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Speech of His Excellency Shri. Balmiki Prasad Singh, Governor of Sikkim on the occasion of Republic Day 2012.

My dear fellow citizens,


On this auspicious day of our Republic Day, I extend my warm greetings and good wishes to the people of Sikkim and to fellow countrymen.


Let us today remember, with gratefulness, our freedom fighters who gave up their lives for the cause of securing independence so that we could live as free citizens.


I extend my deep respects to the great visionaries who gave us the Constitution on this day in 1950 in which the principles of justice, equality and liberty are enshrined. These principles lay the foundation for the unity and integrity of our country.


India today is making rapid progress on all fronts in terms of the democratic ethos enshrined in our Constitution. For the Constitution has guided the nation in its march towards progress and prosperity.


I convey my warm greetings to the gallant soldiers and members of the armed forces and the para-military forces who guard our borders. These brave men serve the nation in the most harsh and hostile conditions. I would like to place on record a deep sense of gratitude to the member of our security forces who made the supreme sacrifice to maintain security and integrity of the nation.


In Sikkim, democracy has taken deep roots and the atmosphere is conducive for the overall wellbeing of the Sikkimese people. We have shouldered our responsibility in the most responsible manner and have consciously endeavoured to contribute towards national security and prosperity. The State enjoys unparalleled peace, progress and prosperity. As the State marches towards modernity, we continue to put emphasis on preservation of our rich culture and heritage.


We are happy that the forest cover has increased in the State. The concern for conservation of our eco-system, however, needs to be in focus all the time. Our economic development including tourism infrastructure and hydel power plants must not hurt our environment.


Our policy has been to move on a path of sustainable economic development and self-reliance by harnessing the natural resources. The priority is on development of human resources, enhancement of economic activities and rebuilding the State in the post 18th September earthquake.


Dear citizens,


The challenges of the 21st century need to be met by building a knowledge-based society. Towards this, we are focused on providing quality education to our children and a wide spectrum of skill based training to our youth.


We are deeply conscious of the fact that all parents do not have the financial means to provide quality education to their children. Towards this, the Chief Minister’s Meritorious Scholarship Programme- launched in 2010- is providing free education to the promising students at class V level in reputed schools within and outside the State. 150 students have benefitted so far. This year, 200 more students will be selected. This programme is, in fact, aimed at benefitting the children of the rural areas.


The establishment of four universities including one Central University in the State has added a new dimension to the State’s higher education system. Sikkim provides quality college and university education in arts, science, commerce, medicine, technology and management. We are also encouraging our students to study outside the State and abroad. We have made available attractive education loan facilities in this behalf.


The task ahead before us is to create a highly skilled workforce which is not dependent on government jobs and looks to enter the ever expanding private sector in the country and abroad. Keeping this in mind, we have established the State Institute of Capacity Building. We have also set-up one livelihood school in each assembly constituency. These schools impart short duration training programmes in skills such as beautician training, hospitality, electronic repairs, foreign languages, wood carving among others.


The Health Sector is intrinsic to human resource development. The existing health infrastructure facilities are being upgraded and steps involving preventive and curative measures with adequate diagnostics for timely detection of ailments are being undertaken.


Presently a 1000 bedded multi-specialty hospital is under construction in Gangtok. Once completed, this will provide quality medical treatment facility within the State at an affordable cost.


Free healthcare facility as well as insurance is being provided to the people. Recently, the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-up for Healthy Sikkim (CATCH) programme has been launched to provide free compulsory health check-up for all citizens.


The empowerment of women is of crucial importance for building an inclusive and just polity. The Constitution of India has facilitated the process of political empowerment by providing reservation of atleast one third of seats in the Panchayats and the municipal bodies for women. As a result, a large number of women in the country and also in the State are members of Panchayat and municipal bodies. We, in Sikkim, have moved a step forward. In the next election to Panchayats and municipal bodies, we shall have 50 % reservations for women.


Another area of importance is the education of the girl child. Sikkim is slowly moving towards universal literacy. 2011 census has shown that our literacy rate is above 82 %. This is a commendable achievement when compared to the 1981 census which was 21.75%. The other positive trend that is discernible from the census data is the rise in female literacy figures. Female literacy rate increased from 60.41% in 2001 to 76.43% in 2011. We have to take care of every girl child in our education programming to achieve universal literacy.


Our young boys and girls are the most important safeguards of our future. The quality of education we provide to them and the values we pass down shall determine the course our State takes in the years to come.




