If Laxman Thakur can, why can’t Chitwan? Why can’t Jhapa? Why can’t you?

When I was reading the news of Laxman Thakur in Annapurna Post about how he is planning to give refuge to some 500 people in his home town, I was so filled with emotion first and wanted to know whether his mother tongue is Maithili or Bhojpuri, I even tried to translate some ‘nice’ words into Maithili to say thank you and to tell him how proud I was of him. I know he might be better than me in Nepali, but I wanted to be Laxman Thakur, I wanted to say thank you to him in the language he learnt from his mother. After a while I couldn’t stop thinking about the news. I had different ideas in my mind. I suddenly started to think, if he can convince his villagers to accommodate some 500 people what about the rich and developed districts like Chitwan? If the village is reachable by good conditioned road, if there is no risk of landslide or further damage, if the family is healthy and hasn’t got vulnerable member they should remain where they are and government must help them in their place. We are strong people and we can rebuild. But, if the village is at risk of landslide, people are vulnerable, people are traumatised, there is no road and difficult to reach then they should be relocated temporarily or permanently. There can be three different ways to accommodate people in dire need: 1. People can take shelter in the houses of the relatives or the generous ones like Laxman Thakur. This will be basically temporary shelter during monsoon. The people will return to their place or find work and move out in maximum 6 months’ time. The people who have lost homes and nowhere to stay and also there is risk of landslide or other problem in their place can take shelter in such Home Stay. The aid agencies or government should help the accommodating family with the food and other aid. The accommodating family should be selected carefully. The EQ victims should not be accommodated with the family whose member has records such as child sex abuse or other criminal or suspicious record. This can be tracked with the help of local police or local community leaders, head teachers etc.  The government and local authority should appeal the people of the nation to help and if interested accommodate people in their homes for six months or so. 2. The local authorities of unaffected districts like Chitwan can provide permanent or temporary accommodation to the people of need. Temporary shelters should be for the similar people the same as earlier mentioned and they will be back to their places of find job and move out after maximum 1 year time.  The shelter can be tents or government suggest temporary shelter of tin or other local materials. It is important that water, sanitation, security and other basic things are provided in these temporary shelters. The Local authority should be careful that these places should not turn into slum in future. The failure of the central government to rebuild the EQ victims’ village/town can result in long stay in these settlements and turn the place into slum. So the very careful, clever and determined effort plus sound co-operation between the Central government and local authority is crucial.  Permanent settlement should also be provided by the local authority of unaffected areas where Earthquake Victims (EQ) are unable to return to their place because of risk such as landslide or trauma or some other genuine reason.  If every unaffected district take their share of responsibility the problem will be solved much faster and effectively. While settling the EQ victims the local authority must respect the local people’s concerns. It is wise that the integration process is started from the beginning and the security and the health of both the EQ victims and local people is not compromised. Cultural, religious and ecological issues should be considered before selecting the area for settlement. The early involvement of local community organizations and community leaders, use of local volunteer will help building harmony and good relationship with the EQ victims settling in their neighbourhood. Nepalese are known as friendly people, so if there is good management there won’t be issue in integration. 3. Government should rent the houses in the unaffected and developed regions to provide immediate shelter to the vulnerable EQ victims like pregnant women, children, elderly, disabled, sick and injured. They should be able to live with their family in the rented property and government should provide the rent, food and other aid. This will help people recover from the trauma and also their family will be with them. The other family member should be encouraged to find work, or the NGOs or Aid Agencies’ focus should be training them in construction and other sector rather than buying them bottle of mineral water.

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Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Funding available in Scotland

Hello everyone, Please look at the Funding programmes list for home energy efficiency I have created, if you are living in Scotland and want  to make your house energy efficient and save money from reduced energy bill or even generate income by installing renewable energy measures and selling it. This will give you  summary of the programs available and you can see which suits best and where to contact. Enjoy.

Whose Problem is Climate Change?

