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Supreme Court Bar demands Rana’sresignation as Nepal Bar Associationcalls for ‘giving a way out’.

Noose is tightening around chief justice’s neck

OCT 25 - The noose is tightening around Nepal’s top judge’s neck.
On Monday, as many as 13 Supreme Court justices kept themselves busy holding a meeting to discuss the controversies surrounding Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana. As a result, at least 216 hearings were affected, as benches could not sit.
The justices boycotted the full court meeting called by Rana. They decided to hold a meeting with Rana on Tuesday before deciding a further step.
Calls have grown loud that Rana must step down as
the judiciary is facing an unprecedented crisis under him. The top court justices, however, have stopped short of demanding Rana’s resignation. So has the Nepal Bar Association. The umbrella organisation of lawyers has said Rana “must give a way out”, refraining from demanding his resignation.
If the justices continue to stay away from benches and Rana refuses to step down, a judicial deadlock is on the cards, and thousands of cases will be affected. The public will be the ultimate sufferers.
“We have decided to take a decision jointly after meeting Chief Justice Rana on Tuesday at 11:30am,” said one of the justices who attended Monday’s meeting of the 13 justices.
According to him, there is a need to listen to the chief justice’s point of view also before justices make a stand.
“Every accused deserves a fair trial and their point of view is heard by the court,” he said. “So we have decided to give an opportunity to the chief justice to put forth his views on the controversies he has courted.”
Rana, who took the helm of the judiciary on January 2, 2019, is probably the first chief justice to have run into a series of controversies, with the latest one reported last month when he was said to have sought a share in the Cabinet. Some of his verdicts have also met with criticism. One of them is his June 29 last year’s decision to reduce the sentence of Ranjan Koirala, who was facing a life term for murdering his wife.
He is also facing criticism for not conducting a hearing on petitions against constitutional appointments.

The erstwhile KP Sharma Oli government had introduced an ordinance to amend the Constitutional Council Act in December last year to ease the convening of the council meetings and making recommendations.
Rana, as chief justice, is a member of the council. Oli had amended the provisions in such a way that a meeting could be called and recommendations made even without the leader of the opposition and the Speaker.
After hours-long discussion of its executive committee, the Nepal Bar Association on Monday decided that it’s incumbent upon Rana to give a way out.
“As the umbrella organisation of all the lawyers across the country, we cannot take any decision in a haste, so we will wait until the situation gets mature,” said Chandeshwar Shrestha, chairperson of the Nepal Bar Association. “We will take a concrete decision after holding meetings with our advisors and senior advocates on Tuesday.”
He said the judiciary cannot be held hostage for long.
Though Rana was accused of failing to perform his duty as chief justice for quite some time, he was portrayed as the savior of the constitution and democracy when he restored the House of Representatives on February 23. The five-member Constitutional Bench led by him had overturned erstwhile prime minister KP Sharma Oli’s December 20 last year’s decision to dissolve the
House. Again on July 12, the bench led by him overturned Oli’s May 21 second House
But on July 12, the bench also directed to appoint Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba as prime minister. Deuba is backed by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), the CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Janata Samajbadi Party.
Criticism of Rana flared up after media reports suggested he “sought a share” in the Cabinet. Some started arguing that it was part of a quid pro quo, as it was his bench that had ordered installation of the coalition government led by Deuba.
The Supreme Court justice who spoke on condition of anonymity said the allegation that the chief justice sought a share in the Cabinet was the tipping point.
“What you are seeing is the release of pent-up dissatisfactions and frustrations,” said the justice.
Though the Nepal Bar Association and the justices have “kept some room” before they asked for Rana’s resignation, the Supreme Court Bar Association on Monday evening came up with a strong statement.
The Supreme Court Bar Association, in its statement, said that the leadership has completely failed in extricating the judiciary from the current crisis.
“A meeting of our executive committee today arrived at a conclusion that the leadership of the Supreme Court has completely failed and to save the judiciary, the Supreme Court Bar Association demands that Chief Justice Rana must clear the way,” states the statement issued by Rishiram Ghimire, secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association. “The association has concluded that a serious obstruction has been created when it comes to people’s right to justice, as justice delivery has suffered due to the crisis in the Supreme Court because of its leadership.”
Purna Man Shakya, chair of the Supreme Court Bar Association, told the Post that the association has decided to demand the resignation of the chief justice because the judiciary cannot be held hostage to one individual.
“If Rana refuses to step down, we will come up with protest plans,” said Shakya. “Our only goal is to save the judiciary from falling into an abyss.”
On Sunday, 14 justices had decided to boycott the meeting of the full court scheduled for 1:30pm on Monday. The full court meeting did not take place.
The 14 justices had scheduled their own meeting at 11am. Justice Nahakul Subedi, however, was absent, citing health reasons.
Justices Deepak Kumar Karki, Mira Khadka, Hari Krishna Karki, Bishowambhar Prasad Shrestha, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, Prakash Man Singh Raut, Bam Kumar Shrestha, Tanka Bahadur Moktan, Prakash Kumar Dhungana, Sushma Lata Mathema, Kumar Regmi, Hari Prasad Phuyal, Manoj Kumar Sharma and Nahakul Subedi were present at Sunday’s meeting.
Five justices -- Ishwar Khatiwada, Sapana Malla Pradhan, Anil Kumar Sinha, Tej Bahadur KC and Kumar Chudal -- were absent because they were out of Kathmandu.
Questions, however, remain if Rana’s resignation will pull the judiciary out of the current crisis.
“If Rana steps down, it could mean he is admitting he is the culprit,” said Chandra Kanta Gyawali, a senior advocate. “I don’t think he will resign unless all the justices press him to step down by continuously refusing to hear cases.”
According to Gyawali, Rana’s resignation alone may not solve the problem.
“That the judiciary has come into question, there is a need for a serious introspection,” Gyawali told the Post. “We need to find ways to maintain the dignity and sanctity of the judiciary.”
Meanwhile, four former chief justices on Monday evening issued a statement calling for Rana’s resignation.
Former chief justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Anup Raj Sharma, Kalyan Shrestha and Sushila Karki said in the statement that since the problem was created by the chief justice, he must take responsibility.
“We appeal to the leadership concerned to demonstrate the courage to make way and prove that one’s self-interest is above the larger interest of the judiciary,” states the press statement issued by the four former chief justices. “It is unfortunate that the members of the judiciary are not in a position to impart justice as the needle of the suspicion has been directed towards the leadership of the judiciary.”
These were the same four chief justices who had faced a contempt of court
case for speaking against Oli’s first House dissolution.
Recently when Rana came under fire, he was said to have met with these four former chief justices. One of the former chief justices told the Post that Rana had made a sudden visit to his home, “seeking support”. He, however, did not elaborate what kind of support Rana was seeking.
The former chief justices have said that because of the leader of the judiciary, who has come into question for making bargains, other Supreme Court justices’ integrity has come into question.
But many wonder if Rana’s resignation will resolve the crisis facing the judiciary.
“It’s not that his resignation is the panacea for all ills in the judiciary but this could at least show some way,” said Bhimarjun Acharya, an advocate who specialises on constitutional law. “The question is how the current chief justice has failed to prove his leadership over the last two years or so.”
According to Acharya, Chief Justice Rana has failed to take a single initiative to reform the judiciary.
“The leader [chief justice] must understand why his colleagues have turned against him,” said Acharya. “His resignation will be in the best interest of the judiciary and its future.”


Political parties maintain an uncanny silence


OCT 25 - Nepal’s judiciary is facing an unprecedented crisis. Calls have grown loud demanding Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana’s resignation. Supreme Court justices on Monday spent the whole day discussing the controversies surrounding Rana. The Nepal Bar Association, the umbrella organisation of lawyers, has decided to hold a meeting with Rana on Tuesday before deciding its next step. The Supreme Court Bar Association has said Rana should resign to save the judiciary.
But even as the chief justice has been called into question, Nepal’s political parties have by and large maintained an uncanny silence. Some leaders from the ruling and opposition parties, however, admitted that Nepal’s judiciary is in a mess because of “politicisation.”
“The day Rana was appointed chief justice, the judiciary was set to slide downhill,” said Subas Nembang, deputy leader of the Parliamentary Party of the CPN-UML, the main opposition. “Today what we are seeing is the result of the blunder that was made.”
Rana was appointed chief justice on January 2, 2019. His appointment followed the Parliamentary Hearing Comm-ittee’s decision to reject Deepak Raj Joshi for chief justice. Joshi’s name was recommended by the Judicial Council after Gopal Prasad Parajuli was ousted following controversies over his date of birth and academic credentials.
Even though Rana has run into controversy today, political parties for long have played a greater role to damage the judiciary. Justices in the Supreme Court have been appointed at the behest of political parties, and it is by and large apparent who is appointed at which party’s recommendation.
Former justices, observers and experts say “too much politicisation” has led to why the judiciary is facing the crisis today.
Until a few months ago, Chief Justice Rana was hailed as the saviour of the constitution and democracy. The Constitutional Bench led by him had restored the House of Representatives after it was twice dissolved by the erstwhile prime minister KP Sharma Oli.

