With immense pleasure, I unveiled the plaque for formally re-naming Government Degree College, Tadong as Nar Bahadur Bhandari Degree College today, after which I attended the Annual College Fest – Bliss 2018 at the College auditorium.

Following are some of the highlights of my address:-

We took the decision to re-name Government Degree College, Tadong as Nar Bahadur Bhandari Degree College as a tribute to the former Chief Minister and in recognition of his contributions to the State. I personally feel that such honours and appreciations on persons should be conferred while they are still living. For this reason, we had conveyed to Late Shri NB Bhandari for re-naming the college as well as Soreng Road after him. Unfortunately, the departed leader had declined the offer, a personal decision of his, which I respect. But now when he is no more with us, the College has been re-named in his memory. As the 2nd Chief Minister of Sikkim and the 1st Chief Minister of the Country from the Nepali community, Late Shri Bhandari has left indelible marks in the history of the State and the Country. I hope scholars and writers will come forward and document the contributions made by him.

Speaking to the students, I informed them that education has been given topmost priority by our Government right from the time we first formed the Government in December, 1994.The very fact that we allocate 20% of our annual budget to this sector proves the emphasis laid on it. Our foremost effort was to provide free school education including free distribution of books, uniforms, shoes, etc. Then we came up with innovative policies like the Chief Minister’s Merit Scholarship, scholarship for securing admission in 20 top universities of the world, followed by free education upto college level. Recently, we have gone a step further by deciding to grant free education in Pharmacy College, the Polytechnic Institutes- CCCT and ATTC as also free MBBS course in the upcoming State Medical College. These welfare schemes for our students have been implemented for the benefit of students belonging to the rural areas and middle class families.

I exhorted the students to be mindful of the fact that as far as education is concerned, we lag behind by around 2000 years compared to ancient Greece. Even in comparison to the rest of our Country, we are behind by almost a century. Therefore, students must remember the progress made by the State in education, particularly in the last 24 years. For instance, when we came to office, there was just one lone degree college at Tadong and a Law College, compared to 27 colleges and 7 universities that the State has today. Besides, we have just recently passed the Bill in the State Assembly for the creation of National Law University in the State. All these developments have been the fruits of perseverance and hard labour of our pro-people Government.

The State Government has put in place all the facilities and opportunities for the students to be successful in life. Now it is for them to avail of these benefits and put them to best use. Only then will our objectives be realized. I urged the students to be labourious and move ahead with zeal and motivation to reach their desired goals. They should always remember that it is their own thoughts and actions that make or break them. They have their greatest strength, ie their youth and that they should make the best of their age. I also advised them to have a ‘growth mindset’ as against ’fixed mindset’, which is absolutely necessary in the ever-changing innovative modern world. They should be ready to take up challenges and competition that are completely different from the past.

Speaking on the modern day education system, I expressed my concern that today education is mostly limited to acquiring degrees only. Aspects such as personality development, becoming a good human being and self-reliant individuals have become secondary. As a result, we find that 70% of our human resource is unemployable. So what is the use of such kind of education? It is time that we make our education system life-oriented, which brings about holistic development of our students in the true sense instead of being a burden for them. For this transformation to take place, the Government will need full support and co-operation from the teaching fraternity, students and the civil society. Under no circumstances, should we allow for degradation of education, for this would spell disaster to the world. Education shapes the future of our children, who in turn are the future generation to take the State and the Nation forward. Therefore, I appealed to the teachers to take their profession with great responsibility and not treat it as a mere profession. Likewise, students too should not study only with the objective of acquiring degrees only but also with the aim of becoming responsible citizens.

I advised the students to stay away communal forces that may mislead and misguide them. Being young, they are at an impressionable age when such evil forces might pollute their minds. Students should instead imbibe qualities like feeling of oneness, integrity and love. I also called upon them to work towards making our society knowledge-based and not caste-based.

Briefly touching on the subject of emancipation and empowerment of women, I spoke on the fact that women in our Country are still discriminated and looked down upon. Even though the status of women in our State is far better, there are still some sections in our society who treat our women lesser than men. I made it clear that our Government will not rest till this misnomer is completely wiped out and I personally will ensure that Sikkimese women will not have to take permission from the society to lead the life they want to!

We find philanthropic works undertaken by many well-to do individuals all over the world. Unfortunately, in Sikkim, we hardly come across any such instances. I indicated that people who can afford to come forward and help those who are not economically sound, should do so. It would be a great contribution to your society. One must believe that you become richer by giving and not the other way round.

During the programme, demands of students were placed by the President of Students Representative Council, which I assured to fulfil in a phased manner. Additionally, I handed an amount of Rs 5 lakhs for the development of the College to the Principal.