सोनाम वाङ्चुकको अन्तर्वार्ताले सिकाएका केही कुरा

१. ज्ञान र शिक्षा फरक कुरा हुन् ।
२. गलत शिक्षा हुनुभन्दा नभएकै वेश ।
३. शिक्षाको उद्देश्य सिक्ने या बुझ्ने हुनुपर्छ । त्यसो नभएसम्म शिक्षा र शिक्षा प्रणाली गलत हुन्छन् ।
४. उत्सुकता र प्रकृतिसँगको निकटताले मानिसलाई ज्ञानी बनाउँछ भलै उसले औपचारिक शिक्षा नपाएको होस् ।
५. दक्षिण एसियामा मातृभाषामा ज्ञान पाउन धेरै नै गाह्रो छ । मातृभाषाबाट हुने सिकाइले बालबालिकालाई उत्सुक बनाउन सिकाउँछ र उनीहरूको आत्मविश्वासमा समेत मद्दत गर्छ । मातृभाषामा राम्रो पकड छ भने अरू भाषा सिक्न पनि सजिलो हुन्छ ।
६. भूगोल र माटो अनुसारको शिक्षा उपयोगी हुन्छ । युरोपेलीको नक्कल गरेर अघि बढ्न सकिन्न ।
७. सरकारमा रहेका/प्रभावशाली व्यक्तिका सन्तानहरू सार्वजनिक शिक्षा प्रणालीमा नभएसम्म सार्वजनिक शिक्षामा केही परिवर्तन आउँदैन ।
८. प्रकृतिमा प्रकृतिसँग सिकेका कुराहरू वास्तविक ज्ञान हुन् तर त्यसतो मौलिक ज्ञानको साटो हाम्रा शैक्षिक संस्थाहरू युरोप र अमेरिकाका कोर्सहरू कपी-पेस्ट गरिरहेका छौँ । यसले हामीलाई पछि पार्छ ।
९. शिक्षाका तीन माध्यम हुन्छन्: (१) श्रुतियुक्त (सुनेका र पढेका कुरालाई महत्त्व दिने), (२) चेतनायुक्त (सुनेका/पढेका कुरालाई मनन गर्ने र तीमाथि तर्क गर्ने) र (३) भावयुक्त (अनुभव लिँदै सिक्ने) । हाम्रो शिक्षा प्रणालीमा अनुभव लिँदै सिक्ने कुराको अभाव छ ।

सोनाम वाङ्चुकको अन्तर्वार्ता

Bara-Parsa Tornado: Reconstruction and Lessons

On September 16, my friends and I attended the third lecture series organized by Nepalese Society of Engineering Geologists (NSEG) at the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). The first lecture of the series included a presentation titled, “Bara-Parsa Post Tornado Reconstruction—An Overview”. Lt. Col. Shrijan Bahadur Malla, the leader of the Parsa Karyadal (“Karyadal” translates to “task force/group”), showed through a series of slides the effects of tornado, the government’s response and the Nepal Army’s effort in accomplishing a near-impossible task within the given time-frame.

What had happened at Bara and Parsa? 

Between 7: 45 to 8: 15 PM, March 31, 2019 (Jestha 17, 2076), a storm swept through several villages of Parsa and Bara districts of Nepal. The reports that came since puzzled the scientists as such a wide range of destruction had never been reported before. The winds had travelled 90 km (30 km of which was observed from the satellite images) within 30 minutes, uprooted trees, overturned trucks and completely damaged some masonry buildings. The winds were stronger than what was usually observed. They had to dig deeper into what had actually happened.

Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) had observed the possibility of rainfall in the area, but due to lack of resources, had not been able to predict the nature of the storm. On the other side of the border, India Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued a warning against “chakravaat”. However, there was no official information exchange between the DHM and IDM. So, we were completely unaware of what was about to come.  

A week later, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) confirmed it was a tornado, with intensity up to F2 and F3 (180-332 km/hr) on the Fujita Scale. The actual speed could not be determined. The tornado had generated at the Chitwan National Park and had travelled eastwards, reaching a maximum width of 200 m and destroying everything that came in its way. Bharbalia, Parwanipur, and Pheta villages of Bara suffered the worst. 28 people died (according to the official report), about 1200 people sustained injuries, and around 1450 houses were destroyed. Farmers also suffered the loss of crops and livestock.

