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A journey to independence is ‘never late’ for this woman with a disability – OnlineKhabar English News



Shobha Shrestha loved teaching, but most often she used to be late for her school in Basundhara of Kathmandu. For this woman with a physical disability in her right leg, getting to the workplace from the Padma Kanya Campus, where she was doing a BA course, would be a Herculean task given the unfriendly public transport system in the capital.

At the school, she had to hear a lot of complaints from the school officials; some of them would be mean and demotivating.

However, the story has changed since 2016 when she began riding a scooter with two additional wheels.

This is not the only story of her life. Today, Shrestha is seen helping several people who call themselves able and others like her disabled reach their college, workplace or home on time, as a rider for Pathao, a ride-sharing company.

And now, she has never been late again as she thinks her journey to independence was also not late either. In this world full of complaints, this lady’s journey into a fierce, confident, and independent person is interesting although it was fraught with a lot of challenges.

Challenging childhood

As her father Kamal Narayan, a native of Tanahun of western Nepal, used to usually live in Faridabad of India for his work, the infant Shrestha was taken to India a few months after her birth in the late 1980s.

Shrestha does not know what happened there, but as she has been told, she says she could not learn crawling like other children. “When I was in my ninth month, my parents also noticed that my right leg was swollen,” she says, “Then, they took me to different hospitals there. However, I was not diagnosed.”

As they could not find out what actually the problem was, they returned to Tanahun of Nepal and tried many hospitals and health centres seeking some cure. But, all went in vain.

“Though the disorder was not diagnosed at the time, it was clear that I was born with a disability.”

It made her journey to education difficult. “Walking to the school was a distant thing, I couldn’t even stand on my own. I was growing up, but my leg kept on shrinking.”

Then, she began using crutches.

Shobha Shrestha

According to Shrestha, her school was not so far from her house. While others used to reach the school in 20 minutes from her village, it would take more than an hour for her. Therefore, after she passed the fifth grade, her parents arranged that she would stay in a relative’s house near the school.

Between these years, many people suggested that her parents make efforts for her treatment. “However, I, as well as my family, was not much aware.”

“Nevertheless, while I was in grade 10, I was informed by the school about a Krishna Pranami organisation that said it would provide possible treatment to the polio patient.”

She narrates, “I just wanted to stand and walk without using the crutches as that was so painful. Most of my dresses used to be torn by crutches.”

Walking used to be troublesome especially during the rainy season. “Seeing others using umbrellas, I used to think if only I could also use them.”

Rays of hope

A hopeful Shrestha decided to give the new treatment suggestion a try. Hence, a couple of months before her final 10th-grade examinations, the teenager came to Kathmandu for treatment. She stayed with her elder sister and her husband in Kathmandu during treatment.

Just before the treatment, the healthworkers checked whether her leg could be treated. “They found it could be operated,” Shrestha shares, smiling, “Accordingly, they performed two surgeries on my right leg. Then, it felt like I have  got a new life.”

Even after the operations, it took a while for Shrestha to completely avoid using crutches and callipers. “Though the doctors had told me not to use crutches for walking, I could only leave one crutch. Gradually, I left using them and began walking on my own.”

Then, she went back to Tanahun for the exams but soon returned to pursue higher studies in the capital. She stayed with her sister’s family again. After a few years, she also began teaching.

The new ‘leg’ of life

Owing to difficulties on public buses and the employers’ repeated complaints about punctuality, Shrestha lost hope if there would be happy days in her life.

Shobha Shrestha riding her four-wheeler scooter.

But, one day, she saw someone like her ride a four-wheeled scooter. “Then, I inquired about the scooter to different people. Then, I brought a scooter in 2016.”

Shrestha learnt to ride a scooter within a week. And, she says, “It became like my legs.”

Shrestha says she spent around 13 years in the teaching profession. Except for a couple of years in the beginning, she lived alone by rending a room.

To follow her dream to become a civil servant, she left teaching in 2018 and began preparing for the Public Service Commission exams. She attended the exams once, but could not.

In the meantime, she got an opportunity to take personality development training for free by an organisation, and she joined it.

Confidence on the rise

The three-month training programme gave her ideas on how to find a job, how to prepare and present herself, and how to deal with job interviews. “This training boosted my confidence. Through the very institute, I also attended a job interview and landed a job.”

