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Nation Weekly January 23, 2005, Volume 1, Number 40 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2005-01-23

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 CROWDED SKIES I CAVES OF AJANTA I SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
JANUARY 23,2005 VOL. I, NO. 40
1o, RoV\  «Pf % anilfo
www.nation.com.np
WEEKLY
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 REPORTS
20 On the Edge
. Byfohn Narayan Parajuli
When a country is torn apart
I by conflict, human rights
violations rise. Those who
make the problems public risk
becoming targets themselves.
30 Education as Usual
By Koshraj Koirala
A compromise may put an end to the
12-year politically tainted wrangle over
the fate of the Proficiency Certificate
Level program. But the decision is
unlikely to advance higher education.
32 Risky Business
Byfohn Narayan Parajuli
Since 1991 a number of
airlines have gone from
boom to bust. Cutthroat
competition with so many operators
in a small market makes survival
difficult.
LIFESTYLE
42 Small is Beautiful
By Kumud Nepal
Small IT enterprises have
sprung up across the Valley.
With a staff of anywhere
from two to 20, these
businesses provide computer services
as good as the big outfits.
BUSINESS
M
37 A New Look
By Indra Adhikari
Nepal Investment Bank responds to
vigorous competition in the banking
sector
ARTS AND SOCIETY
35 Tapestry
in the Caves
By Veneeta Singha
The Ajanta paintings are
rich. Not only have they
captured the quintessence
of the paintings but also brought the
modern world closer to early Buddhism.
COVER STORY
22 Bitter Medicine
By Biswas Baral and Yashas Vaidya
Nepal lacks a proper monitoring mechanism to oversee the sale of medicinal
drugs. Drugs, even those requiring proper prescriptions, are readily sold over
the counter. This has led to rampant misuse and, worse, abuse of these lifesaving
drugs.
COLUMNS
DEPARTMENTS
11 Lame-Duck
Argument
Byfogendra Ghimire
28   Stalemate
By Bipin Adhikari
34 I'm Only
Fooling Myself
ByKunalLama
38 Disaster, Opportunity
and Questions
By Swarnim Wagle and
Man Bahadur Thapa in Colombo
6 LETTERS
10 PICTURE OF THE WEEK
12 CAPSULES
15 BIZ BUZZ
15 MILESTONE
40 CITY PAGE
44 SNAPSHOTS
48 KHULA MANCH
50 LAST PAGE
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
 Lette
1
5:
s> i
5161 CCS
^*     ml
5S  s
Both the Army and
Maoists are making
things very difficult
for rights workers ii
R. KARKI
Rights muddle
AT A TIME WHEN PEOPLE ARE
looking at the country's free press to shed
light on difficult problems before us, you
have added to the muddle ("Human Rights
Muddle," by Koshraj Koirala, Jan. 16). In
a roundabout way, the reporter accused
the human rights workers of creating
confusion over alleged harassment by the
security forces. You don't need an analyst
to tell you that the Army and the Maoists
are making things very difficult for human rights workers and activists who are
determined to publicize their poor human rights record.
R KARKI
VIA EMAIL
YES, I HAVE A LOT OF SYMPATHY
for the human rights workers and I
laud the difficult task they are doing.
That doesn't, however, mean people
should believe everything they say.
They must come out in the open and
make it public the 19 names that are
said to be on the RNAs "blacklist." And
indeed, whether there is such a list at
all—the Army has repeatedly said in
recent days that there is no such thing
as a secret list of human rights workers it plans to eliminate or target. Yet
there has been relentless noise of such
a diabolical list. If human rights workers have been threatened by the Army
officials, they should come forward and
say so. Beating round the bush doesn't
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 help their cause. Name them and shame
them.
PRAB IN REGMI
VIA EMAIL
Home analysts
THE ARTICLE ON HOW NEPAL'S
Maoist movement is perceived by the
outside world was most certainly one
of your better cover stories ("Maoist
Conundrum," by John Narayan
Parajuli, Jan. 9). Often, you get a better view of history from afar, and hence
it is very important to understand how
the international community is reacting to Asia's most violent insurgency.
That said, I have one important issue
with the article: You quoted American academia as if its views alone represent the international opinion on the
Maoists. Some noted scholars of the
Maoist movement are, in fact, based
right here in Nepal and their views
would have added to the overall understanding of the Maoist movement.
BINOY JOSHI
KATHMANDU
Don't lecture, listen
KUDOS TO SUMAN PRADHAN FOR
seeing what most of us have failed to:
Prime Minister Deuba has hardly ventured outside Kathmandu for public
consultations of substance since he
took office in June ("Go Listen,"
Meanwhile, Jan. 2). Whenever he does,
NTV and Radio Nepal always show
him in lecture mode. Little wonder,
all Nepalis are growing up to be
"problem kids," because their guardians assume that they know everything
about them and seldom bother to listen to them. Personally, I have never
felt as abandoned as a people as I have
the last couple of years. Nepal is a
broken home; we are children in distress. Is anybody receiving the SOS
messages?
SMRITI GHALE
LALITPUR
Web content
I AM A REGULAR READER OF YOUR
web edition and I like most ofthe content. It is very frustrating, however,
when your website doesn't get updated on time or when some of the
links are dead. Please improve your
archive as well. Though I am based
outside Kathmandu, I have seen your
print editions, which look sleek and
well done. It is time you gave some
thought to improving your web content as well.
SUDHA LAMICHHANE.
VIA EMAIL
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Vol. I, No. 40. For the week January 17-23, 2005, released on January 17
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  Lega
Lame-Duck Argument
The controversy over the appointment ofthe Nepal Rastra Bank governor was bad enough. Now the
attorney general has made it look worse.
BY JOGENDRA GHIMIRE
This is not an argument in support of Yubaraj Khatiwada's appoint
ment as the governor ofthe Nepal Rastra Bank. In fact, by all
indications, he won't get the top job at the central bank ofthe
country because ofthe politics involved in the governor's appointment
and the way that has muddied the whole process. The CPN-UML's
vociferous advocacy on behalf of Khatiwada, a well-regarded monetary
economist, has not helped the matter much. It only seems to have
made the prime minister and his party colleagues in the government
more resolute to have one oftheir men in the position.
Yes, the underlying political machination has done a lot of harm to
the institution ofthe central bank. In the public eye, the coveted position
ofthe governor has been reduced to the rank of a party karya-karta and
the parties in power seem just too keen to misuse the authority of the
governor to bend the financial rulebook to serve their interests.
There is, however, a deeper issue at stake. It has to do with our
respect as a society for an individual's professional competence, irrespective of her standing in an organizational hierarchy. And, our inclination to take the easy route by promoting the senior-most person every
time there is a vacancy at the top.
In response to the government's call for advice on the legality of
having Khatiwada's name on the list ofthe three individuals recommended for the governor's job, the attorney general has said that
Khatiwada does not qualify under the Nepal Rastra Bank Act 2002. The
reason: Khatiwada is not a deputy governor in the Nepal Rastra Bank
hierarchy.
The provision on the appointment ofthe governor in the act says that
the government shall appoint the governor on the basis ofthe recommendation of a three-member committee headed by the finance minister. The same provision also requires the committee to recommend
three persons either renowned in the economic, monetary, banking,
! 5
finance, commercial law and management sectors or from among the
Deputy Governors.
(As of now, the very authority of that recommendation committee is
under question due to a stay order issued bythe Supreme Court, raising
the issue of conflict of interest because ofthe participation in that committee of a former governor, Ganesh BahadurThapa, who also happens
to be the chairman of a finance company. The apex court hears the case
again on Jan. 8.)
In light ofthe legal provision, the reasoning ofthe attorney general
seems to have run something like this: The prospective governor should
either be a renowned person in any ofthe fields outlined above, or be a
serving deputy governor; and Khatiwada, as a member ofthe National
Planning Commission, in fact maintains a lien with the central bank as
one of its executive directors and therefore doesn't qualify for the job.
The attorney general assumes that ifyou are anything less than a
deputy governor of the central bank, then there is no way you can be
"renowned in the economic, monetary, banking, finance, commercial
law and management sectors." But ifyou are an individual outside the
hierarchy ofthe central bank, you could still be considered "renowned"
even with less experience than most executive directors and other senior
officials ofthe NRB possess. The outgoing governor, Tilak Rawal, had
less than 10 years of direct banking experience as the head of the
Agriculture Development Bank and the Rastriya Banijya Bank before his
elevation as the governor.
There is something fundamentally flawed with line of legal analysis
that the attorney general seems to have followed. Ofthe many different
areas that one has to have expertise in, Khatiwada can be safely assumed to have competence in at least the economic, monetary and
banking sectors. Sure, he is not a deputy governor, but his standing
within the NRB does not mean he can't be an expert in any ofthe areas.
Hisjunior position did not prevent him from being appointed a member
of the National Planning Commission, which too assumes that an individual is an expert in the areas
of economics, planning and
administration.
In these deeply partisan
times, it is understandable that
an individual should be denied
office because of his alleged
political tie-ups. That very well
explains why Khatiwada is being sidelined. Whythen offera
lame legal argument to disqualify him? Whatever his position, or lack of one, in the
NRB hierarchy, he is at least
as competent, if not more,
than some of our recent governors. □
Mill I I
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
11
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Petroleum hike
The government raised the
price of the petroleum
products for the third time
in five months. All the major political parties including the NC and CPN-
UML expressed their disapproval at the hike.
Madhav Kumar Nepal, the
general secretary of UML,
called the move untimely.
The Nepal Students'
Union and the ANNFSU
took to the streets to protest the hike. The students
have demanded its annulment and have called for nationwide protests to pressure the government to go
back on its decision.
Rise in fares
In line with the hike in petroleum prices, there will be
increases of up to 20 percent
in transportation fares. The
Department of Transport
Management said the ticket-
price of the long-route
buses would be increased by
up to 15 percent while a 20
percent margin has been
given to the microbuses and
the buses going to the hilly
regions. Bus operators in
Kathmandu will be allowed
to increase their fares by
Rs.l. Taxi fares will increase
by one-seventh of the earlier
rate.
More aid
Nepal Red Cross Society
plans to raise as much as Rs.l.7
million to those displaced by
the tsunamis in Sri Lanka. The
Red Cross collected relief
materials that include blankets, clothes and utensils for
5,000 families. Separately the
employees of Soaltee Group
Private Limited contributed a
day's salary to help the tsunami
victims. The total amount collected was Rs.200,000. The
group is also organizing a golf
tournament on Jan. 29 to raise
more funds. Earlier, the government had donated $100,000
to Sri Lanka and $50,000 to the
Maldives.
.L
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 >ules
Stay order
The Supreme Court ordered
the government not to go
ahead with the appointment
ofthe governor ofthe Nepal
Rastra Bank. A three-man
committee headed by Bharat
Mohan Adhikari, the deputy
prime minister, had proposed three names for the
post that will be vacant at the
end of the month. The stay
order came after a writ objecting to the presence of a
former governor, Ganesh
Bahadur Thapa, on the committee. Meanwhile, Attorney
General Mahadev Prashad
Yadav has said that one ofthe
contenders, Yuba Raj
Khatiwada, is ineligible, as
only deputy governors ofthe
bank should be considered
for the job.
Malaysian envoy
Malaysia has appointed
Mahendra Singh as its resident ambassador in Nepal.
This is the first time a Malaysian ambassador will reside in
Nepal. There are more than
200,000 Nepalis working in
Malaysia.
King's visit
King Gyanendra's visit to India, scheduled to begin from
Jan. 15, was postponed again.
The visit is being rescheduled as the King has to attend
the Samyak festival in
Swayambhunath, held every
12 years. The festival began on
Jan. 14 (see picture above).
The visit had been postponed
in December after the death
of former Indian Prime
Minister PV Narsimha Rao.