Was it the first ever tornado that occurred in Nepal?

Most media and even among the scientists, the event was discussed as the first ever tornado occurring in the Nepali territory. However, as someone with roots in the Terai, and having heard accounts of hard-hitting storms from the past, I don’t believe it was the first ever tornado. Still, it is the first time, a tornado event has been recorded and studied scientifically. To confirm this further, I would like to quote from Kiran Nepal from his article in the Nepali Times:

“The tornado was not the first of its kind in Nepal. In fact, literature and folklore speak of twisters ravaging Tarai villages. But because these are localised disasters, they did not make it to the news.”

(Ground zero in Pheta)

Response to the crisis

Government of Nepal made a quick response. Rescue teams were immediately employed. On April 1, the Government declared a state of emergency in the affected area. Nepalese Army then got involved in the rescue and relief operation. All three levels of Government—the Federal, Province No. 2 and Local Governments—worked together to manage the relief works, and to rehabilitate the affected people before the Monsoon hit them hard again.

So, the Local Government brought up all the data necessary for the reconstruction process, the Provincial Government facilitated the smooth operation, and the Federal Government asked the Nepalese Army to complete the task as soon as possible. On April 26, it was declared that the Nepalese Army would be involved in the construction of new houses under the Janata Aawas Kaaryakram (People’s Housing Programme).

Challenges to the Nepalese army

Lt. Col. Malla provided his first-hand experience on the challenges the Nepalese Army had to face.

1. Timeframe. The task had to be completed within 3 months. The Local Governments had enlisted a total of 884 houses to be constructed. All the construction had to be parallel. They needed a lot of construction materials, required large areas to heap them until the construction. The need for human resources was also paramount.

2. Weather Condition. The summer was in its peak. The temperatures reached more than 40 degrees Celsius during the day time. Winds blew from time to time, destroying the temporary shelters, and floods delayed the construction.

3. Health Issues and Snake Bites. Heatstroke is among the common health issue in the summer. Flu is another illness that can occur because of the cold sweat drenching your clothes and skin. There is also high risk of malaria and Kala-Azar. Snake bites are also frequent occurrences. Lt. Col. Malla reported incidents of flu and snake bites.

4. Socio-poilitical issues. When huge reconstruction work is at hand, most families separate so that they can enjoy the compensation provided. The number of victims fluctuated frequently and even at the end, there were issues related to citizenship and land-ownership.

How did the army complete the task?

Nepalese Army was provided with the design of houses by the Department of Urban Housing. The design had two rooms, the frame and trusses were to be made from bamboo. The Army changed it slightly. They added a verandah and a toilet. And instead of bamboo, they would use steel.

With the design in hand, they had to look for huge amounts of construction material. The government had eased the process by letting the Army buy directly from the market (instead of the usual bidding process). The contractors for construction materials were chosen such that they could supply the materials required without any corruption and commission.

Since the task was labour intensive, they required to hire a huge labour force. It was convenient to use the troops themselves. The Army personnel were divided into the highly-skilled, skilled and semi-skilled and the work division was done accordingly. They worked in shifts from 6 to 10 o’clock in the morning and 4 to 8 o’clock in the evening.

There were some hurdles, as state in the section above. Nepalese Army went through and helped themselves and the victims. They worked as smoothly as they could. Finally, 869 of 884 houses were completed by the end of August. The remaining 15 houses were not built due to the issues such as citizenship and land ownership. These houses were handed over to their respective owners officially on 4th September.

Lessons Learnt

At the end of the presentation Lt. Col. Malla presented a list of lessons learnt from the Bara-Parsa Tornado event. I have added some by myself.

1. Improvement in Weather Forecasts. The DHM and IMD are now working together to identify such disasters. The weather forecasts are also becoming increasingly reliable.

