ENTERPRISING SIKKIM: To sell an orchid scent – project afoot to extract fragrance – first in the world ideas, to also use foreign collaboration, off the media ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, Sept. 14: Two institutes here are working on a three-year project for commercial exploitation of scented orchids in Sikkim, an endeavour that could be the first in the world.
The Sikkim Himalayan region, comprising the hills of Sikkim and Darjeeling, has about 450 species of orchids, of which 70 are scented, said the National Research Centre (NRC) that is working on “a value chain on selected aromatic plants of Northeast India”.
Established in 1996, the NRC is based in Pakyong subdivision of East Sikkim and conducts research on high-altitude orchids. In this project that started in March, the NRC is working jointly with the College of Agricultural Engineering and Post Harvest Technology which comes under the Central Agriculture University based in Ranipool, East district.
NRC director R.P. Medhi said most people are familiar with orchids only as cut-flowers. They are little aware of scents like lemon, jasmine, hyacinth, orange, chocolate, coconut and vanilla emanating from orchids. “Our role is to conduct research and develop planting material (of the scented orchids) through tissue culture. We have to first develop production protocols and methods for a large scale of cultivation of scented orchids,” said Medhi.
The NRC is currently working on five scented species found in Sikkim — Aerides odoratum, Dendrobium crysotoxum, Coelogyne cristata, C. flacida and Zygopatalum intermedium.
In response to a query, the NRC director said no information about any research conducted on scented orchids is available so far, suggesting that the project in Sikkim is probably the first of its kind in the world.
“World demand for aromatic plants and their products is increasing and India’s prospects depend on focusing on value added products, consistent drive and quality, and ensuring competition through enhanced productivity. The aromatic orchids have to be brought under large-scale cultivation to maintain their continuous supply. The small and marginal farmers in Sikkim need to be encouraged to grow the aromatic species,” said Medhi.
He, however, said the quantity of fragrant essence, which can be extracted as well as the market value of the product, is still to be worked out. But the fact that a scent of an orchid is on sale itself is enough to attract a lot of attention, Medhi said.
NRC principle scientist D. Barman said progress had been made in tissue culture of the scented orchids. “We have so far generated around 5,000 plants (by tissue culture). However, we have not achieved significantly in extraction of essential oils from the orchids. We are still conducting analysis,” he said.
P.K. Srivastava, the dean of the College of Agricultural Engineering and Post Harvest Technology, said his institute would provide engineering support on how to harvest and extract essential oils from the orchids.
“We have already set up a pilot extraction plant at the institute. Even after the extraction of essential oils from the orchids, some fragrance will be left on the plants which we are planning to use for incense sticks,” said Srivastava. He said his institute would train farmers who take up the cultivation of scented orchid species.
“Once the farmers take up the cultivation of scented orchid species, we will allow them to use our extraction plant. We can also develop a portable extraction plant for self-help groups,” said the dean. He added that the cost of an extraction plant starts at Rs 1.5 lakh.
Village Development Action Plan Presentation by Prof. Dafflon – Sikkim Chief Minister’s Speech – growing from strength to strength, while Darjeeling still struggles under Bengal – so right, yet so wrong ?!!
Gangtok, Chintan Bhawan, Sep 14, 2010: Respected Professor Bernard Dafflon from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, Hon’ble Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, my cabinet colleagues and MLAs, Member of Parliament, Deputy Chairman State Planning Commission, Zilla Adhayakshas and Up-Adhayakshas, Mayor and Deputy Mayor, Chairman and Vice Chairman, Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary, Secretaries and senior officials of the State Government, Presidents of the Gram Panchayat Units, Pachayat Members, Councilors from across the State, friends from media, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
At the outset, I share extreme happiness with all of you to once again welcome Professor Bernard Dafflon to Sikkim and thank him for his guiding principles for Rural Renaissance based on our long-term goal of sustainable and scientific development of rural Sikkim. He is our dear friend, philosopher and partner in our movement for rural upliftment. Gandhiji prescribed going to the villages to see the ‘real’ India. In the same way, we have sought to re-organize, re-furbish, further enrich and empower that ‘real’ Sikkim into a socially, culturally and economically sustainable compact State. In this great mission of ours, Prof. Dafflon is our catalyst and the harbinger to herald a new beginning into rural life and the grass root experience.
