Ex-Kamaiyas to get Rs. 150,000

Govt endorses working procedure on grant money 

The government has finally endorsed the long-awaited “working procedure” concerning distribution of grant money for rehabilitation of remaining 6,000 ex-Kamaiyas who were liberated over a decade ago.
The modus operandi ensures Rs 150,000 for each Kamaiya family as grant to buy land for their settlement. Though the Ministry of Land Reforms and Management (MoLRM) had prepared the procedure about a year ago after the rehabilitation programme for around 27,000 freed Kamaiyas was halted for want of land, it had been pending for a number of reasons including disagreements on the modality of rehabilitation. The Prime Minister’s Office approved the regulations on Tuesday after some revisions to the original draft.
The revised procedure increased the grant amount from Rs 100,000 to Rs 150,000. Besides the grant, the bylaw provides each Kamaiya family with 35 cubic feet of wood through District Forest Offices and Rs 10,000 as housing assistance. The MoLRM officials said the grant would be distributed through the local land revenue offices and Agriculture Development Bank.
“The freed Kamaiyas themselves will have to find a piece of land they want to buy and the government will disburse the grant money,” said MoLRM Secretary Lalmani Joshi. The government will also provide land or Rs 150,000 for those ex-Kamaiyas who had received land earlier but were rendered landless due to soil erosion, encroachment or forestland expansion.
The ministry came up with the guidelines after it became almost impossible for it to find appropriate land to rehabilitate the freed Kamaiyas. The rehabilitation programme was halted after resettling about 21,000 Kamaiya families as the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation refused to provide forestland for distribution following the Madhav Kumar Nepal-led government’s decision to increase forest cover from 39.6 percent to 40 percent. The land crisis, according to officials engaged in Kamaiya rehabilitation, has emerged as a major problem also because the parties have failed to implement the “scientific land reforms” committed in the Interim Constitution.
They say the problems on rehabilitation of the ex-Kamaiyas and other landless people could easily be solved if the government implemented the scientific land reforms. “What is still lacking is political willpower,” said an MoLRM official. The reports prepared by two commissions on scientific land reforms are gathering dust. It’s been a year the government formed a committee to study the report and recommend short-term, mid-term and long-term measures, but nothing has come out, as the Ministry of Finance is yet to release budget for its operation. (Originally published at The Kathmandu Post on November 30, 2011, Link: http://www.ekantipur.com/2011/11/30/capital/freed-kamaiyas-to-get-rs-150000/344673.html )

Opening Remarks by Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee

Press Conference, Kathmandu, November 27, 2009


It is an honour and a privilege to be in this beautiful city, the capital of Nepal. It brought back fond memories of my previous visits.  It has been a very busy but most useful visit to Kathmandu.


2.       During the visit, I called on the Prime Minister Rt Hon’ble Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and will call on the President Rt Hon’ble Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and I also had bilateral consultations with my counterpart Hon’ble Mr. Barsaman Pun, the Finance Minister of Nepal where we reviewed bilateral economic cooperation and discussed ways and means to expand the economic relations between the two countries. I briefed Rt Hon’ble Prime Minister on the progress made on implementation of the rich and vast agenda agreed upon during the visit of the Prime Minister of Nepal to India as contained in the Joint Press Statement.


3.       As you know, I am here primarily to sign the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) as was agreed during the visit of Prime Minister of Nepal to India on October 20-23, 2011. I am happy that we have revised the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement today. The revised DTAA will provide tax stability to the residents of India and Nepal and facilitate mutual economic cooperation as well as stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services between India and Nepal. In the revised DTAA the threshold withholding tax rates on dividends, interest, etc., are rationalised to reflect the present day situation and developments in the area of international taxation.


4.       India has 81 such DTAAs. In line with the best practices followed, we have incorporated in this DTAA also, the provisions for effective exchange of information, assistance in collection of taxes between tax authorities and the anti-abuse provisions to ensure that the benefits of the Agreement are availed of by the genuine residents and not misused by third country residents. In the area of exchange of information, the revised DTAA provides for internationally accepted standards including sharing of bank information and sharing of information without domestic tax interest. Further, the information received can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with the consent of the information supplying country.