Meanwhile, she gave the public service dream.

Soon,  the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country and her work was shut. She then went back to her home in Tanahun. After the lockdown was over, she came back and is now working for an NGO working for people with disabilities.

Along with this full-time job, she has been working as a part-time Pathao rider for two years. She says, “I joined Pathao on the recommendation of my friends who are also people with disabilities as they have also joined earlier.”

She further adds, “It is better to carry someone with you than to travel alone. This way, I can also manage my petrol expenses and the other person gets to their destination.”

She says she has got mixed reactions from the customers. “Some say they are inspired by me and some even cancel the ride seeing the four-wheelers.”

But, Shrestha would not mind them because her confidence and independence have already achieved a level higher than those comments.

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Dambar Chemjong’s efforts to revive TU’s glory – OnlineKhabar English News



Dambar Chemjong is sitting outside his office in the Central Department of Anthropology at Tribhuvan University, the oldest and biggest university in the country, briefing a prospective student about the benefits of studying anthropology. His eyes light up as he talks as that one can clearly see how passionate he is when it comes to it. He shows the prospective student the research conducted by the department. To make things easier for the student, he even calls to ask when admissions for the department would open. To him, this is just a part of his job.

“I want to change things. Make a difference,” says Chemjong, the head of the Central Department of Anthropology at the university. “They say the university is dead and not like it was. But, I beg to differ and want to prove to people that it is alive and doing well.”

Chemjong took office in August 2018 and since then has changed the face of the department. He has added relevance to the course, created a fun learning environment, established an automated library and even constructed a garden to add some aesthetic to an otherwise dull TU compound. 

But now, he wants to do more. Through small efforts like these, he wants his students to produce journals and research on topics not discussed before. He wants to create a learning environment at TU itself and hopes other departments can do the same so that the TU can once again become the students’ first choice if they choose to stay in Nepal.

The garden was constructed with funds from a USAID-funded project. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

Big issues with big institution

“Small things like these go a long way. You need a feel-good factor,” he says. “But, this is just a beginning as a lot more needs to be done for the university to do that.”

The major problem, Chemjong says is the TU’s centralised structure that does not help the departments or the constituent campuses that are spread across Nepal from Taplejung in the east to Darchula in the west. He says that currently, the TU is too big. Currently, the university along with its constituent campuses in all seven provinces has over 600,000 students.

“If you look at top universities in Europe and the US, there are hardly 10,000 students. Only state universities in the US have more than 10,000,” he says.

His solution for this is to scrape all the constituent campuses and set up different universities in each province with not more than 5,000 students in one.

“What is the use of having over half-a-million students when you can’t even conduct exams and release results on time,” he questions.

Chemjong wants this library to become a learning centre for anthropology students. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

Another problem he says is having to ask the central campus at Kirtipur for even minor decisions. From adding a bench to staff for cleaning, everything has to go through the central campus at Kirtipur.

“If you want to make any decisions at a campus in Darchula, you’ll have to ask permission from Kirtipur. This, to me, makes no sense. If we can decentralise it, I’m sure in the next decade, we can see a lot of improvement.”

But, for that to happen, the leg-pulling culture at the university needs to stop, he says. He calls on teachers and officials at the university to understand what the place stands for and be true to its principles.

“As professors and teachers, we need to understand that we have to evolve because today’s age is different. Students are different. If they won’t find value, they’ll go abroad.”

While he says that students going abroad is more to do with it being more accessible, he is aware that not all departments in the university offer attractive education.

“I don’t want to speak about others, but there are some courses which are quite archaic. That needs to change for the TU to become a sought-after destination for students.”

Journals published by the TU Central Department of Anthropology. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

For continuous growth

He gives the example of his own department. When he started out in 2018, there were only nine students. Today, there are nearly 30 as the department is planning on adding PhD courses having recently added MPhil.

“Constantly evolving is important in today’s age. We’ve also been talking about credit transfers and being a part of the Erasmus exchange programmes. These are what make courses attractive for students along with the different research and job opportunities that we have been helping them out with.”

This, he says, will help the individual capacity of both the students and teachers as with better teachers, the place will have better students who will drive each other towards perfection. But, its not as easy and he knows that.

