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Nepal’s art industry is gendered, and women artists want to change it – OnlineKhabar English News

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Sarita Dongol remembers how her mother insisted on keeping a piece of chilli in her lunchbox throughout her childhood.

“She believed that the food would be protected from any ill intent or negative soul when a chilli is placed inside,” Dongol remembers, “Any occasion when I forgot to put a chilli inside would result in a long lecture and a great deal of anxiety in me.”

In her adult life, Dongol, who has made a career in the field of fine art and visual art today, now started depicting chillies on her canvases that she says is an ode to her childhood experiences. Art lovers from different social backgrounds, including those from different ethnic groups and genders, have appreciated her works about chillies, but sometimes she just feels women artists cannot get a platform to showcase their art and the stakeholders of the art industry have been biased against women artists just because of their gender.

Visual artist and curator Sarita Dongol with her artworks under the exhibition ‘Reflection of Feminine Power on Art Part II’ at the Classic Gallery of Chakupat in Lalitpur. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Dongol’s paintings from the ‘Chilli series’ is one of the attractions in the ongoing ‘Reflection of Feminine  Power on Art Part II’ at the Classic Gallery of Chakupat in Lalitpur. The exhibition that started on March 18 to commemorate Women’s Month features paintings of other nine women artists on different themes.

Artists like Dangol who participate in the exhibition say such an event dedicated to women artists and their works is crucial as they feel the Nepali art industry is still gendered although art per se is not.

Letting women go beyond ‘women’s issues’

The exhibition aims to empower women by giving them exposure and a platform to be recognised. Nevertheless, the exhibition has not necessarily defined ‘women issues’ as its theme.

Visual artist Riti Maharjan’s artworks on display under the exhibition ‘Reflection of Feminine Power on Art Part II’ at the Classic Gallery of Chakupat in Lalitpur. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

According to Dongol, the curator of the exhibition, the organisers kept the theme open to give a message that they do not need to put such themes to empower women. “Art has never been gendered; it does not belong to either sex exclusively,” she says, “Artists have that sacred space–their canvases, nationally and internationally, where they can identify themselves with their art. Internationally, artworks of Nepali women artists have been sought after, and that is our progress.”

“In terms of marketing as well as a number of art genres and outlets, what an artist can use to express themselves has evolved for the better. The artworks featured in the exhibition are an example of how art has become a stronger tool for women to ensure their freedom of expression,” she adds.

Riti Maharjan, a visual artist featured in the exhibition, agrees. “I have never heard the audience say that an art piece is good or bad because of the artist’s gender. And, I believe we will not reach that situation.”

“Rather, how well we are able to communicate with the audience depends on the skill and how we portray our thoughts and ideas.”

Visual artist Riti Maharjan with her artworks under the exhibition ‘Reflection of Feminine Power on Art Part II’ at the Classic Gallery of Chakupat in Lalitpur. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Another visual artist and art student Phurwa Lama says, “The art quality does not falter because of one’s gender; they have been equally appreciated because they are good and have emotionally touched the audience.”

Then, why ‘women-only’ exhibition?

Nonetheless, these artists agree that artwork itself can help identify the artist. Lama adds, “The kind of colour, the tone, the texture and its technique used in artworks can help one identify who the artist is, including their gender, although not categorically. When it comes to women’s issues, men can only depict them on the basis of hearsay. Women live problems and can better portray them.”

Artworks on display under the exhibition ‘Reflection of Feminine Power on Art Part II’ at the Classic Gallery of Chakupat in Lalitpur. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Accordingly, they say women artists should use their skill to express their concerns about their life and society.

Maharjan views, “Nepal still battles with so many discrepancies that still need to be discussed. Issues like domestic violence, rape, suppression and women empowerment are still relatable to our audience. And, such artworks speak well here rather than anywhere else. So, that helps us reach out to them.”

Dangol adds, “Our society is still struggling to get out of the system we have been brought up with.” She gives the example of her own sector. “Women were degraded, humiliated or simply not supported for studying and pursuing art as a career in the past. The times have changed: they now have stepped out of the house and strongly choose to be empowered through art. Yet, they are still struggling to get the same level of opportunities or exposure to take their art into the world.”

Given it is the month of March, discussions in and around women and women empowerment are common. Maharjan and Dongol both say such changes are not sufficient yet.

Artist Ravita Kisi’s artworks on display under the exhibition ‘Reflection of Feminine Power on Art Part II’ at the Classic Gallery of Chakupat in Lalitpur. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Hence, Maharjan thinks such exhibitions are ways for arts and the audience meet each other personally. “These events should occur more, not just in March, for the promotion of art and of women artists who are still struggling for the exposure.”

