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FES Nepal in the Press -2001

Acharya questions Royal visit to army HQs <TOP>

LALITPUR, Dec 23 – Central member of the Nepali Congress (NC) and former Minister, Narahari Acharya, Sunday expressed his concern over the recent visit of King Gyanendra and Crown Prince Paras to the Army Headquarters at Bhadrakali.

Acharya was speaking at a national workshop here. At the same function, former Speaker Daman Nath Dhungana, flayed Chief of the Army Staff for appearing on Nepal Television recently.

"The Prime Minister and the Defence Minister should have accompanied the King during the visit," Acharya said.

King Gyanendra and Prince Paras last Friday had visited the Army Headquarters to keep themselves updated on the ongoing army operation in the country. No government representative accompanied the royal duo.

On the matter of Chief of the Army Staff, Prajwalla Shumshere JB Rana, appearing on state television last Monday, Dhungana said that it was the people’s representatives who should have appeared on the screen rather than the army chief. Dhungana was also critical of the army being deployed in the country.

The army chief had appeared in the weekly programme, Dishanirdesh.

Dhungana also expressed concern over the possibility of democracy losing out to emergency. "There is a great probability that the state of emergency will swallow up democracy," Dhungana said.

The one-day workshop, attended by several political leaders and experts, was held to discuss the present crisis situation and to look at the possibility of reaching a consensus to resolve the political turmoil.

Professor of political science, Krishna Khanal, said that there should not be any national political consensus on extending the ongoing state of emergency. He, however, did not explain his stance.

Khanal also urged the government not to link development initiatives with the emergency since the emergency should only concentrate on taming the Maoists.

"Development should take place in the normal way," Khanal said. The political scientist also demanded the government to make preparations for the rehabilitation of those Maoists who have surrendered to the administration since the declaration of emergency on November 26.

In his remarks, Minister for Physical Planning and Construction, Chiranjivi Wagle, asked the political parties and the civil society to stop being suspicious about the role of the Royal Nepal Army. He said the army, in accordance with the Constitution, is fighting to restore peace and save democracy in the country.

"The government is trying hard to terminate the ongoing emergency as soon as possible and is striving to keep the losses at a minimum," Wagle said.

On the debate over the formation of an all-party government, Wagle said the Constitution does not allow such a government to be installed.

"If an all-party government is to be formed, the Constitution should be amended first," Wagle said. "It is high time we define what national consensus means."

Central member and lawmaker of NC, Bal Dev Sharma Majgainya, demanded that the government should keep the political parties abreast of all the negative and positive developments during the emergency.

Note: The seminar was organized by CCD in Kathmandu on December 23 in co-operation with FES.

‘Develop infrastructure for ICT’ <TOP>

KATHMANDU, Nov. 29 - Experts in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have urged the governments of respective countries of developing infrastructure in order to keep pace with the fast changing technology.

Kunda Dixit, a renowned journalist and editor of Nepali Times weekly, stressed that the government should develop infrastructure. Only 0.5 per cent of the Nepali own computer and the telephone ownership is not above two per cent and a mere 13 per cent of the population has access to electricity. How can such a country take a part in a race of ICT? he questioned. MORE...

He also pointed out the need to provide competent teachers and textbooks to children in the school of remote villages before distributing computers to them. Dixit was delivering a keynote speech at an international conference on Information Technology, Communications and Development (ITCD-2001) in the capital today.

Dr Alfred Diebold, Resident Representative of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal, said that FES had organized the international conference with a view to showcasing Nepal’s ICT potential and sharing experiences and knowledge among the experts of ICT.

He also said that the two-day conference would dwell on various issues and aspects of ICT including the policies and laws, communications, role of Internet in social development, democratization of Internet among others.

The participants also warned that the digital divide is soon becoming the most visible component of the development divide. If not tackled in time, the divide will cause severe consequences for the developing countries.

Ajaya Kumar, Secretary to the Government of Kerala, India, said that digital divide could enlarge marginalization as access to opportunities to wealth creation is reduced or polarized and potential losses of considerable development opportunities as productivity and efficiency gains are not transmitted from the rich to the poor countries.

