Health workers are few and scarce in rural parts of Nepal. Pregnant women and new mother rely on their expertise for safe motherhood.

News Digest (July 15-21, 2019)

CESIF Nepal Democracy and Federalism, Gender and Inclusion, Good Governance, International Relations, Security and Strategic Affairs 4 Comments

Domestic Politics

NCP Merger

NCP finalized the sharing of leadership of party departments with 18 for the erstwhile UML and the remaining 14 for the former Maoist Center. However, the party is yet to confirm the leaders for the departments.[1] 

The party confirmed international, parliamentary, and state affairs department for UML and publicity and finance department for the Maoists. The party also finalized its district in charge and sub-in charge. The in-charges sharing was done on 44 from UML and 33 from Maoist Center. [2] The party also finalized the in-charge for 6 metropolitans.[3]      

As all the positions have been done on sharing basis, factional politics remains alive in the party.[4]  Madhav Kumar Nepal has been assigned International department, Jhalanath Khanal leads the policy and foundation department and Bamdev Gautam handles the organization department.[5] 

Overall, ten female leaders have taken district in-charge responsibility.[6]

Government and Parliament

The government sub-committee has concluded a new fee structure for medical colleges. As per the revised provision colleges in Kathmandu will charge Rs 38.5 lakhs while the ones outside the valley will charge 42.45 lakh.[7] It is a cursory change as no changes have been followed and there has been continued discontent among students and medical colleges regarding fee structures.   

Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee has finalized the Police Personal Adjustment Bill. The Committee has decided that the Deputy Inspector of General (DIG) will lead the province as the chief. The three portfolio holders DIG, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), and Superintendent of Police (SP) will be retained by the federal government, however, cannot make transfer, without consulting of provincial government.[8]

The government has started a web-based Vehicle and Consignment Tracking System (VCTS) in Nepal-India check-post to curb revenue leakage. Traders have protested the decision against the system calling it ineffective in developing country like Nepal.[9]

The government is preparing to table Mass Communication bill in the Parliament. This time the government is careful towards not facing criticism once it is tabled. [10] 

Opposition Politics

Nepali Congress

Nepali Congress unanimously endorsed the party regulation 2076.[11] Leaders criticized the new regulation and expressed dissatisfaction on the provision of membership fee. Leaders have also expressed concerns as the regulation would convert the mass-based party to cadre-based party and affect democracy. [12]

Biplab

Som Prasad Pandey, coordinator of the government talk team, confirmed that no formal talks has taken place with the outlawed party yet and only informal talks took place with Biplab cadre Gunraj Lohani.[13]

Minister Gokul Baskota, however, said that a peaceful negotiation would take place only if the party renounced arms.[14] 

A cadre was killed when a bomb he was carrying exploded. The deceased, an earlier Maoist combatant had joined Biplab’s CPN just three months ago. [15]

While the government is making an effort for peaceful negotiation, the outlawed party has been expanding its underground network.[16] 

RJP-N and SP-N

Issues of leadership delayed the unification process of the Samajbadi party and RJP-N.[17] They have, however, intensified the unification process.[18] Leaders of RJP-N demanded SP-N leader to be clear if they want to leave or stick with the government and join the common agenda. RJP-N leader Rajendra Mahato said the dilemma of SP-N leaders is a key issue preventing unification.[19]

Others

The nine fringes political parties declared that they will start a joint national movement against the government demanding an end to external intervention and influence in Nepal’s culture and religion.[20]

Transitional Justice

Conflict victims demanded a halt to nominee selection process for transitional justice bodies. Conflict Victims’ Common Platform urged replacement of existing TJ amendment act as it works on political interest.[21] As the political parties lobby for the candidate of their choice, it has delayed the process of appointing leadership in the TJ bodies.   

