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South Asian women pushing back against rape culture

Nilanjana Paul
With its historical patriarchal values, complicated by disparities in caste, class, religion, and ethnicity, South Asia has long been an oppressive environment for women. 

But South Asian women have a long history of activism and the recent shift to online activism provides them with another avenue to raise their voices.

Pakistan, with a population of 229 million, was recognized by researchers in 2013 as the fourth most dangerous country for women after Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen. In India, between January and May 2021, the National Commission for Women registered 2,383 complaints of domestic violence, a 21-year high.

COVID-19 restricted people to their homes, further increasing violence against women from partners or family members. In Bangladesh, BRAC, a major non-government organization, reported that between March and April 2020, there was a 70 percent increase in violence against women compared with the previous year. 

But the region has a long history of women asserting their rights: from the Chikpo Movement, a nonviolent movement to protect trees and forests, to West Indian rural women rioting for government support during severe droughts and famines in the early 1970s. 

The Self-Employed Women’s Association, founded in 1972, organised lower class women in response to the hardships faced by women in informal work. Others, like Gulabi Gang, founded in 2006 in the Indian region of Bundelkhand, fought back against domestic and alcohol abuse. 

Non-government organizations like Saheli in Delhi or Stree Mukti Sanghatana in Mumbai, and others like All India Democratic Women’s Association, an independent women’s organization, have created a network of women’s organizations with the aim of removing discrimination between men and women, fighting for equal rights and a society free from exploitation. Such groups were instrumental in the nationwide protests of the rape and murder of Nirbhaya in 2012 to the Hathras rape and murder in 2020. More recently, women in India took to the streets to protest the release of the 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano Rape Case.

The contemporary feminist movement disrupted the silence surrounding the atrocities committed against women and questioned the image of women being accommodating, self-sacrificing, and devoted to serving the family.

With the shift to a more digital world, social media campaigns and protests have provided agency to thousands of South Asian women. They have used digital spaces to protest, connect with each other and express their opinions on wage inequality and demanded more autonomy over their bodies.

South Asian women have also used online activism to raise awareness about atrocities committed against them. Hashtags like #MeToo, #EverydaySexism, #UrgentAction4Women, #IWillGoOut, and #StopThisShame helped women to claim their agency, question the patriarchal values of society and draw attention to the pervasive sexism and harassment that women are subjected to. For example, #IWillGoOut raised awareness of women’s safety in public places and encouraged women to step out of their homes.

Pakistani women experience male violence, moral policing of their bodies and suppression of sexual choices, with little support for women and other marginalized genders. The annual Aurat March (Women’s March) began in 2018 and was inspired by the #MeToo Movement. Young women took to the streets to protest sexual harassment in a society where there is very little support for women speaking up about the issue. The march faced backlash and tremendous opposition from many sections of the largely conservative society. Protesters were labeled as bahaya (immodest) and gali ki kutiya (dogs of the streets) by bystanders with local journalists questioning protesters on how they balanced their views with their religion.

In Bangladesh, organizations like the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad protested the treatment of a young woman at Dhaka University who was assaulted on her way home from class. Protesters demanded CCTV be installed for increased safety. Despite limitations to the success of the #MeToo movement in Bangladesh, women took to the streets and also started the #RageAgainstRape movement.

As in India and Pakistan, women in Bangladesh do not have widespread support for speaking out and the laws are not in their favor. If South Asian women speak about their harassment, they risk already limited liberties. While feminist groups continue to fight for women’s rights, a form of solidarity is needed for movements to become implemented into policy and shift societal mindsets.

UN Women plays a critical role in developing and implementing policies to prevent violence against women in regions which are rife with it. UN Women focuses on “early education, respectful relationships, and working with men and boys”.

But the path to gender equality in South Asia is long and arduous. It will require not-for-profit groups to work together in unity if they are to make progress in promoting women’s rights. 

(Nilanjana Paul is an assistant professor of history at The University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. She is the author of Bengal Muslims and Colonial Education, 1854-1947: A Study of Curriculum, Educational Institutions and Communal Politics, Routledge, 2022)

Africa forum hails ‘circular economy’ solutions for climate

By WANJOHI KABUKURU, AP

MOMBASA, Kenya : Reducing waste while boosting recycling and reuse, known as the ‘circular economy,’ will be vital for halting the loss of nature by meeting growing demand with fewer resources and will make communities more resilient to climate change by encouraging more sustainable practices on the African continent, organizers of the World Circular Economy Forum said Wednesday.

The conference, which brings together climate and economic experts as well businesses and think tanks, is being held in the Rwandan capital Kigali — the first ever in the global south.

“It is much easier to adapt now than the costs that we will incur if we wait,” said Wanjira Maathai of the World Resources Institute at the forum. As climate change makes weather more extreme, the costs incurred from the damages are increasing. “It is time we look at it (circular economy) as a driver of Africa’s development.”The three-day forum, which ends Thursday, encourages a shift to an economic model that promotes less material consumption and promotes what’s known as regenerative agriculture practices like rotating crops or using fewer chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The talks will also push nature-based solutions to boost natural resources such as rewilding. Many on the continent are already exploring how to use waste in new ways.At the opening ceremony Tuesday, Rwandan environment minister Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya said the continent should galvanize local knowledge from its youth, innovators and entrepreneurs to fast track the continent’s development progress “without repeating the same mistakes made by the industrialized nations.”

