Friday, May 23, 2008

Nepalis in maiden mountaineering feat

5 women scale Everest together.

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, May 22[2008]:

For the first time in Nepal’s mountaineering history, five Nepali women scaled Mt Everest together. The five women are members of the 10-member First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008, which comprises members from diverse ethnicities.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said Susmita Maskey, Maya Gurung, Nwang Phuti Sherpa, Pemba Diki Sherpa and Poojan Acharya scaled the world’s highest peak at 8.30 am today.

“This is the first time we have so many Nepali women on top of Everest on the same day. Among them, a Brahmin woman (Poojan Acharya) scaled the Everest for the first time. They have indeed made history,” said Ramesh KC, an officer at the ministry.
Before their departure, the members had said their main objective was to draw the attention of the world to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Five High Altitude Workers of the team — Pemba Dorje Sherpa, Kaji Sherpa, Phurba Tenzing Sherpa, Ang Gelu Sherpa and Karma Gyelije Sherpa — also scaled the peak. The team had set out to the Everest base camp on April 14.

The government had waived royalties amounting to $1 lakh for the team and also provided assistance of Rs 1 million.

Also today, 75 persons from seven expeditions scaled the peak. They are: Five-member team of David C Morton (USA), seven-member team of David Allen Hahn (USA), three-member team of Gu Hyung Jun (Korea), 18-member team of Ashok Abbay (India), eight-member team of James S Mc-Guinness (New Zealand), 12-member team of Vididnan Rojanapnich (Thailand), 22-me-mber team of Atul Karwar and Shridhar Pokhariyal (India).

Rescue efforts on
Kathmandu: Nepali and international mountaineers are making efforts to rescue a Spanish clim-ber from the base camp of Mt Annapurna I. The cli-mber is said to be in a critical condition. “We are making arrangements to rescue Inaki Ocho, who has been reportedly stra-nded at an altitude of 7400 m,” Nima Nuru Sherpa, managing director of the Cho-Yu Trekking Pvt Ltd, said.
[KATHMANDU, MAY 23, 2008, Jestha 10, 2065]

Monday, May 19, 2008

Shah dynasty ghosts haunt museum development

International museum day

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, May 18 [2008]:

Government-run museums have been used as a tool to please and glorify the monarchs since the establishment of the first museum in 1938, which has resulted in state-sponsored negligence towards the contribution of other people in the national history, believe experts.

That is why the contribution of Juddha Sumshere Rana, who established the National Museum, has little room there.

“The museums in Nepal have been used to praise the kings, therefore, we could not be fair to all the aspects of history,” Jala Krishna Shrestha, the joint-secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, who is also the president of Nepal chapter of International Council of Museums (ICOM), told this daily.

Prejudice and bias in establishment and management of museums hinder the efforts to develop international standard museums, he said adding that the museums were never considered priority area of the governments.

“The history of Lichhivi period is hardly portrayed in Nepali museums and the Malla period is depicted only as a period of art and culture but when it comes to Shah period all the kings are glorified as if they are messiahs and the Ranas are not given due space,” he said. The problem starts not only with one object on display but the policy makers have blocked the whole vision of museum development.

He was of the view that the Hanumandhoka Durbar should showcase the political and cultural development in Nepal from pre-historic times to the present instead of dedicating them for the glorification of king Tribuwan, Mahendra and Birendra.

“In the changed political context, we can hope that the museums will be neutral to all political and cultural ups and downs of the country,” he said.

Bhim Prasad Nepal, chief of National Archives, former head of Patan Museum, said the bias of the policy makers towards one or another historic character has hindered development of museums in Nepal.

“You may consider Junga Bahadur Rana as a dictator, but you cannot deny his contribution to the country. But we have not been able to do justice to him in museums,” he said.

While the government has been indifferent to development of museums, ethnic communities are working hard to portray their history and they are successful to some extent too.

Nepal’s history recorders
•National Museum of Nepal (Kathmandu)
•Museum of Natural History Nepal (Kathmandu)
•Tribhuvan Museum (Kathmandu)
•Patan Museum (Lalitpur)
•Bronze and Brass Museum (Bhaktapur)
•National Art Gallery Nepal (Bhaktapur)
•National Woodwork Museum (Bhaktpuar)
•Dhankuta Museum (Dhankuta)
•Hattisar Museum (Makwanpur)
•Mustang Eco Museum (Mustang)
•Tharu Cultural Museum (Bardiya)

[ KATHMANDU, MAY 19, 2008, Jestha 6, 2065]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Swelling Imja lake puts Khumbu region in peril

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, May 14[2008]:

Imja, a fast-swelling glacial lake, is putting the entire Khumbu region in peril. The region,
a popular destination for mountaineers from all over the world, will be swept away
if the lake bursts.

