Pesticide residues in vegetables  
How grave are the problems?

In recent times, the most shocking news that have been doing the rounds is that the most frequently consumed vegetables are inedible because of excessive pesticide residue limit in them. This was proven by multiple lab tests done by the Ministry of Agricultural Development, and a number of districts near Kathmandu Valley were blacklisted for supplying vegetables. Kavre, a neighboring district of Kathmandu, also made it into the list. Farmers, in order to increase production and their profit margin, were recklessly using pesticides in their crops without giving a second thought to its repercussions. But when local farmers and government bodies in Kavre were questioned, a new story came up – the problem lies not in the amount of pesticide used but in the way it has been used by farmers. Due to the lack of knowledge and training, farmers are in the dark about the waiting period (the time they are supposed to wait for after spraying pesticides and before harvesting crops) which seems to be the major culprit for the current mayhem.

Farmers not serious about waiting period

Kamal Prasad Bolakhe, a farmer in Panchkhal–6, does commercial farming in his 25 ropanis of ancestral land to support his joint family of 22 members. He harvests thrice in a year – rice, potato and vegetables are the major crops he grows. This year, the tomatoes in his field couldn’t grow up to his expectation. The reason was fungal infection in plants. Kamal then treated it with pesticides – something that everyone in that village regularly and routinely does. As a result, his tomatoes revived, became ripe, and were ready to be sold off. But in a hurry to sell them off, what Kamal rather conveniently chose to overlook was the fact that the tomatoes weren’t supposed to be harvested before at least seven days of pesticides spraying over them. But Kamal sold them immediately, after two days.

  Have your say  
Time and again we hear of top leaders going abroad for medical treatment on state-funded expenses. Should there be a cutoff on how much the state spends on its sick leaders? The Week asked a few people for their take on the matter.

The budget for leaders´ treatments should definitely be limited. If they have to go abroad for health treatment, why can’t they go to Singapore or Bangkok where the health treatment is cheaper than, say, in the US or Europe?

Besides, the trend of leaders going abroad for health treatment points to the shoddy health system at home. Leaders should get their treatment in Nepal because that’s what the general public does. And for that, they will first of all need to improve the health system at home. This will also have the benefit of developing the health sector.

  THE MINORITY REPORT Freed from bonded labor but bonded to new problems  
The reality is very discouraging. The government’s lack of vision and genuine efforts to bring about change has landed the Kamaiyas in problem.

Chularam Chaudhari was very young when his fellow Kamaiyas were declared free and no more ‘bonded.’ That meant, unlike the older generations of Kamaiyas, he would not be forced to spend his whole life serving at somebody’s house. That let him dream of a beautiful and prosperous life ahead – that of a nice job, a pretty wife, a cozy house to call their own and happy kids.

Fourteen years down the line, Chularam is not an inch closer to his aspirations. He does have a family, of course, but the realization that he is not providing them a good life haunts him ever so often.

  Homeless, again  
  BY Bikram Giri | Mahendranagar  
Many freed Kamaiyas have lost their land to flood and are finding it difficult to get out of vicious cycle of poverty.

When the government abolished the Kamaiya tradition 13 years ago, Balram Rana felt to be on cloud nine. Born as a slave, he was now a free man. Like thousands of other freed Kamaiyas, he hoped to start his life afresh.

But the road ahead was not smooth for the freed Kamaiyas. Balram was not an exception. He had to struggle hard to get land where he could build a little house for his family. “At times, it felt more difficult,” he says. “Rebuilding our lives wrecked by slavery was harder than being freed.”

  Gathe Mangal Battling the Evils  
Celebrating the good and battling the evil is the crux of Gathe Mangal.

Long ago, there lived a demon in Kathmandu who had bells on his ears, and for that reason was known as Ghanta Karna. He took great pleasure in hunting down women and children. Everybody was terrified of him but nobody dared to fight against him for he was extremely evil and powerful. During the rainy season, the local farmers needed to go to their fields to sow the seeds and tend the crops. But they were too scared of Ghanta Karna to venture out of their homes.

