Friday, April 18, 2014

IT RAINED LAST AFTERNOON





A precursor to monsoons this year has hail, heavy rain and high winds being experienced across the state.
The heavy downpour of Thursday flooded the Dikchu New Market area where vehicles had to be stopped from plying for a while. The culvert above the market was blocked by debris and slush from the 96MW Dikchu hydel power project site which caused the water to overflow onto the market area. Sludge flowed into town over the road and brought everything to a standstill till it rained.
Meanwhile, a blanket of hail covered Namchi this afternoon while high winds at Jorethang brought down a tree damaging a building around the same time. 


ICAR organises Vanaraja Chicks distribution cum training programme for tribal farmers

GANGTOK, 17 Apr: ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Sikkim Centre, Tadong, Gangtok organized Vanaraja Chicks Distribution cum Training Programme for Improving Livelihood Security of Tribal Farmers under the aegis of Tribal Sub Plan’ on 16 April at Lingdong, Dzongu, North Sikkim.
A press release informs that this programme was organized with the aim to improve the livelihood security of the tribal farmers of remote areas of the state by rearing improved Vanaraja chicken through backyard farming. Necessary inputs along with 1550 day-old chicks were distributed to 52 tribal beneficiaries of five Self Help Groups.
Joint Director, ICAR, Sikkim Centre, Dr R. K. Avasthe emphasized on the importance of backyard poultry farming for improving rural livelihood. He also highlighted the advantages of Vanaraja poultry birds over the local fowl under back yard poultry farming, the release mentions.
Dr Subhash Babu also interacted with the farmers and emphasized on the adoption of scientific management practices for generating higher returns from rearing Vanaraja in backyard poultry. It was also informed that under backyard poultry system timely vaccination of birds is essential particularly against Ranikhet disease under improved health management.

Dr. H. Kalita [Principal Scientist], Dr Ashish Yadav [Senior Scientist] and B. Lepcha [Programme Assistant, KVK East Sikkim] also expressed their views on the integrated management options in farming for improving the livelihoods of resource poor tribal farmers of the state, the release adds.

