Thursday, 30 December 2010

Graduate Research Studies in Sustaining Hardwood Ecosystems

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University

Overview: The Sustaining Hardwood Ecosystems research group within the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources ( is anticipating funding for 1-2 graduate assistantships (M.S. and Ph.D.) for either fall semester 2011 or spring semester 2012. Specific areas of study include woody biomass allometrics and production, plant invasive species ecology, restoration ecology of oak and chestnut with fire and silvicultural practices, and the ecology of vertebrate taxa in response to forest disturbance.Inquiries on admission for either semester should be directed to Drs. John B. Dunning ( or Michael Saunders (

The Sustaining Hardwood Ecosystems is an interdisciplinary research team focused on forest ecology and management, and is identified at one of three Areas of Excellence within the department. This research focus includes long-term field, laboratory and social science studies on Midwestern forests and woodlands. Other members of this research groupinclude:Drs. Dan Cassens (, Eva Haviarova (, Douglass Jacobs (, Michael Jenkins(, Richard Meilan (, Charles Michler (, Robert Swihart (, Rod Williams (, and Patrick Zollner ( Assistantships are awarded at $17,260 (M.S.) and $19,810 (Ph.D.). Purdue University also provides a tuition waiver and health care benefits. Applications for fall semester 2011 and spring semester 2012 must be received by January 15 and September 15 2011, respectively. Applications should include a letter of interest, resume, cumulative GPA, GRE scores, TOEFL scores (international students only), and letters from three references. Complete instructions can be found at Applications should reference the Sustaining Hardwood Ecosystems in order to be considered.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce.


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Elephant beauty pageant highlights 3-day Nepal festival

By Manesh Shrestha, For CNN

Sauraha, Nepal (CNN) -- The beauty pageant was like any other, with decked-out contestants parading on a catwalk and undergoing intelligence tests.

Hygiene and good health were important, along with physical stature.

But the pageant held Monday and Tuesday in a Nepal wildlife resort town was not for young women -- it was for elephants.

In the competition, the first such in the nation, a svelte 28-year-old walked away with the prize after defeating two other finalists.

The mahouts -- the elephants' keepers -- worked hard on their charges' looks. The pachyderms were bathed, their hard skins scrubbed and their foreheads oiled. The mahouts also drew patterns on the elephants' faces and ears.

Of the three finalists, the youngest won. Chanchalkali, which translates as "playful beautiful," looked resplendent in a light red gown that covered her hulk of a body. Her nails were painted different colors and her forehead was covered with red cloth.

"I think she won because I worked hard on her," said her mahout, 46-year-old Prabhu Chaudhary, after the result was announced. "The fact that she was younger than her competitors also helped."

She behaved well, too, he added. The elephants are among about 100 domesticated by the government and private owners at the edge of the Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal bordering India. The Elephant Beauty Pageant was part of the three-day Chitwan Elephant Festival, which ended Tuesday.

Tourists visiting the national park sit on the elephants' backs. Safaris also take place in the 932-square kilometer (359-square mile) park, home to sloth bears, royal Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinoceros, leopards, crocodiles and migrating birds, among other species.

Only six elephants participated in the competition, according to its organizers, because they were the healthiest, but also because the organizers were not sure how the inaugural Elephant Beauty Pageant would turn out.

The elephants were judged on their intelligence and appearance, the same criteria that women contestants are judged in beauty pageants, according to Lal Bahadur Bhandari, one of the brains behind the beauty contest.

The five judges were given 10 different criteria to judge the elephants, including whether they were able to obey simple commands of their mahouts, their posture and appearance in walking about 25 meters (82 feet), their cleanliness, their nails, their ears, the smoothness of their skin and their make-up.

The two other finalists -- Dhirendrakali, draped in green, and Basantakali, draped in pink -- were 35 and 40 years old, respectively. The three finalists were chosen among six that participated in the preliminary round held on Monday. The youngest among the six was 5, the oldest 65.

"We looked behind the ears to see how much sores they had," said Radha Krishna Shrestha, one of the judges. "A lot of sores would mean that their mahout had hit them a lot to tame them."

He said the judges were happy with the elephants' general appearance and their ability to obey instructions, such as picking up a flag stuck on the ground, sitting down or standing up. "But their nails could have been better," he added. Chanchalkali was the only one whose nails were painted.

Local hotel owners began organizing the elephant festival in 2004, starting with an elephant race, when the 10-year insurgency launched by Nepal's Maoist rebels, who were aiming to end the nation's monarchy, was at its peak and tourism had taken a tumble.

