Saturday, August 31, 2019

ATMs of around one dozen Nepali banks non-operational ‘due to system hacking’

Kathmandu, August 1

ATMs of around one dozen banks of Nepal have turned non-operational, reportedly after a group of hackers hacked their collective system.

The central bank has confirmed that ATM servers of NIC Asia Bank and Prabhu Bank are down. However, sources say ATMs of Sunrise, Machhapuchhre, Siddhartha, Prime Commercial, Global IME, Janata and Bank of Kathmandu are also not in operation.

“We are trying to resolve the issue,” Nepal Rastra Bank spokesperson Laxmi Prapanna Niraula says.

Chief of the Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu, SSP Uttam Raj Subedi, says the system related to the Visa card has been hacked.

Just last night, police had arrested five Chinese nationals while they were reportedly stealing money from an ATM in Darbarmarga. Police have claimed that it was a remarkable achievement. “Our operation last night saved a lot of money,” says Subedi.

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Jajarkot landslide kills three

Jajarkot, September 1

Three persons died when a landslide buried their house in Timile, Bheri municipality of Jajarkot district in Karnali province in the wee hours of Sunday.

The victims have been identified as Parvati Wali (32) and her two daughters Motikala (9) and Dhansara (3), informs the chief district officer, Lalit Kumar Basnet.

DSP Shyam Khatri says Parvati’s husband Bal Bahadur was saved as he was asleep outside the house.

The incident occurred when everyone was asleep at around 1:45 am today.

Personnel from Nepal Police and Armed Police Force have been mobilised to salvage the belongings.

Further investigation is underway.

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Getting Through the “Boring Middle”

Most life changes go through three major steps.

At the start is the “honeymoon phase.” You’re enamored with the big goal you’ve set for yourself. You’re having fun exploring all the new changes you’re making in your life. It’s all novel and interesting. You’re seeing those first steps of progress and it’s super exciting.

At the end is the actual achievement of the goal, which feels great. You did it! You’re able to retire with a healthy retirement income. You’re able to finally launch your business. You’ve lost X pounds. That’s fantastic!

It’s the middle that’s the problem.

The “boring middle” is all of those steps that have to happen after the excitement of the “honeymoon period” wears off but before you even get close to the goal (it can get kind of exciting once you get pretty close to the goal and the destination starts to feel like it’s about to happen).

This is particularly true for financial goals. The “boring middle” for a lot of financial goals is to just keep working and earning an income while the savings for that goal happens automatically.

As the saying goes, “the devil finds work for idle hands to do.” If you’re in that “boring middle,” it’s very easy to find yourself starting to desire the best parts of your old lifestyle before you adopted change. It’s very easy to feel like your current life is “boring.” It’s also quite easy to feel like you’ll never really reach that overall big goal, so what’s the point?

It’s those very temptations and distractions that convince people to “fall off the horse” of their long term goals and fall back into old patterns that don’t lead to the place they want to go. They might still want that long term goal, but the short term temptations and the lack of enjoyable progress overcomes that desire for the big goal.

I’m in the “boring middle” of my own big financial goal, which is essentially a very early retirement for Sarah and myself. We want to spend our fifties doing a lot of things that just don’t make logistical sense with three kids at home, and part of that is having complete freedom from having to work for money (this doesn’t mean that we don’t want to work, we just want to be able to make work decisions without the need for income being a requirement in those decisions).

There is definite “boredom” in the march toward my long term goal, and along with that some temptation to enjoy short term perks. I absolutely feel that tug at times. It would be fun to freely spend some of the money we’re channeling into savings and do some rather pricy things.

What keeps that from happening, though? How do I get through the “boring middle” of my big financial goal? These are some of the things I’m doing that are really helping me stay on the right track. Some of these are transferable to other goals, like weight loss, while others are mostly only applicable to financial goals.

So, let’s dig in. Here’s what I’m doing to try to stay on the right path through the “boring middle.”

Focus on Systems and Daily Routine

This has been a regular theme on The Simple Dollar as of late because I’ve found it so essential as a bridge through the difficult middle parts of many goals, keeping me going when I want to quit.

Rather than focusing on the big goal, my focus is on establishing daily routines and systems such that a normal day naturally takes me a few steps closer to my goal. What kinds of things can I do as the natural part of my day that will move me toward that goal?

Furthermore, I ask myself a variation on that question: what would a financially successful person do today? My big goal implies that I’m a financially successful person, right? That’s who I want to be, right? So, what does a financially successful person do on a typical day?

I list out those traits and behaviors and basic steps, and then I try to live out as many of them as I can, making them into my normal behavior. Some of them are small habits and specific things to do, which I can handle with checklists or to-do lists until they become completely second nature. Others are more behavioral changes, and with regards to those, I use the systems described in the book Triggers.

For example, what does a financially successful person do each day?

They don’t spend money on foolish and frivolous things without some forethought. That’s a behavioral change I can always work on.

They have automatic transfers and paycheck deductions in place that move their money for them and move them toward their big financial goals. Check.

They don’t needlessly tempt themselves. That’s a behavioral thing I can work on.

I can go on and on listing traits and behaviors and habits like this. The more of them that I adopt, the more I am behaving like a financially successful person, and the more that become natural, the more I naturally am a financially successful person.

You can do this for any big goal. What does a healthy person do every day? What does a fit person do every day? What does a smart person do every day?

I do this myself for other goals with questions like: what does a black belt do every day? What does a well-read person do every day?

Rather than worrying about your big goal, focus on this as a daily goal. Your goal today is to be a financially sound person. If you pull that off well, then your big financial goals will become inevitable.

Have a Lot of Milestones, with Celebrations That Don’t Disrupt the Goal

With almost any enormous goal, there’s a lot of value in breaking it down into progressively smaller pieces. I discussed one system recently, the 5-4-3-2-1 system and how to apply it to financial goals, but this is really about those middle steps, the “3” part of 5-4-3-2-1.

What you’re seeking out is things that constitute a significant step forward toward your big goal somewhere in the timeframe of one to six months. You might choose something like paying off a debt or reaching a certain net worth value or maxing out your Roth IRA for the year. It really depends on what your big goal is and how you’ve broken it down.

When you achieve that medium-term goal that fits into your big goal, find some way to celebrate it. Do something with your wife or with a few close friends. Spend a day doing something fun.

Whatever you do, though, make sure that it’s in line with your goal and isn’t undoing part of it. Don’t celebrate achieving a new low weight by eating a whole pizza and a pound cake. Don’t celebrate a new peak net worth by going on a giant spending spree. Don’t celebrate a new low time on your 5K by sitting on the couch for a week. Find ways to celebrate that don’t undo your goals. Tap into resources you’re not using, like time and energy, rather than the resources you’re using.

I usually celebrate a financial milestone by giving myself a day off of work to have a one day “staycation” to literally do whatever I want. I usually just spend a day delving deep into a hobby. I’ll spend the morning making something, spend the afternoon reading a book, and spend the evening playing a six hour long strategic board game with friends. It’s a wonderful day that doesn’t undo my financial progress. I plan it out in advance and look forward to it.

Find Things You Enjoy Within Your Current Lifestyle

For a lot of people, financial change usually comes along with abandoning a few routines in life that they enjoy. For example, many people delve into their daily routine, find things that they were spending money on every day, and cut them out of their routine.

While this is a great first step, what often happens is that when people hit the “boring middle,” they really start to miss those things that they cut out and they regret getting rid of them. It often starts to create a feeling of unhappiness in life and a sense that there aren’t things to enjoy in life any more.

That’s a bad path to start going down because it almost always ends in either resentment or an abandonment of the big goal.

A much better approach is to find lots of things that you enjoy within your current life so that you don’t miss the things you used to do nearly as much.

When I went through my financial turnaround, I cut a lot of expensive routines out of my life. I gave up golf. I stopped going to the bookstore more than once a month or so. I stopped going to the coffee shop more than once a month or so.

What kept me from missing them after a while was the fact that I didn’t merely replace those things by just sitting at home and feeling bored and feeling self-pity. Rather, I intentionally started finding other things to do with my time.

I started visiting the library and checking out armloads of books, making it my goal to have a big fat list of books I’d actually read than ones I merely owned. I started learning how to cook for myself and experimenting in the kitchen. I got into disc golf, which basically requires a couple of frisbees, and there were multiple free courses close to where I lived. I started participating in a few community organizations and I started going to several meetups. I started getting into hiking. I made it an effort to try new things all the time, too.

Those things filled my time and my thoughts and pretty quickly and efficiently replaced the expensive things I was doing. This went a very long way toward killing the sense of something missing in my life. I wasn’t sitting at home bored – I filled my life with other things.

You can do this with lots of personal goals. If you’re tackling a dietary goal, find lots of foods you like that are in line with your new dietary direction and fill your cupboards with them so that you always have an abundance of choice. If you’re tackling a fitness goal, find a variety of exercises you enjoy that meet your fitness needs so that it doesn’t feel like a drag.

