A Message to the People of Sikkim on the Eve of the New Year, 2018

On the eve of New Years, I, on behalf of the government, my SDF family and my family members, wish my dear people of Sikkima very happy new year. In this new year, I hope that all my fellow Sikkimese citizens are able to realize their dreams and achieve all the plans that you set forth for the new year. I hope that there is peace in your family and that your children learn well and grow to become able and compassionate human beings. I hope that you achieve mental, physical and economic health. I hope that you are graced with immense peace and happiness in this new year.

My wish for the new year for the people of Sikkim is a deepened sense of communal harmony and brotherhood. I hope that we as Sikkimese people accept each other’s existence and that our pro-Sikkimese and pro-Sikkim thoughts and dreams are awakened. We are all brothers and sisters and all of us who live in Sikkim – the Bhutia, Lepchas, Nepalis and the Old Business Community members – are all Sikkimese people. More primary to that, the central relationship that we share is that of us as human beings. The evidence for this is in science and religion as well.That is why we, the Sikkimese people, must embody this idea and set an example of unity and brotherhood in this new year to the people of the world.

In today’s world, there is hatred, anger and destruction because of caste and religion. Human beings are broken because of communities in war and conflicts on religious lines. In the 5000 years of human history, there have been 15000 wars. Unfortunately, we have had more people who have died because of communal and religious differences in the world than the number of people who have lost their lives in these thousands of wars.

We have distributed God in temples, masjids and churches. We have also divided and distributed the earth, sky and the seas amongst ourselves.Today, we have been divided according to caste, community, ‘varna’ and religion because of people itself; not because of God. Nature simply created us as human beings but because of our own doing, we have created divisions. Therefore, if we have divided ourselves, it is also up to us to unite ourselves.The time has come to protect humanity and to do that, we will have tounify and create one people that are led by a common vision to protect the world. We have to contemplate on this deeply and accept everyone’s existence.

Keeping this in mind, we have to unify ourselves in Sikkim. We have taken the necessary steps politically to hold everyone, irrespective of caste, community, religion or gender, at the same level. We have given equal political rights to all Sikkimesepeople–whether in the form of equal job reservation, equal higher educationreservation, panchayat reservationand equal recognition to all communities, their languages, literature, cultures, festivals and traditions. We have given economic and social justice to all. We have ensured educational opportunity and complete security in terms of basic minimum needs for all. For example, there is no reservation in India for Brahman (Bahun) community as per the law of the land. But here in Sikkim, the Bahun community also enjoys rights at par with the tribal communities.That is because my definition of justice is that in Sikkim, no one should be left outsidethe mainstream society, economy and politics. In this inclusive society, our ideology for inclusivepolitics is at the core. We simply cannot achieve inclusive development without practicinginclusivepolitics. In Sikkim, my humanistic ideology is that no one should be deprived of equal opportunity in life because of their caste, ‘varna’ or religion.

Bedsides this, we have witnessed, in the last 23 years, the highest level of development in the history of Sikkim. Sikkim is the best state in the country. We are a peaceful and green state which became the first organic state of the world. We uphold gender equality and we have achieved the basic minimum needs for the people which is unheard of in the rest of the country. India and the world is fully aware of this and we have to accept this in Sikkim also.

Another hope for the new year is that we as citizens of Sikkim accept the philosophy of democracy. Especially being a citizen of the biggest democratic country in the world, it becomes our duty to deeply study and inculcate democratic ideals in ourselves. Democracy is not only about rights but about responsibility, accountability and ownership. We should enjoy our democratic rights but side by side, we should also fulfill our prime responsibility, accountability, ownership towards our family, society and the state. We must contribute to our state and society to develop Sikkim as the best place in the world where there are equal rights, deep harmony among people and where people take responsibility towards society and our planet.

In a democracy, the supremacy of one person, one community and one class does not work. The government is for the people and the government represents each and every single person in society. It is not the government of the leader’s community or party. We are all aware of this. That is why theactual rulers of the government are the people. The government runs under the rule of law and under a system led by an elected representative of the people.

In a democracy, the civil society and public also have an equally crucial responsibility in state building. Therefore, people have to be conscious of their rights and responsibilities towards the state and country. The work of the people is not limited to electing a government; they have every right to take full ownership of the government. That is why people have to observe and check how the government is functioning after electing it to power. The people have to understand that the government is for the people. If people are not mindful of this, then the government can be unjust to the people or the powerful individuals or conglomerates in society will dictate agendas. Then these centers of power in society will control the government. This is injustice to the people and the state. That is why, in democratic systems, the people have to be aware and be able to live fully empowered with their rights and responsibilities intact. If not, they will face injustice, even under the governments they have elected.That is why, the work of the people is not just to elect, but to take ownership of the government. The people should be willing to take this kind of power. Only then will the government be for the people in the true sense and will be empowered to work for the people. This is a critical factor in a democracy which people should realize.

In the end, I appeal that the Sikkimese people take ownership of the government and by taking responsibility, they stand for the Sikkimese people and society. We must collectively think about how we can work together to build a better, stronger Sikkim for the generations to come. Sikkim can be a shining example in the world but we can do this only together and by working together, we can achieve anything. The government alone cannot do this without people taking responsibility for their part in building our society. I hope this vision is awakened in you with the coming of the new year.

We have to compare Sikkim, the 22nd state of India, with other states and at the same time, we also have to compare how we were 23 yearsago and where we have reached today. Doing so, you will realize that we have made great strides in development. At the same time, it will also be a humble reminder that we have only begun and that we still have a long way to go and a lot to do. We have to make our state the best in the world. With this vision, I have been working tirelessly for the past 23 years for 15-16 hours a day. I have not taken a break for the last 23 years. All my waking hours, my thoughts and my dreams are directed towards makingSikkim another heaven on earth. In this dream of mine, the young people especially have to be involved. The youth in particular have to be aware of divisive elements in society and be wary of individuals and organizations which divide us in the name of caste, community or religion. You have to come forward with new ideas, visions and new dreams for a strong Sikkim and join hands with me to work for a better future.

We, the Sikkimese people in Sikkim’s common interest have to be one. This is also our one unifying point: our Sikkim. My hope is that the people believe in the cause of Sikkim because only if Sikkim survives, will then the Sikkimese survive. If Sikkim survives, then all Sikkimese interests will live. If we are divided on personal interests or the interest of the caste, community or religion, then Sikkim and the interest of the Sikkimese people will die. Let us ensure that we stand tall, united and committed for a better Sikkim for our children and our grandchildren for the next year and the many more years to come. I dedicate my selfless service and endless love to you, the people of Sikkim.

Happy new year!