Nepali Times

ICC calling

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

PIC: International Cricket Council (ICC)

Sahina Shrestha

After securing a place in the upcoming ICC World Cricket League Championship, Nepal now sees urgency to improve its cricket infrastructure and domestic league.

After the ICC decided to allow Afghanistan and Ireland to play qualifying matches for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019, Nepal’s place was confirmed in the Championship scheduled to begin in mid 2015.

A place in the Championship means that Nepal may have to play several 50-over home and away matches. But, with hardly any international stadium in place, Nepal seems ill-equipped in hosting international teams. Mulpani’s stadium is still under construction and the ground at Kritipur can hardly be called an international cricket stadium.

So, will Nepal get what it requires to play in the Championship?

Bhawana Ghimire, CEO of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), says, “We will need at least two grounds of international standard. Building them in such a short span of time isn’t possible. However, we can upgrade the existing ones at Kritipur and Pulchok. Even the one in Pokhara is a good option.”

Nepal also needs a vibrant domestic cricket league to help new talents emerge for the national side. With only a handful of domestic tournaments, players who are not in the national team hardly play six games in a season. It narrows the selection pool for the national team.

Ghimire says they are working on domestic setup and fixtures and structures will be announced within 15 days.

Nepal’s dream of qualifying for the Championship had previously come to a halt after finishing fourth in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2. Although the national side’s bowling earned rave reviews, Nepal’s batting order struggled with lackluster performance during the Division 2 League.

Nepal will now join Hong Kong, Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates in the two-year competition. Kenya, which finished third in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2, too, will be competing in the Championship.

“It isn’t a gift,” said Binod Das, assistant coach of Nepal’s national cricket team.”We got through because we played well against teams like Netherlands and Canada.”

According to Das, preparations for the Championship will kick off as soon as its schedule is out. “We need to focus on all three areas (batting, bowling and fielding) if we are to perform well in the Championship,” said Das.

HRW report criticizes Nepal

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Nepal has made virtually no discernible progress in upholding promises of justice, accountability and a new constitution, said a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on Thursday.

In its World Report 2015, HRW said political parties in Nepal seemed intent on ensuring ongoing impunity for war crimes and failed to break a years-long deadlock by promulgating a new constitution.

“It is deeply disappointing that Nepal remains stuck in the same place it has been for years in spite of the grand promises made after the end of the civil war,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW. “The state appears determined to ensure that there is no accountability, leaving victims with no hope for justice.”

In the 656-page report, HRW has reviewed human rights practices in more than 90 countries, including Nepal.

In May 2014, Nepal’s legislative parliament enacted a law establishing the Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation to investigate serious rights violations and abuses committed during Nepal’s decade-long civil war from 1996 to 2006.

The HRW report says the law, however, largely replicates a previous version that was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and has been criticized by local and international groups as an attempt to ensure that perpetrators get amnesty and freedom from prosecution.

In the report, HRW also criticized restrictions on peaceful protests by Tibetan refugees and urged the government to allow the Tibetan community in Nepal the rights to free expression and assembly.

Stating that an estimated 4 million people continue to be denied citizenship due to flawed laws in Nepal, HRW drew the government’s attention to the fact that this denial leaves this population without access to basic rights.

“Nepal’s inability to move forward on a new constitution has stalled efforts to ensure protection of the rights of minorities and to reform flawed laws and practices,” Adams said.  “Both for the victims of the conflict and for the millions of other vulnerable communities who continue to suffer unjustly, the government must honor its pledges without further delay.”

The report has been published at a time when hundreds of the conflict era victims are struggling to get justice. Just this week, Kedarnath Chaulagain of Kavre district filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee saying that the Nepal government did not investigate the murder of her daughter allegedly by the Nepal Army (NA) personnel. Chaulagain’s daughter Subhadra was killed a decade ago.




Federalism revisited

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Chaitanya Mishra in, 27 January

There is now a debate over whether the CA can pass the new constitution through a two-thirds majority. Obviously, that is not the best option. It would be much better if a new constitution is passed by consensus. If that can’t be done, there should be unanimous agreement on as many key issues as possible. But we can’t wait forever if a consensus is impossible.

The opposition alliance led by the UCPN (Maoist) reject idea of using a two-thirds majority, saying this is not a numbers game. But the question arises: why then was a majority vote written into our Interim Constitution 2007? A two-thirds majority is an adequate mandate to write a constitution, and if the opposition wins a future election it can use a two-thirds to amend any article it  deems to be against people’s aspirations. It is a democratic process, and we should embrace it.