The last time the Rana-led bench overturned Oli’s May decision to dissolve the House on July 12, it also directed Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba’s appointment as prime minister.
Weeks later, reports surfaced that Rana “sought a share” in the Cabinet. Gajendra Hamal, a district level Congress leader and a relative of Rana, was appointed minister. But Hamal resigned within 40 hours, saying his appointment caused an unnecessary controversy.
Observers say though the focus currently is on Chief Justice Rana, with everyone branding him as a villain, the rot had set in long ago when political parties started intervening in the judiciary.
The chief justice loses his post if he resigns or an impeachment motion is endorsed against him. But Nepal’s political parties are either silent or have divided opinions.
“This is the result of over-politicisation of the judiciary so we are equally responsible for it,” said a senior Nepali Congress leader who did not wish to be named fearing criticism. “Prime Minister Deuba is quite aware of the goings-on and he is in touch with all the relevant people so as to end this crisis in the judiciary.”
According to the leader, the prime minister is also in touch with leaders of the ruling coalition.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), a key coalition partner in the
Deuba government, however, has been sitting on the fence.
“As per the principle of separation of powers, it is up to the judiciary to take a decision,” said Dev Gurung, chief whip of the Maoist Centre and a former minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs. “We are hearing about the violation of the code of conduct by judges, we are hearing about their moral and ethical issues, their honesty and integrity. This is very sad.”
Gurung refused to comment on the ongoing crisis the judiciary is facing in the wake of controversies surrounding Chief Justice Rana.
“We have not made any position on what is going on inside the judiciary. But if the issue comes to Parliament, we will take a decision accordingly,” said Gurung. “As for now, it’s up to the judges and lawyers. They should find a solution to the ongoing crisis.”
Members of the legal fraternity say Nepal’s political parties have absolutely failed on various fronts and that they are to blame for the current mess in the judiciary.
“Actually, Nepal’s political parties are the source of the present crisis in the judiciary,” said Shree Hari Aryal, a senior advocate. “Political parties have for long tried to use the judiciary to their advantage. Today they are not speaking because they have their own interests. Our political parties completely ignored the principle of separation of powers and today we are seeing the results. This is nothing but over-politicisation of the judiciary.”
According to Aryal, Nepali politicians have been complicit in disturbing the principles of separation of powers, which is the basic tenet of democracy.
“Nepal’s judiciary is facing a grave crisis and political parties have maintained a silence. This is not good,” Aryal told the Post. “That the chief justice is a member of the Constitutional Council, as per the constitution, itself is problematic.”
Chief Justice Rana is currently facing criticism for not conducting a hearing on petitions against appointments made by the Constitutional Council after the erstwhile prime minister Oli amended the Constitutional Council Act through an ordinance in December last year.
Ever since the Supreme Court decided to overturn Oli’s House dissolution decision and direct Deuba’s appointment as prime minister, the CPN-UML has been critical of Rana.
Whether the party, now in opposition, indeed wants the judiciary to be independent, however, is questionable, as there was a time when a group of Supreme Court justice appointees had
reached the UML headquarters to thank the leadership for helping them make it to the Supreme Court.
Nembang, the deputy leader of the UML’s Parliamentary Party and Oli’s close confidant, told the Post on Monday that Chief Justice
Rana and other four justices of the
Constitutional Bench are equally responsible for the current mess.
“We political parties are also equally responsible for what is going on inside the judiciary,” said Nembang. “We as political parties must admit and should seriously think about strengthening the judiciary.”
Leaders from the ruling coalition, however, refused to take any position.
“Though our party has not made an official position on what is going on inside the judiciary, the way issues are being reported in the media, it shows the judiciary indeed is facing a crisis,” said Jagannath Khatiwada, spokesperson for the CPN (Unified Socialist), a party that was formed after splitting from the CPN-UML.
“Yes, the judiciary is in a crisis and its leadership has come into question. Justices, office-bearers of the Nepal Bar Association and legal
fraternity have spoken about it. As the leader of the top court, it’s up to Chief Justice Rana to resolve the crisis.”


As countries mull booster shots, experts say Nepal should focus on vaccinating all

Around 56 percent of Nepal’s population is still unvaccinated.
- Arjun Poudel

OCT 25 - Revising its earlier vaccination plan, the Ministry of Health some three months ago said that it would vaccinate 78 percent of the country’s over 30 million population against Covid-19. The revision included vaccinating those between 12 and 14 years of age. Previously, the ministry had planned to inoculate people above 14 years.
As of Monday, only 21.9 percent of the total population has been fully vaccinated.
Now close to two years into the pandemic, the definition of “fully vaccinated” has become somewhat difficult to pin down.
The level of antibodies against Covid-19 in fully vaccinated persons with Vero Cell developed and manufactured in China and Covishield, the AstraZeneca type vaccine manufactured in India, drops after 60 days, according to a recent study carried out by the Nepal Health Research Council.
Until a few weeks ago, receiving one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine (Janssen) or two doses of other
vaccines, meant fully vaccinated. However, in the second week of October, an expert panel of
the US Food and Drug Administration recommended a booster dose of Janssen.
Several international studies suggest that antibody levels decline after two to three months from the date of “full vaccination.”
The term “fully vaccinated” becomes even more confusing when scientists are talking about booster shots and breakthrough cases. A breakthrough case is when a person tests positive for Covid-19 at least two weeks after becoming fully vaccinated

While Nepal still has a long way to go when it comes to “fully” vaccinating its population–around 56 percent of the population is still awaiting vaccination–debates have arisen if the government should start thinking about booster doses.
Some experts say it’s time authorities started considering booster shots while scaling up drive to inoculate the rest of the population.
“Several national as well as international studies show that antibody level in vaccinated people wanes over the time,” Dr Anup Subedee, an infectious disease expert, told the Post. “Authorities should also take decisions on booster shots for Nepalis. If not all can be covered, at least people with compromised immunity and frontline health workers should be the priority.”
Drug regulatory authorities of Europe and the United States have recommended booster shots to older and at-risk
people and to those having compromised immunity.
Experts fear that if the rich and developed countries start hoarding or book booster shots in advance, countries like Nepal may not be able to secure
sufficient doses of Covid-19 vaccines for its population.
“After all we have to protect our population from Covid-19 infections, prevent the third wave and continue our economic activity,” said Subedee. “If we have to take booster doses, why not make the decision on time.”
Some studies also suggest that ‘mix and match’ of booster doses provide lasting immunity.
Subedee said that authorities should also think about whether the booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be provided to the elderly.
Nepal needs to vaccinate around 78 percent of its over 30 million population—or around 25 million people. Since around 4-5 million people are said to be living abroad, the government needs to vaccinate around 19-20 million people. For this, the country needs a little over 40 million doses of double-shot vaccines.
Some doctors, however, say the government first needs to focus on inoculating all eligible people before considering booster doses.
“As we have not yet provided vaccines to hundreds of thousands of people, we should first think of providing the first two doses of the two-shot vaccines to all eligible people,” Dr Mingmar Gyelgen Sherpa, former director general at the Department of Health Services, told the Post. “If we make a decision on booster shots immediately, people with access might get them, while others in need could be left behind.”
According to Sherpa, the best way to stop Covid-19 cases from exploding is vaccinating all eligible people first.
Nepal so far has received 18,958,210 doses of Vero Cell, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. A majority of them have been donated by the governments of China, India, Japan, the United States, Bhutan and the United Kingdom.
Nepal so far has bought 12 million doses–10 million doses of Vero Cell from China and 2 million doses of Covishield from India. China tops the list as the biggest donor of vaccines.
The US, Japan and the UK have provided vaccines in partnership with COVAX, an international vaccine-sharing scheme backed by the United Nations. The COVAX facility, which has committed 13 million doses, enough to inoculate 6 million people, has so far directly provided 348,000 doses of Covishield vaccine.
Nepal on Monday received 100,620 doses of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine sent by the US.
After a deadly second wave in April-May, there has been a decline in Covid-19 cases in Nepal, but experts say there is no room for complacency.
On Monday, 776 people tested positive for Covid-19 (673 people from 8,284 polymerase chain reaction tests and 103 from 2,580 antigen tests).
In the last 24 hours, 13 people died of Covid-19 infections, according to the Health Ministry. The number of active cases stands at 10,360 throughout the country.
So far, 6,647,322 people (21.9 percent of the total population) have been fully vaccinated.
But experts say as the pandemic has left even scientists perplexed, more debates are likely on “fully vaccinated” and “full protection”.
They advise that as the government continues its vaccination drive, it should also inform the public what the terms “full vaccination” and “full protection” mean when it comes to Covid-19.
With vaccine delivery from COVAX likely to get delayed, experts also suggest that the government should ramp up efforts to secure doses from other sources.
“As the developed countries have already started booking vaccines for booster shots, authorities should not rely fully on COVAX,” Dr Prabhat Adhikari, an infectious disease and critical care expert, told the Post. “The government should focus on purchasing vaccines directly from vaccine manufacturing companies and on its own.”
Last week, Reuters reported that India was delaying committing supplies of vaccine to COVAX.
The government, however, looks confident about receiving more vaccines “soon” from different sources. China has separately pledged to donate 1.6 million doses and 2 million doses. Their delivery dates, however, have not been fixed yet. China has also offered to provide 1 million doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac to Nepal.
Nepal is also in the final stages of signing a deal to buy 6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.
Meanwhile, officials at the Health Ministry said the government has not yet thought about administering booster shots.
“As we have to vaccinate over 56 percent of the total population, our priority will be to provide the first two doses to all eligible people,” Dr Roshan Pokhrel, secretary at the Health Ministry, told the Post. “The government will take a decision if it has to, but as of now the World Health Organisation also has not recommended booster shots. Our current focus is on securing enough doses to vaccinate the rest of the population.”


Women take pills to delay periods. But many are not aware of the side effects

The deeply ingrained notions of ‘impurity’ around menstruation are forcing womento pop pills so that they are socially acceptable during festivals and rituals.

OCT 25 - The first time Sabita Poudel took hormonal pills to delay her menstruation was when she was 28. There was a puja at her home and her mother-in-law suggested what she called “mahinawari pachhadi saarne aushadhi”, something that would delay the period.
“All I knew–and still know–about the medicines is that they would delay my periods, allowing me to perform the rituals,” she said. The Post is identifying her with a changed name to protect her privacy.
She is 47 now. She stopped taking the pills about a couple of years ago. She is menopausal now. She does not remember the name of the pills, their composition, and possible side effects.
The deeply ingrained belief of ‘impurity’ around menstruation forces women to ostracise themselves from various social functions. Their participation is contingent upon them remaining ‘pure’ for which, many women delay their natural menstrual cycles by popping hormonal pills, mostly bought over-the-counter (OTC), and without consulting a gynaecologist.
Consumption of such pills, however, poses a great health hazard to menstruating individuals, of which many are unaware.
This notion of impurity forced Ankita Ranabhat, 20, to take hormonal pills so she could attend a religious function at her home. Ranabhat was advised by her grandmother to take those pills and delay her periods.