5.       India hosted the most useful meeting of the Joint Commission of Water Resources in New Delhi two days ago. The Commerce Secretaries are going to meet next month. We are also working to fix the dates for holding the next meetings of Secretaries for Home Affairs and Ministers of Water Resources. We have sought preliminary inputs from Nepal as a prelude to the review of treaties and agreements to be undertaken by the Foreign Secretaries.  We have agreed that the Bilateral Joint Commission should be convened at an early date to review the entire gamut of the bilateral relationship including the requests from Nepal for Indian assistance for implementation of priority development projects.


6.       I will also have discussions with leaders from a wide cross section of political parties including the President of Nepali Congress Mr. Sushil Koirala, former Prime Minister and Chairman of UCPN (Maoist) Mr. Puspha Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', former Prime Minister and Chairman of CPN (UML) Mr. Jhala Nath Khanal and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs and President of MJF-Loktantrik Mr. Bijay Gacchadar. I conveyed to the leadership that Government of India welcomes the 7-Point Agreement reached among the political that provides a firm basis for successfully concluding the remaining aspects ofNepal’s peace process. We congratulate the people and the political parties in Nepal for their commitment to peacefully resolving outstanding issues in a spirit of consensus and for displaying enlightened leadership.India fully supports these efforts to pave the way for Nepal’s transition to a pluralistic and inclusive multi-party democracy. I assured the Nepalese leaders of India’s strong and continued commitment of support toNepal in its transition to a democratic, prosperous, peaceful and stable future.


7.       India has an abiding interest in the success of Nepal’s transition to multi-party democracy and the completion of the peace process. A peaceful, democratic and prosperous Nepal is in the interest of the Nepali people, of India and of our region. India is committed to assist the Government and people of Nepalin these processes of historic change in Nepal.


8.       I am convinced of the significance and the great potential of India-Nepal relations, which is heightened in these times of rapid change. Relations with Nepal are and will continue to be a matter of the highest priority for India


137 Million Of World's Poorest Received a Microloan in 2010 - Nepali initiative

Press Release, 10 November, 2011

VALLADOLID, SPAIN More than 137.5 million of the world’s poorest families received a microloan in 2010—an all-time high, according to a report released today by the Microcredit Summit Campaign. Assuming an average of five persons per family, these 137.5 million microloans affected more than 687 million family members, which is greater than the combined populations of the European Union and Russia. Microloans are used to help people living in poverty in both industrialized and developing countries to expand a range of small businesses, such as selling products in a local market, making clothes, and providing computer and other business services in rural areas.


The report’s release precedes the Global Microcredit Summit 2011 to be held November 14-17 in Valladolid, Spain, which will be inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Sofía and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Grameen Bank founder, Muhammad Yunus. “At the first Microcredit Summit in 1997, only 7.6 million of the world’s poorest families had been reached,” said Prof. Yunus. “While the growth in numbers has been inspiring, we must keep our attention on the wisdom from the clients. The report tells us that when asked what they want for themselves and their families, their answers include, ‘education for their children, health for their family, decent housing that keeps the rain and cold out, and regular, nutritious meals.’ This is what we will pursue when we gather at the Microcredit Summit in Valladolid.”


While more than 205 million people worldwide received a microloan in 2010, this multi-year campaign focuses on outreach to the poorest clients. According to the report, over the last 13 years, the number of very poor families with a microloan has grown more than 18-fold from 7.6 million in 1997 to 137.5 million in 2010. The latest data comes from more than 3,600 institutions worldwide, with more than 94 percent of the information having been collected within the last 18 months.


However, in the last year microfinance has faced setbacks as well. An initial public offering of SKS, a microfinance institution (MFI) based in Andhra Pradesh, India, was followed by charges of over-indebtedness and suicides among clients in that state, resulting in a clamp-down by the state government last October.


“While our progress has been stunning, the challenges in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere will take a toll,” said Campaign director Sam Daley-Harris. “As of August 31, 2011 when this report was completed, the situation in Andhra Pradesh had not yet improved, and repayment rates of MFIs there were reported as low as 10 percent. Were we, therefore, to deduct 90 percent of the Andhra Pradesh numbers from our calculation of clients reached, we would see nearly 200 million total clients and more than 132 million poorest clients reached in 2010. This represents more than 5 million clients who received loans in 2010 but may not receive loans in 2011.”


