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‘Nepali handicraft industry has a lot of opportunities but doesn’t have people to realise them’ – OnlineKhabar English News

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Nepal is known for its art, many claim it. But, the statement is yet to be proven right in the mainstream market. The country is said to have a lot of potentials when it comes to art, which majorly includes handicrafts items. But lately, during and after the lockdown imposed to control the Covid-19 spread in the country, the art sector has sustained losses and is struggling to grapple for its way in the market.

The Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN) was established in 1972 in the entrepreneurs’ bid to promote the country’s handicraft market. It currently has chapters in 14 districts and works with artists, entrepreneurs, businesses, traders and exporters. To date, it has some 4,000 members among which 1,500 are active. The organisation’s major work is to give its members the market, nationally or internationally, advocate their problems in front of the concerned authorities. 

The organisation’s Senior Vice-President Prachanda Shakya has worked in the sector independently for 11 years. He got involved in the FHAN some nine years ago and has been VP for the last two years. He has discussed prospects, opportunities and shortcomings of the handicraft market in Nepal with Onlinekhabar.

Excerpts:

How is the status of handicraft business in Nepal?

It is a growing business sector but has seen a hit due to the lockdown. Before Covid-19, we used to have a market of around one billion rupees, both internationally and nationally. It is giving employment to about one million people, directly and indirectly.

Handicrafts are majorly categorised into two major sections; traditional and modern. Over 70 of the handicraft products of Nepal were exported on a regular basis, where the felt industry dominates it. Felt saw a stable market in many of the European countries, with a high demand during holiday seasons and for other interior decorations.

Photo Courtesy: FHAN

Another popular section was woodcrafts and metal crafts including silver jewellery.

So, how has the pandemic affected the sector?

As I said, the majority of our exports used to go to Europe. But, with travel restrictions and economic crisis, the orders are not coming in. During the lockdown, the business seemed to be better in comparison to today because we still had pending consignments and it was giving people employment.

Now, because the consignments have been exported, we do not have new orders. Our small and medium enterprises are highly affected by this. Even if they want to send a consignment abroad, the shipping charge has been so high, from Rs 125/kg to Rs 500/kg that they cannot afford.

But, the industry is seeing a recovery in the national market, post Covid-19. 

Businesses with small investments and startups are prone to shutting down early. Do we see this in the handicraft business too as an impact of Covid-19?

To see the results of any business, it takes time, the handicraft sector takes more. Generally, it takes a minimum of two years of initial investment to set up the business. In five years, you will start seeing the returns and only in 10 years will one start making any profit. So, it is a matter of patience. Many cannot survive due to lack of investment and a stable market.

So you mean to say that does not affect much. If so, what are other major problems of the sector?

A major complain the people have is that Nepali handicraft products are not well-packaged. Many people still search for consistency and uniformity in products in terms of size, dimensions and quality, which is not possible. The small differences make them unique, we still have to realise this. Ironically, many people also think that Nepali products are unreliable, expensive and lack quality, discouraging the business. 

We also lack resources including human resources. And, the recent intervention of machinery that promotes uniformity, finesse, and quantity is also limiting the progress.

In addition to that, there is no promotion of handicrafts from the government side. Handicraft businesses, according to government policy, are required to operate with PAN bills. It is okay as many SMEs lack a turnover of Rs five million and more every month. But, not getting listed as a value-added tax (VAT) payer means they are deprived of big orders.

The Value Added Tax Act, 1996, amended in 2011, has enlisted handicrafts as one of the VAT-exempted sectors. But it has not been implemented well and the SMEs and local businesses also are not aware and are discouraged to do bigger businesses at many levels, even in government offices who do not support or convey the messages properly.

The government also does not promote the handicraft businesses in its offices, say in terms of decorations, and also does not prefer giving handicraft gifts to any diplomatic or foreign delegations when they visit.

Another problem I see is that we have not been able to handover our craft and knowledge to the younger generation, be it family business or new entrepreneurs. There have been some and they are doing well, but it is not enough. There are many handicrafts sectors that are going unnoticed and discontinued because it lacks human resources, market and other resources. Many others are sustaining within the family only with limited workforce and resources. We have not been able to expand and capitalise on them.

Photo Courtesy: FHAN

But, don’t you think we lack innovation in the handicraft sector? What are the few things we can work on?

No, we do not lack innovation in the sector in terms of quality. Even the felt industry that has a comparatively larger business is still innovating and attracting the market. Everest Fashion House (EFH) and Amrita Crafts are a few such examples.