The challenge for developing nations is to improve standards of living without using fossil fuels like nations in the global north, climate experts say. Many on the continent have already looked to reducing waste and boosting recycling as a way to improve living standards.

Mtamu Kililo, a Kenyan architect and member of the African Circular Economy Network, says he uses new construction materials made out of agriculture waste, such as bagasse, or sugar cane waste, coconuts and rice husks for high-quality soundproofing and insulation.

“Altering perceptions is the major challenge we are facing. But we are making headway as people are beginning to see the qualities of our product and are also keen to reduce waste,” Kililo said.Other businesses use the same model for agriculture, textiles and plastic, but greater investment and a more concerted effort by governments to shift to this kind of economy is needed for these ideas to scale up, many at the forum said.

Investing in the circular economy “is actual investment in climate action and environmental conservation,” Jyrki Katainen, who’s president of the Finnish innovation fund Sitra, told The Associated Press.

Finding new uses for waste “will boost both governments and businesses responses to the major challenges of our time which are sustainable economic development, climate change and environmental conservation,” said the U.N. Environment Programme’s Adriana Zacarias Farah.

US not to put India on its list of countries violating religious freedom: Report

Washington : The United States has made it clear that India will not be placed on its list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ or ‘Special Watch list’ this year for violations of religious freedom.
During the State Department briefing on December 6, spokesperson Ned Price, said, “When it comes to India, India of course is the world’s largest democracy. It’s home to a great diversity of faiths.”
“Our Annual Report on International Religions Freedom outlines some of the concerns we’ve taken note of when it comes to India, and we continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes in India,” he said during the briefing.
This statement came as the Biden administration released the names of countries designated under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Under this act, the US government is required to annually review the status of religious freedom in every country in the world and designate each country the government of which has engaged in or tolerated “particularly severe violations of religious freedom” as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), according to The Australia Today.

During the press conference on Tuesday, Price said the US will continue to encourage the Indian Government to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all.
He added the US government engage foreign officials regularly on steps they can take to advance religious freedom.
Earlier this week, the US Department of State said Cuba and Nicaragua were added to the list of countries of “Particular Concern”. Meanwhile, China, Russia, Iran, Burma, Eritrea, North Korea and Pakistan were retained on the list.
The Biden administration said that its announcement of these designations is in keeping with the values and interests to protect national security and to advance human rights around the globe.
“Countries that effectively safeguard this and other human rights are more peaceful, stable, prosperous and more reliable partners of the United States than those that do not,” the statement added. (ANI)

UN agency seeks FIFA deal for World Cup labor rights role

DOHA, QATAR: After fierce criticism of the Qatar World Cup, the head of the U.N. labor agency on Sunday pressed FIFA’s president for a greater role scrutinizing future World Cup hosts.

International Labor Organization Director-General Gilbert Houngbo told AFP before meeting with Gianni Infantino that Qatar has been a victim of “double standards” and has made significant progress but more needs to be done for its migrant laborers.

The ILO is seeking a role carrying out “due diligence” on future candidate countries, Houngbo said in an interview.

FIFA has faced increased pressure after years of criticism of labor rights in Qatar, ranging from controversy over deaths on mega construction projects to unpaid salaries and working in the Persian Gulf state’s fierce summer heat.
Houngbo said he believes “FIFA is very determined to make sure that for future World Cups, or the next attribution, the social question, the question of respect of worker standards, are critical questions in the decision.”

The former Togo prime minister said respect for human rights had to include “rights linked to work and especially health and safety at work.”

FIFA, which already works with the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, said after the meeting that talks on a memorandum of understanding with the ILO were not yet complete.

“We have been engaging with the ILO for a number of years and we want to make sure our fruitful cooperation will continue in the future,” Infantino said in a statement.

Houngbo said he was “reasonably optimistic” of reaching agreement with FIFA on workers’ rights.

“It cannot be the only element in taking a decision, but the ILO would be available to carry out a kind of due diligence of all the candidate countries” for FIFA.

He said the same rules should apply “for the Olympic Games and other sports.”

The 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico. “In theory, we have no problem. But that does not prevent us from remaining vigilant,” said Houngbo.

The ILO has had a temporary office in Doha since 2018 advising the Qatar government on its reforms and monitoring conditions for migrant workers who make up nearly 90% of the 2.9 million population.
Houngbo has also held talks with Qatar on making the office a permanent base, the first in the Gulf region where nearly all countries face criticism of labor rights.

The ILO chief said many of the attacks on Qatar had shown “double standards.”

“I have heard harsh criticism of Qatar, when Qatar has done more in this field than other countries. But nothing is said about the other countries,” Houngbo said.

He added that Qatar deserved praise for dismantling its punitive “Kafala” labor system — which prevented workers from changing jobs or leaving the country without an employer’s permission — introducing a minimum wage and restricting hours that can be worked in heat since international unions made an official complaint to the ILO in 2014.

The government, which has expressed dismay at what it has called “racist” attacks, says it has spent more than $350 million in compensation for stolen and unpaid wages since 2018.

