Saturday, Jun 19, 2021 07:45 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Jun 19, 2021 02:07 [IST]

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHIEF MINISTER

Sir,
Congratulations for presenting the budget in the Assembly. My concern is upon the patronage for establishment of private universities by your government. I do not know if at all it makes sense to promote private players when the government funded institutes are facing problems. The state of Sikkim harbours only two government funded universities. Both of the universities boast multiple problems and challenges which of course have increased due to the ongoing pandemic. The one, a Central University has been struggling for more than a decade after establishment mainly for the campus, other issues have been perennially occurring and recurring. The other, a State University which still is struggling for its mere existence, running with two department and ZERO regular teaching faculties. Your office have been informed on multiple occasions about the problems but they seem to exist even today. In the past, you inaugurated the Sikkim Professional University campus. I must humbly remind you that it was exactly the same place where your office had given a green flag to Sikkim State University for the purpose of temporarily operating it's campus as was claimed by the erstwhile miraculously removed Vice Chancellor of State University. What force on this land was so strong to revert the decision made by the Chief Minister of Sikkim?
Being a fellow Sikkimese, it pained me to see those four students of Gyalshing College being removed without a valid reason. We had high hopes that you would intervene and uphold their rights in the name of Justice. You must remember that we are your electorate. History reminds us through the 2019 election that a group of bureaucrats at a disposal of the Chief Minister has proved worthless, in front of an electorate. You must tread wisely.
Sir, as an individual Sikkimese when I hear that three universities come up at a time, it gives me immense pleasure. However when I hear that all of them are private universities, it raises some concerns. Firstly I wonder if a private university comes up, cost of education goes up. Not every student is financially sound in the state. We cannot always rely on the scholarships as is evident from the recent press conference held by the concerned department. Secondly, a private university cannot be held accountable when miscarriage of justice happens in such institutes. Your government could held not a single person responsible when the infamous cucumber-induced death occurred in CRH Manipal. Many such stories go unnoticed and unheard. Thus amongst many issues pertaining to finances, local sentiments, employment etc will surely haunt the Sikkimese people time and again in the coming years. When your government or the previous SDF government could not ensure job securities in any of the private establishments like Universities, Pharmaceutical companies, Hotels and Banks for the Sikkimese, how would your government simply evade the financial burden (as replied by the Education Minister) without any undertaking any liability?
My humble suggestion to you is that your government should focus more on the development of government aided educational institutes. This will ensure access to education for all the poor people of our state. Also, when we develop government institutions we can always scrutinize it's functions. We can always question in the name of accountability. Or else, phrases like "kakra khake koi marta hai?" will have to be repeated again and again. I urge you to kindly go through the fee hikes that has happened in the private universities of the state of Sikkim. Data of a five year span will startle you. The only Central University has been battling the issue of fee hike where we have not been able to achieve any significant results. When this is the status of the Central University, many things happen in the private universities. The lack of farsightedness must never be the reason for our suffering. It is though observed that under the leadership of some of your bureaucrats, miscarriage of justice has been happening without remorse, but a government institutions can always be made good, even in your tenure, it is possible.
Therefore I urge you to kindly promote a parallel growth in the government institutions as well.
Mahesh Rai,
SUSA President
(The above opinions are those of the author)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi