News Digest (July 16– July 22, 2020)


Women's right

Domestic Politics

The Nepal Communist Party (NCP): Oli and Dahal failed to reach a conclusion on July 15 and were scheduled to meet again on July 16, a day before the standing committee meeting was supposed to resume; the NCP senior leader Madhav Nepal was to attend the July 16 Oli-Dahal meeting as well. Meanwhile, 17 of the standing committee members close to the Dahal-Nepal faction concluded that the leaders should not backchannel any agreement but should rather go procedurally.[1]

The standing committee meeting supposed to happen on July 17 was put off again after Oli and Dahal failed to reach an agreement. If the dispute was not resolved through secretariat meeting scheduled for July 18, the party’s Central Committee meeting would be called to decide the party’s fate.[2]

In his discussion with PM Oli, Dahal was reported to have agreed for a party general convention in December, proposed by Oli, dropping the Dahal-Nepal factions’ demand for the latter’s resignation as both prime minister and party chair. Madhav Nepal, however, expressed his strong dissatisfaction against any closed-door agreement between the two chairs and warned that he will go for a nationwide protest if any such attempts are made.[3]

In a meeting with the members of party secretariat and standing committee, Dahal, however, clarified that he had not made an agreement with Oli.[4] He also explained that his presence at the Sheetal Niwas was out of “an unavoidable compulsion.”[5]

The ex-Maoist leaders of NCP met with Dahal and recommended him to make agreements with both Oli and Nepal, based on agendas and ideology.[6] They suggested that an agreement with Oli will help preserve the party unity, whereas that with Nepal will ensure ideological intactness.[7] The leaders also voiced their concern that the ongoing dispute and the Oli-proposed early party convention appear to be motivated by a pursuit of power and position.[8]

After a series of standing committee meetings, several postponements, and negotiations between the two party chairs, the NCP dispute seems to have come to its initial position again—with a faction seeking Oli’s resignation as both party chair and the PM, while Oli adamant on not giving up either; PM Oli had proposed Dahal an early convention to decide the party chairmanship, which initially seemed to have courted Dahal. However, internal criticism of such closed-door agreements against the Central Committee-allocated convention date and Oli’s re-emphasis on ‘People’s Multiparty Democracy’ again distanced Dahal away from any such agreement.[9]

Nepali Congress (NC): Nepali Congress leader Dr Shekhar Koirala stated that PM Oli’s provocative remarks have endangered Nepal’s relationship with India.[10]

Lawmaker Suwarna Jwarchan, who was appointed by NC under Proportional Representation (PR) electoral system took oath of office and secrecy on July 19, 2020, after the demise of Gyan Kumar Chhantyal.[11]


Government decides to lift the four month long coronavirus lockdown, with conditions: The government decided to lift the four-month long coronavirus lockdown on July 21 in view of decreasing COVID-19 cases in Nepal. Finance Minister and government spokesperson Yuba Raj Khatiwada said that the meeting of the Council of Ministers decided to lift the nationwide lockdown. As per the decision, long-route public transportation will be allowed to resume services from August 17 by following the safety protocols set by the Ministry of Health and Population. However, international borders will continue to be sealed and some restrictions will remain in place until an unspecified date.[12]

Nepal opens for tourism, autumn climbing activities: With the government announcing to resume all international and domestic flights from August 17. The Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation said that it would let all tourism related activities including mountain climbing in the autumn season commence. With the latest announcement, the tourism fraternity believes that the industry which incurred a loss of over 10 billion rupees a month during the COVID-induced nationwide lockdown would gradually return to a new normal.[13]

Employment and Transformation Initiative Project launched: The Government has launched the Youth Employment Transformation Initiative Project with the support of the World Bank (WB) to promote employment in the country. Minister for Labor, Employment and Social Security Rameshwor Raya Yadav and World Bank Country Director Nepal Faris Hadad-Zervos inaugurated the project on July 20, 2020. Aligned with the Prime Minister Employment Program, the $120 million project will be implemented over the next four years with a focus on improving employment services and labor market outcomes, especially for youth.[14]

Govt to conduct sero-survey of COVID community spread: The Ministry of Health and Population is looking to study whether the COVID-19 infection has spread to the community. The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division is to launch a ‘sero prevalence survey’ to find out the number of people affected by the pandemic. The nationwide survey will be supported by the World Health Organisation. The Division, earlier, conducted coronavirus tests on 5,000 people through the PCR method to trace the scale of infections at the community level.[15]

International Relations & Foreign Policy

Indian Foreign Ministry denies making further comments: On July 16, in a press briefing, Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson of Indian Foreign Ministry denied making any comments on PM Oli’s controversial Ayodhya statement. Srivastava said Nepal’s foreign ministry has already clarified its stance.[16]

Ex-Gurkhas in Indian Army concerned over Nepal-India relations: The United Ex-Army and Police Welfare Federation are concerned over a cut in social welfare allowance due to the pandemic. They have clarified their contribution to national income and have requested the government to reconsider the deduction in allowance. A press release on July 21 also explained the ex-army’s discontent over the widening gap between India-Nepal and have urged both the governments to resolve the issue through dialogue. One hundred fifty thousand ex-Gurkhas and 50,000 Gurkhas in service are in a dilemma due to the recent dispute with India.[17]