Within the NCP, the UML faction has lobbied for Govinda Bandi, Maoist has lobbied for Raman Shrestha, and NC wants Surya Dhungel in place. The ruling party wants leadership from NCP as NC nominee had already led the body.[22]

Judiciary

The Judicial Council (JC) transferred at least 234 judges in high Court and district courts. As per recent JC decision, 78 high courts judges and 156 district court judges were transferred across various high and district courts.[23] 

Flood Relief

Opposition parties, NC, and RJP-N registered pubic importance proposal in the National Assembly demanding information on progress of relief in flood affected area.[24]   

NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba urged all members and cadres to work on disaster relief.[25] The party directed its lawmakers to give their five-day salary to the flood victims.[26]

Provincial Affairs

Budget and Economy

So far, in Province 2, 100 out of 136 local governments submitted their budget details while four local governments in Bara district have not held its village assembly resulting in blockade of  financial assistance and grants from the central government.[27]

Three tiers of governments are engaged in distorting the budget expenditure at the end of the fiscal year. The Provincial Financial Comptroller General Office reports that almost 40% of the total budget was spent during the last month of the fiscal year.[28]

Administrative Issues

The government announced mandatory retirement to physically and mentally ill employees with a golden hand shake. The government included the provision in Federal Civil Service Bill, besides free insurance for the ill. Main opposition party Nepali Congress also supported the provision.[29]

As a follow up of the Cabinet decision, Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration started monitoring irregularities of the local governments. There were complaints of rampant irregularity and corruption in development works, employee’s appointment, and administrative issues.[30]

Sudurpashchim Province Economic Affairs and Planing Ministry has started literacy campaign to increase education in the province. The ministry also emphasized banking system to collect taxes as well. Six out of 88 local governments in the Sudurpashchim Pradesh do not have banking services as of yet.  [31]

International Relations

Nepal-India

A talk program on ‘Nepal India Relations: Development and Dynamics’ was held between officials of Nepal and India to discuss land connectivity and overcome economic barriers. During the event, Foreign Minister Gyawali explained the historical ties between the countries which was strengthening through projects like Pancheshwor Multi-Purpose Project and resolutions on boundary issues and border security. Former PM Madhav Kumar Nepal mentioned need of balanced relation with India and Nepal’s role as a bridge between India and China. Making his remarks, Indian ambassador to Nepal, Manjeev Singh Puri, confirmed India’s commitment to support Nepal’s development efforts and hoped for a accelerated progress after the completion of Arun Third Hydro Project.[32]

India has also submitted DPR for 18.5-km cross border railway between Nepal and India to Nepal’s railway department. The railway line connects Rupaidiya of India with Kohalpur of Nepal and will run parallel with the East-West Highway and Postal Highway.[33] 

First transnational petroleum pipeline connecting Nepal and India was successfully completed and is ready for commercial operation. The 69-km pipeline was completed 15 months ahead of the plan. Indian Oil Corporation bore the cost of three and a half billion rupees for the project.[34]  

In a bid to settle the pesticide residual tests row, the Government of Nepal is mulling a Mutual Recognition Agreement with India for reciprocal recognition of lab tests to be conducted in the two countries. The agreement will allow or following a certain standard on specific products, services, or processes applied to vegetables, fruits, plants, animals, medicines, and even health certificates.[35]

Nepal-China

Chinese tourist inflow in Nepal increased by a 19.53% in the first six months compared to the past year. The number of tourists visiting Nepal stood at 71,379 in 2018 while it is 85,318 for the same period this year.[36]

China made it clear that cost of building Nepal-China Railway linking Kerung to Kathmandu should be borne by Nepal itself.  The officials asked the visiting secretary of ministry of physical infrastructure to pay for the detail project report of the project inside Nepal’s territory. Chinese officials also confirmed that there will be no grant but loans for the construction as well. The Chinese side have a concern on security aspect and ecological balance for the project prior to negotiation in future.[37]

Nepal-Bangladesh Air Link

Himalaya Airlines, a Nepal-China joint venture, is set to open flights from Kathmandu to Dhaka to boost tourist flow. The number of tourists coming from Bangladesh have steadily declined since 2017, after the US-Bangla Crash at the Tribhuvan International Airport. The airline also targets Nepali students studying in Bangladesh.[38]

FDI

The Huaxin Cement Narayani Pvt Ltd, an undertaking of Chinese FDI in Nepal, allegedly failed to conduct initial environmental examination of its plant and not followed the terms and conditions of lend-lease agreement. Sub-committee of the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee ruled the government to annul the deal signed with the cement company.

