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Anita Krishnan

About Anita Krishnan

Krishnan holds dual degrees--in law and sociology. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

Too much to handle?

Not many in Nepal would deny knowing a thing or two about Tribhuvan University—this afterall, is the oldest and the largest of the Universities in Nepal. Every year tens of thousands of students from all across the country get enrolled in Tribhuvan University or affiliated colleges to pursue their higher education and those who pass the exam stand long hours in queue to submit the forms for their transcripts—me being one of those students this year.

Earlier this year, after having cleared my exams and the results being announced, like any other diligent student, I filled up the form and submitted it in the specific department. They took my form and other credentials (as required) and gave me a receipt saying that I could collect my transcript after two weeks. Two weeks later I went there as I was asked to—and 8 months hence, I still haven’t gotten my transcript. Why this happened has got to do with a few concerns that I have raised as follows:

1. Disastrous management
On any given day, one or the other important person is always absent in TU’s Balkhu office—“the Sir who’s supposed to sign this hasn’t come”, they say. I ask, “Will he come today?” “Don’t know”, they reply. And believe me, I was naïve enough to inquire if they had a human resource department and as you might have guessed they had no clue if they did. Such defines their ‘everyday’—I know because there was a time when I went there everyday! And the story doesn’t end with the management of Human Resource.

2. They are plain rude
I know that work pressure usually gets the best of us all—the University caters to thousands of students and each individual staff has to deal with a lot but that doesn’t give the officials the right to be rude of any student. As an institution that was set up to help students, they should stick to doing just that. But they don’t—you ask them a genuine question and nobody will be willing to answer. If you start asking for rationalization you are in for some very-very rude comments.

P.S. navigating the TU structure wasn’t engraved in our D.N.A and we are not sorry to ask questions when the answers shape up our lives.

3. Who’s responsible?
The whole place is mayhem—I have been there endless times in the last eight months and have been to every room and climbed every stair hundreds of time—enough to know that there’s no knowing who the person responsible for what is. One person sends you to the other, the other sends you to yet another and it continuous endlessly; until you finally decide to give up and seek for better opportunities abroad.

In my case, after the given fifteen days passed I showed up at the window and asked for my transcript and nobody responded (I wasn’t taking to the walls, there were 4 individuals in the room and from the way one of them was munching popcorns and chatting away with the rest, I took it for granted that they could otherwise talk). For some reason, after having waited for a while, one of them said, “We can’t give you your transcript”. Curious, I asked why and they went back to the silent treatment. I kept on asking and after what seemed like an eternity, I was asked to talk to the ‘Sir’ of that department and so I did likewise. And this ‘SIR’ wouldn’t tell me why he’d decided to not give me my transcript and like a parrot he endlessly said, “I can’t; I can’t; I can’t…” I took a deep breath and asked again, “Why? If you decide to not give me my papers, you should at least tell me why that’s being done”, and yet the same response. He was a dead end.

Over the duration of time, I went to that place end number of times—talked to almost all departments—nobody had an answer. In their defense, all of them repeated in some practiced tone, “We don’t know what specific law there is, but there should be one.” (Where—Out there in the wild; in some imaginative dimension?)

4. Accountability isn’t their cup of tea, either
So in my case, this man in the transcript department who wasn’t even ready to name himself knowing all too well that he’d wronged me, in the last meeting (first week of November) quite bluntly said that I haven’t even filled the form and the department did not have the stack of paper I submitted in April (luckily for me, I had the receipt they stamped). And then when I forced him to talk to his higher officials who pretty much knew that I had all rights to get the transcript, he shamelessly said, “I have never seen this girl before today”. Nothing will ever beat his lie!

What was hilarious was that after having disappeared from his office, he came with a piece of paper and said that according to that particular piece of paper, I am not eligible for getting my transcript. I inquired that he show me a paper and he said, “T.U’s internal document—can’t show it to a student”. He wouldn’t even let me touch that paper and I would never know what was written in there.
Quite honestly, if my fate is decided on the basis that piece of paper, I should know why. Then I said, as a student who has been wronged, I can sue them (there’s already a case running against them) and then they came up with a long list of other excuses—finally giving up and saying after a month I could go and collect what they should have given to me eight months ago!

