Nepali Times

Indian power

Friday, December 9th, 2016
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From the Nepali Press

Sachen Gautam in Naya Patrika, 9 December

India has issued new directives on cross-border trade of electricity, discouraging other countries and non-Indian companies from investing in export-oriented hydropower projects in Nepal.

The guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Power this week have virtually ended the possibility of more investment from China and other countries.

This paves the way for India to import electricity from neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, but restricts the trade in hydroelectricity generated by other countries and non-Indian companies.

“These guidelines are restrictive,” says Prabal Adhikari, spokesperson for the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). “They favour only Indian companies.”

As per these guidelines, India will now only buy electricity from the proposed 900 MW Upper Karnali (the Indian private company GMR) and the 900 MW Arun III project (the Indian public sector company Sutlej).

But India’s electricity market is now closed for hydropower generated in Nepal by other countries like China, America, Korea and Norway. Even Nepal cannot build a hydropower project on its own and sell electricity to India.

The Independent Power Producers’ Association, Nepal (IPPAN) President Khadga Bista says: “These guidelines have forced Nepali and other companies to give at least 51 per cent share to Indian companies if they want to export electricity to India.”

India has given ‘strategic, national and economic importance’ to the new cross-border electricity trade guidelines, which also bars Nepal from buying electricity produced by non-Indian companies and selling it to India.

What is in the guidelines?

5.2.1) Considering that electricity trade shall involve issues of strategic, national and economic importance, participating entities (Participating Entity (ies)) complying with following conditions shall be eligible to participate in cross-border trade of electricity after obtaining one-time approval from the Designated Authority.

  1. a)Import of electricity by Indian entities from generation projects located outside Indian and owned or funded by Government of India or by Indian Public Sector Units or by private companies with 51% or more Indian entity (entities) ownership.
  2. b)Import of electricity by Indian entities from projects having 100% equity by Indian entity and or the government/government owned or controlled company (ies) of neighbouring country.
  3. c)Import of electricity by Indian entities from licensed traders of neighbouring countries having more than 51% Indian entity (ies) ownership, from the sources as indicated in para 5.2.1 (a) and 5.2.1 (b) above.

 


The method actor

Thursday, December 8th, 2016
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From the Nepali Press

Shiva Mukhiya in Himal Khabarpatrika, 4 to 10 December

Pic: suchanakendra.com

Pic: suchanakendra.com

In recent times no one has quite caught the attention of Nepali movie goers like actor Bipin Karki. Watching him on screen, it is difficult to believe that it is the same actor who plays Bhasme don in Pashupati Prasad, Phanindra Timilsina in Jatra and Bindu Majhi in Chhadke. Karki breathes life into every character he plays studying them carefully to look and feel the part. Karki says it is this trait of getting into his role that has brought him success.

The character development begins from the time he gets a hold of the script. He submerges himself into the crowd in search of characters that match his role. He observes the body movements and the way of speaking of people and fuses them to create a style of his own. “I keep contemplating on how to make the roles I play more effective,” says Karki.

For his role as Bindu Majhi in the popular movie Chhadke, Karki went to Chitwan, spent time with the youths there and internalised their behavioural patterns. Bhasme don of Pashupati Prasad was based on Hari Thapa, a technician working in the same movie. Karki even changed his voice throughout the movie, the impersonation was such that the crew including the director thought Karki had caught a cold.

During the shooting of Jatra, director Pradip Bhattarai often said the character Phanindra Timilsina was based on himself. So Karki took it upon himself to observe how Bhattrai talked, moved and the facial expression he had when happy and stressed. Says Karki, “If you look closely, you will find that Jatra’s Phanindra is Bhattrai himself.”

 


Durgas and doors

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
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Pic: Gopen Rai

Pics: Gopen Rai

Time and again, artist Meena Kayastha has proven her calibre, injecting innovation and experimenting with expression through various medium. Her latest exhibition ‘Divine Debris’ depicting gods and goddesses in wooden doors and detailed handwork is a classy addition to Kathmandu’s art scene.

Kayastha recalls having grown up hearing stories of Nava Durga, the nine goddesses. Her work is a homage to them, and other living beings, hoping to encourage the audience to draw strength from what people consider powerful goddesses to realise their own potential.

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A firm believer in the concept of recycling and reusing, the doors were salvaged from the rubble of earthquake damaged neighbourhoods of Bhaktapur. The doors  do not only represent the devastation, but are almost a symbol of protection and salvation, new beginnings. Like the Durgas, the doors shield humans from harm.