"We wanted to attract domestic tourists and came up with this idea," said Ghanshyam Shrestha, a Sauraha hotelier who organized the festival. "Our second objective was to raise awareness among the local people about the importance of wild animals, as poaching was heightened during the insurgency."

A few years later, organizers added a four-a-side elephant football tournament as well.

The festival has been a great hit and attracts more than 100,000 people over three days, most of them Nepalis. Besides the elephant events, bull cart, horse cart and canoe races take place.

A total of 20 elephants participated in this year's elephant 300-meter (984 feet) race with various organizations sponsoring the participating elephants. The first heat brought down the number to 12, and six finalists were chosen Monday after two semi-final rounds.

Champakali, who won the race on Tuesday, covered the distance in 1 minute 13 seconds, the organizers said. But the festival's biggest draw was the football tournament, where thousands cheered the clumsy elephants driven by mahouts as they attempted to score goals on a 70-meter by 30-meter (229 feet by 98 feet) pitch.

The elephants trained for the football tournament for three months, organizers said. "We wanted to add something new this year, and that was the beauty pageant," said hotelier Shrestha.


Nepal makes notable progress on the MDGs

Eradicating inequality and social exclusion remain major challenges
Kathmandu 7 September 2010: Nepal is close to achieving several of the eight globally
agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 related to poverty, education,
health and environmental sustainability. This is especially impressive given the country is
emerging from a decade‐long conflict and political instability.
While there is striking progress in reducing poverty, in getting children into school and in
saving the lives of children and mothers the national averages continue to mask significant
disparities between ethnic, social and economic groups, amongst rural and urban
populations and people living in the mountains, in remote areas and in the Terai (plains).
Two thirds of the way towards the 2015 MDG finishing line, the country should focus on
eradicating inequality and social exclusion to achieve the MDGs and to sustain peace.
According to the country’s third MDG Report, released today, poverty came down to 25.4
percent in 2009 from 42 percent in 1996. The gains have been most impressive in the last
five years with a 5 percent drop in poverty. Yet a quarter of the population still lives below
the national poverty line and inequality is increasing. The proportion of working poor –
people who are working but earn less than a dollar a day – is more than one in five. On
hunger, the picture is grim with close to 40 percent of children below the age of five
There is, however, good news on primary education with enrolment rates at 93.7% and
parity in the ratio of girls to boys. However, the gender gap remains high in some regions
like the Terai where fewer girls than boys are enrolled. Also, Nepal has already achieved the
2015 target of bringing down the undernourished population from 49 percent to 25
Over 200.000 children are estimated to be out of school and those who are out of the
education system are the most marginalized and hardest to reach says the Report.
Fewer infants and under‐five children are dying in Nepal today, with significant
improvements between 2001 and 2006. By 2009, the infant mortality rate is estimated to
have dropped to 41 per 1,000 live births from 109 per 1000 live births in 1990 and the
under‐five mortality rate is 50 per 1,000 live births down from 162 in 1990. The country is
on track to achieve this goal says the Report.
However, there are stark disparities. The chances of surviving up to age five are more than
seven times higher for children born to mothers with high school or higher education ‐‐ 13
per 1,000 live births, as compared to children born to mothers with no education, at a high
93 per 1,000 live births.
The Report points to similar disparities in the chances of women surviving childbirth –
significant disparities are observed between women living in cities and those living in the
hills, between those with higher levels of education, wealth and higher caste and those
disadvantaged by poverty, caste or ethnic identity. The maternal health goal is likely to be
met and maternal mortality rates are down from 850 in 1990 to an estimated 229 per
100,000 live births in 2010.
While releasing the report Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, Vice‐Chairman, National Planning
Commission said, “Enhancing employment opportunities and reducing inequality and social
exclusion remain major challenges. It is imperative that all of the country’s people reap the
benefits of development, including the hard to‐reach poor and those living in remote and
inaccessible areas, where delivering services is especially difficult. The well‐being of those
who are hardest hit by discrimination, exclusion, poverty and unemployment, is a major
The more complex goals and targets that are not on track are full and productive
employment for all and reducing green house gas emissions to halt climate change.
Significant challenges also remain in areas like reducing hunger, women’s empowerment,
protecting biodiversity and in providing access to clean water and sanitation.
At the launch of the Report, Robert Piper, UN Resident Coordinator for Nepal asked, “Has
Nepal got what it takes for a sprint on the final stretch to the MDG 2015 finish‐line? We
know what needs to happen to turn these indicators around for good – sound policies that
are sustained from one year to the next, clear roles and responsibilities for all those
involved, greater resources directed to the community level for allocation and oversight,
and a laser‐focus on results. Nepal has shown the way on maternal and infant mortality ‐
let’s apply the lessons to hunger, water, sanitation, and inequality.”
“Macro‐economic indicators, especially over the last two years, show serious weaknesses.
The balance‐of‐payments deficit continues, with weak fiscal discipline, dependency on
imports for increased revenue, and an unfavourable investment environment” says the
According to the report, the gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have‐nots’ is also increasing. The Gini
Coefficient, which provides a measure for income inequality, increased from 0.34 in 1996 to
0.41 in 2004 and recent estimates have shown that it has further increased to 0.46 in
To address the challenge of social inclusion the Report recommends that, “the government
should make the redistribution of benefits, social justice, and mainstreaming of
marginalized populations and geographic areas its overarching goal.”
“Food insecurity is a major problem for many Nepali people. High dependence on traditional
agriculture, low productivity, small landholdings, limited off‐farm and wage‐earning
opportunities, low wages/incomes, and various deep‐rooted structural discriminations and
exclusions are major factors causing food insecurity at the household level. The geographic
terrain combined with lack of basic infrastructure and access to new technology make it
virtually impossible for some areas to be food‐sufficient in the foreseeable future” the
report highlights.
The Report also recommends a greater focus on reviving agriculture with investments in
rural infrastructure and public works, create a better environment for private‐sector
investment, reduce trade imbalances with major trading partners, and better utilization of
foreign aid.
With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development
Goals, UN Secretary‐General Ban Ki‐moon has