From April, 2014 to November, 2014 I’ve been to that place so many times that I’ve lost count and quite frankly, I am beyond tired and yet nobody ever gave me an answer as to what exactly the problem was—from what I know, I am legally eligible to take my transcripts and it is only because of delay from their part that have cost me the bar exam this year; other transactional costs—well, I have lost track!

I know this scenario is not the most generalist of observations—many have refrained from even talking about it. During all this time, I was not the only student to have suffered—there were countless others. And I hope there was a respite for us all. For starters, perhaps what we need is to stand up against the mammoth system that thinks that being students puts us in a disadvantaged state from where we can’t even imagine putting up a fight. Well, about time this changes!

Anita Krishnan

About Anita Krishnan

Krishnan holds dual degrees--in law and sociology. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

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Aspirations for Free Enterprise – a nationwide essay competition

cover for essay competiton(1)Gari Khana Deu! & Bichar Dabali

present

Aspirations for Free Enterprise

a nationwide essay competition

While many of us stand in the sidelines, a lot of houses along the roads in Kathmandu are demolished to make way for bigger roads as government issued a road expansion program in 2012. A shopkeeper watches in silence as his shop is vandalized amidst spectators. What can he do? He did not register his shop for starters and has no insurance either. An aspiring entrepreneur gives up on his aspirations and takes up a 9-5 job. Why? He was tired of bribing the officials and the transaction costs were too high for him to be able to afford. An established businessman hires goons to keep political parties from extorting money from him during elections. He is tired of paying endless political parties when he knows neither of them have his prosperity on their agenda. These are but glimpses of what goes on with people who aspire to make an honest living.

There are endless of such tales that are never told because most of us think that our problems are ours’ alone, hardly ever realizing that problems as these can and are faced by many others. And there are also stories of hope and success—stories that stand witness to a country that can be made more livable. “Aspirations for Free Enterprise” is an initiative that looks forward to helping us all in not only understanding our problems but also in seeking solutions to the same.

Gari Khana Deu! – A campaign for livable Nepal and Bichar Dabali bring forth  an opportunity to share these stories, to voice these issues alongside innovative ways to deal with the endlessness of one or many of these issues that affect our ‘everyday’. All participants are asked of is to write a 1500-2000 words essay on Free Enterprise; the broader topics being Security of Life and Property, Rule of Law and Right to Enterprise.

CRITERIA/GUIDELINES

ELIGIBILITY

  • You need to be between the age group of 18-30 years.
  • Essays must be original and not previously published.
  • The essay needs to be written either in English or in Nepali. Entries in any other language will not be entertained.
  • Entries cannot be submitted for publication to any other print media concurrent with this competition.
  • Co-authored entries will be acceptable.

TOPICS

  • Rule of law: Positive steps to ensure better implementation of rule of law
  • Security of life and property: The status of property rights’ dispute and what can be done to ease up the situation
  • Freedom to enterprise: Entrepreneurship in relation to regulatory hurdles and Economic freedom and flourishing entrepreneurship
  • The essay can be written in any of the topics mentioned above; they can also be merged
  • The word limit for the write-up will be 1500-2000 word

ESSAY CATEGORIES AND WORD COUNT

  • The essay can be written in any of the topics mentioned above; they can also be merged
  • The word limit for the write-up will be 1500-2000 word

JUDGING PANEL

  • Anjan Kumar Dahal
  • Ashutosh Tiwari
  • Charu Chadha

JUDGING PROCESS 

  • Must submit it by the given deadline
  • Follow all the rules
  • All the essays will be evaluated by an independent panel of judges and their decision will not be reverted

 FORMAT

An entry will consist of a title page, biography, abstract, and the text proper.