“My period was close and we were at our ancestral home in Chitwan to observe kul puja [clan rituals]. My grandmother asked me to take the pill so that I can participate in the puja, and to make sure that nothing would be impure for such an auspicious ritual,” says Ankita, who is pursuing a BHM (Bachelors in Hotel Management) at Lumbini ICT Campus.
Just like Sabita, Ankita too was completely unaware of the medicines.
“I had no idea that pills as such existed, let alone anything about the pill. My mother gave me the pills and told me that it was normative to consume them during such occasions. Apparently, she has been doing the same for long,” said Ankita.
These pills are available as OTC drugs at pharmacies, and to buy them, one does not even need a prescription.
“We provide hormonal pills to delay menstruation depending on how long women want to push their periods further. A prescription isn’t required,” says Roshan Khanal, a pharmacist at NIMS Pharmacy, Thapathali.
Asked if the buyers are told about the side effects, Khanal said, “We don’t generally explain the side effects unless the customers ask. If they do ask, we tell them that they might experience dizziness or their regular cycles might be delayed much longer than expected.”
The practice of both pharmacists and clients in disseminating and receiving information on medications is lax in Nepal.
“When I ask women what pills they have taken, many women—including educated ones—don’t know the names of the pills they are taking,” said Dr Anjana Karki, a gynecologist at B&B Hospital. “Nor do they have any clue about the dosage. On many occasions, their husbands or older women get the pills for them.”
Ankita feels that she wasn’t able to make an informed choice about the pills, despite being a well-educated, tech-savvy girl in her 20s.
“The puja was just around the corner, and so was my menstrual cycle, I was told to take the pills. I couldn’t say no. And that is why I say that I was forced to take the pills. I don’t even know the name of the pill I took,” she said.
Though there has been a lot of change in the attitude towards menstruation in recent years, the idea that ‘chhuna hunna’, which translates to ‘women shouldn’t touch or be touched’ during menstruation is still pervasive.
“When I look around my friends, family, everyone has kept a distance from religious activities during periods. It’s so ingrained in our societies. And especially when women do a majority of the cooking and cleaning during religious festivals, it becomes impossible for them to be exempt from it,” said Karki. “That has led to this whole culture of consuming pills to postpone periods.”
A woman menstruates for an average of 2,535 days–that’s almost seven years. Despite campaigns and awareness drives on celebrating menstruation–from menarche to menopause–the deep-rooted belief system in Nepal continues to bar girls and women from performing some essential chores. Many girls in rural areas miss out on school because of their periods.
While for some women, delaying their periods per their will, could be liberating, others when forced upon pills to delay their monthly cycles just to ensure that they can participate in religious activities is yet another manifestation of societal control over women.
Doctors say those women who want to suppress their periods must consult experts and be informed about the possible side effects and health consequences.
Dr Bhola Rijal, a senior consultant of obstetrics and gynaecology at HAMS Hospital, says it is crucial to understand one’s hormonal cycles during menstruation prior to taking these pills.
“In the last few days of the menstrual cycle, the levels of progesterone hormone in the body decrease, causing the uterus to shed its lining, thereby causing menstruation,” said Rijal.
Hormonal pills contain hormones—estrogen and progesterone—that the female body naturally produces.
“That is why,” said Rijal, “consuming these pills to postpone periods isn’t a misuse. The only danger that it poses is when consumed without proper knowledge, in high doses, at irregular times, and for a longer period of time, or by women whose reproductive systems aren’t healthy.”
According to gynecologist Karki, these pills simply manipulate the hormonal balance in the body.
“There are two kinds of hormonal pills that can be consumed to regulate periods, oral contraceptive pills—that contain both estrogen and progesterone hormones—and progesterone-only pills,” said Karki.
Oral contraceptive pills have been subsidized by the government and are available as Nilocon White, Gulab Chakki—that cost around Rs35-50 for a months’ dose. Progesterone-only pills are comparatively a little expensive and aren’t subsidized.
Hormonal pills, albeit safe to consume, can cause side effects on women’s bodies.
Some common side effects include irregular periods, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and breast tenderness, according to Karki.
“Once women stop taking the pills, their periods take place in the next 2-5 days, and many complain of severe cramps. But there are usually no long-term consequences,” said Karki.
Doctors say individuals need to understand their monthly cycles well and decide after consulting experts whether they should go for hormonal pills to suppress their periods.
Ankita may have been able to delay her periods by taking the pills but her experience has not been very good.
The pills immensely affected her natural flow of menstrual blood, and she had no clue what she signed up for, she said.
“Even after I stopped taking the pills, I didn’t have my periods another week. And when I did, I had terrible cramps. The flow was irregular and heavy,” she said. “I was bed-ridden for almost a week.”
Karki says there are possibilities of contraindications—a situation when an individual should not use a certain drug because it might complicate the situation, as opposed to making it better—that may lead to unwarranted complications.
“For example, you shouldn’t give pills containing estrogen to obese women, women with high blood pressure, hypertension, migraine, or liver diseases. These women already have higher estrogen levels and consuming such pills might make things much worse,” said Karki.
In addition, hormonal pills should not be taken regularly or frequently.
“Manipulating your natural period cycles isn’t something that should be done regularly,” said Rijal.
Most of the time, the pills cause irregular bleeding, which isn’t necessarily a problem though, according to Karki.
But regular consumption of pills may “hide or mask the symptoms of various other diseases, such as infections in the uterus, or even cervical cancer. This leads to a delay in diagnosis and might cause complications,” she added. “That is why, it is very crucial to know about one’s own body, what the pill is, and what it does.”
The focus should be on educating the public that menstruation is a natural phenomenon if they are to tackle and overcome these social attitudes. Additionally, knowledge of the medicines one is consuming is crucial to help menstruating individuals make informed decisions.
Ankita says she has vowed never to take the pills without consulting doctors.
“To be honest, this feels totally unfair. It doesn’t make sense that God would make us impure all the while preaching that God is inside all of us,” she said. “And for me to interact with God, I would have to disrupt my entire bodily functions and fluids.”


Page 3

Government comes up with austerity plan but doubt remains about its implementation

Past experience shows the austerity measures are thrown into the backburner with change in government.
Government staff will almost always go against the standards unless the officechief is serious about controlling unwanted expenditures, an official says.

OCT 25 - Even though the government came up with new austerity plans with measures related to reducing expenditure in the areas of vehicle procurement, fuel use, meetings, trips and other areas, questions remain whether it would be implemented.
Even though the previous KP Sharma Oli-led government had last year introduced Standards for Austerity in Public Expenditure-2020, the new government came with another set of standards with a partial amendment to the previous standards. The Finance Ministry on Sunday released the new standards on
its website.
“The problem with such standards is that one government introduces the standards and the next government does not give any value to them and they are not implemented,” said Netra Poudel, assistant spokesperson at the Office of the Auditor General.
The auditing body also relies on such standards for calculating
unsettled accounts.
Poudel, who is also the director at the auditing body, said that such standards were being introduced as part of ‘populist measures’ by successive governments in an attempt to boost the image of the government or the ruling party[ies] concerned.
“As a result, along with the change in government, the new government doesn’t take such standards seriously,” he said.
Even in the new standards, most of the provisions are similar to what the previous Oli-led government introduced in the areas of reducing the cost of domestic and foreign trips, meetings, vehicle procurement and fuel consumption. The new government has only made a few amendments to the previous provisions and added some new measures.
According to the new standards, the government agencies will not purchase new four-wheeler vehicles except for election programmes and delivering health services. The periodic local, provincial and federal elections are scheduled for next year.
Public officials won’t be allowed to use more than one vehicle except in the case where the law has allowed them to do so. Likewise, public officials will need to cut down on fuel expenses by 10 percent from the existing standards.
The new standards have also barred government agencies from providing encouragement allowance, overtime allowance, lunch allowance and special allowance. Only 10 percent of frontline health workers and security personnel deployed to control Covid-19 can be provided such allowances based on a risk analysis.
According to the new standards, no observation trips to foreign countries will be allowed with government resources. No foreign trip will be allowed with the representation of more than three persons except in
the case of visits by VIPs. Likewise, government agencies cannot deploy more than three persons for project monitoring.
Mobile phones, laptops and tablets purchased by government agencies should be used for at least five
years, according to the new standards.
The standards also bar creation of new organisations and salaried
positions in the current fiscal year. But the new standards do not bar recruitment of technical staff and health workers on contract basis.
Likewise, government agencies are required to use electronic medium for communication instead of physical letters and no government funds can be used for sending greetings and
congratulatory messages. Seminars should be conducted virtually as far as possible and if physical presence is required, they should be conducted in public offices.
Poudel said one of the reasons
why such standards are not properly implemented is the lack of laws.
“Some of the provisions aim to
narrow down the scope of the law
in the name of controlling unwanted expenditures. Therefore, as long as the law allows, public officials won’t
hesitate to defy the standards,”
he said.
The 56th Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General had detailed cases of violation of such standards by government agencies. The government had introduced Austerity Guidelines on Public Expenditure-2018, which sought to control unwanted expenditure in procuring vehicles, fuel consumption and their maintenance. But in the fiscal year 2017-18, the government spent Rs6.61 billion on vehicle procurement.
As per the annual report, some ministries had a disproportionately high number of four-wheelers compared to the number of officer-level staff. For example, the number of officer-level staff at the Home Ministry was 90 but there were 174 four-wheelers.
Deputy Financial Comptroller at Financial Comptroller General Office Bhesh Prasad Bhurtel said government staff will almost always go against the standards unless the office chief is serious about controlling unwanted expenditures.
“If the office chief does not have integrity and lacks the capacity to handle the staff, the standards will not be followed,” Bhurtel said. “About 5-7 percent of government offices have such a problem.”
With the introduction of the standards on austerity, the government aims to stem unwanted expenses and save government resources.
But Ritesh Shakya, spokesperson at the Finance Ministry, said that the government didn’t have any specific target regarding saving its resources.
“The main purpose of the standards on austerity is to ensure that the government agencies maintain fiscal discipline,” he said.


Tinkune park got a facelift. And it was neglected


Oct 25 - The Kathmandu Metropolitan City had put up a grassy berm decorated with flowers and plants around the perimeter of the Tinkune plot near the Kathmandu airport to hide the unsightly barren ground from the view of visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in the second week of October in 2019. The City had spent Rs6.5 million on the beautification of Tinkune, a triangular plot of land with roads on all sides.
But soon after Xi’s departure, many flowers, plants and the Bermuda grass patches on the berm were stolen.
The then administrative officer of the City, Kedar Neupane, had said the City had spent an additional Rs3 million to beautify Tinkune ahead of the Chinese president’s visit and installed various statues of animals including rhino, elephant and deer.
But now anyone visiting the ‘Tinkune park’ can see that the animal statues on the northern portion have been vandalised, invasive plants have grown out of control, and the ground is littered with human faeces. Locals said the vandalism occurred sometime after the Dashain festival.
“The park doesn’t have a caretaker,” said Mamata Thapa, who runs a tea shop near the park. “People would come to take pictures with the animal statues but now everything has been torn down.”
Nawaraj Parajuli, the chairman of the City’s ward 32, where the park is located, blamed the City’s negligence for the vandalism. “It is their responsibility to take care of the park but they haven’t been doing their job,” said Parajuli.
In 2014, during the 18th SAARC summit held in Kathmandu, the Tinkune plot was fenced with corrugated zinc sheets to hide the ugly interior. But soon after the summit and the SAARC delegates left, the sheets were stolen. Again in 2018, during the 4th BIMSTEC summit, the Tinkune ground was fenced with flex banners featuring pictures of Nepal’s heritage sites and mountains, among other things. But vandals struck soon after the conclusion of the summit. They punctured holes and tore the banners.
These are not the only cases of deteriorating civic sense in Nepal. In February last year during the Mahashivaratri fair at Pashupatinath, visitors had disfigured a floral arch erected near the south gate of the Pashupatinath temple and a floral bull in the area by plucking the flowers. The Pashupati Area Development Trust said two devotees had spent around Rs20 million on the floral arrangements.
Sociologists link the lack of civic sense to growing public frustration, which they say could have been caused by rising corruption and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in the country.
“Government officials are getting corrupt by the day. And even when public property is damaged these officials see this as an opportunity to earn under the pretext of fixing the damage,” said sociologist Mrigendra Bahadur Karki.
They launch projects eyeing commissions but upkeep is never a priority, he said.
“Growing public frustration could be the reason behind the Tinkune park vandalism. When people lose hope they tend to show such destructive behaviour.”
The 50 ropani (2.5 hectares) Tinkune plot was owned by private individuals but the government in 1976 decided to acquire it by promising compensation to the owners. But the government started paying compensation only from 2005. Over the decades, land prices in Kathmandu had skyrocketed and the owners refused to accept the compensation fixed by the government 29 years ago. They moved court and a verdict has yet to come.
City officials say although compensation for 21 ropanis of land has been paid, the remaining owners are demanding that the government should pay them over Rs3 million per aana (approximately 32 square metre).
“The compensation dispute has become a protracted court battle. The government should resolve the issue by paying fair compensation to the landowners,” said Parajuli, the ward-32 chair.

