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Travellers embarking on a journey to Sikkim would discover a mystical wonderland of spectacular natural beauty. The panoramic perfection of the snow-capped Himalayas, the heady scent of flower-bedecked meadows, the vibrant culture and joyous festivals, the infinite variety of its flora and fauna makes it a holiday that is at once fascinating and challenging. The crowning glory of Sikkim is Mt. Khangchendzonga, the third highest mountain in the world. With magnificent snow and ice scenery it is often regarded as the undisputed monarch among the peaks of the world. Sikkim shares its border with Nepal in the west and Bhutan in the east, with the Tibetan plateau rising from its northern border. It was once a Himalayan monarchy and part of the fabled Silk Route to China. Its merger with India in 1975 has offered a window to the world to discover the treasures of this hidden land. On 8th January, 2018, renowned Indian music avatar AR Rahman was officially announced the first brand ambassador of Sikkim. It is an addition to the already well-maintained repertoire of both the ambassador as well as the state of Sikkim which happens to be the only organic state in the country. A R Rahman will now be campaigning for Sikkim to attract tourists and business for the state. Having won accolades for his music across the world, Rahman is now all set to brand the state of Sikkim on international platforms. Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling, told to the press, "It is a big day for the state, as he is now the brand ambassador of Sikkim. The people of Sikkim have made history by making the state the first organic state of the country, and with AR Rahman on board, we are sure to go big with tourism and business in the days to come." Having won accolades for his music across the world, Rahman is now all set to brand the state of Sikkim on international platforms. (Image: India Today) The announcement for the brand ambassador was made at the inauguration ceremony of Red Panda Winter Festival at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. On the day of officiation of the brand ambassador, the prominent ministers of the state spoke to the press regarding the decision to have the music maestro as the brand ambassador. Minister of Tourism, Sikkim, Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia, said to the press, "AR Rahman does not need an introduction, and those who know him will now come to know more about Sikkim. This will be a big boost to our tourism industry and will give us an impetus across all sectors." The deputy mayor of Gangtok Municipal Corporation, Mrs L Doma, said, "The green environment of the state will help us improve the hotels, the state's infrastructure, and get a lot of promotion during festivals, at an international level too. In fact, we think this will help us increase overall business across the state." The Oscar-winning music composer was honoured in Gangtok at the onset of 'The Red Panda Winter Carnival 2018', which aims at increasing the flow of tourists by promoting the state's bounty. Rahman said in a statement, "As Helen Keller rightly said: 'The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.' I feel this was said for Sikkim and Sikkim only." He further said, "The beauty of Sikkim doesn't only lie in its hills and valleys but in its feelings and culture as well. I am highly impressed by the State's development and mesmerizing culture. I'm honored to be the face of this beautiful state.' Ugen T Gyatso, Sikkim's Tourism Minister, was very happy to have the Mozart of Madras on board to promote the state. "Despite being the second smallest State in the country, we are growing at a rapid pace. We see a bigger and better future for Sikkim and with Rahman and his versatility and graceful nature, he lives up to the affectionate nickname of 'Isai Puyal' (Music storm) as he breezes in from the south to the Himalayas, resonating his mellifluous melodies to the world. There couldn't have been a better fit," Gyatso told the press. Refuting in a polite manner to this decision as well as the conduct of the Red Panda Winter Carnival at the Paljor Stadium, came the North East United football player, Nirmal Chettri. Yesterday, he posted on his FB account a page long article stating reasonably as to why it is righteous to question the Sikkim government's decision to have chosen the music maestro as the brand ambassador of the state. He wrote, 'Like most. I have a huge respect for Mr AR Rahman and his achievements. He is a pride of India. Not even a shadow of doubt about that. But he was recently appointed as the brand ambassador of SIKKIM and I have doubts whether he will be able to give enough time to the state, as he is a world level musician and keeps a very busy schedule.' Nirmal further wrote in his FB post, 'I don't doubt the esteemed judgement of the Sikkim Government under the leadership of our HCM Shri Pawan Chamling... But with due respect I would like to point out that the Government should have given a proper thought before selecting a busy person like