THINKING LOCAL

CELEBRATING THE WORLD HERITAGE DAY
Happy Valley of Gangtok – A Tribute

RAJIVA SHANKER SHRESTA

There used to be a vintage heritage house nestled in what is now the Development Area. The house lost its ground to the overwhelming growth of the capital, slowly and gradually turning into a concrete jungle. Gangtok is yet loved by its dwellers - not only by the occasional visiting tourists - for them Sikkim is the place they must visit in 2014 as the Lonely Planet recommends to the world!
Development Area was then still a natural wild with algeri and aiselu bushes aplenty amidst titepati but no uttis as we find at present abundantly taking over the place that used to be covered with dhupi (fir) and painyu (cherry). Domestic fowl’s cocks giving early clarion call and the wakeup call of the bugle early morning from the police barracks are heard no more but still resound in my ears. Sparrows were seen here, there and everywhere those days but have gone missing somewhere in the wilderness of development. Not a single swallow marks the summer these days, swallows used to come back to their nests religiously to herald the dawn of the season that arrived with them. So also were parrots on faledo branches flocking from tree to tree. Birds chirping whole day since morning are now something one has to strain our ears for with the ever-growing sounds of heavy vehicular traffic in the city. Pigeons, ruppis and kalchuras are seen taking their place. Dogs were heard from early in the day mingling with barking of the deer at night from the Bada Kothi/ Residency forests above the hills. Occasionally, we were told that karyang-kurung (nightingales) were heard passing by the sky above in the night. During tiffin break some of our hostel friends like Legpal and others used to go the forest nearby to collect wild fruit gophla, while we rushed towards the White Hall for bhadrakshe and mel. Wild denizens like fox frequented outside in the shed where we had fowls. Sometimes, river otters from the Rani Khola below travelled upstream through the nearby jhora and kaala from the forest came lurking in the evening. Squirrels have now adapted to us and are seen here and there while Rajpankhi (flying squirrels) were sighted occasionally then.  Porcupines too came and we heard of pangolin (ant-eaters) even but were never sighted. Yet we never heard of a bear coming here in those days but were told in case you someday come across and confront one, we should run downhill as the animal cannot chase you with its eyes covered with hairs. Now with a bear entering our school TNA premises it points towards how badly their natural habitat has been disturbed and wantonly destroyed in recent years. Otherwise, I have not come across one even while trekking to Aritar-Hattichherey-Rachela in the winter of 1963 for a fortnight or so while opening forest track accompanying the block officer Late B. B. Pradhan, a relative then posted at Rhenock. During my sojourn in the Bhutan Manas Game Sanctuary later in 1971, I saw tiger pugmarks surrounding my quarter there indicating their visit at night. Often I used to venture into the nearby forest with a Drukpa guard but never saw one. While my divisional forest officer or tourists visiting there used to report of having seen one basking in the sun or near a pool.
We used to hear stories of banjhankri and sokpa from Ramu Pradhan in the evening. Chandray was the other domestic help Late Sanu Mama Mohan Pratap Pradhan had engaged.  Coming from our village he was surprised at seeing light glowing out of a bulb for the first time, he used to hide himself when switching on the light as he thought that he would catch fire when a live wire was touched. Diesel Power House was the new source of supply and one hydro power plant at Sichey that we visited once was still functioning. Chandray alias Uday Chandra Dhakal later served the forest department and retired from there with a son taking his place. He is seen sometimes passing through the footpath above our residence often with shilajit and putkako mah as I found once when he dropped in for a chat. He disposed of his nice building with Chandra Niwas and crossed Seti Pul towards Pakyong looking for greener pasture somewhere else but came back after sometime. Ramu often used to go to the forest with a proper patta (permit) to collect fuel-wood. His twin brother Lachchu was employed in the Chandra Nursery and later served Aritar Dak Bunglow at Rhenock. So identical are the two that we often get confused till this day. When I met him last when we went to mourn his sister’s death, only after we spoke did I recognize him. Talking of twins reminds me of a childhood friend whom we lost recently Mani Chandra Khati, Toklai-trained served the agriculture department to retire as an additional director. My kid cousin Bijoy who grew up with him did not know till the day we went to mourn the death that Rajendra, who retired as the additional chief engineer in the power department, was the other twin. Some fifty odd years ago, this fact was shared with me by their father excise officer Bhuwan Singh Khati Babu one evening when visiting my Thulo Mama Bhishma Pratap Pradhan of the Woodland Nursery at Rhenock. In my article, reminiscing our school days in Development Area for the popular Nepali news-daily Hamro Prajashakti, I had quoted the same date of birth from the Civil List of Gazetted Officers of the Government of Sikkim (As on 30th June 1976) in proof and support to this effect.
Happy Valley was located in the hillside (above was a Government quarter where Dr. K. L. Narshingham used to stay, later occupied by animal husbandry minister Late Nayen Tsering Lepcha followed by food minister Late P. B. Gurung till the Sangram Bhavan came up with 8-Unit Government Building in between.) It had a sprawling lawn with a small wooden gate and a kitchen garden above with plum and peach trees. Front portion had swasthani flowers, while on the back it had grapevines that gave purple fruits. A footpath used to pass through in front to the Girls School and hostel below. One always heard water gurgling down the Girls School jhora. The road leading to Development Area was not yet carpeted and pedestrians were always alert about gitis and rodas (stone chips and gravels) that they might be hit by that some odd Willey’s left drive jeeps would throw at them. There was no Community Hall yet but a government quarter below where the Police Commissioners stayed. Later, the first agriculture minister Late K. C. Pradhan occupied it followed by ministers K. N. Uprety and D. D. Bhutia.  This quarter was demolished for the Manan Bhavan. Scattered were the houses then with the Himalayan Nursery owned by Late Atal Singh Dewan on the other end below the bend with a stretch of the road leading to Sonam Building and Anand Bhavan, beyond was lower Burtuk. I remember visiting the place with some friends when we were taken around by Dr. Ratna Kamal Dewan. He showed us little juniper saplings planted in rows comparing it to like a deep forest. He had a word of advice for us kids – Badasit lage Bada hunchh ani Chhotasit lage Chhota. It means we should cultivate friendship with high/well to do people if we were to be like them or be otherwise. Words still deep implanted in my mind from the elder almost in his nineties at the time. The lone licensed homeopath well known for his musical compositions and dramatics was also honoured by the Government for his contributions to the society and the State. Age keeps him home as he is in his nineties these days.
Dr. RK Dewan reminds me of an attempt made during the time of Late R. P. Lama, INTACH convenor for Darjeeling chapter, to enlist eminent persons as Heritage People of Darjeeling. If we were to have such a list Dr. R. K. Dewan would be my first choice to honour such a list. And the next would be the person often seen walking on the street - the octogenarian Dong Babu. He too was in medical profession (compounder) and I know him since my childhood when he first visited us in this Heritage house way back in 1958. It was my kid cousin Bijoy who grew fond of and brought home a pup. It was loved by everyone in the family. Once it was bitten by an older dog and although the pup had not bitten any of us we all had to take anti-rabies shots on our tummies. We had to take 7 of the usual 21 shots. We know how painful it is with that part of our body swollen. His wife too was in the same profession as a nurse, who used to visit us whenever a medical aid was needed. Dong Babu had a companion for his walks but after his demise we find him walking along these days. Some years ago, when I met Dong Babu walking down the Development Area, I could not stop from asking him if he still remembers and knows me. It was a pleasant surprise for me when he said, “Why not - aren’t you Rachna’s father?” Thereafter, whenever we come across each other we stop for a brief chat and a word of advice from him always is - Keep walking. He is happy finding us thus and says why take a cab for going to town which is just a walk away. I remember he is a good flautist too and want to know from him when we meet next if he still loves to play it as I saw him performing once, years ago. Recently when I met Prem Bhai of Duga, he mentioned that Dong Babu often visits them there and my Jwaisaheb Balkrishna shares with me that their Late father Padam (of SNT) and Dong Babu were together in school at Gangtok. This means he was together also with my cousin Ramesh the first agriculture graduate of Sikkim. May be also with Late N.K. Pradhan @ Khambu OC and my mama Keshab C Pradhan!
Mention of Keshab Mama brings me back to our main subject Happy Valley – the Heritage House no more!  In The Life and Times of a Plantsman in the Sikkim Himalayas (2008), he writes, “I was born seven and half decades ago in a large family of eight. Ours was a really happy family residing then in an official cottage called ‘Happy Valley’, now named ‘Development Area’…” He has a chapter captioned Our Garden- Happy Valley Our Home and in another his concluding remark runs thus, “So the Happy Valley (now the Development Area, in reality, a concrete jungle) was really a happy neighbourhood and the ties between a few families have sustained even till this day.”  Not only him but all the eight of his siblings right from the eldest Late Dambari, Bhakti, Jagat Bandhu, him, Padma, Krishna Chandra, Laxmi and Meera were all born here. As a Forest Manager their Late father Rai Saheb Bhim Bahadur Pradhan occupied this Government accommodation until they shifted to the Atma Niketan atop the hill in 1958. My Sanumama Mohan Pratap Pradhan the first Nepalese Chief Secretary to the Government of Sikkim then the Assistant Magistrate moved into this British era/style Bunglow along with his wife and my cousins Bijoy and Late Binoy. Like Rai Saheb, they too were blessed with two offsprings, Rajani and Ravi in this house. He too moved into his newly constructed Rhenock House in 1963. I remember as boys we enthusiastically painted the walls of the new house ourselves on a summer break.
Apart from the small name-board in front displaying the name Happy Cottage for the private estate property where the Private Secretary to the His Highness Maharaja of Sikkim Late Purna Kumar Pradhan used to stay, there was no such decoration for the Happy Valley. This house was then occupied by General Manager SNT Hartnett. When the first cabinet for the newly formed 22nd State was constituted, the house was the official residence of the then Forest Minister Ram Chandra Poudyal. Happy Valley thereafter became the official residence of the Speaker Sikkim Legislative Assembly Dorji Tsering. I was fortunate to be somewhere nearby where I had spent wonderful early parts of my life.  A new four storey building came up above this house and I was amongst the eight officers who were allotted a unit each in 1974. I had come back after a two-year training course at Mussoorie, Shimla and Calcutta that year and was posted as the Under Secretary (Accounts). Though we got a government site allotted near the Community Hall in 1979, we could complete the construction and move in only in 1991.
It was in 2003 that I was the State Convener for INTACH – Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. This body aimed at the national and international level to help educate the people and spread the message for the need of awareness to the conservation of heritage as its name suggests. It was in a State function Celebrating the Commonwealth Day on 14 March 2005 and Sikkim Youth Revolution Year that three handy booklets brought out by the Karuna Devi Smarak Dharmarth Guthi were released by the Chief Minister, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in the presence of dignitaries here and one from Manipur. These were handy booklets Heritage Conservation written by Thakur Ranvir Singh, its translation in Nepali Dharohar Suraksha by me and Motivation: Skills and Techniques by T. S. Stephen. During my tenure, some prominent people from different professions right from the Chief Minister obtained its life-membership. My convenor-ship ended as abruptly as it had started without my knowledge and consent. No one contacted me to hand over the charge or at least the bank account kept updated every year. Anyway, those were the days when demolition of some heritage buildings was in active/serious consideration. My point of view in the book expressed, “… I do not feel it an idea wise and rational enough nor does it sound reasonable to reckon 100 years as the minimum age that such sites have to be categorised as heritage here in Sikkim.  This norm has been for our great country India, where the history is over 3,500 years old. It is my 50 years in Gangtok this year in 2005 and I feel that many of the developments and prosperity that Sikkim achieved could be found and seen in the capital town (except a number of places of worship like gumpas and a few mandirs.) Man-made sites, which are 50 years or more old, namely Raj Bhavan (Bada Kothi or the Residency) and its gardens, the Royal Palace and its approach the Ridge gardens, Chandra/Woodland Nursery gardens at Rhenock are some of the heritage sites that come instantly to my mind that can no longer be ignored nor can we afford to be lackadaisical towards them. We shall feel amply rewarded if this humble presentation could be an eye-opener that serves to meet the end for the cause of heritage which is the crying need of the hour, not only for Sikkim, rather for the entire North East Region and the country as a whole. I remember it appropriate too for Sikkim history dates back to mere 350 years and later my minister known for his blunt attitude warned me to be careful interfering with their way of functioning.
After I moved to my house Rachna in 1991, no track could be maintained for the occupants there in the Happy Valley and many might not be aware of its historical importance or heritage value.  Only recently when visiting my cousin Bijoy and looking for this Heritage House I sought his help. There was no sign and the sprawling area it once used to boast of. The Heritage House razed to ground without a trace of it being visible. Only solace was when my son Raman told me that some eight or nine truckloads of the well-chiseled stones that once adorned this Heritage House and walls surrounding the Happy Valley were purchased by Late Jagat Bandhu Mama and used while renovating their house Atma Niketan. A befitting and wise step to honour not only their deceased parents, families and the heritage that had once provided shelter to so many of us there but also to the departed soul of the Happy Valley though the body is no more amidst us!
Not only man-made structures, but hills and vales, flora and fauna, etc. but even our senior citizens could be heritage value for us to know them, appreciate, honour and treasure when they are still amidst us. When someone we love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure as my daughter Rachna wrote when we lost our sister Sunita and Jwainsaheb Uday in a road accident near the Teesta on 16th April two years ago in 2012.
I dedicate this article on the occasion of the World Heritage Day or the International Day to Monuments and Sites being celebrated every year on 18 April since 1983 when it was approved by the UNESCO.

SDF condemns SKM spokesperson’s ‘irresponsible’ statements

GANGTOK, 17 Apr: Sikkim Democratic Front has condemned recent statements made by NB Bhandari and TN Dhakal. The party has alleged that Sikkim Krantikari Morcha is spreading rumours and making pointless allegations because they are certain of defeat in this election.
An SDF press release states that recent press statements of Mr. Bhandari and Mr. Dhakal prove that the SKM party has already accepted this bitter truth. The SDF has ridiculed Mr Bhandari´s claim that SKM would win 23 seats this election. SDF has further condemned SKM spokesperson, TN Dhakal’s statement that SKM would form the next government if “nothing goes wrong” in the counting of votes. The party has demanded that Mr Dhakal explain how something would go wrong with the counting. 
SDF party has said that such statements make a mockery of democracy in the country and also questions the integrity of the Election Commission of India.  The party has asked the ECI to take legal action against Mr Dhakal for making such statements. It has further urged people to take such statements seriously and to condemn such irresponsible statements.

The release states that the EC has kept the EVMs under high security and candidates could also investigate the security arrangements of EVMs. SDF has further appealed to the people of Sikkim not to believe in such rumours.

Surface runoff imperils under construction REDRH home at Namrang

MANGAN, 17 Apr: A house belonging to Narad Gautam being constructed under the Reconstruction of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses [REDRH] scheme at Namrang in East Sikkim is at risk of damage owing to water flowing down the road towards the house. Lack of proper drainage along the newly constructed PMGSY road at Namrang leads to water flowing onto the roads and down to the house which is located below the road.