The report also highlights the number of poorest women reached. Not only have these women been the most excluded from traditional banking, but they are also the ones most likely to ensure that the increased income is used to improve the lives of their children. From 1999 to 2010, the number of poorest women reached has increased from 10.3 million to 113.1 million.


The report was released in Valladolid at a non-governmental organization fair held as a prelude to next week’s Global Summit. “This report and the Global Microcredit Summit in Valladolid next week could not have come at a more critical time,” said Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation Soraya Rodríguez Ramos. “The Spanish government continues to be a strong supporter of microfinance programs committed to helping people work their way out of poverty. The world of microfinance will gather in Valladolid next week to share innovations, address challenges, and continue developing plans for a way forward.”


The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report 2012 sets the tone for several of the more than 100 sessions scheduled for the Global Summit. Papers have been written for the Summit by top leaders in the areas of client protection, social performance, interest rate transparency, and financial inclusion. The report discusses one of the central plenary sessions at the Summit, focusing on the continued development of a Seal of Excellence for Poverty Outreach and Transformation in Microfinance.


The Seal of Excellence has been under development for 19 months and will continue to evolve with input from a broad range of stakeholders. It will recognize those institutions that deepen financial inclusion by providing products and services that reach poor people and support their movement out of poverty. The Seal of Excellence will build on other microfinance industry initiatives, including the Smart Campaign’s client protection principles and the Universal Standards of the Social Performance Task Force. The Steering Committee for the Seal of Excellence plans to use the existing social rating and evaluation systems to assess the performance of microfinance institutions in poverty outreach and transformation.


“As a microfinance community, we need to shift our focus from outreach to results,” said Larry Reed, incoming director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign.  “The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report 2012 outlines important steps that we can take together to insure that the financial services we provide result in regular meals, secure housing, uninterrupted education, and better health for our clients and their families.”


It is estimated that over 1.7 million households have received institutional microfinance services on October 2011, a massive increase from around 150,000 members in 2000 when RMDC started its operation. The partner organizations of the Rural Microfinance Development Center alone have provided microfinance services to over 1.3 million households which form a share of 76 percent of the total microfinance beneficiaries. Being a premier wholesale lender, RMDC has been providing credit facility, capacity building support and other technical assistance to the partner MFIs and their clients. The 12-year-old institution has disbursed Rs. 5.81 billion of loan amount to its partner organizations till the end of last fiscal year 2010/11.

The partner organizations of RMDC have cumulatively disbursed loan amounting Rs.80.87 billion to the poor and deprived families and collected back Rs.66.7 billion till July, 2011 while the collective loan outstanding stood at Rs.14.17 billion. Similarly, they have been able to collect savings worth Rs.5.80 billion from the members as of July, 2011.

On this occasion, Chief Executive Officer of RMDC, Mr. Shankar Man Shrestha stressed the need for delivering microfinance services in responsible and sustainable manner. "The problem of multiple-financing and over-financing to the clients is apparent in Nepal as well, though, not in the alarming scale" Mr. Shrestha said, "It's high time to retrospect our actions and activities and judge whether they are directing us towards creating healthy microfinance environment. We have to work together to control the negative things seen in our context. Otherwise this will lead us to severe crisis." He also raised concern over the expansion of microfinance services to non-poor people. According to him, self-regulation and sensitization of employees and microfinance members are the major tools to write off these challenges.


RMDC has been increasing capacity of its partner MFIs and their clients through different training programs and exposure visits. Similarly, it has been organizing different national and international level conferences for the expansion of this sector. It has been also organizing different seminars and conferences to sensitize the members and MFIs about the problems faced by MFIs. Credit plus program of RMDC has been the key for maintaining over 98 percent repayment rate.


The Microcredit Summit Campaign aims to reach 175 million of the world’s poorest families by 2015 and ensure that 100 million of those families move above the World Bank’s $1.25-a-day poverty threshold.


