Saturday, June 30, 2007

An update on the situation of the Lepcha of Sikkim

While a virtual mainstream news blackout continues to exist with regards to the hunger strike of many Lepcha, the indigenous inhabitants of India’s Himalayan state of Sikkim, against a hydro power project planned along the Teesta River in Dzongu, some enterprising journalist from a website called Asian News International has shown more initiative than all my colleagues in the Western media and written a serviceable summary of the situation here.

As I wrote in response to a posting on the issue on Dilip D'Souza’s Bombay-based blog, being a working journalist who has covered economically disadvantage, politically tumultuous countries in the past (Haiti, Guatemala), I grow weary of the excuses of my colleagues that editors and the like won't "let" them cover certain stories (though I have encountered the hubris of desk-bound editors decided what stories are and aren't worth covering myself in the past).

Perhaps I grow increasingly curmudgeonly in my old age, but I think my colleagues in the international media need to show a little more enterprise and a little more backbone to make sure the stories of people like the Lepcha (or the rural peasantry in Haiti, or the indigenous communities in Guatemala, etc) are given some kind of a platform in the international dialogue, and a little less time worrying about the creature comforts of their personal lives or ease of professional advancement.

Simply put, one is worth fighting for, and one isn’t.

1 comment:

Kerry Little said...

Hi Michael, I have recently returned from Sikkim where I spent much of my time with the activists against the dams. They are still on a relay hunger strike however the hunger strikers who lie outside BL House have become a kind of barely noticed wallpaper along Tibet Road. The coverage of their battle is polluted by the local media's desire to be 'balanced' which means peppering stories with government propaganda and running every press release the government puts out on their 'green credentials'. The Lepchas need a voice outside of Sikkim however except for a couple of thoughtful stories written by a journalist with Delhi-based Business Standard, they don't have any media of influence reporting their struggle. However, the spat between the Indian and Australian cricket teams dominated the lead in the news there for a month.

I think you know the blog: and another site

Privately written blogs and sites are now the main source of information on the Lepchas.

Regards, Kerry Little, Sydney Australia