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From: Rajpal J. Singh (a10rjs1@mp.cs.niu.edu)
Date: Wed Nov 10 1993 - 00:36:26 CST

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 -- using template mhl.format -- Date: Tue, 09 Nov 1993 23:27:59 EST To: a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu

From: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@husc.harvard.edu> Subject:

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Reply-to: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@CS.NIU.EDU> From: The Editor <NEPAL-REQUEST@CS.NIU.EDU> Sender: Rajpal J. Singh <A10RJS1@CS.NIU.EDU> Subject: The Nepal Digest - November 10, 1993 To: <NEPAL@CS.NIU.EDU>

        % N N EEEEEE PPPPPP AA L %
        % NN N E P P A A L %
        % N N N EEEE P P A A L %
        % N N N E PPPPPP AAAAAA L %
        % N NN E P A A L %
        % N N EEEEEE P A A LLLLLL %

The Nepal Digest Wednesday, 10 November 93 Volume 21: Issue 4

Today's Topics:
      1. Sam.pa.daki.ya: Editorial
      2. Greetings in (Romanized) Newari
      3. Jan_Kari: Conference Ko Kura
      4. Taja_Khabar I: Illegals on Sagarmatha.
      5. Taja_Khabar II: News from Nepal
      6. Kura_Kani: Education debate revisited
      7. Follow_Up: Electric Tempo

  * Editor/Co-ordinator: Rajpal J. Singh a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu *
  * SCN Correspondent: Rajesh B. Shrestha rshresth@black.clarku.edu *
  * Editing Editor: Padam P. Sharma sharma@plains.nodak.edu *
  * Discussion Moderator: Ashutosh Tiwari tiwari@husc9.harvard.edu *
  * News Correspondent: Vivek SJB Rana rana@ccit.arizona.edu *
  * *
  * Subscription/Deletion requests : NEPAL-REQUEST@CS.NIU.EDU *
  * Provide one line message : sub nepal <user@host> full-name *
  * [OPTIONAL] Provide few lines about your occupation, address, phone for *
  * TND database to: <A10RJS1@CS.NIU.EDU> *
  * *
  * Digest Contributions(letters,poems,articles,misc., etc): NEPAL@CS.NIU.EDU *
  * Kura_Kani Contribution: SHARMA@PLAINS.NODAK.EDU *
  * Discussion Topics ideas: TIWARI@HUSC9.HARVARD.EDU *
  * News clips for Taja_Khabar: RANA@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU *
  * Contributors need to supply Header for the article, email, and full name *
  * *
  * The Nepal Digest(TND) is a publication of the Nepal Interest Group for *
  * news and discussions about issues concerning Nepal. All members of *
  * nepal@cs.niu.edu will get a copy of TND. Membership is open to all. *
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  * **** COPYRIGHT NOTE **** *
  * The news/article posters are responsible for any copyright violations. *
  * TND, a non-profit electronic journal, will publish articles that has *
  * been published in other electronic or papaer journal with proper credit *
  * to the original media. *
  * *
  * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
  * "If you don't stand up for something, you will fall for anything" - Anon. *
  * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" - Sirdar_RJS_Khalifa *
  * *

                        A Note from the Guest-Editor

Dear TND Family:

Rajpal has left for Nepal. He'll be back in late December-early January. In his absence, I will be -- with the able help of Padam Sharma, Rajesh Shrestha and Vivek Rana -- editing and "publishing" TND. Our plan, schedule-allowing, is to bring out two issues of TND every week.

But obviously we cannot do that if TND (nepal@cs.niu.edu) does not receive contributions from you. So, please, help keep the TND spirit alive by emailing news, views, poems, opinions, thoughts, disagreements, suggestions and even love stories! We need ALL your help to make TND serve we Nepalis and Friends of Nepal better. Thank you very much.

And we wish ALL of you, a very happy, prosperous and profitable Tihar!

On behalf of the Editorial Board, ashu

Date: Sun, 7 Nov 93 21:06:59 EST From: karmacha@minerva.cis.yale.edu (Rakesh Karmacharya) Subject: Greetings in Newari

                        Nhu Da ya Bhintuna
                          Happy Mha Puja

%%%%% EDITOR'S NOTE: Translation: (An attempt only; correct me if I %%%%%
%%%%% am wrong!): Happy Nepal Sambat and Great (self?) Worship! %%%%%

Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1993 23:53:06 -0500 (EST) To: nepal@cs.niu.edu From: "G. Pokharel" <g44329a@nucc.cc.nagoya-u.ac.jp> Subject: Conference

        I am going to Nepal in the coming Jan. for 10 days. I am going first to an International conference for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering at New Delhi. I would like to know if any other Nepali is also going from this Net. I would like to know this.