Nepal-China-US

Hong Kong police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who occupied a major road following the latest protest march against the contentious extradition bill. Protesters continued past the designated endpoint, resulting in a standoff with police in the central business district.[39]  

Chinese authorities are holding Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun in a detention centre in Beijing for endangering state security. He has been charged with spying and is on residential surveillance. His defense lawyer has been denied meeting him on multiple occasions. The move has come in the backdrop of rising Canada-US tensions over the detention of Huwaei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhao.[40]  

Since Donald Trump has taken office into the White House, China’s foreign direct investment has plummeted signaling increasing economic tension between the two countries. The US has placed numerous restrictions on Chinese FDI and fuelled inhospitable environment. The Chinese investment in the US has dropped by nearly 90% since Trump came to power.[41] 

Gender and Social Inclusion

Reproductive Health

Bungal Municipality in Bajhang was declared the first chhaupadi free municipality in the far-western region. According to surveys conducted by various NGOs, the municipality had a total of 144 chhau sheds, when the campaign to abolish the practice kick started 10 years ago.[42]

Trafficking

National Human Rights Commission urged the government to lift travel ban on women domestic workers. The commission called it discriminatory and instead asked for punishment to human traffickers and agents.[43]

On July 22, Patan High Court convicted three individuals on trafficking a woman. The court slapped 20-year jail sentence and Rs 2 lakh each to be paid to the victim as compensation.[44]

Twelve Nepali women rescued from Kenya dance bar in April reached Kathmandu on July 22. The women were rescued by Kenyan authorities at New Rangeela Bar and Restaurant on April 13. According to Kenyan news portal Daily Nation, their passports were confiscated and they forced to dance at a bar.[45]

Dandong Larore, a Chinese company is demanding Compass Recruitment Agency to pay USD 600 per woman claiming the cost incurred while bringing the women to China.[46] The company hired 44 Nepali women to work at its garment factory and did not pay them as per the contract. Instead 33 of them who wanted to come back are being demanded to pay the compensation.

Police, acting on a tip off, have rescued eleven people from Urlabari municipality of Morang, while they were being trafficked to India.[47]

National Human Rights Commission will be holding international conference titled “Protection of Rights of the Migrant Workers” in the second week of November in Kathmandu. The conference will witness deliberations on challenges and risks faced by Nepali migrant workers in their homes, transits and destination. Representatives from 30 countries are expected to participate in the conference.[48]

Child Marriage and Rising Divorces

In the last one year, 117 women and 37 men filed divorce cases at the Rukum district court (west). According to Judge Atmadev Joshi, the number is alarming because of the age old belief of marrying off their daughters early.[49]

Khatyad Rural Municipality, Mugu was declared child marriage free in 2015. But sadly, that has done little to help the cause. In fact, early marriage seems to be on the rise. As per the data of the rural municipality office, the number of child brides exceeds 50. The practice of marrying off daughters once they take their grade 10 exams is rife. Alarmingly, 54 children below 20 have given birth in Khamale Birthing Centre this year.[50]

Federalism Woes

The Local Government Operation Act adjusted all thematic offices of the districts with the local level and all women and children offices were dissolved. The idea was to set up a dedicated office that would specifically cater to women’s issues but the province is yet to open the thematic office. Absence of the thematic office has affected women-related plans and policies and its implementation.[51]

HIV on the Rise

In Province 2, in 2018, a total of 6,422 people were diagnosed with HIV, most of them came back from migrant work. Nearly 160 children have also contracted the disease.[52]

Fifty-four new HIV cases were found in first six months of 2019 in Chitwan district.[53]

Domestic Violence and Rape

Nearly all incidents of domestic violence reported to the police end up in reconciliation. Of the 12,000 complaints related to domestic violence registered with the police in the last fiscal, only four proceeded to court as the law itself emphasizes mediation. In some instances, reconciliation can have severe consequences.[54] 

An assistant sub-inspector (ASI) was arrested on the charge of raping a 20-year-old woman in Rautahat district.[55] Also, a 65-year-old was arrested in Okhaldhunga on charge of raping a 10-year-old girl. He was arrested after the victim’s family filed a complaint with the police.[56]