Monday, 13 December 2010

GöNeS organises farewell party

These are unordered photos of farewell party organised by GöNeS on 12 December to honor our intimate friends Dev Raj Gautam, Bharat Budthapa and Hari Bhattarai and their family members. We would like to extend our best wishes to all of them for progress and prosperity, good health and blooming careers ahead. Also, we like to congratulate all of them for successful completion of their respective study and researches here in Goettingen. I would like to request other friends also to find some times to upload some photos of this programme into this blog.

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Welcome to Sanjeev Maharjan, (M.Sc., Agribusiness)

Tenzing Norgay & Sir Edmund Hillary

Tenzing Norgay & Sir Edmund Hillary
Courage and comradeship took them to the greatest heights
By George Band

A few more whacks of the ice ax, the last weary steps, and they were on top of the world. On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, on the summit of Mt. Everest, embraced and thumped each other on the back until they were almost breathless. Then Hillary took the iconic photograph of Tenzing holding his ice ax aloft with the flags of the United Nations, Britain, Nepal and India. Tenzing looked down to the east, to the Kharta and Kama Valleys, where he was born and spent the first years of his life herding yaks with his father. He could see the monasteries, the rivers and the forests of his youth.Tenzing had every reason to have his head turned by the godlike adulation he received after the climb.

But his innate strength of character, and his flashing smile, pulled him through. He then devoted years to teaching at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, before dying in 1986 at 74—a good age for a sherpa. Hillary, the New Zealand beekeeper and university dropout, went on to grace the New Zealand $5 bill, and he became an unlikely but ideal diplomat as his nation's High Commissioner to India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan. But perhaps the achievement that has given him the greatest satisfaction is his work in creating and running his Himalayan Trust, which by building schools and hospitals, and training teachers, has helped to improve the lives of his friends the sherpas in their remote homeland in northeast Nepal.

Nowadays, people ask me if I was a member of the Hillary expedition. They forget the brilliant leadership of John Hunt, whose military training and climbing experience equipped him admirably for planning such a major expedition. And they forget the first assault pair, Charles Evans and Tom Bourdillon, who had reached Everest's South Summit three days before the triumph. They paved the way for Hillary and Tenzing's ultimate success; the conquest of Everest was truly a great team effort.

