Police use a water cannon to push back protesters on the streets of Kathmandu. Photo: Nepali Times
The jury is still out on federalism in Nepal, which was put in place in 2017, after elections to three levels of government – local, provincial and federal. But there is no doubting that local people are getting more vocal about their frustrations at the slow pace of road building and other infrastructure works. I wrote the following in this week’s Nepali Times:
Think locally, act locally
- In May, residents and traders burned tyres to block the Chabahil-Jorpati road, signalling their frustration at long-delayed construction on the dusty, crater-filled stretch. They succeeded in sparking action, but after upgrading work stalled, protests erupted again last week in a bid to force the contractor to finish the job.
- The road blocking trend morphed into poster protests, where the faces of delinquent road contractors were plastered to poles and vehicles. This included Nagarkot, where contractor Sharada Prasad Adhikari, also the landlord of Nepal Communist Party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was targeted. The tactic spread further, with Mayor Bhim Parajuli of Biratnagar being publicly shamed last week.
- Residents attempting to stop road-building in Baitadi in October were turned on by an excavator operator, whose shocking attack with the machine injured eight people. Attempted murder charges are pending.
- In Udaypur last week, locals clashed with police after seizing more than a dozen dump trucks and an excavator that were being used to gouge sand and rocks out of a local river.
- Residents of Charikot of Dolakha District took to the streets last week to protest the lack of progress in repairing the Jiri Highway. They blocked the main intersection to vehicular traffic for hours.
Photo: Marty Logan
One of Kathmandu’s biggest defects is the lack of green spaces. Luckily I’ve found one. It’s tiny, and certainly not where you would expect it, but its positive impact is huge. In fact, for many years now I’ve been fortunate to enjoy nature in different forms. in many cities.
I wrote more about this in this week’s Nepali Times:
When I’ve had enough of the smog, barking dogs, crowds and cacophony of Kathmandu I seek out my ‘oasis’, a small piece of green real estate that, I’m sure, slows my heartbeat and lowers my blood pressure on sight in — Dilibazar.
Yes, that’s right, Dilibazar, one of the oldest suburbs of 20th-century Kathmandu, once known for its sweet shops and the derelict Charkhal Jail, but today recognisable by the educational consultancies and their billboards — ‘Study in Australia, Canada, Cyprus, England, Greece, Ireland! — that have spilled onto its streets from Putali Sadak. It’s definitely not the first place that comes to mind when you think of Kathmandu and nature. Continue reading
I haven’t written many book reviews, but this read was so interesting that I was happy to do it. Called Far Out: Countercultural Seekers and the Tourism Encounter in Nepal, it describes and analyses tourism in Nepal from its infancy till the mid-2010s.
But author Mark Liechty delivers his material with a light touch, thanks to loads of anecdotes and quotations, from both travellers and Nepalis.
As you might have guessed from my headline, much of the book looks at the hippie era in Nepal, but the story begins much earlier, and features some memorable characters.
Here’s my full review in last week’s Nepali Times: Continue reading
A tree blocks a road near Butwal, Nepal during the Maoist conflict in 2005. Photo: Marty Logan
United Nations experts have critiqued draft changes to the Nepal law on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), says an editorial in this week’s Nepali Times.
In April, the experts from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, known as ‘special procedures’, took the Nepal Government to task for its slow, faulty progress in transitional justice. This time, their letter focuses on three proposals for the NHRC Act:
- Giving the attorney-general the power to approve the NHRC’s investigations
- Barring the institution from receiving any funding external to its government budget
- Preventing the NHRC from opening regional of sub-regional offices.
Bhutanese politician Tshering Togbay holds up a copy of the ICIMOD assessment that predicts 2/3 of glaciers in the Hindu-Kush mountains will melt by 2100 if current global warming continues.
This short TED talk is a short, clear description of why everyone in the world should care that Mt Everest and its neighbours are melting.
Hint: the Hindu-Kush mountains are also known as the 3rd Pole, and the water that flows from them nourishes the lives of more than 2 billion people in Asia.
Tshering Togbay, a politician from Bhutan, presents a scary scenario here but as he makes clear, inaction is not an option.
His suggestion is to create a new body of all the governments in the Hindu-Kush, with particularly active involvement from giants – and major greenhouse gas producers – China and India. It’s easy to dismiss yet another government ‘talk shop’ but if the leaders of countries at risk won’t take action, who will?
A child eating at a Mother’s Group meeting devoted to nutritious feeding, in Nepal’s Achham district in 2018. Photo: Marty Logan
A study finding that infants in Kathmandu are getting 25% of their calories from junk foods was a major talking point in Nepal last week.
Looking at the article in The Journal of Nutrition, it is also surprising that among the 700 or so kids studied, the group who ate the most junk food were shorter than the average, not fatter as might be expected.
Shorter than average is a description of stunting, a major marker of childhood malnutrition. Decades ago Nepal had extremely high rates of stunting, which is also an indicator of a country’s development, but managed to reduce it greatly. Still, the country is not on track to meet the 2030 target of the Sustainable Development Goals: 15% of children under 5 stunted.
Below is my article published today in Nepali Times, online.