Emphasising that since its merger with the Indian union Sikkim has no representation at the centre, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling suggested that the word “Sindh” in the national anthem be replaced with “Sikkim” to further strengthen emotional integration of the people of the state with the country.
Delivering a lecture ‘Regional parties and their efficacy in advancing nation building’ at Jamia Millia Islamia here, Chamling said that stereotype thinking should be changed to strengthen national unity.
‘In order to strengthen our understanding of national unity, we may need to revisit stereotype thinking and obsolete outlook both in terms of country’s strength and understanding of nationalism. In the same context, I suggested earlier and still say why not substitute the word ‘Sindh’ in our national anthem with the word ‘Sikkim,” Chamling said.
The chief minister said that when India gained independence, Sikkim was not part of the Indian union.
‘Now has not the fact altered? This (by including Sikkim in the national anthem) will further cement the edifice of emotional integration and justice done to peace-loving citizens of India,’ he said.
Sikkim merged with India in 1975 to become the 22nd state of the Indian union.
Chamling, who launched the Sikkim studies programme at Jamia, said that smaller states have little or no influence over the policy direction of the central government and the party with greater number of MPs has a greater say.
‘Since Sikkim’s merger with the Indian union, not a single cabinet berth has been allotted to Sikkim MPs and not a single Sikkimese has been appointed to any constitutional post. Smaller states like Sikkim have no representative in the central government. This tends to puncture our self esteem and a sense of dismay settles over when any regional aspiration is seldom honoured,’ he said.
Chamling, who is founder president of the Sikkim Democratic Front which has been in power in the state for the last 17 years, said regional parties have ‘greater leverage and innovation in effective national building’ and ‘manifest deepening of democracy’.
He said regional parties across the country have come to be expressions of people’s aspirations and added that such parties have the advantage of first hand knowledge of local situation.
‘Our appreciation of ground realities is so much better. It is not coloured by central level politics of national parties,’ he said.
The chief minister said his state was contributing to environmental and water security of the country and had foregone many development options generally available to lowland states. ‘We, however, find that at the national level, these sacrifices we make are hardly accounted for.’
Chamling also spoke about smaller states facing budgetary constraints.
‘Budget formulation and annual plan finalisation is done as per the Gadgil committee formula taking population ratio as the criteria. Due to scanty allocation, we get little elbow room to manoeuvre our development options in the state. Our voices fail to reach the corridors of power in the centre… We feel the pinch as major benefits are taken away by the ministries headed by larger states,’ he said.
The chief minister suggested that a new system should be formulated for determining MPs on the size of states and not on the basis of population.
Jamia Millia Islamia Vice Chancellor Najeeb Jung said that larger states get greater voice and it was essential for the system to debate how to overcome the lacuna.
‘Lectures like these put these issues in perspective,’ he said.
The Vice Chancellor said that the university was an eclectic, nationalist, secular university. He said that though Jamia had been declared a minority institution its doors were open to all irrespective of caste and region.
Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Centre for North East studies, Academy of Third World Studies of the university, who moderated the lecture, said as a result of initiative taken by Sikkim, the varsity was getting response form other north eastern states to start study programmes.
April 25 (IANS)