The youngest member of the 1953 Everest expedition, George Band wrote Everest: 50 Years on Top of the World Read more...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Welcome to Nobel Prize Laureate to Nepal

Its our great pleasure to have an opportunity that Novel Prize Laureate Prof. Dr. Elinor Ostrom who has done a lot on Nepal base academic researches for the last two and half decades is now visiting to Nepal. She has full heart over Nepal and Nepali people and shows great concerns over Nepal political stability and economic development. Let's hope her political visit to Nepal will bring our leaders a full of practical thoughts on peace and development. We wish her safe, comfortable travel and nice stay in Nepal, she will be able to deliver her experiences on research and development to leaders and academia, and it will be her immemorial visit to Nepal.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Abhudaya Bist: an intelligent and handsome boy
Today, 25th November is the birthday for the little star, Abhudaya Bist ! And, in this happy occasion, we would like to extend our best wishes and blessing for his good health, prosperity and bright future ! As the twinkling star, he is spreading lots of joys and happiness to all of us in Goettingen. With his nice voice, he used to entertain us, in many occasion ! He loves music and follows NARAYAN GOPAL, the voice King of Nepal, in a very beautiful way ! He has tremendous potentialities to contribute nepalese music in future ! We wish all the best in his all endeavors! And, on this happy occasion, we would like to congratulate his happy and lucky parents, Hem Raj Bist and Ruby Bist, too for destined to have such a handsome, intelligent and outstanding son, full of tremendous potentialities in glittering the future of not only his family, but whole our country ! Once again, VERY VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABHUDAYA !
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to YOU,

Sunday, 21 November 2010

ANURADHA DD won CNN Hero 2010 award

CNN HERO AWARD winner Anuradha Koirala!

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A woman whose group has rescued more than 12,000 women and girls from sex slavery has been named the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year.

Anuradha Koirala was chosen by the public in an online poll that ran for eight weeks on CNN's Anderson Cooper revealed the result at the conclusion of the fourth annual "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute."

"Human trafficking is a crime, a heinous crime, a shame to humanity," Koirala said earlier in the evening after being introduced as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010. "I ask everyone to join me to create a society free of trafficking. We need to do this for all our daughters."

Koirala was introduced by actress Demi Moore, who along with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, created DNA, The Demi and Ashton Foundation, which aims to eliminate child sex slavery worldwide.

"Every day this woman confronts the worst of what humanity has to offer," Moore said of Koirala. "She says, 'Stop. Stop selling our girls.' By raiding brothels and patrolling the India-Nepal border, she saves girls from being sold into the sex trade, where they are being repeatedly raped for profit, tortured and enslaved.

"Since 1993, she has helped rescue more than 12,000 women and girls. Through her organization Maiti Nepal, she has provided more than a shelter for these girls and young women, she has created a home. It is a place for them to heal, go to school, learn a skill, and for some who are infected with HIV/AIDS, it is the place where they can spend their days surrounded by love."

Koirala will receive $100,000 to continue her work with Maiti Nepal, in addition to the $25,000 awarded to each of the top 10 Heroes honored Saturday night.

"This is another responsibility to me to work with all your support," Koirala said to the audience after being named Hero of the Year. "We have to end this heinous crime. Please join hands with me to end this crime.

"Please try to respect the youth. They are the ones who are going to build the next generation. Thank you so much."

Koirala's speech capped the gala event, which was taped before an audience of nearly 5,000 and premieres Thanksgiving night on the global networks of CNN Read more...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Dr Yadav Prasad Pant: A true hero

Source: Republica Daily (18 Nov. 2010)
vvvAbout a year-and-a-half ago, I received an email from my friend Dr Girish Pant. Girish asked about my memories of his father, the late Dr Yadav Prasad Pant. He asked whether I would agree to share my thoughts, memories and impressions of Dr Pant in an article that would be part of a commemorative book. I was not only happy to oblige but considered it an honor to be asked to contribute to furthering the memory of a great man.

