I was happy to attend the ‘Tendong Lho Rum Faat’ celebrations held today at Saramsa Gardens.
Following are some of the highlights of my address:-
1. I consider ‘Tendong Lho Rum Faat’ as the oldest festival of Sikkim as the people of the Lepcha community are the oldest tribe of Sikkim. It can thus be said that the history of Sikkim begins with the Lepchas, who are earliest inhabitants of our land. Keeping such historical facts in mind, our Government has always ensured that our Lepcha brethren are granted their rightful dues and privileges. We have left no stone unturned in providing protection and security to them. You are aware that the State Government placed the demand before the Government of India for declaring the Lepchas as Primitive Tribe. Unfortunately, even after pursuing the matter with them for some years, it did not materialize. So, in order to give justice and due recognition to this tribe, the State declared the Lepchas as Primitive Tribe through a gazette notification in 2005. 5% reservation in Government jobs is also granted for the same. Besides, we have also constituted the Primitive Tribe Welfare Board in 2013.Some of the other facilities to the Community include:-
i) ‘Tendong Lho Rum Faat’ declared as State holiday.
ii) Introduction of Lepcha language at University level.
iii) Construction of Stairway to Heaven at Daramdin, which I hope to see completed soon.
iv) Construction of Lepcha Heritage Centre at Yangang
v) Construction of Lepcha Primitive Girls’ Hostels in all the districts.
2. I urged the people of the Lepcha community to utilize the rights and privileges granted to them in a productive way. There have been instances in the world when too many facilities are granted to communities/tribes, it has become counter-productive with people becoming too dependent on the Government, which resultantly led to their downfall. The Lepcha community should therefore, work towards the betterment of their tribe in all ways and become role models for other Primitive Tribes world over.
3. I informed that recently, we have taken the decision for construction of Mantam Bridge with bungee jumping facilities at an estimated cost of Rs.83 crore. It will be the largest bridge constructed by the State Government.
4. Targeting the youngsters present in the gathering, I urged them to be constructive, innovative and competitive in their way of thinking. Only then will they be capable of making maximum use of the benefits and opportunities provided to them by the Government. I also called upon them to utilize the facility of free education and scholarship schemes made available in the State.
5. I had declared Dzongu as ‘Primitive World’ during the recent 32 days’ tour. However, there have been some reactions on this stating that the name gives a wrong connotation .The matter was deferred by the Cabinet due to this. So, I request the people of Sikkim from all walks of life to suggest a suitable name that would give global recognition to Dzongu as the land of the Primitive Tribe.
6. The world today is infested with people who have negative mindsets and possess polluted minds. This is a threat to our very existence. We should thus spread the message of positivity and positive mindset. You will notice that as a politician, I have always indulged in positive politics, shunning negativity in any form. Therefore, you see that our Government is also a positive Government. We are open to criticisms and suggestions but they should be constructive just as in case of developed world. Criticisms should not be for the sake of it or baseless.
7. In the last 24 years, the State has witnessed unprecedented progress and growth in all spheres. Sikkim is the number one state in the North-East and fifth in over-all national rankings. The State is today well-known globally. Inspite of being surrounded by three foreign countries and the disturbances in the neighbouring Darjeeling Hills, we have managed to maintain peace and security in our State. We must however never take these things for granted. We have to be united and work in co-operation to maintain our status of a peaceful, happy and progressive State. I appealed to all not to pay any heed to communal and divisive forces which will make dents into the communal harmony that the State is known for.
8. I was happy to share the fact that Sikkim is on the verge of being declared a fully-literate State with our literacy rate being 96.72%.This is in comparison to Kerala’s at 93.91%.
9. Speaking on the rumours being spread about the HPV vaccine being administered to girl children (9-14 years), I reiterated that the vaccines being provided are absolutely safe and there should be no doubts whatsoever. It is a State Government programme for combating cervical cancer and based on the model followed by Australia, which is a highly successful one.
I made the following announcement:-
A legislation will be framed by the State Government for imposing stringent penalties and longer imprisonment for drug peddlers or anyone who is found selling drugs. Drug abuse will be considered a disease and one who abuses drugs will be treated as a patient of an illness.
I thank RMRT (Sikkim Lepcha Association), RMROS (Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association) and Tendong Lho Rum Faat Celebration Committee for the felicitation bestowed on me.