According to Mr. Gautam, he had requested the contractor of the road several times to construct proper drainage system but nothing has been done so far. He has again requested that the problem be addressed immediately since his house is in danger and he has no other place to shift to.  

Sant Nirankaris of Gangtok donate blood

GANGTOK, 17 Apr: The Sant Nirankari Mission [SNM] of Gangtok, a social organization undertook a blood donation camp at the blood bank at STNM Hospital today. The chief guest of the programme was Dr K Bhandari [Director General cum Secretary, Health Department]. Also present were Dr Yogesh Verma [Medical Superintendent, STNM Hospital], Dr CM Sharma [Incharge, Blood Bank] and SNM members.
In his short address, Dr K Bhandari stated that it was a good initiative since blood is very precious and one only comes to know the value of it when someone needs it. He added that he had just recently come to know that SNM has been donating blood for the past many years for a good cause.
“Some years ago the STNM hospital used to face scarcity of blood but nowadays because of such voluntary blood donation by people the problem has been solved. It is good to see such good work and for this we are thankful to the mission”, he stated.
In his address, the MS, STNM Hospital, Dr Yogesh Verma stated that SNM was doing a good work for a good cause. “SNM has not only been donating blood but has also been involved in the Safai Abhiyan of the hospital complex too. SNM should keep up the good work and if needed, we will provide the necessary help to SNM members whenever needed”, he added.
SNM member, Ajay Kesari, while speaking to NOW! informed that more than 150 blood donors [all SNM members] from East and North Sikkim donated blood. Out of the 150 who donated blood, there were around 40 to 50 women Sewa Dal volunteers, he added. This blood donation camp was part of a worldwide SNM initiative [held on different dates], while for South and West Sikkim, the blood donation camp will be held at Jorethang on 14 June, he added.
“The SNM members of Sikkim have been donating blood for the last 10 years like our branches all over the country and we have also been awarded the Highest Blood Donors Award by the World Health Organisation [WHO] which we have been winning for the last five years continuously”, he stated and added that SNM members had donated more than seven lakh units of blood all over India.
On 24 April, 1980 Baba Hardev Singhji Maharaj’s father, Baba Guru Bachan Singhji was assassinated in New Delhi and since 1986, the Mission has been holding blood donation camps all over in his memory, he explained.

NABARD releases 2013-14 Annual financials

GANGTOK, 17 Apr: The annual financials as on 31 March 2014 of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was released recently. While releasing the 2013-14 financials Chairman of NABARD, Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala said that the development financial institution catering to agriculture and rural development has served the sector in a steadfast manner, as per a press release from NABARD.
He informed that NABARD has disbursed Rs 80,067 crore to the Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Bank enabling them to give Crop loans at 7% p.a. and Rs 21,482 crore to the Banking Sector enabling them to improve to improve capital formation in agriculture. The Sikkim Regional Office has disbursed Rs 4 crore to SISCO bank towards Crop loans informed GM/OIC of NABARD, Sikkim RO, Gangtok, R P Bhargava.
Rural infrastructure saw disbursements of Rs. 17,353 crore during 2013-14, a growth of 6.51% over the previous year. RIDF loans have come to define high quality infrastructure projects across the country, the release mentions. Sikkim RO has disbursed Rs 47 crore to State Government during FY 2013-14 under RIDF for the Roads, Bridges & irrigation projects.
NABARD continued to promote best practices in farm sector and has invested over Rs 300 crore under a wide array of development projects like watershed development, Wadi development, promoting System of Rice Intensification (SRI) etc. Sikkim RO has disbursed grant of Rs 1.73 crore under WADI project in all the Districts of Sikkim through PIA viz. KVKs & UPOS (East Sikkim) benefiting 1768 families covering an area of 710Ha, the release informs.
On the micro finance front, the figures finalized for the year 2012-13, show disbursement of Rs 20,590 crore to self-help groups across the country, a positive growth rate of 24.5% over the previous year.  Sikkim RO has disbursed Rs 10 lakh under Women Self Help Group project in two districts.
In Sikkim, NABARD disbursed grant of Rs 16 lakh under Farmers Technology Transfer Fund (FTTF) thus benefiting the members of 543 Farmers Club formed in the State. Under Research & Development Fund NABARD disbursed Rs 50 lakh and exposure visits of the members of Farmers Club to various states were organised.


   

27th convocation of IGNOU held at Regional Centre Gangtok

GANGTOK, 16 Apr: Indira Gandhi National Open University [IGNOU], Regional Centre Gangtok will have its own campus in the near future as the Regional Centre has already identified some suitable land sites for construction of a permanent campus in and around Gangtok. The process of acquiring and purchase of the land is under process with the Government of Sikkim.
This was informed by Regional Director, IGNOU Gangtok, Yogesh Bhutia while addressing the 27th convocation of IGNOU today at Tadong Degree College Auditorium.
During the 27th Convocation of IGNOU, Regional Centre Gangtok today certificates were awarded to 1046 students [24 different programmes amongst 321 Masters Degree, 417 Bachelors Degree, 272 B.Ed and 36 Post Graduate Diploma]. The main function of the 27th Convocation was held at New Delhi.
Addressing the gathering, the Regional Director said that in 2013 two new Learner Support Centres and Special Study Centres were established at Government College Gyalshing and at Damber Singh College at 5th Mile Tadong. The Regional Centre is working on setting up Learner Support Centres at all the sub-divisions in the state to provide access to higher education, especially to the disadvantaged population, he said.
Mr Bhutia informed that student enrollment has been increasing over the years and in the academic session 2013-14, the enrollment of students crossed 6,500. Majority of the students are enrolled in the Bachelors Degree programme of which 49 percent are in Bachelor of Arts alone. 28 percent of students have enrolled in the Masters Degree Programme, 9 percent in in-service B.Ed programme, while 6 percent of in-service teachers have enrolled for the Diploma in Elementary Education Programme.
Female enrollments are higher than male at 56%, while 58% of the enrollments are of students from rural background, he informed.
IGNOU offers 228 Academic, Professional, Vocational, Awareness and Skill oriented programmes of study. Out of these 228 programmes on offer, Regional Centre Gangtok offers 53 programmes which range from Diploma courses, competence certificate courses to Masters Degree programmes.

ICAR’s Efforts to Strengthen Farmers by ‘Technological Empowerment through Input Support System’

GANGTOK, 17 Apr: The ICAR Sikkim Centre organized a mega program on 16 April at Lingdong, Dzongu, North Sikkim on ‘Technological Empowerment through Input Support System’ in order to strengthen farmers’ capacity by dissemination of scientific knowledge and distribution of inputs viz.,seeds of various kharif vegetables, biopesticides, biofungicides, sprayers, plastic sheets for construction of low cost plastic tunnels, agro-shadenets and BIO NPK, etc. Additionally, a Front Line Demonstration program on ‘Leafy Vegetable Production under Low Cost Plastic Tunnels during Rainy Season’ was also organized.
A press release informs that 69 farmers from eight SHGs of Tarang, Gnon, Sangdong, Lingdong, Tingvong, Passingdang, Sangkalang, Hee-Gyathang villages of Dzongu, North Sikkim attended the program and benefitted with the various inputs distributed. Farmers also showed keen interest to learn the scientific vegetable production technologies developed by ICAR Sikkim Centre.
Inaugurating the program, Dr. R.K. Avasthe, Joint Director, ICAR Sikkim Centre stressed that ‘Change in Thought Process’ is must for commercial and intensive production of vegetables to bring about perceptible change in the vegetable production scenario of the region. He further emphasized that selection of crops and its bulk production is very important from marketing point of view which facilitates marketing and ensures higher returns as organic products have immense value. The Joint Director also distributed the vegetables seeds, biopesticides, biofungicides, sprayers, plastic sheets, agro-shade net, etc. to the progressive farmers of eight SHGs from the various villages of Dzongu, the release mentions.
Principal Scientist (Entomology), Dr. H. Kalita presented the overview of the program and its signficance for the region. He also discussed the pest and disease management in vegetable crops. He stressed upon the importance of regular visit and proper monitoring of farm in organic production system for better control of pathogens as ‘prevention is always better than cure’.
Senior Scientist (Horticulture), Dr. Ashish Yadav detailed the ‘Leafy Vegetable Production Techniques under Low Cost Plastic Tunnels during Rainy Season’. He highlighted that hi-tech production of vegetables with low cost technologies gives maximum benefits to the farmers and cultivation of leafy vegetables especially coriander under low cost plastic tunnels during rainy season is very profitable.
Scientist (Agronomy), Dr. Subhash Babu talked about the organic nutrient management in vegetable production system. He emphasized on significance of crop rotation with leguminous crops to avoid nutrition depletion in soil because of monocropping. He also suggested that green manuring with Sesbania rostrata (dhaincha) is also good option.    
Program Assistant, KVK Ranipool, Boniface Lepcha coordinated the event and discussed about the construction of low cost plastic tunnels and detailed the package of practices of leafy vegetables and other relevant issues related to organic vegetable production.
Deepak Rai, Tirtha Chettri and Dinisha Rai actively assisted in organizing the whole programme.

