Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Healthy Diet for Baby Sandhya

Published on Save the Children -US website.

A Young Mother's Improved Nutrition Knowledge Supports her Growing Baby

Twenty-year-old Manju Chettri, a young mother in rural Nepal, works hard in her small family garden to grow healthy vegetables for her 11-month-old daughter, Sandhya. But when she was pregnant last year, Manju didn't realize that her diet was unhealthy, with little nutrients.

Manju Chettri and her baby Sandhya in Nepal. Photo by Pallavi Dhakal/ Suaahara, Save the Children
As she uproots the weeds in her garden, which is planted with green beans, cucumber, eggplant and water spinach, Manju now knows how to grow a variety of nutritious crops and prepare healthy, high-quality meals for her baby, thanks to training provided by Save the Children's USAID-funded Suaahara program.

"I know that water spinach is packed with vitamins and is really good for a growing child," says Manju. "That is why I use it in my daughter's porridge."

Suaahara emphasized the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and the timely introduction of complementary, high-protein food for babies after six months, such as eggs, milk and meat. Maju also learned valuable farming and animal husbandry skills, and was given a variety of vegetable seeds to plant in her garden and baby chicks to start raising poultry.

"Without the training, I would not have breastfed my daughter exclusively for six months, and we both would have eaten a poor diet. My daughter would be malnourished now," says Manju.

Manju lives with her in-laws, so Suaahara engaged them as well in training and counseling to support her new skills and understand the importance of good nutrition, especially for the critical first 1,000 days of Sandhya's life.

Manju and her family in Nepal. Photo by Pallavi Dhakal/ Suaahara, Save the Children
"They do all they can to support me at home and in the field," says Manju. "I plow, water the plants and make organic pesticides," says her father-in-law Dhan.

Manju growing healthy food for her family. Photo by Pallavi Dhakal/ Suaahara, Save the Children

Manju's daughter Sandhya is a healthy baby, but 41 percent of Nepali children under five are stunted from malnourishment. Since 2011, Suaahara has worked in 25 districts in Nepal to reach more than 350,000 children under the age of two and their mothers, with a strong package of nutrition-focused activities to reduce undernutrition, and potentially be used as a model for other countries.

"I am happy to see the fruits of our labor in our home garden," says Manju. "Thanks to the farming skills and seeds, I have access to fresh vegetables for myself and my baby at home."

Monday, June 2, 2014

Packing a Nutritional Punch

(This article was published in USAID's global magazine 'Frontline'. You can view the complete article here )

By Fungma Fudong and Pallavi Dhakal

Kanchi Tamang and her husband  prepare their field to sow seeds. Photo by: Pallavi Dhakal, Suaahara Program
“We know that when you save the life of a mother, you create ripples of change that echo outwards—transforming not only the health of her family and the strength of her community, but also the stability of her country.”—USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah in Kathmandu, Nepal, Feb. 26, 2014.

Married at 17, Meena Gurung from Lamjung district, a remote mid-hill region of Nepal, suffered the loss of her firstborn child without her husband by her side. He, like an estimated 2.1 million Nepali men, had gone abroad to work, leaving Gurung behind to work in the fields and tend to the household. Gurung relies on subsistence farming for her livelihood and has little or no access to a variety of diverse and nutritious goods, such as green leafy vegetables and protein, to ensure proper nutrition. As a result, she and her child were malnourished.

A byproduct of poverty, poor nutrition is a major public health concern across Nepal’s rural areas, where about 80 percent of the population lives, and death is all too common.

One out of three women and five out of 10 children are anemic. The statistics just get more depressing from there: One out of 19 children dies before his or her fifth birthday due to treatable causes, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition. Over 40 percent of children under age 5 suffer from stunting, a severe form of chronic malnutrition in which a child suffers permanent physical and cognitive damage, resulting in serious health, social and economic consequences.

“Such nutritional deficiencies mean a whole generation of workers in Nepal with reduced economic potential,” says Shanda L. Steimer, director of USAID/Nepal’s Office of Health and Planning. “For a resource-limited country like Nepal, this has devastating consequences for the country’s socio-economic development and anti-poverty efforts.”