        In fact I am going with my advisor at my present laboratory in Nagoya University and he is also going to Nepal for short sight seeing trip to Pokhara and Kathmandu for 4 days and then he will return to Japan. I will stay there for another one week. Since, the schedule is very packed , we would like to use our every moment , therefore, if any of you know such informations we will greatly appreciate. Since, the time is very brief at Kathmandu, and in this time he want to visit the Engineering College for few hours and talk with Prof.s of the civil engineering department specially soil mechanics laboratory. So, if any of you know the name of present head of the civil engineering department and head of soil mechanics, I would like to know. Also, if any of you know the Fax number of the department, it is better.

Please note that he was dean of the school of engineering at Nagoya University and currently a member in the science council of Japan for 3 years. If he wish, he can make our soil laboratory better in nepal. Furthermore, he is going to india as the representative of the science council of Japan (a topmost council in science and technology in Japan.).

Thanking you in advance.

MWith regards.

Gyaneswor POkharel Nagoya University Department of Geotechnical and Environmental engineering Nagoya University, Nagoya - 46401 Japan Telephone- 81-52-781-5708 ext. 4483 (office)
           81-52-781-5708 (apartment) Fax- 81-52-782-9559

P.S. My advisor is going to Nepal as 2nd trip and he said he liked his first trip around 26 years ago, that time he enjoyed a lot in Pokhara. Specially, Machapuchre. That is the reason he is going again.

Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1993 17:46:00 EST To: a10rjs1@mp.cs.niu.edu From: "Balkrishna.Sharma" <23012BKS@msu.edu> Subject: News clip concerning Nepal

Lansing State Journal reported today (Nov,8) that a British expedition conquered the tallest mountain (Mt. Everest) without having a valid permit and was fined $100,000. The newspaper wrote that four members of the team scaled Mt Everest last month, even though their government permit was good only for Mt. Lhotse, a sister peak that is 926 ft shorter. The fine is reportedly twice the amount mountaineers have to pay to climb 29,028 ft Mt Everest, according to the Tourism Ministry people, newspaper added.

From: dagrawal@abacus.bates.edu (Dileep Agrawal) Subject: News To: NEPAL@mp.cs.niu.edu (The Editor) Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1993 17:13:00 -0500 (EST)
  HEADLINE: deoxyribonucleic acid bank set up in nepal
   a deoxyribonucleic acid (dna) bank has been established to safeguard the
  genes of rare and endangered species of nepal. the dna bank was set up on
  thursday with the joint collaboration of baylore university of texas in usa,
  research laboratory for agricultural biotechnology and biochemistry (rlabb) and
  institute of biotechnology in nepal (ibn), local press reported here today.
  according to scientists of dna, nepal storing seeds or live plant tissue is
  preferable but the lower cost of collecting, preparing and storing dried tissue
  to be used as a source of dna still may be advantageous for some materials.
  they said that the establishment of a dna bank in nepal is a timely step to
  conserve the biodiversity of nepal. professor robert p adams, director of dn a bank in baylore university of usa, said that establishment of nepal dna bank
  is a collaborative effort between rlabb, baylore university and ibn. he pointe d out that dna or gene is the hereditary message which dictates the development o f plants and animal and collections are already useful as reference source of
  HEADLINE: Pilot error led to air crash in Nepal, panel says
   Pilot error led to the July 31 crash of a Nepalese airliner in the kingdom
  that killed all 18 people on board, a Nepalese government investigative panel
  said in its final report Thursday.
   The panel said the Everest Air plane went into a cloud and the pilot thought
  that he had already crossed the last range of hills and was descending over the
   The aircraft was on a scheduled flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur in the
  southwest of the Himalayan kingdom when it crashed on a foothill minutes
  before landing.
   The pilot failed to maintain awareness of the intended flight path and
  proximity to the terrain during descent, the report said.
   The panel also found out that the pilot had 'minimal' flying experience in
 Nepal, the report added.
   Eighteen people, including three crew members, died in the crash. A Japanes e national was among the dead passengers.



Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1993 20:44:23 -0500 (EST) From: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@husc.harvard.edu> Subject: Education Debate Revisited To: nepal@cs.niu.edu

Thanks to Kanhaiya Vaidya, Ganesh Pandey and Amulya Tuladhar for their thoughtful exchanges on the state of education in Nepal. I was particularly moved by Kanhaiya's accounts of his school days in various parts of the country many years ago. Having had chances to visit some of remote and not-so-remote classrooms during my 10-month home-visit, it saddens me to report that the conditions, especially the lack of physical resources that Kanhaiya described, remain still as glaring in the terai and the mountains. Still, I take heart from the fact that we Nepalis are much more interested in educating ourselves than ever before -- as evidenced by increasing enrollments in primary schools, high schools, universities and adult-literacy classes. And the country definitely has the most educated and aware population in its history. All these and more are certainly something to cheer about amidst all the carping about yo vayena tyo vayena . . .

Still, I am not sure whether we, the citizens, have had a chance to debate/analyze whether what the government -- ANY Nepali government -- calls "progress in education" is really "progress". Could the same
"progress" have come about more inexpensively and more equitably? These and other questions should fuel our further thoughts on the state of Nepali education.

In my "background presentation" many weeks ago, I had asked you a series of questions which generated three responses, centering on two sub-topics: the role of English in Nepali high school education, and " why ONLY doctor or engineer" dilemma for "the best and the brightest" (a phrase I borrowed from the title of David Halberstam's riveting narrative of JFK years). Here are my thoughts --after a long time -- on Ganesh's, Kanhaiya's and Amulya's responses, and more.

While arguing for/against the "practical benefits" that the knowledge of English and (English textbooks) imparts, both Kanhaiya and Amulya fail to account for issues that Ganesh was referring -- admittedly not very clearly -- to. That of the twin issues of (educational) fairness and equality in access to academic success, notably in English. One cannot argue for a compulsory (note the word: compulsory!) high school English, no matter how beneficial, if it fails a more important test of fairness.

With that I would argue that the primary aim of any public policy is NOT to see whether it achieves certain "practical benefits", but whether it first meets our general criteria of fairness (as codified by the law of the land). After all, the points about "practical benefits" are too arbitrary argue with: One man's benefits may well be another's harms! Who's to decide what? For example, one can use his engineering skill to rob a bank; one can also use it to build a bridge -- both fall into the realm of "practical benefits" . . . but it's obvious why the former is preferable to the latter!

So, with fairness as our most desirable -- note this please, I say, most desirable, not necessarily the most realistically achievable -- outcome, I would point out the inherent inequalities of access in English education in Nepali high schools. Those of you who have been headmasters, teachers, professors and are interested in education, please do jump in with your comments and disagreements.

To begin with, I need not belabor the obvious: 1)English is fast becoming the lingua franca of the world; 2) The high-paying and influential jobs in Nepal are biased in favor of those who speak, write and read English
"well" -- though this need not hold true in ALL cases.

First, let's examine the pressent situation with an example.

A few years ago, as a tenth grader at St. Xavier's, a private Kathmandu school, I took and passed my SLC English paper. All of my classmates also passed the exam with no particular difficulty. Indeed, the level of SLC English was too easy for us to learn anything of value. (There was a girl from St. Mary's who created a minor sensation by scoring a whopping 94 on her English paper!) Yet, one study later revealed that -- in that particular year -- almost three out five SLC candidates had failed the English paper. And that there were substantially MORE failures in English than in ANY OTHER SUBJECT. What was "easy" for one St. Xavier's class had been matters of "life and death", so to speak, to thousands of students across the nation.

Now, looking back, were we, the STX students, (including that girl), particularly brilliant students who somehow managed to ace the test? I don't think so. Granted that we might have been motivated to pass the SLC, but, as anybody who's gone through the SLC-induced pressure syndrome (SIPS
-- a term coined long ago in a little office by the unimitable Bhupendra Pradhan) can testify, almost everyone in Nepal is as motivated to pass the damn SLC -- upon which, incredibly, one's future standing as a member of the human race hangs bare!

(For flunk it, you're doomed! With no counseling to overcome the "shame" that follows upon one's failure, with most "good" job options and others CLOSED for them, even motivated students are usually left scarred, and emotionally paralyzed for a long time, if not for life. I have no hard evidence for this except personal observations of my neighbors in Siphal & Chabhel (on the peripheri of Gaushala-Pashupati).