“Good teachers are not appreciated in Nepal. I feel that a good teacher who has the ability to pull students needs to be paid more. It’s simple. But, teachers getting paid more in Nepal is not the norm, which is why many do research work individually with other organisations.”

A classroom at the TU Central Department of Anthropology. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

He says he does not blame them but instead the system that makes it sound bad that teachers work for these organisations. He says, this, instead, should be promoted like it is in the west as it will improve the teachers and be good for the organisation. 

“But, here, they want them to sit in a room and not be open to exploring, which is dumb.”

This is why he says people at the TU need to be vocal as it can create a change through dialogue and conflict. 

“They say I talk a lot. But, I do so because not many here do. I want to make sure that this department does well till I’m here. I don’t like leg-pulling. I want to work with all I have and give all that I have for this department and help both students and teachers reach their goals.”

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Hero Motocorp launches Hero Xtreme 160R and Hero Hunk 150R in Nepal – OnlineKhabar English News



Kathmandu, March 15

Building on its commitment to providing youthful, premium and technologically-advanced products in the Nepali market, Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters, on Monday launched two new premium motorcycles in the country – Hero Xtreme 160R and Hero Hunk 150R.

Adding a striking and powerful new chapter to the popular premium brand Xtreme, the Xtreme 160R further strengthens Hero MotoCorp’s presence in the premium motorcycle segment, says the company.

The motorcycle offers an unparalleled mix of performance, sportiness, and features while boasting a muscular stance with an optimum mix of comfort and control.

The Xtreme 160R is accompanied by an all-new Hunk 150R, designed to deliver an unmatched ride experience along with new-age styling.

Both the new motorcycles cater to the aspirations of the youth in Nepal and offer a dynamic combination of performance, styling, and differentiated appeal, the company claims.

The Xtreme 160R and Hunk 150 R will be available at Hero MotoCorp showrooms across the country.

The Xtreme 160R, which comes with a double-disc and a single-channel ABS is priced at Rs339,000 while the Hunk 150R which has the same feature is priced at Rs279,500.

Commenting on the launches, Sanjay Bhan, Head – Global Business, Hero MotoCorp, said, “ The Xtreme 160R has performed well in several global markets and we expect it to do well in Nepal too. We are confident that both the motorcycles will enable us to meet the aspirations of customers here.”


Class leading acceleration

Setting the bar for sportiness and real-world performance, the new Xtreme 160R comes with a 160cc air-cooled BS-VI Compliant engine that is powered by XSens technology and advanced Programmed-Fuel-Injection. The Engine delivers an impressive power output of 15 BHP @ 8500 RPM. Joining the fast lane with a class-leading acceleration – 0-60 km/h in 4.7 seconds, the motorcycle has one of the best power-to-weight ratios in its class, thanks to the low kerb-weight of 138.5 kg.

Exceptional handling

The new Xtreme 160R enjoys a commanding riding position with ergonomics engineered for the streets. The lightweight rigid diamond frame setup offers exceptional handling on the streets while making it a corner happy machine at the same time.

The 37mm telescopic front forks and a 7-step adjustable Rear Mono-shock Suspension setup is tuned for urban agility, providing precise handling and a smooth ride. Brakes with 276mm front petal disc and 220mm rear petal disc ensure that the rider is always in full control and confident of the stopping power. The 165 mm ground clearance ensures the ride is hurdle free.

First-in-segment features

The new Xtreme 160R is paired with a first-in-segmental LED package, from a sculpted full LED headlamp with LED DRLs in front, to LED indicators with hazard switch and down to the rear H signature LED tail lamp. The inverted fully digital LCD display together with the first-in-segment side-stand engine cut ff ensures the motorcycle is both technologically advanced and safe.

The head-turner is available in three vibrant colour combinations of pearl silver white, vibrant blue, and sports red.


Superior ride and handling

Equipped with a 149cc air-cooled engine, the core of Hunk 150R delivers an impressive 14.2 BHP of power and 12.6 Nm of torque.

Aimed at providing real-world performance, the all-new Hunk 150R features a lightweight yet rigid diamond tubular frame offering precise handling and stability in corners and straight roads. Paired with 130/70MM radial rear tyre, the Hunk 150R ensures a superior road grip is provided in all types of road and riding conditions.

