A letter from Gen Surjit about his recent visit to Gangtok.
The first command is like the first love : you can never forget it. In my case, it was an EME Battalion located in Sikkim. The current CO, Col Puneet Kapoor was kind enough to invite us and spent a few days there last month. Whilst nearly everything about Gangtok is exhilarating, what struck me the most was the efficiency of their police. There was not a single pot bellied cop and I was told that it is well nigh impossible to bribe them. As a consequence, their public places are pristine clean. The main market is named after the Father of the Nation, and it is as good as anything which I have seen in any country in the world. Here are some of its features:
- No vehicle is allowed inside the market during the business hours.
- Smoking and spitting is strictly prohibited.
- If you throw litter, you do so at enormous risk.
- If anyone commits an offence, cops appear at once, and a fine is imposed on the spot. If you try to bribe him, he takes you to the police station and a case is registered.
- The approach road to the market has footpaths which are protected by railings. The pedestrians are completely safe.
- Foot bridges are provided for the pedestrians to cross over to the other side.
- Benches are placed for those who need a little rest.
Sub Dogra, who accompanied us to the market told me, “Yahan horn nahin bajaa sakte. Turant police aa jaayegi, aur jurmaana ho jayega.” (You cannot honk here. The cops will come immediately and fine you.) He also told me that they have “bandhs” very frequently, to register protest for various things. And he said,
“Sa’ab, poora market band ho jaata hai. Kewal chemists aur liquor shops khuli rahti hain” (Sir, the entire market closes down, but for chemists and liquor shops )
When I tried to find the reason for that, I was told that the Sikkimese believe that “dawaa” (medicines) and “daroo” (alcohol) are essential commodities, which should not be denied to the citizens, even when the market is closed. Or as my friend Inoo (Air Mshl Satish Inamdar) says,
“Drinking is not an offence. Getting drunk is!”
Now, here are a few pictures of the M.G. Market in Gangtok….
You see a foot bridge to cross over. In the distance you see railings to protect pedestrians
Can you spot a cigarette butt or the sign of ‘paan’ spit? Any plastic bag or litter?
Rates of essential commodities are displayed on a board. No haggling.
We also have boards like this here. But in Sikkim, they mean what they say!
The laws in Sikkim are the same. As far as I know, the ‘lokpal’ bill has not been enacted there in any form. Then why can’t we achieve it in the rest of the country???!!!
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