Budget increase
A finance ordinance that increased the total expenditure
for the ongoing fiscal year by
Rs.3.5 billion came into effect
last week. The increase was
made in order to meet the spi-
raling security expenditures
and dearness allowances for
Politics of poll
Last week, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
said that election dates would be announced
within a week's time. Deuba's ultimatum to
the Maoists to come for talks ran out on Thursday,
Jan. 13. Deuba had given the Maoists that deadline
last November. The prime minister had said that if
the Maoists failed to come for ward for talks by that
date, he would go for polls. Last week, the prime
minister said that the all options had been ex
hausted and that polls were the only way out.
The government spokesman, Mohammed
Mohsin, said that elections would be announced by January end. The UML Gen
eral Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal
and Deputy Prime Minster Bharat
Mohan Adhikari said the passing ofthe
deadline didn't rule out negotiations
with the Maoists.
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
civil servants. The Value Added
Tax, the VAT, has gone up to 13
percent from 10. Much ofthe
increase of Rs.l.3 billion in the
security budget will go toward
the adding 13,000 new recruits
in the Army.
British Gurkhas
The British government decided to review the terms and
conditions for Gurkha soldiers. The British Secretary of
State for Defense Geoff Hoon
made the announcement during a parliamentary session on
Wednesday, Jan. 12. He said
that the perks and benefits for
the Gurkha soldiers should be
reasonable and justifiable. The
British Gurkhas have been demanding pay and perks equal
to their British counterparts
for a long time.
Dead in Delhi
Two Nepalis were killed and
one injured in New Delhi
when a train ran them over on
Jan. 8. The two who died are
from Barhabishe VDC in
Bajura. The third Nepali is undergoing treatment at a hospital. All three were working as
security guards in a private
firm in the Indian capital.
13
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 YELLOW PAGES
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YELLOW PACKS 2005
Development Publication House has brought
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13th edition ofthe book. Unlike the past issues, the publication house claims that the
new issue is attractive and has more listings
and business information. Connection Yellow
pages is an information directory containing
useful telephone numbers and important details about business enterprises in Nepal.
PRICES HIKE
The government has raised the price of the
petroleum products for the third time in five
months. The government took the decision to
that effect on Monday, Jan. 10. A liter of petrol
will now cost Rs. 62, while diesel will cost Rs.41
per liter. The prices of both commodities have
gone up by 10.7 percent. There has been an
increase of Rs.100 in LP gas which will now
come for Rs.850 per cylinder. However, the
price of Kerosine has seen the biggest hike; its
prices rocketing to Rs.36 per liter from
Rs.28.57, a jump of 28.57 percent. The price
of subsidized kerosene has been set at Rs.30
per liter.
NEW PRE-PAID LINES
Nepal Telecom is
planning to issue
70,000 new prepaid cell phone
cards within the
next three weeks.
The telecom is also
planning to distribute cards outside the
valley. The company issued 50,000 pre-paid
cards in October last year. Of-
:ials say that Nepal Telecom is
considering setting up additional
Base Transm ission Stations to address the network problems the new lines will pose. The
company is planning to increase the number
of its stations to 90 from the existing 72.
CAN INFOTECH
Computer Association of Nepal is organizing
the 11th CAN InfoTech from Jan. 25 to Jan.
30. The biggest Information Technology related
event in Nepal is being organized at the Birendra
International Convention Center, Naya
Baneshwor. A total of 114 stalls will display
various IT products during the event. Two IT
institutions each from Singapore and
Bangladesh, and one each from Taiwan and
Sri Lanka, have also registered for the IT fare.
The upcoming exhibition will feature the latest
Nepali security system software, webcams,
wireless networking equipments, and mobile
technologies. The IT fare pulled a crowd of
180,000 last year.
NEW FILTER
Mama Bhanja Traders have introduced a new
water filter in the market. The filter equipped
with reverse osmosis is made with Star RO
technology. It is capable of filtering harmful
chemicals, as well as viruses and bacteria, the
traders say. It will come with an easy steam
iron facility, which will enhance the quality and
taste of beverages and soups.
VEGETABLE BAZAAR
The largest vegetable market in the valley will
be built at Manahara in Madhyapur Thimi. The
market will be called the 'Manahara Vegetable
and Fruit Wholesale and Export Market Complex,' the largest market of its kind in the country. The construction ofthe complex, expected
to be completed in five years, will cost an estimated Rs.400 million. The need for this kind
of market was felt due to the growing demand
of an organized setup for a fruit and vegetable
market in Kathamndu. The Kalimati wholesale
market deals in 400 to 500 metric tons of
agriculture commodities daily, which are worth
eight to nine million rupees.
PROMOTIONAL SCHEME
The consumers of Big Mimi noodles will now
be able to win immediate prizes of Rs.l to
Rs.lll. Fast Foods Nepal, a subsidiary of
Chaudhary Group, introduced the new promotional scheme for its noodles. Coupons of
Rs.1,111, Rs. 11,111 and Rs.lll,111 may
be found inside the Big Mimi packets anytime,
the company says. Big Mimi Noodles has been
awarded the Nepal Standard mark for its quality.
IA FARES
Indian Airlines has revised its Kathmandu-Delhi
fares. Effective from Jan. 16, the economy
class flight in the route will cost Rs.5,000 for
one way and Rs.9,600 for the round trip. The
fare for the executive flights is set at Rs.6,700
and Rs. 13,000 for one way and round trip
respectively. The revised tariff has come as a
promotional scheme by Indian Airlines and will
beineffecttillMarch31.
APPOINTED
Tirtha Man Shakya was appointed the
chairman ofthe Public Service Commission on the recommendation ofthe
Constitutional Council.
Shakya is the fourth chairman ofthe commission since the restoration of democracy in
1990. Yogendra Nath Ojha, the outgoingchair-
man, retired in October.
Shakya was born in 1944 in Hakhatole in
Lalitpur. Shakya holds Master's in Commerce
and Bachelor's in Law degrees from Tribhuvan
University. He entered thejudiciary as a section officer in 1965.
In 1994 Shakya was appointed the chairman ofthe Nepal Law Reform Commission.
He later served as the secretary at the Ministry
of Law between 1997 and 1999. In 1999
he was appointed the chief secretary of the
government.
Shakya has been an active social worker,
leading various organizations, including the
Hakhatole Reform Association where he has
been the president since 1987. He was a
member ofthe Social Welfare Council from
1982 to 1992.
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
15
 Yeti Airlines
(Covering remote sectors)
Effective from 01 Jan - 28 Feb 2005
From
To
Flight
Nlo.
Doys   of
Operation
n
Dep.
Time
Arr.
Time
Rupee    Tariff
One   woy
DollorToriff
One   woy
Remarks
Kathmandu
Lukla
YA 111
Daily
0700
0735
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA101
Daily
0705
0740
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA103
Daily
0710
0745
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA105
Daily
0715
0750
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA107
Daily
0840
0915
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YAH 3
Daily
0845
0920
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA109
Daily
0850
0925
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA 115
Daily
0855
0930
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YAH 7
Daily
1020
1055
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
yah?
1,2,4,5,6,7
1025
1100
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Taplejung
YA 901
3
1025
1135
2695
164
DHC-6/300
Phaplu
YA181
1,3,5
1030
1105
1480
85
DHC-6/300
Rumjatar
YA221
2,4,7
1030
1105
1245
61
DHC-6/300
Manang
YA601
6
1030
1130
2995
122
DHC-6/300
Meghauly
YA171
Daily
1130
1200
1340
79
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
YA173
Daily
1200
1225
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
YA175
Daily
1400
1425
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Simara
YA201
Daily
0825
0845
970
55
SAAB 340/B
Simara
YA141
Daily
1330
1355
970
55
DHC-6/300
Simara
YA143
Daily
1500
1525
970
55
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
Kathmandu
YA301
Daily
0700
0800
4800
109
SAAB 340B
Kathmandu
YA302
Daily
0700
0800
4800
109
SAAB 340B
Biratnagar
YA151
Daily
1000
1040
2585
85
SAAB 340B
Biratnagar
YA153
Daily
1210
1250
2585
85
SAAB 340B
Biratnagar
YA155
Daily
1700
1740
2585
85
SAAB 340B
Pokhara
YA131
Daily
0825
0850
1710
67
SAAB 340B
Pokhara
YA137
Daily
1000
1025
1710
67
SAAB 340B
Pokhara
YA135
Daily
1410
1435
1710
67
SAAB 340B
Bhairahawa
YA163
Daily
1550
1625
2220
79
SAAB 340B
Bhadrapur
YA121
Daily
1140
1230
2950
109
SAAB 340B
Nepalgunj
YA177
Daily
1415
1515
3500
109
SAAB 340B
Biratnagar
Kathmandu
YA152
Daily
1100
1140
2585
85
SAAB 340B
Biratnagar
Kathmandu
YA154
Daily
1310
1350
2585
85
SAAB 340B
Biratnagar
Kathmandu
YA156
Daily
1800
1840
2585
85
SAAB 340B
Pokhara
Kathmandu
YA132
Daily
0910
0935
1710
67
SAAB 340B
Pokhara
Kathmandu
YA138
Daily
1045
1110
1710
67
SAAB 340B
Pokhara
Kathmandu
YA136
Daily
1455
1520
1710
67
SAAB 340B
Bhairahawa
Kathmandu
YA164
Daily
1645
1720
2220
79
SAAB 340B
Bhadrapur
Kathmandu
YA122
Daily
1250
1340
2950
109
SAAB 340B
Nepalgunj
Kathmandu
YA178
Daily
1535
1635
3500
109
SAAB 340B
Lukla
Kathmandu
YA 112
Daily
0750
0825
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA102
Daily
0755
0830
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA104
Daily
0800
0835
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA106
Daily
0805
0840
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA108
Daily
0930
1005
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 114
Daily
0935
1010
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 110
Daily
0940
1025
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 116
Daily
0945
1020
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 118
Daily
1110
1145
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA120
1,2,4,5,6,7
1115
1150
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Phaplu
Kathmandu
YA182
1,3,5
1120
1155
1480
85
DHC-6/300
Meghauly
Kathmandu
YA172
Daily
1215
1245
1340
79
DHC-6/300
Rumjatar
Kathmandu
YA222
2,4,7
1120
1155
1245
79
DHC-6/300
Manang
Kathmandu
YA602
6
1145
1245
2995
122
DHC-6/300
Taplejung
Kathmandu
YA 902
3
1150
1300
2695
164
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
Kathmandu
YA174
Daily
1240
1305
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA176
Daily
1440
1505
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Simara
Kathmandu
YA202
Daily
0905
0925
970
55
SAAB 340B
Kathmandu
YA142
Daily
1410
1435
970
55
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA144
Daily
1540
1605
970
55
DHC-6/300
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 ON THE EDGE
When a country is torn apart by conflict, human rights
violations rise. Those who make the problems public risk
becoming targets themselves.
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
WITH THE INTERNAL CON-
flict showing no signs of resolution, all aspects of democratic
society have been pushed to the back
foot. Human rights violations are at an
all-time high, and the number of missing people is shocking. There have been
some media reports recently alleging
that the Army is compiling a "hit list" of
human rights activists. Our own report
last week carried the story and asked
human rights activists to come out in
the open if the Army has, in fact, targeted them. Some rights activists found
our report "lop-sided" and said that it
had placed the onus on the rights activists instead of turning up the heat on
the security forces.
Human rights activists fear both the
Maoists and the state's security apparatus; they claim both are targeting them
with impunity. The least they expect
from the media is some support, they
say.
"We have heard alarming news recently," says Shiva Hari Dahal, an activist with the Peace Campaign Nepal. Although human rights workers are always
under threat, he says, the recent developments have been more disturbing. Last
week the Army wrote to many rights organizations demanding information
about their codes of conduct, their missions and their objectives. There has already been an angry outburst from
prominent rights workers. Activists say
this was not something the Army was
supposed to do. "In a democracy," says
INSEC's Subodh Pyakurel, "the Army
doesn't directly correspond [with these
organizations]." Many are already seeing it as an example ofthe Army's growing high-handedness. Human rights activists lament growing excesses against
them by both the Maoists and the security forces: The difference, they say, is
20
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 that the state's security apparatus is legally required to be more responsible.