I recalled meeting Dr Pant when I was a young boy in Kathmandu. I recalled meeting him again as an economics graduate student at Thammasat University in Bangkok. I recalled how he inspired me to be an academic. I wrote about all that in a tribute article which appeared in a recently published book entitled A Homage to Dr. Yadav Prasad Pant.
I received a copy of the book not too long ago. Upon perusing the collection, I was struck to see the number, the breadth of not only Nepali but also foreign dignitaries who contributed to the collection: All retelling anecdotes, acknowledging the influence, the inspiration and persistence of the works and life of Dr Pant. In the tribute to Dr Pant, Indian Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee writes “I was struck by his simplicity and the depth of his professional understanding. Interaction with him always left a deep impression on me, full of respect for his expertise and skill." Former Philippines Prime Minister Mr Cesar E A Virata in his reflection on late Dr Pant writes “I consider him to be senior, and also as a national resource and treasure of Nepal, and a man of full seasons”. Mr Eric Gonsalves, former Indian Ambassador to Japan and the European Union, in his memoir indicates that he greatly benefited from the then Nepali Ambassador to Japan Dr Pant. He writes “fortunately, we interacted with the Japanese Government, we were able to draw on the wisdom of Ambassador Pant which found receptive echoes in the attitude of academics and senior statesman in Japan like the late Professor Saburo Okita”. Former Newsweek Tokyo Bureau Chief Mr Bernard Krisher in his memories of Dr Pant writes “Dr. Pant was a distinguished scholar, diplomat and political and economic statesman who contributed enormously to Nepal’s stature in the world”. Nepal lacked an academic or professional economist until Dr Pant completed his Ph.D. in economics from Banaras Hindu University in 1952. In 1953, he joined the Faculty of Economics at Tri-Chandra College as a Professor of Economics where he labored until he was appointed as the Chief Economic Advisor to His Majesty’s Government of Nepal in 1956. After serving in this capacity for five years he was appointed as the Secretary of Finance in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in 1961. During his tenure as Secretary of Finance – which lasted six years – he literally transformed the fiscal system of Nepal. Before Dr Pant, the fiscal system of Nepal was primitive, to put it kindly. Once he became the Secretary of Finance, he streamlined the fiscal apparatus with various budgetary innovations. In essence, Dr Pant deserves credit for establishing the foundation of the modern planning and budgeting system in Nepal. Nepal started its planned development process in 1954 with its first five year plan. Dr Pant served as a member and a senior member of the National Planning Commission.

From 1968 to 1973, he served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nepal (Nepal Rastra Bank). Until Dr Pant became the Governor of NRB, its role was very limited. Banking services were limited to a few urban areas. As an economist, Dr Pant knew the significance of a sound financial system in an economy. To ensure the availability of financial services to majority of the population, he expanded the scope of banking services throughout the nation. In addition, Dr. Pant also streamlined national monetary policy as well as international financial policy. Under Dr Pant’s leadership, the NRB was transformed from a simple currency circulating agency to a very effective, sophisticated central bank. That is why sometime during the 1970s, in an interview with the The Times of India, Pierre Paul Schweitzer, the then managing director of the International Monetary Fund, indicated that NRB was “one of the best central banks in the world”.

From 1974 to 1979, Dr Pant served as the Nepali Ambassador to Japan, Australia, Philippines, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea. As an Ambassador, he was very successful in promoting and enhancing bilateral relationship with all the aforesaid countries. In recognition of his contribution to furthering the relationship between Japan and Nepal, the Japanese government decorated him with “The Order of the Rising Sun”.

Dr Pant was an academician at heart. That is why, despite his busy life as an administrator, he was able to produce many significant works in economics. Most of his writings served as required readings in colleges and universities, not only in Nepal, but also in other countries. When I was in college, one of the required readings in economics was Economic Development of Nepal written by Dr Pant. This was the first ever published material that evaluated Nepal’s various economic planning and policies; policies that were formulated and implemented to achieve faster economic growth. Another required reading was Problems of Development of Smaller Countries. In this book, Dr Pant discusses the general problems faced by people in small, landlocked countries like Nepal. Another one of his books Problems of Monetary and Fiscal Policy; A Case Study of Nepal was probably the first treatise to discuss the monetary policy and fiscal policy problems of Nepal where the central bank is not independent and, furthermore, government revenue is always less than its expenditure due to a very small tax base. The entire list of his works on development and Nepali economy is very long. Most of his works has served as important resource materials for my own research both in Nepal as well as in the United States. I believe that his works will serve as important resource materials for researchers for many years to come. His works on economic development, the Nepali economy, economic planning, and banking and finance remain landmark treatises on the subject.

Dr Pant introduced Nepal and its economy to the world. Through his writings, he established a systematic, monetary and fiscal system in the country. He mentored a generation of economists and administrators who successfully served or are presently serving the country. He truly served his country to the fullest. Therefore, it could never be an exaggeration to consider him a great Nepali hero.

Writer is Professor and Chair, Department of Economics and Finance, University of New Haven, US

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Congratulation to Dr. Devkota

You made us and our country proud! Lots of congratulation to Dr. Roshan !

Dr. Roshan, and renowned professor Krott !
Dr. Devkota and his team !

Dr. Roshan with his Nepalese colleagues after doctoral ceremony!

