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.