Now, their failures would make sense if the SLC English had really been THAT difficult. It ISN'T. Far from being that, it's USELESS, ROTTEN TO THE CORE, and just a plain waste of EVERYBODY's time!! (I have yet to meet a single Nepali whose proficiency in English has increased BECAUSE of SLC.)

So, were all those Nepali students who flunked the English paper just plain idiots? Were they, to use a p.c. term, "linguistically challenged"? I don't think so. (I think MOST of those were/are serious, hardworking and intelligent students . . . after all, nobody takes a test only to fail!) If not stupid, then why DID they overwhelmingly fail the 3-hour English test for which they had been preparing for TWO whole YEARS? (And, mind you, this is something that happens year in and year out!)

Probing, we discover reasons that were/are BEYOND the control of the majority of Nepali students. And these are precisely the reasons that are unfair and that ultimatly destroy the 16-year-olds desires to go for higher education, lower their prospects of getting good jobs, and, in essence, by making them failures in English waste their OTHER thousands of skills -- whatever they possess -- by not feeding them into national productivity. All of these add up to a shocking waste of talents, resources, morale and self-esteen in a country WHOSE MOST IMPORTANT, VALUABLE ASSETS are NOT THE HIMALAYAS OR POLITICAL PARTIES BUT THE PEOPLE. Spend two hours in Ratna Park, as a reporter friend of mine did in November '91, and interview 50 different youths in their late teens and early 20s: I guarantee that 40 of them are SLC flunk-outs, with no jobs and no prospects, just binding their time in the gham! We Nepalis talk about waste of this and waste of that, yet we always fail to account for the tragic waste of the talents and spirit of Nepal's high school (and college-age) population.

(To continue: Our newspapers talk about democracy this and that, but consistently fail to address UNDEMOCRATIC and UNFAIR political constructs
(such as educational policies) that portend more damage for Nepal that any
"public humiliation" of the man in Singha Durbar. But what political leader, of any party, in Nepal is advocating reforms in the SLC system
--or, indeed in the whole system -- of education? Not one!! Then again, excuse me, most political leaders had temselves flunked the SLC, many times in some cases, so, hey, what reforms could they possibly offer?)

Anyway: OK. The state has decreed that English should be made compulsory. Great trumpery of "practical benefits"! But has the state gone one step beyond and seen whether or not it has ENOUGH TEACHERS nationwide who can ably teach the language? So far it has NOT undertaken that study. Has the state also thought whether or not Janak Sikcha can produce enough textbooks for the entire nation AND THEN TRANSPORT them easily to Humla, Jumla and the rest of the remote areas? (I was stunned in to meet a teacher in Fikkal, Ilam who was teaching SLC English at a school even though he himself had flunked the SLC English twice! Talking with other Nepali friends who travel around Nepal a lot, I have come to know that such is a common occurrence across Nepali high schools up on the hills). With these situations, what wonder is it that so many students fail the SLC English?

More to the point, when there is such shortage of qualified English teachers, what "practical benefits" it serves to the nation, or indeed to the students, to make English compulsory? Isn't this a dangerous
"khel-bad" with aspirations of the next generation? I certainly think so. What right does the state have to engage in this kind of unfair and ultimately destructive policies? Surely, Nepali high school students deserve to have OTHER avenues of academic success (other than a mastery of English) open to them! Maybe more vocational training (not the one in place now). Maybe more math. Maybe more arts, history, ethnic studies and others! (I say arts and history because on coming to an American college, my classmates and friends, all very articulate, soon made me realize that I really knew next to nothing about Nepali history, ethnicities, arts and music and others. In a way, I wish my high school education had given me broader pictures of lives in Nepal! A deficiency, I've tried to improve upon by the help of friends, books and TND!!)

So, if the government thinks that English is necessary, then let it first ask itself: Is it a fair decision? If so, and only if so, does it set out to acheive the "practical decisions" it holds itself to? (Of course, one might argue that similar considerations should also go into compulsory Nepali -- this I'd leave to the others) If not, why not let only those schools that have the resources to teach English, while making it optional for the rest?

If the govt. really thinks that English IS essential to Nepal ko Bikas, then it has the utmost obligation to REFORM the way the subject is being taught, see what it can do to help -- that is, by training teachers, by providing teachers and textbooks and so on. As it is, neither option is being exercised, and the victims have been voiceless Nepali high school students, mostly from outside Kathmandu, who are just being 'forced' to learn the langugage that has nothing to do with their day to day life. Indeed, their failure IS the failure of the Education Ministry, and the rest. Every year.)