Dear citizens,


Agriculture continues to be the most important economic activity in the State. The need to accelerate productivity in land scarce State has been before us. We have, therefore, embarked upon programmes that would increase crop intensity and encourage cultivation of short duration crops. Similarly, horticulture is being given top priority. Production of high value crops like popcorn, sweet corn, pulses, mustard besides cardamom and ginger – the traditional strength of Sikkim’s agriculture is being given special emphasis.


We also aim to increase the productivity of different crops like cereals, pulses and oilseeds. Sikkim’s rich biodiversity enables the farmers to produce large varieties of vegetables and flowers. We have launched “Mission 2015” with a target to make Sikkim an Organic State. This is a farmer-oriented strategy as organic farming would provide them higher dividends for their produce.


For securing inclusive development, the State Government has been allocating 70% of its plan outlay for rural development. Besides the national flagship programmes, numerous poverty alleviation schemes are being vigorously implemented. These are aimed to control urban-rural disparity and migration from rural to urban centres.


Under the rural housing scheme, the State Government is facilitating construction of new houses as well as upgrading the existing ones.


We are actuated by a strong desire to make Sikkim financially self-sustaining. In achieving this, the hydel power sector is expected to play a crucial role. Industrial units and tourism would gradually emerge as strengths of our economy.


Tourism is a key sector in Sikkim and provides employment- both directly and indirectly- to thousands of people. In the last few years, the number of domestic and international tourists visiting the State has been steadily increasing.


Our policy is to encourage village tourism that includes home stays and trekking to picturesque places in the vicinity. We are evolving a policy to cover our villages in order to spread economic benefits by way of village tourism, home stays and concept like ekant vas deep into the forest.


We have also created tourism infrastructure at various places in the State- the Kanchendzonga Tourist Villa cum Socio Cultural Amusement Park at Ranka, the statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Samdruptse, the upcoming Buddha Park at Ravangla, the Siddeshwar Dham Complex at Solophok, Namchi. These centres provide boost to tourism and also generate employment for the local people.


The climate of investment in the State needs to be optimised in order that people can set-up industries and other infrastructure facilities. We have to work with the belief that every major investment would strengthen and expand the base of our economy.


Dear citizens,


The 18th September earthquake had an impact on every person in the State. 60 people lost their precious lives and more than seven hundred people were injured. In total, 61533 houses including monasteries, schools and colleges, private houses and government buildings as well as the State Secretariat were damaged. Roads and water pipelines too sustained extensive damages.


I would like to convey my special gratitude to brave jawans and officers of the security and police forces who provided urgent and valuable assistance in relief and rescue operations.


People showed exemplary patience and courage in this natural calamity. There was no report of theft or stampede for food and relief materials. Young boys and girls came forward in remote areas of north Sikkim to lend their hands in running of temporary shelters as well as relief camps. This was an inspirational sight.


Due to energetic efforts of all concerned agencies, power and water supply and other public utility services could be restored in record time. Repair of several school structures were carried out with great urgency. Fortunately, the classes were resumed after a few weeks of disruption.


On 29th September, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, visited Sikkim. After taking stock of the situation, the Prime Minister announced a grant of Rs. 1000 crore as earthquake relief package to the State.


The earthquake has brought before the Government agencies as well as to the people of the State new realities. It is quite evident that we need earthquake proof houses, better built roads, nature resistant water pipelines and earthquake resistant workplaces. Our existing urban building laws and the construction manual need close scrutiny.


I am glad that a large number of youth has come forward to become civil contractors and tour operators in Sikkim. In the post-earthquake era of reconstruction, the role of these persons has assumed special significance. Our educational institutions and capacity building institute should cater to the requirements of these persons as well as of our engineers by making them available fresh ideas and training programmes so that we can build roads and houses of world standards. Similarly, our tourism facilities including logistic support system need to be upgraded to achieve global standards.


Dear citizens,


I am happy that the 18th September earthquake has not marred the optimism of our people. Although the State’s economic activities were temporarily impaired, we are resolved to reinstate Sikkim back on the path of progress.


The peace-loving people of Sikkim are both a source of motivation as well as an important ally in the development of the State. We seek their cooperation as stakeholders in the effective execution of the schemes and policies of the government.


Several developments in recent times have taught us the need to cultivate positive thinking and to work in unison. Let us pledge to move together with earnestness on a path of development and progress. Let peace, harmony and development continue to be Sikkim’s distinctive features.




JAI HIND




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