Friday, November 30, 2018

Asia-Pacific nations urged to step up investment in social protection

A new report by the United Nations’ regional arm, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), is calling on countries across Asia and the Pacific to beef up their spending on people, pointing out how greater investment in social protection can be a game changer for ending poverty.
The report, 'Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific-Poorly Protected', offers new evidence for increasing investment in people in the Asia-Pacific region: around 328 million people would be lifted out of moderate poverty and 52 million people out of extreme poverty, with more countries fully eradicating poverty by 2030, if countries raised their investment in education, health care and social protection to reach the global average. Countries would also see an increase in their GDP growth together with reduced income inequalities.
The report notes that, in developing countries in the region, spending on social protection amounts to less than one-third of the global average of 11.2 per cent of GDP. This shortfall leaves 60 per cent of the region’s people unprotected against risks such as sickness, disability and unemployment, but also during pregnancy or old age.
This under investment is also the main reason why more than one quarter of all people in the region still live in poverty, six in ten people lack access to affordable health care, one in two rely on unclean fuels and close to one in three lack access to basic sanitation.
Launching the study at the Fifth Session of the Committee on Social Development, held by ESCAP on November 28 to 30, under-secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) and ESCAP executive secretary Armida Alisjahbana underscored that despite significant progress on many levels, large swathes of the region’s population, especially rural communities, women, migrants, older person and persons with disabilities, remain trapped in poverty, vulnerability and marginalisation.
“Our region has affirmed its commitment to social protection at both global and regional levels, yet while investments in social protections have increased over the past two decades, it remains the preserve of a few, rather than a right for all,” she added.
The report finds that the region needs an additional investment of $281 billion per year to match global spending levels on social protection as a share of GDP, of which the bulk is needed in the region’s two most populous countries, China and India. It further points out that a country’s level of economic development is not a reason for low social investments.
“Governments with higher political commitment to social investments not only spend a higher share of their budget on their people’s development, but tend to spend more effectively with better outcomes as a result."
The study cites examples of low- and lower-middle income countries that have been successful first movers in this regard including Bhutan, Mongolia, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The thematic focus of the study underscored much of the discussions at the biennial Committee meeting, where ESCAP member states discussed ways to strengthen regional cooperation on social protection. ESCAP will take the lead in supporting member states to develop a modality for regional cooperation in coordination with relevant UN agencies.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Nepal, Cambodia sign air service pact

Nepal and Cambodia today signed the firstever bilateral air service agreement (ASA) between the two countries. The ASA will allow the airlines of both countries to launch 14 commercial flights a week in either direction.
Tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari and minister in charge of the Secretariat of Civil Aviation of Cambodia Mao Havanall signed the ASA – between the two countries – in the presence of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen.
Though a final agreement to start air services between the two nations will be signed between the civil aviation authorities of both the nations in the near future, the agreement has paved the way for holding direct flights between Nepal and Cambodia, joint secretary at the ministry Suresh Acharya said.
"The agreement also makes provision for code-sharing, including third-country code share, where airlines of both countries can partner with other airlines to facilitate services to each other’s market," he said, adding that the agreement provides unlimited air cargo service between the two countries. "But aviation authorities of the two nations will finalise the details regarding flight frequency, code sharing, cargo and other issues in the near future before starting commercial flights between the nations."
A separate agreement has also been signed to boost bilateral cooperation and cultural exchange between both countries, he added.
Cambodian officials, on the occasion, said that they wanted to establish air links with Nepal, particularly the upcoming Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa, during talks at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation Event in Antalya, Turkey, in 2015. However, the much delayed airport project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. The government plans to open the airport from next June to help meet its goal of hosting 2 million tourists during the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.
The international airport in Bhairahawa has been constructed to promote Lumbini – the birth place of Lord Buddha – as a Buddhist pilgrimage hub. Nepal is planning to promote Buddhist pilgrimage through the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa.
According to International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – the Buddhist Circuit comprising Nepal and India is an important pilgrimage destination for the 450 million practicing Buddhists as well as travelers interested in history, culture or religion across the globe.
Since 1963, Nepal has signed ASAs with 39 countries, with Cambodia being the latest.
Nepal had recently revised the ASA with Thailand and increased the number of weekly flights from 10 to 28.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Government prioritises food security

The government claimed that it has highly prioritized food security to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Addressing the board meeting of World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome finance minister Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada said that Nepal has highly prioritised the issue of food security in order to meet the target of SDGs. Hde also expressed Nepal’s commitment to ensure food security and achieve zero hunger in a few years time.
"This meeting is important for Nepal also for the reason that the new five-year country strategic plan of WFP is being approved by the executive board," he said, adding that the plan has been developed in a highly participatory way, aligning with the national priorities, UNDAF and SDGs. "The government will work together with WFP to implement it."
Nepal – being a signatory to 2030 Agenda for SDGs – is implementing it and prioritising them with a focus on SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), which would be instrumental in achieving several other SDGs including No Poverty, Education, and Good Health and Well-Being.
"This prioritisation of SDG 2 is supported strongly by our commitment to ensuring human right to adequate food, now constitutionally enshrined through the Right to Food and Food Sovereignty Act 2018; thereby enshrining Zero Hunger within the constitution,” Khatiwada added.

Nepal among top 20 countries in pace of prosperity

Though, Nepal ranks 90 – out of 149 countries – it is one of the top 20 countries in the world with fastest rising prosperity over the last 10 years, according to Legatum Prosperity Index (LPI).
In the overall Prosperity Index rankings, Nepal has dropped by 1 position from 89 to 90 compared to last year, it reports, adding, "Since the Prosperity Index began in 2006, Nepal has, however, moved up the rankings table by 24 places.
In the Prosperity Pillar rankings, Nepal performs best on Economic Quality and Personal Freedom and scores lowest on the Natural Environment pillar. The biggest positive change, compared to last year, came in Business Environment increasing by 25 places, whereas they dropped 4 places on Health.
Though, Nepal is a low income country, Nepal has witnessed a transition towards democracy – in the past 12 years after the Comprehensive Peace Accord of November 2006 – with the largest rises in the pillars of Personal Freedom, Business Environment, and Education.
Likewise, within Personal Freedom, the biggest changes have come from the increase in people reporting satisfaction with freedom, and social tolerance. This follows legal reforms, such as the anti-discrimination laws, which have been in effect since 2015. In fact, Nepal is the third highest scoring country in Asia-Pacific – after New Zealand and Australia – in the sub-pillar of Social Tolerance.
Nepal’s weakest pillar, however, is the deterioration of the natural environment with pressure on nature – in fact Nepal scores nearly at the bottom of the countries surveyed in terms of urban air pollution. There are also problems with labour market flexibility, anti-monopoly policies and health outcomes.
The measurement of national prosperity is an important task for governments and for those who hold them to account and Nepal exemplifies that Safety and Security is a foundation of any successful nation-building and enables other pillars to follow.
The Legatum Prosperity Index – that tracks prosperity in 149 countries – has also reported that global prosperity is at its highest level ever, more countries are becoming prosperous, and more people are living more prosperous lives.
The Index also shows that rising well being is linked to rising levels of prosperity. This might sound obvious, but there is a less clear relationship between wealth levels and well being, where rising wealth does not necessarily translate into greater happiness.
Prosperity entails much more than wealth, it reaches beyond the financial into the institutional, the judicial, and the well being of the people of a nation – it is about creating an environment where each citizen can reach full potential. A nation is prosperous when it has an open economy, inclusive society, strong institutions and empowered people who are healthy, educated and safe. This leads to higher levels of well being.
The top 20 rising countries have one thing in common that they all score highly for Safety and Security, one of the nine pillars used to measure prosperity and the key building block for prosperity.

Year Score change
2017 56.18 2.04 %
2016 55.06 0.12 %
2015 55.00 0.48 %
2014 54.73 0.03 %
2013 54.72 3.40 %
2012 52.92 2.51 %
2011 51.62 -0.72 %
2010 51.99 1.23 %
2009 51.36 -2.48 %
2008 52.67 3.07 %
2007 51.10

Prosperity is growing, but not equally

Global prosperity continues to rise and is at its highest ever point, the median score has moved up the equivalent of 15 places since 2007, according to a report.
"Since 2013, some 113 countries have improved their Prosperity Score, and since last year 95 countries improved their score," according to The Legatum Prosperity Index 2018 published today.
"However, this improvement is not shared equally," it reads, adding that the gap between the largest and smallest scores has been growing steadily since 2013, and this year the gap is the largest it has ever been.
Business Environment has seen the largest one year gain at a global level, having risen in every region. The greatest 10 year gains have been in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe, and one of the main drivers is an improvement in the entrepreneurial environment in these regions.
North America was the strongest region this year, and improved primarily due to improved Personal Freedom, Governance and Economic Quality. MENA experienced the largest fall, due largely to worsening Personal Freedom and Social Capital. In particular, MENA has seen worsening basic legal rights this year, due to a fall in the civil liberties indicator.
Safety and Security continues to fall globally, and in five out of seven regions. This is driven primarily by falls in the security of people’s living conditions, with the largest falls in Latin America and the Caribbean due to fewer people reporting that they could afford sufficient food and shelter.
"The number of women in national legislatures around the world has been increasing steadily over the last decade, increasing from 15 per cent representation in 2007 to 20.7 per cent in 2018," it reads.
Likewise, Asia-Pacific is the fifth most prosperous of the world’s seven regions. Prosperity in the region has grown faster than any other in 2016-17, and is now close to the world average. "Some 12 countries rose, and 12 fell," it states, adding, " The Asia-Pacific top ten has not changed since last year."
The countries within Asia-Pacific have the broadest spread of prosperity – New Zealand sits at number two and Afghanistan at 146.
The pillar that has improved the most across the region since 2007 is Business Environment, particularly in East Asian countries such as China and Indonesia. Governance across the region has also seen positive change. A notable example is legislation in India that increased the ability to challenge regulation in the legal system.
Asia-Pacific is the weakest performer of any region on the Natural Environment pillar, mainly due to air pollution and access to clean drinking water. Asia-Pacific countries occupy the bottom eight places of the Index for air quality, with China at the very bottom. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