To download the report online: http://mcs2015.org/2012-Report-English




Microcredit Summit Campaign:

The Microcredit Summit Campaign is a project of RESULTS Educational Fund, a U.S.-based advocacy organization committed to creating the will to eliminate poverty. The Campaign was launched in 1997 and, in 2007, surpassed its original goal of reaching 100 million poorest families with credit for self-employment and other financial and business services. The Global Microcredit Summit 2011 will be held November 14-17 in Valladolid, Spain. www.globalmicrocreditsummit2011.org


The 'Great Nepal-India-Pakistan Spinal Beetle Drive' Leaves Delhi for Lahore



The ‘Great Nepal-India-Pakistan Spinal Beetle Drive’ left New Delhi today for its onward journey to Lahore. It has completed 540 miles of the total journey, which is 1100 miles. The ‘Spinal Beetle’ is making its journey from Nepal through North India and Pakistan in order to raise awareness about spinal injury, raise funds for spinal injury rehabilitation in Nepal, and to promote ‘overland connectivity’ across the Subcontinent. The send-off was by Maj. HPS Ahluwalia, founder of the Indian Spinal Injuries Center. The actor Om Puri also spoke at the send-off.


The Journey: The 1973 model VW Beetle of the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (Nepal) started its journey from Kathmandu Valley on 4 November 2011. Coming down to the plains, it entered Uttar Pradesh and reached Lucknow on 5th evening. Westward, it took the National Highway-2 to Agra, getting on to the Grand Trunk Road originally regularised by Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century.


The ‘Spinal Beetle’ arrived at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC) on 7 November evening. Travelling further along the Grand Trunk Road, it will pass Chandigarh and Amritsar. On 11 November, the Spinal Beetle will enter Lahore via Wagah-Atari and arrive at the Mayo Hospital. From Lahore, the car will ride the M-1 motorway to Rawalpindi / Islamabad, and end the journey at the Paraplegic Centre in Hayatabad, Peshawar on 16 November.


Why the Adventure: The sudden rise of the number of patients over the last year has forced the Spinal Centre-Nepal to raise its service from 39 beds to 51. The Spinal Centre seeks to raise USD 110,000 from the 1100 mile journey, at the ‘rate’ of USD 100 per mile from friends and supporters worldwide. At midway, the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in Delhi is 540 miles from Kathmandu. The final destination, the Paraplegic Centre in Peshawar, is at a distance of 1100 miles.


Awareness: The Spinal Beetle Rally is also an effort to raise awareness of spinal injury prevention, rescue, care and rehabilitation in the Subcontinent. In this effort, the Spinal Centre-Nepal is assisted by Indian Spinal Injuries Center-Delhi and the Paraplegic Centre-Peshawar.


‘Overland connectivity’: The organisers hope that the drive of the Spinal Beetle from Nepal through India and Pakistan will also help promote the goal of ‘overland connectivity’ across Southasian land borders so that there is high-volume people-to-people contact.


The Rallyists: The Spinal Beetle is driven by journalist and civil rights activist Kanak Mani Dixit, Founder-Chair of the Spinal Centre-Nepal. He is accompanied by Shanta Dixit, board member and educationist. It was Kanak’s trekking accident a decade ago, resulting in a broken back, which led to the establishment of the Spinal Centre-Nepal.


Done it Before: The Spinal Beetle has done the Kathmandu-Dhaka stretch twice, in 2002 and 2005, to generous response.


About the Spinal Centre Nepal: Inaugurated by Sir Edmund Hillary on April 2002, the Spinal Centre-Nepal will be ten years old in 2012. Originally catering to patients from ‘traditional accidents’ such as fall from trees and cliffsides, spinal injury victims of ‘modern-day accidents' related to construction, rock mining and traffic events are increasingly filling our wards. We offer physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, medical care, counselling and home rehabilitation. We are also involved in prevention. The Spinal Centre is run by the non-profit Spinal Injury Sangha-Nepal.


Website: Details of the ‘Great Nepal-India-Pakistan Spinal Beetle Drive’ are to be found at www.sirc.org.np. The site also gives information on online support and pledges.