Today, Dr. Devkota defended his Ph.D. thesis. He was asked many tough questions to defend his studies. And, he satisfied all the examinee with his outstanding performance, in his scientific field, and with superb presentation. The jury was so impressed, they couldnot stop themselves from providing excellent grade! He made us and our country both proud through his intellectuality, friendliness and outstanding work. Many many congratulations to Dr. Devkota and his family for this outstanding achievements ! Read more...

Monday, 8 November 2010

Billions of congratulations & best wishes to Devkota family

What a joyful moment ! What could be the better achievement than this? What a glorious day it would be not only with you, but for all of us ! After a long and untiring efforts, the hard works, dedication and devotion, finally going to pay for you, with the transformation of Mr. Roshan Devkota, to Dr. Roshan Devkota, a great day in your life and professional career. The milestone that everybody wants to achieve, you will be honoured with it on coming Friday (12 November, 2010). This day can never be forgotten because it is going to fulfill all your dreams, dreams to pick up the twinkling stars ! On this very best achievement, the uppermost academic achievement of anyone's life, we all like to congratulate you, Sabita jee, two little stars (Aditi and Aaron) and all of your family members. You made all of us proud and glorious with your success ! Please accept our deepest congratulations and best wishes for your defense ! We are pretty sure for the extraordinary outcomes! We are very proud to be the part of whole of your achievements !!
Mr. Devkota has worked on the hot issues of community forestry in Nepal, focussing more on interests and powers in community forestry. The title of his thesis is "Interests and Power as Drivers of Community Forestry – A Case Study of Nepal." His findings will not only be useful in better implementation of Community Forestry program in Nepal but also it will pave the foundation to scale out community based forest management programme throughout the World. We would like to congratulate Mr. Devkota for his path showing findings. The defense programme would take place as follows:

  • Date : 12. November 2010 (Friday)
  • Time: 8:00 a m (Sharp)
  • Place: Busgenweg 1
  • Room: Horsaal F 01
All of you are welcome in the above mentioned program and venue. You are requested to be there before 8:00 0' Clock !

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Very Beautiful Tihar Song

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

'The Crisis Has Deeply Shaken Us'

In a SPIEGEL interview, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 56, discusses the recent controversial deal she struck with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the euro, disputes within her coalition government in Berlin and her country's contentious immigration and integration debate.

SPIEGEL: Madame Chancellor, after forming a coalition with you, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) slipped to 23 percent of the vote. Now the black-yellow coalition between your party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) has been governing for one year. The FDP is down to 5 percent in the polls. How do you always manage to cut your coalition partners down to size?

Merkel: This is a non-issue for me. For the past year now, we have been working in a coalition of the CDU and the FDP, and we are now in a phase in which important decisions are being made, which are, of course, also contentious. Now is not the time to focus on surveys, but rather on decisions.

SPIEGEL: Polls don't interest you at all?

Merkel: I acknowledge them, but they do not determine my actions.

SPIEGEL: Your party, the CDU, is at 30 percent in the polls. What has gone wrong?

Merkel: In the beginning, we were unable to adequately convey the meaning and purpose of certain decisions. But those days are over: We are now focusing on setting an agenda that will, at first, not please some segments of the population. But once people see the impact and the successes, we will win them over. Politics is not about constantly putting your finger to the wind, but rather following through with your convictions.

SPIEGEL: Politics in times of your black-yellow coalition is primarily about in-fighting. The summer of blissful political harmony was extremely short-lived; after a short break, the coalition is squabbling again. Why can't you manage to create a long-term congenial coalition climate?

Merkel: We have a congenial climate in the coalition that is, as a rule, characterized by very, very good personal relationships. Nonetheless, situations are bound to arise from time to time in which differing viewpoints emerge.

SPIEGEL: That is a nice euphemism for conflict.

Merkel: It is a shame that in the language of journalists there are no longer any nuances between conflict and harmony. The German language is actually more expressive than that.

SPIEGEL: This past summer, Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party to the CDU, vowed that he would treat you in a congenial manner in the future. Now he is casting doubt upon raising the minimum retirement age to 67, which is a key tenet of your platform. Do you feel that he has let you down?

Merkel: Legislation raising the retirement age to 67 has been passed into law and will be implemented. It will not be fully effective until the year 2029, however. Horst Seehofer has pointed out that we have to combine the gradual introduction of this legislation with better opportunities for older employees to remain gainfully employed. That is how I see it as well. Furthermore, the past few years have very clearly shown that there is a significant increase in the number of older individuals in the workforce. So things are moving in the right direction.