Presenting a paper on Telecentres in Rural Asia: Towards a Success, Roger Harris of Hong Kong , said that telecentres play an important role in minimizing the digital divide as they provide an alternative to the model of one-to-one individual access to a computer that predominates the developed world.

Earlier, Mahesh Man Shrestha, Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Technology, said that His Majesty’s Government of Nepal is making every possible efforts to promote the development of ICT in the country.

In order to facilitate the use of Internet and make it more accessible to a larger chunk of population, the government has deregulated the international gateway of telecommunications and an IT park is being constructed in Banepa, some 20 kilometers east of Kathmandu, he said.

The government has initiated the process of providing training in ICT with a view to produce desired manpower for the country. Within three years, 50,000 people will be trained in ICT and the government has also established a venture capital fund to boost the confidence of IT entrepreneurs, the secretary added.

Lochan Lal Amatya, President of Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) expressed the views that for a resource-poor country like Nepal ICT can play a vital role in expediting the pace of development.

The two-day conference organized by FES in association with CAN is being participated in by more than 100 experts from 25 countries, according to the organizer.

< Strategies for vast water resources stressed <TOP>

Energy Policy Seminar

Kathmandu, Nov. 27: At a time when Nepal is bracing for the WTO membership, it is high time to chalk out strategies for reaping a desired level of benefit by utilizing it's 240 Billion cubic meter of water. If Nepal's vast water resources are utilize for its own interest, it can trade hydro-power with neighbouring country like India.

Apart from this there is a high chance of developing linkage of water resources with security as well, said hydropower experts here today.

However, they said 'the government should realize the actual benefit of hydro–power. Even Nepal has not been able to take any benefits from the Treaty on the Gandaki and Koshi Rivers, it can still safeguard its interests if the government takes timely measures,' they said adding 'the issue of utilization of water resources at regional level should be given emphasis during the Eleventh SAARC summit.'

Speaking at a national seminar jointly organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) and Coalition for Action on South Asian Co-operation (CASAC) with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Nepal, country's eminent water resource experts strongly pointed out the need for taking 'timely and bold steps' to use its water resources to fulfill its own demand and the demand of neighbouring country. 'If it fails to do something concrete on hydropower, it will have nothing at all. Besides, Nepal has comparative benefit on hydropower too,' they asserted.

The government has not taken any initiatives to use country's water resources, experts said. At the seminar organized with the objective of rendering policy input to the government, they affirmed' considering the crises of water, Nepal has to take timely action to tackle the problem.

Alfred Diebold, Resident Representative of FES, Nepal pointed out the need for maximum utilization of its vast water resources. Talking to The Rising Nepal, he said ' Nepal has missed a lot of opportunities in comparison to South Asian country like Bhutan which sells its energy to India.

Earlier S.B Pun while presenting his working paper expressed hope that the Eleventh SAARC Summit to be held in Kathmandu would identify the need for regional project to use water resources in the region.

Dr. Binayak Bhadra while presenting paper on ' Hydro Energy For National Development' stressed that importance of hydro energy should be given priority for national development. Another expert Dr. Kamal Banskota spoke about economic flows from high land to lowland.

Dr. Kamal Rijal, Renewal Energy Specialist of the ICIMOD highlighted the importance of water resources for meeting energy needs in South Asia. Dr. Hari Man Shrestha, water resource expert blamed the decision makers of undermining the national interest. While presenting paper on 'Energy as a Security Issue', Dr. Shrestha said that Nepal could use its water resources as a security measure.

On the occasion Prof. Guna Nidhi Sharma, Dr. Badri Parasad Shrestha, Sridhar Khartri and Dr. Ambar Bahadur Thapa commented the working papers. Sridhar Khatri while extending vote of thank expressed hope that the seminar would help render some input to the government while making policy on water resources.

The seminar was participated in by around 35 people from different organizations.

NEFAS/FES seminar on WTO <Top>

Kathmandu: Nepal's senior economists at a national seminar held Tuesday morning have suggested the government to do proper homework prior to joining the body of the World Trade Organization, WTO.

The Nepalese scholars were also of the opinion that the Nepal's concerned authorities dealing with the WTO affairs must convince the lay men regarding the benefits and the otherwise that would accrue from Nepal's joining the WTO arrangements.