“This shows the engagement of the government and the size of the problem,” said the ILO chief.

A “small number” of companies “continue to have illegal practices and that is where we have to continue to work,” he said.

The ILO is also pressing Qatar to improve its data gathering to end bitter debates over the number of dead in labor accidents.

The government has said there were 414 deaths in accidents from 2014 to 2020. Rights groups say “thousands” have died.

“I think the public needs to know the truth and sometimes the sincere truth is that there is no credible information,” said Houngbo.

VOA

Nepal Election: Final result underway, Congress becomes the largest party with 89 seats

KATHMANDU — The vote counting (both direct and proportional representation) of the general election commenced on the 20th of November has been completed on Tuesday. Nepali Congress (NC) party led by PM Sher Bahadur Deuwa has emerged as the largest party in the House of Representatives (HoR) with 89 seats in Nepal.

Under the PR category, the CPN-UML will get 34 seats, Nepali Congress 32, Maoist Center 14, Rastriya Swatantra Party 17, Rastriya Prajatantra Party 7, Janata Samajwadi Party 5 and Janamat Party 5 seats.

This means that only seven political parties have crossed the threshold of three percent votes.

Now the parties will have to submit the list of candidates according to the number of seats they have received according to the guidelines of the Election Commission and according to the designated cluster.

Meanwhile, according to the EC, based on the number of direct and proportional seats in the House of Representatives, Nepali Congress has become the largest party by obtaining a total of 89 seats (57 direct and 32 proportional).

Likewise, the CPN-UML has become the second-largest party with a total of 78 seats (44 direct and 34 PR).

The Maoist Center has become the third largest party in the House of Representatives with 32 seats (18 direct and 14 PR).

The Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) by Rabi Lamichhane has emerged as the fourth largest party in the HoR with 20 seats (7 direct and 13 PR).

Similarly, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has become the fifth largest party with 14 seats (7 direct and 7 PR) in the House of Representatives.

The Janata Samajwadi Party has become the sixth largest party getting 12 seats (7 direct and 5 PR).

Meanwhile, the party led by CK Raut, Janamat Party, which secured only one seat in the HoR under the first-past-the-post category, garnered 5 seats under the PR category, which means that Raut’s party will have a total of six members in the HoR.

The Madhav Kumar Nepal-led Unified Socialist will get seven seats in the HoR but could not cross the threshold of 3 percent to become a national party.

Similarly, Loktantrik Samajwadi Party has got 4 seats, Nagarik Unmukti Party 3 seats, Rastriya Janamorcha 1 seat, and Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party 1 seat in the HoR.

Likewise, five independent candidates have been elected to the HoR this time.

With the support of the Janamat Party (with six seats), the total number of seats will be 142 (NC 89, Maoist Center 32, Unified Socialist 10, Loktantrik Samajwadi Party 4, Rastriya Janamorcha 1) have reached 136 seats, and will be enough to form a government.

This means that the ruling coalition will have 142 seats altogether to form the government.

India’s Diversity Great Will Urge It To Uphold Religious Freedom: US

Washington: India is home to a great diversity of faiths and the Biden administration will continue to encourage it to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all, a top US official has said, days after America designated 12 countries, including China and Pakistan as “countries of particular concern”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday designated 12 countries, including China, Pakistan and Myanmar, as “countries of particular concern” for the current status of religious freedom in these nations. He said around the world, governments and non-state actors harass, threaten, jail, and even kill individuals on account of their beliefs.

Responding to a question on why India was not designated by the US government as a Country of Particular Concern on the issue of human rights, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that India was the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths.

“Our annual report on international religious freedom outlines some of the concerns we’ve taken note of when it comes to India. We continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes India,” Price told reporters here on Tuesday.

The Biden administration will continue to encourage the Indian government to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all, he said.

“We engage officials regularly on steps they can take to advance religious freedom. As the world’s two largest democracies, the United States and India, are also committed to an enduring project,” he said.

This is the project that Secretary Blinken spoke to previously. The project that as our founders put it, of striving to form a more perfect union. This is a project for both of our countries, Price said.

“We have worked together, and we can work together to show that our democracies can meet our peoples’ needs. We must continue to hold ourselves to our core values including respect for human rights like freedom of religion and freedom of belief or expression,” he said in response to a question.

“That, in turn, makes our respective democracies even stronger. Secretary Blinken, given the totality of the facts and the circumstances, determined that religious freedom concerns in India do not warrant a country of particular concern designation or placement on the special watch list. But, these are conversations that we continue to have with our Indian partners and with partners around the world,” Price said.

India has previously rejected criticism by foreign governments and human rights groups on allegations that civil liberties have eroded in the country.

The Indian government has asserted that India has well-established democratic practices and robust institutions to safeguard the rights of all.

The government has emphasised that the Indian Constitution provides for adequate safeguards under various statutes for ensuring the protection of human rights.

Ahead of the announcement of the annual designation by the State Department, there were massive lobbying efforts by groups like Indian American Muslim Council and pressures from organisations like the US Commission for International Religious Freedom to designate India as a Country of Concern.

In the US State Department 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom, the India section of the report mentioned incidents of attacks on religious minorities.

