Health Department, Assistant Director [Sanitation], Thotup Targain, has been promoted as Deputy Director (Sanitation) in an officiating capacity.

Cops to take stern action against pamphleteering


GANGTOK, 10 Jan: The politics of pamphleteering has begun once more in the State, and this time in earnest, with both the ruling front and the opposition parties, primarily the Golay camp, each having allegedly published, printed and circulated anonymous letters and booklets against each other. The state police department is viewing the matter rather seriously with the Police Headquarters having issued strict directives to the district police to curb the menace as well as take action against anyone involved in the circulation and distribution of pamphlets.
As per a directive issued a few days ago by the DIG [Range], Vineet Vinayak, all the Superintendents of Police in the districts have been directed to take strict action ‘as per law’ against the culprits. This direction has been issued as the police have come to know of numerous scurrilous and defamatory pamphlets being distributed across the state by various people. The SPs of the respective districts have been directed to initiate strict action against anyone found to be engaging in their publication/ distribution.
Recently, a booklet was being circulated targeting the Chief Minister and his son as well which showed news clippings of Nepal based papers on the CM’s tour of Nepal etc. Then again, a few days back, another booklet, this one targeting PS Tamang and his group was in circulation which alleged various acts of corruption on the Upper Burtuk MLA during his tenure as Minister in the past.
In fact complaints against this have been lodged in the Sadar police against a particular allegedly SDF worker. On the other hand, the Rhenock police is also informed to have filed a complaint against the driver of a former MLA. It is informed that a bundle of pamphlets was found in his vehicle.

Statisticians review Indian Statistical strengthening project


20th CONFERENCE OF CENTRAL AND STATE STATISTICAL ORGANIZATION BEGINS IN GANGTOK
GANGTOK, 10 Jan: Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso inaugurated the two-day 20th conference of Central and State Statistical Organization in the presence of Chief Statistician and Secretary, Ministry of Statistic and Program Implementation, Govt. of India (MSPI), Dr. TCA Anant at Chintan Bhawan here today. The conference is being hosted by DESME and is being organized by the MSPI.
The two-day conference is being attended by representatives of statistic offices of States and Union Territories who will deliberate on issues relating to industrial statistics, annual survey of industries, its present status and issues, urban statistics, information technology initiatives in statistics and also review the Indian Statistical strengthening project. It will also review the action taken on the recommendations of 19th Conference of Central and State Statistical Organization (COCSSO).
Highlighting the importance of the annual conference, Chief Statistician and Secretary, Ministry of Statistic and Program Implementation, Dr. TCA Anant informed that it is a premier platform to study and discuss threadbare the concerns and emerging challenges to raise the standard of statistical parameters. Dr. Anant also urged the states to generate and release data according to agreed common and standard calendar.
“This meeting gives us the chance to ensure better coordination between statistical departments in the country and since statistics is knowledge we will deliberate and be the backbone of the government’s assessment,” he stated.
In his address the DESME, Secretary, SD Tshering stated that Sikkim is one of the first states in the country to sign an MoU on the India Statistical Strengthening Project and under the leadership of the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling one of the few states to establish a separate department for statistical work and survey in the state even before the centre had intimated the state to do so.
“I want to thank the ministry for selecting Sikkim as the venue to host this prestigious meet. I hope that the deliberations will help us improve statistical tools and discuss some important issues,” stated the Secretary.
Addressing the conference, Additional Director General, CSO, Ashish Kumar informed that efforts on part of the organization have resulted into a number of initiatives to improve infrastructure scenario of the country. He also urged the states to undertake work on sampling of non sampled areas. Crucial statistical data on critical areas help in better policy formation, he added. He also informed that the two-day conference would try to identify areas of weakness and bridge the gap within 4-5 years.
It was also informed today that the meeting would discuss the means to improve the existing infrastructure in the country. It was mentioned that apart from the grants from the centre, a separate means to develop infrastructure through the 13th finance commission has also been initiated. This grant actually is for identification of weak areas and in the process bridge the gap.

Light was also shed on the recognition of urban and industrial statistics, an area that needed much deliberation and work. Firmer means to collect data along with appropriate knowledge for the different state governments to monitor these two areas for micro level planning will also be discussed during the programme. Other areas where the participants will deliberate upon will be the annual survey of industries, inclusion of areas of survey under central ASI, new census estimate of urbanization and feedback from the different states on the 13th finance commission.

“These deliberations will help in GSDP estimates and other areas and facilitate better policy making and knowledge. This conference is a premier platform to discuss areas of concern. Last year the meeting was held in Jaipur, we will also review the progress, capital formation and simultaneously plan for the future,” shared the ADG (NAD)/ADG (CAP), Mr. Aditya in his address.
On the occasion a manual on Disability Statistic 2012 was also released by the chief guest, Chief Secratary, Karma Gyatso.

Two suicides


GANGTOK, 10 Jan: Two suicides have been reported in the past 2 days in the State, both having been committed by women. In Gerathang, under Gyalshing police jurisdiction a 27-year-old woman reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself in her bathroom on 09 January.
In the other incident, a 36-year-old woman committed suicide on 09 January in her room. She was a resident of Beyong under Sombaria police jurisdiction, West Sikkim. Her husband is reportedly working in Gujarat and she has left behind two children.

SHRPP takes out protest rally in Gangtok


GANGTOK, 10 Jan: Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party [SHRPP] took out a protest rally from Deorali Truck Stand here today. The rally was also joined by leaders of different political parties which are a part of the recently formed Democratic Alliance of Sikkim [DAS].
The rally, which was called to raise seven issues concerning the state, covered the route along 31A National Highway before it ended at Ranka Stand.
Speaking to media persons after the rally, the SHRPP general secretary, Tara Shrestha accused the State government is diluting old laws of Sikkim and is now conspiring to repeal the 1961 Sikkim Registration of Companies Act to implement the central law which the party strongly condemns.
The implementation of Aadhar Card has decreased the importance of the Sikkim Subject Certificates, he contended, while further alleging that it has also encouraged influx into the state. The Aadhar Card should not be made compulsory and the government should protect the Sikkim Subjects, he said.
“SHRPP is totally against the Sikkim-Darjeeling merger and the state government’s silence on this issue shows that there is some secret conspiracy by the SDF party, the state government and the CM”, alleged Mr Shrestha.
The rally also raised issues of the South District administration notification on levying charges for public meetings in South Sikkim, gang rape of a minor in Pakyong and the Sirish Khare pepper-spray incident in Namchi. The party demanded stronger laws to prevent rape and crimes against the women in the state.
There was a proposal to provide 9 subsidized cylinders in the Congress ruled states in India, so Sikkim which supports the UPA, should also demand for 3 additional subsidized cylinders, added Mr Shrestha.
SHRPP president, Dr AD Subba, in turn stated that the rally “was just the beginning and if nothing was done on these issues then the party would continue with its movement and activities”.
“If any political or non-political organization comes forward on Sikkim’s issues then the party will extend it full support”, he added.
SHRPP women wing’s convener, Dharmala Sharma stressed that everyone should come forward for the protection of women in the state while BJP state-unit president, Padam Bahadur Chettri stated that the party would extend its full support on issues related to Sikkim.

On the passing away of Changanlall Sarda:


KC PRADHAN, a Senior Citizen.