Seized property: Complications on the ground likely to affect their return

Even though political parties have agreed to return property seized during the insurgency by November 23, serious complications remain, including lack of reliable data, ownership issue, tenancy rights and differences among the Maoists.
The parties are not clear on how they will deal with issues of land ownership such as land grabbed by squatters, land captured and ‘sold’, absentee landlordism and the parties’ commitment on land reforms as provisioned in the Interim Constitution. The objection from the Maoist hardliners, who have vowed to “stand by the landless people”, could also delay the process. The government lacks credible data on seized property, which has long been a reason for the stalemate in the return process.
“The issue is deeply complex, and I don’t think there will be any significant progress immediately just because the parties struck a deal,” said Dr. Keshav Kanel, a former secretary at the Ministry of Land Reforms, who has been following the issue since the Maoist insurgency started. He said lack of study and alternative arrangement for the squatters who have captured the land on Maoist backing would create a major problem. 
The Nepali Congress (NC) has carried out a study on seized property, but it includes cases only concerning its leaders and cadres and the findings may not necessarily be applicable to other parties. The NC report claims the Maoists seized land, houses and factories belonging to 6,050 families. The party also claimed that the Maoists ‘looted’ property such as gold, silver, crops, cattle and machinery belonging to over 12,000 families during the conflict.
Government bodies in districts do have some data, but they are largely based on complaints and are yet to be verified.
Even if the parties manage to somehow compile the data, the issue of compensation will surface as another stumbling block. NC, for instance, has long been urging that the landowners be provided with proper compensation for the loss they incurred during the period their land were captured. In their calculation, a bigha of land captured for a period of 10 years deserves compensation worth Rs 600,000 to Rs 1,000,000.
Leaders, however, say it is the job of the government to deal with the illegal land occupation. “The Maoist party has sent a circular; the government has already issued a directive. If the authorities cannot return the land to the owners, it is something the Maoists and the government should be answerable for,” said NC leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula, one of the three key members assigned to look into the implementation of the deal on returning seized property.
Sitaula, who is also a key architect of the seven-point deal that drew Maoist commitment on returning the property, said the parties have agreed to form a separate commission to deal with the issue of compensation later.
The demand of the “landless” people who have captured others’ land does deserve some attention, as in the human rights perspective, and the state has the responsibility to ensure its people’s right to food, land and shelter. For a government which has been failing to provide land to over 6,000 former landless Kamaiyas and squatters liberated over a decade ago, it will be another burden if occupants are thrown out to the streets again.
Experts say the parties and the government should tackle this issue not as a separate problem created by a particular party but part of the larger problem posed by lack of land reforms. “The decision to return the property is commendable, but it would be better if the parties apply the policy of land ceiling right away,” said Som Paneru, an expert who has extensively researched on land reforms and related issues. “No one can capture anyone’s property, but while returning the seized property, the parties should not forget that there are issues of absentee landlordism, and there are people who hold hundreds of bighas of land. The government should be able to buy the land above a certain ceiling and provide it to the landless. This will kill two birds with one stone.”
Sitaula, however, rubbished the claim that there are issues of absentee landlordism or land beyond the current land ceiling of 10 bighas. “Claims that people whose lands have been captured by the Maoists have land beyond the 10-bigha ceiling are not true. It is already illegal and that is not the issue. The Maoists must return whatever they have captured. This is the solution.”
Government sources in Bardiya district, however, revealed that most of the landlords who owned land above the 10-bigah ceiling have managed to make their ownership legal by transferring ownership to family members and others in their trust. Yuvaraj Upadhaya, an absent landlord who owned over 200 bigahs of land in Bardiya, sold half of it to locals, who have not been able to use their land for “Maoist threat”, and transferred the rest to 17 different persons, including his family members.
Immovable property seized by Maoists (Number of families)






[Source: Report of a 31-member committee led by NC leader Binaya Dhoj Chand]

Movable property seized by Maoists
Cash: 4,135 families, Crops: 3,750 families, Gold, Silver: 3,921 families. Cattle: 1,745 families, Machinery: 440 families
NC claims the Maoists are yet to return seized property belonging to a total of 6,050 families (immobile property). It also claims loot of movable property belonging to over 12,000 families. The total property is claimed to be worth over Rs 20 billion. (Originally published on November 9, 2011 on The Kathmandu Post, go to archive at www.ekantipur.com/tkp)

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