काठमाडौंमा उस्ताद जाकिरको जादू

काठमाडौंको चिसो रात अनि पाल हालेको चौरभरी संगीत पारखीहरु कुरिरहेका छन्, तबलाका जादूगर उस्ताद जाकिर हुसेनको जादूमय तबलाबादन सुन्न । काठमाडौंले २० वर्षअघि उनको तबलाको जादू प्रत्यक्ष देखेको र सुनेको थियो । यसपटक २० वर्षपछि नेपाल–भारत कूटनीतिक सम्बन्ध स्थापनाको ७० वर्ष पुगेको अवसरमा भारतीय राजदूतावासले ‘जाकिर हुसेन इन कन्सर्ट’ आयोजना गरेको थियो, मंगलबार राति लैनचौरस्थित दूतावासको इन्डिया हाउस परिसरमा ।
जाकिरको तबला सुन्नमात्र होइन, हेर्न पनि मनमोहक थियो । तीव्र गतिमा तबलामा बजिरहेका उनका औंलाको जादू सुन्न जति आनन्ददायक रह्यो, हेर्न उत्ति नै आकर्षक ।
उद्घोषिकाले जब उस्ताद जाकिर हुसेन आउनै लागेको बताइन्, चिसो बिर्सिएर श्रोताहरुले तालीको गडगडाहटले स्वागत गरे । जब उनका औंलाहरु तबलामा नाच्न थाले, चिसो हरायो र उस्तादको तबलासँगै झुम्न थाले दर्शक । घरी रोमाञ्चित हँुदै, घरी आनन्दित हँुदै श्रोताहरुले करिब २ घन्टा चिसो रातमा पालमुनि विश्वकै लोकप्रिय तबलावादक जाकिर हुसेनको तबलाको जादूमा हराए । दर्शकमाझ उनले आधुनिक, शास्त्रीय तथा केही रमाइला वादन प्रस्तुत गरे र मन्त्रमुग्ध बनाए ।
उस्ताद जाकिरसँग सारंगीमा शबिर खान, ढोलकमा नवीन शर्मा र मृदंगमा अनन्त कृष्णन थिए । कन्सर्टको सुरुवात शबिर खानले आफ्नो सारंगीवादन मार्फत् गरे । भारतको विभिन्न पृष्ठभूमिका तथा फरक–फरक बाद्ययन्त्रमा उनीहरुले एउटै कथा सुनाए । “पहिला यो सम्भव थिएन । तर आज यो सम्भव भएको छ । संगीतले हामी सबैलाई जोडेको छ,” जाकिरले भने । कार्यक्रमको सुरुमा भारतीय राजदूत मन्जिव सिंह पुरीले उस्तादको टोलीलाई आफूहरूको निम्तो स्विकारिदिएकोमा धन्यवाद दिएका थिए ।

Monday, November 26, 2018

Global wage growth lowest since 2008

Global wage growth in 2017 fell to its lowest rate since 2008, far below levels before the global financial crisis, according to a new International Labour Organisation (ILO) report.
The Global Wage Report 2018-19 finds that in real terms – adjusted for price inflation – global wage growth declined to 1.8 per cent in 2017 from 2.4 per cent in 2016. The findings are based on data from 136 countries.
In analysing wage growth, the report finds that in advanced G20 countries real wage growth declined from 0.9 per cent in 2016 to 0.4 per cent in 2017. By contrast, in emerging and developing G20 countries, real wage growth fluctuated between 4.9 per cent in 2016 and 4.3 per cent in 2017.
“It’s puzzling that in high-income economies we see slow wage growth alongside a recovery in GDP growth and falling unemployment," said ILO director-general Guy Ryder. "And early indications suggest that slow wage growth continues in 2018," he said, adding that such stagnating wages are an obstacle to economic growth and rising living standards. Countries should explore, with their social partners, ways to achieve socially and economically sustainable wage growth.
In the last 20 years, average real wages have almost tripled in emerging and developing G20 countries, while in advanced G20 countries they have increased by just 9 per cent, the report shows. But, in many low- and middle-income economies, wage inequality remains high and wages are frequently insufficient to cover the needs of workers and their families.
The report calculates gender pay gaps in innovative and more accurate ways, using data covering some 70 countries and about 80 per cent of wage employees worldwide. It finds that globally women continue to be paid approximately 20 per cent less than men.
“The gender pay gap represents one of today’s greatest manifestations of social injustice," Ryder said, adding that the gender pay gap represents one of today’s greatest manifestations of social injustice, and all countries should try to better understand what lies behind them and accelerate progress towards gender equality.
The report finds that in high-income countries it is at the high end of the pay scale that the gender pay gap is wider, while in low- and middle-income countries the gender pay gap is wider amongst the lower paid workers.
Using empirical evidence, the report also shows that traditional explanations, such as differences in the levels of education between men and women who work in paid employment, play a limited role in explaining gender pay gaps.
"In many countries women are more highly educated than men but earn lower wages, even when they work in the same occupational categories,” said econometrician and wage specialist at the ILO and one of the authors of the report Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez. "The wages of both men and women also tend to be lower in enterprises and occupations with a predominantly female workforce," she said, adding that to reduce gender pay gaps more emphasis therefore needs to be placed on ensuring equal pay for women and men, and on addressing the undervaluation of women’s work.
Another factor which weighs on the gender wage gap is motherhood. The report shows that mothers tend to have lower wages compared to non-mothers. This may be related to a host of factors, including labour market interruptions, reductions in working time, employment in more family-friendly jobs with lower wages, or stereotypical promotion decisions at enterprise level.
According to the report, a more equitable sharing of family duties between men and women would in many instances lead to women making different occupational choices.
Surprisingly, the evidence shows that even before women reach motherhood, there is already a pay gap. This suggests a need to combat stereotypes and discrimination at the point of entry into the labour market.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

नेपाल लिटरेचर फेस्टिभल पुस ७ देखि

नेपाल लिटरेचर फेस्टिभलको सातौं संस्करण आगामी पुस ७ देखि १० गतेसम्म पोखरामा हुने भएको छ । फेस्टिभलबारे जानकारी दिन सोमबार राजधानीमा आयोजित पत्रकार सम्मेलनमा आयोजक बुकवर्म फाउन्डेसनले यस पटक साहित्य उत्सवमा सयभन्दा बढी स्वदेशी तथा विदेशी लेखक सहभागी रहने र तीन दर्जन भन्दा बढी सेसन र अन्य थप रोचक सामग्री समावेश हुने जानकारी दिएको छ ।
‘जहाँ शब्दहरू जीवन्त हुन्छन्’ भन्ने नारासहित सन् २०११ मा काठमाडौंबाट सुरु भएको फेस्टिभलको चार संस्करण काठमाडौंमा नै गरेपछि साहित्य तथा साहित्यकारलाई काठमाडौंको प्रदूषणबाट सुन्दर नगरी पोखरा पु-याइएको आयोजकको भनाइ छ । फेस्टिभल संयोजक रविन गिरीका अनुसार फेस्टिभलमा बेलायती ग्राफिक नोभलिस्ट निकोला स्ट्रिटसँग मास्टर कार्यशाला तथा ब्रिटिस काउन्सिलको क्रिएटिङ हिरोइन्स प्रोजेक्ट प्रदर्शनी पनि हुनेछ । यस्तै, फेस्टिभलमा अर्थतन्त्र, शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य, रेमिट्यान्सलगायत विषयमा समेत छलफल गरिने पनि गिरीले बताए ।
यस पटकको फेस्टिभलमा पाकिस्तानका मोहम्मद हनिफ, भारतकी नमिता गोखले, प्रज्वल पराजुली, क्यानडाकी मन्जुश्री थापा, पाकिस्तानकी सब्रिना टोप्पा, बेलायतकी डा. निकोला स्ट्रिटेन तथा भारतका हरिश नाम्बियार र ए एस अनुपमलगायतको सहभागिता रहनेछ ।
फेस्टिभलका निर्देशक अजित बरालका अनुसार नेपाली र अन्य भाषा र भूगोलका साहित्यलाई एउटै मञ्चमा ल्याएर मन्थन गर्ने, स्रष्टा र पाठकबीचको दूरी कम गर्ने र फरक विचारलाई सम्मानका साथ स्थान दिने काममा फेस्टिभल उत्प्रेरक बनेको छ । फेस्टिभल पाठकले मनपरेका लेखक र लेखकले पाठक भेट्ने थलो हुने भन्दै उनले फेस्टिभलमा तीन दर्जनभन्दा बढी सेसन सञ्चालन हुने बताए । उनका अनुसार यसपटक साहित्य महोत्सवमा नयाँ लेखक र साहित्यकार पनि वक्ता रहने छन् ।
रेमिट्यान्स कम्पनी आइएमई ग्रुप र फाउण्डेसनबीच फेस्टिभल प्रायोजन सम्झौता भएको जानकारी दिँदै बरालले महोत्सवको नाम यसपटक पटक ‘आइएमई नेपाल लिटरेचर फेस्टिभल’ भएको बताए ।

कर्टेन रेजरमा गुरुचरण दास
‘आईएमई नेपाल लिटरेचर फेस्टिभल २०१८’ को कर्टेन रेजर कार्यक्रममा शनिबार भारतीय लेखक तथा चिन्तक गुरुचरण दासले ऋषिमुनिहरूले सुखी तथा सम्पन्न जीवनको अर्थ खोज्ने क्रममा नै मानव जीवनका धर्म, अर्थ, कामः तथा मोक्षलाई चार पुरुषार्थ भनी पारिभाषित गरेको स्मरण गरे ।
आफूलाई नेपालको ‘ज्वाइँ साहब‘को रुपमा परिचित गराउँदै कार्यक्रममा उनले आफ्नो नयाँ पुस्तक ‘कामः द रिडल अफ डिजायर’को विषय ऋषिमुनिहरूले बताएको चार पुरुषार्थमध्ये तेस्रो कामःको विषयमा केन्द्रित रहेको बताए ।
“आदिकालीन समाजमा जीवन भावनात्मक रुपमा अर्थपूर्ण रहेको थियो किनकि त्यसबखतमा समाज उदार थियो । साथै, धर्म, अर्थ, कामः तथा मोक्षलाई उच्चतम महत्व दिइएको थियो,” उनले भने, “तर हामीले हाम्रो सभ्यता तथा इतिहास बिर्सियौं । त्यसैले मैले मेरा किताबमा यिनै विषयलाई व्याख्या गर्ने कोसिस गरेको छु ।”
कार्यक्रममा संस्कृति, पर्यटन तथा नागरिक उड्डयनमन्त्री रविन्द्र अधिकारीले देशको सार्वाङ्गिण विकासका लागि साहित्यको पनि ठूलो भूमिका हुने बताउँदै देशको समग्र समृद्धिका लागि आर्थिक विकास मात्र पर्याप्त नहुने बताए । “यसका लागि कला, साहित्य एवम् संस्कृतिको समृद्धि पनि आवश्यक हुन्छ । त्यसैले नेपाल लिटरेचर फेस्टिभल जस्ता महोत्सव भइराख्नुपर्छ,” उनले भने ।
कार्यक्रममा फेस्टिभलका प्रायोजक आइएमईका कार्यकारी निर्देशक सुमन पोखरेलले आइएमईलाई लिटरेचर फेस्टिभलमा प्रायोजनको अवसर दिएकोमा बुकवर्म फाउन्डेसनलाई धन्यवाद दिदै आइएमईले सामाजिक उत्तरदायित्वका क्षेत्रमा पनि काम गरिरहेको र यस्ता महोत्सव आदिमासहकार्य गरिरहने प्रतिबद्धता व्यक्त गरे ।
कार्यक्रमको सुरुमा लेखक शिवानीसिंह थारुले आधुनिक नेपाली साहित्य २१औं शताब्दीसँगै अघि बढेको बताउँदै एक सय वर्ष पूरा भएसँगै नेपाली साहित्यले नयाँ फड्को मारिसकेको बताइन् । नेपाली साहित्य परम्परा र नेपाली साहित्यलाई विश्व साहित्यसँग जोड्ने समय आइसकेको भन्दै उनले नेपाली साहित्य अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय जगतमा पुर्याउन सकिने पनि बताइन् । ‘नेपाल लिटरेचल भेस्टिभलजस्ता उत्सवले पनि नेपाली साहित्यलाई विश्व साहित्यसँग जोड्न सघाउने छ,’ उनले भनिन् ।
कार्यक्रममा गायक धर्मेन्द्र सेवानले ‘रेशम फिरिरी’लगायत पाँच ओटा गीत गाएका थिए ।

