Sunday, January 31, 2016

Workshop on "Social Service Awareness and Benefit" Kicks Off

Rabin Man Shakya

In an effort to raise community and social awareness of the Nepalese Portlanders, Oregon chapter of the Non-resident Nepalese Association - National Coordination Council  (NRNA-NCC-USA) is working on various workshops to provide more useful and relevant information to the community members.

Starting Jan 30, 2016, the NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon chapter is kicking off a series of workshops for the Nepalese community members in Portland.

At a workshop program "Social Service Awareness and Benefit" organized by Oregon chapter at the Nekusing Memorial Theater,  Portland on Saturday, president of the chapter Diwakar Maharjan expressed the hope that these workshops would pave the way for  understanding more about the benefits that the US government has provided to the people.

Speaking about  "Social Service Awareness and Benefit", vice president of the chapter Daya Shakya threw light on legal boundaries for citizens versus residents, Diversity and Discrimination, Medicaid vs Medicare, Child Protection Law mandatory reporting and other relevant issues.

Dwelling on Child Protection Laws, Shakya went on  to say,"Child Protection Laws (CPLs) provide an umbrella of protection in all areas of a child's life, including overall safety, protection from all forms of abuse and protection using the Internet or email. Violation of CPLs carry greater punishment than similar crimes carried out against adults."

Asked whether one can retire at age 62, Shakya replied: "You may start receiving benefits as early as 62. In that case, your benefits are reduced. If your full retirement age is 66, and you sign up for Social Security when you are 62, you would only get 75 percent of your full benefit."

Likewise, speaking on the theme of "Understanding Social Security Benefit", Bharat Banskota, Immediate Past President of Nepalese Association of Oregon (NAO) said,"Social Security helps not only older citizens, green card holders, but also workers who become disabled and families in which a spouse or parent dies."

Today, about 159 million people work and pay Social Security taxes and about 55 million people receive monthly Social Security benefit, Banskota informed the gathering of the Nepalese Portlanders.

Business Director of the chapter Ramesh Bhandari extended vote of thanks at the end of the workshop program which was attended by about 25 Nepalese Portlanders.

It is to be noted that another workshop on "Career in Science" is to be held by the NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon chapter in the month of February.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Need of the Hour: Stop Making Provocative Acts

Rabin Man Shakya
State Education Director,  NRNA-NCC-USA, Oregon Chapter

The media report about Nepal Police firing on Madhesi protesters  in Morang on Thursday, killing Draupati Chaudhari, 62, Mahadev Rishidev, 45, and Siru Majhi 25, has raised  questions about the sincerity and honesty of both the K P Oli government as well as the Terai Madhesi parties.

Tensions which have remained high in Terai region of Nepal since adopting its first republican constitution in September, 2015 were further inflamed when the police fired at the protesters on Thursday in Morang.

The incident is likely to aggravate the already existing tensions between Terai Madhesi parties and the Oli government.

At a time when there is a light at the end of the Terai crisis tunnel, when optimism about relaxing of blockade was building, this tragic incident may shatter the rays of hope. This incident is not the first one in the series of provocative acts. President Vidya Devi Bandari's visit to Janaki temple recently and other incidents could have been  stopped.

The timing and selection of Morang as a venue for UML's Youth Force program was sure to provoke the Tarai Madhesi protesters. This is  very sensitive time and no body and no political party should should move any provocative steps.

The crux of the problem in this case is the extremism and intransigence of the UML  party as well as the Teari Madhesi parties. Well, it definitely was not an appropriate time for UML's Youth Force to organize "Tarai Madhesi Dialogue and Awareness Campaign" in volatile Tarai area of Morang at this sensitive time.

And it was also an example of jingoism and stubbornness on the part of Tarai Madhesi parties to create a debacle by trying to preventing the UML Youth Force's program. The three innocent people who died and scores of others who were critically injured in the police firing were caught in the crossfire in the "battle" between the government, UML Youth Force and Tarai Madhesi parties.

As a result, the challenges facing the ordinary Nepalese people are indeed formidable because the mainstream political parties and Tarai Madhesi parties are working for their own vested interest, not giving a damn about the people's wellbeing.

Since it would be impossible to make a significant breakthrough towards making a negotiated deal between the government and the Madhesi parties unless both the sides come forward with flexibilities for the broader interest of the nation, they should at least stop making provocative acts to ease the current political stalemate.

It is to be noted that the United Madhesi Front, which is leading the protests for last five months, wants state boundaries to be redrawn to give their communities more power, a step that the mainstream political parties are reluctant to move.

The need of the hour is:  Until the much-awaited deal is reached, both the ruling parties and the Nepali Congress as well as the Tarai Madhesi parties should be able to quit their stubbornness and intransigence and stop making provocative acts for the common good of the people.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Media Should Speak Out Against Lawlessness in Nepal

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

As we enter a new year, there's plenty for we media folks to be concerned about. Black marketing, corruption, nepotism and misuse of power etc are rampant in Nepal today. And it is the duty of the mainstream media not only to point out the flaws in the governance but also to spill the beans on the corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen.

The newspaper industry has an immense opportunity to surprise and delight the common people of Nepal -- if they really and truly know what investigative reporting is -- by publishing news stories about the people related to corruption and black marketing  of essential goods like cooking gas and petrol.

It is not that the Nepalese FMs and TVs  as well as the newspapers are not pointing out the flaws and shortcomings in the governance. But it is not enough, for sure. There are growing signs of discontent with the government's approach to the current situation with critics accusing prime minister K P Oli of recklessly plunging Nepal into an unprecedented  economic crisis. The blockade orchestrated by the Terai Madhesi parties has already enough negative consequences on the people. According to media reports, right now, there is enough petrol in the depots of the Nepal Oil Corporation. However, there is acute scarcity of petrol and cooking gas in the market. Paradoxically, petrol and cooking gas are available in plenty in  the black market. It looks like under the Oli government the black marketing has been legitimized. It is the millions of simple and poor people who are suffering from this situation.

The economic blockade has added to unprecendented troubles to the people who were couping with the consequences of the massive earthquake. This is the time of great distress and anxiety for the Nepalese. When the politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen are conniving with each other to trouble and cheat the people, who else can help the people except the media? As the watchdog of the nation, the media should be able to expose the misdeeds and crimes of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen.

The politicians and parties also understand the need to avert any kind of political catastrophe that may arise if the current crisis is not figured out. But there is the lack of will and commitment to do something for the good of the people.

The 100-day honeymoon period of the Oli government passed without zero achievement, and the government is not even ashamed a little bit. Everybody is angry in Nepal. The Nepalese people are struggling with the high cost of making ends meet. People are totally discontented with the corrupt Oli government.

It is already time for the mainstream media to speak out against the rampant black marketing and lawlessness. Not just speaking out, but they should bring out more news stories about the corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and greedy businessmen who are looting and cheating the common people of Nepal. Why are the politicians and bureaucrats impune from the crimes they are committing against the people ? If the culture of impunity is not uprooted and proper discipline is not enforced, the nation can easily plunge further into civil chaos, poverty and lawlessness.