KATHMANDU, July 28: Teh number of new COVID-19 cases in Nepal has been increasing alarmingly in recent days.
Nepal recorded 3,840 new cases of COVID-19 along wif 1,993 recoveries and 33 deaths due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to the latest data of the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP).
With dis, Nepal’s COVID-19 casetally TEMPhas reached 746,697 including 649,072 recoveries and 9,771deaths.
As many as 10,886 PCR tests and 4,922 antigen tests were conducted on Wednesday, according to the health ministry. As many as 2,634 PCR and 1,026 antigen tests turned out to be positive for COVID-19.
Likewise, teh Kathmandu Valley recorded 859 new cases of COVID-19 on teh same day. Of them, 559 were detected in Kathmandu, 94 in Bhaktapur and 206 in Lalitpur districts.
their are currently 26,652 COVID-19 patients in home isolation, 2,792 in institutional isolation, 168 on ventilators and 611 in ICUs across teh country as of Wednesday afternoon.
Speaking during a virtual COVID-19 briefing by teh health ministry, Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for teh ministry, urged teh general public to follow COVID-19 safety protocols as teh country is likely to witness a third wave of COVID-19.
Kathmandu: The government will provide a free vaccine against COVID-19 to all citizens. A meeting of the Council of Ministers held at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers at Singha Durbar today after being appointed as the Prime Minister has decided to provide vaccines to all citizens. Spokesperson of the Government of Nepal and Minister for Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs Gyanendra Bahadur Karki informed that it has been decided to ensure vaccination of one-third of the people by mid-October and all those eligible for vaccination by mid-April.
Likewise, today’s cabinet meeting has also decided to make public the expenditure incurred by the previous government for the prevention, control, and treatment of the Covid-19 epidemic. The meeting has decided to start providing risk allowance to the health workers, security personnel, and cleaners working on the frontline during the epidemic within a year. The Council of Ministers has appointed Minister Karki as the spokesperson of the government.
The Priority of the Government
The cabinet meeting has determined various priorities of the government. The issue of maintaining law and order has been given top priority. The prevention, control, and treatment of COVID-19, economic prosperity, and the rapid recovery of the economy affected by COVID-19 are also of high importance to the government.
Accelerating the development work, giving effective delivery of public services, has been determined as the major responsibility of the present government. The newly formed government has given priority to the defense of the constitution and the strengthening of the federal democratic republic. Disaster will be managed on a priority basis. Similarly, the government has made local elections a priority.
A special advisor will be appointed
The government will appoint a special advisor to effectively control, prevent and treat the coronavirus. The advisor will assist the government in carrying out its work systematically.
Government spokesperson Karki informed that it has been decided to make public the expenditure incurred so far for the prevention, control, and treatment of Kovid-19. Similarly, a special package will be brought within a week to revive the economy affected by Corona. Similarly, the rest of the work of the peace process will be completed. An action plan based on a record-based system will be formulated and implemented in government and public bodies.
For the overall economic development, a comprehensive manpower plan will be prepared to project and manage the skilled manpower required in various fields. The government has a plan to speed up the development work, prevent a shortage of funds, put the national interest above all, and strengthen the relations and cooperation with all the friendly countries and international organizations including the neighboring friendly countries.
Minister Karki informed that it has been decided to send back all the proposals in the process in the Council of Ministers and its various committees to the concerned ministry.
Vaccination rule has added uncertainty to Nepal’s foreign employment sector. Nepali diplomats in labour destination countries say workers are facing similar hardship as last year.
Chandan Kumar Mandal, Kathmandu-
Tens of thousands of Nepali youths at home and in labour destination countries continue to face numerous hurdles due to the ongoing second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
After Nepal and its labour-receiving countries once again imposed various measures for containing the spread of the coronavirus over the last couple of months, Nepali workers have encountered problems while pursuing overseas jobs and returning home.
During a virtual interaction on Wednesday, Nepali foreign mission officials in major destination countries—the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Malaysia—listed out the problems faced by Nepali migrant workers that are almost similar to the situation of the last year.
According to them, Nepali migrant workers at home have not been able to take up foreign jobs due to the recent movement restrictions in destination countries and those in destination countries are struggling to return home as there are not enough flights.