SPIEGEL: Now your coalition partner the FDP is also rebelling and accusing you of betraying the stability of the euro. It was, in fact, not particularly congenial of you not to consult with German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on your strategy for the negotiations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Why did you bypass Westerwelle on this issue?

Merkel: In Deauville, President Sarkozy and I spoke primarily about what will happen when the euro bailout package expires in 2013. For quite some time now, we have been in agreement within the coalition that we need amendments to European Union treaties in order to create a new and markedly improved crisis management mechanism -- one that also includes private creditors, like banks, for instance. We don't want to see the member states, in other words, the taxpayers, have to foot the bill again. So it was a major success to persuade the French to open up to such a treaty reform. And this agreement is fully in line with the coalition's objectives.

SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, it was a solo effort. You did not bring your foreign minister on board.

Merkel: He was also on board.

SPIEGEL: He sees that differently.

Merkel: We are all in the same boat.

SPIEGEL: How did you bring him on board?

Merkel: We discuss our approach together on a regular basis.

SPIEGEL: Did you discuss with him that you would offer Sarkozy the option of waiving an automatic mechanism for sanctions against countries that exceed the allowed limit for budget deficits?

Merkel: The process that we are now considering calls for considerably more stringent sanctions than what we currently have, and this would involve an automatic mechanism. The French president and I were totally in agreement on this point. The details were mutually agreed upon by the finance ministers.

SPIEGEL: Is one of the lessons from the Greek financial crisis that Europe needs an economic government?

Merkel: We need instruments that prevent such a situation from occurring. We need to learn to observe countries at an early stage so that, based on a range of indicators, we can assess their actual level of competitiveness. We have to find ways to harmonize the competitiveness among European countries -- and this should not be done by simply targeting the average or gearing ourselves to the slowest. Instead, we should always learn from the best. In this sense, we are working as an economic government.

Part 2: 'It Is Our Duty to First Reduce Our Massive Debt'

SPIEGEL: Has the financial crisis had a lasting impact on Germany?

Merkel: I see the crisis as something that has deeply shaken us. Many Germans are understandably very wary of certain sectors of the economy. We politicians will have our work cut out for us for some time to come, convincing people once again that we shape our policies and do not merely follow the industry's lead.

SPIEGEL: The economy is in good shape, tax revenues are flowing in. This has prompted the FDP to consider tax cuts. What is your position on this?

Merkel: We have always endorsed a simple and fair system with low taxes. It is also true that a large proportion of the burden is shouldered by the middle class, and that is a problem. Currently, however, I still do not see any leeway for tax cuts. It is our duty, both legally and morally, to first reduce our massive debt. It is also a question of fairness to the next generation.

SPIEGEL: If there were any leeway, which taxes would you reduce?

Merkel: Many communities face a very difficult financial situation. If we had to choose an area where we could still do something and we had some leeway, the most urgent issue for me would be how we can help the cities and communities where money is so tight.

SPIEGEL: Up until now, you have always refused to make concessions to the conservative wing of your party. What made you change your mind now?

Merkel: Could you please give me an example?

SPIEGEL: You recently said that multiculturalism has failed.

Merkel: Should I show you excerpts from my speeches to the Bundestag over the past few years? I have often stated my position on this issue, and each time it was met with general approval in parliament, but not always given as much attention as this time.

SPIEGEL: But, Madame Chancellor, you choose your words with care, and you know precisely when you intend to say something -- and what effect it will have. Highlighting such an issue in this situation is tantamount to making a concession to the fans of Thilo Sarrazin.

Merkel: No, it is one of a number of political statements that I know hit very close to home for the people. For example: "Protecting victims takes precedence over protecting perpetrators." "Those who work must have more money than if they did not work." "Multiculturalism has failed" is yet another example. Now I have said it again, naturally within the context of today's specific integration debate, which does not make this statement wrong. I have remained entirely true to my principles.

SPIEGEL: You wanted to stoke the debate a bit?

Merkel: No. It is a sentence that I have said in the past, and I will say it again in the future. The debate is not all that heated anyway.

SPIEGEL: One of the grand delusions of the CDU is that Germany is not an immigration country. Isn't it time to re-think this?

Merkel: We reflected on this issue a great deal while working on our coalition platform: What kind of a country are we? We came to the conclusion that we are an integration country.

SPIEGEL: That is another one of those terms that is impossible to pin down.

