Suave, realist, “national”, ‘pro-India’ Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling is confident of rebuilding, refurbishing, revamping the earthquake-ravaged Sikkim within two years. He is fully confident, self-assured, pointd on that. This despite he is sad, forlorn, morose, pained at the dismantled, ruined, destructed, rickety Sikkim due to the recent macabre, devastating, dooming, gratuitous earthquake that veritably took the peaceful Sikkimese by utmost surprise even as the earth-shake virtually dismantled everything in the cuntry’s 22nd state formed only in 1975. Not deterred, Chamling got himself engaged in rebuilding Sikkim as he tells it and more in an exclusive thought-provoking interview with LOK PANCHAYAT.
In view of the devastating earthquake in Sikkim how are the state of affairs in the state?
Righ on the onset, I will say that the general life in Sikkim is normal. All the roads in the state which were damaged, broken, uprooted, chasmed are now open. But to make them fully alright, another 2 years will be required. By then, we will be able to normalise situations in the state. The losses will be made up. Houses will be rebuilt, remade, revamped, refuribished. New buildings will also be made to accomodate the ‘homeless’. The New Sikkim will come about in the next 2 years. After that, Sikkim will look fresh, new, ready for the next inings as the full fledged state of India. The people of India will be proud of Sikkim. They will actually feel that the people of Sikkim are their compatriots of India. They feel so now
also as do the Sikkimese feel from their heart. But the mutual feelings will become even more inseparable after 2 years. Presently, I can say life is normal in Sikkim.
Did you get adequate financial support from the Centre?
The Prime Minister has announced Rs 1000 crores financial grant for Sikkim. But till date, we have not recived any money from the Centre. Despite that, we are working on rebuilding Sikkim. I sincerely hope that the fund will reach at Sikkim soon enough. Once we receive this amount, we will be able to work more effectively, pointedly in the Sikkim state.
Are you satisfied with Rs 1000 crores or your demand is more?
Our demand was Rs 7000 crores. The announcement was for Rs 1000 crores. But we expect more (than Rs 1000 crores) beause the damage caused in Sikkim is much, much more than Rs 1000 crores.
You toured entire Sikkim. How was your experience?
I reached at every Gram Panchayat in every village in Sikkim. I covered the entire state in 42 days by walking, by driving, by hitch-hiking. I met all the people. I saw them, I heard them, I interacted with them on a first hand basis, I vibed with them, I saw how they lived, what were their habits, what did they want from the adminstration so that their life would be comfortable. So on and so forth. I wanted to know these personally. as Chief Minister, I thought that it was my foremost and primary duty to know my state, its people personall so that I always remain abreast with their demands, needs, requirements and how much was done in all those directions. I wanted to know the ground reality myself, I wanted to know myself what thepeople really wanted from the administration, how much were they getting towards that direction, whether the administration was cooperating with them, whether they misbehaved with them or did not listen to their appeals tothem etc. I wanted to know them all. Now I know it all myself. Today, I have direct contact with the people of Sikkim. They know me as much as I know them. I know their problems, their areas’ deficiencies, their needs, their respective areas’ shortcomings, administration’s lacunae et al. Let me say that I was really inspired more and more as I learnt what exactly and how much needed to be done by the administration and in which directions, fields, sectors so that the people of Sikkim would be ‘happy and satisfied’ with the administration. Today I am so inspired after that experience that I am all the time inspired to work more for the Sikkim and its people. I am utilising this opportunity of mending hings in the state perfectly so that the people in the state are happy and satisfied with the administration. If you look at my yatra, it was stupendously successful.
What are your schemes for the youth’s development in Sikkim?
My effort always has been to inspire, instigate, motivate, egg on the youths of all hues cutting across all barriers, (mis)beliefs, antagonism,myths so that they come forward and work for the society and the nation so that they prosper in all fronts. If the youths do not think about the society, the nation then tomorrow, who will run the country, who will run the state(s)? Who will run the society then ? Under all circumstances, the youths should come forward and take control of the reins of future of the society, the nation, the state so that all of them run smoothly, orderly, uniformly, coordinatedly, cohesively. Youths should be sakaratmak (positive, constructive). Only then, they can think, act, work positively. Unless they are positively bent, their actions, thoughts, idealism, reactions will be negative.
That is not good for the country, the state, the society at all in any way. Youths should be responsible also. They should be made aware of this all the time. to make this a reality, we should always be youth-conscious, We must always remember that the youths are watching us. any wrong, false, hypocritical move by us will have wrong impression on them. That will have bad repercussions on the society, the nation and the country as a whole. That should always be avoided all cost. In view of all this, whatever works I have done in Sikkim I have always kept the youths in my mind so that they reap rich benefits from them in the right direction without even thinking of going astray. More than being good doctors, good engineers etc, the youths should be good human beings, good citizens, Also since all over the world today is demand for skilled employees, simple garduates, post graduates do not suffice. we are encouraging skilled development oriented studies, training, workshops, practical training etc to inspire and motivate youths to go for skilled development so that they can fulfil the demands of human resources and the subsequent manpower involvement in the global village or abroad. Keeping this in mind,we have capacity building along with education .to make the youths updated with the global demands. …We are working towards making Sikkim nerve centre of all types of human resources so that in the international arena, the youths of Sikkim find gainful employment, status, recognition.I am also working in the field of making Sikkim recognizable among the people of other states etc so that the people visit Sikkim and mix with the Sikkimese. The latter naturally will then get exposure on how the people in other states live, behave, talk, etc. The latter will also ‘know’ Sikkim and its people. There will be a perfect amalgamation then. …We are also working toward making Sikkim a very big ‘organic state’. In 2013, Sikkim will be the country’s real “Jaibik Rajya” (organic state). Due to this also, Sikkim’s youths will benefit in a big ways. We are also inspiring the youths to remain away from the drugs and remain mentally strong. We are inspiring them to say a clear no to the drugs.