Saturday, November 24, 2018

धर्म र कामको बीचमा शास्त्रीय द्वन्द्व छ

आफूलाई नेपालको ‘ज्वाइँ साहब’ को रुपमा परिचित गराउने गुरुचरण दास काठमाडौंमा बुकवर्म फाउन्डेसनको आयोजनामा हुन गइरहेको ‘आइएमई नेपाल लिटरेचर फेस्टिभल २०१८‘ को कर्टेन रेजर कार्यक्रममा शनिबार झुल्किए । उनले मानव जीवनका चार पुरुषार्थ मानिएका धर्म, अर्थ, काम, मोक्षमध्ये पहिलो दुइ विषयमा किताब लेखिसकेका छन् । आफनो पहिलो किताब ‘इन्डिया अनबाउन्ड’मा भौतिक समृद्धिको विषय उठान गरेका थिए भने दोस्रो किताब ‘द डिफिकल्टी अफ बिइङ गुड’मा ब्यक्ति तथा देशको धर्म तथा नैतिक जीवनको चर्चा गरेका दिए । पछिल्लो किताब ‘काम : द रिडल अफ डिजायर’मा कामनाको चर्चा गरेका छन् । उनै भारतीय लेखक तथा चिन्तक गुरुचरण दाससंग कारोबारका सम्पादक कुबेर चालिसेले शनिबार बिहान उनका पछिल्ला तथा नयाँ पुस्तकको बारेमा गरेको कुराकानीको सार :

‘काम: द रिडल अफ डिजायर’ पुस्तकमा के छ ?
यो पुस्तकले मानिसका चार पुरुषार्थ भनेर चिनिएका धर्म, अर्थ, काम: र मोक्षमध्ये काम:को बारेमा दार्शनिक तथा व्यवहारिक तहमा छलफल गर्दछ । चार पुरुषार्थ मानिएका यीमध्ये धेरै हदसम्म धर्म र काम:को बीचमा एक आपसमा सधै द्वन्द्व रहन्छ । मेरो कथाको पात्र अमरलाई पनि त्यहि हुन्छ । उसले आफ्नो सुखी वैवाहिक जीवनको लामो यात्रापछि थकित हुन्छ र एउटा यात्रामा निस्कन्छ । उ बम्बैदेखि पुणे जाने डेकन क्वीन चढेर कतै जाँदै हुन्छ । अमरले रेलमा एउटी सुन्दर महिला सहयात्री भेट्छ । दुवै सुखी विवाहित वयष्क हुन्छन् तर एउटा उमेरमा पुगेर उनीहरूमा चाहना हराएर जीवनमा केही नयाँ खोजिरहेका हुन्छन् । यात्राकै बीचमा विस्तारै उनीहरूमा सान्निध्यता हुन्छ । यसैक्रममा अमर विस्तारै महिला सहयात्रीसँग प्रेम गर्न थाल्छ । तर ऊभित्र धर्म र काम:को बीचमा द्वन्द्व सुरु हुन्छ । ‘यदि म यो महिलाको प्रेममा परे भने मेरी श्रीमतिलाई धोका हुन्छ, यो अधर्म हो’ उसको एउटा मनले सोच्छ, मैले आफ्नो इच्छा दबाउँदा म आफैंमाथि धोका हुन्छ, उसको अर्को मनले सोच्छ । तर आफनो मनको कामना दमित गर्दा अमर एउटा असन्तुष्ट, कर्कश तथा दुखी पुरुषकोरुपमा बाँकी जीवन बाँच्न बाध्य हुन्छ । मनको कामना पुरा गर्दा अधर्म हुने डर छ । यसरी अमरमार्फत् यो किताबले शास्त्रिय ढंगबाट धर्म र काम:को द्वन्द्वको वर्णन गर्दछ । यसमा अन्य धेरै उपकथा पनि छन् ।

हामी बाँचिरहेको समाजमा त परापूर्वकालदेखि नै धर्म र काम:को बीचमा द्वन्द्व छ नि हैन र ? यसको निदान के त ?
सही हो । वेद काल अझ महाभारतको कालखण्डसम्म पनि हाम्रो समाजले काम:लाई निषेध गरेको थिएन । महाभारतमा यस्ता धेरैे कथा छन्, तीमध्ये केही कथा यस पुस्तकमा छन् । हाम्रा मन्दिरहरू तथा ध्यान तथा पूजास्थलमा यसको अत्यन्त धेरै प्रयोग त्यसै बेला भएको हो । कामप्रति उदार वर्गको विरोधमा पछि समाजमा काम: प्रति अनुदार वर्ग पनि जन्मियो । र यी दुइ वर्गबिच द्वन्द्व सुरु भयो । यो द्वन्द्व एउटा यस्तो अवस्थामा पुग्यो जहाँ, काम: प्रति अनुदार वर्ग हावी भए संसार नचल्ने भएपछि काम: उदार तथा काम: अनुदारबिचमा एउटा मध्यमार्ग निकालियो जसले विवाहभित्रको काम:लाई स्विकार गर्यो । यसरी संसरको सृष्टि पनि चल्ने र अनुशासन पनि कायम हुने एउटा मध्य मार्ग निकालियो । त्यसैले धर्म र काम:को बीचमा सधै नै द्वन्द्व छ । कुन ठिक छ, यसको ठ्याक्कै कुनै उत्तर छैन । यसैलाई धर्म संकट पनि भन्न सकिन्छ ।

तर, अनुदार वर्ग पनि महिलाप्रति मात्रै किन अनुदार त ? 
किनकि पुरुष तथा महिलामध्ये महिला भाव प्रधान हुन्छन् । उनीहरू भावनाको तहमा धेरै शक्तिशालि हुन्छन् । र इमोशनल तहमा पूर्ण मानिसको जीवन नै पूर्ण हुन्छ । पुरुषलाई सधै डर रहन्छ कि उभन्दा महिला शक्तिशालि नहोस्, उसको भन्दा पूर्ण जीवन महिलाले नबाँचोस् । त्यसैले हाम्रो समाज महिलाप्रति अनुदार छ । तर, सधै यस्तो थिएन । महाभारत वा वैदिक कालमा महिलाको उच्च सम्मान थियो । तर हामीले हाम्रो सभ्यता तथा इतिहास बिर्सियौं । महाभारतमा भगस्पान राजाको कथा छ । उनी पुरुष भएर जन्मिए र पछि महिला हुने अवसर पनि पाए । उनी विद्धान तथा असल राजा भएकोले मर्ने बेलामा भगवान्ले उनलाई सोधे, अर्को जन्ममा के भएर जन्मिने ईच्छा छ । भगस्वान राजाले भने, म अर्कोजन्म महिला भएर जन्मन पाउँ । किनकि भावनाको तहमा महिला धेरै शक्तिशाली हुन्छन् र भावपूर्ण जीवन नै सम्पूर्ण जीवन हो । तर, पछिल्लो समय भारतमा पनि हिन्दुवादको चर्को नाराले प्रेम दिवस तथा अन्य समारोहमा गलत ब्याख्या सहित निषेध गर्न खोजेको छ । काम:को अर्थलाई विकृत बनाइएको छ । रोमियो स्क्वाडजस्ता दस्ताले भारतमा भ्यालेन्टाइन डेमा उत्पात मच्चाउँदै प्रेमी जोडिहरुलाई थुन्नु गलत भइरहेको छ । वास्तवमा भ्यालेन्टाइन डेलाई काम: उत्सवको रुपमा मनाउनु पर्दछ ।

यस्तो ऐतिहासिक रुपमा नै सुसंस्कृत हाम्रो समाजमा आज किन बलात्कारजस्तो निकृष्ट कार्य बढेर गएको छ त ? यसको समाधान के ? 
मैले एउटा लेख पनि लेखेको छु हाल चलिरहेको ‘मिटु‘ अभियानसँग जोडेर । हामीले हाम्रा छोराहरूलाई हुर्काउँदा असल शिक्षा दिन सकैनौं । वास्तवमा भ्यालेन्टाइन डेको दिन हामीले काम:उत्सव किन नमनाउने ? हामीले आफ्नो वैदिक वा महाभारतकालका शास्त्रीय तथा वैदिक संस्कार बिर्सियौंं । मनुले मनुस्मृति लेखेपछि मात्रै महिलालाई दबाउने कार्य भएको हो । हामीले हाम्रो पुरातन संस्कार बिर्सियौं । काम:लाई गलत तथा पाप भनेर दमित गर्न खोज्यौं । त्यसैको नतिजा हो आजको बलात्कार तथा महिला हिंसाग्रस्त समाज । हामीले आफ्नो समाजलाई उदार बनाउनुपर्छ किनकि वर्जित गरेपछि नै समाजमा दमित इच्छा तथा चाहना विकृत रुपमा देखा परेको हो । हिन्दु धर्मले इसाई धर्म झैं काम:लाई पाप वा एडम तथा इभको पापकृत्यद्वारा संसारको सृष्टि भएको मान्दैन । हिन्दु धर्मले त काम:लाई एउटा पुरुषार्थ र ईश्वरप्राप्त गर्ने साधन मान्दछ । हामीले हाम्रो सुसंस्कृत भूतकाललाई सम्झनु पर्यो, त्यस अनुसार आचरण गर्न शिक्षक तथा विद्यार्थी, मातापिता तथा छोराछोरीबिच काम:का राम्रा र नराम्रा विषयमा उदार ढंगले छलफल हुनु पर्यो । वर्जित गरेर निषेध गरेर नै समाजमा विकृती फैलिएको हो ।