The political parties say federalism is holding up the constitution. We need to understand federalism is meant to create a just and equal society, not for the sake of being different than others. A democratic state is always expected to ensure equality of all its citizens. The notion that a person is unequal just because he is born to a ‘low-caste’ is not acceptable in a democracy. If the state cannot immediately eliminate this inequality, it must come up with a timeframe to do it.

It is true that some castes in Nepal are underprivileged. Are we seeking federalism to eliminate this caste-based inequality? Are we demanding ethnicity-based federal states because we think some castes have always been and always will be different than others? Then why do they not demand prior rights in their ethnicity-based federal states? Why do they not demand rights for only their people to become Chief Minister for the first two consecutive terms? If we all are fundamentally different from each other, we will never co-exist in one state and may need separate ones.

If we had looked deeper into national security, we would have gone for north-south federal units. We cannot expect our two giant neighbours to always be friends as now. If our federal units will have threats from any one, it will be from neighbours and north-south units would provide a degree of security.

The State Restructuring Committee suggested that federal states be created on the basis of ethnicity, language, culture, geography and history. But, ethnicity means language, culture, geography and history and if it is separated it will be regressive and undemocratic.  Issues of language, culture, geography and history can be addressed in district or local level of future federal units. We should honour the rich linguistic characteristics of the Nepali society, but not divisive ethnicity.

It is true that the Hill people have suppressed the Madhesi and the high-caste has dominated Nepal’s politics But, we do not need to create federal units along ethnic lines to address these issues. If federal states are named after ethnic groups, there will more demands and complications.

Saving Nepal Airlines

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Twenty-five years of decline has left Nepal Airlines a shadow of its former self, but the country’s national carrier is now poised for growth with fleet and route expansion drives. The ailing airline, however, needs to streamline its management before adding new planes, aviation sources say.

New Airbus 320-233SL Nepal Airlines

NEW JET: The Airbus 320-233SL of
Nepal Airlines (9N-AKW) with sharklets, the first of two that will augment the fleet this year. The plane will arrive in Kathmandu on 8 Feburary and will start flying the daily New Delhi route.

The trajectory of an airline that used to be considered one of the best in South Asia correlates closely with the country’s recent history. The slide began soon after the restoration of democracy in 1990 as politicians interfered with management for kickbacks and patronage.

But it was after 2008, after the ‘Royal’ was dropped from its name when Nepal became a republic, that things went from bad to worse. An airline that once proudly flew the Nepali flag to destinations from Gatwick to Kansai served only a handful of destinations.

In 1990 Nepal Airlines had four medium-haul jets flying to 12 international destinations and seven turboprops servicing 20 domestic airfields. Today there are only two 30-year-old Boeing 757s and two airworthy Twin Otters left. The airline doesn’t fly to any point in India anymore, and connects only five airports within the country.

The airline is now preparing to add the first of its two new generation Airbus 320s next month and expand its domestic fleet with six Chinese aircrafts. “But the airline’s management style is out of sync with what is needed to run a modern airline company,” said an aviation consultant who had advised Nepal Airlines in the past. “How can you run an airline like you manage the Food Corporation?”

Airline insiders say politicians, bureaucrats and senior airline management seem to be abnormally eager to sell off the airline’s two Boeing 757s. They fear it will be a repeat of the shady deal by the then Nepali Congress government to dispose of two 727s at below market prices in 1991 amidst widespread allegations of kickbacks.

The airline is also facing a crippling shortage of pilots. At present it has only 25 pilots for its 757s, and five of them are retiring. Six pilots have gone for simulator training for Airbus 320s in Toulouse, and six more will be leaving next month. When they return, rules won’t allow them to fly 757s.

Three of the pilots returned this week after finding the conversion to A320s “too difficult”, airline sources confirmed. The A320 cockpit is much more computerised and its control systems are radically different from the 757s, but there are doubts that the pilots may have been sent to France without adequate preparation.

“There will be no one left to fly international routes by next month,” one senior 757 captain said on condition of anonymity.

The first Airbus 320 is expected to resume the airline’s Kathmandu-Delhi route which at the moment is operated by five Indian and one Bhutanese airline.

One reason for the shortage is the exodus of 757 pilots in the last decade. A senior captain at Nepal Airlines earns only $1500 a month, whereas the salary for a pilot with as many flying hours in an international airline has a average monthly salary of $16,000.