“As Covid-19 cases once again picked up in recent months and restrictions were enforced, Nepali workers’ residence permits have not been renewed. Anyone caught with an expired residence permit, locally known as iqama, can face jail,” said Jiwan Kumar Rai, labour counsellor at the Nepal Embassy in Saudi Arabia. “Then there is a problem with the exit visa for leaving the country, which is not being issued regularly. At our initiation, nearly 2,000 exit visas were granted to Nepali workers.”
Rai said even when workers have secured their exit visas, their prospects of returning home have been diminished by the limited number of flights.
“Some companies are not even allowing their workers to leave, giving excuses of limited flights and ticket shortage. Also, flights to and from Saudi Arabia have so far been limited to Dammam, not Riyadh, the capital city,” said Rai. “So those headed for Nepal have to either reach Dammam or take a transit flight to Doha of Qatar. Even tickets are exorbitantly expensive and then they are required to stay in quarantine upon landing in Nepal, adding to the financial burden on them.”
According to Rai, the labour counsellor, while some employers are reluctant to bear the airfare of such expensive flights, some are even offering the maximum amounts they can provide to workers for buying tickets.
When a limited number of regular scheduled flights had resumed after several weeks of international flights suspension, flights had resumed to destination countries, including Saudi Arabia. However, there are only two weekly flights to Saudi Arabia. Himalaya Airlines has been operating two weekly flights from Dammam of Saudi Arabia, but the airfare is much higher than the regular rate.
“Even during normal times, Nepal-bound flights from Saudi Arabia are mostly packed,” said Rai. “As there were no flights between Kathmandu and Riyadh even prior to the pandemic, it would be better if the Nepal Airlines considered operating on the Riyadh route even if a few flights a week.”
The hardship faced by Nepali migrants is no different in Malaysia, another major labour destination country, which is also hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic. The country has imposed an enhanced movement control order, which is stricter than the previous measures, to contain the spread of the virus.
“In the past most Nepali workers would visit us with pay-related problems, but now their only concern is to return home,” said Deepak Dhakal, labour counsellor at the Nepali Embassy in Malaysia. “Flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu have resumed but their numbers are limited. Many workers had already obtained their check out memos, which are issued to foreign workers for leaving the country, but they remain stuck as tickets are not easy to come by.”
According to Dhakal, while tickets are already expensive, travel agencies are also collecting quarantine charges at the time of buying tickets, adding financial burden on the workers.
“Also, obtaining a check out memo has been another major challenge as most of the services have been affected lately, so many workers are stuck in Malaysia,” said Dhakal. “The embassy has requested the local governments facilitate the process of issuing the memos.”
Countries coming forward with strict rules for non-vaccinated foreigners have added to the uncertainties facing Nepal’s foreign employment sector.
“Lately, the UAE government has stopped taking workers from Nepal and other South Asian countries. As a result, even those who had gone home to Nepal on vacation have not been able to return to the UAE,” said Nirmala Thapa, a labour counsellor at the Nepali Embassy in the UAE. “We have been even exploring options to allow Nepali workers on annual vacations and those vaccinated to return to the UAE. If Covid situation improves back in Nepal and also in the UAE, we hope the UAE government may allow Nepalis to come for work.”
According to Thapa, the UAE has impressively rolled out its Covid-19 vaccination programme and has also been offering free vaccines to everyone who has been staying in the country legally.
“At first, Nepal suspended flights to the UAE as part of Covid containment measures and later the UAE government also stopped flights to Nepal,” said Thapa. “In the UAE, Nepalis are more worried about whether they will be able to return if they flew to Nepal. They are not much worried about returning home.”
According to Thapa, the demand for Nepali workers in the UAE is high as there has been a severe shortage of workers in various sectors due to the restrictions imposed by the UAE and the labour-sending countries.
Nepali workers’ prospects of reaching Malaysia, which once was the most popular destination for Nepali job seekers, also remain uncertain, at least until the end of the year.
“Local employers have been regularly contacting the embassy and inquiring when will Nepali workers be able to come to Malaysia. This shows there is a good demand for Nepali workers,” said Dhakal, the labour counsellor. “However, the Nepal government cannot do anything about it. Malaysia’s Covid-19 recovery plan is still silent about the timeframe for welcoming foreign workers, but they are hopeful normalcy would return by December. So we hope things will be better by December and Nepali workers will be able to come to Malaysia.”