On the demise of octogenarian Chhaganlall Sarda, Sikkim is poorer for his sage advice on all matters related to health. He was neither a doctor nor a pharmacist by profession, yet, his was the sound advice for treatment of any illness.
He was a tall figure at MG Marg in his own right and every senior citizen of Gangtok, or Sikkim for that matter, knew him well and in turn he knew them all very intimately and greeted them with grace whenever they stepped into his shop or passed by. Later, the little shop was named Life Line Medical Centre. In keeping with the times almost all the shops on the MG Marg donned a new avatar but he and his family continued to lead an unpretentious lifestyle and the shop too retained its simplicity with the traditional gaddi covered with white cloth – big enough for four to sit on. It was a real adda for the Gangtokians with the jovial Late PC Yapla topping the list of regulars. He was such a frequent visitor that he knew where the various types of medicines were stacked.
The shop was a hub for gossip to gather the latest news around town and collect mails and all sundries – virtually a post office – besides, of course, collecting the monthly course of medicines. Everybody relies on their meticulousness and in times where spurious drugs tend to sneak in, their supply is considered safe and reliable without an iota of doubt.
Interestingly, the old man with all his sagacity used to advise one and all to refrain from taking too much medication. As an old timer, and knowing how the pharmaceutical companies are taking us for a ride, his sage advice was samai ko phal khanu hos. In other words, develop the habit of eating fresh vegetables and fruits that Sikkim’s bountiful climate produces seasonally. This was his mantra for good health.
The Late Changanlall Sarda, and for that matter the reputed families of Motilal Lakhotia, late Khyaliram Singhi, late Chiranjilal Khatri, late Mamraj Agarwal, late Ridhkaran-Madangopal, the well extended Sarda-clan and many others are all part of a very old business community settled in Sikkim many generations ago. Their contribution to Sikkim in the field of trade is great. In the passing away of Chaganlall ji, a dignified personality and gentleman in the truest sense, we lost another stalwart. We pray that his soul rests in peace and his family continues to serve the people of Gangtok in the field of medicine as usual in the high standards set by their patriarch over decades of perseverance.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Govt’s upcoming multi-speciality hospital to include medical college as well


AVAILABILITY OF STNM HOSPITAL FACILITIES TO SMIMS TO THIS END IN MARCH 2013
GANGTOK, 09 Jan: The facilities of STNM Hospital will be available to the students and faculty of Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences only till March end, 2013. As per a directive issued by the Health Department, the utilization of facilities of STNM Hospital and of specialists and medical officers is allowed till 31 March 2013.
This decision, as informed, has been taken as a consequence of the decision of the State government to start a new multi-specialty hospital cum medical college at  Socheythang, Sichey. In fact, as per the directive, the decision to allow Manipal hospital to continue the use of the facilities of STNM is based on this above mentioned decision of the government.
The 575-bedded multi specialty hospital at Socheythang, apart from being a state-of-the-art government hospital will also be a government medical college. This will be the first government-owned and run medical college in the state. In this light it is assumed that when the structure comes up and is functional, the facilities of STNM Hospital would be required by the government medical college.
This would be imperative in view of acquiring recognition from the Medical Council of India for the government medical college so as to make the degrees being awarded by it recognised. On the other hand, the government had taken a Cabinet decision in the year 2011 to increase the number of beds in the proposed hospital and make it a 1000-bedded hospital.  However the decision to enhance the capacity of the hospital was withdrawn due to technical reasons.
The hospital is still under construction and had run into several bottlenecks; however it is expected that the hospital should be constructed and ready some time later this year. As per the directive issued by the Health Department  it allows the “utilization of facilities of Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial (STNM) Hospital, Gangtok and peripheral health institute in East District of Sikkim for clinical material for teaching purposes and utilization of Specialists and Medical Officers (all groups) for imparting clinical training and teaching to medical students of Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences at Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial (STNM) Hospital by Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences (SMIMS) and Manipal Education and Medical Group till 31st March, 2013 only”.
Thereafter, it will have to be seen whether SMIMS can develop and sustain itself to meet the Medical Council of India standards in order to get the MCI recognition if it has not done so already.

‘Vriddha Ashram’ inaugurated at Lower Samdong


FACILITY TO OFFER FREE BOARD TO ELDERLY PILGRIMS
MANGAN, 09 Jan: The Minister for Forest and Environment cum Tourism, Bhim Dhungel today inaugurated the newly constructed Vriddha Ashram here at Hareshwar Shivalay Mandir premises at Lower Samdong in East Sikkim. The Minister was present as the chief guest accompanied by area MLA cum Chief Whip, Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia as special guest.
The Vriddha Ashram, which is to serve as a free guest house for senior citizens visiting the area as pilgrims, has been funded by Madhya Bharat Power Corporation Ltd under its CSR activities. During the function, area MLA Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia, GM NHPC, DK Ray and ED Madhya Bharat, GK Changani were felicitated by the panchayat and public of Lower Samdong for their dedication and contribution in the development of Lower Samdong.
Executive Director, Madhya Bharat in his speech highlighted that Madhya Bharat will construct another additional floor of the Vriddha Ashram in the coming days.
The GM NHPC, DK Ray informed that the NHPC is ready to help people anytime for the development of the village and further added that apart from power generation, NHPC is involved in many other community services in the state for the welfare of the people in the field of health, education and sports etc. The GM highlighted that the construction of cold storage will be completed within the next year.
Area MLA, Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia in his address appealed to the people to change their mindset and involve themselves in the progress of the constituency and state as well. “We have no personal agenda or vested interest but we are working for the welfare of the people”, he said.
Mr. Bhutia reiterated that due to some people with vested interests there have been some hindrances in early sanctioning of the Ramayan Village. He also appreciated the development facilitated by the NHPC in the area and Madhya Bharat as well and further urged for their constant support in the future as well.
Addressing the function, the chief guest Minister Bhim Dhungel stressed that all the people of Tumin-Lingee constituency should be united in delivering their contribution to complete the three mega projects in the constituency which are Jantar Mantar Tantar, Ramayan Village and Chauridara Green Village project.
He further said that 96% hotels in Sikkim are being sublet and run by outsiders where only 4% are being run by the locals. Unless, there is positive thought, there will not be development, he added. Earlier, the function was welcomed by Dharmaraj Adhikari and ended with vote of thanks by Dheeraj Bhattarai.
Also present in the function were officials from NHPC, GM, DK Ray, officials from Madhya Bharat headed by GK Changani, Executive Director, Chief Engineer State Tourism Deptt, zilla member Saraswati Regmi, panchayat members and the local public.


Kewzing-Bakhim strives towards better garbage management


NAMCHI, 09 Jan: With the view to improve garbage management in the area, the newly elected Panchayats under Kewzing-Bakhim under Ravangla Sub-Division, South Sikkim, along with tourism stakeholders, government officials and locals have set out to find means and measures to address waste related problems.
The Panchayats had called a meeting yesterday with the line department officials along with the tourism stakeholders where they appealed to all for coordination and to find better solutions for improper waste disposal in-and-around Kewzing bazaar. During the meeting it was also informed that a Bazaar Committee had also been formed which will be monitoring garbage management of the area.
The Committee members also informed that they will carry out cleanliness drives every month and work on segregation of waste materials where they appealed all to keep three dustbins in every shop and house of the area.
Panchayat President, Tara Kumar Rai informed that the whole Kewzing-Bakhim Zone under Ravangla Sub-Division is flourishing as a tourist destination and infrastructures like Buddha Park at Ravangla and Samduptse and Char Dham at Namchi has increased the tourist inflow in Kewzing and Ravangla. This increase in the number of visitors has also led to garbage disposal problems for which the Bazaar Committee has been constituted to monitor and solve such problems.
The first cleanliness drive by the Committee was conducted yesterday which also saw the participation of officers and staffs from UD&HD, Police and Fire Deptt personnel.