Due to global warming, snow of the Himalayan region is melting faster and water is accumulating in southern valleys. Small piles of snow, hardly spotted in the 1960s, are melting and turning into big glacial lakes. Imja is one such lake.

The Everest region is one of the hotspots of glacial melting in the Nepal Himalayas. Out of 20 potentially dangerous glacial lakes in Nepal, 12 lie in this region. A study conducted recently by the United Nations Environment Progamme (UNEP) and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) states that Imja is the fastest-retreating glacier in the entire Himalayas.

Spotted as a group of small masses of snow in 1962, Imja has now turned into a one-square-kilometre lake.

“Imja is expanding at an alarming rate. It is growing by 74 metres a year,” says Basanta Shrestha, division head of the IKM-MENTRIS section of the ICIMOD.

“We ought to see how the lake is swelling and inform people about it,” he says.

To keep an eye on fast-swelling Imja, the ICIMOD has installed a pair of video cameras by the lake. These cameras take pictures of the lake every 10 minutes. Lake’s rising level is recorded on a website through wireless internet and satellite.

“After a year-long experiment, we have begun monitoring the lake through remote sensing. Now we can at least see what is happening there and make locals aware of any impending tragedy on time,” he says.

“The formation of glacier lakes and many other changes in the region may or may not be due to global warming, but we need to have some scientific database to predict possible accidents,” Shrestha maintains.

[KATHMANDU, MAY 15, 2008, Jestha 02, 2065 ]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

EC Mulls Action Against Disobedient Observers

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, May 12 [2008]

Over a hundred domestic organisations could disqualify for future election observation missions in Nepal for failing to submit their preliminary reports, Election Commission sources said on Sunday.

The EC directive for the observers states that those organisations which have received EC accreditation as observers should submit their preliminary reports within 15 days of polls and detailed reports within three months.

But according to the EC record, only 13 domestic bodies and five international bodies have submitted their preliminary reports to the EC till the date. In total, there were 178 organisations accredited to observe the election. Over 60,000 domestic observers from 148 organisations and 856 international observers from 30 organisations were assigned duty to observe the historic election.

Commissioner Dr Ayodhi Prasad Yadav said those organisations, which have failed to submit their reports, would be black-listed and their applications to observe any future elections would be rejected.

"We are making a list of the organisations that failed to meet the EC directive," he said, adding that the EC was not going to request them to submit their reports.

Yadav also said the organisations violated the EC directives by ignoring their responsibility to send reports. "It is their duty to submit reports. We had told this to them while awarding them accreditiaion," he said.

An officer at EC said the 18 reports submitted by the observers hardly had anything new that has not already been reported by the media. "The EC would soon study the reports and classify them," the officer said.

"It is difficult to understand why those organisations are not submitting their reports," he said.
[ KATHMANDU, MAY 12, 2008, Baishakh 30, 2065 ]

Friday, May 09, 2008

Convention report sees holes in FNJ account book

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, May 8:

The Federation of Nepali Journalists is not squeaky clean when it comes to handling its finances, a financial report of the umbrella organisation of journalists indicates.

For the first time in history, general conference of the FNJ ended without passing a financial report, due to irregularities. Now, a team has been constituted to dig deep into the financial lapses.

According to the report, the FNJ had provided hefty salaries to coordinators of four projects. For example, the EC-supported project for promoting freedom of expression and independent media hired a coordinator for a month, offering him Rs 774,112 as salary. The Danida HUGOU-supported project for capacity development of media persons was no exception. It paid monthly salary of Rs 497,142 to its project coordinator. The coordinator of CIDA-supported project on ‘Preparing Nepali media for New Nepal’ got Rs 36,000 monthly as salary. The IMS-supported project to investigate the situation in Tarai and media paid Rs 25,000 per month to its project coordinator. FNJ members do not know when vacancies were called, under which criteria candidates for lucrative positions were selected and who were the lucky project coordinators.

Seminars organised by the FNJ in districts were no less expensive. A national seminar was organised under the CIDA-supported programme at a cost of Rs 443,747 without journalists based in districts knowing much about the goings-on.

The Danida-supported project was found to have doled out as much as Rs 197,900 to a certain person for translating training manuals. The irony is that the EU-supported project has spent Rs 1.31 lakh under the same title. An IMS-supported project paid Rs 108,500 in translation works, excluding expenditure of Rs 90,000 as remuneration for a writer and Rs 45,000 as editor remuneration for two months.