Good Friday and Easter greetings from Raj Bhawan

GANGTOK, 17 Apr: On the occasion of Good Friday and Easter weekend, Governor Shriniwas Patil and First Lady Rajanidevi Patil joined the people of Sikkim in prayers.
In his message, the Governor has said, “Good Friday, observed by our Christian brethren commemorates the crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ, his death at Calvary and resurrection. The occasion symbolises the sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ in his effort to salvage the human kind and its core values from the evil forces. It inspires us to treasure the core values of human kind such as truth, love, righteousness, non-violence and peace.

May the day, re-strengthen our commitment to work in unison for common good of mankind.”

Please Go Down the Drain

Editorial:-
The weather forecasts are predictable – showers and thunderstorms in some areas, every evening. Sikkim’s response to the weather patterns is also predictably routine – slips, slides and slush. What is surprising though, is the fact that the inept drainage system remains consistently failed despite the hordes of engineers that the capital is home to. How is it that roadside drains refuse to, well, drain? Gangtokians might think that this is a condition unique to them, but as today’s edition bears out, the problem plagues the rural roads of Dikchu as much, as it does the recently urbanized spread of Namchi. The price that poorly engineered storm water drains can exact was deeply felt by Gangtok in 1997 when several lives were lost and building toppled when the rain water ran on the road and then into buildings instead of getting carried away by the drains. Sixteen years since, and the situation has only worsened. New trouble-spots have cropped up and it is not just the drains to blame; also contributing to this madness every time it rains is the insensitivity with which people construct [buildings], store their building material and how Gangtok disposes it garbage. It’s the still abject lack of civic responsibility in the Gangtok way of life that is causing as much harm as the corruption and ineptness which delivered drainage systems too ineffectual for its topography, road alignments and settlements. There is as much household [and hotel] waste flowing down the highway during the squalls as there are mud and rocks that the rain carved out of the hill. These are not unrelated constituents of a ‘landslide’. A pile of garbage in an out-of-sight spot in a too cramped for a garbage truck to reach spot is as effective in triggering a slide as recklessly disposed building excavation mud in an out-of-sight spot. Both are imposed on the slopes and both slip with a heavy shower and scratch out a larger landslip as they roll down and gather strength. The drains, already dodgy in their effectiveness, are denied even a face-saving carriage capacity due to the quickness with which carelessly left-behind garbage of construction leftover drains into drains and clogs them. While this is reasonably harmless in the drier winter months, it adds to everyone’s woes when the nights receive rainfall. The downpour washes these piles of garbage off their heaps and spreads them across the road, pours them into nearby homes and squeezes them into drains and blocks them. 

Sikkim chess team to participate in Nepal tourney

GANGTOK, 17 Apr: An eight-member Sikkim Chess Association [SCA] team will be participating in the Ram Prasad Memorial International FIDE Rating Chess Tournament scheduled to be held in Ilam in Nepal from 20 to 25 April. The team will be leaving on Saturday for the tournament.
The team members were Rakesh Gurung, Thendup Tamang, Rahul Gurung, Rohit Gurung, Sushmita Lama, Bhoj Bahadur Chettri, Priya Chettri and Tsetiz Rai. International arbiter from Sikkim, Mahendra Dhakal is also accompanying the team, who will be serving the tournament as an arbiter.

Mr Dhakal, who is also the SCA general secretary, mentioned that the team members have undergone training for the tournament where they practiced for 8 hours every day. He added that in the last edition of the tournament SCA players won 6 medals and this year the players are ready to win more medals for the state and to further improve their rating. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Geetanjali Thapa wins National Film Award

GANGTOK, 16 Apr: Sikkim’s Geetanjali Thapa has won the prestigious National Film Award for her performance in the film, “Liar’s Dice”. The 61st National Film Awards for 2013 were announced today in New Delhi and the Best Actress 2013 award has been awarded to Geetanjali.
The awards, instituted by the Directorate of Film Festivals, GoI, were announced today at a press conference held at the National Media Centre, new Delhi today.
“If ever an actress could merge completely into a role and look the character to perfection, it is Geetanjali Thapa. Her searching eyes and vulnerability are breath taking,” is how the awards list describes her performance in the Hindi film, Liar’s Dice. She stars with Nawazuddin Siddiqui [Kahani, Gangs of Wasseypur II] in the film which is directed and written by Geethu Mohandas.
Geetanjali debuted with Prashant Rasaily’s short film, Myth, in 2006 when she was still in school at TNA. Her first major signing, Tina Ki Chaabi, never saw the light of day but her work in her next film, “I.D.”, fetched her two international awards for best actress at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Madrid Film Festival.
In the critically acclaimed Liar’s Dice, Geetanjali plays a courageous and somewhat reckless woman from the high Himalayas and mother to a precocious little daughter in search of her missing husband.
Geetanjali is also starring opposite Emraan Hashmi in Oscar-winning director Danis Tanovic's Indian film “White Lies” which is currently in the post-production phase at the moment while she is also slated to act in “The Informer” with Abhay Deol. Her other films include Monsoon Shootout and That Day After Everday released in 2013.
While the names of the winners were announced today, the award ceremony is scheduled to be held on 03 May, next month.

Bollywood actor Rajkummar Rao, who impressed all with his performance of a Kashmiri lawyer in ‘Shahid’ has won the Best Actor award, as has Suraj Venjaramoodu for “Perariyathavar” (Malayalam).

Capacity building workshop for Social Scientists begins at Sikkim Univ

GANGTOK, 16 Apr: A two-week long Capacity Building Workshop for the faculty of Social Sciences was inaugurated by the Sikkim University Vice-Chancellor, Prof TB Subba here today. The workshop is being organized by the Indian Council of Social Science Research in collaboration with Sikkim University.
Thirty participants from different parts of the country have registered for the workshop. The workshop has resource persons and experts from different universities and organizations of the country.
In his inaugural address, Prof Subba stated that such capacity building was important for social scientists to get new ideas and knowledge to carry out their research work. He added that the workshop would also be helpful to enhance the capacity of social science faculties.

He mentioned that social scientists are found to be highly ambitious in their research but are poor when it comes to their methodologies. Linking research with the larger section of the population and the society is very important, he stressed.  Prof Subba further added that such workshops would be helpful to social scientists to further their research. 

Naval recruitment rally on 28 April

GANGTOK, 16 Apr: A recruitment rally for the Indian Navy under various categories for Sikkim state will be conducted on 28 April at Paljor Stadium.
In a press release, Secretary, Rajya Sainik Board, Gangtok, Col [Retd] DN Bhutia informs that the recruitment team consisting of three officers, two Warrant Officers and five Seamen from Naval Headquarters, Ministry of Defence, New Delhi will arrive at Gangtok on 26 April. The test includes Physical Fitness Test (PFT), Written Exam and the Medical Inspection.
The Secretary Rajya Sainik Board further informs that necessary clearance and approval from Election Commission of India and the Election Department of Sikkim has been received to go ahead with the recruitment process.
He has invited all eligible youth and especially those who have been put through the Pre-recruitment coaching and training during Border Area Development Programme (BADP) in Feb-March 2014 to come in strength and participate in the Naval Recruitment Rally.
The recruitment drive for Armed Forces during the year 2013 was remarkable and highly successful, he points out.
A total of 925 youth from Sikkim joined the armed forces from recruitment drives held last year. This is the largest number of recruitments in a single year so far in the history of army recruitments in Sikkim, it is added.
There are still a large number of educated unemployed youth who should come forward and participate in such recruitment rallies. Col. Bhutia has also informed that the NDA Exam is being conducted by UPSC on 20 April with Sir Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School (TNSSS), Gangtok, being one of the centre’s.

Those students from Sikkim who are appearing in the exam are requested to contact Secretary Rajya Sainik Board after their exam is over, the release adds. 