Now a question might come as to --with optional English in place -- what happens to those "non-English" students once they reach college. Well, should they desire to learn English, colleges should provide as best an instruction as they possibly can. After all, that's what a college education should be anyway: teaching students well what they did not know when they arrive on campus Otherwise, what's the point of going to college? (A personal aside: before going to college, I knew nothing about philosophy, history, economics and music theory -- little of all that I know more now!)

Kanhaiya pointed out that if everyone passes the SLC, then where's the space for them at the universities? I fail to see justice in this reasoning. How fair is it to flunk hardworking candidates simply because there's not enough space for them at the colleges? Are the candidates being judged on what they write on the exams or against some pseudo-future criteria such as whether or not there's space for them once they get to colleges? The examiners should worry about the former, not the latter! Don't they know that the demand for higher education will surely create its own market? To meet the demand the state -- or the private sectors -- will open up colleges -- as has already been happening in Nepal over the last decade. Even when assuming the examiners' worry about the latter is true, what useful space do these flunk-outs occupy in their respective societies? Either way, there are doomed!
  So on and so forth . . .

namaste ashu

p.s. in my next LONG break (Thanksgiving?): I'll talk about "Doctor or Engineer", "scholar-problem" and wrap up this debate, and we can move on to Population Kura-kani (as suggested by Bhanu Niraula at UPenn) and Nepal's hydro-power (as suggested by Ganesh Raj Pandey at McGill). I'm sorry that my work keeps me very busy to write responses quickly . . .

>From Kanhaiya Vaidya:

                        ELcetric Tempu

Nearly two months ago, I had posted a news clip from the local daily The Olympian about "Electric Tempu" in Nepal. Here is the follow-up on the story. I believe, it+s a piece of useful information.


TECHNOLOGY Engineering Tries to Short Circuit Auto Pollution

By-line: In Katmandu: An Olympia man helps the Nepalese convert diesel
      vehicles to electric in an effort to combat the choking air pollution.

By Joel Coffidis The Olympian

     The tools were old and the air so polluted that some pedestrians in Katmandu wore face masks, but Olympia electric-car engineer Jeff Clearwater calls his recent trip to Nepal a success.
     Clearwater visited Nepal+s capital to help train six mechanics to convert a truck from diesel to electric power.
     "Ten years ago, Katmandu was pristine. They remember that and they want it back," Clearwater said.
     Katmandu is located in a high valley and is choked by air pollution, Clearwater said.
     But the city is small enough to reverse its air pollution problems within a decade, Clearwater said. To help do that, the diesel vehicles need to go electric, he said.
     Joined by a mechanic from port Townsend, Clearwater left for Nepal on Sept. 7 to train Nepalese mechanics to convert a diesel-powered "tempo" to electric. Tempos, or autorickshaws, are the workhorse vehicles of the city, he said.
     "It was totally successful," Clearwater said.
     The converted vehicle could travel 60 kilometers - about 40 miles - between battery charges.
     Clearwater worked in challenging conditions: one time it took the group four hours to find the right drill bit. A gasoline torch was used for soldering, something not seen in the United States for years.
     Despite that, Nepal+s Prime Minister Giriga Koirala summed up much of the enthusiasm of the people, Clearwater said. During a ceremony for national television in the nation of 20 million, the leader said, "wow, it+s so quiet, it+s like magic."
     During test runs, police officers had to keep people from jumping onto the silent tempo, which advertised its uniqueness in writing on the side of the vehicle, Clearwater said.
     The 36-year-old Clearwater, a 1979 graduate of The Evergreen State College, owns SolarSource and Northwest Electric Car of Olympia. He was asked to go to Nepal by Global Resources Institute of Eugene, Ore. The group had a $20,000 grant to finance the trip.
     Now Katmandu, together with the U.S. Agency for International Development, is preparing for the second and third phases of the "safa tempo" or "clean tempo" project, Clearwater said.
     Phase II would demonstrate various charging schemes, including quick battery exchange, which would be like a gasoline station for electric cars.

Plans also call for building three more demonstration vehicles. Clearwater plans to return to Nepal in January or February.
     Phase III would solicit the private sector to aid in the production of 100 vehicles to be purchased by the city of Katmandu and other government and non-government agencies, Clearwater said.

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