Essentially, the State entered into the planning process only towards late 1970s and as a fledgling democratic State the concept of long-term planning into strategic development was not considered very vital and the subsequent governments failed to judge its seriousness that it required to be addressed. However, when the Sikkim Democratic Front government was mandated to form government in December 1994, we quickly settled to do a re-look into the must-do imperatives both in policy framing and planning procedure.
For obvious reasons, our Government earmarked seventy percent of plan allocation for village development which surprised many in those days who were only used to regimented thought and action and not exposed to free thinking atmosphere. After sixteen years, we have successfully addressed the basic necessities of life by granting full access to social security, education, health, democratic rights, decent living, food and shelter.
We have realized that the best way to achieve comprehensive development in the State is to increasingly decentralize and devolve the functioning of the Government to the people at the grassroot level. The idea is to give a sense of ownership, introduce transparency and make the governance accountable. Today, Sikkim is in the forefront of decentralization and devolution in the country. As per the spirit of 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, our grass root functionaries are fully institutionalized contributing towards the development of the society and the State.
The State Government also held elections to the urban local bodies in accordance with the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act. This process brought about due integration of local urban administration under the ambit of constitutional requirement as required under the democratic set up. That means now we also have a full set of people to work towards the welfare of the community at large as well as in improving the overall civic environment with assured basic amenities to the people.
In fact, we have also effectively introduced fiscal devolution both to the rural and urban bodies with strings of other fund allocation including the provision for discretionary fund.
With the creation of the Block Administrative Centres, the process of decentralized district planning for every micro unit of administration within the State has been brought into operation. The bottoms-up approach to the planning process involving District level officials and elected representatives of all Gram Panchayats and Zilla Panchayats has now become a reality.
A new Block Administrative Centre shall be established at Machong Parakha where BDO and other functionaries have been already posted. New BACs in Chumbung-Chakung and Chongrang in West Sikkim, Nandu Gaon Chisopani in South and Martam in East Sikkim shall be established and we are opening State Bank of Sikkim branch office at all the BACs across the State. Likewise, Community Centres, Play Ground and Knowledge Centre shall be developed in each of these centres.
A comprehensive and holistic planning and budgeting framework in the form of “Village Development Action Plan” prepared by Professor Bernard Dafflon would be used as road map for scientific development of villages under the eco-city State concept and will further strengthen our decentralization and empowerment mission. Following these guidelines, a pilot Village Development Action Plan for Aritar Gram Panchayat Unit in East District has also been prepared.
This is a diagnostic study which attacks at the very heart of poverty and tries to find out the root cause and prescribe a solution as well. The State Government specifically chose Switzerland to frame the Model considering the striking similarity between the two countries particularly in their geographical terrain, very strong belief in decentralization and peaceful and hospitable nature of the people.
What inspired us to prepare this indepth and comprehensive Action Plan has been our long-drawn experience to address issue of equitable growth and distribution of development reach to both urban and rural Sikkim and ensure balanced development of the State. This will, as a result, lead to creation of equal opportunity and development avenues for people living in both urban and rural areas.
As part of overall outcome and based on the Action Plan, we will be able to create long-term, national and world class opportunities and public facilities at the grass root level at par with Gangtok town or other modernized towns. This will further strengthen our commitment to sustainable environment management and promotion of culture and tradition at equal pace and dimension.
Therefore, Village Development Action Plan is the end result of our cohesive, logical and integrated visionary program. I am confident that his Action Plan will completely transform Sikkim into the eco-city State and emerge as a model for the entire generations.
The learning that has taken place during the preparation of the Village Development Action Plan involving the local community includes an assessment of current planning and budgeting scenario and a plan for decentralized planning and budgeting. Also in-house capability has been developed to prepare this plan. This has resulted in a better understanding of poverty, its indicators, measurement and root causes specific to Sikkim and the ways and means to prevent, reduce and eliminate poverty from the State.