    1. The title page should contain the title only.
    2. The biography immediately follows the title page. It should be no more than 1 page and should include applicant’s name, academic credentials, and contact information. During the judging process, the biography will be removed to make papers completely anonymous.
    3. The abstract page immediately follows the title page and summarizes the essay in a maximum of 200 words.
    4. The text proper (the essay) begins after the abstract.
      • Entries not meeting the word count requirements will be disqualified. If an entry is disqualified on the basis of word count, it may not be re-submitted.
      • In calculating word counts, the following elements will be included: the basic text of the essay; epigraphs and any other quotations in the beginning, body, and end of text; bullet lists, text boxes, and the like; and headings or subheadings within the text.
      • The following elements will not be included: title page, table of contents (if any), biography, abstract, tables, illustrations, endnotes/footnotes, appendices, and bibliographies.
      • Main points should be made in the text proper. Reliance on discursive or explanatory endnotes/footnotes may be considered bad form and judges may downgrade essays that make repeated use of such notes.

                      5. The text should follow the format of a scholarly research paper (not a bullet paper, talking paper, PowerPoint briefing, etc.):

      • No essays will be downgraded for style per se, but an inconsistent or unclear style can be distracting and detract from overall quality.

JUDGING CRITERIA

Judges will evaluate essays using the standards of quality that they apply to traditional academic writing, with emphasis on the following:

    1. Innovation—Does the essay bring something new to the table? Does it show a unique take on the existent problems and innovative approaches to tacking them?
    2. Feasibility—Is the concept practical? Does the essay propose a project or concept that could realistically be applied?
    3. Clarity of Thought and Purpose—Does the essay clearly define a problem and present a solution? Does it show thoughtful analysis?
    4. Persuasiveness—Is the essay logically organized, well written, and persuasive?

SUBMISSION OF ENTRIES

  • The electronic copy of the essay need to be sent in MS-Word format
  • Entries must be sent to info@livablenepal.org before or on 15th December, 2014
  • Gari Khana Deu and Birchar Dabali hold joint rights to publish and republish the write-up as per deemed necessary with due acknowledgement to the writer.
  • The winning essays (Winner and Runner up) will be published in a national daily.
  • Top ten essays will be featured in an e-book that will be available for download.

PUBLICATION RIGHTS

    1. Submission of an essay to this contest will be considered acceptance by the author of this publication policy.
    2. Essays may not be entered in the competitions if they have previously been submitted for publication, accepted for publication, or published in another printed or electronic journal, book, or other publication.

 WHAT WILL THE WINNERS GET?

1st Prize: NRs. 25,000

2nd Prize: NRs. 15,000

3rd Prize: NRs. 10,000

 2 Consolation prizes: 1 mobile phone each

Anita Krishnan

About Anita Krishnan

Krishnan holds dual degrees--in law and sociology. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

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WHEN INTERESTS RING LOUD

interest groupsIn the year 2000, the government of Nepal said there were too many taxis plying on the streets of Kathmandu and so it banned the registration of new taxis. This has meant that for almost the last 15 years, no new entrepreneur has been able to register new taxis—and the result has been that the market has run as per the whims of whatever limited entrepreneurs exist. All this has led to regular complains from the consumers who agree to have paid more for mediocre taxi quality in the lack of better alternatives and an absolute dearth of choices.

Similarly, there was a time when the phrase ‘mushrooming of schools’ was probably a favorite in Kathmanduites’ lexicon. Needless to say, mushrooming of schools was brought to a halt—the government did what it does best—it banned the registration of new schools as well. No private schools can be registered in Kathmandu valley and such has meant that whatever schools exist are as much choices that people have.
And very recently, the government decided to move beyond Kathmandu valley and stopped the registration of Paragliding companies in Pokhara. Civil Aviation Authority Nepal (CAAN), citing air safety as a reason has stopped providing licenses to additional paragliding companies for operating their businesses in Pokhara and is infact preparing to issue directives for no more paragliding companies to be based in Pokhara.

