Felt blessed to attend the ‘Annual Makala Gurdak Mask Dance’ held at Labrang Palden Phuntshol Gumpa, one of the oldest monasteries in the State, at Upper Tumlong in North Sikkim today. I also offered prayers for the wellbeing of the State and the people.
In my address, I spoke on the importance that our Government lays on protection and preservation of old heritage institutions, particularly the religious structures of the State. The ‘Gumpa’ severely damaged by the earthquake of September, 2011, has now been re-built by the State Government. I spoke at length on the transformation of Sikkim into a ‘cheosum’ (altar) with the completion of the statue of Chenrezig at Sanghachoeling recently. Now, Sikkim can be rightly termed as ‘Shingkham’ (Paradise) after the construction of the statues of the holy trinity of Buddhism- Lord Budha at Rabongla, Chenrezig at Sanghachoeling, and Guru Padmasambhava at Samdruptse. I informed that a Buddhist University has also been established for the preservation and promotion of Buddhist culture, tradition, religion and philosophy. The university will also serve as a place of higher learning for our monks to become scholars of Buddhist religion. In addition, Amiji College has also been started in this university, where Tibetan medicine is taught to the students.
As our Government is peace loving, effort has been laid to maintain peace and harmony amongst the people of Sikkim. Our policies are based on peace and non-violence, that form the basis of teachings of Lord Buddha. Initiatives like ban on killing of wild life and organic farming – a non-violent form of agriculture that prohibits the killing of living organisms through the use of pesticides and chemicals – bear testimony to this fact.
I emphasized that our Government has always protected the socio- economic and political rights of the Bhutia and Lepcha (BL) communities. The Old Laws of the State have never been tinkered with, saving them from any kind of dilution, and holding it sacred and sacrosanct at all times. In fact, we can safely say that the two communities today enjoy greater reservation in comparison to their population ration in the State.
While addressing the students, I highlighted the Government’s programme/policies in the education sector. Education is free upto college level. We have so far, established 7 universities and 28 colleges. At the school level, the Government has been distributing free books and uniforms to the students. I urged the students to take full advantage of the facilities provided by the Government. They should take their studies seriously and not to take education merely as a tool of acquiring certificate but it should be viewed as education on life. Students must work towards being skilled, capable, innovative and competitive individuals in order to compete in the modern day world.
Sikkim has become the first fully organic State in the world. Now, it becomes the duty of every citizen to give their support and contribution in maintaining and giving continuity to this status in the coming days. Our youth should play a major role by taking up activities related to organic farming. Agriculture is the only profession that will never become outdated and will remain as the primary industry as human beings need food for survival. Therefore, our youth should never shy away from adopting this profession that can give them gainful returns.
Speaking to the Party functionaries, I informed that various Party Committees for the coming elections will be formed in December. I called upon them to work dedicatedly for the Party and not for any individual.
I made the following announcements:-
1. Additional sanction of Rs. 75 lakhs to Labrang Palden Phuntshol Gumpa.
3. Rs. 10 lakhs will be sanctioned within December 2018 for construction of Manilhakhang at Lower Tumlong Gumpa.
4. Construction of Bajrapani Statue of Late Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche.
5. Distribution of free laptops for 80 students of JNV, Phodong .
Later in the evening, I visited Phodong Gumpa and inaugurated the ‘Kudung Lhakhang’ of late Lopenla Karma Topden. I had a brief interaction with the monks, wherein I gave a patient hearing to their demands and assured to fulfil them at the earliest.