India in June this year rejected its criticism in the US State Department report on religious freedom, saying it is unfortunate that “vote bank politics is being practised in international relations”.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the observation on India in the report is based on “motivated inputs and biased views”.

“We have noted the release of the US State Department 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom, and ill-informed comments by senior US officials,” Bagchi said.
India’s Diversity Great, Will Urge It To Uphold Religious Freedom: US
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that India was the world’s largest democracy.

Washington: India is home to a great diversity of faiths and the Biden administration will continue to encourage it to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all, a top US official has said, days after America designated 12 countries, including China and Pakistan as “countries of particular concern”.
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday designated 12 countries, including China, Pakistan and Myanmar, as “countries of particular concern” for the current status of religious freedom in these nations. He said around the world, governments and non-state actors harass, threaten, jail, and even kill individuals on account of their beliefs.

Responding to a question on why India was not designated by the US government as a Country of Particular Concern on the issue of human rights, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that India was the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths.

“Our annual report on international religious freedom outlines some of the concerns we’ve taken note of when it comes to India. We continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes India,” Price told reporters here on Tuesday.

The Biden administration will continue to encourage the Indian government to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all, he said.

“We engage officials regularly on steps they can take to advance religious freedom. As the world’s two largest democracies, the United States and India, are also committed to an enduring project,” he said.

This is the project that Secretary Blinken spoke to previously. The project that as our founders put it, of striving to form a more perfect union. This is a project for both of our countries, Price said.

“We have worked together, and we can work together to show that our democracies can meet our peoples’ needs. We must continue to hold ourselves to our core values including respect for human rights like freedom of religion and freedom of belief or expression,” he said in response to a question.

“That, in turn, makes our respective democracies even stronger. Secretary Blinken, given the totality of the facts and the circumstances, determined that religious freedom concerns in India do not warrant a country of particular concern designation or placement on the special watch list. But, these are conversations that we continue to have with our Indian partners and with partners around the world,” Price said.

India has previously rejected criticism by foreign governments and human rights groups on allegations that civil liberties have eroded in the country.

The Indian government has asserted that India has well-established democratic practices and robust institutions to safeguard the rights of all.

The government has emphasised that the Indian Constitution provides for adequate safeguards under various statutes for ensuring the protection of human rights.

Ahead of the announcement of the annual designation by the State Department, there were massive lobbying efforts by groups like Indian American Muslim Council and pressures from organisations like the US Commission for International Religious Freedom to designate India as a Country of Concern.

In the US State Department 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom, the India section of the report mentioned incidents of attacks on religious minorities.

India in June this year rejected its criticism in the US State Department report on religious freedom, saying it is unfortunate that “vote bank politics is being practised in international relations”.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the observation on India in the report is based on “motivated inputs and biased views”.

“We have noted the release of the US State Department 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom, and ill-informed comments by senior US officials,” Bagchi said.

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“It is unfortunate that vote bank politics is being practised in international relations. We would urge that assessments based on motivated inputs and biased views be avoided,” he had said.(PTI)

Solo art exhibition of Govinda Sah ‘Azad’ kicks off in London

London – The October Gallery based in London is showcasing the  fourth solo exhibition by a well-known Nepali artist based in the UK, Govinda Sah ‘Azad.’  Entitled ‘Absent Presence, the exhibition brings together a new body of large-scale and smaller paintings rendered in oil and acrylic on linen and canvas. Theworks are informed by Sah’s intriguing combination of insights into his local environment and his ongoing metaphysical musings about the nature of reality itself.

The exhibition, that kicked off on  1st December, 2022 will run until  28thJanuary, 2023 at the October Gallery (www.octobergallery.co.uk)

Launching the exhibition, Ambassador of Nepal to the UK, Gyan Chandra Acharya, said that Mr Sah’s paintings were informed by colour, vibrancy and texture. “We can see the reflections of eastern philosophy, of duality, in his paintings,” said Acharya, adding, “his depiction of clouds take our consciousness to new heights.”

Ambassador Acharya also lauded Mr Sah’s role in fostering people-to-people relations between Nepal and the UK through arts. He wished all the best to Mr Sah in his artisitic creations.

Director of October Gallery, Ms Chili Hawes, said that Sah had spent full 12 years – a momentous time- in the UK creating paintings of his choice. His pantings are informed by clarity, courage and vision, she said. 

While studying at the College of Fine Art in Kathmandu, Sah had first become aware of the work of the English artists,J. M. W. Turner, and John Constable. While the latter amazed him with his ‘cloud studies’, it was the manner in which the former represented light in all its various manifestations that most fascinated Sah. Further studies, at Wimbledon College of Art, brought him to London, in 2008, before a later move to Margate introduced him to the Kentish seacoast where Turner himself was thrilled to discover that unique quality of light that suffuses so many of his later paintings. Today, Sah lives and works in Margate.

Describing his ongoing journey, Sah states: ‘Originally, in Kathamandu, I worked in a realist mode, before gradually moving towards abstraction, in London, where clouds became a subject that allowed me to meditate upon the more spiritual aspects of Nature. Margate, being more open, means I often work outside, where the change in the colour of light is more profound. One immediate consequence is that although my colour palette becomes simpler, my paintings feel much brighter. It’s a challenge to capture these fleeting, almost transcendental effects, that are so difficult to hold onto, but that necessity forces my work to keep on developing, which delights any artist!’