To address this and build a brighter future for Nepal, the Nepal Government developed a five-year nutritional plan of action in 2011 that promotes a lifetime of optimal health and nutrition for mothers and their children. To complement this effort, USAID introduced the Suaahara program, which means “good nutrition” in Nepali, in 25 of Nepal’s most undernourished districts.

Suaahara works closely with the government to improve the health and nutritional status of pregnant and lactating women, and children under 2. The project integrates nutrition, agriculture, food security and health activities such as small-scale backyard farming; poultry farming; improved child feeding practices; and nutrition, hygiene and maternal and child health care education.

“While all mothers want the best for their children, poverty, traditional food practices, and lack of knowledge related to health, sanitation and nutrition can be all that stands between mother and her deepest desire for healthy children,” says Peter Oyloe, chief of party for the Suaahara project.

The Suaahara project relies primarily on a cadre of 50,000-plus female community health volunteers and community extension workers to deliver health and agriculture messages and services in communities, many of whom have been trained by Suaahara. Sample messages include the health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, timely transition from breastfeeding to complementary feeding (solid and semi-solid foods) from 6 to 24 months of age, and washing hands before feeding children.

 “As a global nutrition community, we now know the critical importance of integrated projects to achieve maximum effectiveness. Suaahara does this, and that is why it’s showing impressive initial results,” said Patrick Webb, dean for academic affairs of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

In just two years, Suaahara has improved food security and nutrition for 74,000 families. The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding of children under 6 months has increased from 46 to 68 percent, and the number of children between the ages of 6 and 23 months meeting their minimally recommended nutrition intake increased from 36 to 47 percent.

Second Chances

When Gurung gave birth to her second baby, Yushida, she was still unfamiliar with the importance of proper nutrition for infants. In her effort to make her daughter healthy, she started feeding her non-nutritious food such as rice porridge mixed with unclean water at 5 months. Yushida suffered frequent bouts of diarrhea as a result.

Gurung was pregnant for a third time when she met Ram Maya Shrestha, a local female community health volunteer, who was hosting a session in her village for “1,000 days” mothers—those who are pregnant or have children under 2. Approximately 18 women attended Shrestha’s session to learn about the importance of nutrition, hygiene and health services.

“Earlier, I used to meet women who’d lost three to five children due to inappropriate care of mothers during pregnancy, and both mothers and children during and after delivery,” says Shrestha. “Thanks to the training and constant counseling in the village for pregnant women and new moms, there have been significantly fewer deaths of babies in our village.”

Initially, many of the concepts taught in the training were difficult to understand for Gurung, such as the need to wash hands thoroughly on a regular basis. Yet after detailed demonstrations by Suaahara field staff, and explanations as to how hand washing and other practices could improve one’s health, Gurung slowly started to accept and incorporate them into her daily life.

Unlike her earlier pregnancies, when she sought traditional healers and gave birth at home, Gurung made sure to get enough nutritious foods this time. She attended four antenatal checkups, during which she received iron tablets and a vaccination against tetanus. She also began to wash her hands thoroughly before feeding Yushida, now almost 6 years old, meals that included green vegetables, meat, eggs and clean drinking water.
Recently, Gurung gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Supriya, in a hospital with a skilled birth attendant. She plans to exclusively breastfeed her for the first six months.

“Compared to my elder daughter, Surpiya does not fall sick as often. In my ignorance, I was doing everything wrong while raising Yushida, but thanks to Suaahara training and Ram Maya Shrestha, I have finally learned to do the right things for the healthy development of my two daughters,” says Gurung.
Over the next two years, Suaahara will continue to refine its approach in developing a stronger package of nutrition-focused interventions that could potentially be used as a model for other countries. At the local level, Suaahara is working to stimulate local government investments in areas that will ensure sustainability of the nutrition gains among project participants.

“Fourteen Village Development Committees in Lamjung district alone have allocated budgets for nutrition-related activities for ‘1,000 days’ mothers, disadvantaged groups and children to help improve nutritional status,” said Bishnu Dutta Gautam, a local development officer in Lamjung district. “While the budget allocated might not be a huge amount, it is a start to something good and a much-needed initiative.”