Page 4

Protect paddy farmers

Ease of access to compensation makes all the difference for the farmers hit by the deluge.
- Post Report

The end of the monsoon usually gives way to pristine blue skies and warmer sunny days. Yet, now, almost three weeks after the official announcement of the end of the monsoon, Nepal is still reeling from uncertain weather conditions. The warmer, drier conditions after the monsoons allow farmers to harvest their crops. But this year’s post-monsoon season is something that will, in all probability, remain etched in our memory for some time to come due to the fury of the unseasonal rains. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has estimated the cost of the damage to the paddy crops at Rs8.26 billion.
We can unconditionally classify Nepal as an agro-based economy. The agriculture sector employs about 66 percent of the population and contributes approximately 36 percent to the gross domestic product. And yet, the policies and practices related to agriculture are still quite rudimentary. The people that toil come rain or shine and expose themselves to harsh elements for a meagre return, and bear the burden to provide sustenance for an entire nation, have been entirely ignored by the authorities. There is a stench of apathy even when they declare relief schemes for the affected farmers.
Token relief measures do nothing to cover the damage suffered by those wholly dependent on agriculture as a means of livelihood. It is often a case of too little too late, as those aware of the bureaucratic hurdles know. What should, in fact, be aggressively encouraged is the adoption of crop insurance which would provide a safety net in case of such unforeseen disasters as we have witnessed this year. Providing help with the payment of premium is one thing, but it is the ease of access to compensation that makes all the difference for the farmers. Such provisions of providing coverage to paddy crops should be encouraged, especially in remote areas of Nepal, where farmers remain unaware of changes that may provide some relief.
What Nepal currently lacks is a concerted effort to focus on our strengths. For far too long, little heed has been paid to developing storage and transport facilities. Access to water is pivotal in aiding crop rotation, and, in a country where there should be no shortage of water, the farmers still rely on the monsoon for a bumper harvest. And if drought strikes, the lack of water ironically would be a cause for concern for the farmers. Over-reliance on external factors has exposed us to risks that affect our self-dependency in an area that is often considered our mainstay.
With Covid-19 unwilling to ease its stranglehold on the economy, the current disaster heaped on the hapless farmers is a significant setback for Nepal’s economy. To succeed in protecting a sector that creates jobs and supports other sectors, we need to change our approach by incorporating mechanisms that will enable us to deliver in current times. It would be of no use to man or beast if the policies brought out by the government, however effective they seem on paper, fail to touch the lives of the people that they intend to serve.


Tampering with public procurement

The procurement regime needs a complete overhaul, but the motive and method are doubtful.


Finance Minister Janardan Sharma, since his appointment to the position about a hundred days ago, is flexing all his muscles to “restructure” Nepal’s public procurement system by amending the Public Procurement Act 2007 and related Public Procurement Regulations 2008. He is reported to have formed a task force last week to recommend the required amendments to remove provisions that he sees as
bottlenecks to the timely implementation of projects. Headed by the secretary of the Public Procurement Monitoring Office, the task force has representation from about a dozen ministries mainly with responsibilities in public civil works, and it has been asked to submit a report with specific changes in the act, regulations
and current requirement of bidding documents.
Minister Sharma is eying three major sets of public procurement rules currently in practice. First, he wants to reduce the submitting deadline of bidding documents from 35 to seven days from the date of the public notice calling for bids. Second, he is for amending the provision of awarding the contract to the lowest bidder. Third, the “clumsy” bidding process as provisioned in Section 2 of the act is sought to be simplified. The minister has also come up with a drastic “innovative” idea to make legal arrangements for carrying out work in projects worth up to Rs100 million through labour cooperatives while the very existence of such cooperatives is dubious.

The reform imperative
No doubt, Nepal’s public procurement regime needs a complete overhaul. The Public Procurement Act has been amended at least nine times since its enactment. However, it still has effectively failed to increase the scale and efficiency of even budgeted capital expenditure and equally failed to ensure fairness and transparency in the bidding process. Capital expenditure has remained chronically low. All aspects of the project cycle from selection, implementation and management to completion have always been problematic, even without a citable example of best practices adhered to. The completion period often gets unduly extended. Cost overruns and difference payments to contractors are deliberate and have become the norm rather than the exception. Worst of all, there is a clear absence of political will to mend these aberrations costing billions to the country’s exchequer.
Instead, there is blatant political interference in the bidding process of big and small projects by the parties in power in their respective political jurisdictions, from the federal to the local levels. Efforts to update the entire public procurement process from awarding the contract to completing the project by using recent information technology (for example, execution of e-bidding and real-time recording of the work process) have been thwarted by the pervasive rent-seeking interest of the political class. An entirely new ecosystem for digitised and automated processes was never created. There were some discussions on activating the online submission of bids, but other related support systems like e-payment of the security deposit, particulars of large amounts, and the document verification and digital signature validation processes (on the digital platform) were never initiated.
On the procurement governance front, the Public Procurement Monitoring Office is overtly obsessed with a centralist, read anti-federalist, mindset, and it has been trying to regulate the public procurement deals of the whole country from a single, understaffed office at the centre. Since Nepal’s federal constitution has devolved a fair amount of fiscal prowess to the subnational governments, the very idea of centralised public procurement management and monitoring is antithetic to the federal polity. Both institutional and legal frameworks should have been allowed and supported to evolve at the subnational levels to ensure transparency and expenditure efficiency at each government unit.
Against this backdrop, the finance minister’s effort to restructure the public procurement system ideally should have been desirable, thus, welcomed. But that is not the case here. Both the motive and the method the minister is employing have raised quite a few eyebrows in policy circles. Prima facie, he is trying to dismantle the existing system without proposing better policy, institutional and operational alternatives. His idea of forcing contractors to register the bid proposals within seven days of the call notice being published is impractical. It smacks of a design to collude with chosen contractors who enjoy the privilege of ex-ante inside information. Even for a reasonably sized project, a week is insufficient to develop a workable financial or technical proposal. The new idea of mobilising the so-called labour cooperatives for civil work-related projects is purely populist and has been deliberately hatched to support party cadres.
The 35-day window given to potential contractors to register their bid documents is not only the reason for delaying project execution. If other facets of project administration—like timely calling for proposals, preparing the detailed project report and deploying appropriately skilled project personnel in advance—are put in place, the output could improve substantially. Several earlier reports, including one prepared by the Public Procurement Monitoring Office, have proposed at least 21 days to provide reasonable time to the bidders and, thereby, not compromise the prospect of fair competition.

Wrong direction
It may be recalled that it took 15 years to convince Nepal’s policymakers about the necessity of enacting the Public Procurement Act and setting up the Public Procurement Monitoring Office since the first elected government took charge after the restoration of democracy in 1990. Any whimsical destruction of a budding system is bound to have catastrophic results.
Even today, one critical component missing in the debate, sadly, is customising the public procurement policies, institutions and policies to meet the developmental needs of the federalised nation-state in consonance with the principles of fiscal federalism. It is common knowledge in Nepal that
ad hoc, unstable and impractical arrangements in the public procurement policies and practices have been the core reason for the rampant embezzlement of public funds. Unfortunately, public procurement has become the area of critical interest even among the elected executives in all three tiers of government for all the wrong reasons—to suck public funds for their vested interests. Therefore, changes to plug these loopholes are long overdue, but Sharma’s prescription appears to be more precarious than desirable. It is equivalent to policy corruption at the highest level.


Cyberattacks to critical infrastructure

Development of rigorous and practical approaches to address increasingly critical issues is needed.


What would happen if you could no longer use the technological systems that you rely on every day? I’m not talking about your smartphone or laptop computer, but all those systems many of us often take for granted and don’t think about.
What if you could not turn on the lights or power your refrigerator? What if you could not get through to emergency services when you dial 911? What if you could not access your bank account, get safe drinking water or even flush your toilet?
According to Canada’s National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure, critical infrastructure refers to the processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of the public and the effective functioning of government. Disruptions to these kinds of systems, especially those caused by cyberattacks, can have devastating consequences. That’s why these systems are called critical infrastructure.

A string of attacks
Over the past six months, the fragility of critical infrastructure has been given plenty of attention. This has been driven by a string of notable cyberattacks on several critical infrastructure sectors. It was revealed that in late March 2021, CNA Financial Corporation, one of the largest insurance companies in the United States was victim to a ransomware attack. As a result, the company faced disruptions of their systems and networks.
In May 2021, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline halted plant operations for six days. The attack led to a fuel crisis and increased prices in the eastern US Weeks later, in June 2021, a ransomware attack hit JBS USA Holdings, Inc, one of the world’s largest meat producers. This attack brought about supply chain turmoil in Canada, the US and Australia. Also in June 2021, the Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority was victim of a ransomware attack that disrupted ferry services and caused service delays.

Fragile infrastructures
On October 14, 2021, hot on the heels of cyberattacks targeting the financial, gas, food and transportation sectors, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released Alert AA21-287.
The alert turns attention to the
fragility of yet another critical
infrastructure sector. It warns of “ongoing malicious cyber activity” targeting water and wastewater
facilities. These activities include exploits of internet-connected services and outdated operating systems and software, as well as spear phishing and ransomware attacks—something we have seen a lot in recent cyberattacks.
According to the alert, these cyberthreats could impact the ability of water and wastewater facilities to “provide clean, potable water to, and effectively manage the wastewater of, their communities.”