Climate change is everybody’s problem and everyone should be concerned. It is easy for me to say. It is also easier for David Cameron to believe man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats that UK and this world faces. But delivering the change, the real action on operational level to reduce the energy use and to cut the carbon emission seems a bit of extra hassle to everyone.

Recently I got a chance to see a tool developed by a City Council for the purpose of allocating money to the upgrade of all 12,800 houses to meet Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) by 2020. The Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) is a mandatory standard for Social Landlords to meet by 2020 which aims to improve the energy efficiency of social housing and reduce energy consumption, fuel poverty and the emission of greenhouse gases. Meeting this standard is supposed to help to achieve the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 target of reducing carbon emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. Now, it is fantastic; the Government sets a standard for social housing as tool to reduce CO2 emissions and the city council jumps into action to deliver the operation.

So, as a research student and a so called ‘environmentalist’, I thought the tool was a great thing to see first-hand before it was actually going to action. It was a fantastic tool. It will tell you exactly how much money it needs to upgrade the property to EESSH with various upgrading options. The details were recorded, from the make of the house to the date of construction to the location and fuel type and everything you were looking for.  But as I looked at the spread sheet, it became clearer that something was missing. There was no mention of climate change. And that’s fine because you are not supposed to chant the mantra of ‘climate change’ all the time, it’s more important to do something to tackle this problem rather than just chanting the mantra. I looked again and something was still missing. This time I was looking for social justice in the spread sheet. I thought, since it is the tool of a city council, it’s officially the work for the people who are living in the homes owned by the council so it’s all right not to mention social justice as all the people are treated equally. Yet again I looked for something. I was looking for ‘carbon emission reduction’ at this time. And it was not missing this time, it was there in a diminished form. In weighting section of the tool, they have given 2 for the energy saving while giving 10 to the cost. Now, I started to really think, is it still all right?

Although the tool developed by the city council was able to design decision support tool for allocating money to the upgrade of all 12,800 houses to meet Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) by 2020 very perfectly, it was completely missing the point. First of all, why was the upgrading needed? Secondly, why was the EESSH set by the government? The answers are simple; upgrading was needed to meet the mandatory EESSH standard set by the Scottish government. EESSH was set by the government to reduce greenhouse gases emissions (and tackle climate change problem) and to help people get rid of fuel poverty. So it is not just important but also necessary to mention and understand the energy efficient homes were needed to tackle the problem of climate change, not to show the government that you have job done. And to serve the second aim the EESSH, it is also necessary to understand the need of social justice in policy making to eradicate fuel poverty because it is the product of previous socially unjust fuel/energy policies.

Now it is worthwhile to look for the reason why the council never mentioned about the climate change and social justice. Firstly, climate change is not their business. As a social landlord, city council is there to provide housing for the never ending queue of desperate, homeless and poor city dwellers who are produced by the ‘Right to buy’ scheme. Secondly, if the council is to seek social justice, if they are there to look after the needs of poor, old, elderly, disabled while upgrading their properties, they will need more budget that they don’t have. The job of the council therefore is to upgrade all of its properties to EESSH by 2020. Council has nothing to do with the climate change; it also has nothing to do with the social justice in its energy policy because it cannot afford to be concerned about those issues.

