Nepal Today

Saturday, April 20, 2013

CHAIRMAN REGMI SEEKS PRESIDENTIAL HELP TO GET OPPOSITION SUPPORT FOR ELECTIONS Kathmandu, 20 April:. Chairman of the interim election council Khil Regmi Reqmi Saturday sought help of President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav’ to get opposition support for second constituent assembly election as government prepares t announce election dates. Regmi briefed the president during hour-long discussions on government preparations for the vote. . cds help in getting opposition During the hour-long meeting held at President´s official residence, Sheetal Niwas, the duo held discussions on the various issues related to upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) election. On the occasion, Chairman Regmi also apprised the president on the preparations being made by the government for the coming election. During the meeting Regmi sought support of state head to help bring the dissident political parties on board the election process. “Chairman Regmi appraised the president about the ongoing efforts of the government in persuading the dissident political parties so as to join the election process,” said, Regmi´s Press Advisor Bimal Gautam . According to him, President Yadav expressed his satisfaction over the ongoing government efforts to bring the dissident parties on board the election process. Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist, Upendra Yadav´s Madhesi People´s Rights Forum and Federal Socialist Party of Ashok Rai, among some other fringe parties, have announced to boycott the elections to be held by the Regmi-led government. GOLD HOLDING OF CENTRAL BANK UP 90 PERCENT Kathmandu, 20 April : Nepal Rastra Bank´s overseas investment in gold shot up by close to 100 percent in the one-year period to mid-March, as the country´s central bank diversified its investment portfolio from currencies and bonds of various countries amid global economic crisis to safer long-term assets, Rupak D. Sharma writes in Republica.. The central bank invested a total of Rs 5.82 billion in between mid-March 2012 and mid-March 2013 on gold, marking a rise of 90.79 percent over the one-year period, the latest report of Nepal Rastra Bank shows. With this, NRB´s total overseas investment in the yellow metal has reached Rs 12.23 billion, which according to current exchange rate and international gold price roughly translates into 3.12 tons of holding. “Yes, the central bank has taken a strategic step toward increasing exposure to gold as it is still considered a safe haven, despite the recent hiccup,” a high-ranking NRB official told Republica. Currently, the central bank´s foreign reserve contains currencies like dollars of the US, Australia and Canada, euro, British pound, Japanese yen, Chinese Yuan and Indian rupee. It has also invested in treasury securities of India, the US and Australia, and special drawing rights, an international reserve asset created by the International Monetary Fund, among others. Although the central bank still has significant exposure to these instruments, it decided to partially diversify its investment portfolio following outbreak of sovereign debt crisis in Europe and slow growth in other major economies of the world. “At times when loopholes are difficult to identify, it is wise to make investment in assets that are considered safe in the long run and give better yields,” the official said, explaining the reason behind the central bank´s decision to increase gold holding. “Besides, our foreign exchange reserve is also in a relatively comfortable position, which gave us an opportunity to diversify from other instruments.” Despite central bank´s higher exposure to yellow metal abroad, the money invested in gold till mid-March represented only 3.12 percent of total foreign reserve held by the central bank. This compares with 557.7 tons of gold, or 9.6 percent of total foreign reserve, held by India and 64.4 tons of yellow metal, or 25.4 percent of total foreign reserve, held by Pakistan, according to latest statistics of the World Gold Council. Other South Asian countries also have higher gold holdings than Nepal, with Afghanistan holding 21.9 tons of gold, or 15.7 percent of total foreign reserve, and Bangladesh holding 13.5 tons of gold, or five percent of the total foreign reserve. Nnnn PREPARATIONS IN FULL SWING FOR RATO MACHINDRANATH JATRA Kathmandu, 20 April: It is a festival season for the ethnic Newar people of Kathmandu Valley. Bisket Jatra, the festival that is celebrated to usher in the Nepali New Year, concluded last week. Seto Machhindranath Jatra, which began on Thursday, will continue a couple of days. And now, the Newars, particularly of Lalitpur, are preparing for the one of their major festivals, Rato Machhindranath Jatra, Republica reports.. Rato Machhindranath is venerated as god of rain and agricultural productivity and is revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike. The festival, which starts every year on the first day of the bright fortnight in the month of Baishakh (April/May), just before the start of monsoon season, is popular among the farmers as they believe that worshiping the rain god would bring plenty of rainfall, thus, ensuring increase in agricultural productivity. According to Bhakta Raj Rai, a senior administration officer at Guthi Sansthan, a government body that regulates all social and religious trusts, informed that the construction of the chariot for the Rato Machhindranath will start from April 27. “The festival formally starts from April 26 with the worshiping of the Rato Machhindranath. Next day, the construction of the fascinating chariot, which needs great skills to complete, starts,” Rai informed. The heavy chariot made up of woods can be moved around only with the effort of scores of people. ranath chariot at Bhotahiti. (Photo: Bijay Rai) The jatra begins from Pulchowk and the chariot passes through Gabahal, Hakha, Sundhara and