The national seminar entitled "Nepal's accession to WTO and the Agriculture Sector" was organized by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies, NEFAS, in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Welcoming the attending seminar participants, the NEFAS Executive Director Professor Ananda Shrestha said that Nepal could benefit from WTO provided proper home work is done prior to joining the World Trade body.

Posh Raj Pandey, a member of the government's WTO cell, presented the paper.

Dr. Bishwanath Tiwari and Sri Dipendra Bahadur Chetri commented on Pandey's paper.

Professor Gun Nidhi Sharma from the chair maintained that Nepal's already high cost economy has got to be brought down in order to compete the world market.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (November 21, 2001)

Leadership development training opens <TOP>

Member of the Nepali Congress Central Committee and chief of the NC Organization Department Krishna Prasad Sitaula inaugurated the leadership development training conducted under the joint sponsorship of Nepal Health Workers’ Association, Nepal Trade Union Congress and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung here today.

In his inaugural address, Sitauda called on one and all to unite and safeguard the basic principles of the constitution at a time when democracy is under severe threat.

The Maoists should point out which articles and clauses of the Constitution hinder them to work in favour of people, he said, adding that if there are such articles and clauses which are detrimental to the people, the Nepali Congress is ready to amend them.

The Maoists should come within the purview of the democracy and human rights ushered through the popular movement of 2046 B.S., he added.

President of Nepal Trade Union Congress Laxman Bahadur Basnet said that all workers should move ahead by analyzing the achievements obtained within the last 12 years while keeping in mind the rights and duties.

Acting president of the Nepal Health Workers Association Muktiram Shrestha was on the chair.

One representative each from 20 district are taking part in the training.

Source: The Rising Nepal, October 8, 2001

TV channels pandering to vested interests <TOP>

Kanak Dixit and Beena Sarwa

KATHMANDU, October 6- Even as Film South Asia'01 is very much underway television experts, journalists and documentary producers have shown their deep concern on the way national televisions and satellites channels in the region were functioning.

"Television is supposed to be a public service, but the term public service in the context of broadcasting loses its meaning since most of the TV channels in South Asian Region do not serve the public interest," said most of the participants at the program organized in the sidelines of the documentary show.

Public interests are best served by promoting independent thought and creating pressure for democracy-- not just as a political system of adult enfranchisement. Viewers need to aspire towards a meaningful democracy, a just social order in which citizens are alert and well-informed.

Meanwhile, even private TV networks are run along commercial lines. Consider also the fact that documentaries don't find place in private channel fares. It is also true that governments-run TVs don't broadcast the film which is a political.

Consider also what Tapa Nath Shukla, Former General Manager of Nepal television (NTV) said, "As a matter of fact, the government here is not in a position of funding such documentaries and the producers do not get sponsors."

The producers here lament that such movies don't have a ready market. Another problem is they don't get prime time. "In fact NTV demands us pay back to screen such programs instead of providing us remuneration," said Mohan Mainali, a radio-journalist.

Nupur Bassu, a documentary producer, claimed that the televisions do not telecast the documentaries either because of the issues or because they are not made on commercial lines.

However, she added that the media needs to be free from political influence.

According to Beena Sarwar, an editor of "The News on Sunday" from Pakistan there was a need to break away from the private monopoly on western line. She also stressed the need to move away from traditional news formats, which by their very nature and speed, provide information that is incomplete or biased.

Sarwar also said that appeal to emotions based on nationalism, religion, security and identity would be considerably hampered if people could see the full picture.

Experts said that a debate on the issue was the need of the day, something which alone can say something as to how public service satellite channels should be run.

Although even undemocratic governments are trying to improve their image by allowing a certain amount of media freedom, the same amount of media freedom, the same needs to be further improved upon.

Meanwhile, the delegates from South Asia agreed on the need to create presser for structural changes in the field.

Kanak Mani Dixit, a leading publisher, opined that NTV should select some of the films being shown in FSA'01 since they are of good quality.

Source: Space Time Today, October 7, 2001

Media Freedom in Nepal
Govt willing to work with press, says Deuba

PM Deuba addressing the Seminar

Kathmandu, Sept. 30: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has assured the press that the government would do its best to discuss and pass the draft on Right to Information before the ongoing 20th session of the Parliament concludes.