Focus on Other Significant Life Goals with Tangential Benefits to Your Current One

When you’re in the “boring middle” of a big goal that’s occupied your mind for quite a while, it’s easy to just feel burnt out. There’s nothing new to try, it all feels stale, you want something different.

Often, that sense of wanting something different leads straight back to undoing the things that got you to that “boring middle” to begin with. You give up on the goal and revert back to bad habits just to change things up.

A different approach – and one that has worked well for me – is to simply dive into a new goal in life that tangentially helps the previous goal. Combined with having a good set of daily systems and habits, described above, this tends to keep things fresh as it allows you to change focus as needed.

For example, I have five major life goals going on right now that will each see completion sometime in the next one to ten years. I have minimal things I do to move forward on each one, but I find that my intense focus moves from goal to goal. For a while, I’ll be really focused on frugality and cutting spending, but then my focus will shift to working toward my taekwondo black belt, but then my focus will shift to a writing project. While my focus is on something else, I still maintain basic daily steps toward the big goals, but my intense focus is elsewhere.

Most of these goals have synergy with each other, something I’ve discussed before. I view life as being made up of nine or ten spheres: financial, physical, mental and spiritual, intellectual, marital, parental, professional, and social, and they all overlap in different ways. Each of those links, in fact, goes to an article outlining how those areas overlap with one’s financial life. Many of the goals people choose in life directly benefits one or two spheres and then indirectly benefits several others.

For example, one of my major goals right now is earning a black belt in taekwondo. This is a physical goal, as it aids my fitness and health, and a mental goal, but this connects to other areas. It helps me to focus, which helps with professional work, which earns money, which helps financially. It helps me improve my health, which reduces health care costs long term, which helps financially. When I work on this goal, as long as I’m not throwing money at it (which I rarely am), there is indirect financial benefit, plus I’m finding something else to focus my energy on so that I don’t get “worn out” by financial goals.

If you find that you’re in the “boring middle” with a big goal, seek out another big goal in life that doesn’t undermine your current goal. You’ll probably find that there are a lot of little synergies between the two and thus throwing yourself into one goal doesn’t undermine the other and in fact indirectly aids it. Plus, it’ll give your mind and body something else to work on rather than the proverbial devil finding work for idle hands to do.

Surround Yourself with the Right Culture

I’ve touched on these factors in various ways before as separate things, but they really come together as one core idea: you need to be enmeshed in a culture that’s supportive of the direction you want to go in. Financially strong people generally don’t emerge from cultural situations where everyone is living paycheck to paycheck and accumulating debt, for example. You have to find cultural elements with which to surround yourself that encourage financial progress.

So, how do you do that? One healthy step is to hang out with people who are headed in a financially positive direction. Develop friendships with people who aren’t always buying tons of things and are focused on other areas of their life. This doesn’t mean abandoning relationships with more materially-oriented people, but simply building friendships with those who are less materially oriented.

You can also cut down on media consumption that lauds lifestyles in opposition to what you’re working for, and increase media consumption (if you want to) of things more in line with what you’re working for. Stop watching things that are about people who spend lots of money and are rampant consumers. Stop watching things that are loaded with ads or have lots of product placement. Stop watching and reading “news” reports that are little more than ads for new products. Instead, look for sources of entertainment and news that don’t have that focus. What news sources don’t waste time covering new products or other things to buy? What television shows focus on areas of life that don’t involve buying lots of stuff or buying expensive things? What things that you watch or read are loaded with ads? If you can, look for things that actually show the opposite, ones that show frugality in a positive and normal light and ones that show financial progress and hard work as good things.

All of these moves will nudge your thoughts much less in a consumer-oriented direction and much more in a financially responsible direction.

Find Contentment and a Positive Mental State

One final tip, and one that underlies all of these things, is putting in the effort to find contentment and a positive mental state in your life. This means things like reducing stress, recognizing and having gratitude for good things in your life, having an abundance viewpoint about life, having a growth viewpoint about life, realizing that you have “enough” in your life, and recognizing and appropriately treating depression and other conditions. This does not mean being constantly happy or anything like that.

All of these steps are pointing to the same core idea: your life is actually pretty good, especially in the scope of human history, and there are many good things within that life. Capturing that feeling goes a long way toward killing that sense of inadequacy and not having enough that often drives our worst spending impulses.

Again, this does not mean that you’re in a perpetually happy state. Rather, it means that adding more stuff to your life, particularly buying more stuff and consuming more stuff, doesn’t make you happier. Money doesn’t buy happiness. It merely buys little bursts of fleeting pleasure, but then the lack of money actually brings stress and a lack of contentment and that can lead to unhappiness.

Make a conscious effort not merely to find things that make you happy, but to recognize that your life is already abundant and that you don’t really need more – you have enough already, and things are actually pretty good, even if you’re not necessarily happy right now. (We all feel melancholy sometimes, and companies even prey on it.)

Having that kind of mindset makes it easier to handle the “boring middle” of a big goal, particularly a financial one, because it is much easier to recognize that your life is already abundant. Achieving that financial goal just secures that abundant life and opens up even more opportunity, whereas spending money with reckless abandon closes those doors.

Final Thoughts

The “boring middle” of any goal can be dreadfully challenging, particularly as you’re adjusting from the end of the honeymoon period and you’re recognizing that there’s a lot of work ahead of you without a ton of novelty.

Thankfully, there’s a set of tools you can use to help you get through that “boring middle.” Focus on systems and daily routine. Have a lot of milestones, and celebrate them in a non-disruptive way. Find lots of things you enjoy within your current lifestyle approach. Work on other major life goals. Build up the right culture around you. Find contentment and the right mental state. Those tools will make the “boring middle” much easier to get through as you make your way to the goals you’ve always dreamed of.

Good luck!

The post Getting Through the “Boring Middle” appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Frugality, Philosophy, and Time Management

In Monday’s reader mailbag, Eric asked a great question:

I find it interesting that you write about things like time management and philosophy on a personal finance site. The connection seems thin at best to me. I’d love to see a post talking about it.

My first line in response was “I don’t think there’s a full post in this subject, but there are certainly a few paragraphs.”

After the article posted, however, Eric and a couple of other readers asked enough follow-up questions that I changed my mind and decided that, indeed, this topic deserved a full article on its own.

So, let me answer Eric’s question from the top.

Frugality Is Resource Management

The idea of frugality is almost always tied to money and maximizing the effectiveness of it. However, I tend to use a somewhat broader definition of frugality. To me, frugality is about maximizing the effectiveness of all of one’s resources. Money is obviously a big one, but those resources also include time, energy, focus, relationships, skills, health, and other things.

The reasoning here is that if you find a way to be efficient with any one resource, it eventually can translate itself into money. For example, if I am efficient with my time and focus when I’m working, I get done with my work earlier than expected. This gives me some extra time to do some meal prepping (saving money directly) or doing something that builds professional skills (helping me earn money later) or exercise (improving my health, reducing health care costs later) and so on.

This works because most of life’s resources can be converted into money, and vice versa.

Time can definitely be converted into money, as you have more time to work or build skills or build a side business or do frugal projects.

Energy can be converted into money because you feel energetic enough to do more in a given day, like do a meal prepping project or finish off a work project.

Health can be converted into money because you’re avoiding health care costs and side effects that can sap your energy and time (which converts into money, as noted above).

Focus can be converted into money because it means more efficient work and usually higher quality work. You get things done faster (giving you more time) and you get things done better, usually increasing the value of whatever it is you’re doing.

Relationships can be converted into money by reducing the expense of help when you need it and increasing your professional and personal opportunities.

Skills can be converted into money by doing things yourself (saving money) and selling those skills and earning money.

Thus, frugality isn’t just about efficient use of money, it’s really about the efficient use of all of those resources (and others).

Best Techniques for Each Resource

Because of that, I think there’s a lot of frugal value in seeking out and finding best practices in each of those areas.

For example, when we’re looking at time management, I use a number of techniques that really help. I constantly have a task list going (I use the program Omnifocus to manage mine). I always have a pocket notebook and pen in my pocket to jot down thoughts and information as they come to me so I don’t lose them. I use time blocking as a way of effectively budgeting my time, and I even use time tracking as a way to more deeply understand my time use. All of this is intended to get maximum value out of my time.

Another great example comes from focusing. I do a lot of things to aid my focus, from mindfulness meditation and writing in a journal each day to listening to ambient noise and alternating between drinking coffee and green tea while I work. These tactics really help me focus in on my work, which means I produce better work in significantly less time than I would if I didn’t use these tactics. They also help me to naturally focus in the moment on things like my family or my friends or on a task I’m taking on at the moment.

I could go through most of these categories and point out strategies I use that I consider to be the best practices for making those categories more efficient. For example, I use a lot of checklists for tasks just so I don’t have to think about them or think about what’s next. The key is that I’m sharing what actually works for me in terms of getting more efficient value out of one of the resources in my life, and that resource can usually be converted to money (or into leisure time, which is as good as money).

People Do Focus on Money

The issue, of course, is that people who come to The Simple Dollar almost always have a heavy money focus. Usually, they’re drawn to The Simple Dollar because they’re experiencing a financial challenge in their life and they need some down-to-earth advice on how to fix it.