"Human rights activists in Nepal are
under threat," says Pyakurel, whose organization has been at the forefront with
the National Human Rights Commision
in conducting investigations on human
rights violations. Recently, say INSEC
officials, one of their reporters, Naman
Kumar Shahi, was beaten up in Dailekh
by security forces. They say he was wearing a jacket identifying him as a member
of INSEC. In Nawalparasi security personnel arrested four workers of HURON, the Human Rights Organization
of Nepal, alleging that the workers were
Maoist sympathizers. Their hands were
tied behind their backs and they were
beaten.
On Dec. 31, Kantipur reported that
human rights activists were fleeing the
country because security men were
hounding them. Last week Nation
Weekly ran a story that included denials from some of the rights workers
who were alleged to have fled, but the
brouhaha continues. While many rights
activists in the capital deny receiving
any threats directly, they point out that
their differences with the security
forces over rights violations make them
eyesores and obvious targets for reprisals. The paranoia is understandable. Observers say that when the Army had a
chance recently to clear the air during a
press briefing, it only added to the
rights workers' concerns by alleging
that they had fallen prey to Maoist propaganda.
In reference to media reports that the
Army has a "hit list" of rights workers,
says a rights activist: "I haven't seen the
list myself. But there can be no smoke
without a fire." He says that there is at
least a grain of truth in the reports. Rights
workers say they are deeply suspicious
about the security forces' frequent sojourns to their offices and what they believe are attempts to intimidate them.
The Army's spokesman Deepak Gurung
rubbishes the allegations. Colonel Raju
Nepali of the Army's human rights cell
insists that "if there were a grain of truth
in the reports, I would have been the
first person to know." If not as a military
officer, at least on a personal basis as he
has good relations with prominent rights
activists in town. One rights worker's
reply: "You can't just take what the Army
says at face value, because it is a party to
the conflict."
The government has little to say
publicly about the allegations. When
asked about the Army threatening human rights workers, the government
spokesman, Minister Mohammed
Mohsin, said he knew nothing about the
issue. But privately the government
must be profoundly uncomfortable
about being on the radar of international
organizations.
On Dec. 19 three major rights organizations—New York-based Human
Rights Watch, London-based Amnesty
International and the International Commission of Jurists—first rang the alarm
bells about human rights activists themselves being under threat in Nepal. In a
joint press statement the three organizations urged enhanced international protection. "Human rights defenders in
Nepal face grave threats amid the
country's deepening human rights crisis,"
the statement said. International organizations like the Human Rights Watch
have been regularly conducting field visits to Nepal. They believe that both the
Maoists and the security forces have routinely harassed national and international
rights organizations. They say they have
documented cases of both armed parties
targeting rights workers, journalists and
lawyers.
Rights workers say that the security
forces have a reason to threaten them:
Their work has brought international
attention and intervention in the form
of diplomatic pressure. High profile visits from U.N. officials and expressions
of concern from the international community, for example, have been more frequent. The recent U.S. Congressional
decision to attach human rights strings
to its military aid to Nepal is a sign that
the international community is gradually taking a tougher stance on Nepal's
human rights problem.
"Both the warring sides take rights
activists as a threat," says INSEC's
Pyakurel. Nepal's spiraling descent into
lawlessness threatens to consume not
only basic human rights but also their
defenders. Indeed, it would be unfair to
blame just the security forces, but is it is
only natural to expect more civilized behavior from them than from the
rebels.  □
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
 zs
m
^
BITTER
 !
t's midday at the drug retail shop
by the roadside in Gaushala.
Wooden shelves in the cramped
space are jammed with paper-
boxes of popular medicines like
Paracetamol, Gelusil, Diazepam,
Metron and Imid. Bottles of cough syrups and vitamin supplements showing
cherubic, red-cheeked toddlers line the
bottom selves, along with boxes of No.l,
Kama Sutra and a few other brands of
condoms.
A man, most probably in his early 20s,
saunters in. His face looks glum. "Do
you have Imid [a common anti-depressant brand]?" he asks. The retailer asks
for a prescription, which the man says
he doesn't have. "Sorry, I can't give you
the medicine without a prescription,"
says the shopkeeper as he gently waves
the customer away. "I may be the only
drug retailer around here who doesn't
give out medicines without proper
medical prescriptions," he says with obvious pride.
Indeed, he is right. Out of the six
shops we visited asking for a common
tranquilizer, alprazolam, across
Kathmandu—in Gaushala, Maitidevi and
Putalisadak—five handed us the medicine though we did not have any prescription.
The lack of a proper monitoring system to enforce the rules is compounded
by indifference and the ignorance among
both drug retailers and customers. Consumers want to save the cost of a visit to
a private doctor and avoid the long waits
at government hospitals. The retailers
sympathize, and of course they want to
increase sales. The result is widespread
misuse and abuse of these drugs.
Not that rules do not exist. The
Drug Act of 1978 forbids the sale of Class
A drugs, narcotics specifically, and Class
B drugs such as antibiotics and hormones without a doctor's prescription.
"Only vitamins, some pain relievers such
as Cetamol and a few other drugs are
Nepal lacks a proper monitoring mechanism to oversee the sale of medicinal drugs. Drugs, even those requiring proper prescriptions, are readily
sold over the counter. This has led to rampant misuse and, worse, abuse
of these lifesaving drugs.
BY BISWAS BARAL AND YASHAS VAIDYA
 i^^ct   Story 1T
ttmrws
supposed to sold over the counter," says
Dr. Sanjay Lakhey, a general physician at
B&B hospital. Those basic medicines are
Class C drugs. Few medicine shops
make any distinction between the classes
of drugs: Everything is doled out on request.
We do have regulatory mechanisms.
The government agency which oversees
the sales of drugs is the Department of
Drug Administration, the DDA, established a year after the Drug Act came into
being. The DDA is supposed to prevent
the misuse and abuse of drugs. It also
regulates the production, export and
import, storage and utilization of drugs.
When asked about the blatant
flaunting of the rules, the DDA says
its problem is that there are only a
handful of inspectors. It has nine inspectors to police more than 18,000
drug retailers in the country. Four inspectors are posted in the Valley,
where they have to cover more than
2,300 shops, according to DDA figures. These inspectors have to make
sure that prescription drugs are being
sold with proper prescriptions, that
the drugs aren't fake and that illegal
brands aren't being sold.
A senior officer at the department
defends his organization: "We need 75
inspectors, one for each district; if not,
we should at least have one for each
zone," he says. Department officials
say that they want to hire more, but the
Ministry of Finance has stopped the
recruitment, citing at budget constraints.
"We are helpless," says the officer.
Officials at the DDA remain wary of
the media. They've gotten a lot of bad
press over the issues of misuse and abuse
and counterfeit drugs in the market.
Without enough staff, the department
can do little to control the drug retailers, and the market is so big and lucrative that drug retailers are unlikely to
police themselves.
Drug retailers say they are in a business. According to DDA estimates, it's a
Rs.8 billion business and growing fast.
There are over three-dozen Nepali
manufacturers competing with more
than 200 Indian companies registered
with the DDA. With thousands of different drugs available, customers are happily popping pills as they see fit. The
negligence and ignorance of consumers,
who buy medicines without prescriptions, is troubling. "Even when they have
prescriptions, most people prefer not to
take the complete prescribed doses," says
a drug retailer in Mangal Bazaar, who
prefers to remain anonymous. "We try
to convince them," he says. But if the
customer chooses otherwise, the shops
have no problem in handing them the
medicines.
One of the reasons behind such consumer negligence is the lack of awareness about the harms of unsupervised
drug usage. Among all misused drugs,
antibiotics stand out.
Antibiotics are strong drugs that cure
bacterial infections. In a survey of more
than 300 patients done in the hospitals
and private clinics in Kathmandu in 2001,
it was found that only 8.1 percent ofthe
patients understood the proper use and
side effects of antibiotics.
Antibiotics are not cure-alls—they
are useful for bacterial infections only,
not for viral infections such as common
cold or viral flu. Their misuse is dangerous; taking them unnecessarily can
build up resistance. That means the drugs
wouldn't work as well or at all later. Dr.
Ishwar Lai Acharya, a senior physician at
TEEMING: There are over
2,300 drug retailers in
the Valley
24
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 the Kathmandu Hospital in
Tripureshwore, says, "Resistance to antibiotics can cause complications at crucial times such as during surgeries."
Resistance occurs because the bacteria being targeted evolve new defense
mechanisms to counteract the medicine.
Doctors point to the antibiotic
ciprofloxacin as an example. The drug
was originally used to treat typhoid and
also occasionally prescribed for tuberculosis. But as ciprofloxacin became
widely used for its effectiveness in treating many other bacterial infections, in
recent years, the effectiveness ofthe drug
in countering typhoid-causing organisms has fallen.
But negligence and ignorance
about drugs are not the only
problems. Prescript i o n
drugs are
also
abused
knowingly,
and   most   are
available without
prescriptions. Sometimes drug retailers welcome sales to drug abusers,
offering the drugs at inflated
prices.
The ABCs of Drugs
CLASS A:
Narcotics
Group of drugs containing substances that relieve pain by preventing transmission of pain
messages to the brain and also by altering the
reaction to it. Causing both physical and psychological dependence.
CLASS B:
Antibiotics and Hormones
Antibiotics are any of a variety of natural or
synthetic substances that inhibit and destroy
microorganisms.
Hormones are chemicals produced by glands
in the body and circulate in the bloodstream.
Hormones control the actions of certain cells or
organs. Hormones maybe produced both natu-
raI ly, inside the body, or artificially.
CLASS C:
Basic Drugs:
A group of drugs that maybe used without prescription and which do not present serious risks
to heath even if taken without medical supervision.
"It has been a disturbing trend for
some time now," says Bijay Pandey, a
social worker. Pandey has worked in
the rehabilitation center run by the
NGO Youth Vision for the last 10 years.
He says the abuse of prescription pills
is rampant, especially in the younger
generation. Students just into high
school looking for a "high" turn to prescription drugs. Lax regulations and the
non-functional monitoring system
make it easy. In most cases, these students will already have experimented
with other drugs like marijuana.
Nineteen-year-old Nisedh studied
in a reputed high school in the Valley.
During his school days he experimented
with different kinds of drugs, including street drugs like marijuana and hashish. He also abused prescription medicines. About a year ago, he had a scare, as
he calls it. He gulped down a number
of Proxyvon tablets, a commonly abused
brand of painkiller, with a bottle of
cough syrup. "My body wasn't able to
*Nitrazepam is listed in the C category (available over the counter) but the Drug Control
Act has made prescriptions mandatory for
drugs containing the chemical. Nitrosun and
Nitrovet are two common brands. DDA officials say these are among the most abused
drugs in the Valley. The low price may be one
ofthe reasons for widespread abuse. A tablet of either drug costs Rs.2.60. When sold
illegally, the prices are usually pushed up to
or over Rs.100 or more for a strip of 10.
take it," says Nisedh. "I went completely
numb." After the terrifying experience,
Nisedh gave up both prescription and
street drugs.
The drug Nisedh took, Proxyvon, is
a prescription Class A drug. It falls into
a class of drugs known as opioid pain
relievers, containing chemicals called
opioids. These include morphine, from
which heroin and brown sugar are made.