HONOUR OUR VOTES

This year, for the General Election 2014, I was appointed by the Election Department with the polling team to the area called Tumlabong under Martam-Rumtek constituency. The area had 864 numbers of electors. On the day of voting i.e.12 April, 715 people proudly cast their valuable votes. In the process of my duty and the overall preview of the scenario these are the points I saw and experienced, and which I felt like sharing.
The Polling Agent’s assignments are very vital and they have to be there at the polling booth precisely on time. It is they who hold the vision of the party, the leader, of a season breaching over the horizon. They are the living manifesto of a party for the area demarcated. It’s they who start the gala and it’s in their presence we close the message in the bottle. I was explaining this to an agent at the polling station that you have to truly love the job that you have been assigned.
When tourists visit Sikkim, they say it is beautiful and they are deeply touched by the hospitality and warmth of the citizens of Sikkim. The queue that prevailed on the voting day said it all, the faithfulness of every Sikkimese was evident. I feel that the future leaders of Sikkim should firmly etch this in their minds that they have that red light beeping in their cars because of these citizens; the old lady who walked for miles to cast her vote, the partially paralyzed man, the partially blind man, the lady trembling with fever, pregnant women, a housewife who left her kids at home, people with hypertension and various ailments, young people flocking in from far colleges. Why were they here? Just to hear that nostalgic beeeeeep by pressing a button? (Which I sincerely asked each voter to hear it properly as they were electing their candidate for the next five years) I humbly feel that Sikkimese citizens have not only cast their rights on 12th April, but they have pressed that button for A TRUST,so that Sikkim may be a heavenly abode for generations to come, A FAITH for better days by all the elders and A PATHWAY, for all the young.
I feel that the leaders who win, when they take that oath for the days to come, they should remember every voter who pressed that button; they ought to remember the trembling hands of the elderly, the mother who woke up early to finish her chores, the young people who came from afar and all those waiting in long queues battling the scorching sun at the polling station.
The leaders should know that 80% of the citizens of Sikkim have cast their faith for a better Sikkim. No matter who wins or loses but we the citizens have said it all, that we rely on you. Now it’s your turn to march ahead and take our state to new heights and bring glory to our state.

Lawrence Lepcha, Assistant Engineer (Mech), Roads & Bridges Department, Sikkim PWD, Gangtok, East Sikkim
AT TIBETOLOGY, A TALK FROM OXFORD ABOUT GREETINGS FROM DARJEELING: Dr. Clare Harris, Associate Professor in Visual Anthropology and Curator for Asian Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum at the Oxford University, delivered an engaging talk on, “Greetings from Darjeeling: Hill Stations, Tourism and Photography in late nineteenth/early 20th century British India”, here at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology today. Dr. Harris, who made time from her family holiday in the hills to deliver the talk, also provided a brief introduction to “The Tibet Album”, a website and research tool featuring six thousand historic photographs of Tibet. The talk was followed by an interactive session which saw some interesting ideas being exchanged. Dr. Harris, who has produced four books to date, her latest being “The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics and the Representation of Tibet”, shared that she plans to build today’s talk into a deeper research.


Firm Up Better Against Monsoon Collapses

Editorial:-
Evening drizzles [okay, they are more intense than just drizzles] have become a regular occurrence now. And for those live along the highway, as well as those who need to travel by road to anywhere, which would be just about everyone now, will have noticed that the storm-water drains are still not performing any better. Along with the surface runoff, the highway in Gangtok is also inundated at several places after a heavy shower by effluents which smell offensively dangerous and move like sludge no one should be wading through. Occasionally, some efforts are made to unclog the drains, but the experience ever since they were commissioned bears out that they will block immediately with the next rain. The point being made here is that even as all conversations and obsessions continue to remain centered around the election results and the latest conspiracy theories and projections, life is still going on in Sikkim and the monsoons are building up. The calling cards have been served with the evening showers and how they have unraveled civic infrastructure, so it is important that the concerned officials and agencies make time from their political gossip to address the reality of approaching monsoons.

It is only a matter of time before the national highway, which has remained an expansion work in progress for far too long, collapses under the weight of pre-monsoon inundation. Higher up along the same axis, the pipelines carrying water to the Selep reservoir will also eventually snap, as will the road to Tsomgo and Nathula. The weather pattern suggests that 2014 will record a normal, if not heavier, monsoon and the crumbling tendency of civic infrastructure should have everyone worried. Both, the highway expansion and the Ratey Chu supply line repairs are projects which make headlines every monsoon. Shouldn’t these have stabilized by now, and if not, isn’t it now that preventive measures need to be undertaken. Granted, the rains can be very devastating, but surely, a State that has lived with rains and slides since forever should have learned to prepare better by now. But maybe we are over-speculating. Maybe the concerned departments and offices are on the job already firming Sikkim up better for the monsoons. Do you think that is the case?

Eastern Himalayan Glaciers and Climate Change

MINGMA THUNDU SHERPA
After the influential IPCC reports which stated that “using current climate change trends, by 2100, the average global temperature mayrise by 1.4 – 5.80C….” (IPCC, 2001); there has been almost a tenfold increase in the research and awareness activities so as to help the policy makers to develop strategies to control glacier retreat and control the climatic variability in the Himalayan ecosystem. 70% of the worlds freshwater are frozen in glaciers. During the dry seasons, these glaciers are the only source of fresh water to entertain and facilitate life in the biosphere. Freshwater is a limited source and might pose a serious worry about availability in future decades. The Himalayas are referred to as the “Water Tower of Asia” as it has the largest concentration of glaciers covering more than 33,000 km2 other than the polar caps and annually it provides approximately 8.6 x 106 m3 of water for the largest populated continent of the world as it is the ultimate source of Asia’s seven great rivers: The Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Huang Ho, Salween and Mekong.
As per the literature reports, till date there has been at least 17 major glaciations in the past 1.6 million years and usually glaciations are followedby ‘interglacial’ periods, during which the glacier ice retreats as a result of global warming. Glacial cycles are periodically interrupted by relatively short periods of localized cooling and warming,during which glaciers advance and retreat. The most recent cooling episode of the presentinterglacial commonly referred to as the ‘Little Ice Age’ (LIA), affected parts of North America, Asia and Europeduring 1550-1850 AD.The present scenario at this crucial juncture of 21st century have witnessed glacier retreats in almost all of the alpine regions of the globe where the first phase of glacier retreat was associated with emergence from the Little Ice Age that ended in the 19th centurywhich produced a warming of 0.3ºC in the first half of the 20th century in the Northern Hemisphere. Whereas during the last 25 years, a second 0.3ºC warming pulse caused Northern Hemisphere temperatures to rise to unprecedented levels compared to the last 1,000 years. The 1990s were the warmest decade of the millennium and 1998 the hottest year of the millennium as per the global weather reports analyzed till 2001. Overall, there was a temperature rise of close to 1ºC across the continents and now during the current decade analysis it would be interesting to note the latest temperature changes in global scenario.
There are different ways to compare the changes of glacier in the Himalayas, and one of the employed methods is the microbial niche analysis and community profile studies. The change of climate is monitored by looking on the bacterial (Archae bacteria) profile on glacier, ice and soil, identifying the carbon isotopes on the algal biomass present in the cryoconite holes, ecological responses, mapping and monitoring the seasonal snow and glacier cover etc. This type of comparative research of glacier in the Eastern Himalayas is a prime important in context of global climate change is concern.
Microorganisms living under the extreme environments provide vital information about the physical and chemical limits for physiological and biological adaptability. The extreme cold habitats and their microflora in different parts of the world have gained the attention of many researchers in the recent years. In addition to survival, microbial communities in these cold environments were investigated for their diversity, biogeography, colonization, and/or biofilm formation. In contrast to the general perception, a greater degree of microbial diversity was observed in the extremely cold environments of Arctic and Antarctica.
Talking upon the study of bacterial profile in glacier retreat, the layers of distribution of bacterial community in the ice core section, which reflects the microbial response to the past climate and environmental conditions at the time of deposition. The primary colonizers are determined by the chemical and physical characteristics of the glacier. Thus the quantitative and community structural variation of microbes in ice core might not only reflect the effect of global climate and environmental changes on the microbial transportation, but also exhibit more environmental conditions occurring at the time of deposition in local region. Thus, the quantitative distribution of these glacier bacteria in ice core section perhaps reflected the changes of climate change and environment in local region.
Research in the Himalayan Cryosphere has not been done till date and requires immediate attention. From the research perspectives, Sikkim alone houses 26 glaciers namely Changme Glacier, Changsang Glacier, Chuma Glacier, East Langpo Glacier, Gyamtang Glacier, Jongsang Glacier, Jumthul Glacier, KangkyongGlacier, Lhonak Glacier, North Lhonak Glacier, Onglaktang Glacier, Rathong – Rula Glacier, South Lhonak Glacier, South Simpu Glacier, Talung Glacier, Tasha Glacier, Tasha 1 Glacier, Tenbawa Glacier, Theukang Glacier, Teesta Glacier, Toklung Glacier, Tongshong Glacier, Umaram Glacier, Yulhe Glacier and Zemu Glacier. But unfortunately only three glaciers have been extensively studied. These glaciers are part of cryospheres which encompasses all the aspect of the frozen realm, including glaciers and ice sheets, sea ice, lake and river ice, permafrost, seasonal snow and ice crystals in the atmosphere.
Out of them RathongGlacier, ZemuGlacier and LhonakGlacier are considered as important because it is the source or origin point of riversRangit and Teesta. Most of the researchers focused on these three glaciers, whereas the remaining glaciers have not been well studied as it might be due to its dangerous topography and inconvenience of transportation. Himalayas come under seismic zone, due to the ongoing seismic activity and high rain fall it is subjected to intense cyclonic activity leading to the destruction of glaciers. Also rapid changes in temperature and intensive precipitation may lead to avalanches, rapid melting of glacier ice and snow cap, which results in the drying of natural lakes and hence is dangerous for future of Sikkim and neighboring areas of West Bengal and Bangladesh at large.
Many research works are already going on and had been undertaken by many researchers and research institutes, but the inter-disciplinary aspect and the approximate date regarding the change of glacier retreat is currently lacking. Due to poor policy and lack of appropriate research and hydrothermal water distribution strategies on this field, our water resources are depleting day by day and the downstream population is facing serious problem. Sikkim University is working on the project “Cryosphere and Science” in an inter-disciplinary manner on glacier retreat of Eastern Himalaya which is fully funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India. This type of research is important in the context of climate change, as only one aspect of research is difficult to monitor the climate change in a particular area. So today most of the research needs inter-disciplinary aspects.