[1] https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2019/07/781506

[2] https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2019/07/781592

[3] http://annapurnapost.com/news/132637

[4] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/allocating-key-positions-a-fraught-task-in-ncp-merger/

[5] https://www.setopati.com/politics/186130

[6]https://www.setopati.com/politics/186247

[7] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/govt-sub-panel-for-revising-medical-education-fees/

[8] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/07/15/156315569376943422.html

[9] https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/21961

[10] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/07/18/anticipating-criticism-government-puts-mass-communication-bill-on-hold

[11] http://english.ratopati.com/story/10136

[12] https://nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/20006/2019-07-17

[13] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/82849/

[14] https://setopati.net/political/149631

[15] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/chand-cadre-injured-in-dhangadhi-blast-dies-of-injuries/

[16] http://annapurnapost.com/news/132576

[17] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/07/17/leadership-issue-dogging-unity-talks-of-samajbadi-party-and-rastriya-janata-party

[18] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/82876/

[19] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/mahato-accuses-spn-of-taking-dubious-stance-on-merger/

[20] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nine-fringe-parties-to-launch-national-movement-against-govt/

[21] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/conflict-victims-demand-halt-to-tj-bodies-appointment-process/

[22] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/07/20/transitional-justice-bodies-still-without-leadership-as-political-parties-disagree-on-candidates

[23] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/judicial-council-decides-to-transfer-240-hc-and-dc-judges/

[24] https://nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/20212/2019-07-19

[25] http://english.ratopati.com/story/10138

[26] http://annapurnapost.com/news/132183

[27] https://www.karobardaily.com/news/economy/21959

[28] https://nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/19871/2019-07-15

[29] https://www.karobardaily.com/news/society/21952

[30] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/82776/

[31] https://www.karobardaily.com/news/banking/21938

[32] https://www.nepal24hours.com/nepal-india-resolves-the-longstanding-issues-

through-dialogues-and-talks/

[33] https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-

submits-final-dpr-for-cross-border-rail-project-to-nepal-report-5838081/

[34] http://www.ddinews.gov.in/international/indo-nepal-petroleum-products-pipeline-

ready-commercial-operation

[35] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/07/18/government-mulls-signing-agreement-with-india-to-allow-mutual-recognition-of-domestic-pesticide-tests

[36] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-07/19/c_138238320.htm

[37] https://english.khabarhub.com/2019/22/33581/

[38] https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/himalaya-airlines-to-begin-flights-to-dhaka-from-today/

[39] https://www.scmp.com/video/scmp-originals/3019525/central-hong-kong-becomes-battleground-riot-police-clash-protesters

[40] https://www.nepal24hours.com/chinas-state-security-police-put-australian-writer-in-detention-center/

[41] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/21/us/politics/china-investment-trade-war.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

[42] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-07-15/bungal-declared-far-wests-first-chhaupadi-free-municipality.html

[43] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nhrc-for-lifting-travel-ban-on-female-migrant-workers/

[44] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/three-convicted-of-human-trafficking/

[45] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/women-rescued-from-kenya-dance-bar-return/

[46] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/07/20/chinese-company-refuses-to-send-nepalis-home-without-compensation-for-losses

[47] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/11-rescued-while-being-transported-for-foreign-employment/

[48] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nhrc-organizing-international-conference-on-protection-of-rights-of-the-migrant-workers/

[49] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/child-marriages-resulting-in-divorces-in-rukum/

[50] https://kathmandupost.com/karnali-province/2019/07/20/early-marriage-rampant-in-a-village-in-mugu-despite-being-declared-child-marriage-free-four-years-ago

[51] https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-5/2019/07/17/province-5-districts-have-no-offices-dedicated-to-women

[52] https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-2/2019/06/25/migrant-workers-in-province-2-falling-victim-to-hiv-aids

[53] http://therisingnepal.org.np/news/33130

[54] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/07/18/thousands-of-domestic-violence-cases-are-registered-every-year-but-almost-none-go-to-court

[55] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/police-officer-arrested-in-charge-of-rape/

[56] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/65-year-old-arrested-on-rape-charge/

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