Another last minute disappointment for USFC


CLUB SURRENDERS 2-1 LEAD FOR A DRAW AGAINST MUMBAI FC
GANGTOK, 09 Jan: It was again a big disappointment for the United Sikkim Football Club and its fans as it had to console itself with another draw against Mumbai FC in a match it looked set to win today.
The match had almost ended with the home team leading 2-1 when an experienced Yusif Yakubu scored the equalizer for Mumbai FC with only 40 seconds left of the 5-minute injury time of the match at Paljor stadium today. The match ended with the score of 2-2 with both the teams sharing a point each. USFC is still in the last position with its 10 points now, while Mumbai FC now has 20 points.
Desperate for a win, the home team gave it its best today, but squandered some golden chances which forced them to settle for a last-minute draw.
Mumbai FC took the lead early with a goal by Yusif Yakubu in the 10th minute itself.
In response, the home team came back strong when Nadong Bhutia scoring the equalizer in the 15th minute which was quickly followed up by another goal from USFC’s Linekar Machado the very next minute. The home club finished the first half with a 2-1 lead.
In the second half, the home team played well and dominated possession but could not register any more goals. The match almost looked like it would end in favor of the home club when Yusif Yakubu scored his brace and equalizer for Mumbai FC in the dying seconds of the injury time.
Yusif Yakubu was awarded with the Man of the Match title.
Addressing the post match press conference, Mumbai FC manager, Henry Picardo stated, “The team fought well till the last minute of the match and we are happy to return with a point. USFC played better than it had played earlier in Pune but still some immaturity can be seen in their players”.
Mr Picardo pointed out that the weather conditions today were totally different and against the team as it has never played in such cold condition. “We could have played better,” he commented. Speaking on Yakubu’s performance, he said that Yakubu was one of the more experienced players in the team and the right person to guide the young players of the club.
“Even after all the hard work put in by our players, this draw is a big disappointment for us”, said USFC coach, Nathan Hall. He added that being last in the I-League rankings the home club is playing better than even the top teams but the results are somehow always not going in their favour.
“In today’s match we could have scored more if we had not missed some golden opportunities. Now we have some tough away matches against good clubs but if we play with the same spirit and energy we can do better”, the USFC coach further added.

Saramsa Garden temporarily closed for public


GANGTOK, 09 Jan: Ipecac Garden also called the Saramsa Garden is the venue for the upcoming 2nd International Flower Show. As the state prepares to host the second edition of this mega event in a grand manner preparations are on at the venue.
As per a press release from Joint Director (Parks and Garden), Forest Env Wildlife Management Department,  the Ipecac Garden will be closed for tourists and public from 07 January 2013 till further notice in view of the preparations for the 2nd International Flower Show.

Woman booked under SADA


GANGTOK, 09 Jan: Singtam police have arrested one woman found to be in possession of contraband substances on 08 January.
Sunita Chettri [22], alias Nanu, of Lall Bazaar, Singtam was taken to the Singtam Police Station at around 11.30 AM by the bazaar patrolling duty policemen, when they suspected her to be in possession of contraband substances.
A search at the police station revealed her to be in possession of 03 files [03x24=72] of Spasmo Proxyvon and another 126 loose Spasmo Proxyvon capsules which were concealed in side her money purse.
The accused was arrested and a case under section 9 (B) 11 & 14 of SADA has been registered against her at the Singtam Police Station.

Theft at Shipgyer construction site


GANGTOK, 09 Jan: A case of theft and criminal trespass has been registered against unknown persons on 08 January at the Chungthang Police Station.
According to a written FIR filed by Manager Electrical, Abir Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Chungthang, Vijay Kumar Singh, after the massive flashflood of 21 September, 2012, the Abir Company had stopped its construction work at Audit-III and Audit-IV site at Shipgyer, Chungthang and had left their equipment and vehicle at the site.
They resumed work on 07 January, 2013 and the complainant found that the copper windings of two diesel generators, the main motor, concrete pump, main suit, gentry, contact grouting pump, five booster transformers, copper cables of two taunt rock breakers were stolen and the equipment, vehicles and one 35 HP mody sump pump had also been damaged.
The police have registered a case against unknown persons under section 447/427/379 [punishment for criminal trespass, mischief causing damage and punishment for theft] of the Indian Penal Code at the Chungthang Police Station. So far no arrest or recovery of stolen property has been made, however, sources have been activated and all the police stations have been alerted.

Discovery of 300-year-old Bhutanese forts in West Sikkim


Hissey Wongchuk Bhutia

Lying amidst the forest between DPCA School and the Pelling senior secondary school in West Sikkim are the ruins of two Bhutanese forts known as Paru dzong and Drakchung dzong. I discovered these places along with my friends Dawa Tshering Lepcha, Nimcho Bhutia, Norden Bhutia guided by a student from DPCA School, Sumras. After walking for about 30 minutes from DPCA School I spotted the Drakchung Dzong first, and I also saw a small cave just below the Drakchung Dzong. The Paru Dzong is 15minutes away from Drakchung Dzong. Some locals believe that the erstwhile Chogyal used to live in the Paru Dzong while he was having an affair with a Bhutanese girl. When I reached the Dzongs I felt very happy because it was a big dream of mine to explore these places. After an offering of incense (sang) to purify the place as it is believed that guardian deities dwell in such places. I took the photographs of these two forts after I thoroughly cleaned the walls and measured the forts.
These forts might have been built during the period of Bhutanese occupation of Sikkim i.e. 1696-1705 A.D. Several records are available about the period, but as per the archival records and other primary sources that I have come across during my research work, the years 1696 to 1705 are recorded as the period of Bhutanese occupation of Sikkim.
It is believed that during the period, many forts were constructed here in Sikkim such as Namgyal Thong dzong at Dzongu in North Sikkim, Taktse dzong at Gangtok and Ongdi phodrang at Pakyong in East Sikkim. The existence of these forts are commonly found in various written records while there are no records available about these two forts, the Paru dzong and the Drakchung dzong in Sikkim.
[The writer is a Research Assistant at Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok]

AS GOVT SERVANTS, WE ENJOY LARGESSE, BUT DO WE RECIPROCATE WITH SERVICE?


Letter:
The release and approval of the Dearness Allowance hike by the Cabinet came as music to my ears. But what appalled me was the news item in NOW! dated 07 January 2013 which read ‘Cabinet sanctions Rs. 60 crore to clear DA dues!’ Okay, you might ask so what is the big deal? We government employees are entitled to DA. It is our right. Of course! But the figure is astronomical at least for me. And the news item also cited the reasons why there was a delay in the sanctioning. I somehow felt a little uncomfortable about things. I was happy that the DA has been sanctioned but somewhere I had scruples of guilt as well. It must be a nightmare for the Government to cough up Rs. 60 crore at one go! But the Government is not complaining.
Barack Obama, the most powerful man on the planet had to undergo an agnipariksha because of the much hyped ‘fiscal cliff’ right after his re-election to the White House. The crisis was averted thanks to a last minute deal. The point is that governments all over the world, whether small or big are battling with financial crunches. But aren’t we as citizens or government employees also accountable for the well being (financial or well being) of the state or the country that we live in? A fresh wave of recession is expected this year. Many MNCs have already started downsizing. But government employees are immune to such economic slowdowns.
For the nth time, government employees in Sikkim are one of the highest paid employees in the country. Our salaries are credited into our account by the 1st of every month. We get medical reimbursement and we even get money for spectacles! We are truly the blessed lot!
But if there is anybody who is complaining, it is us, the government employees. We crib about everything under the sun. We are somehow not happy or satisfied. We like to work at snail’s pace. We take endless Casual Leaves against the ten that we are entitled to. Some of us even boss around with our bosses! We make our colleagues sign for us. We prepare and print projects and assignments of our children and sometimes even print photos on the colour printer! I wonder how many of us are as wasteful at home like we are in office. After all sarkaar ko ta ho.... mero key jaanchha, isn’t it?
The aam janta gets frustrated when they reach a Department only to be told that the Sir or Babuni has just left, or has not come, or worse, is on leave. I am not against the perks and privileges that we government employees enjoy. I am even not even against the number of holidays that we get. I just want to see a change for the better as far as our work culture and mindset are concerned. I respect those government employees who are exemplary. But there are many of us who need to take a cue and do better.
The Government gives us the best of perks and benefits and privileges, but I feel the relationship is not reciprocal. I really wonder why we as government employees do not work to the best of our abilities. I have often heard remarks like “aaju ko paakyo”. This is often said after spending a lazy day in office with nothing to do. The worst is when we don’t even carry a pen and we prefer to read the colleague’s newspaper instead of buying our own.
I recently read somewhere that civil servants and staff of government-linked companies (GLCs) surfing social media or engaging in personal matters during working hours may be categorised as having committed corruption, according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

