Sikkim joined the nation in celebrating the 74th Republic Day with great fervour and patriotism across the State on January 26.
The State-level function held at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok commenced with the unfurling of the national flag by Governor Ganga Prasad.
After receiving the National salute, the Governor proceeded towards reviewing the Republic Day parade, comprising contingents from Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Mizoram Armed Police, Sikkim Armed Police (SAP), 2nd and 3rd IRBn, Sikkim Police represented by male and female platoons, Sikkim Homeguards, National Cadet Corps (NCC) and Sikkim Police Pipe and Brass Bands.
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Thereafter, the complete parade exhibited a spectacular march past led by Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sudha Basnett, as the parade commander and Police Inspector, Ankita Pradhan, as the parade second-in-command.
The State-level celebration was graced by Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang as the guest of honour and was attended by Cabinet Ministers, Kunga Nima Lepcha, and Sonam Lama, MP Lok Sabha, Indra Hang Subba, Chief Secretary, VB Pathak, Director General of Police, State Police HQ, A.K. Singh, heads of departments, Army and paramilitary officials, senior officers of the State administration and the general public.
Addressing the gathering, Governor Ganga Prasad extended warm greetings and felicitations to all and expressed that Republic Day is etched deep into history and people’s collective memory as the day that commemorates the adoption of the Constitution of India in 1950. He paid rich tributes to the freedom fighters who made ultimate sacrifices to pave way for the democratic form of governance in the nation.
Stating that the year 2023 has been declared as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations, the Governor assured that the State government in coordination with the Agriculture Department will work with full dedication for larger promotion and demand generation of organic millet to meet the objective of positioning India as the global hub for millets. He added that the theme of the International Year of Millet 2023 will be promoted in the proposed G20 Summit meetings to be held in Sikkim during March 2023.
Voicing the State government's commitment towards women's welfare, the Governor said that the State government has initiated various policies to increase the maternity leave entitlement of all working women government employees from six months to one year and the paternity leave from 15 days to 30 days and to incentivise childbirth by offering both monetary and post-natal care for women government employees of Sikkim. Furthermore, the State government has also launched the 'VATSALYA' Scheme, wherein, an amount of Rs. 3 lakhs of financial assistance is provided for those undergoing In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment, he added.
Highlighting the visions and achievements of the State government, the Governor lauded the phenomenal performance of the State in various sectors such as agriculture, environment, rural development, health, education and social justice amongst others, and shared that this feat of remaining a progressive yet harmonious core of the nation has been achieved through a comprehensive developmental strategy adorned by the State government to endeavor towards overall socio-economic development in the State, in line with the national perspective and the policy directives of the Government of India while also conforming with the Sustainable Development Goals. He further shared that the State government would be tapping into organic saffron cultivation within 700 acres in the State this year to generate revenue and employment opportunities.
In his concluding remarks, the Governor called for active participation from all sections of society in sustaining the momentum of progress made so far and urged for cooperation from every counterpart in further accelerating the pace of development in Sikkim. He assured that the State government will continue to make every effort in infusing renewed dynamism and providing good governance.
The presentation of various awards and honours commenced with the pinning up of the Correctional Service Medal for Meritorious Service, received from the Ministry of Home Affairs on the occasion of Independence Day 2021, to Assistant Sub Jailor, District Prison, Namchi, Shri Lall Bahadur Thapa.
In a special announcement, it was informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India on the occasion of the Republic Day 2023 has announced the names of the Padma Shri Awardees 2023 including Sikkim’s 98-year-old self-sustained farmer, Tula Ram Upreti.