At last, some frogs came up with a brilliant idea to vanquish the demon. They started croaking at a swamp near the demon’s dwelling. Ghanta Karna got so irritated with the unmelodic sound that he went after them to kill them. But the moment he entered the swamp, he drowned while the frogs remained unscathed. The farmers were so happy that they decided to celebrate the day of victory as Gathe Mangal and worship frogs for their courage and wisdom.

  Palms up lines of destiny  
What one astrologer may define as a good indicator may be defined as bad by another.

Palmistry, or the science of predicting a person’s nature, behavior, past and future through the lines of their hand, is an ancient science much revered throughout the ages. But of late, the authenticity of the science is frequently called into question by many who believe astrology is just mumbo-jumbo.

Punya Prasad Adhikari, 77, who holds a doctorate in Jyotish Shastra (astrology), believes it is a science with its own precise rules and measurements. He uses a microscope to look at the finer lines on a hand, and claims to know all the details about a person, down to the score they get in examinations.
“One day, a foreign diplomat came to see me,” said Adhikari. “I correctly told him the color of his car, approximated its number, and even told him what diseases his family members had.” Adhikari believes indicators of the entire body can be found in the hands.

  MUSINGS Search & find  
Why Nepal’s Constitution-making should be outsourced to Google.

Louise Aronson makes a convincing case for ´robot caregivers´ for old patients. Writing in The New York Times, the idea of robot caregivers, says the Associate Professor of Geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, "may sound like an oxymoron," but since most of us don´t live in an "ideal world" she suggests robots do this—often "tedious, awkwardly intimate and physically and emotionally exhausting"—work.

But Aronson perhaps does not know that taking care of the elderly is a walk in the park compared to the truly Herculean task of writing the Constitution of the newest federal democratic republic on the block. Just ask our overworked lawmakers. No fewer than 601 of our best and the brightest toiled, day and night, for four long years, and yet the Constitution eluded them. But Gorkhaliko chora-chori don’t give up so easily. No sir! They valiantly elected another Assembly to complete the remaining ‘10 percent’ and are reportedly having sleepless nights fretting how they can best serve the people. Exhausted by the morning, they rather sleep during the day, which is exactly why they are not seen inside the assembly halls during useless discussions. Poor sods! My heart goes out to them.

  A monument to Nepal's royal past  
The Narayanhiti Palace Museum today stands as the recent relic of the 240-year-old Shah rule in Nepal. This was where one of the latest and bloodiest royal massacres in the world occurred, and also where the Nepali monarchy saw its end. And the palace has now been turned into a very successful museum that is considered to be one of the biggest highlights of Kathmandu at present, much to the public’s gratification.

However, it was never designed for a museum.

  Women like you and me  
Have you ever had that moment of discovery when you realize that a character in a book is just like you? She seems to feel exactly like you feel, and responds exactly as you would to a situation. When the book is over, you still carry her with you, and when you are in complicated situations, you find yourself thinking what she would do.

The Week brings you a list of iconic female characters that many of us have identified with at some point or another.

  REVIEW A treasure chest of eleven gems  
There are a few books that are like your childhood mates. You spend the most memorable of moments with them. Then slowly, with time and age, you fall apart. And one fine evening, while you are busy dusting your bookshelf, you stumble onto them. You flip through the pages and read a few titles. And just like that, within a snap of your fingers, you reconnect.

‘Naso’ is one such book that remains unscathed by the blows of time. It is equally alluring to all generations of readers, regardless of whether you are a first timer or a repeater. This collection of eleven short stories by Guru Prasad Mainali tugs at your heart and touches your soul with its originality, honesty and simplicity. These pages bring to life Nepal’s historical past with its bittersweet moments of joys and sorrows.

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