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Nepal
 
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Nepal glossary

Ram

(NEPAL 17)

Sex

male

Age

53

Identity

N

Occupation

farmer

Location

Bansbari VDC, Sindhupalchok

Date

1995

 

transcript

Section 1
How many members are there in your family?
There is my wife, son and a daughter and five grandchildren from my son.

How many from your house go to school?
My daughter is already married, so one grandson and two granddaughters go to school, the other two stay at home.

When did the villagers start to think the education was important?
It has been quite some time, since the Panchayat (previous political regime) days the villagers are aware of it. But most of them do not send their daughters to school.

What percentage of villagers give education to their daughters?
It's difficult to say about the old days, but these days 95% of the boys and about 45% of the girls are getting education.

Do the Brahmins and Chettris think the girls should get education or more of the Tamangs, Magars, Damais and Kamis think so?
I think itís more in the Brahmans and Chettri community and may be only 10% of the Tamangs think so.

What was the condition of schools 20-30 years back?
It wasn't very good then, but after ActionAid came here it has really improved.

As far as you can remember how many schools were there in Bansbari and how many are there now?
In the olden days, there werenít any schools so we had requested one, but instead they built one in Pipal Chaur. We helped in many ways to build that school but since it was quite far from our village all our children couldnít attend that school. We again requested for another school in our village, which we were able to build here and now there are many schools, so almost all the children are going to school these days.

Who do you think should be given credit for opening the schools in other wards?
I think all the villagers of the wards felt the need of schools in their own wards, so with the efforts of the villagers only the schools were opened.

Do you think the Adult Education Program has benefited the villagers?
Oh sure, with such programs we have at least learnt to read and write, and I think it is quite an achievement.
Section 2
Are the people now able to write letters and read letters if they receive one from their relatives?
There are only a few who can read and write letters, most of them are just able to write their names.

In this regard, who are more in number the men or the women?
I think, there are more women, because they are more serious, they want to learn more.

Regarding agriculture and the production what difference do you find in the olden days and now?
There is a lot of difference, before we didn't have chemical fertilisers, tools were not good, we were not educated, but now with the help of ActionAid, we have good quality of seeds, better tools and chemical fertilisers and we have 2-3 harvests a year. We have been taught about the better techniques of agriculture, so we now have more production.

When did you start to use the chemical fertilisers and how many of you used to use it?
I think it was introduced in 2019-20 BS. In those days, maybe only 5% didn't use it but now everybody is using it.

What was the price of the chemical fertiliser back in 2019-20 BS?
In those days I used to bring a sack (14 pathi) of chemical fertiliser for 45 rupees, I had to bring it from Chabahil. Then it was provided in Darh Khola which is a bit nearer and sometimes we even had to go to Lamidanda to get it. Then, this road was being built, we worked on this road also and we had to carry the chemical fertilisers all the way. The life was very hard then, it's like heaven nowadays.

What was it like regarding the seeds?
In those days, we didn't have good seeds, we used to have sathee corn which would be edible in 60 days, but the corn was small and the production was not very good. The better quality with bigger corns were found in the highlands only. We used to get that corn and plant it but we didn't have really good quality corn seeds.

When did you get the new good quality seeds?
We got the new seeds from ActionAid, they are the ones who first distributed the Annapurna yellow corn seeds. At first not all the seeds gave good harvest so we used the chemical fertilisers also, and chose the better products and kept them for seeds.

Did they give you new seeds of corn only or of other crops also?
They gave us new seeds of rice, wheat and vegetables, with the help of ActionAid we have been able to use new seeds.
Section 3
What difference do you find in the yield by the new seeds?
When I use the new seeds of wheat I get 20 muri of wheat from the same land where I used to get only four muri of wheat with the old ones. But, I should say, the production has multiplied because of the use of chemical fertilisers.

Do you think it's because of the new seeds and chemical fertilisers or maybe there has been improvement in the irrigation system also?
Of course, we must irrigate the fields properly. We have irrigated our fields by the water from the waterfall and canals, otherwise, only with the help of chemical fertilisers the yield won't be as good.

How can you compare the buying and selling of the crops from the olden days and now?
As far as I know, we could get wheat at Rs16 per pathi, millet for Rs1 and corn for Rs2-3. And now, the corn is 20-20 rupees per pathi, wheat is 15-16 rupees per pathi the millet is also 15-16 rupees per pathi, people make liquor out of it so, it's also as expensive. The cost of fertiliser has gone up so it's quite natural the prices of crops should go up. It's quite okay for the middle class families but the poor can suffer sometimes.