The airline management and officials are using the lack of pilots as an excuse to rush the sale of the 757s, even though many ex-Nepal Airlines pilots would gladly return to Nepal if offered $6,000 a month. Twin Otter captains can also be sent to China immediately for conversion training so the 757s can keep flying.

The 757s are of the combi variety with a forward cargo hatch and have a resale value of at least $18 million each, airline sources say. They are fully depreciated and the company could still use them for budget routes or cargo.

The airline has been hamstrung with a deal pushed by politicians for six Chinese aircraft for domestic operations.

The first MA-60 turboprop has barely flown 40 hours in the past six months on trunk routes, and has become such a drain on the airline’s coffers that this week management wrote to the government saying it didn’t want the remaining four planes.

But by far the biggest problem is that Nepal Airlines is run like a third-rate government corporation, experts say, and doesn’t have the management expertise and transparent decision-making needed to operate an international airline.


Immediate four steps Nepal Airlines needs to take to become viable:

1. Implement a Public-Private Partnership and delink ownership from government
2. Bring in international management consultant
3. Move headquarters, use present premises for revenue
4. Urgently resolve shortage of pilots

Read also:

New planes, new hope Vijay Lama 

Silver lining in the Nepal sky Hardik Gurung

Royal Nepal and Corruption Artha Beed 

Flying the flag Vijay Lama

Royal Nepal Airlines battles battered image Pragya Shrestha  

Swiss chaitya

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015


Himal Khabarpatrika, 18-24 January

When Alain Bordier, founder of Alain Bordier Foundation wanted to build a Nepali-style Lichchhavi Chaitya within the premises of the Tibet Museum in Gruyères in Switzerland, he contacted Nepali art connoisseur, Ulrich von Schroeder.

He couldn’t afford to build an elaborate Chaitya (stupa) and an exact replica would invite unnecessary legal hassles, so he suggested getting a Nepali over to build a new Purna Chaitya in Nepal and take it to Switzerland.

Architect Rajan Shrestha from Bhaktapur integrated the designs of the hemispherical dome of a Chaitya outside Kuthubaha and Chabahil for the base of Kinnari Statue. Enshrined with precious gems, the sculpture’s base was to be carved with Nepali and Newari inscriptions.

With the design part complete, they had to find an artist for the job. Placing ads in newspapers was not only time consuming but also expensive so they went around Patan looking for someone. Finally, they met Santalal Dyahkhah Jyapu in Khokana, an artist whose skills, perseverance, passion and humility far outweighed his lack of a formal degree in art.

Their search for an appropriate stone for the sculpture took them even longer than the search for the sculptor. But, after seven months they located a stone in a quarry located 4km west of Pharping that was perfect size and

Although the Chaitya was carved in four months, finding a way to smoothening the surface with sand-blasting the surface took some time. The completed Chaitya was finally taken to Switzerland and installed according to ritual by a Tibetan Kagyu Lama last year.

Read the original story 





Maoists now target Nembang

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Analysis by Om Astha Rai

It is puzzling why the Maoists have decided to focus on CA Chair Subhas Nembang and not UML Chair KP Oli as their next target. Nembang is a fair and objective Chair who has played by the book. In fact, despite opposition from the NC and others, he gave the Maoists the 10 days they demanded to effectively extend the tenure of the Assembly beyond 22 January.

Earlier this month he said he was ready to sacrifice his “gentleman image” for the sake of a consensus on the contentious issues of the new constitution.

On 1 January, Nembang sought mandate to prepare the constitution’s first draft if the parties failed to forge a consensus in four days time, as per their mutual agreement last year.

“It’s not the best way out, but I am ready to face all the consequences,” he said.

Being a seasoned politician, Nembang knew that although he was left with no options, taking the process of voting forward would open him up to accusation of being biased to his own UML party.

As expected, the Maoist-Madhesi alliance of 31 parties did not allow him to write the constitution’s preliminary draft. Instead, they kept holding one after another inconclusive meeting in a frantic but futile search for a consensus. And, they eventually missed the 22 January deadline.

After the deadline expired with neither the new constitution nor a broader agreement on the disputed issues like federalism, form of governance, judiciary model and electoral system, Nembang took a bold step by tabling Proposal Drafting Committee (PDC). The PDC, which will draft a questionnaire on the disputed issues and submit it to the CA, is the first step towards passing the new constitution through a vote.