I am particularly pleased to note that the Village Development Action Plan for comprehensive and holistic development of villages of Sikkim has been prepared at a time when the conducive policy frame work, substantial funding for Panchayati Raj Institution and elaborate institutional mechanism, both in terms of infrastructure and man power are in place.
From the current year, each Gram Panchayat Unit will be receiving between Rs.70 to Rs.80 lakhs annually including grants from 13th Finance Commission, 3rd State Finance Commission and funds under MG-NREGA, BRGF (i.e. Backward Region Grant Fund) and National Rural Drinking Water Programme.
This financial assistance will be available to Panchayats exclusively to plan and implement schemes within their domain for creating social and economic infrastructure, improving civic amenities, conserving and developing natural resources and enhancing livelihood opportunities.
As this distinguished gathering is aware, poverty alleviation is not merely limited to enhancing income levels of the citizens, but is being assessed as a measure of capabilities, opportunities, freedom and the assets of the households to have sustainable livelihoods and access to other social security measures. The rural development programmes of my Government are focused in adopting a multi-pronged approach towards poverty alleviation through decentralized development planning and local governance.
The State Government is implementing several programmes relating to wage employment guarantee, self-employment, skill development and capacity building, sanitation and drinking water, housing, rural health, education, rural connectivity, water, tourism and natural resource conservation for inclusive growth of the people in rural areas in general and disadvantaged sections of the society in particular.
Seventy (70%) percent of Plan fund of the State Government continues to be earmarked for the rural areas. We are focusing on universalizing access to sustainable employment, infrastructure, sanitation, connectivity, quality health, quality education and housing.
The insightful observation made by the Nobel Laureate of the famous Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Prof. Muhammad Yunus is very revealing. The Nobel Laureate said “World’s income distribution gives a very telling story. Ninety-four percent of the world income goes to 40 percent of the population while 60 percent of people live on only 6 percent of world income. Half of the world population lives on two dollars a day. Over one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. This is no formula for peace”
However, if we compare Sikkim with other States and other Countries in the light of the above observation, the people in Sikkim are far more secured living a more comfortable life. It is due to consistent efforts and pro-poor policies and programmes of our Government that the percentage of people living Below Poverty Line has come down from 41 per cent in 1993-94 to 20 per cent in 2005 and less than 10 percent at present.
Therefore, our next target has been to further close the gap of urban-rural disparity, complete eradication of poverty, diversify income generation measures and livelihood options, access to quality education and quality health facilities and all-season connectivity.
Nelson Mandela says, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is manmade, and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” In order to eradicate poverty, my Government has launched several developmental and welfare initiatives in the State with particular stress on eradication of rural poverty. This has brought about a perceptible change in the lives of the people in the villages.
For long, I have felt and experienced that poverty is the root cause of all the problems in the world. Without eradicating poverty, we can not achieve other development goals. Therefore, I wish to reiterate that my government attaches the highest priority to the successful implementation of the anti-poverty programmes and is committed to realizing the mission of a “Poverty Free Sikkim” by 2015.
We are making concerted and coordinated efforts to improve the quality and delivery of public services to achieve the objectives of deepening and widening of rural prosperity and well being. We are committed to make rural Sikkim, not only poverty free, but also the backbone of inclusive social and economic growth in which as Mother Teresa would say, we will effectively address the greatest ‘poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for’ with utmost tenderness and love.
Today, Sikkim has emerged as the most happening State in the Country creating many exemplary models of development in all sectors. Why and how is this small State tucked in the high Himalayas, able to break away from the conventional thinking and approach?
There are certain elemental factors in our thinking that has gone into the making of new Sikkim, bringing in new thrust and new focus. We must let the country and the world take notice of this transformation evident in every field.
Generally speaking, the third world countries are faced with a number of problems like poverty, lack of access to affordable quality education, health care and reliable infrastructure. However, I honestly feel that, more so, we are afflicted by the recurring third world mindset- lacking in positive assertion, lack of creative energy, innovative thinking and imaginative out-of-box approach that fundamentally lends us with modern, scientific, tenable and sustainable shift to push our overall development scenario into the fast tract mode.