This isn’t surprising. Just shy of 4 out of 5 Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Inevitably, some of those people start feeling nervous about their situation, and others are hit by an unexpected event and suddenly find themselves in a really stressful financial state. Money is the resource that they need to get a grip on in that moment, more than any other.

That’s why, when I do focus on those other areas, I try really hard to make the connections to money as clear as possible. Often, the main reasons I use for those tactics aren’t directly related to money. Usually, I do them because they make some other resource in my life more efficient and then, over time and as needed, that resource saves me money. However, understanding that isn’t really all that helpful to someone seeking immediate financial help. Money is the resource that people are often concerned with, and thus I try to make the connections to money as directly clear as I can.

On the whole, though, The Simple Dollar is really about having a balanced, low stress, financially successful life where you’re achieving the dreams you have for yourself.

What does that really mean, though?

A Philosophical Approach to Life

Sometimes, articles on The Simple Dollar trend in a very philosophical direction, asking questions about what our purpose in life is and what we want out of it. Those questions aren’t easy to answer and they’ve been the core of philosophical works since the dawn of time. You can literally go back to the earliest philosophers and you find that they’re thinking about those questions and philosophers today are still thinking about it.

In my own life, getting a grip on the purpose of my life has been infinitely valuable in terms of figuring out what I should be doing with my money, time, and energy. It was essential in setting meaningful lifelong and long term goals, and those inherently lead what I choose to do with my resources. I use frugality tactics to help me move toward those goals efficiently.

Everyone has a different understanding of their purpose in life. I think that anyone can benefit a whole lot by reading some of the better works on life philosophy out there and figuring out what really clicks with them, because it won’t be the same thing for any two people. I’ve written about stoicism and Epicurean principles and Aristotle’s principles and secular Buddhism and books like “Walden” and Voluntary Simplicity and Self-Reliance (in three parts).

(If you’re interested, my own belief is that the purpose of life is to find out what you’re good at and practice it with enough skill and focus that you lose track of time and space and achieve a “flow state.” This flow state feels tremendously good, produces really high quality results, and can be used in both professional and all manner of personal contexts. I can dig into that idea in a bunch of ways, theologically and psychologically and philosophically, but I basically think that the best life I can lead is one where I regularly get into a flow state and the things I produce while in that state make the world a better place. I think this approach helps greatly with my writing, but also makes me a better parent and a better husband and a better friend and some of the things I do in that state help many, many people. Having said that, however, I think that everyone has a different view of what their own purpose in life is and you should seek your own and not expect it to match mine.)

When I write about such subjects here, I try to center it around things that I’ve learned that resonate with me, but also with ideas that I can at least appreciate that I know resonate really well with others. I want everyone to be able to figure out at least some idea of what their own purpose is, so that they can set more meaningful life goals and put their finances to work in service of it. Not only does this provide a ton of motivation for good financial behavior, it also translates your financial success into something that’s deeply personally meaningful for you.

Final Thoughts

Whenever you read an article on here that delves into time management or into checklists or into meditation or into something philosophical, there are really two key things to remember.

One, frugality is about getting maximum value out of all of life’s resources and those resources are generally transferable to one another. If you’re efficient with time, it’s easy to convert that time savings into money. The same is true with energy, health, relationships, focus, and so on.

Two, having a purpose in life makes it much easier to set long term goals that really resonate, and putting your finances to work in line with those goals makes financial progress much more powerful and meaningful. When you really figure out what you want out of life and start setting goals to maximize your ability to do whatever that is, the financial moves you make in service of that goal seem incredibly joyful and purposeful because you’re building a life that really means something to you.

Those things are big cornerstones of personal finance, in my opinion. Know why you’re doing this. Get maximum value out of all of life’s resources. That’s the path to not just financial success, but success in life.

The post Frugality, Philosophy, and Time Management appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Media Council Bill will not curtail press freedom: Minister Baskota

Kathmandu, August 30

Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Gokul Baskota, has said the Media Council Bill will not curtail press freedom. Answering questions posed by the members of the National Assembly on Friday, Baskota said that the bill was brought to manage the media sector in a dignified way.

However, he did add that the government would take action against those abusing press freedom to undermine democracy. He said that the bill was brought because the mass media was abusing the freedom and posting fake news. He said that the bill would make the mass media more credible.

Minister Baskota further added that the punishment for publishing fake news would be given by the court and not by the Media Council.

“Freedom of speech does not mean you can accuse anyone of anything. Where are the media’s accountability and responsibility? What type of journalism is that? When we tried to monitor that a bit, they started to bring out concerns about freedom of speech. What are they trying to achieve here?,” questioned Baskota.

Minister Baskota urged the press not to act as the court.

“The government believes in a court trial, not a media trial. The government wants the press to stop giving out verdicts on the cases based on their opinion. It is wrong. We will not accept that,” he warned.


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New code to bar journalists from sharing unverified info on social media

Kathmandu, August 30

The Nepal Press Council and the Federation of Nepali Journalists are revising the code of conduct for journalists. The revised code will come into effect on September 23.

The new code will have stricter provisions for journalists, in particular about the use of social media. It will bar the journos and media houses from sharing unverified information on social media. The new document will require the information to be shared on social media to be factual, balanced and dignified.

Now onwards, if a journalist wants to share something already posted by others on social media, they have to test the truthfulness of the information as they do with their own posts.

The new code will bar journalists and media from using any technology covertly. If some technology has to be used covertly, the media should inform the audience while disseminating the information. Similarly, they should not disseminate anything that could have an adverse impact on the judicial proceeding.

PCN chair Kishor Shrestha says the new code of conduct will be made public on the occasion of the silver jubilee of the council. It will address concerns about the problems brought out by the new technology, according to him.

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

‘People of Nepal should be excited for what Tata will offer next’

Sujan Roy is the Head of International Business, Passenger Vehicles, at Tata Motors. Before joining Tata Motors, Roy was the General Manager-Product Marketing for Volkswagen in India, head of planning for Honda in India and Senior Brand Manager at Scorpio.

Roy, who is currently in Nepal for the NADA Auto Show, spoke to Onlinekhabar about Tata’s new H5 model and his aspirations from the Nepali market.


What has Tata brought to this year’s NADA Auto Show?

We’ve brought in the H5 with a legendary DNA. The DNA we’re talking about is the Land Rover D8 platform, which is a proven platform, which is clearly world-class. Thanks to Tata Motor’s acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover brand a few years back, we have been able to do this. That will definitely help us stand out in the Nepali market.

How would you describe the H5?

The H5 is the first product which uses components from the Jaguar Land Rover platform and that is what gives us an edge. I’m sure that when an SUV lover sits inside the H5 and travels on all sort of roads, they will be able to feel the difference.

Another thing that stands out in this car is the long wheelbase which is identical to a Land Rover Discovery. The legroom is tremendous, the front space is tremendous and also the boot space. All these come from the legendary DNA.

What other things have you inherited from the Land Rover?

We have also inherited the terrain response system. There is a dial on the dashboard where you can customise the performance of the car based on the terrain you’re driving on. It gives the car additional capability on rough and tough roads. So this is a distinct advantage as you don’t need to spend extra on four-wheel drives. That also increases fuel efficiency and decreases repair cost as compared to our competitors.

Another key aspect is we have also inherited a state of the art infotainment system. JBL infotainment system is only found in the most expensive vehicles, but we realised that people in Nepal and India too liked a good audio system in their cars so we decided to add it.

Would you call the H5 a piece of art then?

Yes, it is. It is an art or as I like to call it a mother preparing a new dish for her children with a lot of love and a lot of hope. It’s like saying have a slice of this cake and tell me if you like it or not because Nepal has always been our most important export market. It’s the first market that Tata motors bring its cars and for us, the voice of the Nepali customers is very important. We want to hear what the people have to say. We want to make better cars for people here in Nepal.

We feel that the Nepali customers are one step ahead of the Indian customers because of exposure to different brands, the terrain where they drive the cars and lastly the Nepal customers have a unique sense of style, which is far more advanced.

Last year, you launched Tata Nexon which appealed to the younger people. Is the target customer different for the H5?

With the H5, we’re looking at slightly older customers than Nexon. We are realising that it is part of the global trend even in Europe and America: you will see that people are moving away from the sedans and hatchbacks and moving into SUVs.

We realised that Nepal is such a beautiful country where people love to travel around, it makes sense to have an SUV because it is more practical as it can take to the toughest places. We felt that these customers might want to upgrade from their sedans and hatchbacks to a new SUV.

What has been initial feedback from customers?

The feedback has been positive. The response in India has been great as we have sold over 10,000 cars and here too we were receiving good feedback. People feel that the prices are competitive and aggressive as the car is priced at Rs 5.6 million.

Do you have any plan to bring other cars to Nepal?

We wanted to bring another car, the Tata Altros. But we felt it would be better to launch it in a few months. We have many cars we want to bring to Nepal in the next year.  I don’t want to talk about it as it will kill the surprise later on. Another thing I want to tell the people in Nepal is we will be launching many electric vehicles by the end of this year.