And finally the story can be summed up like this: Climate scientists are warning governments and people of earth about the change in our planet’s climate and possible consequences with strong evidence and passion. Environmentalists, NGOs, and other advocates are pressing the government and making people aware about the climate change in their own style. Some also have made good money from the business. Politicians like David Cameron who run the government make political speeches such as famous “Greenest government ever” speech of 2010 to show public that how much concerned they are about the environment and the people and the next generation and so on and on. Although the politicians these days are so busy as they have so many work to do such as check the opposition, fight ‘terrorism’, ask some rich king or dictator for loan to keep running their parliament, make sure that the banks don’t go bust, answer questions of journalists, go holiday with wife/husband, point out the threat posed by some left-wing government in some corner of the world, tackle the problem of the immigrants that have been taking away all job in the country.. And list goes on. However it is amazing that they still have time to show interest in the climate change issue and make commitments, make law, launch program such as making houses energy efficient, or EESSH in this case. Finally the program comes as an unexpected trouble to the people on operational level or the city council in this case. The programme becomes ‘a task’ that the council has to do, but the soul of the program here twists itself from ‘one of the program trying to reduce greenhouse gases emission’ to ‘the program that the city council has to finish by 2020 to keep its licence as social landlord’. Why is this happening? The answer is simple, money. Council is left with some budget and ‘some’ budget has to be arranged by the council from some ‘source’ as the properties belongs to the council.

So this tale of a program shows me how climate change policy becomes indifferent to climate change. Since everyone has their own business, whose business is climate change? The polar bears whose habitat is melting? Or the people of Maldives whose home is drowning? Or the people of Himalayan foothill who can be swept away by avalanche anytime? Or  is it mine business too?

The first Killing

 

After the Health and Physical teacher had left the class, I asked with the Monitor to go to toilet. The toilet was fairly 4 minutes away from the classroom where 4th grade students studied.  run,.. I had to run so that the 4th period teacher wouldn’t be before me, otherwise I would face many questions .. may be a stick ! hurry!!

 

As I approached the toilets, there were some strange people, all in normal civil dress. All the people were known in that part of the village, and the  strangers were the symbol of danger in that days of the time…. I spied at the people,  there were a lot mre near toilets.. under the big tree.. behind the office building… my heart bit faster .. O they were carrying guns… long and short.. and a bit farther near peepal tree were people in black (dark blue) dress,  There were policemen..a lot more policemen…

 

After toilet I went upstairs… uff.. it was a steep climb of well cemented stair, took a short break at middle… from the leaves of the big tree I could almost see the sky covered  with black and white clouds, hovering around… On the way I noticed Madam was surrounded by 3 or four teachers.   O  I shouldn’t be latter than the teacher.. run !!

 

We used to go home 10 minutes away from school for our tiffin, and I with friends ran down the home,

 

The way was not as usual… people were running towards school.., No I shouldn’t stop, I m hungry..

I reached home. Mummy with  to or three women were in tears! ‘Your Headsir is arrested by police’.. Actually the headsir was a popular person and villagers appriciated all the good efforts he did to buid the school and the quality of education he was able to deliver.

 

More people were running towards school. .. I should go… No I am afraid.. no I should go school or will be punished tomorrow..

 

I ran to school with the people .. the men and women stormed towards the path that led to next village ..  Mailung then Jarang..

O.. all the fields were covered with students in sky blue shirts and .. men and women… shouting.. throwing stone downwards…  RELEASE the HEADSIR !!!!….

Automatically my hands picked up stone andthrew a few meters.. that was what i could do… all the people’s target was black men down the field….  who were heading towards  next village jarang…. there was a white figure at middle of the long line of black …. ..

The people near black line were my teachers… Protesting and shouting… and the men and women…throwing stone and shouting …. and the students small and big , of all ages .. shouting and throwing stone…

 

Finally .. DING.. DANG…. !!!   was the sound… the black line was almost invisible.. and the teachers and many students and men and women..  were seen small  all over te hill after the sound ….

we small children were stuck over a hill between school and Jarang village.. the gunshot scattered the people more randomly all over the hills…….

 

RETURN !!!.. Then everyone started to return back towards village to save own lives. And finally the policemen won.. they took Headsir with them.

 

In the evening , all of us in our family was so keen to listen to the news from Radio Nepal. The evening news of seven pm said that one terrorist had been killed and one commander of the terrorist was captured during the clash between the security forces and the terrorist group in Gorkha. The news was a total lie.