Vulnerability factors
The need for combating cyberthreats to critical infrastructure is well recognised. However, the infrastructure today is far from secure. This is due to many interrelated factors that create a perfect storm of exposures. First, many of our most critical systems are extremely complex. This complexity is rapidly increasing as the number of devices and connections in these systems continues to grow.
Second, many of these systems involve a mix of insecure, outdated legacy systems and new technologies. These new technologies promise features like advanced analytics and automation. However, they are sometimes connected and used in insecure ways that the original designers of the legacy systems could not have imagined.
Taken together, these factors mean that these systems are too complex to be completely understood by a person, a team of people or even a computer model. This makes it very difficult to identify weak spots that if exploited—accidentally or intentionally—could lead to system failures.

Analysing complexities
In the Cyber Security Evaluation and Assurance (CyberSEA) Research
Lab at Carleton University, we are developing solutions to address the fragility of critical infrastructure. The goal is to improve security and resilience of these important systems. The complexities of critical infrastructure can lead to unexpected
or unplanned interactions among system components, known as implicit interactions.
Exploitation of implicit interactions has the potential to impact the safety, security and reliability of a system and its operations. For example, implicit interactions can enable system components to interact in unintended—and often undesirable—ways. This leads to unpredictable system behaviours that can allow attackers to damage or disrupt the system and its operations.
We recently conducted a cybersecurity analysis at CyberSEA on a real-world municipal wastewater treatment system, where we identified and measured characteristics of implicit interactions in the system. This was part of our ongoing research, conducted in partnership with the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Our analysis found a significant proportion of implicit interactions present in the system, and approximately 28 percent of these identified vulnerabilities showed signs of
being ripe for attackers to exploit
and cause damage or disruption in
the system.

A glimmer of hope
Our study showed that implicit interactions exist in real-world critical infrastructure systems. Feedback from the operators of the wastewater system in our case study stated that our approaches and tools are useful for identifying potential security issues and informing mitigation efforts when designing critical
This may be a glimmer of hope in the fight against cyberthreats to critical infrastructure. Continued development of rigorous and practical approaches to address increasingly critical issues in designing, implementing, evaluating and assuring the safe, secure and reliable operation of these systems is needed. A more robust infrastructure will lead to fewer threats to our security and access to services, ensuring our well-being and the effective functioning of our governments and society.

Jaskolka is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University.
— The Conversation



Nepal seeks deal with India for flight inspection services

Airport and flight inspections have to be conducted every year, but Nepal has not been able to conduct the tests for the last two years due to Covid-19.

OCT 25 - Nepal has asked the Airports Authority of India to provide periodic airport and flight inspection services for its airports.
On Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal sent an official letter to the Indian state entity proposing to sign a long-term government-to-government deal as it wants to avoid being possibly forced into contracting unreliable companies amid the difficult times caused by Covid-19.
Raj Kumar Chhetri, officiating director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, told the Post that they had officially written to the Airports Authority of India after its proposal was approved by the board on Thursday.
“We have proposed signing a
three-year contract. Once the Indian authority sends its response, we will sign the agreement,” said Chhetri, adding that they had planned to
complete the periodic airport and flight inspection services of eight airports, including the upcoming international airport in Bhairahawa, by mid-December.
Radio communication infrastructure and air navigation aids of all airports need to be inspected after installation and before full operation. The air navigation aids that are in service need to be regularly inspected according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and requirements to ensure safety and continuously accurate operational performance.
These inspections are done in flight by using flight inspection aircraft
to analyse and assess the performance and efficiency of the aids to ensure the safety of the aircraft that rely
on them for navigation and landing guidance.
Airport and flight inspections have to be conducted every year, but Nepal has not been able to conduct the tests for the last two years due to Covid-19.
Chhetri said that the fee for the periodic airport and flight inspection services charged by the Indian state entity was lower than that charged by other companies. “If the government-to-government modality works well, the contract can be extended after three years.”
On March 7, 2019, a Thai government-owned company Aeronautical Radio of Thailand won the $4.83
million contract for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of Communication, Navigation
and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management, including meteorological equipment and other related services, at Gautam Buddha International Airport.
The Thai company has completed the installation of the navigation and communication equipment but informed the airport project that
they would begin the calibration or testing of the equipment only after the Covid-19 situation in Nepal recedes to almost zero.
Chhetri said that they had to initiate the government-to-government deal with India because it was difficult to bring foreign experts under the existing coronavirus circumstances, and that could delay the periodic tests.
The civil aviation body had approached the South Korean and Indian governments and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States to conduct the tests, but only the southern neighbour responded positively.
The FAA, an agency of the US
government responsible for the regulation of aircraft and airports, had conducted flight inspections of the radar system at Bhatte Danda in Lalitpur in 2017.
“As the construction of Gautam Buddha International Airport has been completed, we have to urgently begin the flight test of the airport. The test, as per the proposal sent to India, will have to be completed by mid-December,” Chhetri told the Post.
The civil aviation body had planned to conduct the test in September, but its board lacked a chairman for a long time as the newly formed government delayed appointing a tourism minister who heads it.
The government eventually named Prem Bahadur Ale as minister of culture, tourism and civil aviation
on October 8. The first board meeting with the new chairman was held
on Thursday.
According to the civil aviation body, the international airport in Bhairahawa is fitted with the instrument landing system (ILS) and it needs to be tested every six months. “The deal will save us the hassle of conducting tenders at a time of crisis,” said Chhetri.
Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa in south central Nepal is the gateway to the international pilgrimage destination of Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. It has a 3,000-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway, and is slated to be ready for commercial operation by the beginning of 2022.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal had awarded the Rs6.22 billion civil works component, the first package, to China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group in November 2013.

Page 5

Hotel entrepreneur Shrestha passes away at 83

- Post Report

OCT 25 - Veteran hotel entrepreneur and former president of Hotel Association Nepal Gautam Das Shrestha died on Monday. He was 83.
According to the association, Shrestha passed away at Medicity Hospital in Lalitpur after a long battle with cancer.
Born in Tumbahal, Kathmandu to father Durga Das Shrestha and
mother Haridevi Shrestha, Shrestha operated the Sherpa Hotel on Durbar Marg and the Safari Narayani Hotel
in Chitwan.
Shrestha served as president of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) from 1993 to 1998.
He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.
The hotel association said Shrestha’s death had caused
irreparable damage to Nepal’s tourism industry.
“Gautam Das Shrestha, the sixth HAN President, left us this morning at 2:30 AM for his heavenly abode,” tweeted hotelier Yogendra Sakya.
“In spite of age and so many health issues, he was still so full of life and always wanting to entertain friends in his house. All your friends and family will always cherish those beautiful get-togethers in your Jamshikhel house, Gautam Dai!!.”


Indonesian President calls for ASEAN travel corridor to revive tourism


KUALA LUMPUR (Malaysia), OCT 25
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has urged Southeast Asian countries to speed up plans to create a regional travel corridor to help revive tourism and speed up a recovery from the economic damage of the pandemic.
Citing UN and World Trade Organisation data, Widodo said on Monday that the level of restrictions in Southeast Asia was the highest in the world. With coronavirus cases in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations now declining, those limits should be eased
to allow people to travel more freely, he said.
Speaking at a regional business forum Widodo urged immediate adoption of a regional travel corridor, a concept initiated by Indonesia in 2020, that would include faster immigration lanes, recognition of vaccine certificates and standardized health measures for departure and arrival, among other things.
“After 20 months of facing the daunting Covid-19 pandemic, we now see a light of hope. In the past week, Covid-19 cases in ASEAN fell by 14 percent, far exceeding the global average, which fell by 1 percent.,” he told the forum organized ahead of a three-day ASEAN leaders summit, which starts Tuesday.
“With the Covid-19 situation getting more under control, these restrictions could be eased, mobility could be relaxed, while also ensuring that it’s safe from the risk of the pandemic,” he said. “If all ASEAN countries immediately facilitate the safe mobility of people, the wheels of economy shall soon run again,” he said.
Intra-ASEAN travel typically accounts for around 40 percent of travel in the region and is key to reviving tourism in the region.
Some countries, including Thailand, are cautiously moving to reopen to international tourism.
Indonesia re-opened its holiday resort island of Bali to foreign tourists this month after more than 80 percent of its population was fully vaccinated. Widodo said the government will gradually open up other areas in the country where vaccination rate exceeds 70 percent. Indonesia so far has fully vaccinated about a third of its people.
Widodo called for more equal distribution of vaccines to ensure that at least 70 percent of ASEAN’s more than 600 million people are inoculated. Vaccination is uneven in the region, with Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia moving the fastest with over 70 percent of their population inoculated and Myanmar at the bottom with less than 10 percent vaccinated.
Widodo said ASEAN, as the region with the fastest growth in internet use in the world, should also expand its digital economy for future growth.


Singapore plans electricity imports to boost security, diversify supply



SINGAPORE, OCT 25 - Singapore plans to import up to 4 gigawatts (GW) of low-carbon electricity by 2035, or about 30 percent of its total supply, trade and industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Monday, to diversify supply and boost energy security.
The Asian city-state will start with trials to resolve technical and regulatory issues over cross-border power trading, he said, such as plans to import 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity from neighbouring Malaysia and 100 MW of solar-generated electricity from Pulau Bulan in Indonesia.
Utility YTL PowerSeraya said on Monday it has been appointed
as the electricity importer for a two-year trial to import 100 MW of electricity from Malaysia through existing interconnectors.
“These trials allow us to learn and improve our system and processes as we increase our imports,” Gan said in a speech at the Singapore International Energy Week event.
“We will also import different types of low-carbon energy from different parts of the world to diversify our sources and enhance energy security.”
Singapore will issue two request for proposals (RFP) for the 4 GW of low-carbon electricity imports in its effort, which is similar to a current approach of diversifying natural gas sources. The first proposal will be launched in November while the second is expected in the second quarter of next year.
Singapore will deploy some of its retiring combined-cycle natural gas turbines as backups in case of longer-term disruptions to energy supply, Gan said.
About 95 percent of Singapore’s electricity is generated from natural gas, though it plans to ramp up sources of renewable energy.

Page 6

Sudan general declares state of emergency, dissolves government after ‘coup’

The power grab, which comes after weeks of tensions between the military and civilian figures sharing power sinceOmar al-Bashir’s ouster in 2019, is condemned by the international community.