After reading this report, I did some soul searching. I asked myself if I was guilty of any form of corruption at work! And the answer was a big YES! Of course I am corrupt! I log on to Facebook every half an hour. I even go a step further and download pirated music and movies!  Thank God I don’t knit sweaters or discuss soap operas!
But I really wonder if we government employees work hard or hardly work! Time for some introspection folks!
And I can’t help but sign off with these words of Martin Luther King Jr., “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Jashoda Chettri [recvd on email]

Editorial: Children Still Labour


When a ban was imposed in October 2006 [under Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986] against employment of under-14 year olds in any kind of work, one expected it to clear out the grey areas that continued to put children at risk. The original Act had been in place for 20 years before employment of minors even as domestic servants or helpers in restaurants and tea shops was banned. The blanket ban has now been in place for more than six years, but its implementation leaves a lot to be desired. In the initial years [since all forms of labour were banned for children], there was much excitement through sponsored activism. One says ‘sponsored’ because even though a lot of the initial involvement of the civil society towards addressing child labour might have been earnest, it was not committed. How else does one explain the near absence of any discussion on this topic anymore. No one believes child labour to have ended. In fact, the ongoing winters, when all schools are closed, receive an army of under 14 year olds in a plethora of odd-jobs, from working as domestic servants to engaged as menial labourers at work sites of all forms. Some might contend that these children are not being forced to work and that they are seeking out work themselves and contributing to family incomes by utilising their holidays for some ‘productive’ work. That does not justify putting such young hands to work, and with a law now in place, it is also illegal to do so. One must also bear in mind that if given an option, children will prefer to play or day-dream instead of working. By making them work, one preys on their situation; a predatory instinct which the Act prohibiting child labour sought to suppress.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

East Sikkim to pilot Direct Cash Transfer under 10 schemes


GANGTOK, 08 Jan: The Central Government has chosen 43 districts across the country to pilot the Direct Cash Transfer [DCT] System, whereby beneficiaries of 34 identified Centrally Sponsored Schemes [CSS] will have cash benefits [subsidies] transferred directly into their Aadhar Enabled Bank [AEB] Accounts, informed District Collector [East], D Anandan, while speaking to NOW! today. The East district of the State has been chosen as one of the Pilot Districts for introduction of this new system, he confirmed.
Out of the 34 Schemes identified by the Government of India, only 10 schemes are being implemented in the first phase by three Departments. Seven schemes are under the Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare Department, two by the Human Resource Development Department and one by the Health Care, Human Service and Family Welfare Department, he said and added that at present these were the only schemes to be started in Sikkim, while others will follow in the coming days.
The list of Schemes under Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare Department are: Post Matric Scholarship for SC Students, Upgradation of Merit for SC Students, Post Matric Scholarship for OBC, Post Matric Scholarship for ST Students, Upgradation of merit for ST Students, Matric Scholarship Scheme for Minority Communities and Merit cum Means Based Scholarship to students of Minority Communities. Under the HRDD the Schemes are National means cum merit scholarship and Incentives for the Girl Child and under the HC, HS and FW Department is Janani Suraksha Yojana.
A District Level meeting with the Implementing Departments of these 10 schemes was held on 20 December, 2012, which was chaired by the DC [East], similarly a State Level meeting of the implementing departments was also chaired by the Chief Secretary the next day.
A step-by-step procedure for rolling out the DCT System has been chalked out. As per this, Block-wise Beneficiaries list of the identified schemes would be prepared by the departments concerned in a prescribed format and have been submitted. A meeting was held on 22 December, 2012 with Block Development Officers [BDOs] of East Sikkim, Lead Bank Managers of State Bank of India [SBI] and departmental representatives, where a copy of the Beneficiaries list has been provided to the BDOs and to the lead bank managers.
Block level camps have already begun in the different blocks of the East District from 27 December, 2012 and will continue till 31 January, 2013. The departmental representatives, UID authorities and Bank Managers of the Block are participating in the camps, the DC [East] stated and added that prior information has been given to the beneficiaries to participate in these camps.
Those beneficiaries who do not have a bank account [the banks have to have core banking facilities, leaving SISCO and SBS], but have a UID have been encouraged to open an Aadhar Enabled Bank account immediately at these camps he said, so that the benefits meant for the beneficiaries can go directly to the banks.
Where a beneficiary hasn’t enrolled for Aadhar yet, the UID authorities would facilitate in enrolling him/her for Aadhar and then open a bank account, he added. And if a beneficiary has both bank account and UID number, then the UID would be seeded in with the bank account to make the bank account Aadhar enabled.
In addition to the camps, the bank managers have been requested to meet the beneficiaries personally and facilitate them in opening an Aadhar Enabled Bank account, before and during the camps, so that the benefits get transferred directly to their accounts. And on completion of the camps, the details of the bank accounts and UID numbers would be noted in the prescribed format and submitted to National Information Centre [NIC] for further uploading the data at the appropriate level, he informed.
It was further informed that the funds for these 10 Schemes brought under the DCT System will be disbursed by the Centre to the State from the month of February.

Constitutional Expert engaged to assist Sikkim’s defence of its Companies Act


GANGTOK, 08 Jan: The Companies Bill 2012 has worked up certain sections of the society here in Sikkim as it seeks to repeal an old law of the state. The Bill was introduced in Parliament on 18 December, passed the same day in the Lok Sabha and is expected to be passed in the Rajya Sabha in the upcoming session of Parliament. Chapter 29, Section 465 (1) clearly states that “The Companies Act, 1956 and the Registration of Companies (Sikkim) Act, 1961 shall stand repealed.”
The Bill was much in the news across the country, but not in relation to Sikkim and more for the FDI regime it facilitates for the retail sector. After extensive exchange of allegations and counter-allegations, it was passed surprisingly quickly, within a day. This also caught Sikkim off-guard, but as details of the Bill became known shouts of protest against the repealing of an old law of Sikkim are coming in from various quarters. The State Government, recognizing that old laws evoke strong passions in Sikkim, has now engaged a Constitutional Expert to study the repeal of the Sikkim Registration of Companies Act, 1961 with the passage of the Companies Bill, and help draft an appropriate response for the central government.
More aptly, engaged in this study is the constitutional expert along with the two Members of Parliament from Sikkim, PD Rai and Hissey Lachungpa from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively. They have been formed into a kind of committee to study the repealing of the Old law from the legal and constitutional standpoint.
Besides studying the Companies Bill 2012 the team will also prepare an appropriate response to the proposed enactment in Parliament. It is likely that this remark on the bill will be read out by the Rajya Sabha MP, Hissey Lachungpa on behalf of Sikkim when Parliament convenes in a few weeks time.
The Rajya Sabha will hopefully see a proper discussion on the Bill and the State, sources inform, plans to argue from the standpoint of not just allowing an Old Law to continue but also protecting the sanctity of the Constitution of India which protects Sikkim’s Old Laws.
On the repealing of an old law, a senior bureaucrat stated that this was an emotive issue. However it was conceded that the Parliament is the authority to make laws and enactments and where it thought necessary and appropriate it could make necessary laws and interventions. The Companies Bill 2012 itself has actually been in the pipeline since 2009 when it was first drafted. Thereafter there had been various interjections from various quarters including state governments seeking certain amendments and inclusions in the bill till it was finally introduced in December 2012 in the Lok Sabha.
It may be mentioned here that Companies already registered and operating under the old law will continue to be valid and deemed registered already. The Bill also provides in section 465 that offices already existing for registration of companies shall continue under provisions of the new Act as far as the Act to be repealed is concerned. Clause 2 (g) of Section 465 clearly states that “the incorporation of companies registered under the repealed enactments (Sikkim Companies Act, 1961) shall continue to be valid…”