Lagankhel. The festival ends on the fourth day after the chariot reaches Jawalakhel. On the last day, a bhoto, a jewel studded vest, is held up before the crowd in the presence of the head of the state. Traditional musical instruments, folklore enactments, cultural dances, pushing and shoving for pulling the chariot containing the idol of Rato Machhindranath, enhances the grandeur of the festival. The festival that continues for around two months is one of the oldest and the longest festival celebrated in Patan. The legends indicate that the jatra has been taking place in Nepal from 500 hundred years. --------------- The local residents of the core areas of Kathmandu, which includes historic settlements of the capital like Asan and Indra Chowk, are now celebrating Seto Macchindranath festival with much fanfare. The main part of this festival is pulling of the chariot of Seto Macchindranath, revered by Hindus as well as Buddhists, through the oldest part of Kathmandu, including Thahiti in north and Lagan in south. Seto Macchindranath is considered by Hindus as an incarnation of Lord Shiva, while Buddhists see him as a form of Avalokiteshvara. "It is our glorious culture," says Swayambhu Bajracharya, a local resident of Macchindrabahal, who also served as the coordinator of Seto Machhindranath Chariot Construction Committee for three years. "We have been celebrating this culture for ages." Full of symbols The festival of Seto Machhindranath is full of symbols. From the way the chariot is constructed to the way it is pulled through the core area of Kathmandu, almost everything symbolizes compassion and virtues of the humankind. For instance, length of an average human hand from elbow to the tip of middle finger, which is approximately 1.5 feet long) is very important in construction of the chariot. Its height should equal the total length of 32 hands. The rope used in pulling the chariot should be 32 hands-long. "We have to use the length of 32 hands in constructing each and every part of the chariot," says Bajracharya. "It symbolizes 32 virtues expected from an ideal woman." At a time when finding a woman with all 32 virtues has become increasingly impossible, significance of pulling the Machhindranath chariot, which is believed to have symbolically boasted of all 32 virtues, has become more important, says Bajracharya. The locals are expected to complete the procession of the Machhindranath chariot within just three days, which again symbolize three different parts of the universe, namely the heaven, the earth and the netherworld. "Almost every ritual is performed for the welfare of the humankind," says Bajracharya. "But, we celebrate Seto Machhindranath festival praying for the welfares of the inhabitants of all the three parts of the universe." The Seto Machhindranath chariot pulling procession begins from Tindhara Sanskrit Pathshala at Jamal of Kathmandu, which is believed to be the place from where the lord Macchindranath originated. On the first day of the procession, the chariot is pulled through Ratnapark, Bhotahiti and finally to Asan. On the second day, the chariot is taken to Makkhan through Indrachowk. On the third day, the chariot is taken to Lagan. Although the chariot is supposed to be taken to Lagan from Jamal in three days, it sometimes takes more than three days, sometimes even one week. "The chariot may break down on the way," he explains. "This is why we sometimes need more than three days to complete the procession. But we cannot leave the chariot midway. We have to take it to its final destination." Bad omens The locals believe that if the top of the Macchindranath chariot falls to the ground, a tragedy might befall on the nation, the head of the state or the people. In April 2008, the Seto Macchindranath chariot fell to the ground in Ratnapark in Kathmandu, which the locals believe led to the abolition of the 250-year-old monarchy by the first ever meeting of the now-dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA). "It has happened several times in history," says Bajracharya. "During the reign of the Rana rulers, Dev Shamsher was forced into going on exile in India after the Seto Macchindranath fell to the ground." The locals believe they cannot avoid what is inevitable. But, they say they try their best to avoid the fall of the chariot. However, as Guthi Sansthan, a government body that governs all social and religious trusts, is unable to provide nine types of wood, including Chap, Chilaune and Aaru, necessary for constructing a strong chariot, due to degradation of forest, the locals say they are finding it difficult to build a strong Chariot, nnnn. DON’T POLITICIZE WATER ISSUES SAYS MINISTER JHA Kathmandu, 20 April: Minister for Energy, Science and Technology, Environment and Irrigation Umakanta Jha said that government was committed to full development of micro hydro power economically, technically and administratively, The Rising Nepal reports.. Inaugurating the four days International workshop on “ The Role of Micro-Hydel for Developing Countries” oranised on Friday by Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Jha appealed to all not to politicize water. Nation is suffering from acute shortage of power even if the nation has capacity of producing the power, he said. People are compelled to face acute shortage of power eventhough the hydro power project development started 102 years ago, he said. At a time when nation has continued to face a power shortage, the small hydro power plan will be support to minimize the crisis of energy if can be developed in community level. The big city areas' people have been facing 14 hours load shedding daily during dry season. The NAST has organised this workshop joining with the aiming to show the technology methods of micro hydro power of developing countries, implementation and discuss about the success of this hydro power. Professor Dr. Surendra Rak Kafle, Vice-Chancellor o NAST said that 