However, the artist does not limit her creative abilities with only earthquake doors from her hometown.

What once used to be a lawn-mower has been converted into Mahakali, the goddess of time and death, while Yamraj, the god of death, also gets a facelift using mixed media. Additionally, making use of leftovers from her previous works, and the scraps that people donated to her, Kayastha has come up with a beautiful exhibition that exudes originality and quality.

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“I’ve always felt passionate about antique items,” Kayastha told us, adding that it was also important for her to communicate the underlying message of empowering women.

Doors lead into different worlds, offering hope and new prospects. The artist thus makes the doors symbols of what women are capable of if given full opportunities. Women need to open their inner doors, she says.

Kayastha uses recurring motifs of immortality: doors rescued from the debris, reusing salvaged material, and recycling resources — all passing on the message of revival and reducing our footprint on the land. Perhaps this comes out from her own vision of how she wants to be remembered, we ask Kayastha. She replies: “We all die someday, but my work is what is going to remain.”

Divine Debris is distinct from Kayastha’s previous exhibition, ‘Lyrics from the Junkyard’, because the current work plays more with colours. Vibrant and captivating, the multi-hued deities set the mood of the exhibition and liven up the white walls of the Siddhartha Art Gallery.

What makes the show even more compelling is the attention to detail. The locks and bolts on the doors have been craftily turned into ornaments for the goddesses. Paper mache, parts of watch wrist bands, used jewellery have been used by the artist to give it a contemporary touch, a stark contrast to the printed images of goddesses that you find in abundance in the market.

In doing so, however, the creations do not look overdone. Kayastha’s passion for reassembling has given her a unique edge in the art world with items that are lively and sophisticated.

Kayastha wants to keep experimenting with newer forms and medium, and she is learning to edit videos and is planning to delve into the world of multimedia art forms.

Until 11 January 2017, Siddhartha Art Gallery, Baber Mahal Revisited, (01) 42180488

Smriti Basnet


Researching oxygen-rich Nepalis

Monday, December 5th, 2016
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oxygenResearching how young people living in the mountains of Nepal adapt to high altitude may hold clues to the treatment of children who suffer from various disorders which result in too little oxygen in their blood.

A team from the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan Campus in Canada recently took measurements of 60 Sherpa children in Thame and Khunde measuring brain blood flow, oxygen content in the blood, breathing patterns and metabolic rate at rest and during exercise.

“Aside from the adaptations that enable the children to reside comfortably at high altitude I was particularly inspired by their enthusiasm to take part in our research,” said Laura Morris, one of the Canadian scientists. “Many had seldom seen or ridden a bicycle before, but were willing to happily perform maximal exercise tests.”

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SEARCHING FOR CLUES: Canadian and Nepali esearchers Laura Morris, Ali McManus, Shailesh Niroula, and Daniela Fluck in Namche, and measuring oxygen in a Sherpa child in Thame.

The team also included Ali McManus, Daniela Fluck and Audrey Kirby, as well as Kami Sherpa, head of medicine at the Khunde Hospital and Kathmandu-based physician Sailesh Niroula. The team is now analysing the data at UBC and hopes to better understand the changes the young body makes when it lacks oxygen. “Ultimately we hope this work will help develop better treatment for children who suffer from disorders that reduce the oxygen in their blood.”

“Testing the unique physiology of Sherpa children was a remarkable experience,” said Fluck, a Swiss researcher with UBC who assessed blood flow in the arteries leading to the brain using ultrasound in children who were born and live at nearly 4,000 m.

Niroula said that it was his first time in Khumbu, and was pleasantly surprised by how excited the children were to pedal on the exercise bicycle, as well as the enthusiasm of their parents.

 


Nanita wins medal

Sunday, December 4th, 2016
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All pics: Ruzesh Shahi

Nanita Maharjan has become the first Nepali woman to win a medal in an international bodybuilding championship.

Maharjan secured the third position in the Women’s Athletic Physique category (up to 165 cm) of the eighth World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship, which was held in Pattaya of Thailand.

After receiving the medal, the 31-year-old mother of a seven-year-old son told Nepali Times: “There is nothing a woman cannot do.”

She added: “I am very happy. I would not have achieved it without my family’s support.”

Ruzesh Shahi, who trained Maharjan for this international competition, says her success is the result of her dedication and hard work.

Having won the Mrs Kathmandu and first ladies fitness championship early this year, Maharjan had set her eyes on this competition.

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Nepali women have been participating in international bodybuilding championships for the last three years, but no one had won a medal before.