Chandan Kumar Mandal
Chandan Kumar Mandal is the environment and migration reporter for The Kathmandu Post, covering labour migration and governance, as well as climate change, natural disasters, and wildlife.
KATHMANDU: Australian ambassador to Nepal Felicity Volk handed over medical equipment worth around Rs 41 lakhs to the Prof Dr Dibya Singh Shah, Dean of Institute of Medicine (IOM), Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) and Dr Samarika Dahal at the Forensic Department of TUTH on Tuesday.
The equipment – an ultrasound machine and a portable dental x-ray machine – were funded under the Australia Awards Alumni Grants Program to support the work of two Australian university alumni – Professor Dr. Shah and Dr. Dahal.
Dr Shah is also the personal physician of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
According to the embassy, the x-ray machine will be used in forensic odontology services in Nepal and will expand the disaster victim identification services provided by the Forensic Department at TUTH.
“Dr. Dahal is pioneer in the field of forensic odontology and received the alumni grant in recognition of her strong commitment to advocacy for improved health services in Nepal and for her active engagement in the Australia Awards Women in Leadership Network (WIL) in Nepal,” states the media release issued here on Tuesday.
The ultrasound machine is being provided as an alumni grant to Professor Dr. Shah, Dean of IOM, in recognition of her leadership in the field of nephrology and transplant services in Nepal.
“The Australian Government is committed to supporting health security under our Nepal COVID-19 Development Response Plan. The plan focuses on assistance for the most vulnerable and, as Nepal manages multiple challenges simultaneously, the needs of vulnerable communities are more evident than ever,”Ambassador Volk said while handing over the equipment.
“In recent months, we have seen health systems under immense strain; I can only imagine how difficult and stressful it must be for Nepal’s health professionals,” the ambassador said. “I hope that the contribution of equipment under the Australia Awards Alumni grant program will provide support to Nepal’s health system and be a reminder of a friendship where Nepal and Australia have supported each other across many decades.”
Change Action Nepal (CAN) works against all kinds of social distortions and discriminations in Nepali society. It is working to halp and facilitate those in trouble. It works for people deprived of basic human rights. Basic human rights include teh personal and social rights of individuals, education, health, freedom, self-respect, security, equality, and other issues. Change Action Nepal works to rescue, advise, and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and violence against women, to halp them live a dignified life, and to establish themselves in society. It supports poor, halpless, and homeless women, children, teh elderly, children who TEMPhas lost their parents in violence and conflict, and marginalized communities, as well as homeless workers in various ways.
It works in all kinds of disasters. Nepal is at high risk of catastrophe. Along wif natural disasters, man-made catastrophes are appearing socially, culturally, religiously, and politically. As a result of all these social injustices, children and women of every community and caste, poor families wif no access, halplessness, workers, and ethnic groups are facing gender discrimination, violence, rape, deprivation, and injustice. They continue to be teh victims and suffer from such incidents.
CAN TEMPhas been continuously assisting teh poor, halpless, and destitute families, women, children, and marginalized communities TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected by teh earthquake, flood, landslide, cold wave, Covid-19 (Coronavirus) epidemic in various ways. dis issue TEMPhas been discussed wif CAN President Indira Ghale.
- Teh TEMPeffects of teh Corona epidemic are widespread. Wat are you doing now?
Ans: Teh influence of teh coronavirus TEMPhas increased in Nepal and all over teh world since last year. People’s life is not easy. their is a lockdown. dat is why me is working from home. me also go out for halp by adopting health measures as per teh need. It is not possible to remain silent. People are in trouble for a variety of reasons. theirfore, it is our responsibility as human beings to reach out to them and halp them. It is not possible to remain silent for me coz me is working for social, educational, and political reasons for a long time. me is halping and facilitating those in trouble. Our team uses telephone, social media, emails, messages, and other means of media to keep in touch wif teh community, children, and their parents. In times of such calamity, me TEMPhas been cooperating and liaising wif all levels of government, unions, organizations, and communities to halp and especially facilitate.