40 per cent people of the nation have been far from the electricity even nation has 83,000 megawatt energy capacity production. He said that it was the worse position that Nepal has developed 700 hydro powers so far. In the nation, more than 2,200 micro-hydro plans can be established to minimize the acute shortage of energy and ease escape from this power shortage. In the workshop, 26 foreign experts from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, South Africa, Pakistan, Shi-Lanka, Uganda and Vietnam including with 50 scientist and technician are participating. Nine experts from the Nepal, India, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Indonesia presented papers on related of micro-hydro plan and its capacity and opportunity in the first day workshop. Nnnn PLAN TO DEVELOP JAGADISHPUR LAKE AREA Kathmandu, 20 April: : A five-years plan has been formulated for the development of Jagdishpur Lake, enlisted in world wetland area of Kapilvastu districtm The Rising Nepal reports from Kapilvasthu.. The plan has been initiated by Jagdishpur Water Resources Management Multi Concern Forum for developing the lake as a tourist area. During the first phase the lake area will be fenced with wires, the five years plan reads. Jagdishpur Lake that carries an international significance has been under shadow over the last several years. As the lake is turning dilapidated by each passing day the concerned authorities have felt the need to conserve it. T Experts said that the he plan has been formulated by studying the human, economic, natural and social problems. According to the plan the lake will have three view towers in every corner where binocular will be kept for watching birds. Various programmes will also be launched for making it an animal friendly area. Forum secretary Krishna Prasad Pokhrel said that boat riding will operated at the western side without disturbing the birds. Cycles will also be provided to tourists within 5 kilometers of the lake. Information centers will be operated at various places for those willing to know about the lake he said and added, “Home stay will be operated near the lake side.” Pokhrel said that training will be provided for enabling the locals to identity birds and preparing skilled manpower. The lake is home to 118 species of birds where 11 endangered birds can be seen in the area. The lake covers an area of 157 hectares in Niglihawa Village Deelopment Committee 1 and 4. According to bird expert Hem Sagar Baral the lake can be a perfect place for nature lover and those willing to investigate on birds. Baral said that Rs 30 million would be spent for the accomplishing the motive taken by the plan. Local development officer Ram Prasad Pandey said that the forum will work in closer collaboration of various stakeholders, institutions and organizations. Nnnn INTERVIEW CHINA CONCERNED WITH FEDERALISM UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday. Dahal had been invited for a week-long visit to China by the Chinese Communist Party. Purna Basnet of Republica had an exclusive talk with Dahal shortly after the meeting with President Xi. Excerpts: Which topic has gotten primacy during your China visit? My visit to China was focused on garnering Chinese support for Nepal´s economic prosperity and stability. I feel that the visit has been fruitful and successful. I was given the opportunity to talk to village and municipal committee secretaries and the provincial secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in Sichuwan. This series ended in Beijing with my meeting with the chief of the party´s International Department and the vice-president and the president of China. I feel that the visit has been more successful than I had expected at the beginning. I feel that this meeting [with Xi] will take Nepal-China relations to a new height. What were the issues you discussed with the Chinese president? At the outset of our meeting, the Chinese president congratulated me on our party successfully holding its seventh national convention and electing me as chairman. He then clearly expressed his wish that Nepal would succeed in completing its peace process and constitution-drafting, and move towards rapid economic progress. I thanked him for inviting me as the first South Asian leader to the Great Hall of the People [since he became president]. I told him that this was a matter of great pride and prestige for Nepal. I then apprised him briefly about the current political situation in Nepal. We are still passing through a political transition. We have achieved success in completing one of the key elements of the peace process after the successful conclusion of army integration. But we could not achieve success in drafting a new statute and are planning to go for fresh elections. I told him that as a neighbor Nepal expects China´s cooperation for making the election a success. I then briefed him about the policy adopted by our party´s recent general convention. Given the way China has achieved economic prosperity, I told him that our party has also decided to focus on the development of production capacity. I then focused all my presentation on the agenda of economic development. What was the agenda discussed in terms of economic development? Our party and the Nepal government have been supporting a one-China policy. But our support alone will not have any effect. Until Nepal becomes economically prosperous, it cannot extend support that is effective. This is what I put across with emphasis during my meeting with President Xi. I personally feel that he has noted my point with interest. What were the areas you discussed concerning investment in Nepal? I have put forth two most important areas for economic prosperity. Hydroelectricity is one of the important sectors for bring economic prosperity in Nepal within a short span of time. We now have to think in terms of hydropower plants that generate 10,000 Megawatt. China´s Three Gorges