[The writer is a Junior Research Fellow IUCCCC- Project on Himalayan Cryosphere, Sikkim University]

Load-shedding rescheduled to today and Friday

GANGTOK, 16 Apr: The EHV/SLDC Circle of Energy & Power Department had announced a load-shedding in the North and East districts today and 17 April. However, the power outage could not be undertaken today due to some technical reasons and will take place on 18 April, the DM-East informs. As things stand then, the load-shedding will be undertaken on 17 and 18 April now.
The department had earlier announced that the power outage would take place on 16 and 17 April from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM in the entire North and East district (except Rangpo) to allow the setting up of the LILO of 400 KV Teesta V-Siliguri DC Transmission Line at Rangpo G.I.S executed by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL).
The timing [8 to 3:30] remains unchanged and the power cut will happen instead on Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, there was a power outage in some parts of Gangtok today which according to the District Magistrate, East Gangtok, was due to a local problem in the Sichey transformer line and has nothing to do with the Grid shut down.

Patient accuses CRH of overcharging ANAND OBEROI

GANGTOK, 16 Apr: A patient at the Central Referral Hospital, Tadong has accused the hospital management of overcharging and other discrepancies in billing. The patient has now refused to be discharged from the hospital until the hospital justifies what he has been billed.
According to the patient party, the 32-year-old youth was admitted to the hospital on 24 March with a fractured heel. He went through a surgery on 28 March, which, he was told, would cost Rs 10,000 if Indian implants were used and the amount would double if imported implants were used. After consulting doctors, the patient decided to go for imported implants. On the day of his discharge, on 15 April the bill given to him was, however, for Rs. 44,000, much higher than what they had prepared for.
The patient party further informs that the CRH management had billed Rs. 2,016 per “locking screw”, the MRP cost of which, they claim, is Rs.1600. Similarly, the MRP for a “calceneal plate” that was Rs. 14,210 had been inflated to Rs. 17,000, they allege further. The price of every item, including the “ortex screw” used in the surgery that cost Rs. 520 had been inflated to Rs. 650, they allege.
When they approached the Medical Superintendent regarding this, the MS called the pharmacy and the billing desk to make a new bill on the MRP given on the said instruments and also an additional 5 percent VAT/ Cess that brought down the bill to Rs. 37,000. According to the patient party, this proves that the earlier bill was faulty.

When this reporter tried to contact the people from the billing desk, the pharmacy and the Medical Superintendent, all refused to speak to the media.

27th convocation of IGNOU held at Regional Centre Gangtok

GANGTOK, 16 Apr: Indira Gandhi National Open University [IGNOU], Regional Centre Gangtok will have its own campus in the near future as the Regional Centre has already identified some suitable land sites for construction of a permanent campus in and around Gangtok. The process of acquiring and purchase of the land is under process with the Government of Sikkim.
This was informed by Regional Director, IGNOU Gangtok, Yogesh Bhutia while addressing the 27th convocation of IGNOU today at Tadong Degree College Auditorium.
During the 27th Convocation of IGNOU, Regional Centre Gangtok today certificates were awarded to 1046 students [24 different programmes amongst 321 Masters Degree, 417 Bachelors Degree, 272 B.Ed and 36 Post Graduate Diploma]. The main function of the 27th Convocation was held at New Delhi.
Addressing the gathering, the Regional Director said that in 2013 two new Learner Support Centres and Special Study Centres were established at Government College Gyalshing and at Damber Singh College at 5th Mile Tadong. The Regional Centre is working on setting up Learner Support Centres at all the sub-divisions in the state to provide access to higher education, especially to the disadvantaged population, he said.
Mr Bhutia informed that student enrollment has been increasing over the years and in the academic session 2013-14, the enrollment of students crossed 6,500. Majority of the students are enrolled in the Bachelors Degree programme of which 49 percent are in Bachelor of Arts alone. 28 percent of students have enrolled in the Masters Degree Programme, 9 percent in in-service B.Ed programme, while 6 percent of in-service teachers have enrolled for the Diploma in Elementary Education Programme.
Female enrollments are higher than male at 56%, while 58% of the enrollments are of students from rural background, he informed.
IGNOU offers 228 Academic, Professional, Vocational, Awareness and Skill oriented programmes of study. Out of these 228 programmes on offer, Regional Centre Gangtok offers 53 programmes which range from Diploma courses, competence certificate courses to Masters Degree programmes.








Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bear sighted at TNA, again


SCHOOL SHUT TILL 20 APRIL; TRAPS SET TO CATCH BEAR DURING NEXT VISIT
GANGTOK, 15 Apr: Another bear sighting at Tashi Namgyal Academy last night has forced the school to shut down till 20 April as a precautionary measure. It may be recalled that an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Kolkata Armed Police, RB Adhikari, on duty at the EVM strong-room at TNA, was attacked by a Himalayan Black Bear on 11 April.
On Monday night, at around 8 30 p.m., the school’s Chowkidar spotted a bear in the small patch of forest behind the Principal’s bungalow. On seeing the bear, he ran away from the spot and informed others. A team of Forest Department soon reached the spot and started a combing operation in the area but they could not find the bear.
Speaking to NOW! today, DFO [Wildlife], East, Abhay Bhaskar, informed that immediately after the incident was reported, a Forest team rushed to the spot and carried out a combing operation but the bear could not be traced. He informed that another combing operation was carried out this morning.
“We swept the whole area again this morning but there was no sign of the bear,” he said.
The DFO informed that two cages have been set up in the area to catch the bear in case it returns to the campus. One cage has been set up near the Principal’s Bungalow where the bear was sighted last night and from where the bear is believed to have entered the school’s compound. The other cage has been placed near the Science Block of the school which could be the probable exit point.
The bear could have come down from the Ratey-Chu forest area, it is believed.
Mr. Bhaskar further informed that the cages will be kept in campus till Saturday and a combing operation will carried out again on Thursday. The department has also stationed its teams at Forest Colony and at the Himalayan Zoological Park. These teams will maintain vigil and are prepared with all required equipment, he added.
The DFO has also appealed to the people not to panic in case of any bear sightings and to immediately inform the Forest Department.

THE NOTICE, THE CAGE, AND THE TEAM: Students arriving for classes at TNA on Tuesday were greeted with a notice announcing a holiday in light of an unscheduled visit by a Himalayan Black Bear. And already long weekend is now a weeklong holiday. Meanwhile, cages have been set up in campus to cut short a return visit and a team of foresters are on standby as quick response team.