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Keeping it in the community

Published on 4th Dec 2013 on Kathmandu Post - a popular English daily in Nepal.

In the recently concluded Constituent Assembly election, we witnessed the public rising against all odds to vote. The outcome was a historic, record high turnout. A great lesson to be learned indeed, and we have seen this time and again—when people come together with a strong sense of duty and ownership, nothing is beyond reach. Meanwhile, a similar scenario, but on a smaller scale and in the field of conservation, is taking place in Nawalparasi. 
Imagine hunting a near threatened animal as a traditional practice for food and realising one fine day that the practice is wrong. This is what happened in a few VDCs of Nawalparasi district: Deurali, Naram, Ruchang, Dhaubadi and Hupsekot. Communities came together and decided to protect the Himalayan goral (Nemorhedus goral), demonstrating strong local stewardship and engagement in conserving a vulnerable species. The Himalayan goral is popularly called ghoral in Nepali. It is a goat-antelope, with a short tail, backward-pointing horns and a grey coloured coat with a white bib. The shy natured goral can be found foraging and sheltering on the rocky faces of mountains. The goral population has been notably declining due to hunting and habitat loss; it is listed as a near threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) National Red List.
Protecting gorals
The Magar communities in these Nawalparasi villages have been hunting goral for a long time. Jhabilal Ranamager, a local from Dhaubadi VDC, says, “When we hunted goral, the studier ones always got away and those that got killed were the pregnant, sick and old goral. What moved us was to find an infant inside the carcass almost all the time. It made us feel guilty and cold-blooded.” This realisation motivated the villagers of Dhaubadi VDC to call a meeting with the elders. What came out of this meeting was a decision to protect the goral and motivate surrounding VDCs to join their cause. It has been almost five years now since the five VDCs in Nawalparasi came together to form a committee to conserve goral and their habitat. The villagers now want to establish the five VDCs, including key goral habitats, as a community-based goral conservation area.

Since there has been no thorough study on the goral population in Nepal, the exact population status is hard to determine. However, a population of around 100 goral is estimated to be in the Mahabharat lekh (high land) of Nawalparasi and Palpa districts. A recent study commissioned by the USAID-funded Hariyo Ban Program in the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape identifies the Nawalparasi area and adjoining VDCs in Palpa district as playing a crucial role in maintaining forest connectivity between Chitwan National Park in the lowland Tarai and the Annapurna Conservation Area in the hill region to the north. The area is connected to Chitwan National Park through forest corridors from the south (Pithauli forests), in the east through contiguous forest (up to Gaidakot in the east) and in the west (Daunne forest area). Protecting goral will involve conserving their habitat, and thereby, benefitting other animal species as well as by maintaining the north-south forest connectivity. Safeguarding forest connectivity is particularly important in the context of increasing temperatures and environmental change. Such forest linkages will play a crucial role in long-term biodiversity conservation and build resilience to climate change in Nepal.
Bottom-up conservation
The traditional conservation approach in Nepal was to establish a protected area, often relocating local people outside the park boundaries. However, now, there are a wider variety of approaches, as demonstrated by Nepal’s conservation areas and community forests. If these VDCs of Nawalparasi are established as community-based conservation area then a large swathe of land will be protected with local stewardship, integrating social and environmental priorities. Current community managed conservation can be seen in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, which was handed over by the Government of Nepal to the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council in August 2006. However, in the Kanchenjunga case, a policy was first outlined before the handover, while the five VDCs in Nawalparasi, if declared a community-based conservation area, will be Nepal’s first initiative that started from the ground-up, leading to policy formulation.

Biodiversity expert Shant Raj Jnawali says, “There is no provision for community managed conservation areas in Nepal’s policy where the community has a full stake. Given the livelihood options in this area, if this is recognised as a community-based goral conservation area, then it can be promoted as an eco-tourism site. Chitwan attracts half a million visitors a year; if this area can attract even a small portion of that number, it will have a positive impact on local livelihoods.”
History has proven time and again that people have great power and this stays true for conservation. Prior conservation efforts were successful because of the involvement of communities. Thakur Bhandari, National Committee member of the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), says, “The provision of community conservation areas in Nepal needs to ensure that the full right to conservation, management and utilisation of the resources are with the communities. And, it should not be declared a community conservation area against people’s wish.”