Sudan’s top general declared a state of emergency, dissolved the authorities leading country’s democratic transition, and announced the formation of a new government after soldiers detained civilian leaders Monday in what activists denounced as a “coup”.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s announcement in a televised address came after armed forces detained figures of the government in charge of leading the transition to democracy since the April 2019 ouster of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.
“To rectify the revolution’s course, we have decided to declare a state of emergency nationwide... dissolve the transitional sovereign council, and dissolve the cabinet,” Burhan said.
His statement came as clashes erupted in the capital Khartoum, with soldiers firing live rounds at people who took to the streets to protest against the power grab.
The violence was largely centred outside the army headquarters in the capital hours after soldiers detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, ministers in his government and civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council, the information ministry said.
They were taken away after
“refusing to support the coup”, it said on Facebook.
Internet services were cut across the country around dawn and the main roads and bridges into Khartoum shut, before soldiers stormed the headquarters of Sudan’s state broadcaster in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, the ministry said.
People took to the streets soon after, setting tyres ablaze and piling rows of bricks across roads to block them in protest against the military move, an AFP correspondent reported.
“Military forces have fired live bullets on protesters rejecting the military coup outside the army headquarters,” the information ministry said.
Around a dozen people have so far been wounded in the clashes, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, an independent medics union.
The power grab, which comes after weeks of tensions between the
military and civilian figures sharing power since Bashir’s ouster, was
condemned by the international
The European Union called for the release of the civilian leadership and insisted “violence and bloodshed must be avoided”.
“The EU is very concerned about Sudan’s military forces reportedly putting Prime Minister Hamdok under house arrest, as well as detaining other members of the civilian leadership, and we urge for their fast release,” said European Commission spokeswoman Nabila Massrali.
America’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman
said “the US is deeply alarmed at reports of a military takeover of the transitional government”.
“Any changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk US assistance,” he said on Twitter.
The UN described the detentions as “unacceptable”.
“I call on the security forces to immediately release those who have been unlawfully detained or placed under house arrest,” said Volker Perthes, its special representative to Sudan.
The African Union and Arab League also expressed concern.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions which were key in
leading the 2019 anti-Bashir protests, denounced what it called a
“military coup” and urged
demonstrators “to fiercely resist” it.
The developments come two days after a Sudanese faction calling
for a transfer of power to civilian
rule warned of a “creeping coup”,
at a news conference that was attacked by an unidentified mob.
Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for three decades, is behind bars in Khartoum’s high security Kober prison.
The ex-president is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of genocide, war crimes
and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Since August 2019, the country
has been led by a civilian-military administration tasked with
overseeing the transition to full
civilian rule.
But the main civilian bloc—the Forces for Freedom and Change—which led the anti-Bashir protests in 2019, has splintered into two opposing factions.
“The crisis at hand is engineered—and is in the shape of a creeping coup,” mainstream FFC leader
Yasser Arman told Saturday’s news conference in Khartoum.
“We renew our confidence in the government, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and reforming transitional institutions—but without dictations or imposition,” Arman added.
Sudan’s bankers’ association and doctors’ union on Monday declared campaigns of “civil disobedience”.
Protesters marched through the streets of Khartoum carrying the Sudanese flag.
“Civilian rule is the people’s choice,” and “No to military rule”, some of them chanted.


Russia marks another record number of daily Covid-19 cases


MOSCOW- Russia reported another daily record of confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday as a surge in infections has prompted the Kremlin to tell most people to stay away from work
starting later this week.
The Russian government’s coronavirus task force tallied 37,930 new confirmed cases in 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The task force also reported 1,069 deaths in the same period, slightly fewer than a record of 1,075 reached over the weekend.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russians not to go to work between October 30 and November 7, when the country will observe an extended holiday. During that time, most state organisations and private businesses, except for those operating key infrastructure and a few others, are to halt work.
In some of Russia’s 85 regions where the situation is particularly grave, Putin said the nonworking period could begin earlier and be extended beyond November 7. Six of them— Kursk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, Perm, Samara and Voronezh—started the off-work period from Monday.
Officials in Moscow ordered it to begin from Thursday. Restaurants and cafes will only be open for takeout or delivery orders during that period. Food stores and pharmacies can stay open.
Access to museums, theatres,
concert halls and other venues will
be limited to those holding digital codes on their smartphones to prove vaccination or past illness, a practice that will remain in place after November 7.
Putin has also told local officials to order unvaccinated people older than 60 to stay home and close nightclubs and other entertainment venues.
Russian authorities hope the idle time will help limit the spread of the virus by keeping people out of offices and off public transportation.
Overall, Russia has registered over 8.2 million confirmed virus cases and 231,669 deaths, by far the highest death toll in Europe and the fifth-highest in the world after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.


Greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record in 2020


GENEVA- The World Meteorological Organization reported Monday that greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record high last year and increased at a faster rate than the annual average for the last decade despite a temporary reduction during pandemic-related lockdowns.
In its annual report on heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the UN weather agency also pointed to signs of a worrying new development: Parts of the Amazon rainforest have gone from being a carbon “sink” that sucks carbon dioxide from the air to a source of CO2 due to deforestation and reduced humidity in the region, it said.
According to the report, concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide were all above
levels in the pre-industrial era
before 1750, when human activities “started disrupting Earth’s
natural equilibrium.”
The report’s release came days before the start of a UN climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Many environmental
activists, policymakers and scientists say the October 31-November
12 event, known as COP26 for
short, marks an important and
even crucial opportunity for concrete commitments to the targets set out
in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin
contains a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP26,” World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said of his agency’s report. “At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations,
we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”
“We are way off track,” Taalas said.
The report draws on information collected by a network that monitors the amount of greenhouse gases that remain in the atmosphere after some quantities are absorbed by oceans and the biosphere.
“One of the striking messages from our report is that the Amazonian region, which used to be a sink of carbon, has become a source of carbon dioxide,” Taalas said. “And that’s because of deforestation. It’s because of changes of the global local climate, especially. We have less humidity and less rainfall.”
Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO’s atmospheric and environment research division, said the results showing the Amazon going from sink to source were a first, but he noted they were from a specific southeastern portion of the Amazon, not the entire rainforest.
The global average of carbon dioxide concentrations hit a new high of 413.2 parts per million last year, according to the WMO report. The 2020 increase was higher than the annual average over the last decade despite a 5.6 percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels due to Covid-19 restrictions, WMO said.
Taalas said a level above 400 parts per million—which was breached in 2015—“has major negative
repercussions for our daily lives and well-being, for the state of our planet and for the future of our children and grandchildren.”
Human-incurred carbon dioxide emissions, which result mostly from burning fossil fuels like oil and gas or from cement production, amount to about two-thirds of
the warming effect on the climate. WMO said overall, an economic retreat last year because of the
pandemic “did not have any discernible impact on the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and their growth rates, although there was a temporary decline in
new emissions.”


Afghanistan on the verge of collapse, UN agency warns

More than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million population are marching to starvation, WFP official says.


DUBAI - Millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken to pull Afghanistan back from the brink of collapse, a senior United Nations official warned, calling for frozen funds to be freed for humanitarian efforts.
World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley told Reuters that 22.8 million people—more than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million population—were facing acute food insecurity and “marching to starvation” compared to 14 million just two months ago.
“Children are going to die. People are going to starve. Things are going to get a lot worse,” he said in Dubai.
“I don’t know how you don’t have millions of people, and especially children, dying at the rate we are going with the lack of funding and the collapsing of the economy.”
Afghanistan was plunged into crisis in August after Taliban fighters drove out a Western-backed government, prompting donors to hold back billions of dollars in assistance for the aid-dependent economy.
The food crisis, exacerbated by climate change, was dire in Afghanistan even before the takeover by the Taliban, whose new administration has been blocked from accessing assets held overseas as nations grapple with how to deal with the hardline Islamists.
“What we are predicting is coming true much faster than we anticipated. Kabul fell faster than anybody anticipated and the economy is falling faster than that,” Beasley said.
He said dollars earmarked for development assistance should be repurposed for humanitarian aid, which some nations have already done, or frozen funds be channelled through the agency.
“You’ve got to unfreeze these funds so people can survive.”
The UN food agency needs up to $220 million a month to partially feed the nearly 23 million vulnerable people as winter nears.
Many Afghans are selling possessions to buy food with the
Taliban unable to pay wages to civil servants, and urban communities
are facing food insecurity on levels similar to rural areas for the first time.
WFP tapped its own resources to help cover food aid through to December after some donors failed to meet pledges, Beasley said, adding that with government appropriations already out, funds may have to be
redirected from aid efforts in other countries.
Aid groups are urging countries, concerned about human rights under the Taliban, to engage with the new rulers to prevent a collapse they say could trigger a migration crisis similar to the 2015 exodus from Syria that shook Europe.


South Korea’s leader vows final push for talks with North

- Post Report

SEOUL: South Korea’s president said Monday he’ll keep striving to promote peace with North Korea through dialogue until the end of his term next May, after Pyongyang raised animosities with a resumption of provocative weapons tests. While launching a spate of newly developed weapons in recent weeks, North Korea has also slammed Washington and Seoul over what it calls hostility toward the North. Its actions indicate North Korea wants its rivals to ease
economic sanctions against it and accept it as a legitimate nuclear
state, experts say. In his final policy speech at parliament, President
Moon Jae-in said he’ll “make efforts to the end to help a new order for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula be established through dialogue and diplomacy.” Moon, a champion of greater reconciliation with North Korea, once shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to help facilitate now-stalled nuclear diplomacy between the two countries.