Premier Deuba said this while inaugurating the one-day national seminar on "Media Freedom in Nepal" organised by Nepal Chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI) here this morning.

Addressing the function the Prime Minister said that the government was willing to sit down with the press for formulating policies and programmes so as to facilitate the Fourth Estate of the nation.

"I think the Nepalese press is enjoying complete freedom, especially after the restoration of democracy in 1990, but when it comes to facilitating it, we are always ready to discuss and formulate policies," Premier Deuba said.

Meanwhile, he asked the journalists not to become afraid while writing the truth and reality about the activities that harm the interest of the country like the Maoist insurgency which has marred the nation for the past six years.

During the programme journalist Shreeram Singh Basnet presented a working paper on "Nepalese Press and its Challenges in the International Context" on behalf of Kantipur daily's journalist Yubraj Ghimire.

Ghimire was all set to present the paper but could not do so following his hospitalization after sustaining injury in a road accident yesterday.

Journalists Suresh Acharya, Purushottam Dahal and Tirth Koirala commented on the 8-page-long paper on the prospects and challenges of journalism in Nepal.

The working paper, however, was vehemently criticised by the participants for not being able to replicate the real history of Nepalese journalism.

Commenting on the paper, journalist Tirtha Koirala said that it talked about the development of journalism only after 2007 B.S. Journalist Koirala sharply criticized the paper for not maintaining balance.

"The paper has terribly missed the more than a century long history of journalism by talking only about the journalism that flourished after 2007 B.S.," Koirala said.

The other participants also blamed the paper of being totally biased and lopsided thereby shortening the 100-year long history made by Gorkhapatra Corporation.

During the session, which was chaired by NTV General Manager Durga Nath Sharma, other commentators also criticized the paper of not being able to replicate the whole trend of Nepalese journalism. They said that the role of electronic media, especially of radio and television, was largely ignored.

Source: The Rising Nepal, October 1, 2001


Note: The programme was organized with the support of FES Nepal.

Educating the Young about Civic Education <TOP>

Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies organised a one-day seminar on “Educating the Young about Civic Education” for school and campus teachers in Palpa today. The seminar was organised with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany.

The Tansen teachers felt the need for civic education in their schools to remedy the perversions surfacing in the political life of the nation. Most of them linked the degradation in the political life of the nation to the lack of proper political education.

The teachers said that civic education had been in the guise of one subject or the other in the past, like Nagrik Shikshya, Social Studies, or Nepal Parichaya, and they needed one today to spread the constitutional messages to the people at large. The need for imbibing students with civic rights and responsibilities, they said, was absolutely necessary to sustain democracy.

Before the discussions began Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma of the Economics Department of Tribhuvan University had made his presentation on economics to suit the Nepalese needs while another TU teacher, Khagendra Prasai, had spoken on the need to contextualise the political culture according to the nation’s own value systems.

In the opening session, Dr. Alfred Diebold, the resident representative of FES in Kathmandu said that the programme on civic education was assisted by FES to help strengthen the democratic institutionalization process in Nepal, just as the organisation had been doing in other countries, including Germany.

Ananda Srestha had welcomed the participants by introducing them to the book that NEFAS had produced on the subject and asked for suggestions to be included in the future editions of the book.

Dev Raj Dahal spoke on the need for the civic education programme saying that the subject was being taught in almost every democratic country “realizing that people are not born democrats but that they are trained to become one as they grow.”

Chatraraj Shakya, a local campus teacher, had chaired the discussion sessions. Fifty Teachers from high schools and higher secondary schools of Tansen and others from the civil society had participated in the discussions.

Conflicting views part of society: Ranabhat [UP]

Speaker Ranabhat (third from left) and other MPs

Speaker Taranath Ranabhat has said society cannot exist without conflicting views and opinions and it is not possible to completely root out one ideology and establish another.

Ranabhat, who was inaugurating a seminar on strategies for conflict in consolidation of democracy organised here today, spoke of the need to integrate different ideologies for the larger interests of society.