The riding triangle has been tuned to provide the perfect balance of agility, stability, and comfort. The motorcycle also boasts of a first in category 7 step adjustable mono-shock suspension for best in class handling ensuring a sporty ride. The broad 37mm beefy front forks also ensure a stable and plush ride.

Best-in-class features

The motorcycle boasts many safety features and is equipped with the first in category optional single-channel ABS ensuring safe braking. Sporting a new alloy wheel design, the 276mm front, and 220mm rear disc brakes come as a standard feature for efficient and immediate power stopping in all riding conditions. 

Designed to provide ease of access, the motorcycle features a sporty digi-analogue instrument cluster with a side stand indicator, trip metre, and a service reminder. The self-start button comes as standard and the engine kill switch is for added convenience. 

Dynamic design and style 

The Hunk 150R flaunts a muscular fuel tank with aggressive shrouds that make a statement while riding. Adding to the striking appeal is a chiselled rear cowl, sporty headlight with wolf-eyed LED position lamps, LED taillight with LED light guides making it easier to get recognised even in dark. The sport-dynamic graphics actuate the design lines offering an unmistakable style.

Colours with expression

The Hunk 150R is available in three colours – NH1 black, sports red, and techno blue.  

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Kathmandu’s smart toilets give dignity to workers, confidence to women users – OnlineKhabar English News



Padma Deula (42) belongs to a subsection in the Newa community that is primarily known as cleaners. Some 12 years ago, she started working as a cleaner, professionally. Every day, with her broom, she sweeps the streets in her neighbourhood.

But, over the years, her two working shifts only paid her some Rs 9,000 a month, not enough for her family expenses. “But, now, I have started working here [at a public toilet at Swayambhunath area], and I earn more than enough to manage my daily and family expenses,” Deula shares, “I have experienced a fair share of humiliation and discrimination in my job before, but here I feel much safer and respected, and I have learned more about health and sanitation.”

The public toilet Deula is working in is one of the three functioning smart toilets in the Kathmandu valley. The one in Swayambhu was set up on November 19, 2020, [World Toilet Day] by AEROSAN, a social enterprise working to set up more smart public toilets in Nepal.

Around International Women’s Day every year, topics of women empowerment steal the limelight. But, even in such discussions, one rarely relates the issues with a public toilet. The correlation is not that obvious surely, but it is growing vital. AEROSAN, for example, is working to establish smart toilets, at some places accompanied with cafes, in Kathmandu that will not only make cleaning job dignified but they will also let all, including women, use public toilets more confidently.

Making cleaning job dignified

‘Smart’ anything naturally refers to its association with technology. Apparently, smart toilets are also technologically equipped including auto flush, contactless soap dispenser, smart hand-dryer, sensor lights, and sensor taps.

A hand-washing section with smart soap dispenser and smart hand dryer in the men’s toilet of smart public toilet at Manjushree Bazaar in Swayambhu. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

The lead initiator of the project and the AEROSAN country representative, Prakash Amatya, says, “Integrating technology in toilets is essential. People who clean toilets [like Deula] are vulnerable and exposed to the excreted waste that can make them sick. So, when we introduce technology, it lessens human contact and, therefore, decreases contamination and spread of any kind of disease.”

AEROSAN country representative Prakash Amatya. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Amatya adds more than just health benefits, it ensures the dignity of the work. “We believe the population that cleans our toilets should not have to go through the humiliation of touching other’s excreted waste. The particular job has always been categorised as ‘undignified’ because of the very reason though it is an important part of our society.”

In addition, the initiative has helped other working women take care of their children better.

During and after the Covid-19 lockdown last year, Sworupa KC, 12, like most of the students, used to have online classes. But, her mom used to work in the Swayambhu area as a vendor. While her mom would be busy selling various products, the child had to travel to Kalanki, around four km, at her mother’s friend’s house every day just to access the internet. But, after a Wi-Fi connection was set up near her mom’s shop, it saved her a lot of travel time and even boosted her education graph.

Sworupa KC studying on the premises of the smart public toilet in Swayambhu as her school was closed for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

This, in return, lets her mother work in peace free of worries about her daughter’s whereabouts.