Sikkim, as the fastest growing State within the developing country presents many exemplary development stories. This is a progressive State, because our mindset is that of the first world country and that of the first world economy. And the Village Development Action Plan is part and parcel of this long-term thought process of the First World mindset.
We have already created many new development milestones, many development initiatives which are the first of their kind not only in the State but in the entire Country. I would like to briefly present them before this distinguished gathering comprising of elected representatives, policy makers, implementing agencies and the general stakeholders.
1. Total Organic State- Sikkim the first State to adopt state-wide organic farming practices to make it total organic by 2015;
2. Environment Management- Sikkim the first State to undertake many innovative and green initiatives including Smriti Ban, Green Mission and Ten Minutes to Earth;
3. Sikkim the first State to remain neat and clean;
4. Sikkim the first ever State to successfully ban use of plastic, killing of wild animals, green felling in forest, ban on grazing etc.;
5. Tourism destination- Sikkim the first State to promote and popularize the concept of eco-tourism and village tourism;
6. Total Literate State- Sikkim the first State to undertake large number of measures to make it fully literate by 2015;
7. Education as topmost priority- Sikkim as the first State to put education on topmost priority with over 20 percent plan allocation;
8. Sikkim the first State to provide for free education, free uniform, text book, free scholarship, educational loan, Chief Minister’s Free Scholarship for students pursuing higher studies in top 20 Universities of the world;
9. Capacity Building initiatives- Sikkim the first State to introduce concept of capacity building to train our educated youths in different trades and professions;
10. CMSES- Sikkim the first State to introduce the Chief Minister’s Self Employment Scheme to assist young entrepreneurs;
11. Healthy Sikkim Mission- Sikkim the first State to provide free medicine, provide free Hepatitis B and MDR vaccination, introduce mobile clinic;
12. CATCH- Sikkim the first State to introduce the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-up for Healthy Sikkim (CATCH) campaign. Under the program, Doctors and medical team would assist every Sikkimese to undergo medical check up annually for both preventive and curative measures on a compulsory basis.
13. A fulfilled State- Sikkim the first State to fully provide the basic minimum needs to people;
14. Social Justice- Sikkim the first State to introduce range of social safety measures and to ensure equitable growth and development of all citizens;
15. Sikkim the first State to provide for comprehensive reservation to all section of population including the business community;
16. Sikkim first State to vigorously promote cooperative movement through preferential grant to cooperative societies to execute development works of below Rs. 50 lakhs at the GPU level and Rs. 2 crores at the district level;
17. Sikkim the first State to provide free LPG connection to BPL families;
18. Sikkim the first State to provide for free distribution of 35 kg rice to the most needy BPL families;
19. Sikkim the first State to provide for free housing under the Mukhya Mantri Awas Yojana at the cost of Rs. 6 lakhs each;
20. Sikkim first State to undertake complete modernization, greening and expansion of all urban market place on the model of MG Marg in Gangtok;
21. Sikkim the first State to fully devolve administrative and financial power to the grass root functionaries under the decentralized regime;
22. Sikkim the first State to provide for 40 percent seat reservation to women under Panchayati Raj Institution, which is being raised to 50 percent from the next Panchayat election;
23. Sikkim the first State in the Country to provide for monthly Honorarium to both the Members of rural and urban elected bodies;
24. Sikkim the first State to conceptualize and execute construction of char dham to locate all the four dhams in India within a single complex;
25. Sikkim the first to initiate and build the underground Monastery in the State.
26. Sikkim as the first State to continue to emerge as the most secular State in the Country;
27. Sikkim as the first State which is completely peaceful;
28. Sikkim the first State to successfully adopt and promote the concept of reverse integration vis-à-vis its relationship with the mainland India and the fellow citizens;
29. Sikkim the first ever State to provide for the highest pay structure to its employees across all ranks and posts.
Preparation of the Village Development Action Plan would serve as the guide book for scientific village planning for the present and will remain relevant for future development and progress. Apart from offering a long term action plan, this document will also, inter alia, help us to curb unemployment by creating host of employment avenues at the grass root level- and this at a time when we are contemplating multiple interventions to tackle this global menace.