Though morphine and other strong
opioids, which are mostly injected, are
not widely available, weaker opioids like
the one present in Proxyvon are. Codeine, approximately 10 times less potent than morphine, is used both as a
cough suppressor and a pain reliever. It
is available in the form of tablets and is
also present in cough syrups. Those who
abuse these substances develop tolerance: The abuser requires larger doses
to get the same effect over time. Opioid
CLASS A
Codeine
Ethylmorphine
Methadone
Nalorphrine
Opium
Barbituric acid
Cocaine
Meprobomate
Dhatura
Nicotine
CLASS B
Metronidazole
Vancomycine
Tetracycline
Penicillin
Ampicillin
Amoxicillin
Coxacillin
Paranomycine
Diazepam
Insulin
Oxytocin
Vasopressin
CLASS C
Nitrazepam* (see box above)
Nicotine
Ibuprofen
Paracetamol
Piperarazine
Ascorbic Acid
Codeine (<1%)
Morphine (<0.3%)
Cocaine (<0.1%)
Nicotine (<0.2%)
The substances are listed in the following classes according to the drug list published in the
rajpatra, the national gazette. The drug list has not been updated since 1978 when the Drug Act
was introduced. Here are some common substances that are either misused or abused:
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
25
 drugs cause physiological dependence,
meaning that after a while the body develops a craving for the drug after a
while. Stopping their use leads to severe withdrawal symptoms. These
drugs can be lethal. They cause respiratory depression—the breathing
slows down. In case of an overdose,
breathing can stop completely, leading to death.
In spite of the dangers, many continue to abuse them. Central Nervous
System depressants like Nitrosun and
Nitrovet are two more brands abused
widely. DDA officials say that these two
are probably the most widely abused
medical drugs in the Valley. They contain nitrazepam. The substance falls in a
class of chemicals called benzodiazepines—these provide short-term relief
from severe and disabling anxiety and
from insomnia. And they are potentially
addictive in high doses. They are favorites because they come cheap: less than
Rs.30 for a strip of 10 Nitrovet or
Nitrosun tablets. When sold illegally, the
price is normally pushed up to Rs.10 to
Rs.l5 per tablet.
No formal statistics are available
on the  number of drug abusers
Nitrosun lO
"^
Wmtt'im
Igtfifl
>j..~-1
M
though informal estimates exist:
Youth Vision quotes a UNAIDS report in December 2002 which puts
the figure of drug abusers in Nepal
at anywhere between 30,000 and
60,000. Those who've watched the
problem grow say that the number
is likely to get bigger: The abusers
of prescription drugs can, and often do, graduate to more potent
drugs. "It's a progressive thing,"
Pandey of Youth Vision says. "They
start out with pot, move on to pills
and later hard drugs like brown
sugar or heroin."
Easy availability increases the
chance of abuse. The United States,
with a much stricter healthcare system, has over six million prescription drugs abusers, according to the
United States Food and Drug Administration. Nepal with a much
laxer system faces big problems.
With minimum regulation and much
room for irregularities, the problem
of abuse has burgeoned in recent
years.
The lack of effective controls
on drugs is one another serious
problem that has been sidelined
in the face of bigger, graver issues.
The indifference among the buyers and sellers of drugs, consumer
ignorance and government inactivity pose a serious problem for
the collective health of the nation.  □
CROWDED: Government
hospitals struggle with the
high number of patients
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 STALEMATE
The peace process is stuck
BY BIPIN ADHIKARI
THE JAN. 13 DEADLINE GIVEN
to the CPN-Maoist to negotiate an agreement with the government has passed. While the Maoists
have rejected the call, the government
has not yet explained what the next
course will be and whether new moves,
if any, will not just be a continuation of
the ongoing military efforts to contain
the Maoists. In the eyes of Nepalis, this
constitutes a stalemate; but those who
are doing business from the outside are
doing it as effectively as ever.
The scenario is like this: Two beggars
are sitting in a bench at Ratnapark. One is
holding a replica of Pashupatinath and one
a Star of David. Both are holding hats to
collect contributions. People walk by, lift
their noses at the man with the Star of David
and drop money in the hat held by the man
with the replica of Pashupatinath. Soon his
hat is filled while that ofthe man with the
Star of David is empty A priest approaches
the men. He turns to the man with the Star
of David and says: 'Young man. Don't you
realize that this is a Hindu country? You'll
never get any contributions holding the Star
of David." The man with the Star of David
turns to the man with the replica of the
Pashupatinath and says, "Moishe, can you
imagine? This guy is trying to tell us how to
run our business?" This indeed is how the
King, the parliamentary political parties and
the Maoists are being manipulated in the
conflict business.
It does not mean that local factors do
not contribute to the conflict at all. Even
if the Maoists are not taken in the fold,
half of the Nepalis have some sort of
Maoist/Leninist hangover that is difficult
to explain. Furthermore, they are still not
clear whether to cherish the Maoist victory or to condemn it as something that
they differ with in terms oftheir political
destiny under a communist party. Moreover, most civil society organizations—
possibly about 95 percent of those that
are funded by western donors—also have
28
the same dilemma in their peace campaigns. They speak about human rights
but don't condemn "inhuman wrongs."
This confused group is yet to push hard
for a durable peace process, an issue that
has only been limited to table talks in
hotels and restaurants.
"$J
 That, however, is not all. The Maoist
"people's war" has never been a pressing
issue for the Nepali Congress, which traditionally misconceives itself to be a nationalist and socialist movement. It has
never condemned the violence and mayhem in the country. Very often its rank and
file takes sadistic pleasure in the Maoist
advances and eroding bases ofthe monarchy. While the Congress continues to keep
itself busy with the fight against "regression," something that has lost popular appeal, the political power that the Eng
usurped from the parties in October 2002
has almost reached New Delhi quietly and
under a planned process. This leaves the
Eng in Nepal to contest with these parties and his own fait accompli. Yet Girija
Prasad Koirala pretends he does not understand this "regression." And the question remains (for him), who required the
Eng to do it? And for what purpose? He
also does not want to understand why the
Indian media is now spewing poison
against the Eng and why Indians are
openly writing about directions they are
giving to the Eng and the Royal Nepal
Army and deciding the fate of Nepal in the
murky rooms of New Delhi.
There is no doubt that the Eng has
erred, but Koirala should have known
by now to whom he should have protested. He must understand how he and
his allied parties should have used their
unspent energy, instead of wasting it on
the histrionics he performs on the stage
that has been set for him.
Even the Maoists never denounced the
Eng the way he is being denounced by the
parliamentary parties and the Indian outlets.
The Eng of course is to be blamed for his
undemocratic moves and not allowing the
popular process to resume, but it is the parties which suffered most from the lack of a
strategy to deal with the Maoist conflict.
They never had a unified voice on this issue.
They were united only once, and that was
for the deployment ofthe Royal Nepal Army
to counter the insurgency One really wonders whether these parties, who authorized
the Army to operate and need the Army's
protection for their own existence, can escape the responsibility to defend it or to dissociate themselves from the vices of military operations.
In fact, the Army is facing difficult times
because the parties have failed to occupy the
political space that the Army has created for
them through their operations. It would be
callous of them not to realize that the blood
the Army has shed was to protect the remnants of the political system, which even at
present has accorded them political freedoms. The Army's operations definitely
need to be monitored to make them comply
with the rule of law, to safeguard human rights
as well as to minimize collateral damage. In
fact, when the Maoists confront the Army,
they have strong reasons for doing so, because they are fighting with them. But when
political parties confront the Army it is just a
lack of character. How can this appalling character help resolve the conflict?
The upheavals in Nepal over the last
two years adequately show that the Eng
abhors parties and, therefore, the prospect of peace. In essence, he has no alternative but to work with the political parties if he intends to transform the conflict
from its current intensity to manageable
proportions. He cannot afford to act
alone. No matter how much he tries, he
cannot find alternatives for Madhav
Kumar Nepal, though his stand may be
like the shifting sands, and Koirala, who
can only speak for his coterie deputed
around him and not for the nation. They
and the parties around them are still the
best available options, and they must work
hand in hand with the Eng to map out
the course of an elusive peace.
In his bid to corner the CPN-UML
and the Nepali Congress, the Eng has
robbed himself of the power and significance that is necessary to deal with the anti-
Nepal conspiracy that has already torn apart
all traditional and democratic forces in the
country. Strangely, the degree to which India has been given access to the Army in
recent times while marginalizing the political forces already indicates unpropitious
days ahead. Under the current circumstances, it is difficult to wish the Eng good
luck, because the country as a whole is
suffering, and he is not the only one who
will have to bear the brunt of it.
The Maoists want to engage in dialogue as much as any ordinary Nepali on
the street. They too are aware that what
they fought as the "people's war" is being
used by outsiders to balkanize this country. They know that this is being done militarily and by sidelining the political forces.
The weakening ofthe parties has been followed by the weakening of the Eng and
the liquidation of political machinery that
is at the disposal ofthe people. The utility
of Maoists has indeed been finished to the
"balkanizers" who are now effectively pursuing sikkimization with all trappings. But
even with all these realizations, nobody
should entertain the thought that the
Maoists can be battered into submission,
carved up into cantons and kept under
control without any need to talk on their
demands. Again, nobody should expect
them to be foolish enough to surrender
arms and compromise with thspurano satta
(the Eng, political parties and the national
army) without ensuring sufficient political space for themselves.
Above all, it will be a disaster if the
Maoists are compelled to change the
"people's war" to awar againstsikkimization.
Unfortunately, the state is not offering a
politically powerful team that can represent all its constituencies in the peace process, nor does the government in its
present makeup seem capable of effecting
changes that may be promised to the
Maoists at the negotiating table. What is
clear, however, is that given the level of
unholy intervention from outside, the
Maoists can't relinquish the demand for
credible international mediation that can
ensure a protected future for them and not
endanger the independence of Nepal and
its nationalist sentiments.
The peace process is stuck; the outcome of which has larger consequences.
Despair has never been an effective agent
for change, but hope can be. There is
still time to understand each other and
create that hope on the basis of consolidated efforts of all, including the
Maoists. The Jan. 13 deadline stands too
superficial for this purpose. □
Adhikari is a lawyer in the field ofhuman rights
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
29
 Higher Seconda
A compromise may put an end to the 12-year politically
tainted wrangle over the fate of the Proficiency Certificate Level program. But the decision is unlikely to advance higher education.
BY KOSHRAJ KOIRALA
G DISPUTE MAY
k finally have been resolved. In a re-
»cpnr statement, the Higher Secondary Education Board and the
Tribhuvan University announced an
agreement to introduce an integrated
curriculum for the 10 + 2 and the Proficiency Certificate Level, known also
as the Intermediate Level. The decision integrates the curriculums of both
systems, even though the board was
charged 12 years ago to replace the Proficiency Certificate Level with the
10 + 2 program. Educators say they
doubt that the new plan will make
higher education more accessible to
all, the ostensible purpose ofthe 10 + 2
system.
The decision comes after years of argument. When the Higher Secondary
Education Board, the HSEB, came into
being as an autonomous body 12 years
ago, it introduced a two-year extension
in the secondary school level. The idea
was to gradually phase out Tribhuvan
University's Proficiency Certificate
Level program, the PCL. Continued
wrangling among students, educators
and TU. authorities over the issue had
blocked any action.
The debate was never about significant educational issues. The curriculums of PCL and HSEB are quite similar. "The difference lies in the model of
the questions and in checking the answer sheets," says HSEB spokesman
Narayan Prasad Koirala. The PCL
system's survival even after a Cabinet
decision in favor ofthe HSEB last April
is due to pressure from student unions
and TU. lecturers. Academics say that
more than a thousand lecturers raised
their voices against a phase-out of the
PCL program, fearing that their jobs
would be in jeopardy.
The other force supporting the PCL
system is political. The HSEB doesn't
allow student unions in higher secondary schools. And student political lead-
30
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 ers worry that they will fail to pull big
crowds onto the streets without the
certificate level students, since PCL students form the majority of many street
protests. "This could be the reason why
the student leaders are against the
phase-out," says Basant Bhattarai, who
completed his PCL from Mahendra
Morang College in Biratnagar and is
currently in Kathmandu doing his
Bachelor's Level.