But, quantitative innovations are missing because there are so much that we can still do. Nepal has an abundance of resources and our major focus can be around the natural fibres that we can produce through plant-based resources like making masks from marijuana plants that purify air better. 

How can we solve these problems?

Along with the problems, I have also seen opportunities. There are teenagers and younger people who are interested in the field, to learn the craft and get into the business. We have to connect them to the proper training and utilise their minds and skills to scale up the handicraft businesses. The FHAN has also not been able to support their queries but we are working to rectify that.

Another problem is packaging, which can be solved too. We have to realise that presentation is important nowadays. If the craft is excellent but the packaging is not, the market will not value them. Many Chinese brands in Kathmandu are doing good business because of their packaging that appeals to the consumer. Well-packaged goods are easy to market and then attract customers as well. 

The FHAN’s sister organisation, Handicraft Design and Development Centre, works to curb this problem with research and design works, which can be utilised by all. 

Another good thing is that we can capitalise on social media. Along with exposure and easy access, it gives any business today. Because of this, many people from the older generation are also getting chances to sell their craft and make money. Academically also, we are progressing. If we can harness the opportunities internet and academia have given us, we can increase the quantity too.



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

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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

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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.”

HERO XTREME 160R

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.

HERO HUNK 150R

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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5 TVS bikes and scooters to buy in Nepal. Plus, updated price list for Feb 2021 – OnlineKhabar English News

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As a brand, TVS has come leaps and bounds in recent years. It got a lot of attention in the late 2000s when it released Apache 150 and RTR 160. But with other brands coming into the market, it lost its charm. But lately, it has come back, and back with a bang. It has a lot more options in all price variants. Apart from bikes, the new range of powerful scooters has also caught the eye of many in the country.

Last week, we brought to you the best Bajaj has to offer in various price ranges. This week, we bring to you the best TVS motors have to offer.

1. Jupiter

This is one of TVS’ most popular products. Many reviews argue that it is a better alternative to Honda Activa as it rides better, feels plusher and sports a smart design. Its performance is quite smooth as it offers decent mileage. The new i-Touchstart technology gives Jupiter a silent and quick start, making it ideal for repeated starts in stop-and-go traffic. It also comes with a charging point and an externally opening fuel tank. It is offered in four variants- Standard, ZX, ZX Disc, and Classic, so don’t worry, there is a Jupiter for everyone.

2. Ntorq Race Edition

Image result for TVS Ntorq Race Edition

A little more powerful than Jupiter, Ntorq is an excellent mix of performance, features and practicality. It is a fun scooter that is ideal for anyone. It has got a great pick-up and a healthy mileage. It is a bit heavy, but it rides very smoothly. Its large wheels are also a bonus and ideal for Nepali roads. Looks-wise, it is quite good too as the Race edition comes with new graphics, hazard lights and an LED headlight and, like Jupiter, it also comes with a charging port. If you are looking for a powerful scooter, this is it.

3. TVS Max 125 Semi-Trail

Many call this an adventure bike for the common man. It is quite efficient and is ideal for all kinds of terrain. It has got good handling, is stable and is perfect if you often travel around the hills of Nepal. For the price, it is probably the best budget off-road bike in the market. But, as it is cheap, you only get an analogue speedometer and is quite basic looking. But, like the scooters, this too has a USB port where you can charge your phone if you run out of batteries during your adventures.

4. Apache RTR 180

TVS says that RTR 180 is one of its most practical bikes for Nepal. Given the amount of time one has to stop due to traffic, TVS’s GTT (glide through traffic) feature for the bike lets the rider avoid using the clutch and accelerator again and again in traffic conditions. It also comes with telescopic forks suspension at the front, along with a mono-shock setup at the rear. Perfect for Nepal’s inconsistent roads, it, however, not much changed looks-wise. But, TVS says the RTR 180 2V comes with all-new graphics. A good midrange option…

5. RR 310

This bike is fast. Very fast! Sure, it is not perfect, but it is a motorcycle that can be ridden to work, to the racetrack, and even on the racetrack. Furthermore, it has the road presence of bikes with double the engine capacity. It looks cool and feels quite smooth too. Riding solo, one is bound to feel like Valentino Rossi, but with a pillion, you might have to be a bit careful. The RR 310 has unique features too. It has a total of four riding modes – rain, urban, sport and track. These modes offer different setups, based on the engine power/response and ABS. If you are a speed freak and do not want to spend a fortune on KTM bikes, this is the bike for you.

Price List:



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