Friday, October 25, 2019

I wrote this piece in my Sikkim Observer in the spring of 2003. It was carried in my third book: "The Lone Warrior: Exiled in My Homeland", published in 2014:
"At this moment, the Organisation of Sikkimese Unity (OSU), whose main objective is to preserve the distinct identity of Sikkim and the Sikkimese people within the Union and within the framework of the Constitution, makes a fervent appeal to all sections of the Sikkimese people to come together, forge unity and march ahead to fight for their legitimate constitutional, democratic and human rights. 
To achieve this goal the OSU calls for formation of “Democratic Alliance” of all like-minded political and social organizations in Sikkim to lead a mass movement for restoration of the political rights of the Sikkimese people. It is through unity that we will be able to arrive at a seat formula in the Assembly which is reasonable, just and acceptable to all sections of the people, the State Government and the Centre.
We know and are deeply aware that the odds are great. The agents of division and disunity are working overtime and are actively at work for their vested interests. There is no better and effective way to frustrate their evil designs then for all of us to join hands and mobilize people power to fight against money power.
Let this hour of crisis and confusion herald the dawn of a new era in Sikkim politics. Let us all resolve to stand firm, resolute and maintain our self-respect and dignity, unity and fight on. Let those who make tall promises and yet relentlessly pursue their hidden agenda know that we are able and determined to pay any price and bear any burden to safeguard the unity and identity of the Sikkimese people. Let them know once and for all that............ We shall fight in the Assembly. We shall fight in the Parliament. We shall fight in the Court and in the Press. And if need be, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. Wherever we are, whatever we do, we shall fight. We shall never surrender. Never.
(Jigme N. Kazi)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Opinion | Nagaland on edge over peace talks and special status
Sudeep Chakravarti
Govt must offer face-saving deal for Naga people, or risk having the 2015 peace agreement fail

Some panic buttons are being pressed in Nagaland over the fate of the peace deal on account of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into Union territories. If the special status of J&K has been withdrawn, then what is the guarantee that the special status of Nagaland—and other states in North-East India—won’t be revoked.
There is also some concern with the interlocutor of peace talks, R.N. Ravi, taking over as governor of Nagaland in early August. In addition, statements by Ravi that the Naga peace deal has a deadline of three months, by October-November this year, is being seen by the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN (I-M), and its proponents in media, as both downgrading of talks and arm-twisting.
Comments to that effect have been attributed to Thuingaleng Muivah, general secretary of this largest Naga rebel group. The August issue of Nagalim Voice, a mouthpiece, even described a meeting earlier this year, before Ravi’s appointment as governor: “… it became a matter of discomfort for NSCN negotiators led by chief negotiator Th. Muivah when the government of India started turning capricious and bossy as reflected by the body language of Ravi."
The complicated truth is somewhere in between.
It’s likely that public relations benefits of fulfilling its election promise of abrogating Article 370 and its companion, Article 35A—which provided special land ownership and benefits to J&K residents, similar to special provisions in several north-eastern states—will be contained by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) within what is sometimes called Mainland India.
The alternative, revoking special provisions in the North-East, will lead to massive protests across that region, irrevocably upset the Naga people, jeopardize peace talks with NSCN (I-M) and other Naga rebel groups, and destroy any trust towards the current government.
The spillover of developments in Jammu and Kashmir onto the Naga peace process, for example, is likely to be a negation of demands such as a separate flag for Nagaland—or Naga homelands—and what has sometimes been described as “shared sovereignty". Agreeing to these in Nagaland will open another Pandora’s Box in Jammu and Kashmir: If it’s okay for the Naga people, why not for Kashmir? And yet, the Union government must offer a substantial, face-saving deal in Nagaland and for the Naga people, or risk having the Framework Agreement for Peace signed on 3 August 2015 by Ravi and Muivah, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, implode as an empty gesture.
While these are complications of the government’s own making, I-M’s position, too, is tricky.
Muivah’s reaction to Ravi being appointed governor and yet remaining interlocutor is really a perception of loss of face: Ravi downgraded from being the Prime Minister’s envoy to a figurehead, and the peace process to the beck and call of the home ministry. This is erroneous. In real terms, Ravi remains an extension of India’s national security apparatus, in which the Prime Minister, home minister and national security advisor form the trinity.
I-M’s drumbeaters have also played up I-M as the sole voice of the Naga people. They cite a meeting with former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in Paris in 1995 to stake that claim. Here it’s important to discount embellishment. I-M leaders did indeed meet Rao. But they also met former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda in Zurich in early 1997.
A ceasefire with I-M was signed in August 1997, when I.K. Gujral was premier. It took until Modi to convert that ceasefire to talks for a final settlement. It isn’t about one premier, but a process.
It’s also important to remember that NSCN’s Khaplang, or K, faction, arch-rivals of I-M, signed a ceasefire in 2001, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was premier. That alone is acknowledgement of another party also being a claimant to representing aspirations of the Naga people. That ceasefire broke in 2015, and now a major breakaway faction of K is both in ceasefire and peace talks, alongside six other Naga rebel groups—and Ravi is the interlocutor for all.
What is often ignored in this jostling for advantage is that the Naga people as a whole are the main claimants and beneficiaries of a lasting solution. Both the government and the rebels would do well to remember that political capital rests with the people.
(Courtesy: Livemint, 21.8.2019)