Did the improvement in the yield make people's life more comfortable or not?
It has, the Majhis were very poor, they were living on the fish they caught in the river and the water they could get when they got some work. They had just porridge to eat and they didn't have clothes. When we dug the canal from Khare they worked to break the rocks and earned some money and now their life has improved a lot. But those who do not work do not have much, they are still in the same condition.

Before the introduction of the chemical fertiliser what kind of diseases were there in the crops?
Then there werenít any diseases in the crops, we had never heard of any diseases. The only thing is, when we used the manure only we got about 22 muri of rice and when we added 10 dharni (approx. 2.4 kg) of chemical fertiliser there was 40 muri of rice. But now if we add 5 sacks of chemical fertiliser we still get 40 muri of rice.

You mean to say, the production has increased due to the use of chemical fertiliser, whereas before the same fertiliser had increased the production?
It looks like it, it seems like the chemical fertiliser has used up all the power of the soil, so if we do not get the fertiliser in the future maybe everything will die. In the olden days we had never heard of diseases but after the use of chemical fertiliser there are lot of diseases. We didn't know about the pump and the medicine, we didn't have to use them. Now with the effect of chemical fertiliser, the plants grow fast but the insects attack them. Since the plants are young the insects can easily eat them up, so if we do not use the medicines or forget to use it, the crops dies, which is a big loss for us.

How long ago did diseases of crops start here?
It started from the year 2025 BS. The effect of disease on the crops is almost the same, one must apply the medicines otherwise the crops will die. This started when we started to use the chemical fertiliser when the plants grow fast when they are young they are very sensitive to disease and other insects.
Section 4
So the farmers must always be ready to prevent the crops from the disease throughout the year?
Yes, we must always be prepared, we must store medicine at home, if we don't have it we must get it anyhow, otherwise the crops are finished.

As you don't have as good a production with more chemical fertiliser than before, is it the same with the medicines also?
Before we didn't have two harvests of rice, it started from 2030-35 only, so we need the medicine in every harvest but the number of insects also rise, so we have to be prepared all the time.

What difference do you find now and 15-20 years ago in the vegetable garden?
It is much better now. Before we didn't have a good water supply, the animals were kept free so there werenít many vegetables around. But nowadays, we have a good water supply, there is enough grass for the animals, which are kept in the barns, and good seeds, so now we have good potato, tomato and other vegetables.

How long ago was this?
This was about 18-20 years ago, when the Panchayat system was still there. At that time all the villagers got together and decided to do something for the development of the village, so we brought the canal for irrigation, which enabled us to have better crops and vegetables. After that the villages around us also had their own canal, so now we can get potatoes, cauliflower, onions, garlic, mustard and vegetables everywhere.

Do the people sell their vegetables in the market?
Yes, they do. Most of the product they keep for themselves to eat and the surplus they sell in the market.

Have you heard from your father and other older men anything about the vegetable gardens?
Those who had easy access to water had the gardens but the others didn't bother to have the vegetable gardens. After the rain people used to grow vegetables in the sheltered cold or moist lands otherwise their gardens were barren. But now with the canal people are planting whatever they like in their gardens. Some even grow mustard and get oil themselves, and sell it in the market too. There have been a lot of improvements in the agriculture now.

With the improvement in agriculture, what happened to the health of people, what difference do you find regarding disease and sickness 20-25 year ago and now?
In those days, if we went down from Bansbari, people would get malaria and very high fever. There werenít any health centres so no medicine. I also got a very high fever during 2007-8 BS, fortunately, a compounder had come along with the brother of Dr. Kedarman Byathit from Kathmandu, he gave me the medicine and I was cured. In those days we used to boil neem leaves and drink that as medicine, many poor died of high fever then. It was the same if anyone was suffering from diarrhoea and vomit. There weren't that many people in Kathmandu then but when there was Cholera
and other sickness the villagers avoided going to Kathmandu or even Bhaktapur.
Section 5
What is the situation now for the treatment of sickness?
Sometimes if you take medicine for fever it might become worse, but if you take the medicines after 2-3 days then it goes away gradually. If one is suffering from diarrhoea and something, they have also been cured by the medicine given from the health centre.

You mean to say that now you don't have to go to Kathmandu or Bhaktapur for treatment?
I hear that if the sickness is really very bad people go to America and England for treatments, but for us Kathmandu is as good as America. So we test the health centres here and people are being treated nicely and getting well. We are too poor, we can't afford to go abroad for treatment.