With the establishment ofthe HSEB
in 1993, the government set 2002 as the
deadline for the complete elimination
of the PCL program. Japan donated
Rs.40 million through the World Bank
to facilitate the phase-out. Nineteen
TU. campuses received grants under
the plan, but the phase-out took place
in only two, Shanker Dev and Min
Bhawan. Under the recent agreement,
both the HSEB and the TU. will introduce an integrated curriculum in
science and management faculties by
2006. If everything goes according to
plan, the integration of the curricula in
the humanities and education streams
will be implemented in 2007, officials
at HSEB say.
A seven-member committee under
T.U. Rector Professor Mahendra
Prasad Singh comprising two members from the HSEB and one each
from the University Grant Commission, the Ministry of Education and
Sports, the T.U. curriculum depart
ment and the HSEB curriculum department will oversee the process.
Committees of different subjects will
work to bring uniformity to both curricula and examination systems.
The proposed integration will
present difficulties of its own. "There
is a statutory obstacle to implementing the integrated curriculum," says
Tirtha Khaniya, former vice president
ofthe HSEB. "Should a student register with the T.U. but study under the
HSEB curriculum, who will then be
authorized to conduct the exam?" The
HSEB's Koirala replies, "The HSEB
will handle all examinations once the
students studying under the old T.U.
curriculum get through the certificate
level." For the time being though, the
T.U. will continue to run the exams
for the PCL.
It's not clear that many students will
benefit from the compromise. The
HSEB program has a much better pass
percentage than the T.U.'s PCL exams,
45 percent to 11 percent. But the mission of the HSEB to provide affordable education to students in rural areas remains unfulfilled. There are 911
higher secondary schools in the country, most of which are too expensive
for poor students. The HSEB has prescribed a diversified curriculum to
cater to the need of the students of all
backgrounds, but it has failed to spell
out the specifics in terms of the syllabi
and study materials for a majority of
the subjects.
Educators voice their dissatisfaction at the government for failing to
translate policy into action. According
to them, the first duty of the government should have been to develop a
plan to upgrade the best public schools
to the higher secondary level. Instead
the reverse has happened: The HSEB
has discouraged the transition of public schools into the higher secondary
level by imposing a fee of Rs.850,000
rupees as a deposit for registration, they
say.
The HSEB disagrees. "There is no
hard and fast rule of depositing
Rs.850,000 for registration," says its
spokesperson Koirala. "We have been
flexible with the amounts we charge in
the case of public schools, where
higher secondary education has been
deemed necessary."
Ifthe agreement does unify the curriculum instead of perpetuating both
systems, it should ease woes of students
struggling to negotiate the confusing
and conflicting dual exam systems. But
it will be easier said than done. Entrenched interests like lecturers protecting their jobs and student political
leaders holding on to their support
bases will resist any changes. The decision may make the controversy go
away but is unlikely to help poor students.  □
"*§
 BOOM TO BUST: Necon Air
RISKY BUSINESS
Since 1991 a number of airlines have gone from boom to
bust. Cutthroat competition among so many operators
in a small market makes survival difficult.
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
NEPAL MAY BE SMALL GEO-
graphically but it can boast of
more private airlines than any
other South Asian country More than a
dozen are in operation, vying with one
another for a small but steadily growing
domestic market.
Since the introduction of an open sky
policy in 1991 a number of established
airlines have gone from boom to bust
trying to compete. "There is tough competition," says Rupesh Joshi, Buddha
Air's Marketing Manager. An industry
that looks glamorous from outside is
actually risky business. Airlines are capital-intensive. Aviation expert say that it
takes a lot of money to keep aircraft flying and that only those with deep pockets can afford to make such huge investments.
Despite the risks and the presently
unstable business environment, the
number of private airlines is still going
up. Jets have now become a part of domestic travel, and many airlines are expanding their fleets.
To cash on travel during Dashain,
Cosmic introduced jet aircraft into the
domestic sector in October. Many aviation experts raised eyebrows at the decision, declaring jet operation on domestic routes "unsustainable." Three months
on the jets are still a sensation among the
travelers. Cosmic operates the jets on its
international routes and from
Kathmandu to Biratnagar, Nepalgunj and
Bhairawa. The company is likely to add
two more jets soon. Frequent travelers
say Cosmic's flights are quick, though
they are irked by frequent cancellations.
Cosmic is among 34 domestic airlines that have obtained Airlines Operating Certificates since the government
introduced open sky policy in 1991.
Among those 34 companies, only 15 are
operating. There is widespread fear that
some of them will fail too. The bust of
high-flyers like Necon and Mountain
Air is still fresh in the people's minds.
And early this month Necon's bankers
sent a note to its promoters. The sheer
amount defaulted by Necon alone is
enormous.
Nepal Arab Bank Limited (NABIL)
sent another reminder recently to the
promoters of the failed airline to pay
back a whooping debt of over Rs. 332
million. NABIL financed Necon Air 13
years ago when the company was
launched. The bank has threatened to
put Necon's principal borrowers on the
bad debt "black list" if no effort to pay
the debt is made. The bank has also written to the shareholders and guarantors
of Necon.
Until last year Necon had been the
success story of the sector. The company flew for 12 years and dominated
the market for many of them. Necon
was the first Nepali private airline to
operate regional flights, and its long survival had given the impression that the
company was here to stay. Experts say
Necon's finances came under strain
when the company brought expensive
32
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 FLYING HIGH: Buddha Air has made the most of
Necon's fall
ATR-42 aircraft to replace its aging Avros.
Necon's move came at just the wrong
time, when the volume of tourists fell
precipitously
Necon, Mountain Air and half-a-
dozen other airlines have gone bust,
squandering billions of rupees borrowed
from banks and raised from shareholders. Aviation experts cite poor management and lack of proper planning as the
reasons behind the high casualty rate.
Others blame the government for failing to have sufficiently strict rules for
providing licenses to new airlines. They
say that the airline business has become
just too easy to enter and too easy to exit.
Many operators want the government
to introduce a mechanism to limit the
number of airlines. While that sounds
like the airlines want protection from
competition, their call may have real
merit. Government laxity in providing
licenses is evident. Among the license
holders, say observers, there are many
companies who do not own even a single
aircraft. Experts concur that there should
be fewer airlines. "In a small market like
Nepal, can so many airlines be sustained?" asks aviation expert Hemant
Arjyal. "The government must do some
homework before issuing licenses."
Others suggest that restricting licenses
to only those airlines capable of operating large fleets would benefit both the
industry and the public.
Declining tourism could have a similar effect by causing smaller airlines to
fail. Nepal's rating as a tourist destination fell by 17 places this year in the
widely followed list released by international travel and tourism company
iExplore.com. Last year the country was
among the top 10. Tourists are crucial
for the airlines: About 25 percent of total passengers are foreigners, and because
they pay much higher fares than Nepali
passengers, the foreigners' contribution
to the airlines' bottom lines is even
higher. It will be bad news for the industry, says Buddha Air's Joshi, "ifthe
tourist occupancy goes below 15 percent."
For now the domestic market is
driving the boom in the business.
Road travel has become slow and uncertain due to bandas and blockades.
The airlines estimate that domestic
flying has expanded by almost 20 percent because of this. More Nepalis
have started to fly more often. The airlines are counting on strong growth
in this sector to counter the drop in
tourists and to pay for the expensive
new aircraft they are ordering. It's a
gamble.
Investors are nervous. Many of
them believe that the tough competition will knock some out of business.
If airlines can keep occupancy rates
as high as they are now, counter others, they may yet be able to stay
afloat.  □
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
 aughinj
Fm Only Fooling Myself
Too bad we can't just hibernate
BY KUNAL LAMA
W'aking up is easy; rolling out of bed is kinda difficult. With
the memories of many pleasant dreams still lingering
woozily in the subconscious, the half-somnolent efforts to
throw off the soft and warm duvet just do not come dexterously. Whatever the season, the urge to snuggle in, eyes barely open, is a pleasure
one cannot tire of indulging in every morning. But I must admit, in winter,
this indulgence assumes extra dimension, and turns into an all-consuming, all-day-long desire. My Rs.500 under-sheet Chinese electric blanket has made the difficult decision to gingerly step out of bed an even
more unenviable eventuality of what is, to begin with, an anomaly. Why
should we have to get out? We can do almost everything in bed: drink
tea, read the papers, watch the TV, listen to
the news, write emails, make babies, etc.
The list is endless, but the world has decreed I
that get out we must. Aaarghh! The traumatic
transition from a cozy bed to a cold room has
been made only slightly endurable bythe ease
with which I can turn on my assembled-in-
Nepal Superser gas heater. As of Jan. 10,
however, this little bit of morning magic has
come to a sudden and tragic end: Gas prices
have been raised by a whopping 13.33
percent to Rs.850 per cylinder, thethird
price hike bythe Deuba-led coalition government in five months. Is J
the message from the government I
to its shivering citizens to chill out,
or what?
Okay, I do understand petroleum products have been heavily
subsidized bythe government for   |
years; that even the newly-increased rates don't reflect the current high prices in the international
market (not that the rates have
ever been decreased, even when
oil prices have dropped from $50
a barrel to $25); and that the state-
owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC)
is bearing an annual loss of Rs. 7
billion. My question is: why were
the prices not adjusted earlier, in
other incompetently-led governments, so that this massive exercise in balancing the books didn't
have to take place with such alarming frequency precisely when the citizens have been suffering so much—
and are freezing at the same time? We
34
all know that the ongoing Maoist insurgency, the mismanagement and
misappropriation of state funds have seriously compromised the living
standards of us ordinary citizens. Not only do we have fewer opportunities to work and earn a decent salary, but we also have to face increasingly bigger bills at the end of every month. The government should really
be considering cheaper alternatives to trucking in petroleum products
from India, a system prone to massive pilfering and adulteration. Recently there was talk of a gas and oil pipeline into Nepal from India.
Though costly, it could be a possibility. The private sector should also be
engaged instead of the monopoly that NOC enjoys at the moment,
which makes millionaires out of government and corporate officials.
According to NEA, nearly 23% of its total electricity transmission gets
'leaked' every year, causing a loss of 140 MW of electricity, almost
equal to the installed capacity of the 144 MW Kali Gandaki A project.
Well, then, the leakage' stemming from inefficient transmission and distribution must be stopped. Another
i option would be to seek new suppliers. Bangladesh
has 150.3 billion cubic meters of proven natural gas
reserves, though Nepal must come up with more than
just 35 metric tons of lentils to export in payment.
There is also the tiny problem of Indian territory in
between, but, hell, what is SAARC for? Hasn't the time
come to take the burqa off this diffident entity and turn
it into an active, chuck-the-national-differences organization? (If it's only meant to exist in spirit,
then let it rest in peace.) Best of all, there's
the perfect, "at home" solution: develop
the vast hydroelectric capacity that Nepal
is singularly blessed with. We need more
supply of affordable electricity for us to
substitute our dependence on imported
petroleum products: to cook, to heat, to
travel, to trade and to power the engines
of our economy. The sad truth is that
along with the expensive petroleum products, we also have one ofthe highest
electricity rates in the world. It's easy to
sympathize with the frustrations of the
students who have been agitating in the
streets ever since the price hikes were
announced. The PM's airy explanation:
'As the Maoists have shown no signals
for talks, the Government is all set to
fortify the security forces to combat
Maoists, resulting in the increase ofthe
fuel prices," is just not good enough.
Maybe the message is not to chill out
but to die. I think I'll just slumber on like
some modern-day Rip Van Winkle, not
for 20 years but, at least, until the winter
has vanished and the days have be-
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 The Ajanta paintings are
rich. Not only have they
captured the quintessence
of the paintings but also
brought the modern world
closer to early Buddhism.
\
L       ■
■■i
•*
Arts Society
/ -     L    ■-"
!