  The UNESCO has recognized and declared that the worship of this sacred mountain (Khangchendzonga) “by the indigenous people of Sikkim” constitute “the basis for Sikkimese identity”
The Khangchendzonga National Park, a unique biosphere reserve located in North Sikkim, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2016. This is for the first time that any Indian destination has been under the Mixed criteria of UNESCO's heritage sites list, thus recognising the outstanding universal values for its both natural and cultural significance.
The park gets its name from the mountain Kangchenjunga (Khangchendzonga) which is 8,586 metres (28,169 ft) tall, the highest peak in India, third-highest in the world. The total area of this park is 849.5 km2 (328.0 sq mi).

   UNESCO has recognized and declared that the worship of this sacred mountain (Khangchendzonga) “by the indigenous people of Sikkim” constitute “the basis for Sikkimese identity”:
    “Located at the heart of the Himalayan range in northern India (State of Sikkim), the Khangchendzonga National Park includes a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests, including the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga. Mythological stories are associated with this mountain and with a great number of natural elements (caves, rivers, lakes, etc.) that are the object of worship by the indigenous people of Sikkim. The sacred meanings of these stories and practices have been integrated with Buddhist beliefs and constitute the basis for Sikkimese identity.
   Mount Khangchendzonga and other sacred mountains – represents the core sacred region of the Sikkimese and syncretistic religious and cultural traditions and thus bears unique witness to the coexistence of multiple layers of both Buddhist and pre-Buddhist sacred meanings in the same region, with the abode of mountain deity on Mt Khangchendzonga. The property is central to the Buddhist understanding of Sikkim as a beyul, that is, an intact site of religious ritual and cultural practice for Tibetan Buddhists in Sikkim, in neighbouring countries and all over the world. The sacred Buddhist importance of the place begins in the 8th century with Guru Rinpoche’s initiation of the Buddhist sanctity of the region, and later appears in Buddhist scriptures such as the prophetical text known as the Lama Gongdu, revealed by Terton Sangay Lingpa (1340-1396), followed by the opening of the beyul in the 17th century, chiefly by Lhatsun Namkha Jigme.
   Khangchedzonga National Park is the heartland of a multi-ethnic culture which has evolved over time, giving rise to a multi-layered syncretic religious tradition, which centres on the natural environment and its notable features. This kinship is expressed by the region surrounding Mount Khangchendzonga being revered as Mayel Lyang by the indigenous peoples of Sikkim and as a beyul (sacred hidden land) in Tibetan Buddhism. It is a specific Sikkimese form of sacred mountain cult which is sustained by regularly-performed rituals, both by Lepcha people and Bhutias, the latter performing two rituals: the Nay-Sol and the Pang Lhabsol. The kinship between the human communities and the mountainous environment has nurtured the elaboration of a profound traditional knowledge of the natural resources and of their properties, particularly within the Lepcha community. Mount Khangchendzonga is the central element of the socio-religious order, of the unity and solidarity of the ethnically very diverse Sikkimese communities.”

