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Dear Readers, It has been our effort to present to you all our interviews with young leaders from across the political and social spectrums in the state. Today in the young leader series we are going to share the excerpts of our interview with Navin Kishore Chettri, one of the members of the team One Year Sikkim Padhyatra. He along with the members of his team undertook a statewide foot march starting from Yuksom, the first capital of Sikkim on 16th May 2016 and ending at Gangtok, the preset on 16th May 2017.
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The Interview :
Wandering Soul Of Sikkim (WSOS): Would You like to share something about yourself and about your growing up years and education?
Navin Kishore Chettri (NKC): Hello everyone, I don’t have much to share about myself and I am just in the process and still a lot remains to be done for me to be recognised through my works. I belong to a poor and hardworking family from Chhamgaon, Namchi, South Sikkim. My father Shri Tara Kamal Chettri and my mother Smt. Tika Maya Chhetri worked very hard to facilitate my studies. I was an average student. I studied up to class V in my Village School and moved to Government New Secondary School,Namchi and Government Senior Secondary School, Namchi to complete my secondary and Senior Secondary level studies respectively. The after I completed my graduations from Sikkim Government College, Tadong and my masters in Political Science from Sikkim University in June, 2015. My childhood is a tough story. I had to work hard to manage my educational expenses due to the economic conditions of our family. I have faced many hard times and encountered with many bitter episodes to reach up to this level.
WSOS: What inspired you to undertake the Sikkim Padhyatra?
NKC: Well, many things inspired me but most importantly I was highly inspired from the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi, our Father of the Nation. I believed that the Padhyatra was the only way to understand our society deeply. Besides that it was my keen interest to penetrate our society in an unexplored way. It was a kind of disruption that I brought into my life.
WSOS: We know that u have published a book on ur findings of the walk but still for our readers would u like to share some of ur important findings from the padhyatra?
NKC: I didn’t publish any book so far on my own but we did as a team. We the Sikkim Padhyatra team published a book “365 दिनमा पाएको सिक्किम” after completing our one year long statewide footmarch. This book is a discovery of Sikkim where we have clearly highlighted what we found in one year. Also, before the footmarch we had published a book named “परिवर्तनको घोषणा” in April, 2016. This book is kind of a suggestion book, based on the facts with detailed information collected through RTI from both the Central and State governments. In the book, we have highlighted the social, political and economic issues of Sikkim. We had distributed 15,000 copies in all four districts of Sikkim and also sent copies to Hon’ble Governor, CM and all MLAs and the Presidents of the political parties of Sikkim. Whatever we did was a team effort, I am known as a member of the team and therefore I am thankful to all friends of the Sikkim Padhyatra team.
WSOS:How was the experience to walk across the state by foot?
NKC: We marched 365 days with tricolour conveying the message of Corruption, Drugs and Suicide free Sikkim. We had great experiences from each of the 365 days; sweet and bitter experiences which is impossible to mention here. I could march all over Sikkim and feel proud of being one of the Padhyatri of the team. It is a history in itself. I am writing my experiences now and will share it in the form of a book in coming days. To share some of my experiences I would say it was really difficult in the beginning for almost a month to get food and shelter but we took that as a challenge and continued walking. People said many things about us in the beginning but slowly and gradually everything became normal and we were able to compete our march successfully. We were greatly supported and appreciated by the people from all sections, they had faith and respect towards the task we were upto.
WSOS: What are you looking forward to do in the coming days?
NKC:Well, we have been working tirelessly to contribute from our side to make Sikkim a better place to live. We are disseminating our findings to the people; and I am personally working for Sikkim and keeping my personal life aside for dedicating myself for mother Sikkim. I shall be looking forward to work more pro actively for my community in the days to come.
WSOS:What would be that one thing you would like to change in the system if you get a chance to be inside?
NKC: Very nice question but I prefer myself to call activist rather than a politician which I am not. But if people voted me to power, first of all, I will look everyone equally and work to emancipate our society economically. I must say political discrimination must be removed from Sikkim. This is a curse for our society. Also, many things are to be done in health and education sectors. You know corruption, unemployment and suicides taking place in national level. We need to work on these aspects also.
WSOS: What is your take on those who term politics to be “a dirty game”?
NKC: I would say them: you may ignore politics but politics doesn’t ignore you. No one is away from politics and infact nobody wants to be away also. Politics is a power relation. And no one can stay away or remain in isolation from power relations. You can find politics in family, workplace and everywhere. It is inseparable in human society. But politics must be seen rationally. There is nothing above politics but it should be based on principles and ethics. Today, many hate politics and look differently in Sikkim especially our young friends. Politics is not only to contest election, occupy chair by any means and amass a pile of money and wealth. But politics is a novel profession to work for the society. I think politics is a place from where we can do much for others. And I believe politics is a science. Who makes politics a dirty game ? Why people hate politics? We are solely responsible for that because you are hating politics because of the politicians elected by you. They have changed your perception towards politics due to their ignorance and incumbency. Now, time has come to change your perception and look politics in a much serious way because it is up to you what kind of politics you want.
WSOS: How important it is to involve students and youth in mainstream politics?
NKC: I can’t say how important it is because it depends on an individual how he/she looks into any situation. We have been to colleges and universities and we know what activism is. If you see injustice around you and cannot keep yourself in silence that is a first step of politics I would say. Since you are a political animal and first of all politics must be in you. But one thing politics should not be parochial and confine in a limited ambit. I support student activism in mainstream as well.
WSOS: Your take on the need of an intellectual and informed debates in Sikkim on important issues. How do you think can we engage our people to talk about things that matter?
NKC: As far as Sikkim is concerned we are lacking behind in such debates and discussion. But slowly the culture is coming up. Its a gradual process. But we have many things to see positively in this aspect like the awareness amongst our students and also our people have started reading books and resisting against the established orders. But one thing is very important that I have told you already that how people think about any issue. If people take any issue seriously, debate starts and debate will be concluded at rational end. Seriousness is very important. We can generate this consciousness some how but most importantly seriousness has to come from within and I believe it will come surely amongst our people.
WSOS: Your message to the youth of Sikkim?
NKC: Our life is very precious and we are young for a short period only but if we have optimistic zeal and power to utilise the youth in us, we can achieve many things. Nothing is impossible. Example, it seems impossible to walk 365 days, if you keep thinking in your living room. But we walked 365 days. Its a small example but many people have shown many great examples. Don’t be pessimistic. Our life is a struggle, many bitter times will come but we must take those difficult moments as a challenge. Try to disrupt something, something in any field and jump into the unknown at least once.
WSOS: Thank You So Much for taking your time out to respond to us for the Young Leader Series.
NKC: Thank you so much WSOS for giving this opportunity to share my thoughts and would like to extend best and shall be looking forward for better time ahead.
Dear Readers, we hope you liked our interview with our Young Leader. Don’t forget to share in your feedbacks in the comment box and continue loving Wandering Soul of Sikkim.
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More in the YOUNG LEADER SERIES: YOUNG LEADER: An Interview with Bhusan Adhikari (President, Rhenock Gram Panchayat)