For what kind of sickness do you go to Kathmandu for treatment and what kind of sickness do you treat here?
We go to the health centre at first, they check the patients and if they advise for operations then we can go to Kathmandu. Since we do not have the blood banks around here the operations cannot be performed here, so if one has the money the patients are taken to treatment, otherwise they go home and stay in bed and pray to become well again or just die like that.

What kind of sickness do you think the health centres can treat?
In the health centre, they can treat patients of diarrhoea, dysentery and fever. Till now, they do not have proper instruments, the government has sent inexperienced staff. They are not very educated. When the patient is seriously sick, they take him to Bhotechaur, Kathmandu for treatment.

As you must have heard from the elders about the cleanliness of this village what difference do you find now?
It has really changed a lot. In the olden days, they didn't have the toilets so they excreted wherever they liked, even in their own yard. After the arrival of ActionAid and its staff, they were taught about the cleanliness and good health, so now all the houses have their own toilets, some have permanent toilets and some have holes dug, but at least they are not excreting anywhere they like. In the year 2007 BS, I was quite young and I had gone to Kathmandu, even there people were excreting, even women, at the side of the road. If Kathmandu was like that then we can forget about here. There was one public toilet in Mahaboudha, but all the time there used to be a long queue, so people had to do at the side of the road. So, this area was comparable to the Kathmandu of olden days. But now the people are aware of health and cleanliness, so they make toilets near their houses.

So you think this is the prime reason for the different kind of sickness people suffered from?
Yes, before people used to suffer a lot from dysentery and diarrhoea but these days we hardly hear such things. People are quite aware of health and cleanliness but maybe they don't know how it is happening.
Section 6
What changes took place regarding the drinking water, from 50 years ago, according to the elders and now?
In the olden days, there was a big problem of drinking water. The water was very dirty and not a single house had good clean water to drink. My father and other villagers used to discuss a lot to solve the problem, they even thought of making earthen pipes to supply the water. They built the canal and brought water, but in the rainy season the water was again very dirty and sometimes the canal itself was washed away by the flood. In the Panchayat days, one of our villagers named Krishna Bhakta spoke to Ganesh Bajre Lama, who gave us some bundles of pipes, which we used temporarily. After the ActionAid came to our area, they provided us with a good water supply, pipe lines and taps for each and every house.

So now it is much better?
Yes, definitely. There are water taps almost everywhere, so now, the people have to take care of it and utilise it, otherwise the ActionAid or the government cannot maintain it all the time.

So, the people have to look after it, isn't it?
Yes, the people have understood the idea, but if they are negligent and think others will maintain or repair, the system then it might get spoilt.

What was the condition of canal and irrigation 30-40 years ago and how is it now?
Canals are important to irrigate the fields, so they also had such systems, but of the very primitive type. Since the canals were not scientific it would break from time to time, so they used planks and mud to repair it. I can say that by copying others also the development can enhance. The old canal was built by the father of Kedar Man Byathit, but it was not well built. Later we made it better, the other parts of the VDC saw what we did so they also did the same and made a good canal and now all the villagers of the VDC have a good canal and irrigation for their fields and vegetable gardens. The Majhis of this area were very poor, when I was a Deputy Pradhan Pancha, I talked to them, they used to sell rocks in Newar and made their living but their living standard was still very low. I suggested that they build the canal so that the womenfolk could have good vegetable gardens and make some more money. And now they say that the canal has done them very good, those poor people are now making enough crops, which is enough for 4 months and more. And now every village has its own canal.

How were the schools 20-30 years ago and how are they now?
20-30 years ago, the people were poor so we didn't have the money to build the schools, we tried once or twice but due to the lack of budget we couldn't complete it, and as time passed by the incomplete building collapsed. When the ActionAid came in this area and helped us to make the school, we also carried stones for the walls. The ActionAid provided us with the windows, doors and water supply. So with the help of ActionAid and the labour of the villagers we have schools in our village. The ActionAid is also helping to maintain the building. There used to be help from the government also but the people coming from the offices would spend the money as their allowances and wouldn't have much to give to us, so there was much loss then and we didn't have good schools.
Section 7
That means the leaders would spend the money for development?
Yes, they spent it as their allowances, so it was a sorry situation for us. Nowadays you don't hear any school has collapsed or damaged, due to ActionAid all the schools are in good condition.

What is the difference of living standard of the villagers before and after the road was built?
When the road wasn't built, we had to carry the chemical fertiliser on our back from Chabel and I had carried 15 pathi of rice to Chabel.