Shreejana Shrestha 

 


United we stand

Sunday, December 4th, 2016
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chaitnya-misraFrom the Nepali Press

Translated excerpt from interview with Sociologist Chaitanya Mishra in Nagarik, 4 December

Nagarik: What is your take on federalism? 

Chaitanya Mishra: Federalism is not just about federal units, but also the centre. We carved out provinces on the basis of identity and viability, but what about the centre? How powerful should Kathmandu be? What should be its foreign policy? What should be its relations with neighbouring countries? Geopolitics should have been a key aspect in defining the role of the centre in our federal set up. We should have also discussed what kind of federal units we need for defending our national integrity, or what kind of federal structure could be harmful to our sovereignty.

What do you say about the way federal units have been created in Nepal?

The way it is being done does not strengthen national integrity. We should have created north-south federal units. We are now just concerned about India. China’s presence and pressure are not as strong only because Tibet is still underdeveloped. But we will face the same level of pressure from both sides in future. If a north-south federalism model is not accepted, let us use language as a basis to create federal units. This model has worked in India. Biharis can go to Mumbai and speak Maratha. But a Bahun can never be a Limbu. Creating provinces on the basis of ethnic identity will only harm the nation.

But isn’t the demand for ethnic enclaves on the wane? 

Yes. This is because DfID has stopped funding pro-ethnicity activists. The earthquakes and border blockade were also a distraction.

How do you see India’s role in the drafting and promulgation of Nepal’s constitution?

We cannot get to the bottom of it without considering India’s role. But we are too afraid to question Indian leaders. Not just our politicians, even journalists failed to ask Indian President and Prime Minister exactly how it is that Nepal’s constitution is more regressive than India’s. We have failed to understand India’s long-term Nepal policy. But understanding Indian interest should not lead us to discriminate against Madhesis, and being suspicious about their loyalty to the Nepali state.

What is India’s long-term Nepal policy?

India’s economy is booming, it needs vast natural resources like water and construction materials. Exploitation of Nepal’s Chure hills shows the huge demand in India for sand and aggregates. Security is India’s other big concern. For these reasons, India needs a sympathetic leadership in Nepal. If we remain poor, we will have to rely on India for everything. Nepalis living along the border will go to India for jobs and medical services. India wants a dependent Nepal.

India is also trying to divide Nepal between Pahad and Madhes, so it will keep fueling tension between Nepalis and eventually trigger a conflict to fragment Nepal into two nations. To foil this plan, the hill people have to be accommodative towards the Madhesis. They have to make the Madhesis feel that they are equal, not discriminated against and not looked down upon.

Nepal’s mountain dwellers must show that they are not suspicious about Madhesis, but India. India will take advantage of the Madhes-Hill divide to interfere in Nepal. We suffered a crippling blockade, which was neither the first nor will it be the last. We can resist every Indian attempt to strangle us as long as we stand united. If we are divided, the hill and the Madhes both will be defeated. Only India will triumph.

 


20th day

Friday, December 2nd, 2016
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drkc_1_1Even as Govinda KC’s fast-unto-death entered its 20th day on Friday, the government has not shown flexibility in addressing his demands to reform medical education in Nepal.

Education Secretary Shanta Bahadur Shrestha and Health Secretary Senendra Raj Uprety negotiated with KC’s representatives until late Thursday night. But KC refused to call off his hunger strike, saying the government did not show concern about addressing the chief demand of sacking the Dean of the Institute of Medicine.

Jeevan Chhetri, one of KC’s representatives, has said that the government has not shown genuine concerns to save KC’s life. “The government is just waiting for KC to give up,” he told journalists.

On Friday, doctors at government hospitals across the country refused to work, except in emergency wards, pressing the government to save KC’s life. Doctors working at private hospitals also halted services at out-patient departments for two hours on Friday.

Meanwhile, an alliance of doctors, rights activists and civil society members is planning a rally in Kathmandu to exert pressure on the government to address KC’s demands. The alliance has urged people to participate in the rally, which will begin from Maitighar, Kathmandu at 11 am Saturday.

KC has been on an indefinite hunger strike since 13 November, pressing the government to address his five demands, most importantly appointment of the senior-most professor as the dean of the Institute of Medicine.

This is the tenth time KC has been on a hunger strike demanding reforms in medical education sector. This time, he announced hunger strike after the Tribhuvan University (TU) Vice Chancellor Tirtha Khaniya appointed a junior professor as the IoM dean.

 


 

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