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Look North-East: The Sikkim model of Communal Harmony

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By P.D Rai

The recent riots in parts of Gujarat have taken most of the elite in the state and the country by surprise. These events need a thorough examination. Could we have foreseen them? Hardik Patel’s fiery persona has triggered a mass movement of Patidars (or Patels) coming forward to claim something they believe to be their right. They want to be included into the other backward class (OBC) fold like the Yadavs of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Sikkim_Kids_(15747573)
Regrettably, the police did not know how to act or react to the riots. We lost public property and precious lives, including a youth who died in police custody. This communal upsurge has left Gujarat limping and has opened up another wound which will take many years to heal.

While Gujarat slowly returns to normal, social and political scientists will seek many explanations. In this backdrop, let me present what Sikkim has done over the years.

 

Sikkim is known as the most peaceful state in northeastern India and perhaps within India as well. However, communal fault lines are embedded in Sikkim’s society as well. So how has this communal harmony been sustained even though we have a rather curious history of a Himalayan kingdom becoming the 22nd state of India?

Two decades ago, after the Mandal Commission’s recommendations, Sikkim was facing a social challenge similar to what Gujarat is now facing. Of course, there was no such massive mobilisation, but the context is comparable. The newly-elected Pawan Chamling-led Sikkim Democratic Front had pre-empted reactions from traditional upper castes and manoeuvred the delicate social balance through what may be called universal affirmative action – something worth examining today.

The first SDF government, immediately after coming to power in 1994, had recommended to the union government to include seven communities – the Sikkimese of Nepali ethnicity – as socially and educationally backward classes (OBCs). This was a historic step that commissioned affirmative action for the weaker sections of the population.

Consequently, the Bhujel, Gurung, Limbu, Magar, Rai, Sunuwar and Tamang communities were declared OBCs on June 2, 1994. This empowered these communities, except for the ‘creamy layer’, by making them eligible for reservation within Sikkim and India in higher education and government services.

However, similar to the Patidars led by Hardik Patel in Gujarat, a feeling of reverse discrimination began to beset within the Newar, Bahun and Chettri communities in Sikkim, generally considered forward and economically advanced.

In December 2002, Limbus and Tamangs were accorded the status of the scheduled tribes in Sikkim and West Bengal. Following this, the Sikkim government declared the Bhujel, Dewan, Gurung, Jogi, Kirat Rai, Magar, Sunuwar, and Thami communities as most backward classes (MBCs). Similar steps to categorise original OBCs as MBCs were taken by the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar around the same time.

This created space for recognising that even within the Newar, Bahun and Chettri communities, there were disadvantaged and poorer sections. The Sikkim government, under Chamling, proactively recognised these communities as OBCs within the state, though they continue to be in the general category as far as the centre is concerned. This move fulfilled Chamling’s promise made in 1996 that all Sikkimese of Nepali origin will be accorded OBC benefits.

This is just one example of how Sikkim’s inclusive framework and social engineering have helped maintain communal harmony within the Sikkimese social fabric, an all-important aspect of governance especially in a geo-strategic state that shares borders with three countries.

Politicians and leaders must remain sensitive to issues related to inclusion and exclusion of sections of society into reserved categories, which is also affirmative action. With increasing education and awareness, reactions can build up and this can and may take a violent form if not addressed with care and concern in time. But, in the rough and tumble of politics,we might just be brushing under the carpet time bombs that need to be defused.

Avoid taking steps in time, and we might end up with outbursts of anger by the not included masses who feel a sense of injustice as has happened in Gujarat. Re-examination of these possibilities is both wise and politically sensible.

The steps taken by Chamling, who has been in office for well over 21 years in Sikkim, are fine examples of being politically astute and sensitive. He has articulated the next steps in the form of making Sikkim a fully tribal state but this is something which Parliament has to decide. Hence, what could be done in the state has been done proactively.

The ball is now, for the future of communal harmony, in the court of the central government.

(IANS)

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7 Beautiful Places To Visit In North East India

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Places to visit in North East India.
Places to visit in North East India. Pixabay

North Eastern India, the home to the ‘Seven Sisters’ is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions, yet the most unexplored part of the country. From Shillong’s rainfall to Assam’s beautiful tea gardens, the region is indeed the home to exotic beauty. However, the tourism of the region has gained pace in the recent years. The picturesque views of the streams, hills and farms are breathtaking.