Long Unfolding conversation

Sah’s work is composed of densely interwoven layers of mark-making, using oil and acrylic in what Sah describes as a ‘long unfolding conversation between the artist and his canvas.’The painting ‘replies’ by proposing new areas for consideration and further explorationof the process continues until a successful balance point is reached. In this way, works like

AbsencePresence become an example of a ‘logovisual’ approach to grappling with the conundrums that beset all of us; the painting grew out of isolation and the artist’s feelings of separation from his distant family during ‘lockdown’. Sah remarks, ‘The more I thought about my family, the more I became aware of their constant presence in my daily life. The “problem”only exists because of my own unreal expectations, my fixed projection of the world. By teasing it apart, deconstructing it and reconfiguring it afresh, I realised a much deeper truth: that I cannot be ‘apart’ from my mother or my family, we are always connected and can never be separated from each other, not even by distance.’

Each one of Sah’s captivating works is a record of similar ruminations on the complex enigmas of life. Each canvas bears witness to a struggle: each stand as testimony to its own resolution. Although Man feels that he is apart from Nature, these startling canvases reconfigure this puzzle to reveal another perspective, concluding that man is a part of Nature. Herein lies the simplicity and endless allure of Govinda Sah’s work, the Gallery said.

(Photos courtesy: October Gallery, London)

Delhi witnesses another ‘very poor’ air day with AQI at 337

New Delhi : Witnessing no respite from toxic air, Delhiites on Tuesday woke up to another foggy morning with Air Quality Index (AQI) at 337, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).

As per SAFAR, Delhi’s air quality was recorded in the ‘very poor’ category on Tuesday.

SAFAR recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 340 for the national capital earlier on Monday.

The Air Quality Index from 0 to 100 is considered good, while 100 to 200 is considered moderate, 200 to 300 is considered poor, 300 to 400 is considered very poor, and 400 to 500 or higher is considered severe.

Earlier on Sunday, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), a Union government panel recommending steps to control air pollution in the national capital, announced a temporary ban on construction and demolition activities in Delhi-NCR as part of its Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). The announcement came after the air quality in Delhi and the national capital region breached the ‘severe’ category.

The CAQM, which on Sunday chaired a meeting to review the air quality in Delhi-NCR, put out a release saying, “As the AQI in Delhi has slipped into ‘severe’ category, the sub-committee had decided that all actions, as envisaged under Stage III of the GRAP, be implemented in right earnest by all the agencies concerned, with immediate effect in the NCR, in addition to all action under Stage I and Stage II of the GRAP.”

The panel had further observed that the air quality saw a further deterioration over the last 24 hours, with Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index (AQI) at 407 on December 4, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

In its order, the CAQM said it temporarily banned construction activities, “with the exception of Metro Rail services, including stations; airport and inter-state bus terminals; railway services/stations; national security/defence-related activities/ projects of national importance; hospitals/healthcare facilities; linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers, overbridges, power transmission, pipelines; sanitation projects like sewage treatment plants and water supply projects; ancillary activities specific to and supplementing above categories of projects”.

Milk and dairy units and those involved in the manufacturing of life-saving medical equipment, drugs and medicines, were also exempted from the restrictions stipulated in the CAQM order. (ANI)

France are the biggest test we could face: Gareth Southgate

QATAR: Gareth Southgate said that France provides the greatest challenge England may face at the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2022 after his side advanced to a quarterfinal matchup with the reigning champions on Saturday.

England breezed past Senegal with a 3-0 victory in the round of 16 encounter at the Al-Bayt Stadium on Sunday to set up a tempting World Cup quarterfinal matchup with the reigning champions France.

Senegal had looked well capable of fighting England, but Jordan Henderson and captain Harry Kane scored shortly before halftime to give England a 2-0 lead. Bukayo Saka scored the third goal in the second half to seal the game for England.

In seven matches since the year 2000, Southgate’s team has only defeated France once, and the manager has never defeated Les Bleus, losing 3-2 in June 2017.

Didier Deschamps’ team lifted the trophy in Russia in 2018 and ahead of the clash at the Al Bayt Stadium, Skysports quoted Southgate as saying, “In terms of France, it’s the biggest test we could face.”

“They’re world champions with an incredible depth of talent and outstanding individual players. They’re very difficult to play against and score goals against, so it’s a fantastic challenge and a brilliant game to prepare for,” he added.

England’s match against France is the second quarter-final match to be announced, following Argentina’s match against the Netherlands on Friday.

“The two quarter-finals that are already in place are historic rivalries. It’s a great game to be involved with and to test ourselves against the very best,” Southgate said.

Talking about England’s match against Senegal, Senegal striker Boulaye Dia, looked threatening on the break after England’s defense negligently gave the ball away just beyond the half-hour mark and came closest for the African team when he brought out a sharp one-handed stop from Jordan Pickford.

In the 38th minute, Henderson calmed England’s fears by stroking the ball in after Jude Bellingham had played him in at the end of a beautiful passing sequence. In the first half’s final shot, Kane fired a fierce shot past goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, moving him one goal behind Wayne Rooney’s tally of 53 goals for England.