The extent of expenditure would have been a non-issue if the high-level projects had brought the slightest of change in professional or social standing of media persons.

Kiran Chapagain, a journalist, claimed that the FNJ had not paid promised sum to consultants. “I was promised Rs 70,000 for working on a certain FNJ project, but I was paid just half,” he said.

Some journalists want to know why the FNJ hired a “C” grade Chartered Accountant. The report has urged the FNJ to “spend money only after setting norms.”

Travelling is one of the things FNJ office-bearers indulge in. From 2007 July to April 2008, the FNJ spent Rs 267,561 from its regular expenses kitty for transportation. Three FNJ projects footed travelling expenses of Rs 1,763,737.

The FNJ was found to have spent hefty money in meetings. According to the report, one meeting costs Rs 2,000 to 70,000, an astronomical sum for district committees of the FNJ that cannot collect enough funds to pay rent for office rooms. The central committee of the FNJ pays Rs 143,684 per month on rent.

Kiran Nepal, chairman of the Society of Economic Journalists, said, “The FNJ has broken all norms of transparency. We want to see a system in our FNJ.”

Life in Kathmandu is difficult, especially for those who have come from districts to give their career a boost. It can be severe when you have dozens of “cadres” seeking financial support. These things notwithstanding, those who have promised to keep journalism as a profession must keep the promise.
[ KATHMANDU, MAY 09, 2008, Baishakh 27, 2065 ]

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Major parties fall short on EC quotas

Razen Manandhar

Kathmandu, May 2[2008]:
Two of the oldest parties in the poll fray — Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML — became the last parties to submit their PR lists.
The NC submitted its list to the Election Commission (EC) at 5.15 pm, while the UML submitted its list at 6.15 pm. The EC had fixed 5 pm deadline for submitting the PR lists, but cadres of the two parties entered the EC office before the deadline and made the EC officials wait till their parties came up with the lists.
The NC rushed a party activist in a taxi to the EC to submit its PR list.
The CPN-Maoist had brought the list by 3.15 pm. Other newly-emerged parties also submitted their lists to the EC today.
Most of the fringe parties, with one or two CA seats in their kitty, had submitted their lists earlier. Nepal Pariwar Dal became the first among these 25 parties, submitting its one-member list on April 25.
The EC will examine the lists to see whether the PR lists have been prepared ensuring the inclusion of women, Janajatis, Madhesis and Dalits. The EC will send back the lists to parties concerned for correction if the lists are not inclusive.
“There is a formal process in the EC to approve names. It will take some days,” Dhruba Dhakal, an undersecretary at the EC, said.
According to the Election Commission, 11 political parties, which had submitted their closed lists comprising 30 per cent candidates under the PR system, should have 37.8 per cent Janajati candidates, 31.2 Madhesi candidates, 13 per cent Dalit candidates and four per cent candidates from backward regions in their PR lists. They should not have more than 30.2 per cent candidates from Bahun and other Hindu castes.
However, major parties failed to allocate legally required number of seats to Janajatis, Madhesis, Dalits and backward regions.
The Maoists have picked the largest number of PR candidates from the backward region (four
per cent).
Janajatis and others comprise 30 per cent of CA members picked under the PR system (the Maoists have picked 29 Madhesis and 30 Janajatis).
Nepali Congress PR list comprises 21 Madheshis (28.77 per cent), nine Dalits (12.33 per cent) and 27 Janajatis (36.99 per cent). Two NC nominees (2.74 per cent) are from the backward region. However, the party has increased the number in “others” quota, giving 24 seats (32.88 per cent) under this category representing Bahuns and other groups.
The UML PR list comprises 21 Madheshis (30 per cent), nine Dalits (12.85 per cent), 24 Janajatis (34.28 per cent), two candidates from the backward region (2.86 per cent) and 30 others.
TMDP has only Tarai castes like Sah, Yadav, Jha, Singh and Kedia on its list. MJF has picked 21 candidates from Tarai-based communities; only one MJF PR candidate is from a different community.
Among small parties, the Chure Bhawar Rastriya Ekta Party Nepal has picked Keshav Mainali, Nepali Pariwar Dal has Eknath Dhakal. Dalit Janajati Party and Nepa Rashtriya Party have picked Bishendra Paaswan and Buddha Sayami.
[KATHMANDU, MAY 03, 2008, Baishakh 21, 2065 ]