USFC TAKES ON MUMBAI FC AT PALJOR STADIUM TODAY


Team cannot afford any more mistakes, says USFC Coach
GANGTOK, 08 Jan: After losing to Pune FC on 05 January, United Sikkim Football Club will now take on Mumbai FC in the next home match of the I-League scheduled for Wednesday at Paljor Stadium.
The home club is currently in the last position with just 9 points from 13 matches, while Mumbai FC is in the fifth position with 19 points from 12 matches.
Addressing a press conference here at Paljor Stadium, USFC coach, Nathan Hall, stated that the present situation is not good for the club and the only way out is hard work.
“The team has been working hard and even playing good football dominating the game but the result is not going in our favor so it is high time the team won points from each of its matches”, said the coach.
Mr Hall said that the team cannot afford to drop any points and especially in its home matches. “A silly mistake would cost heavy for the team so it has been made clear to the players that such mistakes could see them out of the team”, he added.
The coach informed that Michael Rodriguez would not be available for tomorrow’s match due to his injuries while the rest of the players are fit to play tomorrow’s match. He pointed out that to strengthen its forward line, the USFC has brought a new American footballer, John but are still waiting for his clearance, so there was a fifty-fifty chance for this new player to play tomorrow’s match.
Mentioning that the team is hopeful to win tomorrow’s match, the USFC coach said that Mumbai FC is a good team so the home club needs to give its best to win the match.
USFC defender Abhishek Das said that the team will not take any risk to lose any point in its remaining matches. “Despite being the dominating side in most of the matches, we are not getting the desired results. However, we are confident that we will win tomorrow’s match and score points in the remaining matches in the I-League as well”, said Abhishek.


‘Mumbai FC here to win and improve ranking’


GANGTOK, 08 Jan: Mumbai FC is confident of picking all 3 points from Wednesday’s match against the home club, the United Sikkim Football Club here at Paljor Stadium to move up in the I-League standings. Mumbai FC had earlier defeated the home club 1-0 in its home match in December last year in this season of the I-League.
Addressing a press conference today, Mumbai FC manager, Henry Picardo mentioned that Mumbai FC has been doing well in the last 7 matches and is looking forward to better its performance in the remaining matches of the I-League.
“We have come to Sikkim to collect all 3 points and move up from our current 5th position. We are aiming at finishing in the top three this season”, said Mr Picardo.
Speaking on injuries, the manager informed that the goalkeeper has suffered some injuries and Abhishek Yadav might be missing tomorrow’s match. He further added that the team is struggling with the weather and altitude but it will definitely not come in the way in tomorrow’s match.
Responding to media queries, Mr Picardo pointed out that although USFC is a good team and playing good football, the immaturity of its players is an area that needs improvement. He expressed hope that Bhaichung Bhutia and coach, Nathan Hall would work on this line.
“The home club has also been doing well under its new coach, Nathan Hall who is getting on well with all the players. USFC is a first timer in the I-League so it will definitely do better in coming days”, expressed Mr Picardo.


Scrap worth Rs 4 lakh stolen from Tokal


GANGTOK, 08 Jan: Scrap material weighing over 2 tons and worth over Rs. 4 lakh have been reported stolen from a Power Grid construction site at Tokal under Jorethang police station. According to reports there may have been a dozen people involved in the theft which took place on 04 January at the construction site of Control Products Private Limited, a company engaged in the construction of a power grid at Tokal.
Scrap is a highly valued material and the market for scrap is very big down in Siliguri and organized as well. It is also a very well paying business with an organized nexus operating out of Siliguri engaged in obtaining and disposing of scrap material. As per the complaint lodged by the Director of the company at Tokal, among the scrap items stolen were 1,500 kgs of steel rods and other scrap material weighing 2 tons. These include iron plates and iron scrap worth Rs. 4 lakh. Not only would such an amount of scrap require a number of people to lift, it would also require transportation in a heavy vehicle.
In this case, the police detained two security personnel on duty on the night of the theft; they are from Kalimpong and Darjeeling respectively and from them the police have got the names of 2 locals who were involved in the theft. The police are in the process of making the arrests.

Confusion over venue and permission sets up SUSA-dist admn confrontation in Namchi


NAMCHI, 08 Jan: Incomplete documentation, apparent communication gap, short nerves and confrontational attitudes sparked tense hours here today as members of the Sikkim United Students Association [SUSA] exchanged heated words with the district authorities and protested on the streets when they were initially disallowed from convening a meeting at the Indoor Gymnasium Hall here. The SUSA members blocked the road near the gym, raised slogans and were eventually allowed to hold their meet inside which was also attended and addressed by dissident SDF MLA PS Tamang accompanied by his supporters.
Matters came to a head when the SUSA members who had called an awareness meet at the Indoor Gymnasium Hall supposedly on social challenges facing the youth in Sikkim were refused access to the venue by the district authorities on the grounds that they did not have proper permission to hold such a meeting. This was at around 10 a.m.
When contacted, the SDM [HQ], Karma Bonpo, who was the centre of the heated arguments this morning, informed that the group was refused access to the venue because they did not have proper permission to hold the meeting.
Apparently, SUSA had secured an NOC or some similar permission from the Sports & Youth Affairs Department, but had not received permission from the district administration to hold the meeting. Interestingly, the Joint Director, SYA, South district, Kamal Chettri, further informs that when the organisers had approached him for permission, he had directed them to the DC’s office to secure a permission first. “SUSA members, however, managed to secure a permission letter from my junior in the department, the Assistant Director,” Mr. Chettri today informed now. He added that the AD did not consult him before issuing the permission on 05 January.
With the permission from the district authorities not secured and convinced that the meeting would have a strong political colour, he directed the AD to withdraw the permission as well, the Joint Director further informed.
The issue however kept deteriorating from thereon. Denied access to the venue, the group was already getting restive and soon the SUSA advisor, Roshan Pradhan, met the SDM to discuss the matter. The discussion reported turned into a heated argument and ended with Mr Pradhan being detained by the police on charges of misbehaviour. He was later released.
The SDM reiterated that members of the students’ association had taken permission only from the Sports and Youth Affairs Department and not from the District Administration following which he had refused the programme to be held.
The association was eventually allowed to conduct the programme at the Gymnasium. The programme, which began at around 1 p.m., meant to be an awareness programme for students and educated youth of the state was also, as mentioned, attended and addressed by dissident SDF MLA.
Speaking on this morning’s incident, Mr Tamang expressed regret that the district administration had acted under political pressure and tried to suppress people’s rights. He then launched into a strong tirade against the State Government.
The programme was also addressed by SUSA president Karma Tsh. Bhutia, and advisor Roshan Pradhan who alleged that the State Government has misguided the youth.

