EDUCATION: Japan to Sikkim for higher studies

EDUCATION: Japan to Sikkim for higher studies – Ohio gozaimas, Tatshuki san, aapnar bhalo bashe ki ?!!

Tatshuki Shirai (left) at the NSD workshop in Gangtok on Wednesday - Sikkim slowly pulling away the proud educational heritage of Darjeeling, Bengal least concerned ?!! (Photo by Prabin Khaling)


Gangtok, July 7: Sikkim University has got its first overseas student.

And into his first week in Gangtok, Tatshuki Shirai can already sing a few words of swaghat cha, a Nepali welcome song.

The 21-year-old Japanese is here for a two-semester course in sociology and Eastern Himalayas in Tadong Government College under the university that is part of India’s unprecedented higher education expansion aimed at ensuring access to quality higher education in traditionally neglected regions.

“I will be submitting my admission forms tomorrow to Tadong Government College,” said Shirai during a break of the personality development workshop organised by the university in collaboration with the National School of Drama at 6th Mile, Tadong. The workshop that started on June 23 will end on July 18.

Shirai, who studied sociology and cultural anthropology for three years at Hitotsubahsi University, arrived in Gangtok on June 30.

He is interested in studying the cultural history of Sikkim and the communities here from an anthropological perspective. “I am interested in the culture, history and people of Sikkim,” he said. He also wants to work with local NGOs to understand better the connection between communities, environment and development.

The first-overseas-student tag for Shirai is literal. The university has students from neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan, but not somebody who has had to cross the sea (in this case the Sea of Japan).

Shirai believes that studying in Sikkim for one year could provide him with valuable experience. “This is a sensitive area near China and I will also like to study the relations between India and China in the context of Sikkim,” he said.

In a media release, the university claimed that Shirai chose the institution because of its interdisciplinary courses and for the multi-cultural ethos as well as environmental, cultural and historical uniqueness that the Himalayan state offers.

The Japanese citizen has enrolled for the monsoon and spring semesters. According to Hitotsubahsi University rules, students have to do a year in a foreign university as part of their course. Shirai said his professor Yoskiko Ashiwai had recommended Sikkim University along with a few other institutions in Sri Lanka and Malaysia. “But during my research I found out that this university was new and offered inter-disciplinary courses and Sikkim as a region interested me,” he said.

Shirai said he had met university vice-chancellor Mahendra P. Lama in Japan last year and had then discussed his prospects of study here.

The university is among a handful in India that conducts a nation-wide entrance examination to pick students for its postgraduate courses.

“I was lucky to be a part of the workshop which was enjoyable. Without this workshop, I would have had only a few friends. Now I have made many friends,” said Shirai, who is taking part in almost all programmes.

“I am learning the Nepali language bit by bit and right now, I have acquired elementary knowledge,” said Shirai in halting English.


Honours in two colleges – in Siliguri, no stringent quality check requirements as in the Hills where there are “delays” galore ?!!

Munshi Premchand College in Siliguri - no provenance, but granted permission ?!! Bengal now in a hurry to promote "cultural colonialism" ?!! (Photo by Kundan Yolmo)


Siliguri, July 7: North Bengal University has allowed Naxalbari College to offer honours in English and history from the current academic session. Munshi Premchand College will also start honours course in Bengali from this year.

The seating capacity in Premchand College for sociology — a pass course to start this year — is 150 and that for Bengali honours is 30. The forms are being distributed from July 3 and will continue till July 8. “The merit list will be published on July 9 followed by counselling the next day. Classes will begin on July 12. We will admit around 400 students,” said principal Dilip Das.

Naxalbari College will start the admission procedure after a managing committee meeting on July 9. “The varsity intimated us on June 5 that we could start honours courses in history and English. The seating capacity is 30 each for both the subjects,” said Gautam Ghosh, the secretary of the managing committee.

Both the colleges, established in 2008 to accommodate the increasing number of students who pass Higher Secondary exams, offered only pass courses in humanities.

“We had applied for honours in history, English and Bengali and pass courses in Nepali and sociology. The varsity had sent an inspection team and held several meetings before granting us the permission on July 3,” said Das. The college has 100 students in the third year and 400 students in the second year.

Naxalbari College conducts classes in three concrete rooms and as many makeshift rooms. The state higher education department has sanctioned Rs 25 lakh to the institution for construction of rooms.


Tree sale lock on officials – Confined for 13 hours – setting the right educational example for India’s future generation ?!!

Uttar Banga Krishi Visvavidhalaya Campus, Director of Farms office gheraoed - Bengal education, psychologically askew ?!! (Photo by Main Uddin Chisti)


Cooch Behar, July 7: The director of farms in an agriculture university was locked up for 13 hours yesterday by the Trinamul Congress employees’ union for selling a felled tree on the campus on the sly.

The newly formed union also used the opportunity to rake up several other issues and demanded that the Left Front government should keep its job promise made to families who had given land for the university when it was set up.

Amar Roy was confined to his office on the Uttar Banga Krishi Visvavidyalaya campus from 7am to 8pm yesterday, going without food and water. The assistant directors of farms, Mrigen Ghosh and Parthasarathi Medda, were also locked up. The agitated workers numbering about 300 sat in front of the office. The three officials were allowed to go only after they promised in writing that the issue over the sale of the tree and the union’s other demands would be discussed at the next meeting of the UBKV executive council.

The president of the workers’ union, Afzal Ali, alleged that a large shishu tree that had fallen in a recent storm had been sawed up by the farm authorities and sold for a mere Rs 1,000.

“What they tried to do is totally illegal. The tree was lopped off into logs on June 30 and yesterday the security guards got to know about it when the buyer was taking the logs out. By checking a duplicate receipt we came to know it had been sold for Rs 1,000. The five logs are worth not less than Rs 10,000. The authorities did not float any tender and did not even take the forest department’s permission before disposing of the tree,” Ali said.

All trees on government land can be disposed off only with permission from the forest department.

The protest over the tree sale was used by the Trinamul union, whose members were affiliated to Citu till about one and a half years ago, to raise other issues as well. “The university authorities have not raised the daily wage of the temporary workers from the Rs 96 that they get. We have been demanding salaries for the daily workers and the security guards at par with the Group D rate of the state government, which comes to Rs 169 per day,” the union president said.

Today, the director of farms said there was no ill intention on the part of the official in his department who had sold the tree. “He was just ignorant about the procedures. It was a mistake and we have kept the logs on the campus,” Roy said. He admitted that the logs had been sold as firewood and no permission had been taken from the forest department.

Roy said there were many large trees on the campus and the one that was lopped was dead and had fallen in a storm. “We have already written to the forest department to identify trees that can be felled. There is no controversy about that,” the director of farms said.

Ali also complained that when the university came into being in 1979, about 400 families had sold their land at a very nominal price in the hope that one person from each household would get a job as promised by the Left government. “During the entire rule of the Left Front, the promise was never fulfilled,” Ali alleged.


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