You carried the rice to Chabel and after selling it you again bought chemical fertiliser and brought home, how many days it would take them?
It was during the festival, while going it was quite easy. I left home after having lunch and reach Chabel at around 4pm then while returning with the chemical fertiliser I had to stay overnight at Sankhu, so it used to take about two days. When the road was being built we used to work very hard. Most of the people do not like Krishna Bhakta, but when he was vice-president of the district he had written letters to everybody about the road, so at that time the Bhotes from highlands also came and helped to break the rocks. We had divided the area and worked on our own share and every year we could make the road where a jeep could be driven.

How long ago was this?
It was when the Road Department hadn't taken the authority over it. We have really benefited by the road, like, we can take the sick to Kathmandu easily or during the delivery case, if the woman is suffering we can take her to better facilities. In the olden days, even if we had the money, we couldn't buy whatever we liked, but now everything from rice, oil, sugar to clothes are available nearby, so it is really beneficial.

You said that it has also become easy for the delivery cases, that means, when the road was not there, the women could die during delivery?
Yes, because when the women were in trouble, they had to be carried, those who had the money could hire the porters but the poor could not afford, so the women died during their pregnancy or delivery. The sister of Thakur died on the way, she delivered a girl but she could not survive, now I am looking after the girl. But now there aren't so many such cases.

What benefits did the poor community get from the road?
The poor have also benefited, because with the road many kinds of works became available. People want to make houses and shops near the road, the roads need maintenance so the poor are getting enough work to make their living. Some are getting work as traders of the trucks, they load and unload rocks and stones, now they are making the road towards Lamidanda and I hear they get Rs200 per trip. So they are going to Lamidanda to work. It's the same life for the lazy bones, and such kinds but for those who want to work it's really very good for them.
Section 8
Now due to the road you have a market nearby, compared to 20-30 years ago what do you think has happened to the process of the daily use commodities?
The times are a changing, so it's not as cheap as what you get in Kathmandu, the prices are going up everyday. But when you add the expenses when you yourself go to Kathmandu for shopping, the prices here are reasonable. So instead of going to Kathmandu or Bhaktapur we rather buy our needs in Bahunepati. The road has made the lives of rich and the poor very comfortable.

Compared to 10-20 years ago and now what can you say about the situation of organisations and projects?
10-20 years ago there was hardly any school in our VDC but now you can find schools in each and every ward and ActionAid has also constructed office buildings for us.

According to the elders what is the best work the District Development Office has done here and what are the things the ActionAid has done, whose work do you prefer?
When the District Development Office creates a project the budget is spent here and there, so by the time they arrive in the village they don't have any money to work with. We also do not know how much the ActionAid makes and spends. But since I am not very experienced, I think the work done by ActionAid is much better than that of the District Development Office. Maybe itís because the ActionAid has a much bigger budget and spends a lot, but the District Development Office (DDO) also hasn't done any remarkable work. They made the bridge in the Sindhu Khola and after that they were supposed to maintain the road towards our village, but it hasn't been done till now. Whatever the DDO made is not strong and long lasting, we had heard that the DDO was supplying us with the drinking water but we haven't seen a single pipe laid. They built the schools but they have all been damaged or collapsed and now all the schools we have are built by the Actionaid.

Which religion do you believe in?
I believe in Hinduism, that is what our forefathers have been believing in. Nowadays the younger generation say that there is no god, and our King is nobody. I don't believe in such things and I am always discussing with them.

Can you tell me why you are religious?
Everybody has a religion and from what I've observed almost all the successful people are religious, so I also believe in religion.

Compared to the living standard back in 20-30 years ago and now, what can you say about it?
I should say it has improved a lot. Because, now the production of the crops has improved, the road has brought many works for the poor. In the olden days, those people who had only a loincloth on them, now make 50-60 rupees a day working around the road, so they don't have to worry about their meals and now they are even able to wear shirts and pants.
Section 9
What do you say about the weather of 20-30 years ago and of now?
In the olden days, it used to rain a lot, we had to have the raincoat all the time during grazing the animals. It was during the year 2010-11 BS. The rivers used to get flooded and all the ravines were full of water. The Indrawati used to flow high, it was till 2018-20 BS. But now there is not much rain so the rivers also don't flow that high. It used to be very windy, in 2018 BS even our roof of the house was blown away by the wind, around 8-10 houses were damaged at the time.

