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Lepcha maestro felicitated
Sikkim chief minister Mr Pawan Kumar Chamling felicitated Padmashree awardee and Lepcha historian Sonam Tshering Lepcha at a function here today. Mr Chamling presented a citation and cash award to Mr Lepcha and appealed to all to get inspired by his achievements and contributions.

A living history of Lepcha community, Sonam Tshering Lepcha received the Padmashree award on 5 April by the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, in New Delhi. He had been selected for the award for his valuable contributions towards protection and promotion of Lepcha culture, language and traditions.

"Sonam Tshering Lepcha has made Sikkim proud", Mr Chamling said in his congratulatory note. He hoped that the people would receive constant inspiration from Mr Lepcha.

The felicitation ceremony had been included during the valedictory session of the two-day state level seminar on Lepcha culture and language, jointly organised by Sikkim Lepcha Language Forum and Sikkim Lepcha Association. Lepcha language teachers from all the four districts of the state had participated in the two-day deliberations.

The chief minister also gave his consent to the demands made by the Lepcha associations. Fellowship grants for the Lepcha students planning to do Ph.D and training programme for the Lepcha language teachers were the two main demands of the associations. Highlighting the steps taken for protection and promotion of Lepcha community, Mr Chamling said his government had always worked for the upliftment of backward communities. Regarding Primitive Tribe status for Lepchas, Mr Chamling said that bill has already been passed by the state Assembly and several requests have been placed before the Centre.

"The Primitive Tribe status is our effort to ensure greater protection for Lepchas and to make sure that its identity remains," Mr Chamling, said. He added that Primitive status for Lepchas will not have adverse effects on other communities. Instead, it would open doors for them to receive the same status and other benefits.

The chief minister announced that if the status grant from Delhi gets delayed, the state government would implement it in the state. "If there is a delay from the Centre, we will implement it in the state", he said.

Mr Chamling called for perusal of higher education by the students due to enormous potential that lies ahead. He appealed to the Lepcha teachers to encourage their students for higher education. Mr NT Lepcha, vice president of Sikkim Lepcha Association, said the two-day deliberations focused on ensuring the survival of Lepcha language. He requested the teachers to teach their wards properly and in an honest manner. Senior cabinet minister Mr DT Lepcha also spoke on the occasion.
Posted On : 18-4-2007
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