At halftime, Senegal’s manager Rigobert Song made a few substitutions, but it had little impact as England went up three in the 57th minute thanks to Bukayo Saka’s exquisite touch on Phil Foden’s cross through the six-yard box over Mendy’s outstretched arms.

With Saka’s goal, England has now scored 12 goals in Qatar, equaling the nation’s World Cup record set when they advanced to the semifinals in Russia. The Three Lions finished the game easily.

Earlier, England dominated the first half to take a two-goal lead against Senegal through Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson at the end of the first half in the round of 16 clash at the Al-Bayt Stadium on Sunday.

Henderson and Kane’s goals have England comfortably ahead. Senegal, who had been gaining ground in the match-up until that opening goal, had been cut open before the end.

The African nation had a long way to go to get back from here. The quarterfinal clash on December 11 will be a mouthwatering matchup between Gareth Southgate’s team and France, who defeated Poland 3-1 earlier in the day.

It will be the first-ever knockout stage meeting between the two European heavyweights at a World Cup. (ANI)

Pakistani minister calls on regional countries to cooperate for common development goals

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal called upon regional countries to jointly achieve the common goals of poverty alleviation, literacy, sustainable socio-economic development, and mitigation of climate disaster impacts.

Iqbal made the remarks here on Monday at a conference titled “Sustainable Development Conference” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, a Pakistani think-tank.

The world is passing through unusual times, and the innovative form of knowledge exchange, technology transfer, emergency response, and recovery of livelihood and economies among the nations in the Global South is of immense importance than ever, he said.

“We are among the first countries who adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a national development agenda and established specialized SDGs’ support units at the federal and provincial levels,” Iqbal added while highlighting the key initiates adopted by Pakistan despite the contemporary challenges.

Pakistan offers multi-billion U.S. dollar investment opportunities in sectors aligned with the SDGs that include sectors ranging from transport and logistics, renewables and alternative energy, healthcare, education, technology and communication, and finance, according to the minister(Xinhua).

Transitional justice in Nepal: Child safety is still an issue in Karnali district

Kathmandu: A report has pointed out that children remain vulnerable due to the impact of the then armed conflict in Karnali province.

A report published by the Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), Karnali Province following an on-site study of the bomb blast that took place in Ranawada village of Tilagufa Municipality-10, Kalikot on October 29 says that children were not safe as a result of the remnants of the 10-year-long armed conflict that ended in 2006.

The report states that even after a decade and a half since the end of the conflict, its remnants continue to haunt the people, especially children. Human casualties are occurring every year due to the unexploded IEDs left in a neglected state.

Chief of INSEC Karnali Province Narayan Subedi said especially innocent children have suffered and suggested the local administration and the provincial government should ensure the safety of the people. Since there is a possibility of the presence of unexploded particles in the most affected areas there is a need to organize a nationwide search and destroy operation, he said.

Likewise, Chief of National Human Rights Commission, Karnali Province, Loknath Bastola said that it is the state’s major duty to provide immediate compensation to the survivors of the incident.

It may be noted that three-year-old Jharna Thapa and five-year-old Saraswati Rana were killed after an improvised explosive device, believed to be from the time of the armed conflict, blasted in Tilagufa on October 29.

Likewise, eight-year-old Kamal Thapa, five-year-old Muskan Thapa and three-year-old Darshana Thapa were injured in the incident. (RSS)

Remittance flow to South Asia grows by 3.5 per cent – World Bank

New Delhi — India is expected to receive a record $100 billion in remittance in 2022, the top recipient this year, the World Bank has said. In its Migration and Development Brief, the World Bank has said

India’s remittance will grow 12 per cent from 7.5 per cent last year, resulting in $100 billion flow as compared to $89.4 billion in 2021. It attributed the feat to the large share of Indian migrants earning relatively high salaries in the United States, United Kingdom and East Asia.

However, the report has noted, “Despite reaching a historic milestone at $100 billion and retaining its position as the top recipient of remittances globally, India’s remittance flows are expected to account for only 3 per cent of its GDP in 2022.”

Led by strong performances in India and Nepal, the World Bank has predicted that remittance flows to South Asia this year will grow 3.5 per cent to reach $163 billion in 2022. This is, however, a slowdown from the 6.7 per cent gain of 2021, reflecting “the impact of an amalgam of external global shocks (inflation, slowing demand) in destination and source countries alike, as well as domestic factors.”

The overall remittance growth in South Asia reflects a disparity in individual country results; while India has gained 12 per cent and Nepal 4 per cent, other countries have reported an aggregate decline of 10 per cent, the report states.

The report also says that despite global challenges in 2022, remittances to low- and middle-income countries will grow by 5% to $626 billion.

The growth of remittance flows into South Asia in 2023 is expected to slow to 0.7 per cent. “The year will stand as a test for the resilience of remittances from white-collar South Asian migrants in high-income countries,” the report notes.

Remittance flows in India, specifically, are predicted to decrease due to inflation and an economic slowdown in the United States. Decline in economic growth in the GCC coupled with a fall in oil prices will further pull remittance flows down to all South Asian countries, the report states.