Tapestry in the Caves
BY VENEETA SINGHA
Rich dark colors, sweeping emotions and intricate details—the
Ajanta paintings have captured the
essence of early Buddhism in a way that
is remarkable. Airy touches ofthe brush
portray vivid colors and emotions; and
the paintings tell the stories with a graceful but intense touch.
The Ajanta Caves in India are a World
Heritage Site and the paintings were
from the second century B.C. to the
sixth century A.D. The images and stories of Buddha in his previous births—
as a man and in the form of various animals—are woven together in masterful
strokes of the brush. Important to note
is that only four colors were used by the
artists— red, blue, black and yellow.
Binoy K Behl, Indian documentary
film-maker and art historian, broke
new ground by capturing these paintings in photographs using a new technique in photography. The use of flash
lights is prohibited in the caves and the
dim natural light in the caves had hitherto made true representation of the
paintings near impossible.
The exhibition of the Ajanta paintings photographed by Behl in the Nepal
Art Council is a first of its kind. Art has
captured the birth of a religion and modern photography has captured the beauty
and grace of the art. The exhibition itself is divided into sections. It flows like
the movement of a dance and Behl's
technique is a reward in itself.
The Bodhisatvas come first bringing
with them peace of spirit. The details of
their dress and jewelry are striking. The
part bird and part human Padmapani
stands in all its glory. Eng Mahajanaka's
sermon with a sage presents the quality
of humility—the rich colors are perhaps
the most vivid in their representation of
emotions.
Line and color are perfect in the
paintings. The details trapped in the wet
hair, for example, are ample proof of the
artists' mastery of their profession. The
story moves and is told and retold in
painting. It is as if time has stood still
and the essence ofthe moment is encapsulated for posterity.
Queen Maya's dream comes next.
Each figure in this story shows a different emotion. The vibrant motifs are particularly eye catching. It must be noted
that there remains in these paintings a
stark resemblance to Greek art. The geometrical proportions are perfect and
fused wonderfully with life.
The Mithunas come next. The luxuriant color is symbolic perhaps of
Buddhism's openness to all. Prince
Visvantara's story is told again in bold
motifs. Particularly arresting is the
movements ofthe scarves on the people.
The depictions of man, animal and nature are welded together to present Buddhism in its primeval form.
The story of Yashodhara also brings
to life the stories of the birth of Buddhism. The stray curl on her shoulder
is captured perfectly and so are the
highlights on her figure. Many have seen
in these paintings the first mark of the
birth of modern photographic techniques.
The Ajanta paintings are rich. But
Behl's photographs are works of art in
themselves. Not only have they captured
the quintessence of the paintings but
also brought the modern world closer
to early Buddhism in all its manifestations. The tapestry from the caves merits a unique place in the world of art and
religion.  □
 which inspired Himalayan Cashmere
it's product line.
n
I^IALAYAN
Cashmere Company
SHOWROOM:
Tel: 977 1 4436 315 Fax: 977 1 4439 678
E-mail: hcc@mos.com.np Website: www.himalayancashmere.com
Hours: 9 AM - 6 PM everyday
 '
W
\
> .1     1   3
1
Banking
A NEW LOOK
Nepal Investment Bank responds to vigorous competition in the banking sector
BY INDRA ADHIKARI
THE BANKWITH ANEW LOOK!"
is Nepal Investment Bank's new
catchphrase. That new look didn't
come cheap: The bank spent over Rs.20
million on new infrastructure as part of
its restructuring plan. In the face of
strong competition in banking, the bank
is revamping its service. Customers
won't have to wait in long lines anymore,
bank officials say. The concept is "15-
minute banking": Finish any work in the
bank within 15 minutes.
The first step toward 15-minute banking was simple. The bank added more
counters. The number of counters in its
main branch at Durbar Marg has been
doubled to 20. 'We treat customers well
because they help us grow," says Jitendra
Basnyat, the bank's general manager.
The next step to attract customers,
the bank says, will be new rooms for account holders with deposits of Rs.l million and above. These rooms will be
equipped with luxurious sofas and will
offer personal services. There will be
separate counters for customers with
balances between Rs. 100,000 and Rs.l
million. The bank's management says
that these new counters will quicken
their service significantly.
On the technical side, the bank has
added facilities like online banking and
the ability to make payments through
mobile phones. The bank was the first
in Nepal to introduce Visa Electron
debit cards; customers with an account
in U.S dollars with the bank can use their
debit cards anywhere in the world. Customers with Nepali rupee accounts can
use the card throughout Nepal and In
dia. The bank now has ATM services in
all its outlets and an interconnected
banking facility between all branches
across the country.
The bank tries to provide all year-
round banking facilities in Kathmandu.
On holidays, the head office at Durbar
Marg is open from 9 a.m. to noon, the
Pulchowk and Putalisadak branches
from noon to 3 p.m. and the New Road
branch from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
But other banks are improving their
infrastructure and services too, and bank
officials say there is more to do. They
want to offer all banking facilities to customers in all branches. That will take a
few years, but they say the time will be
well spent developing the bank's standards.
The bank's efforts have brought recognition. The bank received the Bank
of the Year award from London-based
Financial Times Group's "The Banker"
in 2003. The award recognized the job
done by the Nepali management team
that took over in July 2002. Since then
the net assets ofthe bank have increased
from Rs.4 billion to Rs.13 billion. Deposits in the bank increased by 158 percent within the first year, and the non-
performing asset ratio is less than 2.5 percent of total loans, says the bank.
Nepal Investment Bank's response
to competition has been to improve the
customer experience and to strive to
match international standards. The con-
 Tsunamis
DISASTER, OPPORTUNITY
As our columnists saw in Sri Lanka last week, a series
of relatively minor efforts aimed at pre-disaster preparedness could significantly lessen the scale of loss
and damage
BY SWARNIM WAGLE AND MAN
BAHADUR THAPA IN COLOMBO
~%^K THEN THE GIANTTECTONIC
^/^/ plates beneath Sumatra shifted
T Y a little on Dec. 26, and unleashed the killer tidal waves, over
160,000 people perished in the southern
coasts of Asia. Writing in Time magazine,
Kerry Sieh of the California Institute of
Technology's Tectonics Observatory who
has been studying Sumatran earthquakes,
said there were warnings issued last year:
Since devastating quakes and tsunamis had
occurred in the region in 1797, 1833 and
1861, a future disaster was likely and that
people needed to know what had to be
done in case such disasters struck. Because poor people have important livelihood concerns to manage in the immediate run, worrying about grand and rare
natural disasters appears to be a luxury
But as we saw in Sri Lanka this week, a
series of relatively minor efforts aimed at
pre-disaster preparedness could significantly lessen the scale of loss and damage.
Turning homeward, it is frightening
to even imagine a situation in the
Kathmandu Valley or a group of our remote hamlets, when an earthquake ofthe
magnitude that hit Sumatra strikes Nepal
in the future. And given the historical
pattern and precedence, most of us feel
it is coming. The 1934 Great Bihar Earth
quake that conspicuously toppled hundreds of private houses and public landmarks duringjuddha Shumsher's raj, like
the Dharahara, the Ghanta Ghar, the old
gate of Singha Durbar claimed thousands
of civilian lives, probably the largest in
the country's recorded history. What
will happen in today's Kathmandu,
where populations and settlements have
conspired a multiplied mess, ifthe tremors of 1934 return? How prepared are
we to mitigate the hazards and to minimize loss of life and property? To what
extent shall the unplanned, ill-built and
interconnected towns of Kathmandu
perish, taking with them lives and institutions paralyzing the country's administration and creating voids in public and
private leadership?
What kind of response will we be
able to put together when key infrastructure will have collapsed? When one
bridge in Malekhu on the Prithivi Highway was swept away one monsoon in
the dying days ofthe Panchayat, the entire Kathmandu Valley choked on limited supplies. Can we imagine a capital
where the bridges go down and supplies
driven from Kodari and Mugling, or
flown into the Tribhuvan International
Airport, cannot even cross the Manohara
or the Bagmati? How many days can the
city go on without electricity, potable
drinking water, telephone and other services? Where will the displaced be sheltered and how will the supplies filter
through the narrow roads? How many of
our hospitals are safely built and can stand
to serve post-disaster casualties? Although
use of wood in our city houses is limited,
are some parts ofthe town more susceptible to spread of fire? Our geographical
and logistical environments are such that
they will constrain the marshalling of national and international relief efforts—
how will we sort the rubble and pull out
the thousands of women, children and
men who would have been crushed under the concrete jungle? Do we have the
heavy equipment? Will we have the required will?
The Indian Ocean tsunami has taught
us that complacency and fatalism are not
an option. While we cannot also panic
and start becoming scaremongers, we
need to start putting in place a series of
preparatory mechanisms so that should a
major earthquake strike Nepal, we are in
a position to save and rescue lives. First,
we need to mainstream our contingency
plans into all spheres of national life. By
requiring disaster-related knowledge and
drills to be part of academic curricula,
and a feature in all formal and non-formal
institutions, we can generate more public awareness and practice. At present, the
name of our National Calamity Relief Act
1982 is itself biased towards post-disaster
activities. Aspects of pre-disaster preparedness must run through every activity overseen by our main government
agencies. Ministries of agriculture, local
development and forestry and other line
agencies present in all our district headquarters need to take into account the
risks of disaster in all their investments,
akin to the manner in which environmental risks are now increasingly assessed and
incorporated in projects. These entail
costs, but ex ante investments are likely
to be far less than the price of post facto
repentment. Second, the building codes
What will happen i
ments have conspir
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 r
AND QUESTIONS
toring the quality of construction, use of
materials and space, at least in the tightly
built municipalities to begin with, we
can reduce risks. In the midst of the utter ruins in coastal Sri Lanka, for example,
often the lone structures that survived
were statues of Lord Buddha. While the
religiously inclined might attribute this
to the divine powers of Siddhartha, the
Nepali boy from Lumbini, others would
simply say that the statues used good cement, rods, and were basically well built.
Third, without the political will to mainstream disaster concerns in all aspects
of national life, the kind of capacity development that is needed to spring into
action after a disaster hits cannot be organized and expected. The youth and
mothers' groups, the many community
NGOs need to be oriented towards
coping with vulnerabilities surrounding the fragile grounds all of us inhabit.
In Bam, Iran, it was the local groups of
survivors who immediately launched
themselves into rescue efforts who
ended up saving more lives than the
relief workers from outside who inevitably arrived late. Local awareness
and capacity efforts should especially
target women and children, because
they are vulnerable for a curious combination of factors: their home based
chores, attires, and intense attachment
to the offsprings.
In managing pre- and post-disaster
efforts, the role of our domestic institutions is key. In Nepal, every year we
lose hundreds of lives to flash floods
and landslides; thousands more are displaced. State policies to prevent this
kind of avoidable loss, or aid rehabilitation efforts, are still ad-hoc-ish. We simply haven't accorded due importance to
disaster related policies and enforcement of existing laws and warning systems for floods, etc. Cynics point out
that countries are only jolted into action after they face a great tragedy. But
in a globalizing world networked
through television and cheap airfares,
feelings of grief and sympathy coalesce
across borders, and we must learn from
recent tragedies as if they happened on
our own foothills.
Apart from local capacities that are
the first line of offense in response to
catastrophes, the role of credible institutions is also important. In Sri Lanka,
we witnessed the way positive forces
surrounding monasticism were ushered
for relief and psychological counseling.
One reason the monks and their monasteries were able to facilitate offer of sanctuaries, material support and advice was
that they are held in great esteem and are
considered natural allies of people at
times of distress. Unlike in Sri Lanka,
where geographical accessibility and the
role of such non-state institutions eased
post-disaster relief efforts, in Nepal, the
geographical problem accentuates the
reach of external actors as well as flow of
information and communication. This
is more pronounced at present as the
state is hardly present outside the district headquarters. Complicating things
further, it has traditionally been the Army
sentimental stock of a tragedy diminishes?