How tough is it to brand EVs in Nepal?

The problem with EVs is that we know it is the future, but we don’t know when they will be dominant. It will happen sooner or later; but in the interim period, you have to have petrol, diesel, LPG and CNG cars. For now, electric is just an option we want to have in the market. I want to tell people here in Nepal be prepared for an electric future.

Will the cars be hybrid or fully electric?

Fully electric. Even though the hybrid is a fascinating thing, we believe that the future needs to be all-electric. Hybrid is a half-way house. As the world is going all-electric, we too want to do that.

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Sudan scam: Police arrest absconding convict

Kathmandu, August 30

Police have arrested an absconding trader, convicted of corruption in supplies substandard consignments to the Nepal Police peacekeeping troops in Sudan, recently.

A team deployed from the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police arrested Shambhu Bharati at his residence in Lalitpur, informs SSP Ram Dutta Joshi of the CIB.

“We will submit him to the Supreme Court to execute the verdict,” he tells.

The court had sentenced him a jail term of one year and a fine of Rs 142 million.  The court had also convicted three former chiefs of Nepal Police in connection with the case.


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Govt requires ‘big’ hotels to mandatorily list Nepali food on the menu

Kathmandu, August 30

The government is preparing to introduce a new rule for ‘big’ hotels of the country, according to which the four-star and five-star institutions need to include at least some items of the Nepali food on their menu.

After assuming his office last month, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai had announced that he would introduce the new regulation within the next 15 days.

Though the 15 days have passed, the ministry is now preparing the new regulation.

Most star hotels of Nepal serve Italian, French, Turkish, Chinese, India, Thai, Malaysian, Japanese and Korean food items. The use of Nepali food is on the wane there.

The government hopes that the new regulation will ‘internationalise’ Nepali culinary art. The government is also making it mandatory that the Nepal Tourism Board include activities related to food in all events it would host to promote Nepali tourism.

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21 Ways I Use Frugal Tactics in My Morning Routine

This morning, when I woke up and went through my usual morning routine that revolves around getting myself awake, getting the kids ready for school, and getting myself ready for working, I noticed that there were little frugal tweaks everywhere. I kept noticing all of these little changes I’d made over the last several years that shave a few cents or a quarter or a dollar off of the activities of my morning routine. These little tweaks don’t really change the nature of the thing I’m doing, but they do mean that my normal daily routine is less expensive than it once was.

I thought it might be interesting to walk step by step through a typical morning of mine, starting at the point that I wake up and ending at the point when I start my actual workday, and point out all of the little frugal tweaks along the way.

Before I get started, it’s worth noting that I work from home, which means that I don’t have the cost of a commute nor the cost of a professional wardrobe. Most days, I work in inexpensive, comfortable clothes – a well-worn soft t-shirt and worn blue jeans, usually. Thus, I won’t be talking about ways to save money on a commute, but I’m instead focusing on the other elements of the morning routine that most people who work and have kids have to face each workday/schoolday. I asked Sarah about strategies that she uses to save on her commute and I’m sharing some of those at the end of this article.

Let’s dig in.

Pretty much the first thing I do when I get out of bed is grab a refillable bottle of water out of the fridge and start drinking it. Rather than just buying jumbo packs of bottled water at a store, I just have a handful of water bottles that are filled and kept in the fridge for anyone to grab. I’ll usually refill this bottle a few times during the day, meaning that my beverage costs are really low.

I then usually spend some time reviewing my day and calming my mind. I usually start with reviewing my calendar in Google Calendar, which is free. I use it to track every time-oriented event in my life. If it’s something where I or someone in my immediate family needs to be somewhere at a certain time, it’s in this calendar, and I check it each day just to have a good mental picture of what the day is going to look like. I moved to Google Calendar a few years ago, dropping a paper planner, as I found that things that are just information storage and retrieval, not things I have to think critically about, are best stored digitally.

If I’m up early enough, I’ll do a free flexibility routine from Youtube. It lets me stretch out my body and I find it not just physically enjoyable, but mentally relaxing, too. I also like to do mindful meditation for ten or fifteen minutes while listening to white noise. Again, this is something to calm and focus my mind and it’s free, but it’s worth noting that unlike the stretching, it’s not something that has immediate benefits; it tends to build slowly over time if you repeat it each day. I usually spend some time writing in a journal, usually in the form of just dumping out what’s in my head so I can focus on the day.

At this point, depending on what is on the meal plan for kids for breakfast and how early it is, I either start breakfast prep or settle in to read a book for thirty minutes.

If I’m reading a book, I’m typically reading something I checked out from the library for free; currently, that’s Dodge by Neal Stephenson.. I’ll sit in a comfortable chair, finish off my water, and go through a bunch of pages in the book.

If I’m doing breakfast prep, I could be making any number of things. Here are a few examples.

One common cheap breakfast is oatmeal. I put some water on to boil, then grab a container of quick oats from the cupboard and another container that has a mix of cinnamon and brown sugar in it (6 parts brown sugar to 1 part cinnamon). I put a half-cup of the oats in each bowl, then a tablespoon of our brown sugar mix, and then I mix it. I then chop up some fruit into each bowl, whatever’s on hand – a banana, an apple, whatever. I then pour about half a cup of the water (boiling or near boiling) into each bowl, stir it, and microwave it for another 30 seconds and serve. Easy and dirt cheap.

Another common quick breakfast is scrambled eggs. I’ll just crack ten eggs into a bowl, add some salt and pepper, and thoroughly whisk it, then put just a bit of butter in a skillet over medium heat and when the butter melts and coats the bottom, I pour in the eggs, keeping them scrambled as they cook, and then serving equal amounts to everyone (two eggs’ worth for everyone if Sarah is still home, two and a half for everyone if she’s already gone).

If I think of it the night before, I’ll often make “Swiss breakfast.” Basically, I take three cups and layer rolled oats and fruit in those cups with a bit of honey in each layer. I’ll put in perhaps 1/8th cup rolled oats, top it with a tiny bit of honey, put in 1/8 cup fruit, put in a few drops of honey, and repeat twice more. Then, I’ll fill the cup up with milk until it’s just above the top of the top layer of fruit and put it in the fridge overnight, covered. In the morning, I just pull it out and serve it with a spoon. This is about the same cost as our morning oatmeal, but has a much different taste and feel.

I also make yogurt-fruit smoothies, fruit salads, and other things for breakfast. On extremely rushed mornings, we do have a box of cereal on hand because there’s almost nothing faster.

The point is to keep breakfast simple and cheap but also healthy and nutritious.

Anyway, right as the kids are getting up, I want to get a brief digest of the day’s news, which is about the only time I really pay any attention to current events. Rather than turning on cable news to get my morning news, I just give a cursory glance at Allsides to get a brief summary of the news (free) and then turn on NPR (free) on the radio in the kitchen. Those are far cheaper options than having a cable subscription.

After breakfast, I’m mostly putting out fires for ten or fifteen minutes as the kids get ready for school. There’s always something to find or some paper to fill out or a shoe to recover from a dog’s hiding place or something like that, so I leave at least a ten minute gap, if not longer, for those things.

Once the kids leave for the bus, I usually take a shower. I use pump dispensers for liquid soap and shampoo so that I’m not using more than I need, thus avoiding waste, and I try to take a quick shower to avoid using up all the hot water and so I can get to work quickly. (I use these.) The soap and shampoo I use is usually whatever’s on sale at the store; right now, I’m using some jumbo bar soap that cost $1 each at a big sale where I think the store was liquidating stock (it’s Duke Cannon soap, and the bars are enormous) and I’m using Suave for Men shampoo/conditioner combo that had a nice sale on the jumbo-sized bottle. The same is true for other toiletries – I use generic heads for my toothbrush, use free toothpaste from the dentist or whatever’s on sale at the store, and so on. As mentioned earlier, I dress for work in a comfortable, well worn t-shirt and jeans.

At this point, I usually start a load of dishes and a load of laundry, if needed.

If I’m doing laundry, I usually run a load using homemade laundry soap (I just mix a cup of borax, a cup of washing soda, and a cup of soap flakes in a container and leave a measuring tablespoon in there – one tablespoon of the mix is good for any load) and using cold water for both the wash and the rinse setting, which cuts down on the hot water cost. When I dry my clothes, I usually just use the permanent press setting by default; the clothes don’t come out warm, but a lot less energy is used.

When I’m running a load of dishes, I usually either use whatever kind of dishwashing soap is on sale or, if I’ve had some spare time lately, my own “dishwasher packets” made of salt, washing soda, baking soda, powdered lemonade, water, and a bit of liquid dish soap. (I’m currently using this recipe.) In either case, it’s way cheaper than just grabbing whatever dishwashing detergent you first see at the store.

After that, and after doing a few more minor household tasks, I get ready for the work day.

The first thing I do is make a big cup of green tea. I am often gifted tea, so I’ll usually use that, or I’ll use some bulk tea I bought. I usually make several cups at once and keep it in a large cup that keeps it warm for several hours. I boil a quart of water and use an appropriate amount of tea leaves or bags to get it just right, then stir in a bit of honey.

