Sikkim is a state in Northeast India. It borders the Tibet Autonomous Region of China in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west and the Indian state of West Bengal in the south. Sikkim is also located close to India’s Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kanchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth. Sikkim’s capital and largest city Gangtok. Almost 35% of the state is covered by the Khangchendzonga National Park.
A state blessed with environmental richness and vast biodiversity. The state, however, has the lowest population as compared to other states in India but literacy rate as compared to many states of the country is much higher. The nature has lot to give to the state and the state gathers it very well with the available resources. People and the Government of the Sikkim have strived hard for protecting the natural resources.
The origin theory of the name Sikkim is that it is a combination of two Limbu words: su, which means “new”, and khyim, which means “palace” or “house”. The Tibetan name for Sikkim is Drenjong (Wylie-transliteration: ´bras ljongs), which means “valley of rice”, while the Bhutias call it Beyul Demazong, which means ‘”the hidden valley of rice”. According to the folklore, after establishing Rabdentse as his new capital Bhutia king Tensung Namgyal built a palace and asked his Limbu Queen to name it. The Lepcha people, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, called it Nye-mae-el, meaning “paradise”. In historical Indian literature, Sikkim is known as Indrakil, the garden of the war god Indra.
It was the first state to impose a ban on plastics in 1998. The ban was implemented in the state from 4th June 1998 and till date experts sighted the ban as impactful. It mainly aimed at eliminating single-use plastic bottles. However, being rich in biodiversity and hence it has less space for garbage dumps. The decision of ban was introduced after heavy floods hit the state and due to blockage of drains by plastic caused a heavy landslide in which many people have died.
In 2016 the State banned the use of Packaged Drinking Water in government offices and government programmes and simultaneously it also banned on Use of Products made up of Thermocol. This helped the state to curb major plastic garbage problem.
The State residents are now opting for plates made of paper, leaf, bagasse and even areca nut. But Sikkim being a place of tourist attraction, it is challenging to control the use of plastic water bottles. The government is considering banning plastic bottles in the entire state, meaning that tourists would need to get their drinking water from filters in hotels, restaurants and public spaces.
State finds itself on top when it comes to green policies, as it also holds the pride of being the first state to Produce fully Organic Food Products which means without the use of pesticides. In 2016 the state was declared as an Organic State after it made the use of chemical pesticides as a criminal offence. The decision seems too harsh for the non-organic cultivators.
In 2003 State banned Open Defecation much before the Swachh Bharat Campaign. Sikkim became the First State in India to ban on open defecation. In 2008 the Government of India bestowed the state with the “Nirmal Rajya” award, a national honour for cleanliness. Today the state is observed as an ‘open defecation free state.’
In 2014 the State imposed a ban on Firecrackers which eradicated maximum noise pollution and air pollution from the state. Realizing the need of the hour, people of the state welcomed the decision to ban on crackers. If anyone wants to enjoy a pollution-free Diwali, one can surely move to Sikkim to enjoy the festival.
Currently, the percentage of people in Sikkim Below Poverty Line (BPL) is just 8% which means the state will soon be eligible for decorating itself with a milestone for becoming first BPL Free State.
Sikkim’s nominal state gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US$1.57 billion in 2014, constituting the third-smallest GDP among India’s 28 states. The state’s economy is largely agrarian, based on the terraced farming of rice and the cultivation of crops such as maize, millet, wheat, barley, oranges, tea and cardamom. Sikkim produces more cardamom than any other Indian state and is home to the largest cultivated area of cardamom.
Because of its hilly terrain and poor transport infrastructure, Sikkim lacks a large-scale industrial base. Brewing, distilling, tanning and watchmaking are the main industries and are mainly located in the southern regions of the state, primarily in the towns of Melli and Jorethang. In addition, a small mining industry exists in Sikkim, extracting minerals such as copper, dolomite, talc, graphite, quartzite, coal, zinc and lead. Despite the state’s minimal industrial infrastructure, Sikkim’s economy has been among the fastest-growing in India since 2000; the state’s GDP expanded by 89.93 per cent in 2010 alone. In 2003, Sikkim decided to convert fully to organic farming statewide, and achieved this goal in 2015, becoming India’s first “organic state”
The government has extensively promoted tourism since 1990. As a result, state revenue has increased 14 times since the mid-1990s. Sikkim has furthermore invested in a fledgling gambling industry, promoting both casinos and online gambling. The state’s first casino, the Casino Sikkim, opened in March 2009, and the government subsequently issued a number of additional casino licences and online sports betting licenses. The Playwin lottery has been a notable success in the state.
The opening of the Nathu La pass on 6 July 2006, connecting Lhasa, Tibet, to India, was billed as a boon for Sikkim’s economy. Trade through the pass remains hampered by its limited infrastructure and government restrictions in both India and China, though the volume of traded goods has been steadily increasing.
If we look after the firsts of the state, it has tried the maximum to protect the terrains, forests and wildlife. They succeeded in all the aspects just because of the people’s awareness and sensitiveness towards the mother earth as the maximum population is literate. Active participation of the people has helped the government to curb the problems of plastic pollution, hazardous non- organic food, noise and air pollution through crackers. It is a very good example of active participation from the fellow citizens.
The green wilderness and rugged mountainous terrain of Sikkim make it a perfect place for adventure junkies. From trekking and mountain biking to mountaineering and jeep safaris, there are several interesting things to do in Sikkim that adventure junkies are guaranteed definite adrenaline rush. Those interested in river rafting can enjoy the activity in the River Teesta. The whitewater rafting is quite famous among the adventure seekers coming to Sikkim. Mountain bikers cycling along the rugged terrain is a common sight in Sikkim and cycling tourism is getting quite popular in the state. You’ll also see a lot of travellers paragliding and hang gliding, which is yet another thrilling adventure activity that can be experienced in the state of Sikkim.