My earlier job of installing radio-communication equipment, solar panels and wind generators for the Police Department took me to the remotest corners – some involving days of walking through lush green valleys and over high passes like Donkiala, Sebula,andLungnalabivoacing in caves – and enabled me to experience Sikkim’s rustic splendour and village life and study the local way of living closely which has been described at many places in this website. I am grateful to many people – yakherders, porters, monks, villagers, police personnel and foresters posted in remote areas -who regaled me with stories of local beliefs and folklore during my travels and have indirectly contributed to my book and subsequently to this website by providing a wealth of information.
During a recruitment examination in 1991 in which I was a member of the Interview Board, many local candidates knew more about Indian and European History than about say the Chogyals of Sikkim. The majority of the population of Sikkim does not have a living memory of the monarchy, and therefore they have no knowledge about that time. There are also no text books on Sikkim History in the schools. Although a lot of information on Sikkim history is available on the internet, there still seems to be a disinterest specially amongst youngsters on this subject. This prompted me to do a chapter on Sikkim Quiz and it became the hall mark and Upper Selling Point of my book and website for candidates appearing for examinations.
As a member of a local environment group “Green Circle”, I was intensively involved in ecology related work in Sikkim – organising environment and afforestation camps, workshops, quiz programmes, cleaning up fragile areas like the Tsomgo lake of garbage and implementing the AUSAID funded Litter and Spit Free Zone on M.G. Marg (Gangtok’s Main Market)- which involved organising street
plays, workshops and putting up dust bins. The spick and span pedestrainised M.G. Marg is the result of our efforts. As a part of our advocacy programme we took initiatives like getting the authorities to agree to make it compulsory for all vehicles plying to Alpine areas to carry small garbage bags so that passengers do not throw out wrappers and vitiate the landscape. Thanks to my “Green Circle” friends with whom I enjoyed working.
My association with the Syari Government Employees Welfare Assocaition gave me an opportunity to use innovative methods to resolve parking problems in the locality. Door to door collection of garbage was initiated by me. These initiatives resulted in creation of jobs: parking attendants and garbage collectors. By viewing parking and garbage not as problems but opportunity and resource we opened up whale of avenues. On the anvil is an iniativeto make the locality Zero Waste.
As Vice President of National Association for the Blind, Sikkim Branch and also member of various other organisations dealing in disablities, I was involved in use of Information Technology tools to make the disabled acquire skills that would make them employable and not reliant on compassion and charity. What could be more fulfilling and satisfying in life than picking up disabled children languishing at home from remote areas of Sikkim, putting them through a vocational training programme and then getting them employment. The outcome of my experiences with these associations gave me an insight on various issues dogging Sikkim and have been reflected in the book and website. It also prompted me to add a section on NGOs and Community Initiatives.
Thanks to all those with whom I was associated. These experiences contributed in making me a strong advocate for social re-engineering; using community initiatives and change management to benefit the citizens
And finally, I am grateful to my wife Sunila and daughter Vernica for their immense patience and bearing with my rather irregular routine while I was preparing the manuscript. Thanks also to AshishPradhan who has helped me with the maps.
They say even the height of Mount Kanchendzonga is increasing a couple of centimeters every year. Therefore in order to keep abreast with the changes, I endeavour to take out an edition every year so that all the facts and figures are updated. Twice or thrice every year when I realise that the only exercise that I am getting is pushing files from the IN tray to the OUT tray in the office, I put on my trekking shoes and go out exploring and this enables me to add new trekking routes to the book and website. What began as a 40 page booklet in 1990 as Sikkim’s first guide book has now evolved into a few hundred pages and a vibrant website and keeps growing with time.
I am sure this information packed website will be found useful by the readers
Rajesh Verma E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Mobile: 9434186291
Click here to go to the blog sikkim–verma-travels.blogspot.com
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