The Maoist leadership in Nepal is
callous about the way it treats human
life. They openly say that even a sacrifice of a quarter of the country's population could be justified to attain their
Utopian revolutionary aim. Will the kind
of numbers that succumb to a likely
nature's fury within our own borders
numb our Maoists to nudge them towards seeking a peaceful solution to the
current crisis? Will they be part of a
broader coalition built around
volunteerism and solidarity in case a ma-
and the police that the Nepali state relies on for disaster relief. At a time when
these forces are locked in a bitter battle
with rebel militias, will hatred give way
to cooperation in the face of disaster in
remote hinterlands? Or as happened in
North-eastern Sri Lanka and Aceh, initial rapprochement between feuding
forces tends to fizzle out as soon as the
jor disaster strikes? Or will they simply
use these calamitous outcomes as a strategic channel to gain more control over
a weak and stretched state? These are
hypothetical scenarios worth mulling
over even though it is not clear what
public policy response could be framed
around these political concerns at this
point.  D
n today's Kathmandu, where populations and settle-
ed a multiplied mess, ifthe tremors of 1934 return?
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
39
 CHY TTiisWeek
ITALIAN FOOD I
FESTIVAL
Chef Vito Froio is the Executive Chef at The Grand Hotel,
New Delhi. In his 17-year career, he has worked in some
ofthe best hotel chains around
the world, including cuisine
innovations and experimentations at the Crowne Plaza,
Dubai; Sheraton, Beijing; and
Le Meridian, Dubai. The chef
specializes in Italian cuisine
and also delves in other European cuisines. He now brings
forth his creative best in the
art of cooking to The Hotel
Yak and Yeti. Already busy giving a new look to the menu,
Chef Froio conjures up an exciting mix of Italian cooking
presented in his inimitable
signature style. From the traditional aromatic breads pre-
Seafood Festival
The Sea has always offered a
variety of exquisite and diverse range of exotic seafood.
The Signature Restaurant at
the Rox presents you the palate-tantalizing fried jumbo
prawns, smoked salmon,
crisp batter fried ruby rocky
sented along with a delightful
trio of sassy sauces to the indescribably silky tiramisu,
experience a culinary sojourn,
which is authentically Italian.
Hotel Yak & Yeti present Chef
Froio's Italian innovations
this season at the Sunrise Cafe
for buffet lunch/dinner and
the Chimney Restaurant for a
la carte dishes. Date: Jan. 10 -
Jan. 22. At the Sunrise Cafe:
12-3 p.m. and 6:30 -10 p.m.
At the Chimney Restaurant: 6
- 10 p.m. For information:
4248-999.
mountain crab, white oats
fried sea fish and other delicious seafood cuisine during
the seafood festival. An array
of wines will also be available alongside the food. Date:
Jan. 12 -Jan. 26. Time: 6 p.m.
onwards. For information:
4491-234.
ZEN
PAINTINGS
ART
EXHIBITION
The "Buddha Gallery," in partnership with "Gallery 9," presents 50 paintings by Kang
Chan-Mo. Among his 50 artworks, 25 will be exhibited at
the Buddha Gallery in Thamel
and 25 at Gallery 9 in Lazimpat.
The Buddhist Korean artist
Eng Chan-Mo uses a few colors in his experimental approach. For this exhibition, Chan-Mo
has derived inspiration from a recent trek amidst the natural splendor ofthe Himalayas in the Khumbu region of Everest. The paintings are simple figures that depict his imagination of Buddha,
various landscapes and people. Born in 1949, Chan-Mo passed
got his Bachelor's degree in fine art from Joong Ang University
and graduated from the Japanese Art School. This is his 12th solo
exhibition till date. Date: Jan. 20 - Jan 26. For information: 444-
1689,4428-694.
Martini Mania
Hotel Yak and Yeti presents
Martini Mania at the Pub.
Date: Jan. 21 - Feb. 5. Time:
12 a.m. - 12 p.m. For information: 4248-999.
Trip of all Times
For just
Rs.5999   fori
Nepalis   andl
$199 for expatriates,     thel
J o m s o m|
Mountain
Resort   provides two nights and three
days accommodations. The
price will also include
roundabout airfare from
Pokhara to Jomsom, daily
buffet breakfast and dinner, pick up and drop from
the airport to resort and a
walking tour of the
Marpha village in Jomsom.
For information: 449-
7569.
Grand Dosa Festival
Relish the taste of South India during the Grand Dosa
Festival. The Cafe at Hyatt
Regency presents the Grand
U
:i
I
H
District Development PROFILE of NEPAL 2004
District Section includes-
C    O   V t   A   it    I District Maps/Development Indicators of Each District/VDC data on
Divided mainly Of three part* Population & Infrastructure /District wise database on-
■ - Topography Demography Household Characteristics, Economic Activities, Social Characteristics,
mUpubllfCltlOfl   tOtCn Agriculture,Irrigation,Forest,Co-operatives,NGOs,Transportation,Communication,Energy
L Unfcnaal ■ DiitrlriT ||i   MunlaDnlHl'lK System, Education, Health, Drinking Water, Gendei Children and many more
Basic Information on all 58 Municipalities
Available at Renowned Bookstores in Town
1130 Pages
iRbnHl StKlCf bfWdl£ Sludi S-hiMlHKV. Kamladi. Knlhmondu.
4429334/ EfHifc lHfftrital@tth.wH.npr WiliHi.'
40
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102 or
Dosa Festival. This is going
to be one full meal with a variety of delectable fillings to
suit every taste bud. Date: Jan
15 -Jan. 30. Time: 6:30 p.m.
onwards. For information:
4491-234.
Master Little Star
The Nepalese Fashion
Home presents Master
Little Star-2005. Watch out
for special attractions like
the kids fashion show with
dance and song sessions. At
the Royal Nepal Academy.
Date: Jan. 22. Time: 2 p.m.
Margarita Night
Dwarika's Hotel presents the
Margarita Night serving
Churasqueria BBQ, Latin
American Delicados and refreshing margaritas. Also enjoy the Latin beats by Abhaya
and the Steam Injuns. Every
last Friday of the month.
Price:Rs. 799. Time: 7 p.m.
onwards. Happy hours from
4 p.m. - 7 p.m. everyday at Fusion Bar. For information:
447-9488.
Wt&Hr-'r'V
***,!
'1
ONGOING
Taste of Thailand
The Rox Restaurant features diverse range of popular dishes of
Thailand. The herbs, spices and
market fresh ingredients will make
a difference in your culinary experience. Thai buffet lunch every Fridays and Saturdays.Time:12:30
p.m. - 3 p.m. For information:
4491-234.
Seasons Special
Exotic Thai, sizzling tandoori, traditional Nepali and Italian encounter daily for lunch at the Shambala
Garden Cafe, Hotel Shangri-la.
Price: Rs.450 including a bottle
of soft drink or mineral water. For
information: 441-2999.
Krishnarpan
The Nepali specialty restaurant at
Dwarika's Hotel offers fine dining
ceremonial cuisine. Four to 16
course ceremonial meal. Open for
lunch and dinner. For information:
4479-488.
Winter Splash
Want to sweat in the winter? Go
and experience Shahahshah's
indoor heated pool and relax in
the steam and sauna. Price:
Rs.350 per person. Exclusive ladies' day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Time: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Nepali Platter
At the Radisson Hotel every
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday &
Sunday. Come and enjoy this
special moment in the festive season. The scheme applies to Royal
Stag, Ultimate Gin & Ruslan
Vodka. Time: 6 - 8 p.m. For information: 441-1818.
Dwarika's Thali
Lunch at The Heritage courtyard.
Enjoythe Nepali cuisine, hospitality and heritage. For information:
4479-488.
Jukebox Experience
The jukebox experience with Pooja
Gurung and The Cloud Walkers
every Wednesday, Friday and
Saturday at Rox Bar. For information: 449-1234.
Cadenza Live
Listen to the best live jazz in town.
Enjoy every Wednesday and Saturday at the Upstairs Jazz Bar,
Lazimpat. Time: 7:45 p.m. onwards.
Charcoalz
This festive season Yak and Yeti
brings to you "Charcoalz" at the
poolside. The piping hot grills
are guaranteed to drive away
your autumn chills with an array of Indian, western and
Mongolian barbequed delights
to tempt your appetites. Time:
6-10 p.m. For information:
424-8999.
Fusion Night
The Rox Bar welcomes everyone
to be a part ofthe Fusion Night.
The rhythmic and harmonic beats
of the eastern and the western
instruments—a treat for the
senses. Enjoy thesarangiplayed
by Bharat Nepali with a well-
blended mix of western tunes
played by The Cloud Walkers. Every Wednesday. Time: 6 p.m. onwards. For information: 449-
1234.
Tickling Taste buds
Barbeque every Friday Evening.
At The Shambala Garden Cafe,
Shangri-la Hotel. Time: 7 p.m.
onwards. For information: 441-
2999.
SHOWING AT
JAINEPAL CINEMA
FOR INFORMATION:
mjj,mjj^;
• RESTAURANT
}biuiuuu
"The F 'e for the
you ever had"
IAJANA RESTAURANT
Near Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat,
Kathmandu, Nepal
tel. 4413874
Parking facilities available
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
41
 Comput
SMALL IS
BEAUTIFUL
Small IT enterprises have sprung up across the Valley.
With a staff of anywhere from two to 20, these businesses
provide computer services as good as the big outfits.
BY KUMUD NEPAL
Alone building stands in a big compound at Battisputali. There are no
signboards or banners. A man in a
black leather jacket is seated on a revolving chair in front of a computer screen
in a dark room on the first floor, alone.
An acoustic guitar and a dumbbell are at
his side. The room looks like anything
but an office, but that's exactly what it is:
the head office of Magnus Consulting
Group, a small computer enterprise. The
offices of the group occupy two stories
of the building. The man in the leather
jacket is Tika Rai, one of four partners in
the enterprise.
Magnus is just a tiny part of a much
bigger story. With the growing craze for
IT and the soaring demand for newer
and better technology, many small enterprises like Rai's have sprung up across
the Valley. With anywhere from a couple
of workers to a staff of 20, these enterprises are catering to the needs of the
IT-sawy.
The CAN Infotech computer show
is just around the corner. Last year
180,000 people visited the fair. This year
the IT fair, which opens on Jan. 25, is
expected to attract huge crowds again.
Mostly, the bigger names in the business will occupy the 114 stalls there, but
this doesn't mean that these players are
the only ones in business. There are a lot
of smaller enterprises.
""You don't need to be a big organization to survive in the increasingly competitive IT field," says Rai. He has just
eight employees working with him.
Magnus Consulting started eight months
ago and is now active in software development and wireless technology. "With
such a small group, low cost and high
quality is our mantra," says Rai. This electrical engineer who graduated from the
University of Oklahoma in the United
States says that bigger is not necessarily
better.
Rai is trying to get small software
projects from around the globe. One of
his prospective international projects
includes overseeing the Distant Education System, a distance-learning approach started by Mamta Sharma in Boston. Domestically, his office is busy
archiving and sorting the Rajpatra, the
national gazette, published by the government.
Magnus is making management software to index these gazettes, which have
been published for the last 50 years. What
Rai is doing has a financial motive, but it
serves the needs of society too. He is
also working on an Agricultural Development Bank project to "make financial
THINK BIG: Tika Rai of Magnus says the
small can do it too
 software and a wireless network to connect small cooperative companies."
Manohar Adhikari heads Soft Fusion,
a small computer enterprise at Naya Bazaar. He and his team of two are all in
their mid 20s. Soft Fusion does webpage
design and database software development. Its clients include Thames College and the Nursing Association; the
company designed their websites. Soft
Fusion also produces and manages the
electronic databases of the Nepal Electricity Authority and the Connection
Yellow Pages.