2. Where there is will, there are ways. The government’s response was quick. The Army was given the rights to final decision on the construction. The buying of essential construction materials was made easier. All there levels of government came together. The tiff between the Federal Government and the Province-2 Government did not affect the victims.

3. Enhancement of the capacity of the Nepalese Army. From all sort of labour-intensive work to planning and design, the Army has grown stronger, Lt. Col. Malla stated with pride.

4. Goodwill among the people. All the government bodies, and especially the Nepalese Army won the hearts of the people affected by the tornado.

5. Civil authorities need to play important roles in future disasters. As he concluded, Lt. Col. Malla said that Nepalese Army cannot do all the reconstruction work by themselves in the future. Though he was proud of what the Army had been able to do, it is the task of civil authorities to actually involve in the disaster prevention, risk reduction and reconstruction. Thus, they must be prepared to provide relief, and for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the aftermath.

Conclusion

The presentation brought out a sense of joy and pride in everyone present in the seminar hall. It helped us understand what actually happens during the reconstruction. It’s one thing to read and say, one should do this and that. But listening it from someone who has had first-hand experience in the act, we knew how difficult the task is. And how it feels to see smiling faces as the hard work comes to fruition.

Many thanks to the Government! Salute to the Nepalese Army!!

References

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01159-w

https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nepal-army-constructs-869-houses-for-tornado-victims-of-bara-parsa/

https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/na-hand-over-houses-to-tornado-hit-bara-and-parsa-people/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_2019_southern_Nepal_tornado

​A Month in Palpa: Some of the Things I Learnt

I spent about a month (26 days to be precise) at Palpa with my friends and teachers for field-work on Geology. It’s a matter of 100 marks after all. But life is not only about university lessons and exams. There are a lot more things to learn.

A view from Tundikhel, Tansen

1. Life’s uncertain

The day we left for Palpa, we were happy. Though we were in the cabin, 7-8 of us could gossip freely and we did not complain. The uncertainty of life showed up after we reached Siddhababa as it got dark on the way. To our dismay, the bus had a damaged dynamo. To state it straight, the bus lacked headlight. We searched for torch lights to help the driver, which was in vain. When the bus took sharp turns, my heart leaped out to my mouth. We prayed, we sought ideas. Another vehicle from behind helped the driver see the road. When the bus stopped at Dumre, Palpa, we shook hands with the driver, cheered and thanked God. The next day, when I saw the road and the gorge of Tinau River, I felt that it is a miracle that I’m alive.

Gorge formed by Tinau River

2. Schedule cannot always be followed

We began with a schedule. We had to follow it but we did not. What should have been done on the seventh day was completed on the first day. It created a lot of confusion. It was difficult to understand what we did but as time passed, we understood what we had done. Learning under a schedule is easier but there is no need to panic if the schedule is disturbed.
3. We can’t observe nature well from inside a bus

Three buses were reserved for daily travel (traverse is the word geologists use) along the Siddhartha Highway. While we were in the bus, we had difficulty in observing geological features. There is problem in connecting things with places when we try to recall. When we walked along towards the end of the exursion because of protests against Federal Model, we understood things really well.
4. There’s always a way to discover fun

When there are so many people around you, you never have to feel low. Even when there is a lot of work to do, you get support from them. Your mind is more inclined to fun in those times. I also found that we look for fun when we are under restrictions. Sometimes, noticing small movements and chats can also give immense pleasures. Enjoying things in the present can help a lot in overcoming troubles.

Boys find fun on the last day of field

5. Togetherness

Most of us have lived in closely-knit families. A lot of problems arise while we are away from family. Homesickness is a problem to many. With the support of friends, this is no big deal. Together we celebrated successes and soothed failures. Together we solved the financial problems we could get into. Together we worked and together we succeeded. Together we bacame family of a sort.
6. Thankfulness

Spending a month at an entirely new place is difficult. Without the help of local people, the school we stayed and all the stakeholders, it would have been impossible. We thank them for their support. We thank our chefs without whom we would not have got food in time. We thank our teachers for the knowledge they imparted. We thank each other for tolerating and cooperating. We also thank our families who have undergone several challenges before and during our excursion.
7. That feeling when you’re leaving

I don’t get a perfect word for this. I was happy that I was returning home but I was also sad that I was leaving the place that had sheltered us for about a month. I still remember the faces of people who bade us farewell. Was it a kind of attachment, a kind of bond I had made with the place and it’s people? Maybe I left a part of my soul there so that I can remember them everyday.
I heard someone say, “You may get a lot of chances to earn money. To earn memories though, you have a very few chances.” Memories of the camp, friends, people and places have formed this article. I proudly share my priceless article for all forever.