At the same time, I pour myself some cold brew coffee from the fridge. Cold brew is about the cheapest way to make coffee at home that I’ve found and it turns out delicious. I have a cold brew coffee maker very similar to this one in which I just put some grounds in a mesh filter, put that filter in 32 ounces of water, and stick it in the fridge. After 24 hours, it’s amazing; I’ll just pour all 32 ounces in another giant cup and take it with me, starting another batch immediately.

At this point, when I have my coffee and tea ready to go, I’m ready to start my day. I turn off most common distractions – turn off notifications on my phone, close the door to the area of the house where I work, turn on a piece of software that blocks some distracting websites on my computer – and then set myself up to focus by turning on some focusing audio, like the white noise mentioned earlier. Then, I’m good to go.

At the end of the day, living frugally isn’t about radically changing your lifestyle. Sure, you can make some big changes to save money, and that’s often a good idea to do so, but the day to day routine of frugal life really is about finding small efficiencies that don’t reduce the quality of living but do save you money, time, and energy.

So, what about Sarah? Sarah works outside the home as a teacher and has a daily commute. I asked her about some of the things she does during her commute to save money and jotted down many of the things she shared with me.

First of all, she spent a lot of time optimizing her route to minimize driving distance. Shaving just a couple of miles off of her commute means less frequent fill-ups, less frequent maintenance, and a longer lifespan for her car. Each time she’s changed positions and we’ve moved, she’s studied the optimum commute using tools like Google Maps, found some candidates, and tried them out. From where we currently live, Google Maps actually does point her to the best route, but at our previous residence, there was another route that she discovered that shaved three miles off of her commute each way, and that really added up.

She likes to drink some coffee on her way to work but her mornings are busy, so she has a very tight routine for making her own coffee at home so she’s not buying it on her way to work. She prefers hot coffee and has a drip coffee maker that she’s had for many years, and she basically has this down to an exact science so that she can leave the house with a full coffee mug of coffee made at home, just as she likes it. This is far less expensive than stopping for coffee along the route each day.

She has carpooled in the past with another teacher that lived in our area. They would alternate driving to school and had a set time when they would leave each day. This cut her commute time in half. Unfortunately, the other teacher retired, so they’re no longer able to carpool, but she actively looks for people to carpool with each year out of the new hires at her school.

She drives a late 2000s Toyota Prius and intends to drive it until it no longer runs well. It currently has near 200,000 miles on it. It gets approximately 45 miles per gallon, which means that, since she drives it about 15,000 miles a year for commuting, it saves her about 267 gallons of gas per year, which adds up to about $700 in savings just from gas alone. She’s interested in replacing it with a low cost fully electric car (think Nissan Leaf) after doing the math on the costs, provided that the market develops a little more before she rotates car.

She typically fuels up at a warehouse club. The only warehouse club convenient for us is Sam’s Club, so she uses that for fuel most of the time. The only exception to this is when she has accumulated points in the customer rewards program at a local grocer, which are actually used at a gas station chain in the area. We usually use this to fill up our van, though, which means one fill-up of our big vehicle at a cheap rate.

She knows how to change a flat on her own. If she ever gets a flat, she can just get it off the road, change it herself, and get to work without calling an expensive service.

The simple truth is this: no matter what your morning routine contains, there are likely ways to shave off a bit of that expense without changing the nature or quality of what you’re doing. A move that saves $0.10 per day on your workday morning routine, repeated 5 times a week, 50 weeks a year, adds up to $25 saved. Make ten of those little tiny changes and that’s $250. Make some bigger ones and you’re quickly looking at four figures in savings per year.

There are really two ways to see the power of frugality. One is the big changes – moving to a cheaper house, eliminating a service, renegotiating a bill, and so on. The other is finding a cheaper way to do something that you do all the time without losing the quality. If you do something every day and can find a way to do it a little cheaper, that savings is going to add up enormously over time. It won’t have the big splash of the singular move, but what it will do is give you breathing room all throughout your financial life and making it easier to take a step like contributing more to retirement or starting a 529 for your kid or even making a challenging career switch.

Good luck!

The post 21 Ways I Use Frugal Tactics in My Morning Routine appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Nepal’s World Cup Qualifier team announced, Biraj Maharjan misses out

Kathmandu, August 29

The Nepali squad for the forthcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Kuwait and Chinese Taipei have been announced. Nepal’s national football team coach Johan Kalin announced the 23-member side on Thursday.

In a surprise decision, national team captain Biraj Maharjan has not been included in the team along with Alan Neupane and Bimal Rana. Kiran Chemjong and Rohit Chand, who recently arrived from the club duties, are back in the team.

Nepal will play their first two games away in Kuwait on September 5 and Chinese Taipei on September 10. The Nepal group also have Asian footballing powerhouse, Austrailia.

Nepal’s team:

Goalkeepers – Kiran Chemjong, Bikesh Kuthu and Bishal Shrestha

Defenders – Ananta Tamang, Devendra Tamang, Suman Aryal, Ajit Bhandari, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Saroj Dahal and Rajeen Dhimal

Midfielders – Sujal Shrestha, Bishal Rai, Bikram Lama, Santosh Tamang, Sunil Bal, Anjan Bista, Heman Gurung, Tej Tamang, Rohit Chand and Ravi Paswan

Forwards – Bimal Gharti Magar, Nawayug Shrestha and Abhishek Rijal

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17-year-old girl gang-raped in capital

Kathmandu, August 29

In yet another incident of sexual violence in the capital, a 17-year-old girl has complained that she was raped by two men at a guesthouse in Kalanki of Kathmandu recently.

Based on her complaint, police have arrested 1 23-year-old man, a permanent resident of Gajuri-1 in Dhading district. Another man from the same district has also been accused of the assault. He is on the run and police have launched a manhunt.

Nepal Police Headquarters says the criminal incident occurred at Pashupati Guest House of Kalanki. Further investigation is underway.

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Ruling party ‘ready’ to amend Media Council Bill

Kathmandu, August 29

Ruling party Nepal Communist Party has said it is ready to amend the controversial Media Council Bill. The bill is being tabled at the National Assembly on Thursday and will be discussed on Friday.

NCP chief whip in the Upper House, Khim Lal Bhattarai, says that the bill will be sent to the concerned parliamentary committee after the bill is discussed at the National Assembly. Bhattarai adds that the bill will be amended in a manner which will not curtail press freedom.

However, he does not mention what clause is going to be amended. The leader assures that the bill would only be passed after addressing issues regarding punishment and the formation of the Media Council.

According to a source, the government is planning to remove the provision which would fine and jail journalists for writing fake news. NCP lawmakers have been saying that they are also considering the media’s concern that the Media Council should not be handing out punishments like a court.

The amendment will also change the process of appointing council officials, the source claims.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Dengue spreads across Nepal: 1,537 people get infected this season

Kathmandu, August 29

The government says total 1,537 persons are infected with dengue virus across the country in the past three months. The disease has spread in all the provinces of the country except Karnali.

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the Ministry of Health and Population says Province 1 is the most affected region. The dengue virus was first spotted in Dharan, a city in Sunsari district of the province this season.

Of 18 districts in the province, nine are affected. There are 563 patients in total. Of them, 331 are in Sunsari district alone.

It has been three months since the first dengue patient of the season was found in Dharan. The epidemic has not come under control in the city since then.  The government is under fire for its failure to control the disease.

In another district of the province, Jhapa also, the epidemic is on the rise. There are 124 patients in the district as of Wednesday.

At least three persons have died of dengue in the country this season.

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The Parable of the Fruit Tree

Imagine two farmers – we’ll call them Adam and Betty – living a couple hundred years ago. Toiling the land was hard work and it took all they had to work their forty acres of land.

Adam used all of his forty acres for wheat, and he was able to get 5 bushels of wheat per acre and he saved ten bushels for his own family’s food, so he would take 190 bushes to the market each year.

Betty did the same at first, but one year she saw someone selling apples at the market and thought to herself, “You know, if I gave over one of my acres of land and built an apple orchard, I could have many bushels of apples, for myself and for my family.” That fall, she bought minimal supplies at the market and saved some of her money.

The next spring, Betty planted one of her acres with apple trees using the money she had saved the previous fall. This was a bunch of additional work on top of the other acres, so Betty worked even harder and even later many nights. That fall, she only brought 185 bushels to the market, where Adam brought 190. Betty felt a bit foolish – she worked harder, but Adam came home with more money from the market? How unfair.

The next few years were a repeat of the same thing: Betty worked extra hours getting her apple orchard going with no production, while Adam actually earned a little more at the market each year.

Betty’s orchard slowly matured and required less work each year, until finally, one year, the orchard began to produce an abundance of apples. Betty took bushel after bushel of apples to the market that fall in addition to her wheat and brought home quite a lot more money than Adam, even though she had actually worked less that year.

Suddenly, it was Adam looking on with jealousy. Betty worked less than him this year and made more money because of her apples? How was that fair?