यहाँले चार पुरुषार्थमध्ये धर्म, अर्थ तथा काम: तीनै विषयमा पुस्तक लेखिसक्नु भयो । अब अर्को पुस्तक मोक्षमाथि लेख्ने हो ?
(लामो हाँसो) मलाई थाहा छैन । मेरो पीताजी आश्रममा बस्नुहुन्थ्यो र दैनिक ४ घन्टा ध्यान गर्नुहुन्थ्यो । यो उहाँको विषय हो, उहाँले लेख्नुहुन्थ्यो होला । धर्म भनेको नैतिक स्वास्थ्य हो, त्यसैले मैले धर्ममाथि लेखें । अर्थ भनेको भौतिक सुखसुविधा हो र तेस्रो काम: भनेको भावनात्मक स्वास्थ्य हो । यी सबै एउटा स्वस्थ्य र भावपूर्ण जीवनको लागि आवश्यक छ । मोक्ष मेरो विषय होइन किनकि म उदार वातावरणमा हुर्कें । मैले हार्वर्डमा दर्शनशास्त्र पढें, अर्थशाश्त्र पढें । कुनै विषयमा लेख्न त्यसमाथि विश्वास पनि हुनुपर्दछ । म हरेक नयाँ विचारप्रति उदार छु, तर म धार्मिक होइन । म अब देशको आत्मकथा लेख्न चाहन्छु, भारतको आत्मकथा लेख्न चाहन्छु । जवाहरलाल नेहरुले डिस्कभरी अफ इन्डिया लेखे झैं म सोच्दै छु, रि डिस्कभरी अफ इन्डिया लेखौं । किनकि नेहरुले डिस्कभरी अफ इन्डिया लेखेको धेरै वर्ष भइ सक्यो अब नयाँ भारतको आत्मकथा लेख्न समय भै सकेको छ ।

भारतको आत्मकथा कहिलेसम्म लेख्नुहुन्छ त ?
मैले प्रत्येक पुस्तक ५ वर्षको अन्तरालमा लेखको छु । अर्थात् मलाई एउटा किताब लेख्न ५ वर्ष लाग्छ । ‘काम: द रिडल अफ डिजायर’ लेख्न पनि ५ वर्ष लाग्यो ।

Friday, November 23, 2018

Government to start social security scheme from Tuesday

The long-awaited social security scheme for formal sector workers will be officially announced by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday. Envisioned by the then Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, it took almost a decade to start the ambitious social security scheme that is going to protect and secure employees working in the formal private sector.
"The scheme will be compulsorily applied for formal sector workers," according to Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security that also informed that it will soon launch the scheme for informal sector workers too.
The scheme – a historic step for workers’ safety and rights – based on the Contribution-based Social Security Regulation is expected to cover some 500,000 employees in the formal sector, informed labour secretary Mahesh Prasad Dahal. "In the first phase the scheme will cover medical treatment, health and maternity security scheme," he said, adding that it will also cover accident and disability security scheme, dependent family security scheme and old age security scheme. "We will release the individual contributor code for easy identification but there is still some work left regarding data integration."
Every employee will have social security code number and the fund will be deposited in the number. The private sector employees will have to mandatorily contribute 10 per cent of worker's salary to the fund, while employers will have to contribute another 21 per cent of – making it to a total of 31 per cent – the employees’ salary. Once these contributions are made, the employees will be entitled to compensation, if they lose a job or cannot attend the workplace because of pregnancy, illness or accident.
"Workers can directly access support from the fund whenever they need it while employers will also not face any hassles while providing financial support to workers in case of tragedies, as they will have a fund to turn to," Dahal said, adding that the unique social security number and an identity card will work even, if the employee switches job and his/her contribution will be recorded with the same social security number.
The employee will now have neither provident fund nor gratuity but only deposit the social security amount in the Fund and the rest will be the responsibility of the government.
According to the Contribution-based Social Security Regulation, to avail medical treatment scheme the contributor must have deposited their installment regularly in the Social Security Fund for at least six months. Similarly, to avail health and maternity service the contributor most have worked for 18 months and regularly deposited their installments for at least 12 months.
Meanwhile, the accident and disability security scheme can be availed by workers from immediately the next day after they deposit their first installment. Moreover, workers can also receive compensation, if they are injured in the workplace or develop medical complications due to their work conditions, however the worker must have worked for a minimum of two years and deposited all installments on a regular basis.
According to the ministry, a worker who has fulfilled the above mentioned criteria will be eligible to receive a maximum of Rs 700,000 from the fund if they are affected by any aforementioned cause.
However, workers will not be eligible to receive any compensation if they lose their lives due to a natural disaster, or a road accident not related to the job, or if the worker is eligible to receive compensation through any other insurance scheme.
Employees working in the formal private sector will be entitled to these benefits based on the contribution made by them and their employers. It is mandatory for private formal sector employees to enrol themselves in this scheme. They may be penalised if they fail to make the contribution. The contributions they make will go to the Social Security Fund, which is operated by the ministry.
Likewise, if the worker dies, then the fund will provide 60 per cent of the respective worker’s basic salary as pension to the family members who were dependent on the worker on a monthly basis. It will also provide 40 per cent educational scholarship every month for children below 18 years of age. "If the worker does not have a spouse or an offspring then the pension amount will be given to the worker’s parents. Also, if a worker retires from his/her work, then the fund will provide the worker the 60 per cent pension amount till they are alive."
The government has been levying one per cent social security tax on basic salaries of all private sector employees to raise the money required to operate the Social Security Fund from almost a decade. At present, the fund already has deposit worth Rs 20 billion.
The ministry will start collecting data of formal sector workers in Province 3 from December 1, in Province 1 from December 16 and in Province 2 from December 30. Likewise, data collection for Gandaki Province and Province 5 will start from January 15 and for Karnali Province and Province 7 it will start from January 29.
However, the government has already started collecting data of Kathmandu Valley from November 22.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

JICA appoints Yumiko Asakuma as new chief representative

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has appointted Yumiko Asakuma as its new chief representative for JICA Nepal Office.
Asakuma will take over Jun Sakuma, who recently completed his tenure in Nepal. Prior to this assignment Asakuma was working as director general in Yokohama Centre, JICA. She began her career in JICA in 1993 in the social development cooperation department and diversified her work experience in various departments of JICA office which includes Industrial and mining development study, grant aid cooperation, training group and representative of JICA India office. She also served as a chief representative of JICA Bhutan Office from December 2012 to March 2016.
Asakuma is a graduate from Osaka Prefectural University in Department of Integrated Arts and Sciences. She is privileged to lead JICA Nepal Office as its new chief representative and expressed her commitment in providing continued support to the people of Nepal and its government further towards development and prosperity.
She further assured to work towards realising JICA's vision 'Leading the world with trust' in Nepal.

Three major goals identified for Kamala river basin management

Twelve local governments affected by the Kamala river basin have stressed on mutii-purpose water management. They also identified thee primary goals of the Kamala river basin.
The 12 local government representatives discussed and agreed on the three primary goals and suggested to include multi-purpose water management in the strategic plan, during a programme organised by Jalasrot Bikas Sanstha (JVS) and Policy Entrepreneurs Inc (PEI), for the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS) –yesterday and today – and supported by Australian Government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industries Research Organisation (CSIRO).
They have identified 'sustainable management of Chure natural resources for livelihood support and reduced vulnerability to water-induced disasters' as the first goal; 'Improved availability, use, allocation of water resources for livelihood generation, well-being, economic growth' as the second goal; and 'Commercial and scientific agriculture for local economic prosperity and livelihood security' as the third goal.
Under the primary goals, following secondary goals were identified as watershed conservation and improvement; sustainable management and utilisation of natural resources resources; reliable measurement for effective management; reduced vulnerability from water induced disasters and control of bank erosion; conservation, development, and management of existing and potential water resources for improving consumptive use, and water use efficiency; agriculture and productivity supportive land use policy and practice; improve farming practice and productivity; promote commercial farming and agriculture market development.
The participants stressed on the need to develop Sunkoshi-Kamala diversion project; identify and prevent landslide and erosion, plan for Chure conservation; regulate animal grazing, prevent forest fires; regulate sand and gravel extraction; prepare for disaster management, increase water storage, improve irrigation, implement collective farming measures, prevent conversion of productive agricultural land into urban use, build capacity of farmers, promote markets for agricultural products to implement the primary and secondary goals. In addition, the participants discussed on issues to protect water sources, build multi-purpose dam structures, improve awareness of citizens in disaster management, construct large physical infrastructure, increase community farming.
The participants from 12 local governments affected by the Kamala river in Dhanusha, Siraha, Udayapur and Sindhuli districts – during the discussions – also raised the concerns about water issues and the need for conservation and management of the resources. The study started with the objective of preparing a strategic river basin planning in November 2017 and involves participatory process engaging local communities and local government representatives. The study that ends in June 2019 is taken as a pilot river basin planning process before the government prepares the plan for the entire river basins in Nepal.
The participants also mentioned about the problems of flooding during the monsoon and water scarcity during the winter month and suggested to adopt appropriated policies, regulations, strategies, plans and programmes for the proper management of water resources. They also suggested including multiple use of water resources for water supply, irrigation, hydropower, agriculture tourism and industrial use.
Mayor Bijaya Shankar Shah of Sabaila Municipality expressed that if Sunkoshi-Kamala diversion is constructed, Province 2 can go green and also solve the issue of flooding in monsoon, and water scarcity in the winter. Likewise, Mayor Khadga Bahadur Khatri from Kamalamai Municipality expressed the concerns over the drying of water sources in Sindhuli and mentioned the need to address solutions to such problems in the plan.
Mayor Shrawan Kumar Yadav of Mirchaiya Municipality said that the time is running out for collaborative planning of water resources between the central government, provincial government and the local governments. Deputy Mayor Bhim Kumari Raut of Katari Municiplaity mentioned that the water scarcity issues are increasing in her municipality and the plans for irrigating fertile lands needs to be put into place, whereas Deputy Mayor Bharati Karki of Janaknandani Municipality expressed concerns over the impacts on the livelihood of citizens due to lack of water availability.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Asia-Pacific countries strengthen regional transport connectivity to drive sustainable development