Are you satisfied with the annual fund allotment for Sikkim?
Whatever is normally due from Planning Commission, Sikkim is getting it. But the kind of programmes we have in Sikkim to make the state all round fully developed, self-sufficient, we are not getting that much of amount from Planning Commission. Looking at our work practically, on the ground, the Planning Commission should allocate us more funds. If Sikkim becomes an ideal state in all fronts, it will brighten thename of the whole country. And, Sikkim has all the potential, capabilities, willingness to become all round self sufficient state in the whole country. The Central Government and the Planning Commission should allocate more funds to those states where good works are bienf done (rather than sticking to old practice of allocating funds on the basis of population of a state etc).But this is not what is happening.
Compared to other states, Gram Panchayats in Sikkim are fully empowered. They are solid, strong, respectively independent, But they need to be more responsible. They should be fully answerable to the people for all their actions, deeds, moves, plans and programmes. Unless that happens, the Panchayats will not be fully successful. My efforts are that the state’s people become fully empowered through the panchayats who are responsible for all their needs, requirements. I am working towards seeing that all panchayats in Sikkim become self-governed actually with the help of ‘soo-shaashaan’ (good, able and effective administration). I have ensured that there is absolute devolution of powers in Sikkim. Sikkim is the only state where it has actually happened. It has not happened any where else in the country.
What should the Centre do more to make Sikkim a frontline state in the whole country?
The volume, extent, of works Sikkim Government is doing to keep the state as an integral part of the country free from any outside aggression, provolcation coupled with the wide-ranging rampant development in roads, constructions, communications, infrastructure developments, training, education, tourism, awareness programmes all through the nooks and corners of the state, keeping these in mind, the Central Government should financially help and assist Sikkim much more than they are doing now. Funds are big constraint in Sikkim. With the right kind of required due funds, we can do practical wonders in the state of Sikkim and it will then be model state in the whole country. That too in a very short time. If Sikkim get right kind of required funds from the Central Government, Sikkim can show pratical results by next year. …Let’s face it. Sikkim is attached with China. China has very good roads. But Sikkim does not have good roads. All these roads are national highways and are directly under the Central Government. Natually then, it is the Central Government who shoudl correct, refurbish these roads and make them commuter-friendly. After all, Sikkim should be reachable. Without proper, good, wide roads, howis that possible? There should be railink also. If all these happen in Sikkim, Sikkim will be on the forefront in the country. For revenue genration in Sikkim, the Central Government should help Sikkim in power generation. Sikkim should also be helped in tourism, education sectors. In the health sector, Sikkim is in the forefront. of health sector. …(Pensively, contemplating) Today there is a most important requirement in the country : all of us citizens of India should rise above region, religion, personal beliefs, personal egos, personal differences, personal agreements, caste, creed, credo, personal opinions and think of ourselves as Indians and work for the betterment of the whole country then our society.. Whichever party we are in, whichever position we are in, whichever beliefs we are of, we should behave as we are Indians first and then as something else. Because if India is not there where will we be? What will beour existence? We should all think for the country : It’s time. All other thoughts, considerations, beliefs, opinions come later if at all they do that is. India-building is what we sould be engaged in immediately. If India remains ‘OK’ we will be able to leave something concrete for the youths of the country or else, what will they tomorrrow? We should think for them rather than thinking only about ourselves, our benefits, our welfare, our profits. unless the youths are all round befitting citizens tomorrow, what will happen to this country? We must all think of that. It’s time. Only when India will be in the hands of youths will India positively thrive in all sectors and will keep its head high in the whole world. We should all be sponsible, accountable (for all our deeds). All of us politicians belonging to all political parties, bureaucrats, NGOs should behave responsibly. We should all be responsible. We are being watched. The youths are watching us. We should not be irresponsible in front of them. Because all our moves are being watched by the youths. They are closely watching us all the time. For a better tomorrow for them, for a better India, we all should make their ‘tomorrow’ ‘perfect’ so that they feel proud and not dejected, remorseful, frustrated. All of us elders of all sectors, categories should be immensely responsible, cautious, watchful, conscious all the time. Unfortuantely today, no one takes responsibility for any action posing there is nothing called accountability. That should stop forthwith. When a good work is done, all take credit for that. But if there is a misdeed no one takes responsibility. That should not happen. Accountability is equal for all howsoever high post one occupies. The law is same for all according to Indian Constitution. There should not be any discrimination. …Once that happens, the country India is bound to improve, prosper, develop, blossom, bloom.