Professor Dafflon has crossed the deep oceans and the dreary desert sands taking all troubles in his strides to share our concern and lend his helping hands. We are immensely thankful to you Sir for accepting our request to offer us this consultancy services and we are deeply indebted to you for sparing your precious time, energy and intellectual inputs to give concrete shape to our vision and dream.
I express deep sense of gratitude and thank Professor Dafflon and his entire team for giving us this priceless document. I compliment and congratulate the Panchayats and people of Sikkim for their cooperation including that of Aritar Gram Panchayat Unit for working as team to prepare this comprehensive blueprint for village planning and development under the able guidance of Professor Dafflon.
I would also urge all the Panchayats present here to implement the Village Development Action Plan in their respective Gram Panchayat Units in a time-bound manner. Sikkim can become poverty-free only when all the 163 Gram Panchayat Units become poverty-free. And every citizen will become productive only when every Gram Panchayat Unit upgrades its functioning into wholly productive mode. This should be the ultimate goal of the Village Development Action Plan.
It is the declared policy of the State Government to develop the villages of Sikkim on the lines of the rural areas of Switzerland and make Sikkim, “the Switzerland of the East”. In March 2006, I had led a delegation to Switzerland and was highly impressed and enriched by the significant and very commendable strides that Switzerland has made in the past few decades particularly as a leading example of sustainable development.
My interaction with Professor Thomas Fleiner, Director at the Institute of Federalism, University of Fribourg, gave me a deep insight into the concept of fiscal federalism and empowerment of people at the grass root level. As a result of my very fruitful interactions with Professors and Professionals in Switzerland, today we are ably guided by Professor Dafflon.
And knowing full well that we follow him with the faith of a sheep in her shepherd, we cannot go wrong, we cannot afford to go otherwise and under his matured guidance we must go the full circle to fulfill our mission thus defined, our promises to people thus made and our sacred duty thus expressed as the faithful soldiers of Democracy- as usual and as always.
Thank you Professor Dafflon for your assurance and your kind presence.
Thank you all.
Chief Minister of Sikkim,
Hon’ble Dr Pawan Kumar Chamling
Sikkim gets Rs 20 cr from DoNER as “appreciation” of development – and the funds keep rolling in, the Midas touch ?!!
From Sikkim Reporter
By SR Bureau
Gangtok, Sep 14, 2010: “As a token of appreciation for all round development in Sikkim”, Union Minister of Mines & DoNER, Mr. B.K. Handique has declared a sum of Rs. 20.00 crores as “untied fund” to the Chief Minister and his Govt. for any project that the State Govt. wishes to implement. He also declared that another NEDFi Office would be immediately established in Namchi.
He was happy for his “memorable stay” for 3 days in Gangtok.
Mr. P .D.Rai, MP, gave various inputs to DoNER Minister regarding guidelines and procedures to be followed in funding under NLCPR and NEC and requested the respective line departments of state government to ensure timely completion of projects and submission of all documents to the Union Ministry.
It may be recalled that the Union Minister Mr. Handique came to Sikkim on 8th September and stayed here up to 11th September, to attend the meeting on North East Development Financial Institution (NEDFi) and also to have a detailed discussion with the officials of the Development Planning, Economic Reforms & NECA Department regarding completed and ongoing schemes funded under NEC and the Ministry of DoNER under NLCPR.
The meeting was inaugurated in presence of Chief Minister Dr. Pawan Chamling on 9th September at Chintan Bhawan and attended by Chairman-Cum-M.D. NEDFi and his team of officers along with the officers from the eight North Eastern States, Bankers and State officials. In the meeting, Chief Minister raised certain relevant issues pertaining to strengthening of the NEDFi Office in Gangtok for disbursement of loans to small and large entrepreneurs and also to facilitate the potential of the State of Sikkim. He stressed that these issues need to be looked into with a sense of urgency, as Sikkim is on a fast track development mode.
On 10th September, a meeting was chaired by the Union Minister, along with the Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) Mr. P.D. Rai, Additional Chief Secretary – Cum – Development Commissioner, Mr. Karma Gyatso along with seven Secretaries of the various line Departments, that are being funded under NLCPR/NEC. Joint Secretary, Directors and Advisers of the Ministry of DoNER and the NEC attended the meeting held at Chintan Bhawan.