Stating that the Maoists themselves don't know what their goals are and what they are fighting for, he said if the Maoists don't come to the political mainstream by making use of the present favourable situation in the present context marked by world opinion being built against terrorism, their guns will be a burden for themselves some day.

CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal observed that inability to run the country in the post democracy era, blatant misuse of power, politicisation in every sector and violation of rule of law have created the present crisis, adding that without identifying the problem correctly, management of the present conflict is not possible.

Stating that problems facing the people and issues of nationality should be entered into the government-Maoist talks, Nepal said we all should work together to create an atmosphere where people can live without fear.

In the seminar organised by the Study Centre for Democracy and Good Governance with the cooperation of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Ananda Aditya and Prof Krishna Hachchhethu had presented working papers on different forms of conflicts and approaches on their management, and political conflicts and their management respectively.

RPP's Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani and UML's Jhalanath Khanal had commented on the working papers.

MP Pashupati Shamsher JB Rana and Achyut Bahadur Rajbhandari also spoke at the function chaired by MP Hridayesh Tripathy.

Source: The Rising Nepal, October 1, 2001

Meeting held on 'democratic socialism' <TOP>

The Martyrs Memorial Foundation and the FES/Nepal jointly organized a two-day workshop seminar entitled "is democratic socialism appropriate for Nepal?" here recently.

Inaugurating the workshop seminar, Martyrs Memorial Foundation president and ex-minister Dhundi Raj Shastri said that all the political parties should themselves be honest in consolidating the present constitution, nationality and parliamentary democracy by guiding the country to a new direction.

Increase in violence, corruption, oppression and poverty has resulted in political instability, which in turn has contributed to the growing apathy of the people, he said.

Nepali Congress central members former minister Narahari Acharya and Bimalendra Nidhi expressed the view that there is no alternative to democracy and parliamentary system.

They said that socialism would be further strengthened if the benefits of the income-generation programs could be ensured to the targeted communities.

Economist Dr Narayan Narasingh Khatri, Foundation general secretary Khilanath Dahal and president of the Nepali Congress Makwanpur district committee Ramchandra Aryal also expressed their views at the program presided over by vice-president of the Martyrs Memorial Foundation and ex-minister Dip Kumar Upadhyaya.

Altogether 50 persons including Nepali Congress district committee presidents from the eastern, central and western development regions and representatives of DECONT and non-governmental institutions and organizations took part in the seminar.

Source: The Rising Nepal (Aug 16, 2001)

Intellectuals discuss the problems and challenges posed by the open border between Nepal and India <TOP>

Does Nepal need an open border with neighboring India? Most Nepalis have an opinion. When it comes to articulating the pros and cons of an open border with the mighty neighbor to the south, neither officials nor intellectuals can produce persuasive arguments either way.

Seminar participants

For long, a section of Nepalese intellectuals, including leftist and rightist politicians, have called for sealing the border. Others advocate limited regulation. Over the last few months, the Indian side, too, has found itself debating the issue, regularly accusing the Nepalese of ignoring criminal elements crossing into India. Indian media coverage of Nepal usually concerns the misuse of the Nepal-India open border to destabilize India.

At a time when people on both sides are realizing the need to take some steps to regularize the open border, the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung organized a daylong seminar in the capital to discuss the prospects and challenges.

Regulating the Nepal-India open border requires intensive study and homework, as many Nepalese living in the southern plains need to pass through Indian territory before reaching home. A similar situation exists for many Indian citizens. Nepalese and Indian citizens are benefiting from this easy access to each other’s territory.

In such a situation, the open border could be used for the equal benefit of Nepalis and Indians. In economic and political terms, however, the facts are intimidating. Even a small fraction of India’s massive population flowing into Nepal would trigger panic in the kingdom. India as a big country, however, can easily absorb even a big exodus of Nepalese citizens.

The open border between Nepal and India has always been a matter of debate among the Kathmandu intelligentsia. The worries of intellectuals are understandable, as Nepal, a small country situated between two Asian giants, India and China, has long been struggling to preserve its identity.

"Nepal cannot keep open its border for longer period of time. The time has now come to take steps to regularize the open border between two countries," said Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal, a professor of political science at Tribhuvan University.