The threat is not just from strangers


...CLOSER ACQUAINTANCES TEND TO EXPLOIT WOMEN MORE OFTEN

TSHERING EDEN
On 28 December, while the 25-yr-old gangrape victim of Delhi was breathing her last in a Singapore hospital, a 14-yr-old here in Sikkim was gangraped. The first day of the New Year brought news of a 25-yr-old woman who died while giving birth to her child unassisted near a kholcha in Pakyong. The newborn male child was also found dead, having succumbed to the cold.
As Delhi burned with its public taking to the streets in protest of the numerous crimes committed against its women everyday, demanded better policing, more effective laws and stricter punishment, Sikkim also sought to borrow some of this heat. Prodded by its own shameful share of tragic incidents, condemnations and demands have also started pouring in. Demands that echo what the public are shouting in the streets of Delhi. This is where one needs to hit the pause button and ruminate a while.
While the rape case is clearly recognisable as an act of violence, the case of the young mother and her newborn is one that baffles. That the case has confounded many is evident by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights urging the police to nab the “culprits” as soon as possible. Who would these culprits be? and accused of what charges? The Commission’s reaction is also indicative of the inability of a system, a society and a people to first of all comprehend the two cases and then address such issues.
Although the lack of details of the case incapacitates the making of a fair analysis, fact is that both the mother and child were victims of violence; a violence for which the society and the state are to blame. It is time to turn the mirror upon ourselves. It is time to sort through the threads that make the social fabric of the state and mend its fraying edges.
Comparisons can mislead in various ways. Both, the similarities and dissimilarities that any comparison throws up, need to be noted. Delhi and Sikkim are two very different places, especially in terms of the socio-cultural make up that is of particular concern here. The demands voiced in Delhi cannot be echoed verbatim here. Agreed that in the national context, stringent laws and legislations free of any loopholes are imperative. However, one cannot but also agree that the laws already in place are underutilized in this small state of ours. The number of cases of domestic violence or sexual abuse of a minor that are reported in Sikkim cannot in anyway be taken to be representative of the actual numbers.
In the case of Delhi, women feel threatened in public spaces, in buses, in cinema halls, on deserted roads. The fear of the unknown dominates there, whether of unknown places or of unknown persons. In the case of Sikkim, the threat more often than not is of the known. Most cases of sexual assault on women and children are by those who are known to the victims. Last year, a neighbourhood pandit was arrested for sexually abusing a child while another child was molested in an ICDS centre! A woman is not safe in her own home, at risk of domestic violence or abuse by a ‘daju’ or an ‘uncle’. A group of women I spoke to, all had instances to recall where their father’s friend, a distant relative or a cousin had touched them in the wrong way and none of these were addressed. Some could not even complain while those who did were told off.
This threat of the known is what is extremely disturbing because ironically it also means that the possibility of catching and punishing the perpetrator becomes that much more difficult. A vicious circle, so to speak, of power is involved. The known by that very fact enjoys an upper hand. The mother always warns her child not to talk to ‘strangers’. In this day and age awareness on such issues cannot be said to be so poor amongst the Sikkimese. What then makes us turn a blind eye?
What is tolerable and what is not? Small advances that go unnoticed only embolden perverted minds to commit what is not tolerable at all.
The same circle of power is played out at the workplace. How many cases of sexual harassment at the workplace does one hear of? Many. But how many are actually reported? Almost none. Thus, while Delhi can demand better laws and better policing, we, here in Sikkim, need first to look within and recognise the violence being committed inside our own homes or in our own locality before demanding anything else.
Domestic violence is widespread and remains unaddressed. ‘Telay buri lai pura pitdai raicha’ or ‘buri pani pitnu layak ko cha’ are common refrains one hears and are passed off in casual conversation. That it is a punishable offence is a myth. Even agencies supposed to provide security and courage to battered women to walk out of a dangerous marriage coax and cajole the woman to put up with her violent and abusive husband. Legislation has failed to deter perpetrators or encourage victims to make use of it. Efforts at encouraging victims and the public in general to report such cases have to be doubled. Most of all, it must be acknowledged as a crime and not as a cultural or traditionally sanctioned practise.
Comparisons cannot define. A direct outcome of comparisons is to define something by what it is not, which is a very shallow approach. When it comes to the issue of women’s empowerment in Sikkim, an oft heard line is ‘as compared to women in other states women here are empowered’. It is ridiculous to think that women in Sikkim are defined on the basis of women in some other state of the country. Women and their status in the state have to have intrinsic characteristics from which to derive and build on.
I also asked this group of women if they think Sikkimese women are empowered? And the answer in chorus was a no. One would think financial independence would play a pertinent role in women’s empowerment. But all these women and the 25-year-old young mother who is no more were all working women. We perhaps need to then look at the cultural aspects where much remains to be done.
However, it cannot be denied that women’s empowerment cannot happen in a day. Sikkim is growing, transforming and so are its women. But change entails its own set of casualties. The march towards development also demands a society that can filter what it needs and what it does not. Let the casualties be redundant traditional practices that discriminate against women or the western sense of immorality that has crept in along with the illuminating light of education it brought. The longer we feign ignorance and turn away from what is ugly for the sake of abstractions like honour and social standing, the stronger will be the forces gnawing away underneath, the harder it will get to truly lay claim to being developed as a people and a state.

It’s Cards, Cards and More Cards…


TENZING GYATSO
What is it with all these cards nowadays? I am beginning to feel like a senile, arthritic James Bond…. ready to produce any card for any occasion. In fact, if you were to go through my pockets, you’d hardly find anything of value in them except a bunch of these cards. You name it and I have it… Ration card, Voter’s card, Pension card, Aadhar card, aka Unique Identity card. I always knew I was unique but now I have a card to prove it! I have been patiently waiting but with fading expectations to receive my Pink Card, for which like so many other nitwits, I had reluctantly coughed up Rs 50. However the Pink Card is proving more elusive than the Pink Panther!
There are a growing number of skeptics, who are of the view that all these cards are just ‘hand out’ cards. The cards merely entitle the card holders to avail of hand outs of subsidized food and fuel rations, direct cash transfers, free LPG connections, free corrugated sheets etc...  Whereby instead of earning an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, the card holders are now akin to the monkeys that squat expectantly along the Siliguri-Gangtok Highway, picking up the goodies thrown to them.
Therefore, viewing both by hindsight as well as foresight, I am convinced that I would do well to repose my faith solely in my Sikkim Subject Certificate. I have stored this precious paper between the pages of “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” on my book shelf. This genuine document categorically proves that I was a subject of an erstwhile small Himalayan Kingdom ruled for many centuries by the benevolent kings of the Namgyal Dynasty.
[The writer is a resident of Sajong, Rumtek]

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No Aadhar here for non-Sikkimese


GANGTOK, 07 Jan: Enrolment for Aadhar cards or UID [Unique Identification] numbers in Sikkim has become more stringent. The State government, through the Directorate of Economics, Statistics, Monitoring and Evaluation, the nodal department for registering and issuing of Aadhar cards, has become more scrupulous in the enrolment procedure.
For one, people from outside the State can no longer enroll for their UID numbers here in Sikkim. That is to say, a resident of another state currently living in Sikkim, but without residential documents, cannot make his/ her UID card here in Sikkim. It has been informed that such persons will have to return to their respective home states if they want to get a UID card made.
It is not just for such people from ‘outside’ for whom making a UID card in Sikkim has become difficult, but even for locals, the process has become more stringent and lengthy with even more documents being required etc. What this now implies is that while earlier, one could get his/her photograph [for the UID Card] taken immediately after filling out the UID form, now the process has been upturned with a waiting period of as long as 9 months for getting the photograph taken after having submitted the form.
Officials inform that the process has been more strict also for security reasons. In the first round of enrolment, a number of people who do not qualify for enrolment managed to get UID card made. These would have been foreign nationals – from Nepal or Bangladesh - and some with ‘dubious’ credentials. In fact, one such wanted person was arrested here in Sikkim earlier this year after his photo emerged in the UID enrolment.
Officials confirm to as much, stating that it had been discerned that many people ineligible for enrolment under UID had managed to get UID cards in the first round. Apart from creating a security situation it could also lead to confusion at the time of seeking and releasing benefits with the possibility of bonafide beneficiaries losing out to others. So, locals are now being asked for their Sikkim Subjects or Certificates of Identification or some such authoritative document attesting to their residence here; it is not enough just to present such basic documents, but these are now required to be attested by the designated officials as well.
This being the case, people flocking to the DESME office here from all over the state for enrolment have the unpleasant prospect of being returned with directions to get their documents attested at their local administrative office.
Of the ‘non-locals’, only central government employees are being entertained in the UID enrolment process here and even they are being encouraged to have themselves registered in their home states for logistic and practical reasons.
While many had already enrolled for UID cards in the first round last year, a good number of them have not received their UID cards or have received cards with mistakes; in both cases such people have had to enroll afresh and are now finding that it is not as easy and simple as earlier. On the other hand with a waiting period of 9 months for a photo and then another year-long wait till one finally receives a UID card there is bound to be confusion as well as discontent when it comes to acquiring benefits or even for getting an LPG connection which has now been made Aadhar-based as well.