Welfare organization observes birth anniv of Dr. Ambedkar

GANGTOK, 15 Apr: Dr. Ambedkar Socio Economic Development Organization, Sikkim observed the 123rd Birth Anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar on 14 April at the organization's office. The programme was chaired by Ex - MLA and the organization's president, DB Thatal. 

A press release informs that the programme began with the offering of khadas on the portrait of Dr. BR Ambedkar and the welcome address by general secretary of the organization. President of the organization gave a brief report on the organization's work and also spoke on the life of Dr. Ambedkar, the release mentions. 

Congress candidates thank voters

GANGTOK, 15 Apr: Congress candidates for Upper Burtuk, Santa Bir Gurung and Namthang-Rateypani, Dikmaya Basnet have thanked voters of their respective areas. They also congratulated the people of the state for using their democratic right to vote without fear.

In a press release, the two Congress candidates have also thanked party workers and supporters for their participation in the election campaign in their respective areas. The party has also wished for peace in the state even after the election process is over. 

SKM accuses SDF of post-poll violence

GANGTOK, 15 Apr: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha has accused Sikkim Democratic Front of indulging in post-poll violence. The party has alleged that around 7 SDF supporters attacked the house of Pawan Khatiwada at Padamchey in East Pendam last night.
An SKM press release alleges that the SDF supporters came in the vehicle belonging to an SDF Zilla Panchayat and pelted stones at the house of Mr. Khatiwada and his brother, Parsuram Khatiwada. The latter’s wife was also manhandled by the SDF workers, it is further alleged.
The release informs that the victims have filed a complaint at Pakyong Thana and were given first aid at Pakyong hospital. It is informed that Pakyong Police have also arrested the accused who are Jiwan Tamang, Palden Tamang, Sukraj Tamang, Tashi Lepcha, Jambo Lepcha and others. 
SKM is accusing the Zilla Panchayat and one other of “masterminding” the attack, and is demanding their arrest as well.


3 Sikkim Bn NCC conducts two-day camp on hygiene and sanitation

GANGTOK, 15 Apr [IPR]: 3rd Sikkim Bn NCC, Gangtok carried out a two-day hygiene and sanitation and First Aid Camp at Enchey School, Gangtok on 15 and 16 April. The aim of the two-day camp was to impart training to the students and cadets of the school on First Aid and the methods of life saving.
The lecture and demonstration covered various aspects of Health and Hygiene and the ways to keep our environment, school and town clean and free from garbage. The importance of a clean environment was taught to the young boys and girls of Enchey School. The subjects were covered by Hav/NA, AK Jha on 15 April and Hav/NA, Bhagirath on 16 April.
The NCC Cadets of Enchey shool have performed excellently in this camp. The commanding officer, Col D Mohapatra praised the principal, Ms Chingapa and Mr. Nepal for their invaluable contribution to the society. 3rd Sikkim BN NCC has been regularly conducting programmes on First Aid and Hygiene Sanitation. The CO has thanked CO Military Hospital, Col Jasbir Singh for his contributions to help the NCC Cadets of Sikkim by providing men and material for such camps.

The Hygiene Aspects and First Aid Trainings are being held regularly by 3rd Sikkim Bn NCC in all institutions in Gangtok. In future the team of instructors shall also cover the entire state of Sikkim. More institutions in Sikkim have shown keenness to be a part of 3 Sikkim Bn NCC to serve the State and the society. In future the youths of Sikkim shall enable the State to become the cleanest place in the country and thereby promote Tourism as well.

SCHOOL DIARY- students report…

Starting this week, we are introducing a new section especially for students of the state which will feature writings or photographs contributed by school students. To start with, this section will feature in the Wednesday edition of NOW! every week. ‘School Diary’ seeks to encourage youngsters to express themselves as well as share the happenings around the schools of the state.

Social Work Day introduced at Middle Gyalshing Secondary School
JOSHNA SIWAKOTI, class X, Literary Captain
GYALSHING, 15 Apr: Middle Gyalshing Secondary School of West Sikkim introduced a shramdaan/ gardening/ social work day in the school. In this regard every Friday, prior to the second Saturday of the month would be devoted to promotion of these values, through various works and tasks such as gardening, cleanliness drives and other social awareness programmes.
The first day of the programme on 07 March was devoted to gardening where all the houses were allocated separate areas for gardening. All the students displayed their talents and creativity. Students also collected waste jerrycans and planted flowers in them.
This day inculcates a sense of belongingness and social responsibility with values such as love for environment, conservation of the environment and principles of waste management. All the students worked according to their potential.
Students used the waste land for plantation and all the students brought flowers, manure and bamboos from their own homes. The second programme was held on 11 April.


[We invite students from across the state to share their views, news and any written piece in this section. Writings could include short stories, poems, essays, etc. Photographs with captions can also be sent at sikkimnow@rediffmail.com or you could also drop in at our office at Daragaon, Near Ayurvedic Clinic, Tadong.]

Rotary Club congratulates Prakash Sundas

GANGTOK, 15 Apr: Rotary Club of Gangtok South congratulates Prakash Sundas for being felicitated on the occasion of the 123rd Birth Anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar on 14 April during a function held at Sikkim Legislative Assembly premises. Prakash Sundas is a well-known Rotarian of North East India and actively participates in all social activities of the state, informs a press release. The club has wished him luck for his future endeavors, it adds. 

With start of model code, co-terminus appointments ended

GANGTOK, 15 Apr: The appointment of Tshering Wangdi Lepcha as Chairperson, Primitive Tribe Welfare Board has been revoked by the state government. Mr Lepcha had tendered his resignation as Chairperson of the Board on 05 March, the day it was required with the announcement of election dates.
It needs to be highlighted here that the government had revoked the appointment orders of all advisors to the government as well as chairpersons to public sector units as soon as the model code of conduct came into operation on 05 March. Around 15 Advisors and 13 Chairpersons ended their tenure with the start of the code of conduct and all government facilities also accordingly withdrawn.

Also, the appointment of members of the state planning commission was also revoked by the state government following the coming into operation of the model code of conduct. The revoking of their appointment and withdrawal of government facilities to them were only for the period during which the model code of conduct is in operation. In fact, also removed were all those staff appointed on co-terminus basis to all advisors and chairpersons.

Keeping Gangtok Clean, One kilometer at a time

GANGTOK, 15 Apr: Students of 14 junior schools across Gangtok today participated in the 1 km initiative under Engage 14 organised by Gangtok Municipal Corporation and 24Hours Inspired. The students spent an hour spreading awareness about cleanliness amongst the public in an area of 1 km.
A press release informs that the 1 km initiative is focused on assisting young children practice the aspect of keeping Gangtok clean and also practically applying the aspect of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. It believes that if each one of us takes care of the 1 kilometer within our living and working habitat, Gangtok would be the cleanest place to live in. 
Speaking on the initiative, Commissioner, Gangtok Municipal Corporation, Anil Raj Rai stated, “Engage Quiz generated great interest among the students to contribute towards making Gangtok cleaner. What we were also able to do through that platform was to provide the young minds a theoretical perspective about Solid Waste Management and the aspect of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
The 1 km initiative is the practical application of the content that they have been made aware of. The initiative helped them see the ground reality of their areas and also provided them an opportunity to engage with their immediate vicinity to make a positive difference in their own special ways.”
Speaking about the experience of the 1 km initiative, Principal, Ashmita Vidhya Mandir said, Ganesh Karki said, “The students were very excited to participate in the program and to spread the word about keeping our environment clean and green to the local residents. The students also felt proud because this time it was the young teaching the elders about cleanliness. After the elections, we will be organizing a program for the students and parents to clean the area between Ranka Zero and Amdo Golai.”
“Every school was highly enthused to participate in this initiative. We have been told that the students really enjoyed the process and also were excited to continue this initiative and make it a calendar event for the school”, says Chief Learning Officer, 24hours Inspired, Dewaker Basnet.
The fourteen schools that participated in this initiative are - Lumsey Junior High School, Sa-Vellie Row School, North Point School, Neil Tara Academy, Mickey’s International School, Happy Hours School, Burtuk Junior High School, Lower Burtuk School, Ashmita Vidhya Mandir, Joybells School, Gurukul Academy, Manjushree Public School, Annes Home School, Lingding Junior High School, the release informs.

Engage 14 is a three-phase intervention with Engage Quiz for junior school students, Engage Discussion for Secondary school students and Engage Race for Senior Secondary Students.