Interestingly, even before the start of the debate in Kathmandu, one of the largest Indian states, Uttar Pradesh, already announced its decision to fence its border with Nepal. "The Nepalese government has to take initiatives to regularize the border between the two countries," said Kamal Thapa, a former foreign minister and spokesman of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party.

As a small country, Nepal’s economy and infrastructure cannot cope with the uncontrolled inflow of foreign citizens. This is why the Nepal-India Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950 also gives certain privileges to Nepal to restrict unlimited flow of Indian citizens into the kingdom. Clause 3 of the Exchange of Letters accompanying the 1950 treaty clearly accepted Nepalese vulnerability. Nepal shares a 1580-km boundary on the east, west and south with India.

Some experts want more studies to find out the implications of a regulated border. "The open border is not a major problem between the countries. Tens of thousands of Nepalese are employed in India compare to the few hundred thousands Indian in Nepal. Before taking any decision on regulating the border, the government must take intensive study," said Badri Prasad Ojha, general secretary of the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

To be sure, an open border per se is not bad for the country’s economic development. In many cases, an open border improves the possibility of achieving economic growth. The fact that Nepal has on its borders two emerging economic powers should be seen as an opportunity.

Nepal is not the only country that maintains an open border with its neighbor. Even developed countries like the United States and Canada share an open border. But there are differences in the two cases. "The most serious and adverse impact of open and uncontrolled Nepal-India border has been in the form of growing and anti-social and lawlessness activities. The ever-increasing crimes along the border have been a major concern for both governments since early nineteenth century, and the Treaty of 1855 was aimed at controlling these problems. However, the open border has rather enhanced such activities," said Dr Vidya Bir Singh Kansakar, of the Central Department of Geography at Tribhuvan University.

Although the debate on the open border between Nepal-India has begun, the intellectuals and politicians have to undertake intensive studies before making any decision on such an important and highly sensitive issue. "We have made a modest effort to start a debate on the issue," said Dr. Mohan Prasad Lohani, director of the institute.

Source: Soptlight

Bhattarai Releases Book Titled 'A Decade of Democracy in Nepal' <TOP>

Former Prime Minister and leader of the Nepali Congress Hon'ble Krishna Prasad Bhattarai released the Book " A Decade of Democracy in Nepal" published by the Centre For Studies On Democracy and Good Governance on June 30, 200 1.

Releasing the book Mr. Bhattarai said that all the political parties should work together to see that the democracy brought through long struggle meets the interests and needs of the country and the people.

Mr. Bhattarai also pointed out the need for parties to forge consensus on the basis of experiences gained during the last ten years for the consolidation of democracy instead of blaming one another.

CPM(UML) general secretary and present chairman of the Centre Hon'ble Madhav Kumar Nepal, M.P. said all political parties should accept the responsibility for eliminating political anomalies and distortions seen during the last ten years and shun insular and selfish thinking . He further said that there should be a common understanding among all the political parties on how to make our democracy strong and consolidated.

Director of the Centre Mr. Achyut Bahadur Rajbhandary shed light on the aim and objective of the Centre which was established in June, 1998 at the initiative of the general secretaries of the four major political parties of Nepal and stressed the need to review the past in order to give direction to the future course.

Programme officer Mr. Sachidananda Shrivastava also expressed his views on the occasion and thanked the eminent contributors for their articles as also all those present on the occasion.

The book is an outcome of a two days' seminar organized by the Centre titled A Decade of Democracy in Nepal - development, delays and distortions held 23 and 24 June, 2000.

The papers presented in the seminar focussed on both the positive and the negative developments as well as distortions in the system met with during the last ten years and covered a wide range of areas such as constitutional experimentation, political development, election process, local government and decentralization, corruption, press and media, human right, gender equality etc.

A one day interaction programme took place following the release of the book, which was chaired by Hon'ble Hridayesh Tripathi, M.P. an executive board member of the Centre. The interaction programme was attended by professionals, lawyers, journalists, university professors, civic society organizations etc.

Both the printing of the book as well as the interaction programme were sponsored by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kathmandu Nepal.

Call to make border systematic <<<TOP>

Biratnagar, May 5: The Institute of Foreign Affairs with cooperation of Friedrich- Ebert-Stiftung organised a day-long seminar on 'Nepal-India Open Border: Positive and Negative Aspects", on Friday.