The initiative taken by the people of Nawalparasi came from sentiment and a new sensibility to contribute to conservation. It is important to note that it was self-initiated and without any external help. Such efforts to establish community conservation areas could provide solutions to many conservation problems in Nepal today. They could help build functional links between livelihood security and conservation, and help bring communities into the mainstream of conservation. In a time of globalisation, this needs to be acknowledged and prioritised in government conservation policies. If a supportive environment is created for such initiatives, taking small steps one at a time, it can perhaps develop into a massive community-based conservation movement in the country.

The views expressed here are personal.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pictures from Shuklaphanta

Pictures below are taken by Pallavi Dhakal and are copyright to WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program. These pictures are also available on
Extensive grasslands within the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve ©WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
Extensive grasslands within the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve ©WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal

Startled deer look out from the grasslands of Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve ©WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
Startled deer look out from the grasslands of Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve ©WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal

A lone deer separated from its herd ©WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
A lone deer separated from its herd ©WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal 

The number of blackbucks has increased from 28 to 32 ©WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
The number of blackbucks has increased from 28 to 32 ©WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal

The blackbuck were transported from Nepalgunj Mini Zoo and Jawalakhel Zoo © WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
The blackbuck were transported from Nepalgunj Mini Zoo and Jawalakhel Zoo © WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal

Monday, November 4, 2013

Narziss and GoldmundNarziss and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel runs a continuous debate about two philosophical questions as to which one is better: life of hedonism and creativity or life of spirituality and rationality. But does Hesse settle this debate in the book? I believe he does, however it very much depends upon your own interpretation.

What Hesse does is that he tries to answer these two philosophical questions through his two diametrically opposed characters Goldmund and Narziss. Godlmund represents the passionate "feminine mind" of emotion and sensuality while Narziss represents the disciplined and pious mind of altruism and reasoning. Both of these characters seek to find their true nature, and meaning and connection to the world. One tries to do so by being a wanderer, succumbing his life to sensuality and Artistic creativity while the other living a life of devoted priest and theorist.

Although both Goldmund and Narziss live the lives of extremes, there is a true connection of friendship and respect between them. They also learn from each other. It is through Narziss that Goldmund realizes that he is not meant to become a scholar and in fact it is against his true nature. Narziss clearly points out the danger of someone trying to force into a role that is not meant for them.

Golmund thus leaves the monastery to fulfill himself and after years of travelling and experiencing life and even death, he returns to the same monastery. Narziss whose true nature is to become a scholar is shown 'awake', having an understanding of his true intent and in fact when Goldmund returns, Narziss is already an Abbot, holding a high position in monastery – very wise and accomplished.

It is here that Hesse tries to settle the philosophical debate. When Goldmund returns and carves sculptures, Narziss sees his true nature and respects him. However, Narziss also realizes something else – when compared to Goldmund, how poor he was, with all his knowledge, his monastic discipline and dialectics! Narziss - "Yes, and perhaps it was merely not simpler and more humane to live a Goldmund-life in the world. Perhaps in the end it was more valiant, and greater in God's sight, to breast the currents of reality, sin, and accept sin's bitter consequence, instead of standing apart, with well-washed hands, living in sober,quiet security, planting a pretty garden of well-trained thoughts, and walking then, in stainless ignorance among them......"

However, this realization he never shares with Goldmund.

Eventually, when Goldmund comes back again from his yet another wanderings, sick and close to death but looking evermore peaceful and satisfied – Goldmund feels sorry for his friend Narziss. His last words to him is, "But how will you die, Narziss? You know no mother. How can you die without a mother? Without mother we cannot die."

Goldmund's last words seared Narziss heart like a flame.

I somehow feel like Goldmund's life was more satisfying and accomplished towards the end but Golmund was also a troubled individual compared to Narziss who knew his true nature and was disciplined towards achieving his goal. Both the polar opposite throughout the story respected each other differences and also learned from each other.