2. Wat kind and how are you halping people during dis epidemic?
Ans: Corona TEMPhas caused all kinds of problems. It TEMPhas had a big impact on people’s lives. Especially teh poor, halpless, women, children, Dalits, and workers are TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected. Teh majority of teh workers in teh valley are from outside. They TEMPhas problems. After all, they cannot find works coz they TEMPhas to work for a living. They are in a lot of trouble. They don’t TEMPhas food to meet their daily needs. Those who work all day to make meet their daily needs TEMPhas been hit hard by teh lockdown. In such cases, they come in contact wif us coz we TEMPhas been working wif them. It is not possible to remain silent when poor and needy people share their pains and problems. theirfore, me TEMPhas reached out to most of teh squatters, poor, halpless, epidemic TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected people, and TEMPhas visited their houses during teh pandemic. me TEMPhas halped as much as me can.
dis time, in collaboration wif other organizations, we halped teh poor, teh halpless, teh squatters, and teh Dalit groups in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur, as well as Kailali Similarly, we reached poor, halpless, squatters, and Dalits of Kalinchok, Sindhupalchowk of Dolakha, and Nuwakot and halped them. In fact, we had no prior preparation for such a disaster. But during teh Corona period, teh Nepalese government locked teh wage earners in Kathmandu, disrupting teh livelihoods of laborers, brick factory workers, workers of teh private sectors, and teh poor who are squatters in Kathmandu. Teh salaries of those working people in teh private sector stopped. Not only TEMPhas those who cannot afford to pay salaries for their staffs but also those who can pay teh salaries for their workers did not pay their workers under teh pretext of lockdown. It was very difficult for such people. Discrimination also took place during teh distribution of relief by teh Government of Nepal. Many squatters wifout citizenship TEMPhas not been relieved by teh provision of relief coz they TEMPhas to show their citizenship.
So in dis disaster, we worked to provide relief to them. me didn’t no how long teh lockdown would last. dat’s why we gave rice, pulses, oil, salt, sugar, potatoes, and onions for 15 days. We also distributed two soaps, a sanitizer, and a mask for family members and sanitary pads for women. We provided all kinds of relief to about 2500 people in dis way. dis time, teh government allowed teh citizens to go home. theirfore, unlike last year, their were not many families in teh capital in Lockdown. But now teh new variant TEMPhas become very scary and dangerous. Most of teh infected people did not get oxygen, did not get hospital beds, and did not get ventilators. Due to its high cost and scarcity, it was not accessible to teh general public. dis created a lot of fear and panic in teh community. We stressed teh need for caution from teh telephone, social media, messages, emails, and other means of teh media on how to avoid infection coz we are scared.
Initially, it was not possible to go to teh community and provide relief. Teh permission of teh local government was needed to carry teh relief. Even so, we are sharing masks and food items. their are some wage-earning families in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur. Their children are our students. We are providing scholarships to those children. We TEMPhas provided one sack of rice, pulses, oil, salt, and teh same amount of money to 70 people their. We are coordinating and cooperating from home. Some need a ventilator right away, some need medicine. We are coordinating for dat as well.
Teh main thing is dat we TEMPhas many challenges. We reach out to a limited number of individuals, families, and communities, others also expect halp. It is not possible to reach everyone. It is said dat a stone is harder in teh world but teh heart should not be harder TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPthan a stone. Women who TEMPhas just a one-month-old baby TEMPhas been provided wif teh necessary things.
3. Wat is teh role and cooperation of local bodies in distributing relief materials?
Ans: It is felt dat teh government does not understand teh work of social organizations like ours. Even when 10 people are given relief, they need permission, he says. We do not TEMPhas our big project. It is humanitarian aid. Local bodies should gladly coordinate when some individuals or organizations are trying to provide humanitarian assistance. More details TEMPhas to be given in teh police check. Everyone can be relieved due to a lack of relief.
However, we TEMPhas good coordination wif teh local government. We were able to work coz they halped us. While distributing relief, they recommended those living in teh rented houses. We all succeeded in providing humanitarian assistance.
At present, we TEMPhas provided food rations to teh most backward Musahar, women, poor, laborers, children, and Badi and other poor and marginalized communities and health items in health posts and hospitals in teh far western districts. Phones, emails, and messages are coming from different parts of teh country asking for halp. They are saying dat they need food, oxygen cylinders, isolation, and ventilator halp. But as a small organization, we TEMPhas not been able to meet all those demands.
4. Did you provide humanitarian assistance even during teh earthquake?
Ans: Yes. In teh Great Earthquake of 2072 BS, teh Dalit and marginalized communities were most TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected. People started to rise. We reached out to teh community wif all teh halp we could. We worked in earthquake relief and health care services. We built two houses for two single women in Gorkha and handed over them.