Pix of Khangchendzonga (lama dance during Panglhabsol celebrations in Gangtok): courtesy Late Yap Penjorla)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Stories about the sacred mountain "constitute the basis for Sikkimese identity"

The UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has placed Sikkim's Kanchenjunga National Park on the Unesco World Heritage list.
In a statement, Unesco said "mythological stories" associated with this sacred and majestic mountain - Khangchendzonga, the adjoining caves, rivers, lakes etc., and the "sacred meanings of these stories and practices" have not only been integrated with Sikkimese Buddhist beliefs but also "constitute the basis for Sikkimese identity."
That this recognition comes just before the annual celebrations of Pang Lhabsol - worship of Sikkim's Guardian Deities - in Sikkim is a big boost for those who believe that Sikkim is one of the most sacred places for Buddhism.
Pix (courtesy Late Yap Penjorla) shows mask dance (chham) depicting the traditional worship of Khangchendzonga, Sikkim's Guardian Deity, during the annual Pang Lhabsol celebrations at the Tsuklakhang Monastery in Gangtok)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

PEOPLE&PLACES Chogyal of Sikkim
Chogyal was placed under house arrest before Sikkim’s annexation
This article on Palden Thondup Namgyal, the 12th Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, was written on May 23, 2008 by the Radical Royalist during the Chogyal’s 85thbirth anniversary.
Sikkim Observer brings this article to light on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the historic funeral of the Chogyal in Gangtok on February 19, 1982.

   This spring (May 2008) the world’s attention was drawn to Tibet, where on 10th March this year the people commemorated the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan upheaval against the Chinese occupation. The protests spread from Tibet across the whole world and along the route of the torch relay for this year’s Olympic games people demanded: “Free Tibet!”.

   In the Southern part of the Himalaya another occupied territory did not attract any attention at all: Sikkim. The Kingdom which had defended its independence for 300 years against powerful neighbours was annexed by India in April 1975 and became the 22nd state of the Indian Union. The 85th birthday of the 12th Chogyal of Sikkim gives me the opportunity to focus on the fate of the tiny Himalaya Kingdom.
   Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, Twelfth Consecrated Ruler of Sikkim, was born in Sikkim’s capital Gangtok on 22nd May 1923. The Denzong Chogyal was the second son of the late illustrious Chogyal Sir Tashi Namgyal, who will always be remembered as Sikkim’s gracious, enlightened and benevolent ruler.
   In 1935 he continued his studies at St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling, and completed his studies at Bishop Cotton School, Simla, in 1941.
   As the Heir Apparent, Gyalsay Palden Thondup Namgyal undertook the Indian Civil Service Training Course at Dehra Dun in 1942 and thereafter returned to Sikkim to look after the administration so that the needs of the people could be taken care of.

Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal was keenly alive to the needs of the people and as Heir Apparent had exercised direct personal supervision over various departments of the government of Sikkim. He was his father’s adviser on external affairs and led the Sikkim team, which negotiated the Treaty with India in 1949-1950. By contract Sikkim became India’s “protectorate” on 5th December 1950, not unlike Nepal and Bhutan that were forced to sign similar treaties after the British had left the subcontinent. So far the other two Kingdoms could maintain their independence. If Nepal will be able to keep the two greedy neighbours outside the borders should the country be declared a republic, is in doubts.
   The Chogyal was connected with a number of cultural and academic bodies in Sikkim, India and abroad. He had been the President of the Mahabodhi Society of India since 1953 and he led the Sikkim delegation to the Sixth Buddhist Council that was held in Burma in 1954. He participated in the 2500 Buddha Jayanti Celebrations in India in 1956, and was the only member of the Working Committee from Sikkim. In March 1959 he attended the 2500 Buddha Jayanti Conference in Japan and represented Sikkim at the Sixth World Fellowship of Buddhists conference in Cambodia in 1961. In 1958, under the patronage of Maharaja Sir Tashi Namgyal, he set up a centre for Mahayana and Tibetan studies at Gangtok , and this world famous centre bears the name of “Namgyal Institute of Tibetology.”
   In August 1950, he married Sangey Deki, daughter of Yapshi Samdu Phodrang of Tibet. Sangey died in June 1957. In March 1963 he married Hope Cooke, grand daughter and ward of Mr. and Mrs. Winchester Noyes of the United States of America, which drew a huge media attention to the tiny Kingdom. The Chogyal had three children from his first wife, namely Tenzing, Wangchuk and Yangchen. His second wife bore him Palden and Hope. After his father’s death, Palden was crowned as the Twelfth Chogyal of Sikkim on 4th April 1965. (Please note the photo, where his US-born wife Hope Cooke is sitting at his right on a lower throne.)
   Among the honours and distinction the Chogyal held were: The Order of the British Empire (1947), Padma Vibushan, India (1954) and Commander de l’Ordre de l’√Čtoile Noire, France (1956).
The Indian invasion
   Small numbers of Nepalese had been migrating to Sikkim from about the 15th century, but it was only under the British that the Nepalese began entering Sikkim in great numbers, entirely upsetting the traditional ethnic balance of Sikkim. This social engineering was done by the British to weaken the traditional Lepchas – Bhutia strength. The Eleventh Chogyal and representatives of two of Sikkim’s largest parties, the Sikkim State Congress and the Sikkim National Party, agreed in May 1951to a parity formula . According to this formula, the seats in the state council were to be divided equally between the Bhutia-Lepcha group, and the Nepalese. The Sikkim State Council was then institute in 1953.
Funeral of the Chogyal in Gangtok on February 19, 1982.

