- Sujal Pradhan, NET Correspondent, Sikkim
The Senior Journalist – Bhim Rawat has been conferred with the ’16th Kanchenjunga Kalam Puraskar 2022′, on the occasion of the 20th Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) foundation ceremony held at Manan Kendra, here today.
Similarly, the Laganshil Yuva Patrakar Puraskar 2022 was awarded to journalist Sujal Pradhan. PCS also felicitated veteran journalist Sukvir Blone at the foundation day celebration.
The award was presented by the hand of Chief Minster PS Golay, in the presence of IPR minister and guest of honour Lok Nath Sharma, ministers from various departments, MLAs, dignitaries, journalists from Sikkim, Nepal, Assam, West Bengal etc. and invited guests.
The Chief Minister, on behalf of the State government presented cheques of Rs 51000 each to the three awardees. Golay informed that from next year, all three awardees will receive cheques of Rs 51000 from the State government. This year, it was distributed from the CM fund but from next year, the amount will be given via. the IPR department.
During the occasion, CM Golay informed that a new award ‘Teesta-Rangeet Aviral Kalam Puraskar’ will be introduced on the PCS foundation day, on behalf of the State government. He informed that Rs 101000 will be awarded to the awardee and the notification will be issued soon.
The founding PCS members were also felicitated during the occasion.
Stating the day as a historic one, the Chief Minister congratulated the members of PCS and journalists of Sikkim for completing 20 glorious years of its foundation and thanked the founding members for establishing PCS for the benefit of the journalists in Sikkim.
The CM further informed that since the SKM government came in power, the media houses are not under pressure from the political parties, unlike the previous ruling party where violence against media and journalists were prevalent. “Since the SKM party came into power, there has been a complete freedom of speech for the fourth estate. During the previous government’s rule, various media houses were attacked. None of the culprits were convicted when the Hamro Prajashakti office was vandalized during the previous governments rule, because it was the ruling party who staged the attack on the media house. The State government have never asked media houses to write only in favour of the SKM government because we know that if there is no freedom of press, there will not be democracy in Sikkim. The State government also welcomes criticism, so that the errors can be rectified. We have set you free to work on your own and we are trying to fulfil all the demands placed by the media in Sikkim. We are here to support the fourth estate,” expressed Golay.
CM Golay further informed that the media personnel had demanded a space to construct the PCS Bhawan before the State government and within no time, a four-storey building situated at MP Golai was presented to PCS in no time. “The demand for the PCS Bhawan was a long-time demand. The members were previously paying rent for the PCS office near Paljor Stadium. The PCS members had previously demanded land to construct the PCS Bhawan, but the State government thought that only giving land was not the solution and so the four-storeyed building was presented to PCS, but various norms and criteria have to be followed, a minimum lease amount is being collected,” he added.
Golay urged the PCS members to use the building accordingly so that revenue can also be generated, at the same time.
The Chief Minister informed that the PCS executive members had visited Mintokgang earlier and had placed various demands before the State government. The demands have been forwarded to the concerned departments, it was mentioned.
Regarding pension for journalists, Golay urged PCS and IPR department to sit together and formulated the criteria for the eligibility of pension for journalists. “Criteria should be formulated so that only the deserving journalists get the pension. The two departments should come out with the solution,” he said.
In view of the health insurance for journalists demand, that was also placed by Bhim Rawat in in acceptance speech earlier today, Golay informed that the State government have been providing financial aid to journalists who are under treatment. He further said that for those journalists who have minimum income will receive medical insurance and the State government is thinking of collaborating with Central Referral Hospital (CRH), Tadong.
Golay also informed that a budget of Rs 20 lakhs has been set aside for reporters of Sikkim. Ten reporters will receive funds of Rs 2 lakhs each for a study tour nationwide.
With regard to the renovation of PSC Bhawan, which cost Rs 14 lakhs, the Chief Minister informed that the State government will provide Rs 10 lakhs to PCS.
He also highlighted on advertisement bill amendment act and supporting media houses on the verge of closing down.
CM Golay stated that he will include the PCS foundation ceremony at the Azadi Ki Amrit Mahotsav as India celebrates 75 years of Independence today. To celebrate 75 years of Independence, Golay has urged the public to hoist the Indian flag at their homes from August 1-15. The flag will be distributed by the State government. He also urged the Chalak Morcha to also place the Indian flag in the vehicles too. He also urged the minsters and MLAs to organise grand Independence celebration in their respected areas.
IPR minister LN Sharma congratulated the PCS members on completing two decades of its foundation. He expressed that the State government has been supporting the media personnel in Sikkim and will listen to all the demands.
Senior journalist Bhim Rawat in his speech highlighted that the PCS was founded two decades ago with the sole aim of speaking up for the benefit of the journalists in Sikkim. Him, being one of the founding members of PCS also shed light on the various accolades of PCS in terms of social service, reporting etc. He urged the upcoming journalists to be responsible and not just run after viewership during the times of social media.
Sujal Pradhan thanked the PCS for the award and expressed happiness on his name being shortlisted for the award.
PCS president Shekhar Khawas, in his welcome address informed that PCS was established in 2022 by a group of like-minded journalists who understood the value of the fourth pillar of the society.
During the occasion, the official press stickers was also launched by the hand of the CM. Press stickers are being introduced in Sikkim with the aim to curb misuse of the press stickers. PCS in collaboration with Sikkim Police and Traffic Police will introduce an exclusive press sticker with the PCS logo in it.
Similarly, the second edition of Samvahak, a publication of the PCS was also released. The publication is tri-lingual i.e. Hindi, Nepali and English. The editors are journalists Rajen Pradhan (Nepali), Bijoy Gurung (English) and Bishal Gurung (Hindi). The first edition was released 10 years ago.
The event also had Sikkim University History department HOD Krishna Ananth as the resource person. A cultural event by the members of PCS also followed during the celebration.