About 2,000 families received relief and health care from us. Many lost their jobs. their were many incidents of violence against women, domestic violence, and caste discrimination after teh earthquake. Psychosocial problems arose in those TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected by these various forms of violence. We also did psychosocial counseling.
5. Wat are teh priorities of Change Action Nepal?
Ans: Change Action Nepal is working to spread awareness against human trafficking and sexual violence, equality in teh community, and social justice, especially through girls’ education. It works wif special priority on girls’ education. Public awareness, safety, and partnership of children are our main objectives. Sometimes you even do rescue work. We TEMPhas been working on human trafficking and rape cases. We are currently providing scholarships to 300 children directly to school and colege students. Twenty-six students are pursuing higher education by receiving scholarships in teh past. Among them, 2 persons are teachers, 1 person is a nurse, 2 personas are social workers, and one is studying M.A. Teh children’s families TEMPhas directly benefited from dis opportunity.
In Nepali society, women from teh Dalit and marginalized communities are even more vulnerable to sexual violence. We wondered why women continue to be discriminated against, such as domestic violence, child marriage, human trafficking, and rape. Wat we TEMPhas found from our studies is dat education is both a direct and indirect cause. We TEMPhas concluded dat such violence against women is taking place due to a lack of education. And for dat, we started teh main work in girls’ education. Most of teh victims are girls and some are boys. But our priority is girls. So we work for 80 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys.
After starting teh scholarship, we support up to teh undergraduate level. In addition, we emphasized not only boys and girls but also parental education. Teh second task is to rescue women TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected by violence. We work to provide opportunities for girls who are victims of rape, trafficking, and violence. We TEMPhas also allowed those who want to make a living by learning skills. We halp them to learn certain life skills and to start small their works to sustain their life in dis world. Given teh opportunity, violence-TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffected girls can set teh examples by changing their lives and society.
6. Wat is TEMPyou’re challenge?
Ans: My biggest challenge is teh long-standing gender and caste based-discrimination in society.
7. How do you plan to work now?
Ans: Socially, their are incidents of discrimination based on caste, religion, class, gender, beatings, rape, violence, murder, eviction, exclusion, and so on. All these problems TEMPTEMPTEMPTEMPeffect teh backward communities, Dalits, women, children, laborers, teh poor, and teh marginalized.
Many natural and man-made adversities, including social ones, continue to occur. Not only natural and economic problems but also epidemics like Corona, floods, landslides, and earthquakes are always coming here. Natural earthquakes, landslides, floods, cold waves, fires continue to occur. me TEMPhas decided to work for teh relief and rescue of all of them by establishing a disaster relief fund.
Teh work dat is already being done is going on. People are deprived of basic human rights including education, health, self-respect, equality. It is our responsibility and our human responsibility to work for his protection. Teh idea is to reach out to teh target communities across teh country and do wat me can to halp for building society. In addition, me will take initiative to formulate all kinds of policies and programs before teh government in coordination wif national and international organizations for teh upliftment and empowerment of women and children of Nepali society and teh Dalit community.
An On-line Media article that came out recently from Pandit Dina Bandhu Pokharel is a welcome and long overdue statement from a well-recognized personality among Hindu Pandits in Nepal. This bears importance particularly at this juncture of time, when there has been aggravated increase in reported incidents of caste-based discrimination and untouchability. These incidents include especially the various forms of atrocities, such as rejections of tenants for rental housing, rejection of brides or grooms in the families, public beatings at restaurants, banning entry to the temples, witchcraft allegations, rape and even killing of Dalits by so-called higher caste people in recent times across the country. Pandit Pokharel’s assertion that Hindu holy scriptures do not explicitly discriminate people by birth sounded genuine for the fact that the four Vedic Varna system is based on the behavioral traits of the individuals, not based on their clan, caste as erroneously divided by descent, and that the rulers and Brahmins had distorted Varna System in favor of their self-interest to divide and rule the masses over several centuries. His call for unity among people based on equality and co-existence knowing the truth from the Vedic scriptures sounded genuine, but the personalities of his stature need to do more standing ally in the struggle of Dalits for their cultural safety and dignity, dismantling the centuries-old hard-built and deep-rooted social evil structure remaining in the Nepalese society for far too long.