In April 1973, after making allegations that elections had been rigged, ethnic Nepali protested in front of the King's palace, demanding civil rights and the sidelining or even removal of what they called the "feudal" monarchy. Palden Thondup Namgyal, the King of Sikkim, ultimately gave in and signed an agreement on 8th May 1973.
   The document called on India to provide a chief executive, and to hold elections for an assembly. The agreement was the first step in the disappearance of the Kingdom of Sikkim. The inhabitants of the Kingdom are in no doubt that the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her local agents fomented the unrest. Indira Gandhi’s dictatorial and imperialist attitudes were are a major concern in the 70s. Asked in 1998 by the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, why the Sikkimese army did not resist the Indian invasion, a former captain of Sikkim's army replied: "The Indians soldiers had joined the army because they were hungry and received a warm meal; to shoot at them would not have been in accordance with our Buddhist faith. We knew four days in advance about the invasion, but the King had ordered not to fight."
   In 1975, Sikkim’s Prime Minister “appealed” to the Indian Parliament for representation and change of Sikkim's status to a state of India. In April 1975 the Indian army moved into Sikkim, seizing the capital city of Gangtok, disarming the Palace Guards and putting the Chogyal under house arrest.
A “referendum” was held in which 97.5% [!] of the votes cast (or counted!) agreed to join the Indian Union. China did not recognize India’s occupation of Sikkim until 2003, which led to an improvement in the Sino-Indian relations. In return, India announced its official recognition of Tibet as an integrated part of China.
   The Chogyal never renounced his throne and hoped till the end that justice would win.
On 29th January 1982 Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal died a heartbroken man from cancer in New York. His second son Wangchuk inherited the rights to the throne after the Chogyal's eldest son Crown Prince Tenzin had died in a car accident on 11th March 1978.
(Ref: SIKKIM OBSERVER Page 1  Saturday   Feb 22-28, 2014, Vol  XXIII No2;,

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

SIKKIM OBSERVER Editorial/January 2015
Khangchendzonga, Take Care Of Him

 “Elsewhere, protectorates are graduating to independence and colonies are marching to freedom. In Sikkim, a protectorate is moving to "freedom within India" by annexation through constitutional legerdemain?” These words of BG Verghese in the editorial (entitled ‘Kanchenjunga, here we come’) column of The Hindustan Times, which he edited in 1974 cost him his job. It was during Indira Gandhi’s tenure as Prime Minister that Sikkim was “swallowed up in silence”. After backing anti-Sikkim and pro-India forces in Sikkim from early 1973 India’s influence in the internal affairs of the tiny Himalayan kingdom paved the way for Sikkim’s integration with the Indian Union from a protectorate to an Associate State in 1974 and finally as a full-fledged State in 1975.
   Verghese’s eloquent defense of Sikkim’s distinct international status did not stop those who were hell-bent bent on annexing Sikkim. But the truth about the ‘merger’ was made known to the world through the upright stand of one man. Noted journalist Sunanda K.Datta-Ray’s masterpiece, Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim, first published in 1984, confirmed Verghese’s critical views on Sikkim during this controversial period. The fact that even after four decades since the takeover the Sikkim issue is still alive confirms Verghese’s prediction: “No country or people voluntarily choose self-effacement, and the Indian Government is not going to be able to persuade the world that Sikkim's "annexation" to India represents the will of the Sikkimese people.”  He is no more now but today leading national dailies in India have showered praises to his principled stand on Sikkim. Khangchendzonga, take care of him.