Countries in the Asian-Pacific region today reinforced their commitment to implement the Regional Action Programme for Sustainable Transport Connectivity in Asia and the Pacific, Phase I (2017 – 2020).
The Programme was adopted by ministers of transport of the region in December 2016 to foster greater regional consistency in addressing issues such as international intermodal corridors, modern logistics, Asia-Europe connectivity, rural transport, sustainable urban transport systems and road safety.
High-level policymakers of the region used the fifth session of the Committee on Transport, held by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from November 19 to 21 to emphasise the significant contribution that sustainable transport connectivity can make to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
"The way we design, build and upgrade our transport networks will help determine whether the 2030 Agenda can be achieved in Asia and the Pacific," UN under-secretary-general and ESCAP executive secretary Armida Alisjahbana, said, in her opening remarks. "Reliable, integrated transport networks are essential to the fabric of successful economies and societies," she said, adding that they drive the trade, investment and growth the countries need to lift people out of poverty. "But our challenge is to make them accessible, safe and sustainable - as we chart a more inclusive, greener course for our region."
The Committee deliberated on the major transport development challenges faced by the Asia-Pacific region in light of the 2030 Agenda. Delegates shared information on their recent and planned activities for further developing and operationalising the Asian Highway Network, the Trans-Asian Railway Network and the network of Dry Ports. They also highlighted how a wide array of breakthrough technologies and fast-expanding networks of digitally-connected devices are providing new opportunities to increase the efficiency of the transport sector, while reducing its carbon footprint.
In his keynote address, Thai transport minister of Arkhom Termpittayapaisith reaffirmed, “The actions that Thailand is implementing towards sustainable transport are very much in line with ESCAP’s Regional Action Programme for Sustainable Transport Connectivity” and noted that 'Thailand is committed to promoting sustainable transport in advancing regional and global efforts in achieving the SDGs.”
Against the backdrop of a startling statistic that one person is killed in a road crash every 40 seconds in the Asia-Pacific region, first deputy minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation and ESCAP representative on the Advisory Board of the UN Road Safety Trust Fund Alexander Gorovoy called for attention to be given to enhancing safety, efficiency and sustainability of urban transport.
The Committee also agreed to promote the use of the Sustainable Urban Transport Index developed by ESCAP to help countries assess the quality of their urban transport services.

Energy minister, EIB Veep inaugurate transmission line

Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun today inaugurated Trishuli III hydro power project at Kispang rural municipality-5 in Nuwakot
The power developed in Rasuwa and Nuwakot will be supplied to Kathmandu Valley through the 220 KV transmission line. The company has planned to complete the construction within this current fiscal year.
Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will invest Rs 19 million, European Investment Bank (EIB) 30 million, a German government-owned development bank (the KfW) 14 million and European Union (EU) will invest Rs 8.48 billion in the hydro project. The EU and KFW will provide technical assistance for the project, according to a press note issued by the EU Office in Kathmandu.
The power supplied through Chilime-Trishuli transmission line III B and Samudratar-Trishuli III B will be connected to this sub-station before being supplied to Kathmandu through a 40-km-long 220 KV two-way transmission line. 
The power generated through 15 different hydro power projects developed in Nuwakot and half-a-dozen on the border between Nuwkot and Rasuwa will be connected to this transmission line.
More than 7,200 households will gain first-time reliable electricity access with the construction of the new transmission link, the release read, adding that it expands access to electricity to rural communities and benefits from harnessing renewable energy.
"Once complete the new Chilime-Trishuli Transmission link allows thousands of people living in communities in the Trishuli River Basin and beyond to benefit from clean hydropower energy and a more reliable power supply," Pun said, adding that the crucial energy project is key for sustainable development in Nepal and demonstrates the close partnership between Nepal and European partners.
The new 27-km transmission line will be built through difficult mountainous terrain 50-km west of Kathmandu by the NEA and financed by the EIB, the EU through the Asian Investment Facility, German Development Bank KfW and the government.
Pun, MD of NEA Kul Man Ghising, vice president of the EIB Andrew McDowell, EU ambassador to Nepal Veronica Cody and German ambassador to Nepal Roland Schäfer, and local government and community representatives attended the ground breaking ceremony in Trishuli.
The new transmission link will enable 600MW of clean energy generated from hydropower plants, including independent power producers, on the Trishuli River corridor to be connected to Nepal’s national electricity grid and upgrade existing electricity distribution to enable a more reliable supply of energy.
“Over the coming years investment in clean energy will support sustainable development across Nepal and significantly increase use of renewable energy sources," Ghising said, adding that the Chilime-Trishuli transmission line highlights how technical and financial cooperation between the NEA and European partners benefits Nepal and helps to harness low-carbon power sources.
The distribution scheme under the transmission system will also enable households in remote rural communities to benefit from first time access to electricity and reduce the need for expensive generators and cooking fuels.
"Seeing at first hand how local communities benefit from access to electricity and how communities most vulnerable to a changing climate can benefit from clean energy makes today’s groundbreaking important for both Nepal and Europe," EIB vice president Andrew McDowell said, adding that the project demonstrates the EIB’s firm commitment to supporting climate related investment across Asia and the bank is pleased to provide EUR 30 million to finance construction of the Chilime-Trishuli transmission link.
The EU is pleased to support the Chilime-Trishuli project, ambassador and head of the EU delegation to Nepal Veronica Cody said, adding that the joint cooperation between Nepali and European partners has enabled detailed preparation to be completed and construction to formally start today.
Likewise, ambassador of the Federal Republic of German to Nepal Roland Schäfer, on the occasion, said that support for energy is a key priority for German cooperation in Nepal. "Today provides an excellent opportunity to stand alongside Nepali friends and European partners to show how together we can support sustainable development in this country," he added.
The EU and German government financed comprehensive technical assistance to totalling Euro16.25 million, essential for preparation and implementation of the project, and the EIB is providing a Euro30 million long-term loan to finance construction of the new transmission link, the press note read.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

LDCs must nurture dynamic business to create jobs

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) including Nepal must prioritise dynamic enterprises and enact policies to help them thrive, create jobs, innovate and transform the economy, according to a report.
The report ‘The Least Developed countries Report 2018: Entrepreneurship for Structural Transformation’ released today by UNCTAD also calls for the LDCs to nurture dynamic businesses that create jobs and help end poverty.
Subtitled Beyond Business as Usual, the report looks at the conditions for creating and growing high-impact businesses in the LDCs – a group of 47 nations that includes most of sub-Saharan Africa, some Asian countries, and several island states – and establishes a more active stance for the state in steering the emergence of dynamic and transformational local entrepreneurship.
According to UNCTAD secretary-general Mukhisa Kituyi, "By encouraging policymakers to value the benefits of entrepreneurship, the report makes an invaluable contribution to efforts to add value to the LDCs’ implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Several structural features of the economies of LDCs tend to weaken entrepreneurship and the growth of enterprises, including limited finances, insufficient infrastructure, lack of institutions, poverty, restrictions on women’s empowerment, high registration costs, and elevated political, economic and environmental risks, according to the report. "The result is that most firms in LDCs are micro-or small enterprises and 58 per cent of the formal firms have at most 20 employees."
The report says that large numbers of people in LDCs are forced into small-scale, low-value entrepreneurship by necessity. Entrepreneurship is dominated by self-employment – which accounts for 70 per cent of total employment – informal micro- and small enterprises with low chances of survival and growth and little propensity to innovate.
Small companies account for 58 per cent of all firms in these countries.
The report also reveals that the vast majority of entrepreneurs in LDCs are 'necessity-driven'. There are 1.7 times as many early-stage entrepreneurs in LDCs on average who describe themselves as 'opportunity-driven' than there are who say they are 'necessity-driven', compared with 2.8 times as many in other developing countries.
The report says that governments in LDCs – a group that qualifies for preferential treatment in world trade and climate-change arrangements due to chronic disadvantages that leave them among the world’s poorest nations – should therefore focus on boosting entrepreneurs and established firms that seize opportunities to create innovative products and services, employ more people and grow dynamic businesses that have a transformative, ripple effect throughout the economy.
Fostering the type of enterprises that matters for root-and-branch economic transformation means going beyond the 'business-as-usual' approach of establishing an enabling environment for business, correcting market failures, and supporting small enterprises.
"Importantly, the report calls upon the least developed countries not to overlook the pivotal and complementary role played by large enterprises, alongside medium-sized and smaller enterprises, with a view to formulating deliberate strategies to nurture entrepreneurship that has impact,” Dr Kituyi said.
While at least 20 out of the 47 LDCs have national industrial policies that articulate to a various extent the interface between entrepreneurship and structural transformation, the report reveals that much less attention is currently devoted to the determinants of entrepreneurship.
The report calls for a renewed 'developmental state' that engages in transformative, mission-oriented investments and involves the private sector in a strategic vision that charts a clear path for development.
Policymakers should provide support that is tailored to the life cycle of firms – start-up, scale-up, maturity – based on objective selection criteria and linking clearly communicated time-bound rewards, advantages and incentives to performance. Entrepreneurship policies need also to foster linkages between firms of different sizes, stages of maturity and sectors, for instance by means of business clusters, networking and alliances which allow for a sustained flow of new ideas into firms throughout their life cycle and enable dynamic growth.
Greater attention needs to be given to the development of domestic supply chains, since linking LDCs to global value chains has not provided any significant boost to local enterprise development.
Coherence and coordination between entrepreneurship policies, industrial policies, rural policies and policies for science, technology and innovation are also critical, as is entrepreneurship skills development in education.
The report also recommends for a pragmatic, strategic and evolutionary approach to increase public-sector capabilities, enact locally-appropriate institutional reforms, build on centres of excellence, promote policy learning and nurture coalitions for change.
Briefing the press in the capital about the report, former vice chair of National Planning Commission (NPC), Swarnim Wagle said that the LDCs including Nepal have not been able to create conducive environment to link themselves to global supply chains. "Global value chains (GVCs) have tightened the conditions for LDC local entrepreneurship," he said, adding that it’s harder competition for many of these countries. "LDCs need to strategically reframe policy to unlock GVC potential opportunities."
He further stated that if Nepal wants to graduate to the league of developing nations then the country needs to promote entrepreneurship among the youths based on the spirit of the SDGs. Also speaking at a panel discussion, founders of some start-ups including Tootle and Khaalisisi said that scaling up their businesses has been a major challenge for them. 

UNESCO report warns not to ignore the education needs of internal migrants

Three quarters of all those on the move are internal migrants, often moving from rural to urban areas to find better opportunities, and the governments are failing to address their education needs.
Depending on the definition, Asia has the highest rates of internal migration, at each education level. The new UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report, 'Building bridges, not walls', looks at the implications for these movements on education systems.
"Countries are underestimating the education needs of children on the move," director of the GEM report Manos Antoninis said, adding that many governments, like India, have made efforts, including to track migrant children, to set up seasonal hostels or boarding schools and translate school materials. "But they may be missing the bigger picture."
Schools must reflect cultural differences and improve teacher training, the report reads, "Until then, the value of an education will always lose to the attraction of earning money through work."
The report also shows that in India 10.7 million rural children lived in households with a seasonal migrant in 2013. "About 28 per cent of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to a national average of 18 per cent," it states, adding that about 80 per cent of temporary migrant children in seven Indian cities lacked access to education near worksites. "Children of brick kiln workers in Punjab state of India in 2015 were found to work 7-9 hours a day."
 Entitled ‘Building bridges, not walls’, the report also warns of registration and documentation requirements set up to reduce migratory flows that make it harder to enter schools, and have effects even long after they have been eased.
Likewise, in China, despite major reforms to reduce residence permit restrictions since 2006, migrants in Beijing still have to provide five certificates to enroll in schools.
The report emphasises the acute education needs faced by children living in slums in the region.
The report also warns of the negative impact on children’s education that being left behind as parents migrate can have.
The report – published by UN – identifies the education of internal migrants being at risk of neglect by governments in Asia, with the acute education needs of migrant children and slum dwellers not being met. The report substantially covers the education policies and status across India, China, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Indonesia and highlights the systematic neglect of the Rohingya community in the region.