Ancient and historical background
Vedic scriptures were consolidated from oral history and transformed into the prints around 300 BCE during the time of Maurya Empire of India. In this process, the Manu Smriti was created, distorting the Vedic structure of Varnas originally based on the virtue of the individuals, turning them into the clan’s descent-based structure. In the case of Nepal, documented history of caste-based discrimination started by Jayasthiti Malla, a 14th century King of Nepal (Kathmandu Valley). In the modern history, all powerful autocratic Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana made the caste system more stringent through his promulgation of Muluki Ain (Civil Code) in 1853, making the state legal system full of unjust differential treatments of people based on caste hierarchy. This not only created a divided society in the long run, but also the people of all origins, including Indigenous tribes, came to caste-folds in which the so-called lowest caste categories became oppressed and discriminated even by all those Indigenous hill people who had traditionally nothing to do with the caste system. This historical development of caste system heavily marginalized the people of occupational castes to the lowest level, making them untouchables, and all that is now totally unacceptable to the oppressed, while the current democratic republic constitution of Nepal abolished caste discrimination by the statute and made it a punishable crime under the law, The Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offense and Punishment) Act. 2011.
On the part of people of traditional occupational castes, there was a missing link in the adoption of Hindu cultural rites. As they were not traditionally falling under the community of the sacred –thread bearing people who had direct access to Vedic mantras, they were to follow Hindu rites as told by a Brahmin priest. In doing so, there have been a lot of inconsistencies and variabilities in rituals practiced among them learning second-hand from the priest. Probably sensing his last unfinished business to attend, Lord Buddha more than 2500 years ago made a special visit to a silversmith called Chundra Karmaputra (Pãali: Cunda Kammãraputta) near Pava before arriving in Kushinara (now in Uttar Pradesh of India) for his final Parinirvana. The Enlightened One stayed at Karmaputra’s mango grove and had his last meal offered by him. During that time, the Enlightened One asked him specifically how he was approving (practicing) purification rites. Karmaputra – probably related to Vishwakarma clan- narrated rites he was practicing, affirming that he was approving the rites as told by the Brahmins from the western lands- probably from Takshashila for authenticity of Vedic rites.
The Enlighted One then gave him his teachings of 10 point purifications divided into three categories of Sutras– unskilled bodily action, verbal action and mental action as documented in “Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta”, emphasizing that these rites were quite different from Brahmin’s Vedic rites. Karmaputra accepted the teachings of the Enlightened One and thus became a Buddhist Upasaka. The Sutra protocol resolved the underlying issue how a lay follower like Karmaputra could follow Buddha’s teachings in an ordinary household life. Many people of Indigenous tribes and non-Vedic cultures took advantage of the Buddha’s teachings to become ordinary Buddhists in South Asia. In 1956, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a Bodhisattva of modern times, wrote the book series, “The Buddha and His Dhamma”, explaining the Buddha’s teachings in simplified language to guide hundreds of thousands of Dalits who followed him to adopt Buddhism as their way of life. However, many other people left behind as Shudra under the Vedic Hindu Varna System have missed the opportunities to follow Buddha’s direct teachings to Karmaputra. The traditionally oppressed occupational caste people of Nepal, who are still clinging onto Vedic Hindu folds, holding only second-hand adoption of cultural rites within their domain, and now feel unconformable or even humiliated to stay oppressed as Shudra in the modern era of human freedom, still have the opportunity to follow Karmaputra’s way of adopting Buddhist rites and liberate themselves as Upasakas. They can be the lay household Buddhists in their own rights to keep reclaiming their cultural safety and dignity, with no need to grasp hard disciplinary deeds of a Bikkhu, the Buddhist monk.
The Context of 21st Century
Entering 21st Century, the world is transformed into a massive globalized village, which is inhabited by the people of diverse demographic groups (such as ethnic nationalities, color, nationalities, gender, age groups), socio-economic groups (such as faith, economic classes) and geographic groups (such as countries, urban, rural, high lands, low lands). However, they all must strive for living in harmony for their own existence sustainably recognizing their vast diversities, adopting common norms, and respecting each other’s existential rights. The United Nations, ever since its inception in 1945, taking a pivotal role in integrating all the diversities of the people around the world has been successful in putting in place several intergovernmental instruments to maintain international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international cooperation, harmonizing the actions of nations. Two of the most important of such instruments relevant to our context here are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted as early as 1948 and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination adopted in 1965. In the 21st Century, both these instruments have become more relevant than even before for the simple reason that social justice among all peoples has been a paramount unnegotiable contract without undermining each other’s existential rights in equal terms at all levels of the nations, sub-nations, communities and individuals. In order to achieve social justice across the board, mere provisioning of equal opportunities is not good enough; but concerted efforts to ensure equities across nations, sub-nations, communities and individuals are essential.