Kanchenjunga, here we come
by B. G. Verghese
   If it is not outright annexation, it comes close to it. To suggest anything less would be self-deception and compounding dishonesty with folly. Sikkim is to be reduced from a protectorate to a colony through nominal representation in the Indian Parliament. To what end? What deep seated urge of the Sikkimese people is this intended to satisfy? Sikkim is not territorially part of India (Article 1(2). Constitutionally it is a foreign country which cannot be represented in the "Parliament for the Union (of India)" as specified in Article 79. It can only seek such representation if it merges with India under Article 1(3)(c) and becomes an integral part of the Union. If this is ruled out, as suggested for the time being, then the Constitution will have to be amended to provide for extra-territorial Sikkimese representation in Parliament, wether as members or as an inferior species of "observers". And what will these two Sikkimese "observers" in either House do? Will they vote? And will their "representation" entitle the Indian Parliament to debate and discuss and vote on any or every aspect of the governance of Sikkim? If it does, then what happens to the separate "identity" and "personality" of Sikkim which the Government is rumoured to wish to defend? If it does not, then what purpose from the Indian side does Sikkimese "representation" serve, unless it be a thin cover for genteel annexation without representation - to be followed by annexation later if necessary. Elsewhere, protectorates are graduating to independence and colonies are marching to freedom. In Sikkim, a protectorate is moving to "freedom within India" by annexation through constitutional legerdemain?

(L to R) Kewal Singh, Foreign Secretary, Government of India, Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal of Sikkim, and Sikkim Chief Minister Kazi Lhendup Dorji Khangsarpa in Gangtok on July 4, 1974. The signing of a historic document by the Chogyal in July 1974 made Sikkim an Associate State of India. This led to the former Himalayan Kingdom becoming a full-fledged State of India in 1975. 