After the CA endorsed Nembang’s proposal amidst sloganeering by the opposition lawmakers, he has been subjected to attacks by the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhesi parties. Shortly after the CA endorsed Nembang’s proposal, the UCPN (Maoist) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal accused him of acting like a ruling party leader rather than an impartial CA chair.

Giriraj Mani Pokhrel, the UCPN (Maoist)’s chief whip, told Nepali Times that Nembang showed his ‘true colour’ by ‘siding with the ruling parties.” “He had sided with the UML and the NC in the last hours of the first CA,” said Pokhrel. “He did it again by initiating the voting process.”

UCPN (Maoist) leader Khimlal Devkota dubbed Nembang’s move as extra-constitutional. He tweeted: “Announcement of CA Chair is entirely extra-constitutional and CA rules and procedures, there is no provision (as such) in CA rules.”

Opposition parties not only restricted them to criticising Nembang on social media. On Monday, the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhesi parties decided to take to streets against Nembang, burning his effigies in some places.

But, the opposition parties seem to have ignored the fact that the PDC is Nembang’s middle-path approach. Bipin Adhikari, a constitutional lawyer who has been advocating for a vote on the disputed issues, said that what Nembang did was not sufficient.  He tweeted: “Questionnaire Committee at Constituent Assembly: Half a loaf is better than no bread.”

Nembang was under tremendous pressure from the ruling parties to form the questionnaire committee in last Friday’s CA meeting itself. By forming the PDC, he has given the parties some more time to work on a consensus. The PDC has not been asked to submit the questionnaire right away to the CA. The PDC will hold its first meeting only on 30 January. And even thereafter, it will still have five more days to prepare the questionnaire.

A UCPN (Maoist) leader, on condition of anonymity, says threats to boycott talks with Nembang and ruling parties are not exactly as they appear. “Of course, there will be no formal talks,” says he. “But, informal talks and consensus efforts will go on.”

So, why are the UCPN (M) leaders targeting Nembang? He is just a hapless pawn to rally cadres for the month-long protests they announced Monday against the ruling NC and the UML. But by targeting a popular and fair-minded man they may have made a blunder.

Maoist’s hope hinges on NC  

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Om Astha Rai

On last Friday, just a day after the January 22 deadline expired, Constituent Assembly (CA) Chair Subhas Nembang vowed to take a ‘decisive step’.

Nembang’s hint was clear: he would initiate the voting process on the disputed issues of the new constitution in the next CA meeting scheduled for Sunday. He looked determined to do so as the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhesi parties constantly disrupted the CA meetings to stop the NC’s chief whip Chin Kaji Shrestha from proposing a questionnaire committee.

However, some UCPN (Maoist) lawmakers hoped that Nembang would not go to that extent and still leave a room for consensus. But, their hope was dashed when Nembang proposed Proposal Drafting Committee (PDC) amidst sloganeering by the opposition lawmakers on Sunday.

Ostensibly outraged by Nembang’s move, the UCPN (Maoist)-led alliance of 30 opposition parties declared that they would not sit in for talks with the ruling NC and the UML. On the other hand, there have been no efforts to hold talks with the opposition by the ruling parties, either.

As deadlock deepens with both the ruling and the opposition parties appearing unwilling to negotiate on the disputed issues, the future political course looks uncertain.

But, an analysis of the way Nembang proposed the PDC and the way the UCPN (Maoist) alliance reacted to it offers an insight into the future political course.

Even though Nembang overlooked sloganeering by the opposition lawmakers, he has given ten days for the PDC to draft a questionnaire on the disputed issues. It is something the UCPN (Maoist) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal had earlier sought from the ruling parties. He first demanded 10 days and later compromised on five days for forging a consensus. So, the ruling parties might persuade the opposition into holding talks even as the PDC proceeds further.

But, will the UCPN (Maoist) agree to hold talks with the ruling parties without dismantling the PDC? It might, given the fact that the UCPN (Maoist)-led alliance has not warned of walking out of the CA. At a press meet on Sunday, the UCPN (Maoist) Chair Dahal said, “We are not walking away from the CA.”

A UCPN (Maoist) leader interpreted Dahal’s statement as ‘a hint that there will still be talks.” He said: “As long as our party stays in the CA, we will have talks.”

UCPN (Maoist) leaders say they hope a section of the NC leaders, if not the UML, might facilitate talks between the ruling and the opposition parties. “The UML appears unanimously dead against holding talks with us; but a section of NC leaders are not,” said Ram Karki, a UCPN (Maoist) leader. “Their role will be crucial to break the deepening deadlock.”