Merkel: I can define it. In an integration country, all people of foreign origin are welcome who are prepared to live according to the laws and values of society, or even become German citizens.

SPIEGEL: You know very well that Germany needs immigration. Without integration, we will soon have no one left to pay for people's pensions.

Merkel: We addressed this issue a long time ago. First, we have made it easier for foreigners who have studied here to remain in Germany. Second, we have freedom of movement within the European Union and improved access opportunities for qualified individuals from the new member states. Third, any foreigners who can document an annual income of at least €66,000 ($92,000) can stay here as long as they want, and multi-year residency permits are even possible below this limit. Indeed, we have long ago paved the way for controlled immigration.

SPIEGEL: What do you think of a point system to control immigration?

Merkel: A point system would not solve all our problems. In the coalition agreement, it says that we intend to control immigration to Germany. It also says in this agreement that access for highly qualified and skilled foreign workers must be systematically tailored to the needs of the German labor market and organized according to clear, transparent and weighted criteria, for example, with regard to requirements, qualifications and integration abilities. That is our objective.

Part 3: 'I Am Increasingly at Peace with Myself'

SPIEGEL: We were surprised that you came out in favor of a ban on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Is this also a concession to the conservative wing of your party?

Merkel: No, it is a matter of conscience. We are talking about whether, after in-vitro insemination, a selection is to be made among the embryos, whether those embryos that display characteristics of a serious hereditary disease are to be destroyed. My concern is that the line between serious and not so serious diseases is virtually impossible to define. People will begin with a very restrictive approach, but this could very quickly lead to debates over whether this is too restrictive. And one day, people with hereditary diseases will have to justify themselves because some people will believe that all of this could have been prevented. This is the reason why I personally feel that we should not allow it right from the beginning.

SPIEGEL: But it is possible to make a fairly clear distinction for abortions. Why shouldn't this work for PGD?

Merkel: For abortions, the goal is to determine whether it is feasible for the mother to have the child. That is an entirely different issue. But back to PGD: This is not a decision that I make at the drop of a hat, but rather after a long process of carefully weighing up the situation. Every member of parliament should decide according to his or her own conscience.

SPIEGEL: You have never really passionately gotten involved in an issue before and now, of all things, you have made a railway station into your cause célèbre. Why is Stuttgart 21 so important?

Merkel: I went into politics out of a passion for freedom, so I am not lacking anything in that department. Currently, there are many areas and many individual topics where it all boils down to one issue: Germany's ability to meet the challenges of the future. Take the urgently needed and widely controversial power lines that are essential if we are ever to make the transition to environmentally friendly renewable energy. Or take this big railway project. The issue extends far beyond the confines of the city of Stuttgart and people have a right to hear what the German chancellor thinks, whether she is for or against it. Since it was an important debate in the Bundestag, I came out strongly in favor of the project.

SPIEGEL: What will you do if things go poorly in the state elections in Baden-Württemberg in March 2011?

Merkel: I am working to make this election a success for our party.

SPIEGEL: Many people are already pointing to German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg as your successor. Do you also think that he is the right man for the job?

Merkel: I am delighted that the defense minister does top-notch work and, at the same time, comes across well and is very popular. Furthermore, it is very gratifying that we have apparently seen the end of the era when you wrote about a gaping void among the ranks of leading conservative politicians.

SPIEGEL: Do you sometimes look at him and think, wow, I could learn a thing or two from him?

Merkel: I have now reached an age in which I am increasingly at peace with myself. As a young girl, I was often dissatisfied because I wanted to be able to do things well that I could not do, for example, gymnastics on the balance beam or ice skating. These days I can do the things that I want to do. So I simply take delight in Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and wish him all the best of luck -- and all the best to my other gifted and outstanding ministers.

SPIEGEL: Madame Chancellor, we thank you for this interview.

Interview conducted by Dirk Kurbjuweit and Mathias Müller von Blumencron; translated from the German by Paul Cohen



Saturday, 30 October 2010

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Dashain Celebration Continues_:::Goettingen, Germany


Dashain Celebration in Goettingen, Germany

These are the some unedited movie of Dashain Celebration in Goettingen, Germany. Please send your comments and suggestions, as well as best wishes to


Dashain celebration in Goettingen, Germany

These are few photos selected randomly. Two days celebration of DASHAIN festival in small town of Goettingen of Germany was held. It was very joyful moment to see all the friends exchanging blessing to each others.. Read more...