ASEAN leaders to hold summit without Myanmar’s general

- Post Report

KUALA LUMPUR: Southeast Asian leaders are meeting this week for their annual summit where Myanmar’s top general, whose forces seized power in February and shattered one of Asia’s most phenomenal democratic transitions, has been shut out for refusing to take steps to end the  deadly violence. Myanmar defiantly protested the exclusion of Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, who currently heads its government and ruling military council, from the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Brunei, which currently leads the 10-nation bloc, will host the three-day meetings starting Tuesday by video due to coronavirus concerns. The talks will be joined by President Joe Biden and the leaders of China and Russia. ASEAN’s unprecedented sanctioning of Myanmar strayed from its bedrock principles of non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs and deciding by consensus, meaning just one member can effectively shoot down a group decision. Myanmar cited the violation of those principles enshrined in the group’s charter in rejecting the decision to bar its military leader from the summit. (AGENCIES)

Page 7

Solskjaer hanging on after historic defeat


MANCHESTER - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he has come “too far” as Manchester United manager to give up now, but a 5-0 thrashing at home to Liverpool on Sunday left the Red Devils back where the Norwegian’s reign began.
Jose Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 following a 3-1 defeat at Anfield that left United sixth in the Premier League table. A run of one point from a possible 12 has Solskjaer’s men down in seventh and already eight points off the race for the title after just nine games.
So much more was expected when United added Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane to a squad that had finished second in the Premier League last season. Rather than take the next step to challenge Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City for a first title since 2013, United have in Solskjaer’s own words “hit a brick wall”. Now the club’s unpopular owners have a tough decision to make.
Liverpool’s last visit to Old Trafford was postponed in May as fans protested against the Glazer family in the wake of the failed European Super League project.
Ronaldo’s return headlined a £130 million ($179 million) investment in the transfer market to quell the disquiet towards the Glazers. But their decision to hand Solskjaer a new three-year contract in July looks worse with every passing week.
Solskjaer is yet to win a trophy as United boss, but has been credited with finishing in the Premier League top four in consecutive seasons for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013. “I have come too far, we have come too far as a group. We are too close to give up now,” Solskjaer said defiantly as he fended off persistent questions over his future.
However, the 48-year-old recognised United have hit “rock bottom” given the context of a record home defeat to their fiercest rivals. “This has been a monstrous day for Manchester United,” said former United captain Gary Neville. “They have been obliterated. That was unacceptable.”
An ex-teammate of Solskjaer’s, Neville has been criticised along with several other United legends for failing to criticise his management of a star-studded squad. Even that shield for Solskjaer is now slipping as Neville joined Paul Scholes in questioning how much longer United can limp along without making a change.
“The pressure after this game is going to be intolerable in some quarters,” added Neville.
To his credit, Scholes foresaw what was to come. In the aftermath of a dramatic 3-2 win over Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday, having trailed 2-0 at half-time, the former England midfielder said Liverpool would be four to the good by the break if afforded the same space.
So it proved as United went in at half-time 4-0 down for the first time in Premier League history. Five minutes into the second period, it was 5-0 as Mohamed Salah completed a stunning hat-trick.
Liverpool arguably did not even make the most of a historic day as they played out the final 30 minutes with a man advantage after Paul Pogba’s red card without adding to the score. “Ole’s at the wheel” rang out for the majority of the second half, but far from a show of support, it came from the small band of Liverpool fans mocking the United boss in celebration.
Many United fans had already exited Old Trafford. How long it takes for Solskjaer to be shown the door is now the question.


Pakistan focusing on New Zealand clash


SHARJAH- Pakistan bowling coach Vernon Philander said Monday that his team have already put their momentous win over India “behind them” as they prepare to face New Zealand, just 48 hours after securing a first ever
victory over their neighbours at the T20 World Cup.
“Obviously it was a brilliant performance by the team yesterday,” said Philander of the 10-wicket rout in Dubai. “I think it also comes on the back of some hard work in the last two and a half weeks. So the boys are in a good space.”
On Tuesday, 2009 champions Pakistan play the Black Caps in Sharjah in their second match of the Super 12 stage.
“We have highlighted the
importance of really staying grounded,” said the former South African fast bowler.
“Last night was a massive win
for all the boys, make no mistake about it.”
“But we’ve also got a tournament
at hand and the boys will stay
focused. Really today’s team talk
was about putting last night behind
us and to focus on what’s obviously
to come tomorrow. It will be another big game and hopefully the boys will reset and be ready and focused.”
The win over India was Pakistan’s first in 13 attempts in World Cups since 1992, after losing seven matches in the 50-over event and five at the Twenty20 edition.
Philander praised Pakistan’s
bowlers, led by Shaheen Shah
Afridi, for restricting India to a below-par 151-7 in their 20 overs.
“He (Shaheen) is such a wonderful talent,” said Philander of the tall left-armer who dismissed India openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul with his first seven deliveries.
He went on to claim the wicket of India skipper Virat Kohli to finish with figures of 3-31 and the man-of-the match award.
“You have to make sure you encourage him to keep doing what he’s doing and he was superb against India,” said Philander.
Pakistan will resist the temptation of changing a winning side against New Zealand but may bring in left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz in place of a fast bowler.
Philander, 36, retired from international cricket last year after playing 64 Tests, 30 One-Day Internationals and seven T20 Internationals.
Last month he was appointed
bowling coach for the World Cup
after Pakistan great Waqar Younis resigned.



Dybala penalty saves Juventus, Napoli’s perfect run ends

The Argentina forward’s penalty earns the Old Lady a 1-1 draw at Inter Milan while Spalletti’s side play a goalless stalemate with Mourinho’s Roma.

MILAN- Paulo Dybala saved Juventus on Sunday with a controversial late penalty which earned his team a 1-1 draw at Inter Milan, while Napoli’s perfect start to the season came to an end with a goalless draw at Roma.
Argentina forward Dybala slotted home his spot-kick with a minute left after Denzel Dumfries was ruled to have kicked Alex Sandro as he tried to clear the ball, a decision that enraged Inter to the point that coach Simone Inzaghi was sent off by referee Maurizio Mariani.
His leveller came in his first appearance after a month out with a thigh injury, the 27-year-old coming on as a substitute in the 63rd minute.
Juve are up to sixth on 15 points, level with Atalanta and Fiorentina, while champions Inter are seven points behind Napoli and city rivals AC Milan in third place.
Inter thought they had won the match thanks to a goal from Edin Dzeko, who rolled into an empty net in the 17th minute after Hakan Calhanoglu’s rocket of a shot rebounded to him off the crossbar.
It was another important goal
from Dzeko, who also starred in Inter’s 3-1 Champions League win over Sheriff Tiraspol midweek and has quickly become a fan favourite at the San Siro after arriving from Roma in the summer.
Juve were fortunate to get a point, not only because of the way the penalty came about, but because of another underwhelming display.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side offered little in the way of goal threat even after the introduction of Federico Chiesa and Dybala just after the hour mark. Inter, meanwhile, were livid at being denied a win in what is traditionally their biggest domestic home match of the season thanks to what they saw as a very soft penalty.
Napoli’s winning streak ended at eight games following their draw at the Stadio Olimpico.
Both sides will be ruing missed chances which could have decided a tight, at times bad-tempered, match between two rivals in which both coaches were sent off.
Roma boss Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands for dissent with nine minutes left while an incredulous Luciano Spalletti was shown a red card after the final whistle for what referee Davide Massa thought was sarcastic applause.
It was a decent result for Roma, who needed a good showing following their 6-1 humilation at the hands of Norwegian outfit Bodo/Glimt in midweek.
Elsewhere, Giovanni Simeone struck all four goals as Verona hammered Lazio 4-1.


Dybala penalty saves Juventus, Napoli’s perfect run ends

The Argentina forward’s penalty earns the Old Lady a 1-1 draw at Inter Milan while Spalletti’s side play a goalless stalemate with Mourinho’s Roma.

MILAN- Paulo Dybala saved Juventus on Sunday with a controversial late penalty which earned his team a 1-1 draw at Inter Milan, while Napoli’s perfect start to the season came to an end with a goalless draw at Roma.
Argentina forward Dybala slotted home his spot-kick with a minute left after Denzel Dumfries was ruled to have kicked Alex Sandro as he tried to clear the ball, a decision that enraged Inter to the point that coach Simone Inzaghi was sent off by referee Maurizio Mariani.
His leveller came in his first appearance after a month out with a thigh injury, the 27-year-old coming on as a substitute in the 63rd minute.
Juve are up to sixth on 15 points, level with Atalanta and Fiorentina, while champions Inter are seven points behind Napoli and city rivals AC Milan in third place.
Inter thought they had won the match thanks to a goal from Edin Dzeko, who rolled into an empty net in the 17th minute after Hakan Calhanoglu’s rocket of a shot rebounded to him off the crossbar.
It was another important goal
from Dzeko, who also starred in Inter’s 3-1 Champions League win over Sheriff Tiraspol midweek and has quickly become a fan favourite at the San Siro after arriving from Roma in the summer.
Juve were fortunate to get a point, not only because of the way the penalty came about, but because of another underwhelming display.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side offered little in the way of goal threat even after the introduction of Federico Chiesa and Dybala just after the hour mark. Inter, meanwhile, were livid at being denied a win in what is traditionally their biggest domestic home match of the season thanks to what they saw as a very soft penalty.
Napoli’s winning streak ended at eight games following their draw at the Stadio Olimpico.
Both sides will be ruing missed chances which could have decided a tight, at times bad-tempered, match between two rivals in which both coaches were sent off.
Roma boss Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands for dissent with nine minutes left while an incredulous Luciano Spalletti was shown a red card after the final whistle for what referee Davide Massa thought was sarcastic applause.
It was a decent result for Roma, who needed a good showing following their 6-1 humilation at the hands of Norwegian outfit Bodo/Glimt in midweek.
Elsewhere, Giovanni Simeone struck all four goals as Verona hammered Lazio 4-1.


Kumara, Liton fined for on-field row in T20 World Cup

- Post Report

DUBAI: Sri Lanka’s Lahiru Kumara and Liton Das of Bangladesh have been fined for an angry exchange in the emotionally charged match between the two Asian nations at the Twenty20 World Cup. Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by five wickets on Sunday after they chased down a victory
target of 172 with seven balls to spare. Kumara dismissed Liton for 16 sparking the heated exchange. ICC said Kumara was fined 25 per cent of his match fee and received one demerit point. Liton was fined 15 per cent of his match fee and received one demerit point as well. Both teams are in the same Super 12 stage group as England, Australia, holders West Indies and South Africa. (AFP)



- Post Report

ARIES (March 21-April 19) ***
Tuesday’s cosmic landscape gently pushes you out in a world of fantastical visions of love and romance. Lean into this inspired and romantic energy without fully losing yourself by jumping overboard!

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) **
Tuesday’s skies puts you into a trance-like state. Give yourself space to embrace lowered energy levels and to expect thinner boundaries with other people. Use this inspired energy when it comes to discerning your goals.

GEMINI (May 21-June 21) ***
Tuesday’s foggy cosmic landscape creates a fantastical haze around matters of the heart. This energy can be enjoyable when it comes to getting lost in fantasies via film but can make real relationships undergo intense criticism.

CANCER (June 22-July 22) ***
Tuesday’s skies make it difficult to see things as they really are. The alignment creates a divide between fantasy and reality on the job front. Rather than pining over what you don’t have, try to take stock of all that you’ve built so far.

LEO (July 23-August 22) ***
Don’t expect matters of the heart to make much sense today. Tuesday’s alignment makes it hard to discern fact from fiction when it comes to your romantic connections. Let yourself act on your potent creative desires.

VIRGO (August 23-September 22) ***
Tuesday’s skies encourage you to surrender control to your deeper desires for fantasy and otherworldliness. This energy can skew your current view on love and close relationships, making you pine for idealistic circumstance.