Initiating the seminar, chairman of the institute's board of directors Manmohan Bhattarai said that the time now is perfect to review and reform treaties and agreements since people from both the countries have already given their opinion.

He pointed out the need not to close but make the open border more systematic in order to wipe out anomalies taking place as a result of the porous border.

From the chair, executive director of the institute Prof. Mohan Prasad Lohani also emphasized the need to control the open border with a proper decision at the policy level.

Presenting a working paper on the occasion, chairman of Tribhuvan University, Central Department of Geography Prof. Bidyabir Singh Kansakar said problems arising due to the open border should be resolved and further consolidate the existing cordial and friendly relationship between the two countries.

Former Minister of State Radha Prasad Ghimire, Morang DDC chairman Khadga Bahadur Basnet, mayor of Biratnagar sub-metropolis Ramesh Chandra Poudel and other speakers also pointed out the need to check and control the open border through mutual discussion and understanding.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (May 6, 2001)

Labour leaders call for SAARC forum of trade unions <TOP>

Photo: FES Nepal

Kathmandu, May 2: Labour leaders and regional experts from the country called for the need to form a SAARC forum of labour unions in Kathmandu, Wednesday.

Yadav Kant Silwal, a former secretary general of the regional organisation, said "An apex body on labour, just like the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry might be a good idea to begin with."

He was speaking at a interaction organised by Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung, Kathmandu, on improving the social charter draft being developed for SAARC. The draft reportedly does not include labour rights.

"The European charter, meanwhile, has an elaborate arrangement of the worker’s interest," said Alfred Diebold, the FES resident representative based in Kathmandu. "Workers’ rights, social protection, social standards, codes of conduct and social labelling have all been included in the European charter. But the draft SAARC charter does not mention the ‘worker’ or labour.

"We will do some evaluation of the proposed social charter. If these components can be included in the South Asian charter and sent to the governments in the region after discussion, FES would like to play the instrumental role", he said.

Bishnu Rimal, a unionist who presented a paper on the trade union perspective to the proposed charter said, "Whatever, the politics of individuals we do need a common forum at the SAARC level to give voice to the voiceless workers. If industrialists can have a forum, the politicians can have theirs, why can’t the labourers have the same, he asked?

But another unionist, Rajendra Bahadur Raut, said that a regionwide forum for trade unionist has already been established and goes by the name of SARTUC, but it could not move ahead because of political polarization.

Participants were vociferous in showing concern over the rank partisanism being exhibited by the trade unions of Nepal and sought ways to at least reach a common ground to articulate their voice regionally.

Rajendra Acharya, another unionist had said in his presentation that the basic trade union demands on social security like minimum wages, health care, labour standards etc. need to be guaranteed by the proposed charter.

The Wednesday interaction was one of the few occasions where the representatives of the three major trade unions, NTUC, GEFONT and DECONT came together in one forum to discuss labour rights.

Gunanidhi Sharma, a social scientist said that there was a need to look at the whole thing from the social perspective rather than just from the union perspective.

"The proposals we are making does not design a social security system, we are only asking for certain provisions to be included in a given framework, he said. The Nepalese background needs to be understood while formulating the Social Charter and include all the anomalies of the informal sector as the informal sector is overwhelmingly large in comparison to the organised sector.

"We are displacing our own resources and designing huge multi-million dollar projects and inviting external resources. In such a situation how will our workers and other local resources ever get employed?"

Dr. Mohan Lohani, another academic, said that the decision to formulate a social charter by the tenth SAARC summit in itself was a big move. "To see that the largest sector of the society, the workers, not included in the charter is not a good sign. But hopefully, the leadership will discuss it later on as there is yet a lot of discussions to be done on the matter."

Dev Raj Dahal, FES Coordinator, said that only a mutuality of interest among the government, capital and labour can sustain regional cooperation.

Participants discussed the need for a financial mechanism to support the social security system in an era of globalization when the state itself was being downsizd throughout the region.

Trade unionists, academics, civil servants, INGO representatives, and people from other walks of life participated in the interaction.

Source: The Rising Nepal (3 May 2001)

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