Monday, November 19, 2018

US Mission helps to promote responsible recruitment

The US Mission is helping government to foster strong partnerships to promote ethical and fair recruitment practices in the foreign employment process for Nepalis.
"The US government – through US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners – stands committed to support Nepal's leadership in finding those win-win solutions that serve everyone, the government, the private sector, and the Nepali people," said newly arrived US ambassador to Nepal Randy W Berry, speaking at the programme – jointly hosted by the USAID and the National Business Initiative (NBI) – here today.
"Collectively, I’m confident that we can make ethical recruitment happen and, in turn, protect and promote the socio-economic wellbeing of the people and businesses in Nepal," he added.
Addressing the programme that saw key representatives from the government, private sector, civil society, development organisations, labour minister Gokarna Bista, highlighted the government’s priorities and plans and reiterated his commitment to ensuring good governance and oversight of foreign recruitment practices.
President of NBI Padma Jyoti, on the occasion, also underscored the need to institutionalise responsible and ethical recruitment processes in Nepal. 
Migration contributes to an equal to nearly 25 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). If face, over half of all Nepali households have at least one migrant family member abroad or living in Nepal as a returnee.
 USAID’s Hamro Samman Project – implemented by Winrock International – builds upon more than two decades of US government support to counter human trafficking in Nepal.  The project’s goal is to reduce the prevalence of trafficking in persons by strengthening existing government, civil society, and private sector policies and systems.
Hamro Samman is forging partnerships with private sector actors to promote ethical recruitment and encourage zero tolerance for exploitation in accordance with national laws and policies, specifically, to counter trafficking and exploitation in foreign labor migration.

EIB to support Nepal in energy, transport and forestry

European Investment Bank is supporting Nepal for energy, transport and forestry.
"Nepal has shown how investment in renewable energy can both transform access to electricity and harness clean power sources to benefit rural communities," said vice president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) responsible for South Asia and global energy activity Andrew McDowell, ahead of his arrival in Kathmandu.
The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting transformational climate related investment across Asia and my team and I look forward to discussing how the European Union’s Bank can strengthen engagement in Nepal in the years ahead," said McDowell, who is accompanied by a high-level delegation for a four-day visit to Nepal at the start of a South Asia regional visit this week.
Whilst in Nepal McDowell will meet Prime Minister KP Oli and government ministers, diplomats and business representatives to discuss future European Investment Bank engagement in Nepal. He will also attend a ground-breaking ceremony to formally mark the start of construction of the Chilime-Trishuli transmission line by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). The project is part financed by the European Investment Bank under its largest single project in Nepal.
The European Investment Bank has provided more than Euro190 million for energy investment across Nepal over the last five years.
Following Nepal McDowell will visit India to highlight support for improving access to clean energy and enabling expansion of renewable power generation.
The high-level delegation led by McDowell – for the first time in five years – is also expected to address financial crunch for physical infrastructure development of Nepal to some extent. The delegation will also hold consultations with politicians and industrialists to identify areas of the cooperation in energy, transport and forest sectors.
"This week’s visit by McDowell and colleagues from the European Investment Bank, the EU Bank, will allow future investment to be considered and recent support for rural electrification in Trishuli to be seen at first hand," ambassador and Head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Nepal Veronica Cody said, adding that the EU and Nepal recognise the challenges of a changing climate and the importance of new climate related investment.
The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and owned directly by the 28 European Union (EU) member states. The EIB supports investment in 160 countries worldwide and activity in Asia focuses on support for climate related investment.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

BRI to help Nepal: Finance Minister

Nepal can take advantage from China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to a minister.
"Nepal should not be skeptic of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as it could create a win-win situation for all the nations involved," said finance minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, inaugurating the third international conference on BRI organised by Nepal-China Friendship Forum here today.
He also claimed that the debts under the initiatives are sustainable and will come handy to Nepal at a time when the investments in infrastructures are set to decrease. "With more investments needed for social security, we are set to see a decrease in investments in infrastructures,” he said, adding that the Chinese loan will be of good help for Nepal.
All the nations under the initiative should come together in planning, working and sharing the benefits of the initiative to make sure that it becomes a success, though there is a widespread critisism of BRI, which is claimed to push a nation into a 'debt trap'.
Chinese ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong, on the occasion, said that BRI is not a debt trap for the South Asian developing nations. He also claimed that the initiative aims at creating a win-win situation for all the parties involved. "There are enough evidences which support the fact that the initiative can produce positive result," she said, adding that the international community is divided over the initiative with some nations terming the initiative as a 'Chinese debt trap'. Most of the critics have claimed the loans granted by China will create problems for the developing nations.
Citing the example of Sri Lanka which only owes 10 per cent of its foreign loans to China, the envoy said that China offers loan with interest rates, lower than those in the global market. "How can the loans be a problem,” she asked adding that it is high time that China and South Asian countries worked together for the initiative.
The two-day conference is engaging various international experts, who will come together in deliberations, sharing of experience, knowledge and expertise on various topics relating to BRI.

Make toilets and safe sanitation services accessible to all: WHO

All people everywhere should have access to safe sanitation services, including hygienic toilets that are connected to quality sewage systems, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
For many people across the WHO South-East Asia Region, as across the world, access to these services nevertheless remains a problem, with 900 million region-wide lacking basic sanitation, and more than 500 million practicing open defecation, said WHO regional director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, on the occasion of World Toilet Day, tomorrow.
"It leads to increased human-feces contact and the transmission of a range of diseases, from cholera to typhoid and hepatitis A and E to tapeworm," she sadi, adding that in recent years member states have made significant progress. "Region-wide, urban coverage of basic sanitation is now close to 70 per cent."
In a majority of countries rural coverage exceeds 50 per cent. The share of the region’s population practicing open defecation has meanwhile been reduced from more than 50 per cent to less than 30 per cent, while several member states have achieved more than 90 per cent coverage of basic sanitation services. "Though these advances are to be commended, more than that, however, they must also be built on. The return on every dollar invested in safe sanitation is estimated to be nearly six times, due in large part to lower health costs, increased productivity and fewer premature deaths," she added.
First, health authorities should work across sectors to ensure all communities have access to toilets that adequately contain excreta. Of key importance is targeting communities in hard-to-reach areas, as well as those living informally in cities or urban zones.
Second, authorities should ensure all toilets are connected to services that provide safe sewage treatment and disposal. This means conducting health-risk assessments of sanitation systems on an ongoing basis, with issues or gaps remedied as a matter of priority. It also means engaging planning authorities at the local level to ensure this process is sustainable and that the environment remains free of human waste.
And third, health facilities themselves must provide safe and functional water, sanitation and hygiene services. Region-wide, too many facilities still lack these basic services, representing a missed opportunity to drive down health care-associated infections, reduce the length of hospital stays and decrease maternal and newborn deaths among other benefits.
WHO, according to her, is committed to supporting member states as they strive to make toilets and safe sanitation services accessible to all. "Doing so will help achieve several of the region’s own Flagship Priorities, as well as the wider Sustainable Development Agenda (SDG), including SDG 3 and 6, on health and sanitation respectively," she added. "Indeed, as World Toilet Day highlights, the benefits of access to toilets and safe sanitation for all are many and must be harnessed to maximum effect."

King’s College to host province-level International Conference in Dhangadhi

King’s College announced the hosting of its third annual international conference on entrepreneurship, 'Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth in Federal Nepal' in Dhangadi of Sudur Paschim province.
While the conference to be held on November 22-24 is a continuation of its annual trend that began from 2016, it also marks the beginning of a new trend which is to organise a province-level international conference to foster the dialogue and stir actions in entrepreneurship ecosystem of all provinces.
"With the country adopting the federal model, we believe the spirit of entrepreneurship should not limit to Kathmandu but the equal share of cake should be tasted by the people across the nation,” informs principal of King’s College Narottam Aryal.
According to him, the major objectives of the conference is to assess, question and to understand the entrepreneurship agenda put forward by the country in the federal states, globally and nationally, look for its sustainability and seek its contribution to economic development.
“As an academic institute, we, therefore, want to provide an informed global platform to debate, build on good practice and seek novel solutions to flourish entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and thus contribute to economic growth,” he adds.
As Nepal prepares to decentralise country’s policies and programmes from formerly centralised government to the state and local levels, King’s College feels need to host an evidence-based conference in Nepal in order to support all stakeholders involved in the process of current transition, according to the conference coordinator Chittaranjan Pandey.
He further informed that the conference aims at touching upon some of the key issues that are crucial for driving entrepreneurial initiatives under Nepal’s decentralised economy. The sub-themes of the conference includes Federal, Provincial and Local Policies; Social Entrepreneurship; Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Private Sector and Entrepreneurship, and Vision 2030, SDGs and Entrepreneurship.
Issuing a press release, the College also informed that the conference will include plenary and parallel sessions, presentations and discussions of academic research, policy driven and reflective practitioner-oriented papers, networking opportunities for the future, showcase of entrepreneurial ventures, social interactions and awards for two best papers, including others.
The College has collaborated with Dhangadhi sub-metropolitan city to host the conference which is being held in support of Sudur Paschim Provincal Government. The three-day long event will also feature five noted international speakers – Prof Satyajit Majumdar and Dr Samapti Guha from TATA Institute of Social Science and Ulla-Maija Seppanen, Janne Karjalainen and Kimmo Paajanen from OAMK Labs Finaland (Oulu University of Applied Sciences)
King’s College had in 2016 hosted its first international conference – entitled, 'International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship', which was followed by the similar conference, '16th International Entrepreneurship Forum' in 2017 – in a bid to encourage dialogue on entrepreneurship and hold government responsible for policy change.