 

Later the next day, I heard from the people in the village that Dil bahadur ramtel, class 5, primary school in jarang, was shot dead and another boy with Bhatta surename (probably ram prasad bhatta) is wounded with bullet and is in taken to Gorkha hospital… 

 

A Letter to young students of the mountain

Do you know where Scotland is? It is part of the United Kingdom and it is north of England. If you travel north from the continent of Europe, first comes England, then comes Scotland. You can see it on the map. London is the capital of England, Cardiff is the capital of Wales, and Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland.

I live and study in a town called Aberdeen. That is in the north of Scotland. So I am very far in the north.

It takes 5 hours to travel by train from London to Edinburgh. Then it takes another 2 1/2 hours to travel from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. That is about 7 hours, the same time that a bus takes to go from Kathmandu to Balu Suara, but the train is much faster and the distance is much greater.

One can also travel by coach (= bus) from London to Aberdeen. The coach journey takes much longer. It takes 12 hours directly from London to Aberdeen.

Because Aberdeen is so much closer to the North Pole than London, it stays light in Aberdeen much longer than in London, or even in Edinburgh. In summer, e.g. in August, in Aberdeen it is still light at 11 p.m. (23 hours). That is amazing. In winter, of course, it gets dark much earlier.

 Aberdeen harbour

Look how much bigger these ships are than the cars, or even than the houses behind them.
Aberdeen has a big port and is used as the mainland base for many oil drilling platforms in the North Sea. The drilling platforms are used to drill for oil underneath the water. The people who work on them also sleep there. On their day of rest, they will come ashore in Aberdeen. They will also get all their supplies (e.g. food and tools) from Aberdeen. Because of the oil industry, Aberdeen is a rich and busy city.

 

Scottish men have a traditional national dress which is called “a kilt”. They wear it only on ceremonial occasions. It looks like a women’s skirt. But it is intended for men. There is nothing funny about it. It is just a tradition, of Scotland, but not of England. Scotland and England are different, just as India and Nepal are different. The Scots also have a special musical instrument which is called a “bag pipe”. In the picture you see a Scotsman wearing a kilt and playing a bag pipe.

You may think I am Scottish. But why do I call you “Brothers and Sisters”? Scottish people do that only in their own family? What do you think?

I come from Takukot

I call you Brothers and Sisters because I am one of you. I was born in Takukot, I grew up in Takukot, I played in Takukot, I was naughty in Takukot, I was good in Takukot, I went to school in Takukot (in Shree Surya Jyoti Secondary School in Palkhu from Class 1 to Class 8), and I love Takukot.

I am Suraj Paneru. Tell your older brothers and sisters. Some of them may be my friends.

After Class 8, I moved to Kathmandu and studied at Nepal Rashriya Higher Secondary School, Nepaltar, Kathmandu, till class 12.

Then it was time to go to university to get a degree. I went to Chitwan.

At Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu) I studied English Literature and Sociology.

The joys of English literature:

English Literature is wonderful. There are so many great stories written in English. They are just as good, or even better, than the stories you see on television. If you all work terribly hard to learn as much English as possible, your English should one day be good enough to read these stories in English (novels and short stories). They are very thrilling and entertaining. You do not have to go university to read them.

But to understand them you have to know English well and know many English words. There is a plan to send such books (English novels and short stories) to your school or to the village library in Palkhu so that you can borrow them when your English is good enough. You will have a lot of fun with them, and you will never be bored again as long as you live.

At the beginning, learning English is hard work, but if you persist (like all Gorkha people do), then, when you know the language well, it will be a lot of fun, for all of you.

Of course, there are also many wonderful books written in Nepali. You must have the ambition to be educated in both. Read Nepali books because they are about our own country of which we all are so proud. Read English books because English is the language which everybody in the world understands. You want to be at home and comfortable both in Nepal and in the world.

Back to my studies:

When I had got my B.A. degree (B.A. = Bachelor of Arts) from Shaheed Smriti Multiple Campus, Chitwan, I managed to get a place in a Scottish University, in Aberdeen, where I am now.

Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen
This building is part of my university (Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen).
I studied there for two years, and now I have passed my final exams for the M.Sc. (Master of Science) degree in xxx subject.

 

Here I am enjoying the Scottish countryside. Scotland is beautiful and has many hills and mountains, but they are not as high as ours in Nepal

with graduation gown and mortar board

Look at my picture here in my academic gown (graduation gown) and the mortar board (academic head covering) on my head. This indicates that I have received my university degree.

I am so happy to have achieved that, after so many years of study. But as you can see, it is possible. Just work hard and never give up. You are as clever as everybody else in the world.

Some of you may be poor. But that does not mean that you can not study and succeed. You are as good as everybody else. So keep working and studying, as I did.

There is an English proverb: “God helps those who help themselves”. So do work hard, and Ishvara and Saraswati and Laksmi Devi will help you in your life.

I know that you are having your exams right now. My heart is with you, and I hope you all will do well, so that you can be happy, and your parents and teachers can be proud of you.

Gratitude:

Let me think back a little about my career so far, even though I am still really at the beginning of my adult life.

I am so grateful to the school where I learnt the first letters of the alphabet. The school where I started doing athletics. All the knowledge I have today is possible only because of the school where I learnt to count, to add, to subtract, to multiply and to divide.

I am so grateful to my parents who made me go to one school after another and to the teachers who taught me there.

Whenever I make a plan I remember the school that lies at the top of the hill, the school that plays hide and seek with Mount Manasalu in the clouds.

Shree Jyoti Surya Secondary School, Palkhu

Mount Manasalu

Jungle Home

Jungle is home and home is only a shelter my mother always said. People in the mountain depend on jungle from food to fuel. You get almost everything in the jungle – food, fruit, firewood, timber, medicine herb, fodder for animal etc. This may be why she said so. People go to the jungle every day when there is little work in the farm. As the jungle there is managed by the community and people have to follow certain rules and people are also aware of this conservation system called ‘community forest’. So everyone going jungle in the mountain doesn’t mean deforestation.

The people must go to jungle for fodder and firewood which is very basic for their living. They also bring timber and medicinal herb from the jungle. There are still some people whose family business is to collect herb, make medicine and sell. My mother used to swop such medicine with grains. And as a child I rarely had to use allopathic or other modern medicine since my mother was good at using these medicinal herbs.
But the children used to have different propose for going jungle. It is all about fruits and picnic, birds and butterflies, fun and fight.


Almost every day of spring we dwelled in the jungle. The jungle in the spring is full of fruits, flowers and birds in the hill. Just a feeling of it makes me happy! Yes, different kinds of berries (kafal, aaiselu, macheni) were found this time and we loved it! We were always full and collected as many as we can in our bags to bring home. At this time many flowers bloom and new leaf come and make the jungle so pretty. At this time the jungle becomes a piece of heaven. Climbing up the trees and eating berries, looking for the bird’s nest, searching a kind of fern for vegetable, collecting tree barks for firewood were all fun and we passed hours doing so.

Till today those are the best days of my life. I always wish I could pass whole life picking berries, playing in the jungle and listening songs of birds. Sometimes we played in small brook and tried to catch tiny little fish all the day. We never cared for the sun that was travelling in the sky changing the colours of mountains and hills. And it was that moment we remember home when the cold evening air from the mountain hit our tender skin. Then we had to run and run up the hills to be home before the sun goes down.


My mummy told me that once two of my elder sisters and their friends went to jungle and didn’t come till it was so dark. And my father and other villagers had to find them with the torch so worried that the children might have lost way back home or wild animals might have attacked them. But story was different; the children were coming home singing and enjoying at the bottom of the hill on the trail towards village. Their bags were full of fruits and berries, their arms and legs were bruised and pricked by wild thorn and they were jolly and cheerful just like the stars that watched them from the heaven.