Nepal records 40th Covid-19 related death as national tally of cases reaches 17,994: A 73-year-old man from Saptari district who tested positive for the virus died on July 16. He was on ventilator support at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan. This is Nepal’s 40th recorded COVID-19 related death.[18]

According to the health ministry, as of 23 July, 12,477 of the total infected individuals have recovered from the virus and as many as 328,835 PCR tests have been carried out in the country so far. Furthermore, seven districts including Bhojpur, Panchthar, Sankhuwasabha, Dhankuta, Manang, Mustang and Humla do not have any active cases.[19]

Heavy rains forecast and high risk of water induced disasters across Nepal: The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology forecasted more heavy rains and a high risk of water-induced disasters this week, as a new monsoon pulse moves east to west across Nepal. National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority alerted the local governments about the risk of landslides and floods, and advised individuals and households to take further precaution if they live in high risk areas. More than 100 people have either been killed or gone missing in the past week. The Authority has also opened a hotline at 1149 and 1155 for queries about flood risks.[20]

International and domestic flights to resume beginning August 17: Both domestic and international flights have been suspended for over four months now due to the pandemic. However, the government on July 20 announced that international and domestic flights will resume beginning August 17 after the Cabinet meeting on July 20 decided to allow both the flights as there has been a decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country.[21]

Health experts warn the risk of an outbreak in Kathmandu: The easing of the lockdown has facilitated the entry of thousands of people into Kathmandu everyday through various entry points despite restrictions in place. Public health experts said that despite the expansion in testing criteria which now includes also testing asymptomatic individuals, the risk of an outbreak in Kathmandu is increasing. A government doctor at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital said that, restrictions on testing and increased mobility of the people from disease-hit areas increases the chances of community transmission. [22]

Youths stage another hunger strike over government’s response to the pandemic: Three youths representing the “Enough is Enough” campaign have once again started an indefinite hunger strike claiming that the government has failed to act as per the 12 point agreement made for a better response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The primary demand of first the hunger strike was an expansion of PCR tests across the country, however, the government has reduced the number of tests per day. When asked about this, the spokesperson for the health ministry said that the reason for reduced number of tests presently is because only about 2,500 people enter the country every day, which is a drop in the figures from earlier.[23]

Gender, Social Inclusion, Human Rights, and Migration

Evacuation of stranded Nepalis: In the second phase of repatriation, total of 558 stranded Nepalis were evacuated from Malaysia on July 20. Three flights were conducted, out of which two were cargo flights. Along with the passengers, 15 dead bodies were also brought back. As per TIA, six rescue flights were scheduled on July 21. Further, no extra chartered flights have been conducted.[24]

Significant drop in number of migrant workers: The number of workers opting for foreign employment has dramatically reduced with the outbreak of COVID-19. Labour destination countries, particularly Gulf region, Malaysia and Korea imposed restrictions on international flights, followed by Nepal’s suspension of labour permit brought cessation in the departures for foreign employment. This has impacted the country’s economy to the larger extent as inflow of the foreign remittance depletes.[25]

Migrant workers situation made public in rapid assessment report: Nepal Policy Institute and Migration Lab, together disclosed a report on ‘Rapid Assessment of Nepali Migrant Workers; Situation in Major Destination Countries’. The report states that there are considerable number of migrant workers predominantly in the Gulf region, India and East Asia, trying to return home owing to the actual fear of COVID-19 contraction, unemployment, and wanting to be with family members.[26]

Situation of women and girls rights is disappointing: The Human Rights Watch highlights the concerning situation of rights of women and girls in Nepal. A submission to Universal Periodic Review of Nepal has underlined the gaps in the criminal proceedings. The limitation period for rape stipulated in the Act has been extended to one year, however the duration still does not suffice and strengthens impunity for heinous crime of rape. Victims of conflict period were not adequately compensated and the compensation schemes are not inclusive of victims of sexual violence. The victims of conflict-era sexual violence are deprived of justice or accountability, thus far.[27]

Maximum punishment a myth for caste discrimination offenders: A report suggests that 16 Dalits were killed by non-Dalits in past 10 years alone. The recent incident in Rukum increases the number to 20. Since the enactment of Caste-Based Discrimination and Untouchability Act, 2068, 75 untouchability-related cases were registered. However, none of the cases were recognised as an offence of caste-based discrimination. There is no precedent of an offender being awarded a maximum punishment of the crime thereof.[28]

Severity of Child marriage in Rolpa: Child marriage is a deep-seated issue and is extensively practiced in Rolpa. It was reported that over 80 girls under the age of 20 gave birth in the fiscal year of 2076. Among those, 12 underwent surgery owing to health complications. As per hospital officials, a considerable number of minor girls seek abortion services. The dearth of knowledge has led a significant number of women to go through pregnancy in such a young age, and it is deemed normal for a girl to get married in such a young age.[29]

Image by John Hain from Pixabay






























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