World Bank Group committed to support Nepal’s development goals

World Bank Group’s reiterated its commitment to support Nepal.
Concluding his five-day visit to Nepal, World Bank vice president for South Asia Region Hartwig Schafer today reiterated the World Bank Group’s commitment to support Nepal in its ambitious transition to federalism.
During his meeting with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Schafer congratulated the government’s visionary goal of reaching middle-income country status by 2030, and reaffirmed the World Bank’s commitment to support government priorities to help the country raise additional finance from a broader range of sources.
Likewise, in his meeting with finance minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada he also discussed further support to the federalism transition, as well as the planned International Investors’ Conference in 2019 in support of Nepal’s agenda to crowd in private finance for development.
"With a stable government that has prioritised broad-based reforms and private sector-driven growth, I am positive that Nepal can achieve higher growth rates for the next several years," he said, adding that the World Bank wants to help Nepal mobilise investments from sources that go beyond traditional development finance to sustain higher growth. "We call this approach Maximizing Finance for Development."
Private sector investment will only come if there is a transparent, conducive policy environment,” he said, “Nepal is one of the first countries where we are approaching this in a systematic way with the World Bank, IFC and MIGA coming in and helping to provide a platform for private investments in the energy, technology, and other sectors."
This will also create jobs for more and more Nepalis, which is the need of the hour, he added.
The WB vice president also had a joint field visit with finance minister Khatiwada and energy minister Barsha Man Pun to discuss the potential of tourism, hydropower and private sector investment in the country. The team visited Solukhumbu district and Sankhuwasabha district before seeing houses being rebuilt after the earthquake in the Majhi settlement of Gaikhura in Manthali Municipality, Ramechhap. 
Walking through the houses being rebuilt, Schafer met members of local communities, commending their resilience and efforts to build back better after the earthquake. He also met elected members of parliament and local level representatives. “It is heartening to see the collective effort of so many actors to ensure that people’s homes and lives are rebuilt,” Schafer said, adding, "We must pick up the pace of reconstruction, and also ensure that disaster risk reduction measures are put in place to deal with future contingencies."
The World Bank has provided a credit of $500 million to the government through the Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Project.
In Kathmandu, Schafer also participated in the launch of a joint report of the World Bank Group entitled 'Country Private Sector Diagnostic: Creating Markets in Nepal'. He was a part of the signing of two agreements between the government and World Bank. The agreements, totaling $155.7 million, will be invested in the construction and maintenance of safe, resilient and cost-effective bridges in Nepal, and in improving food security of vulnerable households and communities.
In his first visit to Nepal as the World Bank vice president for South Asia, Schafer also met with opinion leaders, senior government officials and civil society representatives. In engaging with the private sector, he visited Saral Urja Nepal – the investee clients of Business Oxygen (BO2), an IFC SME-Venture Fund – and Incessant Rain Animation Studios, a state-of-the-art animation and visual effects studio.
After his interactions with the team at Incessant Rain, Schafer commented thathe enjoyed the opportunity to visit an enterprise that is nurturing the artistic and creative talents of the Nepalese youth. "With a world class facility that provides services to well- known international clients, organisations like this play an important role in putting Nepal on the map as an outsourcing destination."
Apart from contributing to the economic growth through exports and job creation, it is a pleasure to see a home-grown company that promotes the country’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. "It is the kind of future we want for the private sector in Nepal, and the World Bank is committed to support this vision," he added.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Surya Nepal, Siddhartha Rana highest taxpayers

Siddhartha SJB Rana bagged the award for paying the highest amount of income tax in individual category, whereas Surya Nepal paid the highest tax among the companies. Likewise, Sipradi Trading paid the highest tax among trading companies for the last fiscal year 2016-17.
Rana – the executive chairman of Sipradi Trading – has bagged the highest taxpayer award for the fifth time in last seven years. The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) today honoured Rana and Sipradi Trading amid a function organised in the capital today, on the occasion of 7th National Tax Day.
Rana was awarded the highest taxpayer for the consecutive five years (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17), whereas Sipradi Trading has earned the distinction of being the highest income tax payer among trading companies for the consecutive four years – from 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16 to 2016-17.
Along with being the executive chairman of Sipradi Trading, Siddhartha SJB Rana has been instrumental in consolidating and expanding various businesses in Nepal. As a young visionary in the Nepali corporate world, he was selected as the 'Global Leader for Tomorrow' by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Davos in 2001. Rana is a committed philanthropist in education, economic upliftment, heritage preservation and wildlife conservation. He has made the single-largest personal donation to Help Nepal Network (HeNN) that works in the field of health and education in rural Nepal. Rana was also awarded with the Karobar Excellence Award 2018 as the highest individual taxpayer of the country.
Likewise, Sipradi is a major player in automotive and allied business for over 37 years in Nepal. The company has been a sole distributor of Tata Motors, India and is an exclusive distributor of MAK Lubricants, Michelin Tires, Exide Batteries, TATA-Hitachi and other various line of products in Nepal. Sipradi was also honoured by Inland Revenue Department (IRD) for being the first company in Nepal to embrace and implement Central Billing Monetary System (CBMS) in the year 2017 and bringing all trading records of the firms into the government’s surveillance system. 
The government has honoured some 15 highest taxpayers under different categories today to promote the taxpaying culture in the country. Finance Minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada honoured the top companies in 15 categories during the programme organised by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).
Leaving the last year's highest tax payers telecom companies far behind, multinational company Surya Nepal was announced the highest taxpayer this year. Surya Nepal has been a top taxpayer twice in the past as well,
Probiotech Industries (agro and livestock sector) under the the Nimbus Holdings that deals with around 20 products in animal feed, another 20 in feed supplements and 20 more in fine chemicals, vaccines and medicines also bagged the award. Likewise, Chhimek Laghubitta Bittaya Sanstha (cooperatives and microfinance institutions), Nabil Bank (bank and financial institutions and remittance companies), Nepal Reinsurance Company (among insurance companies), Noble Medical College and Teaching Hospital (among health and education service providers) and F1 Soft International (IT sector), Taragaon Regency Hotels (tourism sector), Nepal Investment (companies with annual turnover up to Rs 400 million), Nepal Stock Exchange (highest amount of income tax among the list of companies which have annual turnover between Rs 400 million and Rs 800 million), Dabur Nepal and Himal Power.
Addressing the programme, finance minister Dr Khatiwada urged to pay tax. "Non-payment of tax would be a hindrance to the nation," he said, stressing on the need of raising awareness that even the lowest tax-payer is a respectable tax-payer.
Likewise finance secretary Dr Rajan Khanal, on the occasion, said that the government is planning tax reform and that some changes have been visible in the last few years.
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) president Bhawani Rana, Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) chair Hari Bhakta Sharma and president of Nepal Chambers of Commerce Rajesh Kaji Shrestha drew the government’s attention towards creating environment conducive for investment in the industrial sector by making industry-friendly taxation system.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Number of Nepali students reach highest in US

Nepalis are the fifth largest foreign community to receive H-1B visa to the US between 2012 and May this year. "The number of Nepali students studying in the US has increased by 14.3 per cent over the prior year," according to a report.
The '2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange' data released by IIE and the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the number of Nepali students in the US has once again posted the highest growth among the top 25 sending countries, and increased to a record level, totaling 13,270, the third year in a row to see growth. "Nepal now ranks 10th among the top 25 for undergraduate students in the US," the report reads. "Six years ago, Nepali community was the 13th largest foreign community to get the employment visa to the US."
India with 101,211 recipients is the largest foreign community to receive H-1B visa, followed by China, South Korea and Taiwan. "International students studying alongside Americans are a tremendous asset to the US," assistant secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce said, adding that they need to develop leaders in all fields who can take on the toughest challenges. "We need people who can find solutions that keep us secure and make us more prosperous. We want to send a message that international education makes us stronger as a country."
In the 2017-2018 academic year, for the third consecutive year, the US colleges and universities hosted more than one million international students, reaching a record, of 1.09 million students. It said there was 20 per cent increase of Nepali students enrolled in the US higher education institutions in 2017, taking the size of total Nepali students to 11,607. Though the enrollment data put Nepali students at 13th position, their growth was the highest among foreign students.
It also marks the twelfth consecutive year of continued expansion. The number of Americans studying in Nepal has also significantly increased – by 57 per cent – compared to the previous year. "We believe, institutional collaboration and student exchange programs have played a vital role in stimulating growth over the past two years."
The Open Doors Report also marks the celebration of International Education Week (IEW) from November 12- 16, a joint initiative of the US Department of State and the US Department of Education, designed to attract future leaders from other countries to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the US. In support of IEW 2018, the US Embassy in Nepal’s partner organisations, The United States Educational Foundation Nepal (USEF), EducationUSA Reference Center Learning House, and American Center will host ‘Get Inspired’ programmes featuring Nepali alumni of US universities, student visa sessions by Embassy’s Consular officers, trivia, host webinars an online college fair and other activities to discuss and promote US higher education and career options for Nepali students.
According to Education Ministry of, some 2,485 students acquired No Objection Certificates to study in the US which is fourth highest after India, Australia and Japan.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Families are the first line of defense in the battle to prevent and manage diabetes

Families that know the signs, symptoms, risks and complications of diabetes are best positioned to prevent the disease and seek medical care to manage it. Health authorities region-wide should harness this capacity given an estimated 91 million people in the WHO South-East Asia Region live with diabetes, with around 49 million unaware of their condition. Undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes type 1 and type 2 can cause heart, kidney, nerve and eye damage, as well as premature death.
The importance families have in creating awareness of the risks of diabetes – including overweight and obesity – and in preventing and managing it, is apparent. Families provide a ready-made means to instill healthy habits that last a lifetime, dramatically reducing the risk of diabetes type 2, which accounts for the majority of diabetes cases. They can also help ensure the disease is detected and managed effectively. Doing so will avoid complications and the costs it results in for individuals, families, communities and countries.
As part of the Region’s Flagship Priority of tackling noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – to which diabetes is a major contributor – Member States Region-wide can empower families to address the disease and enhance health outcomes. That should occur at the same time as increasing access to services for diabetes and other NCDs at the primary health care level, as outlined in the Colombo Declaration adopted Region-wide in 2016. There are several ways to do this.   
First, health authorities should ensure all families have access to educational resources that help them better understand diabetes. This can be done via social and behavioral change campaigns that emphasise the family unit as a first line of defense, at the same time as highlighting how they can work together to develop healthy habits and diminish the risk of diabetes.
Second – and to enable this – health authorities can work across sectors to increase the access individuals and families have to healthy environments. The creation of green spaces and outdoor gyms in urban areas, for example, can facilitate exercise and the weight management it brings. So too can policies to decrease the amount of sugar and fat in foods and enhance people’s ability to make healthier choices.
And third, all families should have access to affordable diabetes medicines, medical products and care. This starts with ensuring services at the primary level are equipped to detect the disease and that a reliable supply of medicines and medical products used to manage it are on hand. It extends to ensuring those medicines and medical products are affordable to all and are of adequate quality.
Each of the Region’s Member States are dedicated to implementing National Multisectoral Action Plans to tackle NCDs and to prevent, treat and beat diabetes, including by applying the WHO Package of essential noncommunicable disease interventions (WHO PEN) at the primary level. This is commendable. WHO will continue to support all Member States empower families to tackle diabetes head-on, and to ensure all families everywhere can do so effectively.

