Saturday, June 13, 2009

switzerland of the east

no, the title is not for advertising any tour operator.That is what Sikkim is called. I am just back from there and have so many threads dangling in my head which are eager to be put together in a decent post. I haven't been to Switz in spite of being to Europe (schengen didn't include switz then! sigh!) but i have seen innumerable pics of switz, and well i would say sikkim is worth the title. IOt has all the things switz is famous for- the mountains, the snow, the high peaks (khangchendzonga-the highest in india!), the specious lakes with the cool blue and emerald green waters, the cattle, the exotic biodiversity, the small amount of population, and the green. ( and ah yes, even the alpine cheese factory that sikkim houses!) sikkim is green. sikkim is hilly. sikkim is calm, quiet and BEAUTIFUL! i have rarely seen anything so beautiful. and the beauty lies in that it is still virgin to certain extent. untouched. unexplored. many of the paths are still not used to the harsh human steps, the surrounding still is silent and not disturbed by the human screechings, the air is maddeningly unpolluted and the spots and places are not cluttered with cans, tins, chips wrappers, cigarettes, polythin bags, pan masalas and the horrible junk humans create everywhere.
ofcourse, gangtok, being the capital of sikkim and the biggest city, is visited by huge amount of tourists. but one could learn from Gangtok how beautiful and well organized a capital could be. Clean and green is the motto of sikkim as every other state in India, but you could see the evidences of that succesful mission, unlike other cities and capitals.
Two thoughts occur to me when i try to figure out the 'raaz' behind this sikkim. one could be the less amount of population( and wel, that can very well be the reason). the whole population of sikkim state is close to 7 lakh. ( which is not even 20% of pune) when the population is less, its easier to exert control over them, and make the state more disciplined. its also easier to create infrastructure enough for all, which leads to stable life, less poverty, less violence and disorder.
Dr. Pawan Chamling is the CM of state since last 14 years, and he has all the seats of sikkim assembly. all 32! there is no opposition! and hence, it is a free reign to rule, but also to think, act, develop, which clearly shows in most of sikkim.
secondly, there are so many hardships the geographical location has put on the people there. the whole terrain is hilly, the roads are narrow. the kids of age 5 have to walk to the school which is around 5-7 kms from their houses, and they do. there are no posh schoolbuses and there are no Mothers dropping their kids to the class. sikkim has no airport( has a helipad ofcourse, but no commercial airport). the tempratures drop drastically in winter. but probably that has made people humble and probably content with what they have. whole sikkim has two cinema theatres, both in gangtok. and may couple of colleges for higher studies, but kids still go to school all walking. life is easier. a lot easier.
of course, i am not comparing the other indian states and cities to sikkim, every single thing is different everywhere. but still you cant help comparing somewhere in your mind when you see just another part of your country, which is extraordinarily different than yours, appreciatively ofcourse. can you?