Likewise, the names of Fire and Police personnel for different Fire and Police Service medals listed by the MHA, and GoI were also announced:
1. Smt. Ruchika Rishi, IGP, Director, Fire and Emergency Service who has been awarded President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service on Republic Day 2023
2. Matthew Rai, Deputy Chief Fire Officer who has been awarded Fire Service Medal for Meritorious Service on Republic Day 2023
3. Madhu Sudhan Adhikari, Assistant Sub Fire Officer who has been awarded President’s Fire Service Medal for Distinguished Service on the occasion of Independence Day 2022
4. Kharga Bahadur Gurung, a Leading Fireman who has been awarded the Fire Service Medal for Meritorious Service on the occasion of Independence Day 2022
Thereafter, the following employees of the Government of Sikkim were honoured with the Sikkim State Meritorious Service Award in recognition of their dedicated services to the State:
1. Prabhakar Rai, Director, Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority, Land Revenue Department
2. Kishore Pradhan, Additional Secretary, Social Welfare Department
3. Dhan Maya Subba, Superintendent of Police (Anti-Human Trafficking Unit), Sikkim Police
4. Passang Tshering Bhutia, Joint Director, Planning and Development Department
5. Arpana Naomi Rai, Joint Director (Budget), Finance Department
6. Mingma Sherpa, Deputy Secretary, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Department
7. Sonam Lhaden Lachungpa, Deputy Director, Women and Child Development Department, Chungthang
8. Diki Lhamu Bhutia, CSSD Supervisor (Helper), STNM Hospital, Health and Family Welfare Department
9. Sohan Kumar Tamang, Lower Division Clerk, DC Office (Soreng), Land Revenue Department
10. Kumar Gurung, Office Attendant, Department of Personnel
11. Birkha Bahadur Rai, Office Attendant, Water Resource Department
12. Pem Leda Lepcha, Driver, Social Welfare Department
13. Umesh Thakur, Home Guard, Singtam Police Station, Sikkim Police
On the occasion, the Government of Sikkim also felicitated Sikkim Idol Season 1 winner, Ms. Jetshen Dohna Lama, who recently made the entire State proud by winning the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs Season 9. A cheque of Rs. 10 lakhs was presented to the Little Champ in support of her future endeavours.
The Governor also felicitated the recipients of the Armed Forces Gallantry Awards and Veer Naris, namely:
1. Subedar (Honorary Captain) Kishore Rai, Shaurya Chakra, 6/11 Gorkha Rifles
2. Rifleman Dhan Bahadur Chettri, Shaurya Chakra
3. Pema Chuki-Kazini, Veer Nari, wife of Honorary Captain Late Ganju Lama, Victoria Cross
4. Mon Maya Gurung, Veer Nari, mother of Rifleman Late Bishal Gurung, 3/1 Gorkha Rifles
5. Choti Sherpa, Veer Nari, elder sister and next kin of Rifleman Late Karma Tenzing Sherpa, 2/5 Gorkha Rifles
6. Dhan Maya Chettri, Veer Nari, mother of Lance Naik Late Manoj Kumar Chettri, 1st Sikkim Scouts Battalion
7. Geeta Gurung, Veer Nari, wife of Havildar Late Nar Bahadur Gurung, 1/5 Gorkha Rifles
8. Man Maya Subba, Veer Nari, wife of Havildar Late Suk Man Subba, 3/11 Gorkha Rifles
9. Phurmit Lepcha, Veer Nari, wife of Naik Late Tshering Lepcha, 11 Gorkha Rifles
Subsequently, Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang and other dignitaries joined the Governor in releasing three coffee table books of the Forest Department, Government of Sikkim titled “Flora of Tembao Wetland and its surrounding areas in North Sikkim”, “Study of Faunal Components of Tembao Lake Complex, North Sikkim” and “Study on Rehabilitation of Endangered & Endemic species of Tembao Wetland in North Sikkim”.
Three patriotic songs composed by the Culture Department, Government of Sikkim in a music album titled “Samarpan” were also released on the occasion. The lyrics to the songs have been written by OSD, Culture Department, Shri Bhawani S. Ghimirey, with Shri Mickma Tshering Lepcha and Shri Ganesh Dhungyel as the music composers.
During the programme, the Department of Cooperation also launched its unique herbal Millet soap, introduced under Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana by Penlong Van Dhan Vikas Kendra, Gangtok.
This was followed by the presentation of trophies to contingents based on their performance in the Republic Day parade. The Sikkim Police Female platoon bagged the best platoon trophy. The guest platoon of Mizoram Armed Police was also presented with a trophy for their impressive performance in the Republic Day parade.
The flagging in ceremony of the Joint Cycling Expedition, organized by the Indian Army was also held on the occasion. Team leader Major Nikhil handed over the expedition flag to the Governor.
It may be mentioned that the Tree-Shakti Cycling Expedition put together by the Black Cat Division had the participation of adventure enthusiasts from the Indian Army, ITBP, NCC, civil administration, and local citizens. The cyclists including a lady officer, three lady constables, and five girl cadets covered a distance of 55 km from Nathula to Gangtok over a period of two days.
The Governor along with the Chief Minister and other dignitaries then visited the Army equipment display that showcased its military strength by exhibiting infantry and survival equipment ranging from modern assault rifles and surveillance systems to medical management resources. The Indian Army also presented a pipe band performance.
The Republic Day celebration also had a confluence of integration dances and patriotic songs curated by the Culture Department and the students of Kendriya Vidyalaya, which was followed by a power-packed performance by Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs S9 winner, Jetshen Dohna Lama.
Earlier, the helicopter service of the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) showered petals over Paljor Stadium thus adding an appealing charm to the commemoration of the 74th Republic Day.
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