In his report to the Ministry of External Affairs for August 1968, the Indian Political Officer stationed at Gangtok mentioned that the Chogyal (“Dharma King”) of Sikkim was believed to have encouraged a demonstration which championed the slogan “We Shall Move North.” The Government of India promptly called an end to the demonstrations and declared that the slogan was “treasonous.” The Youth Forum of Sikkim maintained that between India and China, it was the former that posed the greater danger to Sikkim. Thus, from the time of the Sino-Indian War of 1962 to its accession into the Indian Union in 1975, the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim remained precariously poised between two large states. The paper will show how the last Chogyal of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal (1963-1975), attempted to carve out a separate identity for the kingdom by asserting that it had all the trappings of a modern nation state, and could negotiate with both India and China on its own terms.
About the Speaker
Swati Chawla is a PhD candidate in South Asian History and a Praxis Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia. Her research is focused on migration across the Himalayas in the second half of the twentieth century, and she is broadly interested in issues of statelessness, exile, and citizenship in postcolonial South Asia. She was formerly an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Delhi, and holds an M.Phil. in English from the University of Delhi.
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