Media Musing

Editorial:-

When the internet exploded on to personal computers and commentators around the world started sounding the death knell for the printed word and television [we are talking news here], there were a few sane minds who pointed out that this would not happen since the worldwide web did not have a business model to translate eyeballs into revenue. No media can survive, leave alone wipe out another, without a revenue model. More than a decade and a half of the web having flattened the world and having now even reached telephones, newspapers and television channels continue to print and broadcast. The reason why advertisements, which sustain newspapers and television, did not migrate on industry-killing scale to the internet is because even though websites offer free information and hence are seen as more accessible, they demand not only technology and some level of tech-savvy aptitude, but more importantly, constant engagement – you cannot be brewing yourself tea while also browsing [at least not properly], but you could be reading, cooking and washing even as you catch the news on television playing in the background. Because the television does not demand unbroken attention, it attracts advertisements which play on a spool and a few decibles louder than regular programming, until, in their covert assault they command the top of the mind recall that advertisers crave. And then again, you can take the television around everywhere with you unlike a newspaper which you could roll under your arms and read whenever you want. Also, an advertisement on print, despite publications being timebound, have a longer shelf life than an advertisement on TV which runs to fixed slots and can be avoided. But then, there are so many channels to choose from, so many claiming breaking news all the time, that to retain advertiser portfolios, it becomes necessary to acquire viewerships. Because television is chosen as a medium of information sometimes to catch news [a lathicharge or budget announcements] as it breaks and most of the times because this form of imbibing information makes no demands on attention spans, given the competition in this segment, the need to entertain takes priority over the responsibility to inform. The need for authenticity is sidestepped because television viewers do not get a chance to rationalise - the rapid barrage of soundbytes and visuals, presented by excitable presenters, jumping from one story to another, leaves viewers no time to mull over the information provided. It’s different with newspapers, where the reader is engaged in the process, questioning, doubting and analysing the information provided as s/he reads. This pressure to entertain makes viewers sit through half an hour specials on a cow that walks in circles or political siblings feuding across TV channels; of political debates reduced to allusions to balloons and toffees and televised debates becoming more about the performance of star anchors than explaining issues. Television does not allow viewers time to think and visual images have a way to ‘leading’ viewers, something not as easily achieved in the print medium. And they have been exploiting this power rather shamelessly and now that entertainment is winning, news is suffering even in print. Print, the dinosaur of information, has been dribbling an awkward game of late as it strives to add zing to the printed word. This is admittedly not easy. Succumbing to sensationalism or exploitative journalism is easy and simultaneously, as journalistic responsibilities towards authenticity are getting dangerously de-prioritised in the race to garner viewer/ readership, media finds itself in a confounding muddle. And while these are our problems to wade through and negotiate, it is a collective worry because not just individual reputations, what is also at stake in this pressure to entertain [and nothing entertains like gossip] is the audience’s need to be informed, and informed correctly. As the bar for basic journalistic ethics to verify gets lowered, the media becomes that much more susceptible to plants and directed misinformation; and this will provide only momentary euphoria in some camps, anger in others, but serve no purpose save to titillate…

DR Thapa thanks all for supporting him

GANGTOK, 15 Apr: Upper Burtuk candidate of Sikkim Democratic Front party, DR Thapa has expressed his gratitude to his supporters.
In a message to his party supporters, D R Thapa has said that he will not forget the support lent by the party workers to him and the party. In return he has further assured to do all he can for them and the development of the area.
He has also thanked the students, government employees, business community, party workers, senior citizens and the NGOs who have supported him whole heartedly during the assembly election. If voted to power, Mr Thapa states that he will use the power for betterment of the society and his constituency.


Campaigning ends for 121 constituencies in 5th phase of LS poll

New Delhi, 15 Apr: Campaigning for the crucial fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections in 121 constituencies ended on Tuesday. The 121 constituencies across 12 states will go for voting on April 17. Nandan Nilekani, Jaswant Singh, Shatrughan Sinha, Ananth Kumar and Jyotiraditya Scindia are amongst the big names in the fray.
In West Bengal, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduars constituencies will go for elections on April 17, marking the commencement of elections for 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. A total of 47 candidates are in the fray for the four constituencies, where tough fights are expected in a mainly four-cornered contest.
A total of 60,14,258 voters, of whom 31,14,184 are male and 29,00,024 are female, would get the opportunity to exercise their franchise in this phase of elections for the seats in North Bengal covering the Hills, Terai, Dooars and also the plains in Cooch Behar.
A total of 47 candidates are in the fray for the four constituencies, where tough fights are expected in a mainly four-cornered contest. With none of the major parties willing to give away an inch without fight, a number of top national leaders have campaigned in these constituencies.
While BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a huge rally at Siliguri, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attended a workers' meet in the Dooars.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has criss-crossed the constituencies, holding a number of rallies in favour of her party candidates.
Though the TMC has never won any of these North Bengal seats going to polls on April 17, it is banking on the good show of the 2011 Assembly elections and is making an all-out effort to open its account in this area.
In Karnataka, polling will be held across all 28 constituencies and is likely to be mammoth battle with five former chief ministers in the fray. All eyes are on Bangalore South seat where Congress' Nandan Nilekani will take on BJP's five times MP Ananth Kumar and AAP's Neena Kumar. In Bangalore South, AAP has fielded former Infosyian V Balakrishnan.
Campaigning for first phase polls on 20 seats in Rajasthan also came to an end on Tuesday. Over 3.80 crore electors would exercise their franchise in first phase polls to decide the fate of 239 candidates, including 20 each of Congress and BJP, who are in the fray. The focus will be on the Barmer seat where BJP's Colonel Sonaram Chaudhary will take on Jaswant Singh, who is contesting as an independent.
As many as 38,835 polling booths have been set up these 20 constituencies. There are 17 women contestants in the fray of these, six are from Congress, including three sitting MPs and one from BJP. The remaining five seats in Rajasthan will go to polls on April 24.
In Uttar Pradesh, 11 Lok Sabha seats are going to polls on April 17. n this phase more than 1.8 crore electorate would decide the fate of 151 candidates, including stalwarts like former cabinet ministers Maneka Gandhi, Santosh Gangwar, Saleem Sherwani, Dharmendra Yadav and Begum Noor Bano. Maneka, who last time won from Aonla, is back to her traditional seat Pilibhit on BJP ticket. Of the 11 seats for which polling would be held, four were won by SP, three by Congress, and two by BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009.
The high-octane campaign for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 17 for ten seats in Madhya Pradesh concluded on Tuesday, where heavyweights like Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and state unit BJP president Narendra Singh Tomar are in the fray.
A total of 1,67,12,808 voters, including 8,99,57,33 men, 77,96,647 women and 426 "others" will seal the fate of total 142 nominees. The 10 constituencies going to polls on Thursday are Bhopal, Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Guna, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho and Rajgarh.
Campaign for the second phase of polling in Maharashtra where nearly 3.25 crore voters will be sealing the fate of 358 candidates including stalwarts like Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, ex-Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and BJP leader Gopinath Munde, came to an end on Tusday. There are 358 candidates in fray, including 24 women and 201 independents. The voters in the second phase include 1,69,54,391 men and 1,53,77,605 women.
In Bihar, loudspeakers fell silent on Tuesday evening with campaigning coming to an end for the second phase voting to seven Lok Sabha seats in Bihar on April 17. Tight security arrangements have been put in place as many of the constituencies fall in Maoist-hit areas.
Voting in Patna and nearby districts would decide the fate of 117 candidates, including actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, former Home Secretary RK Singh, Lalu Prasad's eldest daughter Misa Bharti and her two uncles Ramkripal Yadav and Ranjan Yadav.
Campaigning ended on Tuesday in six Lok Sabha constituencies in Jharkhand for the April 17 polling. The constituencies where polling would be held are Giridih, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Singhbhum ST, Khunti ST and Hazaribagh from among the total 14 LS seats. Among the 106 nominees, prominent candidates were Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Karia Munda of BJP as also Jayant Sinha, son of Jaswant Sinha, former Team India Manager Amitabh Chowdhury of JVM(P), former deputy Chief Minister, Suresh Mahato of AJSU party and former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay of Congress.
11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly seats in Odisha will go to the second and last phase polling for the elections on April 17. The fate of 98 candidates, including 11 women would be decided in the Lok Sabha elections and that of 747 candidates, including 65 women, in the Assembly. Prominent LS candidates are Congress stalwart and union minister Srikant Jena and former Union Minister Arjun Sethi of BJD, besides a host of MPs including Tathagat Satpathy, Baijayant Panda, Pinaki Mishra, Bhatruhari Mahtab (all BJD).

Campaign for the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Manipur for the second of the two seats in the state, Inner Manipur, ended on Tuseday. Chhattisgarh, Goa and Jammu & Kashmir will go to polls for three, two and one seats respectively on April 17.