State Child Rights Commission urges police to expedite justice in Pakyong rape case


GANGTOK, 07 Jan: The Sikkim State Commission for Protection of Child Rights [SCPCR] has expressed that it is deeply moved and saddened by the two tragic incidents that occurred in Pakyong recently -the gang rape of a minor and the death of a woman and her newborn in an unassisted delivery.
A press release issued by the Commission informs that it has urged the police authority of Pakyong Sub-division to expedite the investigation process to nab the culprit in the case of the death of the 25-year-old woman and her new born child.
The Chairperson, Manita Pradhan, alongwith members Yangchen Ladingpa, Nim Choki Bhutia and Law Officer Yousa Lachenpa visited Namphey basti and met the bereaved family of the 25-year-old woman and also met the SDPO Pakyong, Ajay Rai and his sub-ordinates at the Pakyong Police Station on 05 January.
The Commission held a thorough discussion with the police officials regarding the case and urged them not to keep a single stone unturned to nab the culprit, the release mentions. Chairperson Ms Pradhan expressed that the Commission has full faith and confidence in the functioning of the Sikkim Police and that they will nab the culprit soon. She urged the police to intimate the SCPCR as soon as any FIR related to crimes against women and children is filed in any police station so that the Commission can act accordingly.
In the rape case, the release mentions that the Commission has met the victim and her mother and assured them that the police is doing everything possible to deliver justice to the victim and her family. The Chairperson also suggested that the investigating officers could take the assistance of Service Providers appointed by the Social Welfare Department under the Juvenile Justice Act and Domestic Violence Act while dealing with cases relating to crimes against women and children in their jurisdiction.
The Chairperson further expressed the need for greater coordination among the criminal justice system, civil society members and voluntary organisations in working towards protecting the rights of the women and children in the state. she also informed that the Commission shall make an appeal in writing to the Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court requesting the Judiciary to set up one fast track court to accelerate trials relating to crime against women and children in the state.
Ms Pradhan further  commented that the recent law of Protection of Children against Sexual Offences, Act 2012 serves as an additional protective measure for children and emphasized that proper implementation of these provisions would provide for stringent punishment to the perpetrators.
She stressed that the SDF government under Chief Minister Pawan Chamling was completely committed towards empowerment, well-being, safety and security of women and children in particular and all citizens in general. The government is very alert in the investigation process of such incidents so the victims shall certainly be delivered due justice and all the culprits will be punished stringently, the release adds.


Denzong Boys win 3-match series against Press Club


GANGTOK, 07 Jan: The best of three football match series played between Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) and Denzong Boys (Senior) concluded today at Paljor Stadium with the latter winning the final match 3-1.
It may be informed that the three match series started on 04 November 2012 with Press Club emerging victorious in the first game scoring 3-0. With a one match lead over Denzong Boys, Press Club of Sikkim played its second match on 28 December 2012 which Denzong Boys won 5-1.
The final match played today was a keenly contested final with Press Club scoring a solitary goal through jersey number 10, Khituk Tongden Lepcha in the first half of the game. In the second half Denzong Boys took over the game with goals coming from jersey number 6, Karma Tashi and jersey number 22, Sonam Gurung. While Karma Tashi scored two goals, Sonam scored the match winning goal in the final minutes of the game taking the trophy away from the Press Club.
The winners took home the finals trophy along with the Man of the Series trophy which was awarded to Jigmee Lachungpa jersey number 11. The man of the match trophy was awarded to the Press Club captain, jersey number 7, Anand Oberoi.

Editorial: Open Doors to Get a Perspective


The depth and compassion of India’s leaders were put to the test in the wake of the Delhi gangrape. Disappointingly, but perhaps expectedly, the leaders failed miserably, unable to rise above the parochial boorishness that most of them rely on to stay relevant. Enough has been written about the lack of sensitivity displayed towards women in distress, and more discussion should be invested on shredding the opportunism with which people are being othered. The reference here is to the India-Bharat insipidity floated by one leader and rapes blamed on migrant populations by another. These are not isolated aberrations and have had many other promoters as well, not just among the ‘leaders’, but also among lay persons, many of whom even see themselves as secular and open-minded. The shifting of blame to migrants provides a convenient route to escape blame, and while it would be harmless if it was only an exercise at deflecting shared guilt, when the promoters of such arguments become convinced themselves, the social course corrections never come about. Despite all the chest-beating then, nothing changes on ground. It is thus important for ‘local’ populations across the country to revaluate how they engage the non-locals and redress the prejudices that about. There are many issues pulled out from under the carpet by the Delhi episode, and how resident communities address influx is one of the tangential offshoots.
Migrant issues are not new to the country. The senseless killings of Hindi-speaking migrant labourers in Assam, fears of a possible [Kokrajhar] backlash on people from the northeast, Mumbai’s choreographed for media attacks on North Indians... all these play out episodically in our country. They are reminders of how insularity is not an advisable recourse for any community, nation or region anymore, but the lessons remain unlearnt. The world is too interlinked for isolated existences and what use is an identity if there is no ‘other’ to recognise it. People and communities know who and what they are, identities are treasured because that is how the others know them, but when the doors are shut - as much as they shut outsiders out, they keep insiders in, leaving no room for interactions and the isolated groups soon atrophy as they become increasingly irrelevant to the outside world. Celebrations of individuality and identity then become redundant because there is no audience. Blaming migrant populations is an offensive class stratification which preys on the financial insecurities of an underprivileged group. But there is only so much that people will suffer. Targeting migrant populations damages local economies, the collapse of the hospitality sector in Bangalore in the recent exodus being a recent case in point. This population group is after all the muscle which powers development at the grassroots level, taking on jobs, responsibilities and toil that the local populations either do not have the stomach for or has not yet developed the aptitude for. Target them and they will move on. They have the will to work, can even stomach some abuse, but will not suffer continued name-calling. Ignorance is an obvious reason behind such prejudices and the Centre’s continuing pursuit of isolationist agendas fuels such mindsets. It is time that the country and its regions attempted more openness and making better introductions. As this happens, the society, its members and its leaders will then be forced to address issues, like safety of women for example, in the correct perspective and with the earnestness that it requires...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cabinet sanctions Rs. 60 crore to clear DA dues

GANGTOK, 06 Jan: The Cabinet, at a recent sitting, approved and sanctioned the release of around Rs. 60 crore to clear the hiked Dearness Allowance due to State Government employees for the last six months, sources inform. The DA, it is informed, was raised to 7% in July 2012. The Rs. 60 crore sanction is reportedly to clear the accumulated arrears for the six months that the new DA rate has been in place.
It is informed that the government required approximately Rs. 60 crore in order to pay its over 30,000 strong employee force its due DA. Officials inform that the government had been looking at various ways for resource mobilization and it is informed that a major reason why the State’s finances were not looking too good was because several of the main revenue-generating sectors have not performed as well as expected [as a result of the combined impact of a global economy in recession and the 18 Sept 2011 setback].
The other reason put forward is the advance salary payment which had to be made to the teachers before the school holidays begin. As per official estimates this advance payment itself comes to around Rs. 70- 80 crore; the teacher population itself is around 6,000 to 7,000 strong.
The state government had been looking towards revenue mobilization since July this year. It seems to have finally paid off; however it is also nearing time for the next DA increment announcement which usually takes place at the time of the new financial year. Several measures, officials inform, had been taken to get major revenue earning sectors on track. The main three areas or revenue earning departments are Power, Commercial Taxes and the Lottery departments.
About Rs. 100 crore annually is the target set for the Power Department as revenue but it has fallen short of this figure. In fact the Power sector has underperformed, officials state, and this despite the increase in power tariff to 6 %. The Commercial Taxes department has also not been able to collect various fees and taxes thus failing to meet its target as well. Full revenue collection from the Lottery sector has also not materialised as projected.
The state government, especially the Finance department, it is informed, had convened meetings with these departments and others as well in order to sort out problems and to direct them to implement corrective measures.
The state government had earlier this year increased the DA of employees to 7% keeping in mind the similar DA rates for central government employees. The fourth state pay commission had recommended that DA for state employees should be the same as that of central employees.