The meeting discussed completed/ongoing projects in the State of Sikkim from the financial year 2005-2006 till 2010. The Additional Chief Secretary-Cum-Development Commissioner, Sikkim, gave a detailed appraisal report of the completed schemes and the status of the ongoing schemes. This included completion certificates/utilisation certificates and Quarterly Progress Reports (QPRs) for the ongoing schemes. The officials from Ministry of DoNER and NEC indicated that Sikkim was performing upto expectation and that they were satisfied with the schemes/projects implemented by the State.
The Union Minister Mr. Handique wrapped up the meeting by expressing his satisfaction at the deep sense of commitment that the State has made for overall development and performance. He said that Sikkim ranked at top most position among the North East States in completion of projects and submission of all documents like UCs etc. He also lauded the State Govt. for all round development taking place in the State. He pledged all-round support to the Chief Minister and the State Govt. and assured that he would do all that is possible for Sikkim to continue in the path of development and progress.
National award winner, teacher felicitated – upward education for dedicated service ?!!
From Sikkim Reporter
By SR Reporter
Namchi, Sep 14, 2010: Senior Secondary School, Namchi, felicitated their national award winning teacher on Monday and congratulated her for this achievement. Tarmit Lepcha PRT in Namchi Senior Secondary School was conferred with the prestigious National Award for Teacher 2010 which she received from the President Prativa Devi Sigh Patil on 5th September on the occasion of Teachers’ Day at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
On behalf of the entire school staff and students, Ms. Lepcha was felicitated by the outgoing Principal of the School Dr. YP Nepal. He gave her felicitation letter while the entire school congratulated her by offering traditional Khadas.
Principal Dr. Nepal said that it was her hard work and dedication which led her to this achievement. He said that she has given name and fame to the school in both state and national level. She will be remembered as a role model, the Principal said.
Ms. Lepcha in her address said that after receiving the state award on 1996 she was doing her duty with full dedication and finally the Ministry of HRDD, Government of India, has nominated her name for this prestigious award which she received from the President, following which she got a courtesy call from the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Minister for HRDD, Kapil Sibal also hosted a lunch for the awarded teachers.
She announced to give Rs.5000 each to Senior Secondary, Primary Section and to Blind School Namchi from her prize money. This was welcomed with loud cheers by the students. Along with her, SL Gurung from Chakung is another one from Sikkim conferred with this prestigious award.
SPCC election opens up front between Bhandari and Upreti – Bhandari set to retain his SPCC president post – a divided opposition, can’t get their act together or deliberate sabotage from within to help Chamling ?!!
From The Sikkim Express
GANGTOK, September 13, 2010: Nar Bahadur Bhandari, who is imminent to retain his SPCC president post, has expressed his objections to the line of reasoning placed by dissident party senior vice-president KN Upreti.
Upreti had today backed out from submitting his nominations maintaining that the SPCC president should be nominated by the AICC instead of elections to be conducted.
“The allegations raised by Upreti are wrong as he and other 29 Pradesh Congress Committee members had yesterday signed a resolution yesterday in presence of AICC northeast in-charge Zuber Khan. The resolution they had signed was in favour of elections to be conducted for the SPCC president post and today, he is saying that the SPCC president should be nominated by the AICC”, said Bhandari.
The SPCC president said that Upreti had given anti-party statements during the meeting yesterday with Khan.
“It is wrong not to believe in election process. Upreti had supported election process and today he is advocating for nomination process”, said Bhandari.
Bhandari said that he has filed his nomination papers. There are still more formalities left for becoming the SPCC president, he said.
Upreti backs out, wants AICC to nominate SPCC president – We will not accept Bhandari’s election: Upreti supporters – knowing exactly how to slice the thinning cake, but scared of not having the winning mandate ?!!
From The Sikkim Express
GANGTOK, September 13: The crowning of Nar Bahadur Bhandari as the consecutive president of Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee (SPCC) has started on a dissenting note with party heavyweight KN Upreti refusing to acknowledge him as the party president.