Ultimately, what is important is creating a balance of Golmund and Narziss in our lives (between passion and reason), for obviously we all have that polar extremes.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Nepal's feat in conservation: The Greater one-horned rhinoceros

This article was published on 22 September 2013 on  Republica (popular national daily)

At the heart of Chitwan National Park, in a waterhole, only three meters away, stood the Greater one-horned rhinoceros in all its glory, goggling me intently as I watched her with nervous excitement. There she was with her calf; naturally armored with her ashy grey hide folds and 15 inches long black horn.  On another occasion, a similar sight was seen in Setidevi Community Forest in Chitwan where another rhino and baby calf were grazing adjacent to agricultural land, living in harmony with the villagers. Similarly, in Namuna Buffer Zone Community Forest, an exquisite angry rhino charged at us when we went too close to her habitat, protecting her newly born. On this enthusing trip to Chitwan on May 2013, I saw twenty-two rhinos.

Photo credit: Pallavi Dhakal/WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program

Today, on September 22, celebrated as the World Rhino Day, it is important to recognize the successful conservation efforts of Nepal to bring back the magnificent Greater one-horned rhinoceros from the brink of extinction.

There were times when these mighty creatures were said to be used by the Mughal emperors in fights against elephants for entertainment. Such practices and rampant hunting for sport, killing as agricultural pests and poaching of rhinos for their horns had significantly reduced their numbers. In 1960s the number was noted to be around 100 individuals in Nepal, confined only in Chitwan Valley.

In recent times, the number has significantly increased. In Nepal and India the total population is estimated to be 2,913 individuals, with 534 rhinos in Nepal alone (Rhino Census, 2011). No wonder the Greater one-horned rhinoceros are reclassified on IUCN red list from endangered to vulnerable.

What did we do right? What lessons can we learn from rhino conservation efforts to protect endangered animals? I raised these questions to noted conservation experts of Nepal and here is what they had to say:Naresh Subedi, Senior Conservationist in National Trust for Nature Conservation says, "Conservation is like a football game where having just the strikers is not enough, we require strong defenders as well. Robust security is prerequisite to defend poachers but equally important is having scientific inputs to protect forest, wildlife and their habitat." He gives the example of Chitwan National Park that was expanded from 544 sq km to 932 sq km in 1977 based on scientific findings to protect bigger species like rhinos.

Shant Raj Jnawali, Biodiversity Coordinator for Hariyo Ban Program, WWF Nepal explains, "Gaida gasti (rhino petrol) by the army back then was very helpful to protect rhinos. Further, recommendation on establishing an alternative rhino sub-population by the scientists in the 80s was also a positive step. There were risks of having only one rhino population constricted in Chitwan. Natural calamities, endemic disease, intense poaching, habitat degradation, climate induced disasters, and in-breeding would run the risk of wiping out the entire population. Consequently, in 1986 from the recovering rhino population in Chitwan the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation decided to establish sub-populations by translocating rhinos."

Accordingly, 13 rhinoceroses (8 males, 5 females) were translocated from Chitwan to the Karnali River floodplains of Bardia National Park. Between 1991 and 2003 additional 70 rhinoceroses (30 males, 40 females) were translocated to the Babai valley in Bardia. In 2000 four rhinos (1 male, 3 female) were released in Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. A total of 8 translocations took place between 1986 and 2003, during which a total of 87 rhinoceros were translocated (Thapa et. al., 2013). However, unfortunately during the decade long armed conflict, rhinoceros conservation in Nepal was compromised by poaching, resulting in local extinction of the Babai population and reduction of populations in other areas.

"To curb poaching, it was important to shift the strategic approach of conservation – to not just work with the law enforcement agencies but to also include local communities in conservation.  This instrumental move was initiated during mid-90s leading to the formation of groups of young dedicated people for Community Based Anti-Poaching Operations (CBAPOs) outside national parks.  I personally think this was a momentous step in conservation and saving rhinos", says Santosh Mani Nepal, Director for Policy and Support Program, WWF Nepal.

