PlanetNepal Blog

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Forgotton Warriors

Posted by nepaliaashish on January 20, 2009

History can be forgotten if not preserved well. Recently I came across an image of african slaves’ reunion followed by some historical insights. I then asked to myself whether anyone is building a collection of historical archives related to Nepal. and I came across The Digital Himalaya Project. The goal of the project, according to its website is

Slave reunion

Slave reunion

“to develop digital collection, storage,
and distribution strategies for multimedia anthropological
information from the Himalayan region”.

This is fantastic, I thought. Then another thought that crossed my mind was that it would be fabulous to have a digital collection of Nepalis who were awarded with the Victoria Cross. I did find the link for the Victoria Cross winners and The Paramvir Chakra winners, which is the highest decoration in the Indian Army. However, I learned that the whereabouts of the medals and the families of these decorated brave men is now unknown.

It is really sad that these men who represented Nepal in many battles of the past are now forgotten. May be the families of these brave men need to found and honored like they do in the USA on the Veteran’s day.


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The need for assistance to the widows in Nepal

Posted by nepaliaashish on January 10, 2009

bidhwas1As published in Nepal Abroad Saturday January 3, 2009 1st Edtion

RAJBIRAJ December 30: At the age of 11 Purni Shah was forced by her family to marry a 25-year-old man. Four years into the marriage, her husband died leaving her a child widow. Her fate is not uncommon in Nepal, which has one of world’s highest levels of child marriage, according to Nepal’s Demographic Health Survey. Over 63 percent of girls marry before 18, and 7 percent marry before reaching 10, the survey said. But for those who become widows, the stigma can be overwhelming: They are often looked upon with disdain and suspicion, and even blamed for their husband’s death. “It’s a cursed life. There’s too much pain and hardship,” 30-year-old Purni told IRIN in the town of Rajbiraj in Saptari District, 400km southeast of Kathmandu in the Terai region, where child marriage is particularly common. “I don’t want to live like this any more,” she said. Fifteen years after her husband died, people refer to her as ‘bekalya’ (child widow) and she is denied even the most basic rights. Child widows fare much worse than other widows, often finding themselves marginalised, according to rights activists. In Saptari District alone, there are an estimated 1,000 such women or girls. However, there is little awareness of the issue. Only one NGO – Women For Human Rights-Single Women’s Group (WHR) – is currently working on the problem.

Bad luck

“The `bekalayas’ suffer terribly in this conservative society which stigmatises them and sets too many rigid rules to control them,” Madhvi Shah, a WHR activist, told IRIN. Banned from wearing new or colourful clothes (white clothes or a sari are socially compulsory for widows), child widows are barred from eating fish or meat, remarrying, and even showing their faces in the early mornings to “prevent bad luck”. They are also forbidden to attend weddings or other social functions, in case they bring bad luck.


“We are treated worse than animals,” Shradha Mandal, who married when she was eight and widowed before her 16th birthday, said. To make matters worse, Shradha has no citizenship, making her a virtual refugee in her own country: In male-dominated Nepal, citizenship is acquired only after reaching 18 and on the recommendation of a father, brother or husband. A new law in 2008 allows citizenship recommendations to come from females, but it has not yet been implemented in practice, according to activists. Mandal has no proof of her marriage, and therefore no rights to her husband’s land or property. Instead, she has to survive on food provided by her mother.


However, thanks to WHR empowerment training, some ‘bekalayas’ in Saptari District are starting to speak out and demand a voice. “I have not lost all hope of starting a new life,” 20-year-old Rekha Chaudhary said, explaining that she had started defying the strict Hindu rules in her village, Bisariya. It’s my life and I am not afraid any more. “The first step is to make them more self-confident and aware of their legal and human rights,” said WHR’s Shah, explaining that the training was already having an impact. Kumar Deo, whose husband died when she was only 16, recalled how she started to break the taboo by wearing colourful clothes, put on red bangles and started to walk around freely whenever and wherever she wanted. “In the beginning, I was very scared but as the news about our defiance came out in the local media, that gave me strength,” Deo said with a smile, adding that she was now encouraging others like her to stand up for their rights. Backed by WHR, dozens of widows like Deo are now forming their own self-help groups. “It’s my life and I am not afraid any more,” said 17-year-old child widow Shanti Devi Mandap, married when she was 12 and now looking for a job. (IRIN News Service)

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Cataracts and Nepal

Posted by nepaliaashish on January 10, 2009



While the rest of the world is combating novel infectious agents such as HIV, Nepal unfortunately is still battling with ancient diseases such as cholera. In addition, due to lack of biomedical research many diseases and their causative agents are not being diagnosed. A recent study conducted in Nepal has confirmed that use of solid fuel (daura) in inadequately ventilated kitchens increases the risk of cataract. Furthermore, since women do most of the cooking in Nepal, women but not men may be at risk in acquiring cataract and thus may become blind at a young age.

This may have serious sociological implications, especially in a country like Nepal. Environment and health are probably the two hottest topics today. Life style in rural Nepal and its impact in the environment as well as in the health of Nepali women thus needs to be seriously considered when thinking about a new Nepal. Innovations to ameliorate the tough life style in Nepal will probably be really appreciated.

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