In all the instances, it would be naïve to assume that the government brought about the restrictions just to ensure greater good for all its citizens by curbing the possibilities for young and aspiring entrepreneurs. Sure there must be other reasons—say you are an entrepreneur with a few taxis plying on the road in a very competitive market and if you could cut your competition, you would do that to ensure that nobody else gets a cut from the profit that you alone could make, would you not, now? And there sure are benefits for the already existing entities in all the cases mentioned above in case they are able to keep the possible new entrants at bay. And there is much more to this than what appears to a normal eye—why does the government legislate as per the interest of certain groups? George Bernard Shaw had the answer when he said that a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. So a government in a society like ours can be seen to represent the organized interests of the most dominant groups (or Pauls) that wish to live at the expense of others (the Peters) and so can always depend on the backing from Pauls. Political support from businesses or strong groups afterall holds much for the government in question.

For those who blame capitalism, crony capitalism in Nepal then has been able to find expression through—not despite—government policy. There are many who argue that no particular interest group can monopolize power because there are always one or more groups working against it. To them a countervailing power exists in all societies—there are entrepreneurs who, needless to say, organize themselves and say that ban on registration in either of the cases mentioned above is not the way to go about and in an ideal society that would indeed create a sense of balance—keeping the essence of a free and democratic society alive and kicking.

Perhaps here’s where the assumption is wrong—interest groups like the political parties try and influence public policy but unlike the political parties they are not responsible to the public. Interest groups usually focus on specific programs and issues and are rarely represented in the formal structure of government and such groups in a weak state are often characterized by coercion—the activities depend on the groups’ willingness of operate within the law and so has not always been the case. Are we missing the balancing act between the twins then? Perhaps the answer is a definitive ‘yes’ and not a ‘may be’.

Anita Krishnan

About Anita Krishnan

Krishnan holds dual degrees--in law and sociology. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

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Dialogue is the key

dialogue is the keyEvolving industrialization in Nepal has brought along ‘not-so-ideal’ souring of the relations between employers and the employees. Employers at large are viewed with much skepticism—as exploiters of the working class, as robbers of the surplus value. And for many, employees are nothing but a bunch of lazy people who with the help of heavily politicized trade unions continue to slack at their work and still hold an upper hand over the employers; given that  legislation favor employees over the employers.

This ‘who-is-the-greater-evil?’ debate has gone on for as long as the relations have lasted. Over the years, however, both sides have realized that given a common platform whereby both parties can not only listen to the views of others but can also put forward their own, solving of disputes can be lot easier and can save much time, energy and resources that would otherwise have to be used in case of prolonged conflict—social dialogue among the parties being that platform.

Such a dialogue allows for exchange of information and facilitates understanding of the needed changes in a light that agreements be reached and translated into action with commitment from all the parties involved—this makes the process of dispute resolution not only easy but also effective.

A basic walk though, as can be seen in the diagram below, will help you understand the process better.

social dialogue

Anita Krishnan

About Anita Krishnan

Krishnan holds dual degrees--in law and sociology. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

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A sigh of relief or NOT?

protests in NepalA couple of months ago, a public official asked me if people all across Kathmandu were on the streets demanding that the number of taxis be raised or the ban on registration be lifted for the matter. I said, ‘No’. In response he flashed a triumphant smile and he looked at me as if ‘no protests’ were a sure sign that nothing was to be fixed—strange, but apparently that is how the cookie crumbles in this part of the world.

On the 27th of July, 2014, Residential Doctors’ Association of National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) started their protest citing that Bir Hospital had fallen ‘sick’. The National Vigilance Centre’s inspection report on the Bir Hospital revealed a mismanagement of at least NRs. 50 million in the hospital’s accounts. And that was not the end of it—the doctors claimed that they had had enough and put forward their terms—resident doctors were demanding that the government appoint Vice-Chancellor, Rector, Registrar, Dean and Director at the earliest and procure essential equipment for Bir Hospital. NAMS resident doctors of Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Tilganga Eye Hospital, Prasuti Griha, Kanti Children’s Hospital, Army Hospital, Shahid Gangalal National Heart Centre and Nepal Eye Hospital had halted their services from August 3rd, expressing solidarity with Bir Hospital’s resident doctors. All this meant that patients everywhere in the valley had a hard time getting treated.