Dr. Maheshwor Dhakal, Ecologist, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) explains, "Rhinos used to cross international boundary when they were introduced in Bardia, they would travel to and from Katarniaghat Wildlife Reserve. Back then we used to have local level park meetings with India to share information and develop cooperation to protect rhinos from poachers and this is still continuing." He explained that the understanding of the seriousness of illegal wildlife trade helped to initiate trans-boundary collaboration and coordination with India at higher level. "We have national level meetings with India each year to tackle organized transnational poachers. This has been equally instrumental in conservation," he states.

Another important step in conservation according to Santosh Mani Nepal is the formation of institutional mechanism involving all enforcement agencies of Nepal. A step towards formation of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau in 2009 brought the effort of all law enforcement agencies under single umbrella to control poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Nepal.

In spite of these initiatives, rhinos are still at risk. Poaching, habitat degradation, rapid infrastructure development, and human-rhino conflict are still threatening their survival. “Large infrastructures like Karnali high dam in Bardiya National Park, and National railway and Hulaki road that is bifurcating Chitwan National Park through the prime rhino habitat will have a tremendous negative impact on the survival of rhinos in their natural habitat” argues Santosh Mani Nepal.  Jnawali explains that climate-related threats are equally exerting added pressure in already susceptible rhino population. "Prolonged drought is drying oxbow lake that rhinos use for wallowing. River beds are raised drying flood plains and reducing the growth of tall grass species that rhinos prefer – we see this very distinctly in the eastern part of Rapti River beds in Chitwan National Park," points Jnawali.  

So how do we secure the future populations of rhinos in Nepal? Dr. Dhakal explains that only recently feasibility study on rhino translocation was concluded and that either this year or the coming year the government of Nepal will translocate rhinos to Babai valley in Bardia. However, before doing so the DNPWC wants to be certain on three things – firstly ensuring that the translocation will not have negative impact on the source population, secondly establishing strong security measures in Babai area, and lastly having 3-5 years post monitoring plan.

In conjunction with these efforts Subedi says restoring rhino habitat is crucial; including management of invasive plant species such as Mikenia, restoring wetlands and grasslands, using innovative techniques to monitor rhinos such as ID based, radio or satellite collaring, and controlling rhino-human conflict with installation of power fence or other measures.

All the conservationists and experts I talked to agree that what worked for rhinos were many different things done together in wide-ranging partnerships between governments, security personnel and communities. They recognize the importance of research and monitoring in the changing context of climate change and its execution in policies and actions being crucial for protection of any endangered animal.

What I personally hope is to be able to see rhinos in Bardia as I witnessed in Chitwan last May. While it is going to be a challenge for conservationists of Nepal, looking at the past successes of conserving rhinos, I am positive that Nepal is perfectly capable of doing the same in the near future.

The opinions expressed herein are personal

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Animal Farm

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While I was reading this book, I had our country's internal armed conflict in mind.

Just to give you a brief background as to what the book is all about (for those who have not read the book yet). The humans in Manor Farm are chased away by the farm animals, in the leadership of pigs and they rename the farm 'Animal Farm'. They establish their own principles and commandments but as time goes by the smart pigs change the commandments to fit their selfish needs and ultimately enslave the animals and run the farm themselves. That’s the background in a gist.

To me, not surprisingly, the ending of the book matched quite well to the current position of Nepal. With all that bloodshed and uprising, what happened? In Manor Farm humans were simply replaced by pigs and the animals continued to suffer. Does that not sound familiar?

While the book might have been a critique to the then Stalin's communism in USSR, I think I not only speak for myself but dare say most Nepalese (who've read the book of course), of its obvious resemblance to Nepal – of the thwarting failure of Maoist and the principals they claimed to stand by. What do the pigs do with the Animal Farm's commandments; comrades they change it one after another (very discreetly of course)!!

Obviously the book gives a strong message at the end – the fact that a violent armed revolution, particularly led by power-hungry people will only lead to the change of masters. Precisely why communism has failed in most places (by naively assuming that the pigs will not abuse their power)! And boy have we not seen the contrary in Nepal!

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