While Adam could certainly plant an apple orchard of his own, it would take him several years to start producing, during which he’d be working far more than Betty while earning significantly less.

What’s the lesson here? Invest in yourself, and do it sooner rather than later. Plant lots and lots and lots of apple trees in your own life. Invest a little time and energy and money now so that it will produce big returns later.

Don’t have any idea how to do this? Here are a bunch of ways to invest some of the resources you have right now – time, money, energy – to pay even bigger dividends in the future. It is well worth your time to spend an hour or so each day and some portion of your money in these endeavors.

Save for retirement. This is a big one, and it’s a perfect example of the idea. Contribute a little to retirement each paycheck and when you reach retirement age you’ll have a lot more resources at your disposal than you would have if you hadn’t saved. Social Security alone will lead to a very threadbare existence unless you continue to work in your old age, and even having a little put away will make a huge difference in your quality of life.

Help someone out in a meaningful way without expecting anything in return. This doesn’t mean doing someone’s job for them or continually doing someone else’s work without appreciation. It means things like showing up a little early so someone else can leave a little early, or helping someone move, or giving someone’s paper a look-over to see if you notice any issues and actually giving them good feedback, or giving someone a ride somewhere, or showing up with a meal in hand for someone who’s sick or for the family of someone who recently passed. Do these kinds of things consistently without expecting anything in return.

Build your professional network. Simply find people who are in your field and share advice and swap stories with them. You can do this online by seeking out groups on social media related to your career field on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, or StackOverflow, depending on your field. Even better, seek out groups in your community. Get involved in your union. Seek out meetups or professional organizations related to your field and start going to them. If you ever have an opportunity to present your work, take it and, if possible, share the materials you present far and wide. Make sure to put as much polish on it as you can, too. Keep business cards on you with all times, with multiple avenues for contacting you, and try to accumulate cards as well from people actually in your field, then follow up with those people and keep the connection alive.

Build a skill that has professional application in your field. I used to spend an hour out of each workday simply working on learning a skill that I knew would be useful down the road. I’d learn a new programming API or a new data mining technique or very carefully study something related to the types of data I was digging into. You can do the same type of thing in almost any career path. Try to devote some time in each workday solely to develop a skill that you currently find useful or that you will find useful in the next step in your career path. This can be a technical skill, or it can be something like a people skill or a presentation skill.

Build a skill that makes you less reliant on paying others for services (and perhaps could build into others paying you). Pretty much any home improvement project falls into this category, as do things like cooking, baking, basic auto maintenance, basic carpentry, basic plumbing, and so on. Those are skills that many people pay others for that, if you can do them yourself, you can just pocket that money, and if you build them enough, you may be in a position to easily jump to a situation where others pay you for those skills. Practicing these skills for yourself is about more than just the immediate benefit (the meal or the fixed toilet). It’s about the skill you build and the confidence to apply it in the future.

Put effort into maintaining a relationship. Give your parents a call and have a meaningful, lengthy conversation with them. Call up a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Send someone in your life a handwritten note or a card – do you know how much a simple handwritten note stands out in a good way in today’s internet age? Send someone a text that you haven’t communicated with recently, just asking what’s up and letting them know they’re in your thoughts. Don’t make it about you – just ask about them, and listen.

Put a little extra polish into a project you’re working on. If you’re writing computer code, put in the effort to use sensible variable names and include good (but not excessive) comments. If you’re writing a report, let it sit for a day before turning it in, then carefully re-read it and edit it with fresh eyes. If you’re stocking shelves, look at the shelves again when you’re finished and take a moment to make them look neat and attractive. Putting in that little extra effort to polish your work is something that people subtly notice over time, and that usually builds into opportunity if you sustain that effort.

Show genuine and consistent appreciation to your partner. A good relationship is the result of a lot of thoughtful investment of time and energy. If you don’t pay attention to your partner, figure out what he/she/they needs in a partner, and then do your best to fulfill those needs, then you’re not going to have the strong long-term relationship that you want. Put in the time to figure out what your partner needs, then consistently put in the effort to be what they need.

Spend consistent quality time with your children. The same thing is true for the parent-child relationship: it’s going to be far warmer and far more open and far more supportive if you put in the time to really understand your child and support them in the way that they need. This involves time and attention in terms of keeping up with them and figuring out what they need, then time and effort applying that.

Listen! This is the single best seed you can plant in terms of human relationships. Authentically listen to people and respond to what they’re saying. Don’t make up your mind without hearing them out. Don’t use the time when they’re talking to formulate what you’re going to say next. You’re always better off listening meaningfully, asking questions when you want clarity, and then pausing for a bit to respond appropriately. That type of behavior is the foundation of truly strong relationships, whether familial, romantic, friendship, or professional.

All of these things boil down to being the proverbial Johnny Appleseed for your own future. The more time you spend planting seeds, the more likely it is that many of them will flower and grow. Not all of them will – you’ll give your time and effort to people who turn away from you and things that end up not helping you – but the value you get from those trees that do grow will far outshine the lost time.

Plant a few trees today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and then keep it up.

Good luck.

The post The Parable of the Fruit Tree appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Why Nepal needs to promote integrated pest management

The concept

In recent years, the plant protection scenario in most parts of the developed and developing countries have undergone dramatic changes. The emphasis has shifted from the hitherto dominant chemical pesticides to integrated pest management (IPM) where the focus is on reduced reliance on chemical pesticides. Such a change has become imminent mainly because of the increasing failures of chemical pesticides in controlling crop pests and diseases, and ever-increasing global awareness.

Numerous pest species and mites have shown various degrees of resistance and human illness. Pesticides, once thought to be a panacea for all pest problems, are viewed with suspicion today. However, it may not be too late to correct the mistakes and use of pesticide judiciously; this is exactly what IPM advocates for.

Pests and diseases cannot be controlled by relying on any single method – be it chemical, cultural, mechanical, biological, regulatory or any other. It may be necessary to combine more than one method; such realisation gave birth to the concept of IPM. It is a combination and coordination of experience and intelligence. Farmers Field School (FFS), Diversity Field School (DFS), Plant Clinics, Integrated Plant Nutrient Management (IPNs) and Nepal Good Agriculture Practice (NGAP) are synergistically working within the frame of IPM in Nepal.

What does the IPM mean?

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests that in the context of the associated environment and the population dynamics of the pest species, utilises all suitable techniques and methods in as compatible manner as possible and maintains the pest population below those causing economic injury. The IPM emphasises growing healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control by empowering the farmers. It is the combination of experiences and intelligence; hence is an intelligent pest management approach which can be simplified as the use of discretion at every stage of the agricultural operation.

This approach uses pesticides judiciously. It also accords the highest priority to biological control and other eco-friendly methods and uses chemicals only as a last resort. The natural enemies are the enemies of our enemies; hence they need multiplying naturally and in an argumentative way, which the IPM teaches. It tries to control the pest at every stage of its life-cycle, i.e. eggs, larva, pupa and at the adult stage. For the IPM approach to be successful, coordination between agronomists, plant breeders, pathologists, entomologists, extension workers, policy makers and above all, farmers is necessary.

What does the IPM seek?

In fact, the IPM flags about the potential hazards of the chemical pesticides, thereby promoting the use of nonchemical methods whenever possible. In this approach, pesticides are viewed as poisons, not medicines. Careful selection, dose preparation, application and adoption of the working period are taught. Always, consideration is given to minimise the risk of pesticides to human health and/or environmental risks. It empowers farmers, staff and concerned stakeholders by educating and engaging them in the novel pest management practice. It identifies the opportunities to explore alternative controls that will lessen the use of chemical treatments.

Similarly, it promotes the responsible application to reduce non-targeted adverse effects on organisms, agricultural fields and water system and the development of improved notification system for the use of chemicals. It identifies and explores the interventions for mass production of bio-rational compounds as an alternative to chemical based production system. In the IPM mode, a review and documentation of the best practices that fit under the IPM framework are done. It supports the improvement of air and water quality and biodiversity (pollinators and soil ecosystem).

How does the IPM work?

The IPM is not a blind approach for pest management. Its recommendations emanate from the scientific knowledge about the concerned crop, bioecology of its pests and their natural enemies, economic and social compulsions. In the IPM, growers need the following approach and components.