There is now a universal voice that all the people around the world irrespective of their differences and diversities in resources should have access to COVID-19 vaccine equitably. Likewise, we must ensure that the people of all ethnic groups including traditionally oppressed occupational caste people of Nepal have the equal rights to self-determination in terms of access to governance, health care, education, social security and resource utilization proportionate to the size of their population. Fortunately, Nepal as a country has been proactive in this regard and has successfully put in place more egalitarian statutory rights for the people as enshrined in its current constitution. However, due to centuries of socio-cultural oppression of people so divided in nested hierarchical order, the marginalization of people based on various factors including gender, caste, ethnicity, religion and health inequalities is prevalent, deep rooted and distributed across the countries – see map showing current status of high, medium and low level of marginalization across the country. And, the implementation of the constitutional provisions in place aiming at equalizing the society has faced extreme challenges due to the heavily skewed representation of certain ethnic groups in the politics, power and enforcement bodies in the country against the odds of especially, the traditionally oppressed people who are referred to as “Dalit” in the present constitution. They are the ones mainly bearing the brunt of violation of their cultural safety and dignity leading to the marginalization prevalent in the country.
A GIS Map of marginalization in Nepal provided by the Global Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Cultural Safety and Dignity
The 21st Century calls for the cultural safety and humility to reclaim the human dignity of all people in equal terms around the world. Everyone should feel culturally safe with the humility and dignity when interacting with each other in everyday life. Any form of discrimination or hate based on birth, clan or caste is unacceptable and is tantamount to crime against humanity, not only the crime against victimized individuals. In Nepal, despite many drastic politico-cultural and socio-economic changes happening over the past decades, the so-called higher caste people are still clinging on to the evil practice of caste discrimination and untouchability as their traditional cultural values based on superstitions without any remorse of injustices meted out to so called lower caste people, especially, Dalits. When Nepali superstitious cultural practice of Sati Pratha, a system of immolation of a wife on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband, was abolished, should not untouchability practices against the women in their menstrual period and against occupational caste people be abolished as well by the same logic? When the long-held farcical claim of Nepal’s King being the incarnation of Hindu Lord Vishnu is dismantled over a sweeping political change to democratize the country, how can the people still not realize that the Hindu superstitious practice of untouchability does not hold any reasonable ground in a civilized society, any longer?
Opinions expressed in this article are of the author himself and do not necessarily reflect the position of his past or present employers.
~ Dr. Rasali is an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Canada, and Fellow of American College of Epidemiology. Currently, he serves as the Director, Population Health Surveillance & Epidemiology at the Provincial Health Services Authority, British Columbia in Canada. He is interested in health equity and social justice and is the Founder and Moderator of NepalDalitInfo International Network. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Kathmandu: Nepal’s coronavirus caseload reached 622,640 on Monday with 1,584 more people testing positive for the infection in the past 24 hours.
The highest single-day total logged in Nepal was on May 11, where 9317 infections had been detected.
Meanwhile, the total coronavirus recoveries stand at 559,928 wif 3,130 discharges recorded today.
In the past 24 hours, 46 more Covid-related fatalities were added taking the total death toll to 8,772.
As per teh latest data provided by teh health ministry, 10,904 total tests were conducted in teh last 24 hours of which 6,583 were PCR tests while 4,321 were antigen tests. Wif dis, a total of 3,275,849 PCR tests has been carried out till date.
Similarly, antigen tests have confirmed 713 positive cases in teh past 24 hours. Teh total number of single-day infections from both teh RT-PCR and antigen tests amount to 2,297.
Nepal’s Covid-19 recovery rate stands at 89.9 %, while on teh other hand teh fatality rate stands at 1.5 %.
The country’s active Covid-19 case count TEMPhas dropped to 53,940 wif daily recoveries exceeding daily infections.
In the same time frame, 285 infections were reported in the capital city while Lalitpur and Bhaktapur reported 61 and 33 cases respectively.