Here is the list of 7 beautiful places to visit in North East India:

1. Kaziranga National Park

places to visit in North East India
Kaziranga National Park. Pixabay.

Kaziranga national park in Assam is famous for its one-horned rhinoceros. It is the most famous tourist spot & one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. The place has been declared a UNESCO heritage site and attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. Hundreds of migratory birds and around 35 species of mammals fly down every season to the national park. The incredible fauna cannot be found anywhere else in India.

2. Nathula Pass

Places to visit in North East India.
Nathula Pass. Wikimedia.

A trek on the Nathula Pass in Sikkim will give you a memory completely irreplaceable. The beautiful scenic views which you will observe through your trek journey can be found nowhere else in India & makes if one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. A vacation to this place with your family during the summers is a must. Also the fact that a bearable temperature in the summer season will let you enjoy your trek more. A trek in the Nathula pass should right away be added to your bucket list.

3. Cherrapunji

Places to visit in North East India.
Cherrapunji. Wikimedia.

Cherrapunji in Meghalaya is the world’s wettest place. The place is known for receiving the maximum rainfall in the world. And, the weather of the place adds to its beauty. It is definitely one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India.

Also Read: 5 Inspiring Travel Stories That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust

4. Phodong Monastery

Places to visit in North East India.
Phodong Monastery. Wikimedia.

According to reports, the Phodong monastery in Sikkim is built in the 18th century. It situated 28 kms from Gangtok. It is known to be one of the most religious places for a sect of Buddhists. The place is a residence to around 260 monks. The place is full of positive energy. The people around the monastery are amicable and have some interesting stories in their pockets to tell you. The architecture of the monastery depicts a unique culture and beauty. These characteristics make this monastery, one of the beutiful places to visit in North East India. So grab your tickets soon!

5. Dampa Tiger Reserve

places to visit in North East India
A bird in the Dampa Tiger Reserve. Wikimedia.

Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram & a must visit place in north east india. The Tiger Reserve is a home to leopards, barking deer, sloth bear, langurs, Indian Python and a variety of birds. The fauna and flora of the place will leave you stunned.

6. Majuli Islands

Places to visit in North East India.
Majuli Island. Wikimedia.

A river island situated along the Brahmaputra is a home to many tribes. A variety of birds can be found on the island. The size of the island has been reduced due to river erosion by the Brahmaputra.

7. Shilloi lake

Places to visit in North East India.
Shilloi Lake. Wikimedia.

Shilloi lake, the largest natural lake in Nagaland situated in the state’s Phek district is covered by picturesque views including beautiful mountain peaks and trees. The best time to visit this lake is in the summer season. The beauty of the lake makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in North East India.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

 Twitter: @ImMeghaacharya. 

 

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Communal Harmony, Anti-terrorism Highlight of Kolkata’s Durga Puja Immersion Carnival

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Durga Puja 2015 katakhali Dhosomi
Durga Puja 2015 katakhali Dhosomi. Wikimedia

Kolkata, Oct 4, 2017: Highlighting communal harmony, railing against terrorism and bringing diverse themes like the intricacies of human mind and the spirit of freedom to the fore, 68 community Durga puja organisers paraded their award-winning idols in the West Bengal government organised carnival here on Tuesday ahead of the immersion in the Hooghly river.

The carnival, a brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in its second year, showcased the prominent idols from the city and the adjoining districts in a colourful road show at the iconic Red Road here, amid tight security.

The three hour long event saw the puja organisers also exhibiting samples of various artistic creations used in their puja marquees on vibrantly decorated tableaux.

All the community pujas selected for the road show, were winners of Bengal’s ‘Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman’ award in various categories.

Banerjee and her lieutenants attended the event along with several celebrities from the city and foreign delegates. Representatives from England and Chile football team, who are in the city to participate in the FIFA U17 World Cup to be kicked off from Friday, were also present.

Also Read: Celebration of the Devi Shakti: Maha Navmi | Worship Goddess Siddhidhatri on the Ninth Day of Navratri 

According to the organisers, apart from the 20,000 spectators gathered on both sides of the road on occasion of the event, more than 50 lakh people all over the globe witnessed the one of a kind Durga Puja immersion carnival through live streaming in the social media.