  • Prevention by managing ecosystem: With the IPM, farmers can take actions to keep pests from becoming a problem, such as by growing a healthy crop that can withstand pest attacks, using disease-resistant plants or habitat manipulation. The IPNs and cultural practices are effective means.
  • Knowing foes before taking action: Correctly identifying the pest is a key to knowing whether a pest is likely to become a problem and determining the best management strategy. Regular scouting, plant clinics and FFS, DFS are some of the effective means.
  • Establishing monitoring guidelines: A routine monitoring of both pests and natural enemies is an important part of the IPM. Methods of monitoring include visual inspection, light traps, insect sex pheromones and various forms of traps, sweep nets, etc.
  • Establishing action threshold for the pest: Providing thoughtful, informed advice and access to technology decide whether the pest can be tolerated or whether it is a problem that warrants control. It is based on the pest population level that produces damage equal to the cost of preventing damage by controlling the pest. Plant clinics, mobile clinics, and pest scouting, and field monitoring are useful in establishing the threshold level.
  • Biological control: It is the use of natural enemies—predators, parasitoides, pathogens, and competitors—to control pests and their damage. Use of Trichogramma, Chrysoperla, Metarhizium, Beauveria, Trichoderma are some of the bio-control agents used in Nepal.
  • Cultural control: Practices that reduce pest establishment, reproduction, dispersal, and survival can be used. For example, changing irrigation practices, crop rotation, mix cropping, strip farming, pest prevention plantation practices (P4 practices) are some established measures in this component.
  • Mechanical and physical control: With these measures, the pest is killed directly or indirectly by attracting or blocking out, or making the environment unsuitable for it. Insect sex pheromone traps, lures and trap crops (marigold, chickpea, etc) have shown greater effectiveness against ranges of pests. Poly house, agri-nets serve as mechanical barriers against pest insect. Mulches and soil solarisation are effective against weeds and diseases.
  • Chemical control: In the IPM, pesticides are used only as a last resort when needed and in combination with other control methods.
  • Combine management for greater effectiveness: A range of technologies can be considered for use in the IPM so that the tactic is most effective, economical, and simple and has the least impact on non-target species and environment.
  • Monitoring, evaluation and documentation of the results: This allows one to make adjustments to improve the effectiveness of future pest management strategies. Reports, documentaries, IPM fairs and various forms of the agro fair are found effective in Nepal.

The way forward

The IPM provides thoughtful, informed advice and access to technology by which the farmers can enhance and sustain the production. Sensible choice requires good knowledge and expertise being available to farmers and their advisors. It gives emphasis to varietal selection. A large number of conventional host plants have shown various degrees of tolerance and resistance against ranges of diseases and insect pests. Their selection and introduction through breeding is apparent.

A safe choice of chemicals should be a priority in Nepal. In some circumstances, early prophylactic chemical treatment such as seed treatment may be useful to reduce the number of later season sprays. Enhanced priorities should be given on biological control agents and bio-rational approach. Mass release of pest predators or parasitoids or microbial pesticides may be an effective and alternative option to chemical pesticides. Biorational control using botanicals and, augmented and inundated release of insect pathogenic fungi such as Metarhizium and Beauveria have demonstrated ample possibilities of controlling numerous pests.

Agro advisory services through call centres, plant clinics and audiovisual kits appear effective, which should be promoted without delay in Nepal. Finally, public policy should be supportive. The government of Nepal and provincial governments have accorded high priority to the IPM in their long-term policies and plans. Regulations are amended in the Pesticide Act and Food Safety Act. The IPM, hence, seems one of the gateways to the organic production system in Nepal.

The author is Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.

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Daraz CEO: Need to localise if we want to achieve success in Nepal

Bjarke Mikkelsen is the co-CEO of Daraz Group, a popular online shopping company of the region. He has been with the company for the past four years. Prior to joining Daraz, Mikkelsen worked at Goldman Sachs where he worked as its Executive Director for its branch in London.

Mikkelsen spoke to Onlinekhabar about how his company has changed after being acquired by Alibaba and why localising strategies here in Nepal was important for them to grow as a business. Excerpts:

What has changed since Alibaba acquired Daraz?

Three things have changed mainly. First is the technology. Our value proposition to the customer has improved significantly as we are providing a lot more services. For example, we have started the instant messaging service which allows customers and sellers to communicate with one another in a regulated way. It has opened a world of opportunities. The way we display relevant product to relevant customers at the right time is also a huge improvement we’ve made in recent times.

Number two is the supply change. It has increased substantially as now we are working with sellers around the world and also opening up to Nepali sellers to sell to consumers around the world. This is something we’re working on as a big project with Alibaba to integrate all of their different marketplace platforms. We’re also working on a project which will allow a Nepali seller sign up on Daraz and then automatically be eligible to sell to China or anywhere around the world through one single account.

Number three is just learning. So far, we have been figuring out all on our own, but now that we are affiliated with Alibaba we can do things a lot more efficiently because what we are doing here now, they did it in China years ago.

When can people buy items from Alibaba here in Nepal?

You already can, to some extent. We have a global collection in the app through which you can directly order stuff from China.  Slowly, we will be doing more in that aspect.

Why did 11:11 fail in Nepal as compared to other markets?

In general, that was a new concept here in Nepal and we got to learn a lot from it. Alibaba’s 11:11 is the biggest shopping date worldwide and we wanted to try it here too. From a sales perspective, I don’t think it failed. The sales volume was higher than what we expected. But we had these learnings.

We found after the event the certain customers had to wait longer for the items they had ordered. But considering the order volume that we had, we actually enforced a lot after this campaign. We focused a lot on logistics infrastructure.

Since then, we have also been evaluating the performance of every seller. We do not want our customers to suffer. We sit with them and bring out solutions to make them better.

After 11:11, we also launched a campaign in Nepali New Year, and it was good. We have delivered items in a better manner during that campaign than we do on normal days. Be rest assured, 11:11 will be better this year.

How is Alibaba’s model in South Asia different from that of other countries?

I think it’s a lot more localised. What we’re doing now is trying to understand how the local sellers work and what services do they need. Because the services here may be different from, for example, the services they need in China and Malaysia where everything is digitised and integrated.

It is the same principle which is mainly about being engaged and having something for everyone and using technology to manage a huge marketplace with a lot of sellers and a lot of customers.

Is the app also localised?

It is. The algorithm, mainly, is. We look at what people are searching for and what do they want to see and we try to give them that experience. We also try doing local campaigns which aren’t happening in other countries. We did Nepali New Year earlier this year and now we are doing one for Dashain which starts on September 15.

Have you achieved the breakeven?

No. Not yet. But we will do that. We plan to be a profitable company by 2022. So far we are still investing in the country. We need to build the infrastructure and we need to have the scale.

Kyamu, when it came to Nepal, advertised on Facebook and Google. That has now changed as you have been advertising in the mainstream media. What brought about this change?

Advertising, in general, has changed since Kyamu was here and we just evolved with it. The manner in which Nepalis interact with media and the internet has also changed. That way we also learned year on year on what was better for our business. As for our advertising strategy, it didn’t change after we rebranded as Daraz or after Alibaba’s acquisition. When we came here with Kyamu, we came in as a startup, but now we are an established business. In general, our strategy is to stay current and relevant which is why we have been working with more influencers than before.

What inspired Daraz University? How have sellers here taken to it?

It was inspired by Taobao University in China started by Alibaba. When we first started working with Alibaba who had a gigantic university in China we wanted to do something similar to give sellers the knowhow to sell. That was the inspiration. After that, we sat down with a blank piece of paper and started to design a curriculum and we started to do it. That way anyone who has a smartphone can start his/her business.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

UN tells Nepal to remove obstacles that hinder torture victims in filing complaints

Kathmandu, August 28

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has told the government of Nepal to remove all existing obstacles that hinder victims of torture and forced labour in filing complaints.

The committee’s decision came in response to an individual complaint from a member of an indigenous group who was a domestic worker in Kathmandu from the age of 9, the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights says in a statement.

The person was forced to work every day from 4 am until 10 pm, not allowed to go to school and never received payment for his work, the statement reads, adding, “He was also subjected to physical and psychological abuse. After two years, he escaped, but soon thereafter was falsely accused of theft by his former master, arrested and tortured during police interrogation.”

After the victim was tortured by police instead of getting justice, the family had approached a Swiss NGO in Nepal named TRIAL International, which forwarded the case to the UN.

Meanwhile, the UN body says, “Nepal violated a number of provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and called on Nepal to amend its legislation and statutes of limitations in accordance with international standards and to criminalise torture and slavery with sanctions and remedies commensurate with the gravity of such crimes.

“The life of someone is shattered after enduring torture and forced labour as a child. Access to justice and accountability are essential for victims to rebuild their lives and recover their dignity. It is our hope that Nepal will take all necessary measures to protect and help victims of such acts regain their lives,” Hélène Trigroudja, a member of the committee, has been quoted.

Meanwhile, the UN has asked Nepal to report back to it within 180 days about the decision.

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From the Life You Have To the Life You Want

Mary wrote in with a great question:

Loved your article about personal finance and time and philosophy. I had a question about the last part, about figuring out what you want out of life. I know what I want my life to be like but it feels like an impossible leap from where my life is right now. What do you do if the life you have now and the commitments and financial situation make the life you want impossible to reach?

This is a common problem that happens to people when they start to really figure out what they want out of life. Often, they’ve already made a lot of fundamental life decisions that have given them a lot of responsibilities. They’ve committed to a career path and invested a lot of money in training for it (by going to college). They might be married. They might have children. They might have very limited financial resources.

What exactly do you do if you know what you want out of life but you’re so far away from it that you don’t know where to start?

I can really empathize with this. The point at which I really started to figure out what I wanted out of life saw me very, very far away from it. I knew what I valued most in life and what I wanted to do with my life, but everything seemed to be as far away from it as possible. I was working in a drastically different career path with an investment in education for that path. I had very little in terms of financial resources. I didn’t have a lot of great relationships in my life. In short, I felt extremely far from where I wanted to be.