Smart toilets for all

Adding technology can solve other aspects of public toilets too. Amatya explains, “Toilets are not easily available; those available are damp, dark, smelly and unhygienic. They are so unappealing that we have to rethink going outside or watch our water intake just to avoid using the toilets outside.” Therefore, for many, going to the toilets outside is difficult too. If one is outside and holding urine or stool, in the long run, it can lead to kidney problems and other health hazards. “But, smart toilets have sensor lights and auto-flushes coupled with proper ventilation to keep the toilets well-lit, clean and fresh, free of odours or stains,” he claims.

Compared to women, it is believed men find it easy to answer their nature’s call anywhere. But, men are as vulnerable and are in the need of safer, cleaner toilets, stresses Amatya.

Currently, such smart toilets are located in Swayambhu, Baneshwor and Mangal Bazaar. Amatya says the facility will be expanded soon.

A smart toilet under-construction at Patan Dhoka, Lalitpur. Photo Courtesy: Prakash Amatya

With the expansion of smart toilets around the valley, Amatya expects to protect and promote an individual’s right to movement.

“The toilet is also women-friendly, and its features include a diaper-changing section, a pad-dispenser and pad-burning machine that help women during their menstruation cycles,” explains Archana Shrestha, programme officer at AEROSAN, “Our partnership with Safety [sanitary pad company] allows women to get sanitary pads at the factory cost, Rs 6 per piece, and destroy the used pads within 10 minutes. This lessens the economic burden on women and also keeps the environment clean.”

A diaper-changing station, a sanitary pad dispenser, and a pad-burning machine installed inside the women’s section of the smart public toilet at Manjushree Bazaar in Swayambhu. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

To add-on to the health benefits, these smart toilets have also installed SquatEase toilet pans that better toilet habits and increase efficiency in cleaning, she adds.

Promoting ‘toilet tourism’

Similar to other public toilets, one has to pay for using this service. The charge looks a bit costly at Rs 15, but by paying that amount, you can also get a cup of tea made in its own cafe, the organisation says.

Padma Deula working at her station inside the smart public toilet at Manjushree Bazaar in Swayambhu. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Yet, it can be unfamiliar for many as it is not culturally common to have a cafe inside the toilet premises. “Initially, it was only supposed to be a counter and a resting area for our operators. But, we added a cafe here to give our employees an additional source of income,” Amatya says, “The food is healthy, made in a space that is clean and hygienic, and we hope it will give a positive message that our toilets are clean enough to co-exist with a cafe.”

Outside the toilet premises, it has installed benches with an aim to promote networking among people and introduce ‘toilet tourism’ in the Swayambhu area. “The heritage site is already popular for heritage and spiritual tourism, we want to curate a culture among people where they frequent the site to use the toilet and its premises.”

For this, the organisation has also installed CCTV cameras and a Wi-Fi modem.

Enriching environment

Amartya further informs that the smart toilet addresses issues of water and waste efficiently.

“Our system is self-sufficient in nature. We have installed a rainwater harvesting system and reed-bed water recycling system. This is also the sole facility with a human waste-only digester so no waste collected from the toilets get mixed in water resources.” The structure is scalable and can be set up based on needs and space.

He says the organisation avoids using chemicals and the toilet flushes automatically, all the waste get collected in the tanks installed there. Ultimately, it undergoes the natural filtration process from where one gets water clean enough to reuse for flushing.”

Reed-bed water recycling system set up underground at the unused space adjacent to the smart public toilet at Manjushree Bazaar in Swayambhu. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Toilets, at home or public, are the primary source of human waste. The problem in Kathmandu, given its unplanned urbanisation, is that the drainage from the toilets gets directly linked to water resources polluting them and giving birth to water and airborne diseases. So, are smart toilets a solution to Kathmandu’s water woes?

Amatya partially agrees. “In areas where settlements are already dense, it will be difficult to install this system. Individually also, the system might not be geographically or economically viable. But, in new areas and at the community level, we can adopt this system and stop water pollution.”

He says the human excreta can be recycled: liquid into recycled water and solid into biogas to be used for cooking purposes as his organisation has done in the cafe. So, it is environmentally and economically a sustainable investment.

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