Many of these small enterprises are
struggling, however. Soft Fusion complains about the difficulty in competing against the larger enterprises, which
have greater credibility in the eye of the
public because of their expensive pub-
intended to show that "things can be
done in Nepal" even with limited resources. He takes the problems as challenges and says he is ready to face them.
He encourages others to start small businesses as well.
Deepesh Pradhan, whose Yomari
Incorporated at Ekantakuna started as
a one-room office at his own residence
in 1996, is another success story. He
was a fresh computer science graduate
from India. With two other U.S.
trained partners, he pioneered a web
programming enterprise. He started
with a single computer, which he
bought with his parents' money. The
group started with a total budget of
$1,500 from American friends. Today
Yomari has a staff of 20 and is a reputed
name in the field of web interface and
institutions promise quality manpower
for information technology, Nepal still
lacks enough trained people. He says that
it constrains his business: 'We can't get
into the bigger projects of software development like the banking software
straightaway."
There are some big projects in the
works, though. Sarose Joshi's Young
Software, with seven employees, is taking up outsourced jobs. The company
sells web-based software to clients in
the United States. A major project the
company handles is for online auction
site, E-Bay. The company handles a part
of the software which allows customers of the site to auction things online
more easily. The auction site pays the
company according to the volume of
sales.
licity campaigns. Small enterprise owners believe that they can compete
against the very best of the bigger companies and do it cheaper as well. The
speciality of these firms is that it produces tailored software according to the
need of the clients. But the large software houses have started producing the
general software packages that compete
with the customized ones that small
companies make.
But people like Rai are not despondent. Opening a small enterprise was
software application development.
Initially the company struggled to
compete against bigger enterprises like
Mercantile, but Pradhan, the chief operations officer, didn't give up. Today
Yomari handles software and web page
development projects for the United
Nations and the World Bank.
Most small companies are primarily selling web-based programming
and graphic design. "That's the easiest
thing to start with," says Pradhan. He
believes that although many colleges and
None ofthe small companies are getting rich yet. Joshi says that although he
works for foreign clients, these clients
take into consideration the lower expenses in Nepal when they negotiate with
him. Rai of Magnus voices a similar opinion. "Nepal is no Taiwan," he says, "where
small enterprises have sustained the overall economy." As they struggle on, though,
most small IT entrepreneurs are happy
to be building their businesses and to be
creating employment opportunities for
capable people.  □
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
43
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BIG LEAGUE
The British TV series "Pop Idol" and its many
competitors and spin-offs have been wildly successful. Get ready for the Nepali version! It's
called "Nepal Star" and will be broadcast on
Nepal-1 on Jan. 25. Thousands auditioned for
the program, which will give the winner a
shot at a singing career in Bollywood: The
Nepal star will sing for a Mahesh Bhatt
movie. Why did it take this long for
someone to do this? "It's wasn't due to
a lack of creativity," says RASHMILA
PRAJAPATI, who heads the event
management company behind the program. "The sponsors don't trust you
until and unless the same kind of
project does well somewhere else."
Dreaming Big
The Nepali national team will be trying to prove
its mettle at the ICC World Cup Qualifying Series
in   February  in  Malaysia.   So  will    BUDDHI
BAHADUR PRADHAN, who will be umpiring
at the tournament. He wants to show that he's
got what it takes to officiate at the international
level. The 30-year-old has already come a long
way from umpiring at local games in his
hometown Biratnagar to standing in at international tournaments, including the
ICC Trophy in 2001 in Canada. "I want
to   become   a  test  umpire,"   says
Pradhan. In Malaysia, the national team
will be fighting to keep its World Cup
dreams alive. Pradhan can take one step
closer to his dream too.
Nepali Stylz
NIRYANA SHRESTHA, known also as the
Naughty Soul Kid, was seen all over town in a
daura suruwal. Why did the rapper who wouldn't
be caught dead in anything else except baggy
pants, an oversized jersey and sunglasses don
the national dress? It was for the hip-hop
artist's new music video "Ma Nepali" from his
first solo album "Ma Nepali NSKStyle."
Shrestha says he's trying to give a Nepali feel to
his album. "Hundreds look up to musicians like
us," he says. "At a time of crisis, it's our
responsibility to send a message of patriotism."
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 II
VAIDYA'S ORGANISATION
OF INDUSTRIES & TRADING HOUSES
We are looking enthusiastic and committed Professionals to
take the job into implementations and Commercial operation
and to take on the challenge to achieve the companies goal.
|     jR    E
Q    U    I    R    E     S     |
POST           :
FINANCIAL CONTROLLER
NUMBER   :
ONE
AGE              :
27 - 40 years.
• At Least Bachelor Degree in Accountancy with minimum 5
years of working experience in accounting, finance and
administration    function    of    managerial    Level.
• Having pleasant personality
• A  team   player     with   strong   Leadership   qualities.
• Possess   good   analytical   in   finance   statement.
• Able to work and communicate independently with auditor
and revenue department.
• Able to work such as Budgeting, Analysing, Preparation of
Budgets.
• Working experience in any computerized accounting system.
• Entrepreneur and business person with organization skill,
initiative and good judgment.
The successful candidate will be offered attractive remuneration
and excellent career advancement.
Special Instruction for Applying:
Download job application form available at
http://www.voith.com.np/jobs.html. Fill up the form and send
it along with your resume, and a scanned passport size photo
to hrd@voith.com.np
Applications will be treated in strict confidence. Reference(s)
will not be contacted unless the applicant gives prior approval.
Application should reach " VOITH" on or before 31 January
2005.
nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
45
 USA
Intake : May
JAPAN
Intake :
GERMANY
Intake : March
Dolphin Education Consultancy Centre Pvt. Ltd.
Putalisadak, Laxmi Plaza 2nd Floor.Kathmandu
Tel. 4429523, 4432812, Email: spdolphin@wlink.com.np
46
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
 To advertise contact nation weekly
Tel: 2111102, 4229825, Email: ad@nation.com.np
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nation weekly |  JANUARY 23, 2005
47
 Ageless Architecture
Wondered who's behind the new-look Bakery
Cafe that recently opened in Sundhara? Sarosh
Pradhan is the architect responsible for the
colorful and spacious design. He decided to break out
of the traditional greens of the Bakery and went for
something different. The new Bakery houses a lounge,
a garden and a hall. During the opening days of the
Bakery the Bhimsen Stamba Hall exhibited Pradhan's designs of a few selected projects. And the 36-year-old architect who heads the design firm,
Sarosh Pradhan and Associates, has
worked on more than 40 such projects
in the last eight years. The graduate from
the Delhi School of Planning and Architecture was recently awarded the Focus Countries' Young Architect Award
at the annual Architect of the Year
Awards, organized by JK Cement in India. The award was for the Lalitpur office complex of Tewa, a social organization. Dhriti Bhatta talked to Pradhan
about the exhibition, the recent award
and architecture in Nepal.
What made you come up
with the exhibition?
During my travel around Europe and
America, I had come across various expositions by renowned architects.
These made me want to have one of my
own. I wanted to reach out to people
with my exhibition. I feel that Nepalis
still don't value true architecture.
Through the miniatures of the Tewa
office complex and some of my other
major projects [displayed in the exhibition] , I wanted to show how much an
architect adds to a building's feel.
What was special about Tewa for you?
Of all the projects that I have undertaken, Tewa stands out because of the
approach we took while coming up
with the design. Tewa is a philanthropic
organization, Nepali to the core. So,
we tried to give the design a distinct
Nepali touch. The Kasthamandap
building was our biggest inspiration.
We tried to incorporate some elements
of that building into the design—the
two-storied roof of the Kasthamandap
is emulated in most ofthe buildings in
the Tewa complex. For the interiors,
we used local materials like slate and
terracotta.
The focus of all of our
works is the aesthetic.
What do you focus on—contemporary
designs or traditional ones?
The focus of all of our works is the
aesthetic. We don't follow exact traditional Nepali designs. It's important
to keep in mind the age that we live in
too. So, we design keeping in mind
contemporary looks while not forgetting the rich heritage of our traditional
architecture.
Other than Kathmandu, you've also designed resorts in places like Lukla and
Lumbini. Does the location affect your
design?
Yes, of course. The context and the place
are very important. Each location has its
own materials and traditions, which need
be to kept in mind. And you also need to
understand whom you are designing for
and how your design is going to affect the
particular landscape you are working on.
For example, take Lukla. The stones that
we have used in our projects there maintain the uniqueness and exoticness of the
place.
You worked on a dozen projects last year.
Doesn't doing many projects at a time
get monotonous?
No, not at all. The kinds of projects that
we get are diverse. And the locations even.
We're here in Kathmandu one day and in
Phakding village in the high Himalaya the
next. So, there is an urge to create something different and unique for every new
project, according to the place and its
people.
How much of a scope do architects like
you have in Nepal today?
In every developing country there is a lot
to build. So, the going is obviously good
for architects. But just because there is a
scope for architecture doesn't mean that
work will come your way easily. As a professional you need to put in a lot of hard
work and continuous effort to stand out in
a crowd of hundreds of others like yourself.
What about the effect of the ongoing
conflict? How much of a difference has
it made?
Surprisingly, despite the conflict, the
real estate business is still booming.
At this time of crisis when almost every business is suffering, people are
looking for safe investments—buildings, real estate are one means. Also,
most of our projects we work on are
for positive people; people who
think that the adverse situation in the
country will change. They are optimistic: They believe that by doing
something in hard times, they can get
bigger returns when the good times
return.  □
.L
48
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
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Email: sdkari@oiAs.coni.np
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E-Mail: npi@moKom.np\ Web: www.nepa I pashrnTnaindustTy.com
Righting the Wrongs
2004 was a horrible year. The country made it to the top ofthe list of
human disappearances. The U.N.
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances unequivocally
stated that it recorded more disappearances in Nepal than anywhere in the
world. Nepal also featured prominently
on the list of countries that are employing child soldiers. The country's human
rights situation looked to be in a free
fall.
During the emergency in 2001-02,
there was universal acknowledgement
that the human rights situation had hit
rock bottom. Three years on, the bottom seems bottomless. As the conflict deepens, frighteningly high
numbers of reports of summary executions, arbitrary arrests and torture have surfaced. Should elections
precede peace, the violence could
attain unprecedentedly dangerous
levels. It is so easy to despair
over the endless violence.
Yet 2004 saw some im- /
portant progess toward
improving the human rights regime
in the country.
The government and the
U.N. Office of
the High Commissioner for
Human Rights
signed an un- \
derstanding that i
commits Nepal
to accept international assistance
for the National
Human Rights
Commission, the
prime human
rights watchdog
in the country.
The visiting
EU troika emphatically told the government that it wants the NHRC to
have a higher profile in the face of
growing human rights abuses. Even
the United States finally committed
to monitoring the human rights record
of our security forces.
U.S. military assistance will now
come with conditions. Nepal will
have to take measures to end torture
by its security forces and to prosecute
security personnel who are found responsible for gross human rights violations. The newly enacted U.S. law
also requires Nepal to make substantial progress in complying with habeas corpus orders issued by the Supreme Court to the security forces. It
asks the government to cooperate with
the NHRC to resolve security-related
cases involving individuals in government custody.
We certainly would like
to think that all these are remarkable achievements.
Right after the U.S. law
came into force, Chief of
Army Staff Pyar Jung Thapa
visited the
Supreme Court and the
NHRC, signaling a seemingly new beginning. We
want to see more of that
before we decide that
things have changed for
the better.
Toward that end,
we want our allies to
continue to push the
government and security forces and to make
it clear that reforms are
imperative if Nepal is to
save itself from declining
into a lawless state. But the
Maoists, the other party to the
conflict, must also keep in mind
that the international community
will never recognize it as a political force so long as it fails to renounce violence.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
50
JANUARY 23, 2005   |  nation weekly
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