LIBRA (September 23-October 22) ***
Tuesday’s skies increases idealism and finds you wearing rose-colored glasses around issues that may require a more realistic perspective. Lower energy levels are to be expected, as you’re opening up to fresh inspirations.

SCORPIO (October 23-November 21) **
It’s all too easy to try to fill the void by dropping some dough on the wrong things today. Under Tuesday’s skies, it’s hard to see reality clearly — especially when it comes to close personal relationships and financial management.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21) ***
Tuesday’s cosmic landscape creates some haziness around family bonds and independent needs. Today, be mindful of your boundaries, but don’t be afraid to let some vulnerability show where it is most needed.


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19) **
Your relationships are being tested. While it’s hard to loosen up control, try to surrender to the process at hand. Tuesday’s skies illustrate self-defeating patterns in relationships while increasing your need for idealistic romantic circumstances.

AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18) ***
Tuesday’s skies puts your sense of community under the microscope as you re-evaluate your closest relationships in a new light. The day makes boundaries thin and idealism run high, so be mindful of whom you expend time and energy on.

PISCES (February 19-March 20) ***
Career matters are likely to feel especially foggy under Tuesday’s skies. Let your changing values wash up on the shores of your heart. Enjoy the inspired, romantic haze this pairing offers without getting totally lost at sea.

Page 8

‘Nepal has the potential to pursue world-class research’

Anwit Adhikari on his passion for design and technology, underscoring both the barriers and the scope within the Nepali education system for engineers.
- Post Report

Mankind’s quest to inhabit Mars is becoming less fictitious and nearing execution with the advent of technology each year. For this dream to materialise, scientists, researchers, and engineers have been striving relentlessly to build cutting edge tools required to visit the red planet in the near future. One such element crucial for this process is an airlock, which acts as a bridge between the atmosphere of our planet and Mars. Celestial Labs, a team from the University of Regina in Canada, have created the aforementioned Martian airlock prototype—adding one more piece to the puzzle. Hailing all the way from Palpa, Nepal, Anwit Adhikari is the division head of Celestial Labs. Adhikari exemplifies what Nepali engineers are capable of, when moulded by tenacity, the right resources, and a healthy support system.
In conversation with the Post’s Pasang Dorjee, the Canada-based mechanical
engineer/entrepreneur details his intense
fervour for design and technology—and how his university team built the airlock prototype for the purpose of allowing humans to visit Mars in the future.
Could you define what an airlock is in layman’s terms?
An airlock is a small room attached to the outside of an extraterrestrial habitat that prevents the human-friendly atmosphere inside from leaking out into the hostile environment of space or Mars. It acts as a bridge between the atmosphere on Mars and the Earth-like atmosphere needed in space for people to breathe. It allows astronauts on Mars to walk on one side of the structure, wait for the pressure to adjust, and then walk out the other side.
What led to the conception of this airlock?
The Martian airlock came out of a nationwide competition organised by the Mars Colony Team at the University of British Columbia back in 2018, whose goal was to see which Canadian university could design and build the best airlock system to be used on Mars. The competition was divided into two phases: the design phase in May 2019, and the prototype phase in August 2021. The airlock that our team had a role in designing bagged the first prize in both. The team at Celestial Labs was divided into multiple smaller, self-motivated teams that pursued their objectives in parallel. I was leading the team that designed the structural and ventilation systems for the airlock, while other teams handled radiation, insulation, and electronic systems, along with logistics and finances for manufacturing. Since no major aerospace firm has (at least publicly) worked on a Martian airlock, our team is hoping that some of our design solutions could be used in a real Martian airlock someday.
What have been some of the challenges faced by your team while building this airlock?
Given that Mars is a novel environment, everything had to be designed from scratch. Considering Mars’ temperature and radiation, using metal presented difficulties so we had to find a new polymer that could perform well under those circumstances. Making everything modular enough that it could be 3D printed on Mars was challenging. We had to be creative in creating a structure that could handle the stress loads but could also be folded neatly into a compact volume and transported to Mars. In the division that I led, there were almost 100 major design iterations over the course of the last two years alone.
It seems that you have been involved with start-ups since 17, which could mean that your passion for engineering is not something completely moulded by the limited options in the Nepali educational curriculum but rather out of personal interest? Would you say so?
I have been interested in technology since I was six. I could not see how the options provided by the Nepali education system could foster my interest in design, so I pursued it independently. I have also always been fascinated by the beauty in design, and aircraft and spacecraft represent the highest form of design and problem solving that there is. I would spend hours looking at aircraft, and I knew I wanted to be the person who designed them.
I tried my hand at multiple projects when I was a kid, including a compressed air-piston engine and a telescope. They all failed, but they reinforced my belief that I should pursue R&D as my career, and so I took a major leap when I was 17 and started working on my own research project. Growing up in Kathmandu, I remember visiting the British Council library to read materials related to physics and would scour through the shelves of Mandala Book Point to devour books that catered to my interests. After finishing Grade 10 from Triyog Higher Secondary School, I went on to complete my A levels from Rato Bangala School in 2010. In the subsequent years, I paused my education to further cultivate my interests and travelled to Silicon Valley to network with entrepreneurs and study the start-up culture. I eventually decided to pursue my undergraduate in Physics at the University of Regina in 2015 and completed it in 2020.
Who have been the strongest influences in your life?
That has always been my parents first and foremost, who, through our routine trips to my home village in Palpa, made me understand how fortunate I was in being able to have a middle-class upbringing in the capital. I understood that not every Nepali child had that privilege, and I was careful to not take it for granted.
I was always fascinated by Sergei Korolev, the Russian rocket engineer who pioneered many firsts in the space industry, ranging from Sputnik, the first satellite in space, to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. Sergei Korolev’s rocket system, the Soyuz, is still in use today more than 60 years later. I’ve also been inspired by Kelly Johnson, the American aerospace engineer who led the design of the SR-71 Blackbird—the iconic 1962 spy plane that could travel faster than a bullet and was so fast it evaded every enemy missile that was shot at it in its 30 years of service.
How did you come across Celestial Labs? Tell us about your journey as the division head of the company.
Before coming to Celestial Labs, I was working on my research on the side, focusing on solar energy. I was introduced to the project head of Celestial Labs by a mutual friend who knew about my interest in start-ups and technology. I essentially picked the systems that no one else was working on at that time, and once the team lead had trust in my ability to follow through with these problems, I was made the team lead for my division.
In relation to your endeavour in engineering, do you see yourself doing something in Nepal?
I do believe Nepal has the potential to pursue world-class research and design in multiple advanced technical fields, and I would be happy to contribute to that in the future. As of now, I am focused on establishing my experience and credibility in my own field before I decide to return to my hometown.
What do you suggest could be done to foster an environment in our country that is
conducive for future generations of aspiring engineers and physics enthusiasts?
Nepalis have a risk-averse mindset when it comes to pursuing entrepreneurship and technological innovation, and that cannot change unless we have a national dialogue on how crucial innovation is to our economy and national pride. We have to be comfortable with our youth engaging in projects they care about, even if they fail. I have witnessed world class teams led by former NASA interns and nuclear physicists fail, and that is a part of the learning process, but this is a difficult concept to absorb in our culture that does not tolerate career failure.
What do you think your representation in the field of physics could mean for the larger Nepali community?
It means that it is possible for an average Nepali citizen to accomplish something they find meaningful, given the opportunity. Even the best teams at the design rooms of SpaceX and NASA are ultimately just a group of people who pursued what they found meaningful. Although it may seem daunting from the outside, I still see absolutely no reason why the Nepali community cannot replicate that.


‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ has the movie code all jumbled



There’s a clear message in the new film “Ron’s Gone Wrong” and that message is to stop watching films like “Ron’s Gone Wrong.”
A derivative tale about a middle schooler and his quirky computer sidekick, the animated film seems to want to preach we should all disconnect from our devices and restore human contact. But then what will the filmmakers do with all that adorable merch?
“Ron’s Gone Wrong” thinks it’s being subversive when it’s really being very corporate. It wastes its voice cast—including Olivia Colman, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis—and it never really connects, ending as awkwardly as a modern-day seventh-grader with a rock collection.
That actually perfectly describes Barney Pudowski (Jack Dylan Grazer), a sweet but lonely kid who dreads recess since all his classmates have totally cool high-tech bots, which are egg-shaped walking, talking, digitally-connected devices suspiciously looking like Eve from “Wall-E.”
The bots are hailed by their creators as “the perfect friend” and a “whole new world of connection.” They unveil the bots at a hype-filled Apple-like event, which will leave adults sniggering. “How can you have fun offline? It’s against nature!” says one co-creator.
Soon everyone in middle school has a bot, except Barney, who is even further ostracised. The bots serve as a kind of Sorting Hat—connecting like-minded owners and then capturing and broadcasting video, making friend requests, liking posts and hyping their owners.
Barney, with ears that stick out like satellite dishes, craves his own bot but his widower father and eccentric grandmother are too poor and ideologically opposed. “I don’t want you addicted to some device,” says his dad, who sells novelty goods and is addicted to his device.
But seeing their son so morose, grandma and dad buy a model that has literally fallen off the back of a truck. It looks like a regular bot, but is damaged, has lost code and can’t connect to the internet. It needs to be taught what friendship is.
Co-directors Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine and Octavio E Rodriguez, working from a script by Smith and Peter Baynham, could have gone many ways from this premise. But they choose a surprisingly violent, sluggish path as Barney and his bot, Ron, explore the concept of friendship while fleeing from the tech giant that created it and who wants to destroy it, like “E T”
By now, we’re very used to movies that feature kids with adorable robots, from “Short Circuit” and “The Iron Giant” to “Big Hero 6,” “Next Gen” and Bumblebee of the “Transformers.” We get it: These steel, childlike creatures somehow make us more human.
But “Ron’s Gone Wrong” treads this same path to an unsatisfactory end. A film about friendship that mocks modern high-tech devices as mere data-harvesting units built by companies only interested in share price ends with those very same bots still in everyone’s lives.
It’s a film that screams for everyone to deactivate their robots and go play stickball. But then what would happen to the toy versions of the bots in every Happy Meal, the airline commercial tie-in or the Walmart night-lights?
The film comes out as heat is being put on TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook about high-tech’s tole in teen behaviour and addiction. Research shows some platforms can damage mental health and body image, especially among teen girls.
“Ron’s Gone Wrong” cynically skewers tech-makers but doesn’t adequately address the machines they make. It doesn’t even dissuade the idea that algorithm-based steel toys can indeed be our friends. It apes too many films already out there and even its theme song—“Sunshine” by Liam Payne—is a pale imitation of a Maroon 5 song. “Ron’s Gone Wrong” has indeed gone wrong.
— Associated Press