I frequently hear and read stories about people who feel like their life is being swept along in a river running in the wrong direction. Many aspects of their life are very far away from where they want to be going and it feels like each day, each week, each month is carrying them further away. They’re getting older with each passing day and it makes that destination feel even further off.

What do you do first if you find yourself in that kind of situation?

The First Step: Figuring Out What You Control

The first thing you need to do is to understand what things you actually have control over in your life. That sense of being “swept along by life” or being so far away from what you want in life is a result of not taking advantage of what you have control over in your life.

I want to point out some of the big pieces. You’ll probably think of others.

The money you spend. You control virtually every dollar that comes out of your pocket. Yes, you have some required bills due to contracts you’ve signed and debts you’ve taken on, and you do have to meet some basic minimum requirements for nutrition and water and shelter, but aside from that, you have complete control over every dollar you spend.

How you spend your time. Aside from moments actively attending to basic life functions – eating, drinking water, sleeping, hygiene, and acquiring those things – you have complete control over how you spend your time.

The place you live. You chose wherever it is that you live. Sure, this is somewhat influenced by the amount of money you bring in, but for most people, all that does is set an upper bound on what you can afford and most people push that upper bound, going for the most expensive (“nicest”) place they can afford. In reality, you have a very wide range of choices, from sleeping in a car or a tent to renting a single bedroom to renting a larger apartment to having roommates… on and on and on.

The people you spend time with. Outside of your work, the only situation where you have to spend time with someone is if you’re the guardian of a child or if you’re committed in some way to someone’s care and they’re unable to do it on their own. Aside from that, you choose who you spend time with.

What you do for income. You choose what job you work at. If your current job is making you miserable, choose something different. If you “can’t” do this because of money reasons, you’re perhaps not exercising control over your spending.

The things you say and do in response to your feelings. You are in control of how you respond to your feelings. You choose what to say and whether to say it. You choose what you do. If you feel angry, it’s your choice as to whether it bursts out of you. If you feel sad, you choose how it impacts your behavior and words.

Saying and believing you’re not in control of these things is ceding control of your life to someone else. You’re ceding control over yourself to the nebulous idea of what other people might think of you. You’re ceding control over yourself to the whims of your emotions. You’re ceding control over yourself to people who just want to manipulate you for your own benefit.

And, along the way, you’re losing the opportunity to be who you want to be, because you’re giving away all of these resources. You’re giving away your money, your time, your focus, your words, your relationships, your energy … you’re giving it all away. Whenever you use those things you control in exchange for other things that aren’t in line with what you want out of life, you move further away from what you want out of life.

So, what can you do about it? You have to start trading all of those things you have for other things that move you toward your life goals, not away from them.

A Long Journey Ahead

Imagine that your life is like a giant map. Currently, you’re somewhere in the West, in some rural area, without a whole lot of resources to your name. You want to get to New York City – the life you want. How do you get there?

It’s easy to say something like “get in a car and drive there,” but that leaves out a lot of things you need to have in place to be able to do that. You need a car. You need money for gas. You need food and water along the way.

In other words, to get to where you want to be in life, a lot of pieces have to be in place. It’s not just a matter of having one giant goal. In fact, if you just look at that one big goal without having a lot of pieces in place to get there, it looks impossible.

That’s where I was at ten or so years ago. That’s where Mary is at, too.

So, the next step in the thought process is that you can make a big list of what you need and start acquiring those things. That’s goal setting, and it’s a very powerful next step.

I’ll use my own story as an example. As I said earlier: “I knew what I valued most in life and what I wanted to do with my life, but everything seemed to be as far away from it as possible. I was working in a drastically different career path with an investment in education for that path. I had very little in terms of financial resources. I didn’t have a lot of great relationships in my life. In short, I felt extremely far from where I wanted to be.”

I needed to seriously fix my financial situation. I needed to make a career change. I needed to make a lot of relationship changes. I needed to make a lot of other changes, too.

That translates easily into a list of medium-term goals.

I needed to build an emergency fund and pay off my debts in 18 months.

I needed to come up with a plan to move from my current career – data mining (which I did enjoy when I was actually doing the data mining work, I had just become disillusioned with the bureaucratic and peripheral issues) – and move to the career I wanted since I was a kid – writing.

I needed to build a lot of social relationships in my community, ones that weren’t built on unsustainable spending habits.

I needed to build a really strong marriage with Sarah.

I needed to build a really strong parental relationship with my young son and with the kids that were about to become part of my life.

There you go – some very powerful medium-term goals, all of which fed into the life I wanted to lead.

Each of those goals can be broken down into a progressive series of smaller and smaller goals and tasks until I have something I can work on today for each of them. I’ve written about breaking down goals in this way many times before, but suffice it to say that this type of breakdown, in which those big lifetime goals translate directly into things on my to-do list for the day, is a huge part of my journey from the place I was to the place I am now, which is a lot closer to the life I’ve always wanted than I would have ever thought possible ten years ago.

It goes a little further than that, though, and it wasn’t something I really realized until recently.

What Does the Person You Want to Be Do Today?

When I look at the big vision I have for my life, it really breaks down into fulfilling several roles really well.

I want to be an excellent husband. I want to be an excellent father. I want to be a pillar of the community with a strong social network. I want to be a writer, writing things that have an impact on readers. I want to be a healthy person. I want to have the financial stability needed to nurture and protect all of those things. I want to do all of those things with a very strong sense of values.

This breaks down into a series of interesting questions.

What would an excellent husband for Sarah do today?

What would an excellent father for my children do today?

What would a pillar of the community do today?

What would a great friend do today?

What would an excellent writer do today?

What would a very financially responsible person do today?

In each case, those people would do good things in those roles as a matter of course.

An excellent husband pays attention to how his partner is feeling and responds accordingly. An excellent husband knows the ways his partner feels love and touches on those ways. An excellent husband appreciates his partner, privately and publicly. An excellent husband makes his partner feel desired and loved and attractive. Most importantly, these are the natural things an excellent husband does every day.

By doing those things every day as a natural course of habit, I’m developing into an excellent husband. I might be “faking it until I make it” at first, but if I stick to doing those things every day, I’m taking steps every single day toward being an excellent husband.

Let’s look at the money side. A financially responsible person spends significantly less than they earn. A financially responsible person puts money away for the future. A financially responsible person keeps the bills paid and keeps an emergency fund. A financially responsible person knows how to control their spending impulses.

By doing those things every day as a natural course of habit, I’m developing into a financially responsible person. Again, at first, I might be “faking it until I make it,” but I’m moving each and every day toward being a financially responsible person.

These things are more like systems rather than goals. They’re usually oriented toward behaviors and extremely regular habits rather than a concrete checklist of things to do. As of late, I’ve been using many of the strategies in Triggers and Atomic Habits to get better at this approach.

You Need Both Goals and Systems

The truth is that some things in life work better as a set of goals, while other things work better in life as a system.

There are some aspects of good personal finance behavior that work wonderfully as goals, like breaking down a debt repayment plan into actual tangible things you should be doing today.

At the same time, there are some aspects of good personal finance behavior that work wonderfully as systems, like simply mastering control over your spending impulses.

What they have in common is this: they both represent positive daily effort in an area of your life that you need to improve. That’s what really matters, that you’re doing something today that moves you closer to the life you want to live in every area that needs change and that you’re not doing other things to undo that forward progress.

In general, I think goals are really good for the “doing something” part, particularly when that thing is relatively standalone, while systems are really good at the “not undoing it” part and also the “highly repetitive steps” part.

Changing Your Life

So, if you want to change your life, you have to consider all of the things that you can control – your time, your spending choices, your emotional responses to things, your work, and on and on and on – and ask yourself how you can use them to move in the direction of the life you want.

Again, this is going to be a mix of the tools above, but I highly recommend trying to use lots of tools and see what works.

Try defining some big goals, then breaking them down into daily tasks.

Try figuring out what roles in your life need to be front and center in that “best life” you envision, then aim to be excellent in those roles.

Most importantly, try to do some things every single day that move you in that better direction and do your absolute best to not undo them with other behaviors.

This needs to be a constant force, like waves lapping up on a beach. It doesn’t have to be perfect force – you don’t have to be amazing and perfect every single day – but it has to be constant. If you have an imperfect day, shrug it off and go back the next day. If you have a few imperfect days, spend some time thinking about whether the things you’re doing are actually a good fit for you and whether you’re really using the resources in your life that you control.

You can build practically any life that you want. You can’t have everything, of course – not everyone can be, say, an NFL starting quarterback or something like that – but if you have goals, break them down into bits, and strive to be an excellent version of what you want to be in life, and you consistently do that every day, you will move in a direction you’ll be happy with. It won’t be tomorrow or the day after that, but you’ll start waking up and realizing that your life is better, and suddenly that amazing life you’ve dreamed of won’t feel so far off after all.

Good luck.

The post From the Life You Have To the Life You Want appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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