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Defence Minister assurance to confer Bharat Ratna to Tenzing Norgay Sherpa

Union Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh - Bimal Gurung GTA chief
Union Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh on Thursday said he would take up in earnest with the Union government the popular demand from the Darjeeling hills of conferring Tenzing Norgay Sherpa with the Bharat Ratna.

Singh, who is presently in Darjeeling, said so during the inauguration of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute that turned 60 this year.

He said, “I was not aware of the demand as our government has been formed only recently. The demand is from both the Sherpa community and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and I will take it up with the central government.”

Singh paid his tributes to Tenzing Norgay at his samadhi in the institute premises and also praised the Sherpa community for its contributions.

“The Sherpas are hard working and dedicated to their job. Edmund Hillary got much of the acknowledgement, but it must be borne in mind that had it not been for Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the former could not have made the summit,” the defence minister said, referring to the scaling of Mount Everest by the two back in 1953.

GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung, who was present during the event, placed the Bharat Ratna demand for Tenzing Norgay before the minister.  “During my interaction with Singhji today, I requested him to take up the matter with the central government. I am hopeful that the popular demand is heard and Tenzing Norgay accorded his rightful honour,” said Gurung.

Last year, Tenzing Norgay’s name along with those of cricketing and hockey legends Sachin Tendulkar and Dhyan Singh respectively, figured in the Bharat Ratna list proposed by the government.

Lauding the HMI’s work in the field of mountaineering and adventure sports, Singh also assured the institute of all possible help from his government. “You are doing a commendable job but there is more to be done. I commit to extend all possible help and support to the HMI from my ministry including the government for at least the next five years,” he promised.

The minister urged the institute not to rest on its laurels but to aspire to work even harder and scale higher peaks. “Don’t limit yourself just to mountaineering, but also focus on outdoor and adventure activities.

Let us aspire to reach Antarctica on sledges,” said Singh to loud applause from the audience.

HMI principal Gulshan Chadha said, “The HMI is a pioneering institute not only for the country but the entire world. It is an honour to be part of such a historic occasion. We look upon the institute not only a tourist destination but also as a centre of learning and custodian of the heritage of the hills.”

The three-day celebration to commemorate the diamond jubilee year that will include performances by musicians from Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Bhutan; nature workshops; and a sit and draw competition for children.(EOIC)

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