Many of the age-old community puja organisers came up with tableaux aligned with various current affairs topics. Their floats in the parade also reflected those themes.

The Sree Bhumi Sporting Club, a major crowd puller in city’s eastern fringes, was the first off the block having won the award of ‘Serar sera’ (best of the best). With the marquee resembling the palace from blockbuster “Babubali”, the organisers decorated the immersion procession in tune with the theme.

South Kolkata’s Rajdanga Nabodoy Sangha emphasised the concept of communal harmony by portraying the peaceful co-existence of six different religions. The organisers put six people, dressed in the traditional attire of six different communities together on a tableau to emphasise that the different paths of religion actually leads to the same destination.

Yuba Moitri Kalighat, another south Kolkata puja that won the award for best branding this year, highlighted their stand against terrorism and celebrated the well being of mankind through their procession.

Tala Park Pratyay themed their tableau on the intricacies of the human mind. Beautiful fireworks marked their procession.

Meanwhile, a number of pujas headed by the representatives from the government and the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress, focused on highlighting various state government initiatives.

For instance, the Samaj Sebi Sangha celebrated the the crusade of green in their procession and rallied singing school students who represent the exuberance of youth. They also hailed Bengal government’s ‘Sabuj Sathi’ initiative that presents a girl child with the sprout of a costly plant during her birth.

Pujas like Ekdalia Evergreen and Tala Park Pratyay showcased Banerjee’s award winning ‘Kanyasree Prakalpa’ meant for the girl students.

Celebrating the natural beauty of Bengal, the puja in Salt Lake’s FD block depicted a piece of rural Bengal amid the jungle of concrete. The singers in their tableau presented the diverse folk music of Bengal.

The special lighting installation from West Bengal’s Chandannagar made the Red Road look like a land of fairy tale. Several celebrities from the Bengali film fraternity, were also seen walking with various puja processions. (IANS)

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Home is Where Mountains Are ! Rundown of 7 Mountains in India

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Beautiful mountains in India
Manali in India. Pixabay

Sep 20, 2017: Mountains are simply attractive, but the blooms and lush greenery creates a lovely shading which makes them appear even more alluring. India is blessed with such splendid sights and eye soothing mountain ranges.

Take a look at these 7 magnificent mountains in India

Valley of Flowers, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Valley of flowers, Garhwal Uttarakhand India. Wikimedia

Valley of flower is situated in Uttarakhand, also Known as God’s own land. The impressive panoramas of the mountains and valleys of the downtown ought to be exceptionally noted. This place is brimmed with distinction.

Chandratal Lake, Himachal Pradesh

Beautiful mountains in India
Different colors of Chandratal lake. Wikimedia

Its magnificence is conceived by its snow-clad mountains, waterways, and lakes. There befall peace and solace by seeing them.

Beautiful mountains in India

Rohtang Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Beautiful mountains in India
Rohtang Pass, Manali. Wikimedia

The wonderful valley of Rohtang Pass here gives a feeling of paradise on earth. In the meantime, the magnificence of the Solang valley adds four moons to the perfection of Rohtang.

Kanchenjunga Mountain, Sikkim

Beautiful mountains in India
This is the view of the great Kanchenjunga Mountain range in Sikkim taken in the morning at a freezing temperature. Wikimedia

Every scene of Kanchenjunga situated in Sikkim is unmatched and wonderful in itself. The mountains secured with snow, streams ascending through the mountains heighten the magnificence of this place.

Beautiful mountains in India

Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Aesculus indica, Horse Chestnut, Pithoragarh, Himalayas. Wikimedia

This area is the easternmost Himalayan region in Uttarakhand, also known as the little Kashmir. High Himalayan mountains topped with snow, emerald grasslands and meadows is a sight full of astonishment.

Ranikhet, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Ranikhet (Beauty of Himalaya valley). Wikimedia

Located in the Kumaon mountain, the Ranikhet slope is arranged amongst Nainital and Almora. It is encompassed by woods from all sides, the name of the slope of Ranikhet, which is named after Rani Padmini. The excellence of this place are the fundamental focuses of fascination.

Beautiful mountains in India

Rishikesh, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Monsoon in Rishikesh. Wikimedia

The bright slopes and valleys spread over the city makes the place even more alluring.

Prepared by Naina Mishta of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94


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