Mr Rahman as the brand ambassador. Many states across India has done this in the past and I don't think the busy brand ambassadors could give enough time.' He questioned the need to have a celebrity as a brand ambassador, when the celebrity can hardly do anything to endorse the brand which is the state. He said that the state's own natives are more than enough to promote the state. He wrote, 'Its not even a rocket science at the end of the day to promote a state. Sikkim Government itself can give advertisement in the National and International media outlets and invite investment and tourism to the state. My point is our own people can promote our own beautiful state.' Chettri further pointed out another mistake committed by the state government, which was to use the Paljor Stadium, which is essentially a stadium for conducting football and other sports, for hosting the Red Panda Winter Carnival this year. Red Panda Winter Festival is one of the most awaited cultural events in Sikkim that provides for an amazing time to both locals and visitors who travels to the state from far and wide. The festival primarily aims at increasing the influx of tourists during the leaner tourism months of the year thereby, also promoting the state's economy and rich culture and cuisine. Preparations of this grand carnival begin days in advance with streets getting a makeover and proper infrastructure put in place to avoid any inconvenience for visitors. Also, hotels and resorts come up with special discounted offers, which not only prove beneficial for them but also for tourists. Previously celebrated under the name of Sikkim Winter Carnival, the Red Panda Winter Carnival aims at promoting tourism in the state during the winter months. In the year 2016, it was rechristened to honour the animal of the state, Red Panda, with other objectives being the same. The nine day long carnival, mostly held at the Titanic Park of MG Marg in Gangtok, is a fiesta of culture, harmony, celebrations and ethnic food that brings together both, locals and tourists at the same platform. This year for a stark change, it is held at the Paljor Stadium. The festival starts with a cultural parade led by the festival mascot, Red Panda. This parade is always a showstopper and provides for a fascinating sight to behold with people dressed in ethnic attires dancing to the eclectic drumbeats. Following the parade is the nine day long itinerary of cultural programs, adventure sports competitions, photography contests, handloom & handicraft exhibits and flower shows, which are some of the major highlights of this festival and that keeps everyone busy and engrossed in the beautiful Himalayan state's vibrant aura. An extravagant food fest, offering an elaborate spread of authentic Sikkimese cuisine including that of Lepchas, Nepalis and Bhutias, is also an integral part of this winter carnival that often grabs the attention of countless foodies and gastronomes. So, Chettri wrote in his FB post, 'Another point is the use of PALJOR STADIUM for non sporting activities like recent Red Panda Winter Carnival. Don't get me wrong here I am not against music and any such festivals my only contention is the choice of the venue. Paljor Stadium is for football and other sports and it will be the best if its left that way. I humbly request the Government, Sports Department and concerned authorities to kindly look into this from next time.' Doesn't he not have a point in there? Sport utility stadiums must be maintained for sports activities alone; else, the efficiency of the space loosens up. Is it that the government could not find any other better space to conduct the fest? https://www.facebook.com/nirmalchettri03/posts/10216165322834596 The two points of refute jotted down by the young football player are definitely of concern. Apart from bringing out starlit advertisements that would be aired on visual, audio and print media, what more is contributed by these celebrity brand ambassadors to states. Rarely do we find these celebrities doing something beyond the ad-action role in endorsing the state that they are an ambassador to. Can't complain about their contribution as that's how tight-packed their lives are with their already busy careers in the respective field that has made each of them a celebrity. Though, having a celebrity endorse a state's culture and tourism is of great benefactor, isn't it high time to think about an alternative to positioning celebrities in the chair of brand ambassador? A brand ambassador must be able to endorse the brand in a positive light to a very large extent. The question is whether tourism has surged up to a notable extent because of these celebrities rolled in as the brand ambassadors to the various culturally and geographically accolade states of the country. Nirmal Chettri's post has brought in a valid and reasonable question into light that needs to be questioned again so as to find the apt or at least a near to being apt solution. Can a better solution to endorse states and icrease tourism be found without having to spend so much of the state money on celebrity endorsement?