For 15 days, the government took to its leisure and meanwhile endless patients continued to suffer on every single one of those days. Nothing but the emergency services was made available—protests meant all other services were halted. People had endless complaints but there was as much they could do. About 300 resident doctors went on strike and the sheer volume of the work they would have otherwise done makes one wonder if the damage were to be assessed, how much would it all amount to.

After half a month, the government took heed and responded—services at all major public hospitals resumed from 12th August after the agitating resident doctors, officials at the National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) and the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) reached an agreement. Dr. Ganesh Gurung was appointed the Vice-Chancellor of NAMS. Other office bearers were also appointed. As per the agreement, the government has also agreed to call senate meeting of NAMS within the two next weeks. It has agreed to organize the convocation of graduate students on February 24th of next year. Convocation was one of the major demands of the protesting doctors. NAMS has not organized convocation for the last 14 years and as a result hundreds of doctors who have completed their MD/MS courses remain deprived of their convocation certificates. Likewise, a 10-member committee comprising representatives of resident doctors has been formed to sort out the accommodation problem for resident doctors. The government has also agreed to install a new CT-scan machine at the Bir Hospital within a month and start the procurement process for an MRI machine. Alongside, it has also agreed to publish the academic calendar and devise long- and short-term plans for building quarters of residence doctors.

While many have breathed a sigh of relief post the resuming of services—it just makes me wonder as to how endless and repetitive such protests are going to be if every change we need is rested on the happening and stretch of such protests. And I can’t rest at the notion that there is no better way to go about.

Anita Krishnan

About Anita Krishnan

Krishnan holds dual degrees--in law and sociology. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

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‘Special’ no more?

SEZIndustrial growth, has, for long been seen as a premise for development in Nepal. While many among us have shown concerns over the state of industrial relations in the country and the not-so-strong-hold of law over issues, the idea that once made it to the headlines and now watches from the sidelines has been the formation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). There was a time when recommendations for the betterment of industries in the country resounded with the proposition of SEZs. Totally commercial areas, especially established for the promotion of foreign trade, SEZs are meant to have more liberal economic laws in comparison to the laws of the land. Specifically delineated enclaves treated as foreign territory for the purpose of industrial, service and trade operations, SEZs come with features like relaxation in customs duties, a more liberal regime in respect to other levies, foreign investments and other transactions. Overall, it provides for special tax subsidies, fully facilitated buildings and physical infrastructures with all necessary services, necessary procedural service systems through a one door system, establishment of an export oriented industry and bringing in of FDI and modern appropriate production technology.

Keeping this and the endless recommendations in mind, the Government of Nepal (GoN) adopted the concept of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to attract foreign and national investments for the establishment of industrial and business units. It formed Special Economic Zone Project (SEZP) on 2060/10/15 under Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply (MOICS) to formulate laws, rules and regulation, implement planning, design and construction of Special Economic Zones throughout Nepal. Special Economic Zone Ordinance-2005 and related rules were also formulated in accordance. The Ministry of Industry has also identified 10 areas to be developed as Special Economic Zone.

Said to be the first one, SEZ in Bhairahawa initially brought much hope to the industrialists. It was supposed to be have been completed by February, 2014. Alas, it hasn’t been. The construction in Bhairahawa is in a limbo after the contractor refused to complete it citing that the project has yet to clear out the payment worth NRs. 20 million for the works already finished. Looks like even ‘special’ zones are forgotten with time in this country.

And then there is the bill on SEZ, long under consideration. The government last year had decided to operate SEZ issuing a formation order after efforts to formulate an act had failed. The bill was opposed by the ruling party when the then government had tabled it in the parliament in 2008. The bill includes provisions like ban on workers inside SEZ to get into politics, and strikes, mass meetings, and working as a cadre of any party, and will implement the system of No Work No Pay.  This adds to the already existent financial burden.

The delay in the implementation of the project, whatever the endless reasons are, has meant much despair to the industrialists. For now, the SEZs seem far from meeting their three-fold objectives of attracting FDI, increasing exports and accelerating the country’s economic growth; those seem secondary—they better be set up first. Or before long, like everything else, they won’t be the priority anymore

Anita Krishnan

About Anita Krishnan

Krishnan holds dual degrees--in law and sociology. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

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