DC SOUTH CLARIFIES PUBLIC MEETINGS NOTIFICATION


Dist administration not to levy fee for public meetings
NAMCHI, 06 Jan: The office of the District Collector, South has issued a clarification regarding Notification No. 2328/DCS dated 24 September 2012 with regard to holding of public meetings and venues notified for it in South District.
The clarification informs all concerned that “inadvertently” some of the discussion points of the meeting held with political parties and local NGOs have become part of the notification which has now been corrected and a new notification is being issued.
It is further clarified that no fees have been levied by the district administration on using any public venue for public meeting and all the fees referred to in the notification are the user charges which the departments or agencies in-charge who maintain the public venue levy for using these venues.
The district administration is not involved with any raising of charges, however permission will be granted only after receiving no objection from the department/ agency in- charge/ property owner of the venue. A new notification is being issued to remove all the misconceptions and it is further assured that the notification is based on the meetings with the political organization and NGO's.

Change in social mindset imperative, notes State Commission for Women


GANGTOK, 06 Jan: Sikkim State Commission for Women has expressed deep anguish over the recent death of a woman and her newborn child at Namphey near Pakyong as she attempted a secret unassisted childbirth.
A press release issued by the Chairperson of the Commission, Subhadra Rai, states that “fear of the society” must have driven her to take such a drastic step. It may be mentioned here that a 25-year-old woman was found dead beside a kholcha in Pakyong sub division along with her new born infant on 01 January.
The incident, the release states, “reflects the social mind set against women and unless we the society as a whole bring about a change such cases will continue to occur”.
Despite the emphasis on the status of women in society, gender equality and empowerment of women from various quarters, the “deeply ingrained patriarchal system and dominating nature of men” is to be blamed for such incidents, the Commission notes.
Further stating that women need to raise their voice against such acts the release adds that education can bring about a change in the long run.

Namli road mishap claims one, injures 10


GANGTOK, 06 Jan: One person succumbed to his injuries while 10 others, including the driver, sustained injuries in an accident involving a tai jeep at 9th Mile, Namli, a few kilometers ahead of Ranipool [towards Singtam] at around 6 this morning.
Officer In-charge of the Ranipool Police Station, PI Pashuram Sharma, while speaking to NOW! over the telephone, confirmed that a taxi Maxx [SK-01J-1328] heading for Siliguri from Gangtok with 11 occupants, including the driver, went off the road and fell approximately 30 to 40 feet down, while negotiating a blind curve at Namli.
All the passengers were residents of Dolakha in Nepal working as labourers and porters in and around Gangtok were returning home and had reserved the vehicle for the journey. In Gangtok, they have been residing at Sisha Golai and Arithang for the past 10 to 12 years.
The Ranipool police received information about the accident at around 6.30 AM and all the occupants of the vehicle were rushed to Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, for treatment. One of the passengers, 27 year old Arjun Karki, succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. Meanwhile two passengers were discharged after receiving medical treatment from the hospital.
The driver, Navin Biswakarma [32], a resident of Sisha Golai, Gangtok, who has sustained head injuries has been admitted into the ICU. He will be under observation for the next 24 hours because of his injury. He will be questioned by the police after he recovers and is shifted out from the ICU.
Meanwhile, a case under section 279/ 337/ 304 ‘A’ [rash driving or riding on a public way, causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others and causing death by negligence] of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against the driver Navin Biswakarma at the Ranipool Police Station.

Last minute goal helps Pune FC collect 3 pts against USFC


GANGTOK, 06 Jan: United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] failed to hold its own against Pune FC in their I-League clash here at Paljor Stadium on Saturday. The home club fought hard and the match looked set to end in a 1-1 draw but a goal by Pune FC in the dying minutes turned the tables.
United Sikkim failed to convert more than 13 opportunities in this crucial match, success in any one of which would have given them a second win on home ground. That said, USFC players under their new coach Nathan Hall, fought well and aggressive.
Pune FC’s Arata Izumi registered the first goal for his club in the 23rd minute and the USFC equalizer came in the 63rd minute off the boots of Nima Tamang. The match was edging towards a draw when in the additional injury time, Sudan national and Pune FC striker James Moga scored the winning goal with a stunning free kick.
Pune FC captain, Douhou Pierre, was adjudged the Man of the Match.
After the match, Pune FC Coach, Derrick Pereira said that the home club gave a “top fight” but luck favoured them with the last minute goal to win three solid points to equalize the tally of 29 points with League leaders Dempo.
He also complimented Bhaichung Bhutia for his efforts and expressed hope that the United Sikkim will register a win to remain in the I-League for the next session. However, he added that USFC’s inexperience allowed USFC a win on Saturday.
Nathan Hall, the USFC Coach said that although they dominated the whole game, they could not score enough.
“The boys played well but luck did not favour us in the last minutes”, said Mr Hall after the match. He admitted that Pune FC was the better side and expressed hope that his boys will bounce back in the remaining matches.
Further stating that his team has the ability to match the top I-League teams, he hinted at the lack of the main striker in the team for the loss. The opportunities created could not be capitalized and hopefully within the next fifteen days, our star striker will be there to play in the remaining matches, added Mr Hall.
On inexperience being the possible cause behind the loss, he said that although most of his players are new faces they are equally competent senior players and have played well in all the matches till now.
USFC will take on Mumbai FC next on 09 January.

Ex-gratia for Martam-Nazitam fire victim


GANGTOK, 06 Jan [IPR]: On the evening of 31 December, the house of Lok Nath Poudyal of Patim Nazitam under Martam Nazitam GPU was gutted by fire wherein a major portion of his house had got damaged along with his belongings.
The District Collectorate, East has released ex-gratia of Rs. 35,000 as per the NDRF norms through BDO/Martam to the affected house owner. In addition tarpaulin sheets have been provided to the house owner for temporary shelter of his family.

North dist finals of Red Ribbon Open Drama Contest held in Mangan


GANGTOK, 06 Jan: The finals of the ‘Red Ribbon Open Drama Contest, District Championship” was held on 05 January at the Community Hall, Mangan. With an aim to inform and educate the masses, especially youth and rural population, on HIV/ AIDS and also to inculcate a Behavior Change among all, the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society launched the 3rd edition of its Multi Media Campaign on 07 December 2012. The Campaign is being carried out by SSACS under the aegis of National AIDS Control Organization.
A press release informs that out of 20 confirmed teams from Mangan, only 12 teams competed for the “Red Ribbon Open Drama Contest, District Champ 2012-2013” title. The teams were Upper Singhik Association, Mallling Red Ribbon Club, TITDC Group, Lingdong RRC, Upper Singhik Youth Club, Naga RRC (I), Malling Youth Club, Jehovah Generation, Namok RRC, Hee- Gyathang RRC, Naga RRC (II) and Mangshila RRC.
The teams performed on varied topics like Stigma and Discrimination against PLHAs, Positive Living (ART), Safe Sex Behavior (Consistent Use of Condom), HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse (Youth Vulnerability), Basic Transmissions and Referral Services.
With balanced combination of humor and information, Malling RRC emerged as the winners, the release mentions. The 1st and 2nd runners-up were Naga RRC (I) and Hee-Gyathang RRC respectively.
Cheques amounting to Rs. 50,000, Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 15,000 were handed over to the winners, first runners-up and second runners-up respectively by the chief guest, Zilla Upadhyakshya, Mangan, Nim Tshering Lepcha.
The teams were judged by Gayatri Rai and Phurba Lepcha (Culture and Heritage Department) and Dr. Uttam Pradhan [Project Director SSACS].
The event was also attended by special guests, SDM, Mangan, P.W Lepcha, Councilor, Mangan Nagar Panchayat, Pappu Kr. Malu and District Youth Coordinator, NYK, N.T. Lepcha.