company is constructing the West Seti project, and that is a good thing. We now have to think about projects even bigger than that. And the second area in which we have huge potential is tourism. There two are the sectors which can help bring about prosperity in Nepal. We first need infrastructure development for tourism. Hence, I have requested Chinese assistance for building a North-South link road and a mid-hills highway at the earliest. Likewise, another project that can bring huge economic change in the long term is a Lhasa-Lumbini railway. That railway link will benefit India, Nepal and China alike. I have proposed extending the Chinese railway network, which has reached the Nepal border, to Lumbini. Once Lumbini is connected with the rail network, it can bring about a qualitatively growth in tourism and increase commerce and trade in India as well. This will give Nepal an opportunity to serve as a bridge between China and India or South Asia. Also, it will help address the security concerns of China. What was the response of the Chinese president? The Chinese president said that what I said was absolutely right. He has assured us that the Chinese government and Communist Party will pay due heed to how much we can do immediately and how much can be done later. Since the president has assured me that China will extend all manner of support we should take it that China is going to support Nepal with the big projects. Was there any separate talk on Lumbini? The Nepal government has been taking special initiative to develop Lumbini as a center for Buddhists across the world and all peace lovers. I am heading a government committee formed for the purpose. This is why I have asked China to extend special assistance for the development of Lumbini. In this context, I said Nepal wishes that China, India and Nepal work jointly for the development of Chisapani hydropower and Lumbini. It will be easier to implement such projects jointly. What was the response of China to that? China had a positive response. China is in favor of working first on bilateral projects that Nepal and China can work together on. They have said that we can discuss later what projects can be implemented jointly by China, Nepal and India. You had proposed in Shanghai some two and half years ago trilateral cooperation for the development of Nepal. Are India and China ready for that? After talking about trilateral strategic cooperation in Shanghai, I put forth the same idea upon returning to Nepal. It appeared then as a something purely theoretical and strategic. Many were excited over the prospect of trilateral cooperation between China, Nepal and India in overall trade exchange. Some people even deemed it a pure fantasy. But now it is taking pragmatic shape. I now find that China, Nepal and India have agreed in principle to jointly implement big projects in Nepal. Initially, there could be implementation of a few such projects. But once it starts yielding positive results, this could pave way for implementing several other big projects under the same model. Do you think India will be ready to invest together with China in Lumbini and the Chisapani hydro project? I cannot say anything precisely now. China has also not yet responsed that it is ready do that. Let this point be clear. I have a impression that China will think positively about it. The level of people in India I have been talking to so far say there won´t be any problem in principle. This will be clear once I talk to the Indian leadership. I plan to visit India shortly after my return home. But what is an encouraging aspect in this is that no one will have objections now to implementing big projects in Nepal. Has China given any assurance of support for polls? The Chinese president repeated three times that China wishes to see Nepal´s peace process and constitution-drafting concluded at the earliest. Chinese leaders have assured of support for concluding these processes. I could feel deep interest on the part of China to see Nepal move towards the path of economic prosperity after successful conclusion of the peace process and constitution-drafting. China has been reminding Nepal that ethnicity-based federalism would invite conflict? Did the Chinese leaders say anything specific about this? There was no discussion on the issue during my meeting with the president and the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. But in my meetings with Chinese ministers I had a detailed discussion on the issue. They are not at all against federalism in Nepal. The only concern they have is whether federalism would create further problems in Nepal. They have told me that Nepal needs to have further discussions on the type of federalism, the relations between state and central governments and whether these federal states will have the right to secede. What I felt after the discussions is that it is wrong to say China is against federalism in Nepal. The only concern China has is whether federalism would lead Nepal towards disintegration and that it should keep Nepal united and help move on the path of development. Has China sought any assistance on the Tibet issue? The main issue in China associated with Nepal is Tibet. We share a 1,400 km border with Tibet. This is a big thing. In that sense, it is natural on the part of China to have in interest in developing special relations with Nepal. During my conversation with the ministers, I found that they were worried whether there were any activities taking place in Nepal against China. They want Nepal to effectively curb such activities. It will be in the interest of both Nepal and China to properly manage the issue of Tibet. Only a prosperous Nepal can address China´s security concerns effectively; a poor Nepal cannot do that. I raised this issue with President Xi. I feel that the Chinese leadership has also understood the seriousness of this. Nnnn


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home