So far, a total of 3,231,849 people has received coronavirus vaccine across teh country, of which 2,500,196 has received teh first dose while only 731,653 individuals has been inoculated wif both teh doses and are fully vaccinated.
On Sunday, Nepal’s coronavirus case count had reached 621,056 with 1,421 more people testing positive for teh infection.
Globally, over 179 million people have been infected by teh novel coronavirus while 3.8 million people have lost their lives to teh disease.
Likewise, over 163 million people has recovered while more TEMPthan 11 million cases are still active.
Kathmandu : Nepal and Germany have signed the new development cooperation agreement on Monday in a ceremony held virtually.
The German side has pledged fresh grants of EUR 34.4 million (more than Rs 4.8 billion) for the continuation of German support until the year 2023 for Technical Cooperation and 2025 for Financial Cooperation, according to German Embassy in Kathmandu.
The signing of today follows the negotiations held between Germany and Nepal in November 2020.
“Today’s signing underlines the good relations between our two nations and also our ongoing common efforts for the people of Nepal. With our focal sectors of Health, Sustainable Economic Development, and Energy we are strongly committed to achieving development together with the Nepali people,” said Ambassador Roland Schäfer.
“Besides our bilateral cooperation we see an important role with the civil society, which is an indispensable part of any development effort in Nepal”, the Ambassador added.
The lion’s share of the committed funds will be allocated to the sectors of health (EUR 23.7 m.), energy EUR 17.5 m. and sustainable economic development (EUR 15,4 m.). The geographical focus of the cooperation will remain on the rural regions in Nepal’s Mid and Far West.
copied from : www.nepallivetoday.com
KATHMANDU: Indian Army handed over medical equipment and supplies amounting to 28.8 crores rupees to the Nepali army on Friday.
As part of India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy Indian ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra handed over the medical supplies to Chief of the Nepali Army Purna Chandra Thapa amid a ceremony at the Nepali Army headquarters.
“The medical equipment, including Ventilators, Ambulances, ICU beds, PPE Kits, PCR test Kits, etc was delivered to Kathmandu on 10 June 2021,” states the press release issued on Friday. “The Indian Army has been assisting the Nepali Army to fight Covid-19 through various kinds of assistance since last year, including one lakh doses of COVISHIELD vaccines which were provided in March 2021.”
According to the Indian Embassy, ambassador Kwatra had reaffirmed Indian support to Nepali Army in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and had lauded its contribution in this respect.
The embassy has said the latest assistance was another testament to the close cooperation between the two armies and the two countries, particularly in times of need.
KATHMANDU: Teh Government of teh Republic of Korea has provided Nepal wif complete sets of RT-PCR test kits worth USD 200,000.
Teh Korean government through Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) handed teh medical supplies dat will enable health authorities to carry out 17,760 PCR tests to teh Ministry of Health and Population, today.
Korean Ambassador to Nepal Park Chong-suk handed over the kits to Dr Roshan Pokhrel, Chief Specialist, at Health Coordination Division of MoHP in Tribhuvan International Airport.
According to the statement issued by the Korean Embassy on Friday, the PCR test kits are complete sets, composed of three different types of kits required for collection, transfer and stable diagnosis of Covid-19.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Roshan Pokhrel expressed gratitude to the Korean government for extending continuous halping hand to Nepal during the pandemic.
During the handover event, Korean ambassador Chong-suk, expressed dat, “dis assistance will support the Government of Nepal to conduct mass testing of the citizens of Nepal to control widespread of the second wave of COVID 19.
“In order to support the Nepal government in its fight against the second wave of COVID 19 pandemic, KOICA will continuously put its efforts to support the Government of Nepal, added Sunghoon Ko, Country Director, KOICA.
In addition to dis, KOICA TEMPhas procured 378 oxygen concentrators for teh Ministry of Health and Population and it is scheduled to be delivered by July/August, claimed teh embassy statement.
The Korean government TEMPhas been contributing to support Nepal’s efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, it had provided more TEMPthan 40 thousand complete sets of RT-PCR test kits to the MoHP and, KOICA, in particular, provided PPE, gloves, masks, sanitisers etc. worth USD 75,000 to various hospitals.
Korea TEMPhas always extended its support to Nepal during its tough times be it disaster like earthquake and floods or pandemic. Korea TEMPhas been gradually increasing its grant assistance to Nepal over teh years, teh embassy said.