   The worst suspicions about the manner in which the protector has seduced his helpless and inoffensive ward, with some genuine and much synthetic drama, will now find confirmation. No country or people voluntarily choose self-effacement, and the Indian Government is not going to be able to persuade the world that Sikkim's "annexation" to India represents the will of the Sikkimese people. Indeed, this issue has never been placed before them. It was not the basis of, nor did it even have any remote connection with, the movement against the Chogyal which was aimed at democratisation of the local administration. Nor was it subsequently an election issue. The reference to Sikkim's desire for closer political association with India was written into the recent Government of Sikkim Act, drafted with Indian assistance under Indian supervision and, who can blame the critic for assuming, possibly not without some little Indian blandishments or tutoring.
   The Government will no doubt argue that it is responding to the "popular wishes" of the people of Sikkim. This can be dismissed for the nonsense it is. The extraordinary haste with which the proposal is sought to be rushed through Parliament and the country in the form of a major and fundamental constitutional amendment, without any prior preparation or consultation, itself suggests some hidden motive. Others will defend the decision in terms of realpolitik. It will be urged that Sikkim was no different from the former Indian princely states; that the Maharajah of Sikkim took his seat in the Chamber of Princes and was entitled to an appropriate gun salute; that he even thought in terms of accession to India in 1947; and that it was Nehru's foolish romanticism that prevented integration at that time. And even if he thought idealistically of a series of buffer states (including Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet) along the Himalaya, the basis for that policy collapsed with China's annexation of Tibet in 1950-51. Therefore, this argument runs on, there is every reason for India to seize the present opportunity to accomplish in a manner of speaking in 1974 what it failed to do in 1947. Security considerations and largely inaccurate factors of history and kinship might be evoked to gild this "historical" justification. But this is hardly likely to carry conviction outside South Block though some chauvinistic elements in Indian society, loyal Congressmen under a three-line whip and some others may dutifully applaud. The strengthening of the "Sikkim connection" may be held up as a triumph of statesmanship and diplomacy. But this would be without counting the cost.
   What does India gain from this? Security? But this is already ensured by the Indo-Sikkim Treaty of 1949. Goodwill? Whose? The Bhutia-Lepcha population quite clearly does not want integration with India; and it would be an extraordinary quirk of human nature if the Nepali majority in Sikkim is agitating to subordinate its natural and native Nepali nationalism to a more distant and alien Indian nationalism. Those resentful toward full integration with India will now have no choice other than to turn to China which has already given notice of its disinclination to accept any change in the principality's "separate identity and political status" through any form of "Indian expansionism." Do the Indian people want this union? It is utterly presumptuous on the part of the Government to bring forward a Constitutional Amendment Bill a few days before the conclusion of a fortuitously extended session of Parliament without any prior notice or move to elicit public opinion. The matter was not even mentioned in passing when both Houses debated foreign affairs only a few weeks ago. The Nepalese Foreign Minister expressed concern over developments in Sikkim barely a fortnight ago and the Government of Bhutan and even the ethnic minorities inhabiting the peripheral regions of north-eastern India may have cause for anxiety and concern over the de facto political extinction of a small but established principality. The country has a right to know whether the "annexation" of Sikkim is part of a larger frontier policy that is proposed to be spelt out or whether it is an isolated aberration.
   Far from doing it any good, this decision - and the underlying tendency it represents - is going to bring India insecurity, unrest and international opprobrium. Congressmen as much as members of the Opposition have a duty to question and oppose the betrayal of the true long term interests and ideals of the nation for illusory gain. Only the most blind or cynical will derive any satisfaction over the sorry progression of the Indian presence in Sikkim from that of friend to master. The crusading zeal and decisiveness that the Government displays over Sikkim has not been available for tackling the far more urgent problems and mounting crises at home. Perhaps no need for the common man to ask for bread. He's getting Sikkim.
(Ref: The Hindustan Times, August 30, 1974)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Sikkim’s 11th ruler, Tashi Namgyal, was born on October 26, 1893 in Kurseong (Darjeeling) during the period of detention of his father, Thutob Namgyal. He began his education in the Bhutia School in Gangtok in 1906 and later continued his studies at St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling, and Mayo College in Ajmer. Tashi Namgyal was also under the tutelage of Charles Bell, Political Officer, for sometime. The new Political Officer for Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet remained in office from 1908 -1918 during Tashi Namgyal’s early rule. On an invitation from the thirteenth Dalai Lama Bell undertook a special mission to Lhasa in 1920-21.
On October 8, 1918, Tashi Namgyal married Kunzang Dechen, daughter of Raka-Shar House of Lhasa. Her father was a general in the Tibetan army and her grandfather was Lonchen Shokang, a former prime minister of Tibet. Their first son, Paljor Namgyal, was born on November 26, 1921. He was a promising young man and was serving in the Royal Indian Air Force as Pilot Officer when he was killed in an accident during a flight on December 20, 1941. A few among the 6000 Sikkimese, who joined the armed forces, distinguished themselves by Victoria Cross (VC) and Military Cross (MC) and bar besides many other decorations.
A second son, Palden Thondup Namgyal, was born on May 23, 1923 and became the 12th Chogyal in 1965. Their youngest son, Jigdal Tsewang Namgyal, was born on August 23, 1928. The Gyalmo gave birth to three daughters: Pema Tsedum (born September 6, 1924), Pema Choki (born December 25, 1925) and Sonam Padaun (born May 23, 1927). In 1917, the Chogyal’s sister, Chuni Wangmo, was married to Raja Sonam Tobgay Dorji of Bhutan.
(L to R) Crown Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal, Indira Gandhi, Chogyal Tashi Namgyal, Jawaharlal Nehru, Apan Pant and Nari Rustomji.

Tashi Namgyal succeeded as the 12th consecrated Chogyal of Sikkim on December 5, 1914 after the death of his step-brother, Sidkeong Tulku. The formal coronation was held on May 15, 1916. The British restored full power to the Chogyal in 1918. During his 50-year reign, Sikkim witnessed significant social, economic and political reforms. Sikkim-India relations were further strengthened during Chogyal Tashi Namgyal’s rule.