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Gandhigiri in Sikkim

The indigenous Lepchas of Sikkim are using Gandhian methods of protest to prevent construction of hydel projects that will destroy their land and the environment. At a time when politics has been reduced to a numbers game, they know that their minority status is against them. But they are determined to continue the struggle.

Unheard Voices of Protest in Sikkim

The Teesta hydel project promises development in the long neglected region of north Sikkim. However, the region's indigenous inhabitants, largely the Lepchas and the Bhutias, along with the Buddhist community, have been engaged in a sustained campaign against the project. Such protests are not merely on grounds of displacement but that the region's cultural and ethnic traditions are rooted in the river Teesta and its environs.

Roots and the Route of Secularism in Sikkim

At the height of the Rathongchu hydroelectric project controversy during 1993-97, the lamas of Sikkim challenged the authority of the state government since the development project purportedly defiled their sacred landscape. While acknowledging the vacuity of the concept of secularism, this paper stresses that Sikkimese polity neither has secular roots in the past nor does its current route indicate any movement in that direction. Does contemporary Sikkim, reflect the successful transformation of a feudal theocracy into a democratic polity? Can religious nationalism engender separatism or secessionism and fuel ethnic conflict between the Nepali Hindu migrant majority and the Lepcha-Bhutia Buddhist indigenous minority of Sikkim? These are the questions this paper seeks answers to.
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