Nepali migrant workers who built the World Cup stadiums are completely forgotten

By – Benju Lwagun

While the world is coming together to celebrate the 2022 FIFA World Cup, some families in Nepal are grieving the loss of their loved ones who were employed to build the infrastructure in Qatar in the past decade. A Guardian report revealed in 2021 that, between 2010 and January 2021, approximately 6750 migrant workers from South Asia died while building World Cup infrastructure, including 1641 from Nepal. Human Rights Watch, alongside many other activists around the world, are raising their voices for the forgotten migrant workers of Qatar. However, the Qatar government continues to refrain from taking responsibility for the damage they have done to the labourers and their families.

Although Qatar officially maintained that around 40 workers died including 37 claimed as nonwork incidents, in the last week of November 2022, a Qatari official addressed these issues on an international platform. The official mentioned that the number of people who died during the construction of World Cup infrastructures is between 400 and 500, which is far below the previously reportednumbers.

The Qatar government claimed to have overhauled the country’s employment practices. In reality, not only have Qatari authorities failed to investigate the death of thousands of workers but they have also neglected to compensate the families of the victims. Families are still far from securing their future, once their loved ones arrive home in coffins, they face financial challenges in even performing the funeral rituals. Therefore the families are demanding compensation so they can survive.

Independent media organisation Open Democracy tweeted:

Sirmita Pasi from Nepalgunj Municipality lost her husband this year in Qatar. Her husband Ramsagar Pasi was in Qatar and was one of the workers at a stadium while it was being built. In an interview with Online Khabar, an independent private online news portal in Nepal, Sirmita said, “I heard that football is happening in Qatar now. My husband shed blood and sweat to build the stadium. A healthy man had reached a point where he had a heart attack while working in Qatar. My husband died. A stadium was also built. Everyone may enjoy watching the game, but for me and my family the stadium and the World Cup are not fun, we just cry.”

Ramsagar went to Qatar hoping to improve the life of his children but, unfortunately, he never returned to his family. The cause of his death was believed to be heatstroke. However, many have reported that it is not the major reason. Thousands of migrant labourers worked day and night to build the infrastructure for the World Cup, including all the stadiums, hotels, and roads in the extreme heat, which resulted in severe injuries and death.

Nepali journalist Pramod Acharya published a Twitter thread explaining how the Nepali media didn’t cover the human cost of the #QatarWorldCup properly.

Journalist Bhadra Sharma Tweeted:

People in Nepal and around the world have demanded justice for Nepali migrant workers.

Journalist Colin Millar writes:

Pakistani-Canadian columnist Tarek Fatah tweeted:

Another journalist from Nepal, Chandan Kumar Mandal, writes:

Although Qatar continues to deny the allegations, the international mainstream media continues to highlightthe poor working conditions in Qatar. But for Nepal and other South Asian nations, it is not new. Abuse and exploitation of Qatar’s large migrant workforce have been happening for decades. 

All these life-threatening risks still haven’t discouraged young Nepalis from dreaming of going to work overseas and improving their living conditions back at home. Sugam Nanda Bajracharya at Nepal Economic Forum suggested:

Nepal should work on expediting Government-to-Government (G2G) labour agreements with new destination countries in order to ensure fair treatment of migrant workers along with adequate remuneration and benefits.

From : globalvoices

New HIV infections fell by 84 percent in the past two decades in Nepal

Kathmandu — According to data unveiled by the National Centre for Aids and STD Control, Teku, the Ministry of Health and Population, the new infections were declined by 84 percent in 2021 in comparison of 2000.

In 2000, 4,370 HIV-infected were found in Nepal and the number fell to 680 in 2021. As assessed by Centre director Dr Sudha Devkota, hunt for probable infected and effective medical interventions are considered as the factors behind the improvement in the infection containment.

New infections rate is slowing down each year. Till the year 2021, the total number of infected was 30,000 and of them 0.12 percent are adults and 45 are children under 14, the data shows. Likewise, 21,723 or 72 percent are reeving antiretroviral therapy (ART). Dr Devkota sees the need of bringing all the infected into treatment procedures.

HIV infected continue to suffer social taboo and discriminations in the society and it must be ended, according to Devkota.

In 2021, 510 people died of HIV in the country and the figure was 1,765 back in 2007. The fatality rate in 2021 from the disease went down by 71 percent in compared to 2007. “This achievement was due to extensive medical intervention.”

Now, ART is available in 84 centers in 61 districts free of cost and community programmes against HIG infection have been implemented targeting mother- to- child transmission of HIV.

In a bid to eliminate the infection by 2030, the country has launched various programmes for the treatment and care of infected, affected and vulnerable groups as per the National HIV Strategic Plan 2021-2026.

The government has come up with the plan to identify and provide treatment to 95 percent infected people, getting undetectable viral load among the infected at 95 percent, and decrease new infection by 90 percent.

Going by history of HIV infection in the globe, it was detected in 1981, according to the World Health Organisation. The number of the infection has hit 84.2 million across the world. So far, 41 million people died of the infection.

2010, some 1.4 million people had died of AIDS in the world. Now, only 28.07 million, out of the total infected 38.04 million, in the world are under antiretroviral therapy (ART).

It is said the word reports 4,000 new cases of HIV infections each day followed by two in Nepal.