Nepal, World Bank sign two agreements to enhance connectivity and human capital

Nepal and the World Bank today signed two agreements totaling $155.7 million to be invested in the construction and maintenance of safe, resilient and cost-effective bridges in the country, and in improving food security of vulnerable households and communities in the country.
“With these two projects, the government and World Bank will come together to ensure better livelihoods, access, trade and life opportunities for thousands of Nepalis,” said finance minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada. "The first credit of $133 million will be instrumental in ensuring the well-being of the Strategic Roads Network, comprising of roughly 12,142 km of national highways, feeder roads and other roads of national importance," he said, adding that the second project will be in the form of a grant of $22.7 million that contributes to the government’s capacity to deliver agriculture extension services at the decentralised levels, and to diversify income opportunities for the rural poor.
The first credit will finance the $133 million Second Bridges Improvement and Maintenance Programme targeting approximately 477 bridges along the country's Strategic Roads Network. It includes maintenance support for approximately 90 bridges and upgrading road safety measures on approximately 180 existing bridges to help reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The programme will also support construction, rehabilitation or replacement of approximately 80 new two-lane bridges and 35 four-lane bridges. In addition, it will help the Department of Roads (DoR) complete construction of 92 bridges that are vital to improving connectivity and access throughout Nepal.
"We are deepening our collaboration with the government through the development and sustainability of key strategic bridges, and through enhancement of food security and nutrition," vice president of World Bank for South Asia Region Hartwig Schafer said, adding that these contribute greatly to Nepal’s development storyline by addressing the need for connectivity, human capital development and shared prosperity.
Under the second agreement, the multi-donor Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) will provide a $22.7 million grant to support the Food and Nutrition Enhancement Project. The project aims at improving the health and livelihoods of approximately 65,000 direct beneficiaries, of which 65 per cent will target women. It will work with smallholder and marginal farmers to improve nutritional behaviour by linking it with agriculture-related and income-enhancing activities. In addition, farmers from adjacent communities are expected to indirectly benefit through knowledge exchanges and other engagements from project-supported farmers.
The agreements were signed by finance secretary Rajan Khanal and the World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, Qimiao Fan, in the presence of finance minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada and World Bank vice president for South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Foreign aid resources must complement: Finance Minister

Finance Minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada stressed that foreign aid resources must complement, rather than crowd out, domestic resources mobilisation.
Inaugurating the annual meeting of the International Aid Transparency Initiative’s (IATI) Technical Advisory Group (TAG) in the Valley today, he said that the ultimate objective of any aid programme should be to build domestic resource capacity so that recipient countries such as Nepal can reduce, rather than prolong, their dependency on aid.
He also spoke about the importance of improving the transparency of aid resources, noting that transparency was the basis for accountability, which in turn ensures that development cooperation resources are better managed for results. "Development cooperation must support efforts to avoid conflict, protect harmonious social fabric, build peace, and improve global governance," he added.
The minister also recalled the aid effectiveness principles set out in the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action, suggesting that initiatives like IATI have an important role to play in monitoring the implementation of such principles.
With reference to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he reminded to consider whether there should be a specific indicator in SDG 17 focusing on ensuring aid transparency.
While appreciating the role of global aid transparency initiatives such as IATI, Khatiwada also recognised the enabling role that partner countries like Nepal must play, including in the design of credible programs, strategies and policies which allow for cooperation resources to produce intended results. "In order for data to be put to good use, there must be robust systems in place at country level, including for planning, monitoring and public financial management," he said.
More than 150 representatives of the governments from different countries, development partners, civil society organisation and the media are participating in the three-day meeting, according to Finance Ministry. The meeting has been conducted for the first time in Asia in the history of the organisation. Started in 2008, IATI is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to improve the transparency of development and humanitarian resources for addressing poverty and crisis. The technical advisory group is an expert community that informs IATI’s approach to data publication and use.
Khatiwada also expressed his appreciation to the organisers for choosing Nepal as venue to hold this important meeting.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Airbus A220 makes maiden landing in Nepal

The newest addition to the Airbus family of commercial aircraft – the A220 – has made its first visit to Nepal as part of a world demonstration tour.
The A220-300, bearing airBaltic livery, went on display at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) yesterday and today. As part of its world demonstration tour, the jet touched down at the Zhuhai Airshow in China on November 5, according to the Airbus.
"The aircraft – formerly known as the CSeries –landed in Chengdu on November 9 and then toured Koh Samui in Thailand on November 10,"aircraft interiors marketing director of Airbus Christine De Gagne said, adding that the jet is scheduled to land in Istanbul, Turkey today evening. "It will then return to airBaltic’s base in Riga, Latvia on Wednesday."
According to Gagne, there have been more than 400 orders for the A220 family of aircraft. So far 43 A220-300s have been delivered, she said. "The aircraft can accommodate 145 passengers and offers exceptional performance, comfort and profitability and is well-suited for high altitude airports such as Kathmandu."
In October 2017, Airbus struck an agreement with Bombardier to become a partner and 50 per cent majority shareholder in the CSeries programme, with Bombardier and the Quebec, government’s investment arm, Investissement Québec, owning approximately 34 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively.
The deal was finalised on July 1 and later the Airbus officially rebranded the CSeries as the A220. The A220 family comprises two models, the A220-100 (with 100-135 seats) and A220-300 (with 130-160 seats), formerly Bombardier’s CS100 and CS300.
Powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1500G geared turbofan engines, the jet offers at least a 20 per cent lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft, the airbus said in a statement. With a range of up to 3,200 nautical miles (5,020-km), the A220 offers the performance of larger single aisle aircraft.
Its biggest customers are Delta Air Lines (75 aircraft), airBaltic (50 aircraft) and Air Canada (45 aircraft). The only airline customer in Asia is Korean Air, which has eight A220-300s in its fleet and two more on order.

Nepal to host Colombo Process meeting

Nepal – as a chair of the Colombo Process – is hosting ministerial consultation meeting of the Colombo Process. 
"The government has finalised the preparations to hold the fifth senior officials meeting and sixth ministerial consultation meeting of the Colombo Process," according to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.
The ministerial consultation meeting is scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, labour secretary Mahesh Dahal said, adding that the meeting will be held on November 15-16 in Kathmandu. "The meeting will discuss on ‘How to make the foreign employment sector well-managed and addressing the present issues'."
It is also a forum to facilitate dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest and concern relating to labour mobility. The Colombo Process – established in 2003 – is a regional consultative process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origins in Asia. The Colombo Process has 12 member states – including Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam – and eight observer countries. "Of the 12 countries, eight have already confirmed their participation," he added. Dahal also informed that the meetings will also unveil the Kathmandu Declaration on labour issues.
The meeting – being organised by the government under technical support of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) – will also be attended by representatives from Abu Dhabi Dialogue, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and Association of Southeast Asian Nations as observers. The Abu Dhabi Dialogue is a labour hosting countries whereas the Colombo Process is the labour sending countries.
During the ministerial meeting, Nepal will present a country report including its work and achievements over the past year as the chair of the Colombo Process.
Nepal had succeeded Sri Lanka as the chair of the Colombo Process on March 29, 2017 and the last meeting had formed five thematic area working groups to conduct studies on concerned priorities of various labour issues.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Baglamukhi Oil Store misuses software to cheat consumers

Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) today sealed Baglamukhi Oil Stores at Sano Bharyang in Kathmandu for cheating the customers. "The fuel store misused software in the digital dispensing system to cheat customers by giving them up to 3.2 per cent less petrol than they paid for," according to the bureau's director general Bishwo Babu Pudasaini.
The system had been tampered with, he said, adding that the system operates in normal mode when the attendants give general instruction to the software just to avoid scrutiny by the government monitoring team.
Three years ago, some fuel stations in Kathmandu Valley were found using chips and remote control to cheat the consumers. "The bureau grilled Baglamukhi Oil Stores as we have received complaints from the motorists," he said, adding that the bureau had cross checked with other petrol pumps which have been using similar digitalised dispensers to confirm the cheating. "The proprietor of the fuel store will face action under the new Civil Code, if he is found guilty, apart from seizing the operating licence."
There are around 120 petrol pumps in the Valley. The bureau suspects that some of them are cheating the customers by manipulating the digital meter. "The department has also issued circular to petrol pumps not to use technicians until it has completed the investigations of all the petrol pumps in the Valley."
Last month too, the bureau had found similar malpractice in three petrol pumps in Bara district. The bureau is filing cases against these petrol pumps soon. Likewise, the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest has slapped Bhadrakali Oil Store in Gothatar with a fine of Rs 200,000 for giving customers short measure. The pump had tampered with the fuel dispenser to dispense 25-35 millilitres less for every litre of petrol than what customers were paying for. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Nepal to host Disarmament Affairs Office courses

The United Nations (UN) Office for Disarmament Affairs – in cooperation with its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining – is organising two sub-regional training courses to engage States of Central, South and South East Asia on the subject of conventional ammunition management, in particular the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines and the UN SaferGuard Programme.  The training will be held from November 11 to 16 in Kathmandu.
Inadequately managed ammunition stockpiles pose the dual dangers of unintended explosions and diversion to illicit markets. In response to these challenges, the UN developed the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines in 2011, to provide practical, step by step guidance for all stakeholders wishing to improve the safety and security of ammunition storage sites.  In parallel, the UN SaferGuard Programme was launched as the complementary platform for managing knowledge of conventional ammunition issues within the UN. Activities under the UN SaferGuard Programme support realising the 'Saving lives' pillar of the secretary general’s agenda for disarmament – Securing Our Common Future – specifically action 22 on securing excessive and poorly maintained stockpiles.
The subregional training aims at increasing awareness of the UN SaferGuard Programme – with a view to supporting national authorities in the safe and secure ammunition management.  Furthermore, the training will serve as a platform to introduce the 'UN SaferGuard Validation Process', with a view to encouraging the participation of technical ammunition experts from Asia and the Pacific in future validation exercises.
The UN SaferGuard Validation Process is developing an objective methodology for validating technical expertise in relation to ammunition, in accordance with the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines. The process also seeks to populate a roster of experts for use by the UN SaferGuard Quick Response Mechanism.
In support of the validation process, and to define the essential criteria for rostered ammunition experts, participants in the sub-regional training will engage in a survey of national ammunition management systems.
The survey’s findings will support the development of standardized methodology by illustrating differences in educational and training models for managing ammunition.
The trainings are made possible with financial support from Sweden.