I was pleased to inaugurate the 3-day long ‘North East Youth Festival, 2019 organised by the Sikkim Youth Development Board today at Dentam, West Sikkim. Held for the first time, this crucial North-East level meet with the youth from all eight North Eastern states aims at enabling the youngsters to develop a sense of ownership, involvement and responsibility. The meet also calls for strengthening friendship and mutual understanding amongst the youth of the region.

Following are some of the highlights of my address:-

1. Though Sikkim made a late entry to the Indian Union and became a member of the North East Council even later, our state has made swift progress and all round development. Sikkim is one of the fastest growing states, and a state with peace, security and tranquility. We have been successful in fulfilling the basic minimum needs of the people, inclusive of providing proper shelter, free education, free medical facilities, etc.

2. The youngsters of Sikkim should interact with the visiting youth of other states and learn from them. They should exchange ideas and share with them the story of Sikkim’s growth and development, about policies/schemes of the Government for the visitors to learn and vice versa.

3. Education is very crucial for development. In fact, no development can take place without education.Realizing this, the State Government has given top priority to the education sector. Education is free right from the primary to the college level. A host of facilities and opportunities have been created. Students must also be aware of the importance of education and take their studies very seriously.

4. Our younger generation must work hard with never give up attitude. They must not only look for government jobs as employment, but take up entrepreneurial ventures instead.They can avail loans upto Rs. 20 lakh with 35% Government subsidy under the Start up Scheme.They can take up business related to organic farming and tourism.

5. The North-East is endowed with rich natural resources and is one of the world’s top bio-diversity hotpots. We have to harness these resources in a sustainable way to improve the economy of the region. Our region could offer a new model of development to the world, that is eco-friendly, sustainable and vibrant. We can to make the entire region a eco-friendly zone.

6. As democratic form of governance provides for equal constitutional rights and duties, it is imperative that we use our constitutional rights for the welfare of our society. Youth should therefore shoulder equal responsibility in building the state and the nation. They should learn to become skilled and self-reliant individuals and not be dependent on anyone.

7. Today’s world is a fast changing one, a digital world, a world of science and technology. We also call it an era of modern enlightenment. Hence, our youth must stay updated with the latest developments, otherwise they might find themselves lagging behind in the ever- changing world of today.They have to adapt and change as per the need of the hour.

8. The young can play an active role in making the North East intellectually stronger and more advanced. The region can become the premier area in the country with their support and contribution.

I am certain that the impressive gathering of the young minds will mull over the points raised by me. I am also hopeful that they will change their mindset to make the best of the available opportunities responsibly, and readily accept the challenges they face by being constructive, positive and innovative.