December 1 each year is celebrated as the World AIDS Day internationally and this year the Day was observed with the main theme of ‘Equalize’, calling for alleviating inequality and putting an end to life threatening disease ‘AIDS’.( RSS)

WHO prepares plan to keep children safe online

Geneva — The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday published a new report, presenting ways to address the growing worldwide concern about keeping children safe online.
The report titled “What works to prevent online violence against children,” showcases strategies and best practices to better protect children.
The report focuses on two forms of online violence: child sexual abuse including grooming and sexual image abuse; and cyber aggression and harassmentin the form of cyberbullying, cyberstalking, hackingand identity theft.
“Our children spend more and more time online; as such, it is our duty to make the online environment safe,” notes Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department of Social Determinants of Health. “This new document provides for the first time a clear direction for action by governments, donors, and other development partners, showing that we must address online and offline violence together if we are to be effective.”
To prevent online violence against children, the report highlights the importance of implementing educational programmes directed at children and parents. Studies have shown such programmes’ effectiveness in reducing violence victimization, perpetration and associated risk behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse.
“The report recommends implementing school-based educational programmes with multiple sessions, promoting youth interaction and engaging parents. It also underscores the importance of training youth in specific life skills such as assertiveness, empathy, problem-solving, emotion management and help-seeking, among others,” the WHO said.
Moreover, educational programmes are more successful when they use multiple and varied delivery formats such as videos, games, posters, infographics and guided discussions.
The report shows evidence that comprehensive forms of sex education can reduce physical and sexual aggression, in particular, dating and partner violence and homophobic bullying. The effectiveness of sex education has been confirmed in countries of all income levels.
The report highlights the need for improvements in several areas including the need for more violence prevention programmes that integrate content about online dangers with offline violence prevention, given the overlap of these problems and the common approaches to prevention.
The report also points how less emphasis on stranger danger as strangers are not the sole or even the predominant offenders in online violence against children.
It asks for more emphasis on acquaintance and peer perpetrators, who are responsible for a majority of offenses; and more attention to healthy relationship skills, since romance and intimacy-seeking are major sources of vulnerability to online violence.
According to WHO report, internet access offers many possibilities for children and young people, including fostering learning, developing personal and professional skills, expressing creativity and participating in society.
The UN agency said that governments need to find the right balance between fostering opportunities for young people through the digital environment and protecting them from harm. (ANI)

UN launches record USD 51.5 billion humanitarian appeal for 2023

Geneva [Switzerland] — The estimated cost of the UN humanitarian response going into 2023 is USD 51.5 billion, a 25 per cent increase compared to the beginning of this year, the United Nations and partner organizations said on Thursday.
Next year will set another record for humanitarian relief requirements, with 339 million people in need of assistance in 69 countries, an increase of 65 million people compared to the same time last year, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Humanitarian needs are shockingly high, as this year’s extreme events are spilling into 2023,” said the UN Emergency Relief CoordinatorMartin Griffiths.
“Lethal droughts and floods are wreaking havoc in communities from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa. The war in Ukraine has turned a part of Europe into a battlefield. More than 100 million people are now displaced worldwide. And all of this on top of the devastation left by the pandemic among the world’s poorest.
“For people on the brink, this appeal is a lifeline. For the international community, it is a strategy to make good on the pledge to leave no one behind.”
The 2023 Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO), launched today by the UN in collaboration with nongovernmental organizations and other humanitarian partners, paints a stark picture of what lies ahead.

This gargantuan UN appeal comes as at least 222 million people in 53 countries will face acute food insecurity by the end of 2022. According to OCHA, forty-five million people in 37 countries risk starvation.
Public health is under pressure due to COVID-19, monkeypox, vectorborne diseases, and outbreaks of Ebola and cholera. Climate change is driving up risks and vulnerability. By the end of the century, extreme heat could claim as many lives as cancer. OCHA said it will take four generations – 132 years – to achieve global gender parity. Notably, 388 million women and girls live in extreme poverty around the world.
According to OCHA, the response plans in the GHO detail how aid agencies working together around specific types of aid – including shelter, food, maternal health, child nutrition and protection – can save and support the lives of a combined 230 million people worldwide.
This year, humanitarian organizations have delivered assistance to stave off the most urgent needs of 157 million people. This includes food assistance for 127 million people; sufficient safe water for nearly 26 million people; livelihood assistance for 24 million people; mental health and psychosocial support for 13 million children and caregivers; maternal health consultations for 5.2 million mothers; and health-care services for 5.8 million refugees and asylum-seekers.
According to the UN agency, humanitarians have painstakingly negotiated access to communities in need, most recently in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, to deliver water and food rations. And the Black Sea Grain Initiative has been renewed, ensuring a continuous flow of food commodities from Ukraine to global markets.
National and local organizations are members of 80 per cent of all Humanitarian Country Teams, providing essential guidance and leadership. And from Afghanistan to the Central African Republic, local organizations led by women are engaged in humanitarian planning and programming.
The UN agency said donors have provided a generous USD 24 billion in funding as of mid-November 2022, but needs are rising faster than the financial support. The funding gap has never been greater, currently at 53 per cent. Humanitarian organizations are therefore forced to decide who to target with the funds available. (ANI)