“The Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) presidents should be nominated by All India Congress Committee (AICC). Even our AICC president Sonia Gandhi is in favour of the PCC presidents being nominated. If Bhandari becomes the president through election process, we will not work under his leadership”, said Upreti to reporters after backing out from the SPCC president elections.
However, the SPCC senior vice-president said that he is ready to accept Bhandari as the party president if the AICC does nominate him. “If the AICC accepts our conditions while nominating Bhandari as the SPCC president then we are ready to accept him as our leader”, he said.
Upreti was supposed to file his nominations for the post of SPCC president today, the last day for submissions. After he failed to submit his nomination, Bhandari, who had filed his papers yesterday, has virtually retained his SPCC president post.
Later speaking to media at his 5th Mile residence today afternoon, Upreti belittled his party president on various counts.
“Bhandari has never given a thought for Sikkim. We wanted the SPCC to work as per the aspirations of the people but he always created a rift between the State unit and the Central leadership. He has not met AICC president Sonia Gandhi till today after the 2009 elections”, said Upreti.
“We are ready to accept Bhandari as the SPCC president on AICC nomination. But our conditions must be fulfilled. Our conditions are that there should be better coordination between SPCC and AICC and he has to start working for the Sikkimese”, said Upreti.
Supporters of Upreti told media that Bhandari should hold back his nomination paper and wait for AICC nomination as to who should be the SPCC president. “If he is nominated as the SPCC president, we have no objection”, they said.
A resolution was passed by Upreti camp today requesting that the SPCC president should be only nominated by the AICC. The resolution would be forwarded to the AICC president.
HOWEVER, ON THE DARK SIDE TO THIS SUCCESS STORY
Sikkim dislodges Kerala as State with highest suicide rate – the frustration of non-achievement or the philosophy of rebirth gone askew ?!!
From The Hindu
By M.Dinesh Varma
CHENNAI, September 15, 2010: Sikkim has dislodged the usual top ranker Kerala as the State with the highest suicide rate in the country, according to Lakshmi Vijayakumar, regional representative of the World Health Organisation on suicide prevention and founder of SNEHA, a non-governmental organisation.
Addressing a Continuing Medical Education programme organised by the Department of Psychiatry, Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute (CHRI), Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar said Sikkim, with a suicide rate of 48.2 per lakh of population, and Puducherry, with a rate of 46.9 per lakh, presented a new and worrying trend of an escalation of suicides in smaller States.
She said that Kerala dropped to the fourth position with a suicide rate of 25 per lakh, while the Andaman and Nicobar Islands ranked third with a rate of 34.5 per lakh.
Bangalore led the list among cities, with a rate of 42.1 per lakh, followed by Rajkot (31.5), Jabalpur (24.4) and Vijayawada (23.2). Chennai (20.4) and Tamil Nadu (21.7) were ranked sixth among cities and States respectively.
“The data trends more or less perpetuate the status of southern States having relatively higher suicide rates than the northern States,” she said.
India has a suicide rate of 10.8 on a par with developed countries. If one mapped suicide trends from an economics standpoint, suicide rates seemed to be higher in transition economies, she said. Statistical analysis showed that while men were more prone to committing suicide than women, Asian women had the highest suicide rate irrespective of the development status of their country.
Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar felt that the Western proposition of a mental disorder as an underlying factor in a majority of suicide victims might not apply to India. Apart from depression and alcohol, almost 50 per cent of suicide victims in the country had no history of mental disturbance.
Noting that suicide ideation was a dynamic than a static state of mind, she stressed the importance of periodic assessment. The handful of interventions among the innumerable prevention strategies tried out had succeeded because of the ambivalence — the clash of will to live and will to end it all — of the affected individual, she pointed out.
Some of the effective measures included reducing access to methods and means of suicide, crisis support and helplines, drugs such as Lithium and Clozapine and enlightened media reporting on suicides, she said.
While the media can often be a double-edged sword in terms of suicide ideation, the media in Tamil Nadu had to be credited with being instrumental in the government’s pioneering decision to allow students who fail Class X or XII examinations to re-appear without having to lose a year — a measure that led to a decline in examination failure-triggered suicides.
Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar said a national suicide prevention strategy was imperative for India, where an estimated 5 million attempted suicides are carried out every year.