Pawan Kumar Chamling: A Visionary Leader


The 68-year-old Chamling is the fifth and current Chief Minister of the northeastern state- Sikkim and is the longest standing serving Chief minister of any state in India after India’s independence. He is considered to be the visionary of Today’s Sikkim.

Born on September 22, 1950 in Yangang, South Sikkim to Ashbahadur Chamling and Asharani Chamling, Pawan Kumar is a matriculate and calls himself a self-educated person. He was proficient in sports, cultural, and literary activities. His leadership quality came to prominence from his school days as he was consistently elected to head the students’ organization within the premise of the school. He gradually developed into a leader par excellence quality in school activities that are performed more in the spirit of teamwork.

Pawan Chamling began his career as a farmer and then moved on to become a contractor. Thereafter, he was actively involved in the service of society and literature apart from engaging himself in various creative activities by consolidating the traditional relationship of rural organizations and institutions. By 1973, the Jana Kranti or the ‘People’s Revolution’ was accumulating impulse and had reached its peak. The youth and intellectuals in demand of more rights, participation and representation of the people in the governing process were on the streets of Sikkim. In 1973, when he was only 22, he joined politics as negotiations were underway for the merger of the kingdom of Sikkim with India. Sikkim Prajatantra Congress was the first political party in which Mr. Chamling made his entry and began as the founder member and Vice-President of the Sikkim Prayatantra Congress in the state. He continuously got engaged in political activities and was actively involved in people’s revolution of 1973.

In 1975, Mr Chamling became the block president of the Youth Congress and was elected secretary of the Prajatantra Congress in 1978. In addition to his association with the political party and its activities, he was also actively engaged in pursuit of social, cultural and literary activities. He completed a Diploma in Cooperatives from Pune’s Cooperative Institute, and in the year 1976, he set up a ‘Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society’ in Yangang. Thus the new era in Sikkim was introduced with the Cooperatives Movements in which Chamling was actively involved into. In 1977 he initiated the editing and publication of the literary magazine “NIRMAN” a monthly literary magazine from Yangyang, a very backward village of Sikkim which also happens to be the birth place of Chamling. In 1983, he was elected president of the Yangang gram panchayat unit unopposed. He was subsequently elected to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in 1985. After being elected for the second time from Damthang, he became the Minister for Industries, Information and Public Relations from 1989 to 1992 in the Nar Bahadur Bhandari cabinet. On 9th September, 1992 Mr. Chamling created a sensation in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in protest against the autocratic Government. After a series of major political turmoils in Sikkim, Chamling formed the Sikkim Democratic Front on 4 March 1993 with the commitment to uphold democracy, justice and liberty. He was unanimously elected as the President of the party.

In 1994 Sikkim Democratic Front won the Assembly Election and secured majority in the Assembly. Pawan Chamling first took office as the CM of Sikkim on December 12, 1994 and has led Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) to successive electoral victories for five terms. He was 44 when he took over the reins of the State by defeating the Sikkim Sangram Parishad.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling became the longest-serving chief minister of any state as he completed 25 uninterrupted years in office. He scripted history in India on April 28, 2018 by becoming the longest serving Chief Minister of the country exceeding the record held by Jyoti Basu, who held office for 23 years as the longest-serving Chief Minister of India.  On his Facebook, Chamling wrote: “As I cross a personal milestone, I would like to remember all those who have been a part of this journey. First and foremost, my heartfelt gratitude goes to the people of Sikkim for reposing their faith in me by giving their mandate for five consecutive terms. On this momentous occasion, I also offer my homage to Late Shri Jyoti Basu ji, a great statesman for whom I have the highest respects and whose record stint as Chief Minister, I am fortunate to surpass.”

As Chief Minister he has been committed to the welfare of the rural poor. Among his popular attempts, he encouraged family planning, reserved 50% jobs for women, and provided free education in the state till college level. He conceived the popular State Institute of Capacity Building (SICB) and youth empowerment scheme to tackle poverty, illiteracy and unemployment among the youth. His obsession with planning and planned development over the years became the key mark of his visionary leadership. Sikkim got transformed from a poor backward state to a progressive state with high rate of economic growth under his rule.

He is a published poet and has received a number of awards for his works and for his leadership of the state. He writes under the pen name Pawan Chamling Kiran. He has been awarded twice by the Sikkim Sahitya Parishad – Chintan Puraskar in 1987 for the best poem and Bhanu Puraskar in 2010. Chamling’s historic endeavor to ensure that Sikkim’s integration into the mainstream of national life, he has received the most coveted award Bharat Shiromani 1996 (Presented by the Vice-President of India for National integration and preservation of democracy in the State). He was also awarded Man of the Year-1998, The Greened Chief Minister of India-1998 and Man of Dedication-1999. Poets Foundation in Kolkata had awarded him in 2001 for his lifetime achievement in literature. Besides he was awarded by the Centre for Science and Environment for his endeavor to make Sikkim the greenest state in India. Sikkim has banned all chemicals and fertilizers in farms. In One World Festival at Germany’s Lagau on September 8, 2017, he was honoured for his pioneering work in the field of organic farming. He was conferred the Grand Prix Award during the ceremony, at a mega event attended by nearly 700 guests who had arrived from different countries. The award was jointly handed over by Gerd Muller, the Federal Minister of Bavaria, and Joseph Wilhelm, German Organic Pioneer and Managing Director of Rupenzel. The award is presented every three years by Rapunzel and IFOAM – Organics International to people and initiatives that have an outstanding impact on the international organic movement and its ideas. He now has an Honorary Doctorate from University of Manipal.

Besides publishing a number of books Chamling is the author of in Nepali, English and Hindi. After his first poem ‘Bir Ko Parichay’ in 1967, he has written and published three collections of poems – ‘Antahin Sapana Mero Bipana’- Collection of  Poems written between 1979 and 1985’, ‘Mo Ko Hun’- Collection of Poems written between 1986 and 1992’ and ‘Praramvik Kavita Haroo’- Collection of Poems written between 1970 and 1978, ‘Democracy Redeemed’- (English translation), ‘Meroh Sapana Koh Sikkim’,”Perennial Dreams and My Reality” (English translation), “Crucified Prashna Aur Anya Kavitayen (Hindi translation ), “Damthang – Hij Ra Aaja” – A Document on regional problems and their solutions, Pratibad (Political Treatise), Sikkim Ra Prajatantra (Original Thoughts and Collected speeches) – Part – I, Prajatantra Ko Mirmirma (Original Thoughts and Collected speeches) – Part –I, Party Shiksha Sahitya – (Part –I, II & III) and Sikkim Ra Nari Narikoh Maryadhyaa-(Social System).’ From his work, it can be clearly understood that for Chamling, art is not merely for art’s sake. Art in all its form should be for the improvement of life itself to him. He is also the President of Sikkim Handicapped Persons Welfare Mission.

Under Chamling’s leadership, Sikkim is one of the fastest growing states. Under his initiative Sikkim has been declared a completely organic state on 18 January 2016. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi made a two-day visit to the state and it has fully implemented organic farming statewide. His social and humanitarian works include donation of sites for schools and agriculture lands to landless peasants.  Like his ancestors, he still considers himself basically a farmer and even today his family is primarily engaged in agricultural activities. He set himself as the most unusual politician in the country and the his followers call him as their ‘ideological guru’



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