Life’s Lessons

यस्तो रहस्यमय जीवन बुझ्नलाई
जानु कहाँ ? पढ्नु के ? गुरु को बनाई ?
फुल्दो गुलाबबिच ज्ञान अनेक फुल्छन्
उद्यानमा बस गई सब तत्व खुल्छन् !
-लक्ष्मीप्रसाद देवकोटा

Where can we learn the secrets of our life? Laxmi Prasad Devkota asks and answers himself, “Go to the Garden and you will find all the answers.”

The Garden here means Nature. There is everything in Nature we can learn. Nature is an open museum. What we need the eyes that analyse the beauty of nature, and that explore the knowledge within Her womb.

One day, I had written, “You see what you want to see. And nothing else.” I have been aided on this by my Teacher’s words, “You see what you know.” There are many things that might have gone unnoticed around us, but other people from far off can be seeing the same thing from some other perspective. Interpretation of what you have seen is equally important.

Life runs in a weird way, and people act in even weirder ways. It’s life that can teach you about life. A closed room that supports internet might teach you many things but to have a firsthand experience, you have to step out. In the words of my friends, “A bird has wings so that it can fly, not confine itself to its nest.”

For the last fifteen days, I was close to the Nature. Call it a tour or an excursion or a camp, whatever it may be called, it was an experience of a lifetime. The Geological tour for B.Sc. 3rd year gave many unforgettable memories.

What could be better than the assemblage of people from all parts of the country at one place? So many cultures, traditions and ethnicities mixed up into one. There was no discrimination, only friendship and love. No one cared if you looked dirty. Everyone was the same. Nobody raised questions on the religion and the customs one followed. No one fought in the name of sex, caste and religion. There was one friendly existence of like-minded people- all devoted to learn the science of the Nature.

There were rows, there were quarrels, there was a fight- which we can never forget. But I am proud to say that it was not in the name of personal biases. The tension the fight caused was immeasurable but the peace that came up later was extraordinary. I personally thank both the boys who were expelled for fighting(sadly)- despite your untimely rage, you acted like men.

Life is not just about the flowering rose. Even with the rose, thorns show themselves up. The task we did was not easy. It was nothing but determination that made us walk almost ten kilometers a day, observing, learning and sweating. Some of us even risked our lives in the quest of knowledge. However the sleep that came up after the hardworking was the best ever. Congratulations to all who accepted the challenge! Keep it up and one day, you will all stand up as wonderful human beings.

The camp was frustrating at times. Hours of work and no approval! We spoke out the frustration to our friends. We worked together. No matter how many times our work was rejected, we worked on to make it better. When we finally came out at the end with the maps, graphs and the reports we had prepared, I remember the smiles we all had. We had finally shown the spirit that we never give up despite all the failures we might have had.

The tour was not only a chance to learn different cultures within the camp but also to know the lives of people around us. Shree Bageshowri H.S.S., where we stayed, showed an excellent example of hospitality. Little students gave up the comforts of their rooms so that we could take a rest in the evenings. The love the villagers showed us, wherever we went was incredible. Their selflessness moved me. Here in city, where people run for money, there they act as humans and believe in humanity.

What else did I learn? For the first time in my life, I studied my friends closely and found that they are not entirely perfect. They have flaws in one way or the other, but they are also the best as humans. And one important thing- teachers are just like us. They have had more experience than us, but they are students in their hearts. They too are not perfect. They too are learners paving paths for the new ones to come up and take up their places.

Finally, life is the only entity that can teach us lives. Thanks to Nature who has given me life and an opportunity to learn about it.