Dongol argues, “In my 30 years in the field, not much has changed in terms of women artists and the kind of exposure they get. We still feel the need to celebrate Women’s Day, to have separate exhibitions just to promote women artists.”

Hence, the motive of these exhibitions is to give women that exposure, the curator says.

The exhibition will go on till April 20, 2021. And artists hope the exhibition and other similar ones will help create the dialogue that promotes the art sector and artists alike. “I want to see a future where people search for art exhibitions with the same dedication as they give while searching for movies.”

Saurganga Darshandhari’s artworks on display under the exhibition ‘Reflection of Feminine Power on Art Part II’ at the Classic Gallery of Chakupat in Lalitpur. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya



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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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Kathmandu mayor had a plan to make it a cycle city, but he hasn’t done anything in 4 years – OnlineKhabar English News

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When he was the mayoral candidate for the Kathmandu metropolitan city in the 2017 local elections, the CPN-UML leader Bidya Sundar Shakya had said in his manifesto, “An action plan will be prepared to make Kathmandu a bicycle city.” Now, after almost four years of being elected, he has not been able to implement the action plan. 

Meanwhile, the existing bicycle lanes have been abandoned and unused due to a lack of interest in their use.

Ambitious plan dumped

The city government had made public the design for bicycle lanes in the Maitighar-Koteshwor road stretch on December 14, 2019. Mayor Shakya had gone to Maitighar to take a photo while riding a bicycle. He also gave a speech on the importance of bicycles and bicycle lanes.

Then, the City Planning Commission announced that Rs 30 million had been allocated in the last fiscal year to manage bicycle lanes on the road stretch. The lanes, which were said to have been constructed in a week then, have not seen even preparations to date with already dedicated lanes on the route. 

A cycle lane in Lalitpur

In the meantime, the neighbouring Lalitpur metropolitan city has constructed a bicycle lane on the road from Kupandol to Mangalbazar via Jawalakhel and Lagankhel.

Cyclist Bhumraj Tiwari says the trend of not implementing the promises has become a challenge for urban transport. He says it was worrying that the authorities are discouraging bicycles and promoting others just to increase traffic jams.

Cycling undervalued

Developing the culture of cycling in the city is considered important from an environmental point of view. Cycling campaigners say it will reduce pollution and provide physical exercise for city dwellers.

However, cycling is not safe in Kathmandu due to the lack of separate lanes, roads with heavy vehicles, and drivers’ demeaning attitude.

A cycling lane in Naya Baneshwar of Kathmandu meets a barricade.

Cyclist Tiwari says it is wrong to think of bicycles as “rides for the poor” as it is important for health, environment, urban life, and culture. “This mentality has to be removed,” he says, adding, “For cyclists to take their bicycles on the road, authorities have to guarantee the roads will be safe.”

Cyclist Baburaja Rokaya also adds the bicycle culture will not be developed only by making lanes along some roads of the valley, neither will it improve the environment.

Environmentalists have been demanding bicycle lanes in Kathmandu for a long time.

But, the city government’s spokesperson Ishwar Man Dangol says bicycle lanes will not be possible in all areas, adding, “Approval has been sought from the Department of Road for the construction of bicycle lanes in Baneshwor area. The work will soon commence.”

Poor state of the existing lanes

Motorbikes are parked on the pedestrian pavement in Babarmahal of Kathmandu.

When the Maitighar-Koteshwor section was widened seven years ago, space was allotted for bicycle lanes. But, on the lane, the authorities have laid tiles without signs, turning it into a pedestrian pavement.

Initially, red tiles were laid along the bicycle lane and plain tiles on the pavement, which were later scraped off for laying water supply pipes. Currently, cyclists cannot even recognise the bicycle lane.

The municipal government had plans to operate this lane in a systematic manner but now says the task is not that easy.

Encroachment

The existing bicycle lane along the Maitighar-Koteshwor road is broken at various places. The lane meets railings after intersections at points. 

A pillar of an under-construction pedestrian bridge disturbs pedestrians in Naya Baneshwar.

Many places have lanes too narrow for cycling while others are encroached on. On the pavement, there are waiting chairs for passengers, encroaching on the lane, which means people are seen walking on the bicycle lanes.

Plants between the pavement and the bicycle lane have overgrown while in some places, vendors sit for business.

In the meantime, construction materials get piled on bicycle lanes. Somewhere along the bicycle lane, tiles have been uprooted; elsewhere pillars for the pedestrian bridges have been erected on the lane itself.

Likewise, pavements in Maitighar and Koteshwor are used for parking. The pavement and cycle lane outside the government offices, hospitals, hotels, banks, and commercial complexes are full of motorcycles parked there.

As bicycle lanes and sidewalks are filled with parking, passengers have to walk down the road.



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