Has there been much damages by the flood and the wind (storms)?
Since then no. During Chaitra, Baisakh and Jyestha if itís windy during the evening then there is quite a big rainfall otherwise, if itís not that windy there won't be much rain. Compared to the olden days, there is so much water in the gorges and ravines. I built this canal in 2023 from Bhanjyang to water the cornfield, but now there is not a trickle of water there.

When did the level of water start to go down?
I think the level of water started lowering from 2030-35 BS.

Has there been such damages caused by floods and fire?
The latest I remember is about 17-18 years ago in 2023 BS when there was a big flood in Sindhu Khola, at that time Indrawati also cut the hillsides and flowed on the other side making this side of the bank very wide, where people are planting crops nowadays. After that there hasn't been such a big flood or landslides. Due to the afforestation program there are lots of trees in the hills, the organisation are preserving the forests and there's not that much rain either.

What do you think of the population growth 20-30 years ago and now?
Compared to 20-30 years ago, the population has increased by 75-80%. Even though, there is family planning, the people have to have a son in a family, so they try and try and sometimes have 4-5 daughters and not a son. Some are not satisfied with one son, so they want to have more, so that their family will cover the whole area, if they did, they are very happy and feel secure. Because if they have only 1-2 children and lose them, they will not have anybody to look up to, so they want to have at least 4-5 children to be on the safe side. I think, that is why the population is growing.

There are many people these days, isn't it?
Yes, there werenít that many houses in Kathmandu, there was lots of land. But now, wherever you go, you see people and crowds. Kathmandu was like Bahunepati, there were a cluster of houses here and there and there weren't that many hotels. I am surprised that in such a short period it has become so crowded, what's going to happen in another 20-30 years.

Do you think the population growth is good for our country of not?
Nepal is like a jam in between two rocks, if there are many people in such a small country we have to go to the other countries. But they might not accept us, so returning back to our own country might be over crowded, so I think the uncontrollable population growth is not good for our country.
Section 10
You said that your were a Deputy Pradhan Pancha (village mayor) once, with what ambition and goal did you accept the position?
At that time, I wanted to do a lot of things for the development of the community. I wanted to be an example to the people, being a just and able administrator. I was not corrupt and I was against injustice. I never took sides, I always tried to settle the disputes without any prejudices. I tried to encourage the people in family planning and told them about its advantages. Some people still think I was jealous of their large family and was against them but still, I never got disheartened. When I was the President or the Pradhan Pancha, I never thought of making money, to have buildings and live a comfortable life but I always wanted to be a social worker and wanted my people to have a good and comfortable life, even better life than mine.

Are you still into politics or not?
In that context, now we have the multi-party system and I don't agree with the UMC (United Maxist Leninist). Because, I heard that the communists are against Hinduism, they actually say that they are not against religion but they really act differently. And again, they say that, in China they want the people to survive on their own, that they should produce their needs in their own country, but in a small country like ours, I don't think its possible. In this area, only the stupid people are into communism, so when I see such people in the party, I really don't have any belief in such a party.

In which system do you believe in?
I liked the Panchayat System, at least the people were good then, and for the development you need good people. But at that time, there was no freedom of speech and once there was a Pradhan Pancha no one could take his place. Even if there was an election no one could get more vote than the government candidates, because they were backed by the government morally and financially. If we tried to do something for the development of the community, we couldn't and the officials were not interested in development.

The Panchayat System is in the past, what do you think of the present political system?
We are new to the democratic system and we are just experiencing it. I think this is a good system if the people understand it and do accordingly, like if a person is good and works for the people and their development then they can get elected from any party but in the Panchayat system there wasn't any such opportunity. So we feel that the multi-party system is good for us.

Do you want to be politics in the future or not?
If the people trust me and want me to represent them, then I could be in. But even now, I haven't stopped social work, I am doing everything possible, I have to look after my family and living standard, financially. It was me, and only me, who got a quota for a school and with the help of the villagers we constructed the school buildings but there were still many people who were against it.

Of all the things done for the development which would you choose the best among them?
Everything, under the development progress is necessary for us, we need the road and transport, the canal and irrigation and the schools, but if I really have to choose, I think the best thing is the road and transport.
Section 11
Which is the happiest day of your life until now?
Happiness is not only for oneself, by being rich and having a good life and poor people begging you for support. I am happy but I would be more happy when the whole community is developed, self-sustained, educated and healthy.

So you are happy if the community is developed?
Yes, that's right, because if everybody is happy then we don't have to see the suffering of the poor. If I can do something for the community then the people will be grateful to me and will always remember me. Like, it was Krishna Bhakta who was the first one to talk about the road, though he didn't work at all to construct the road, his name is at the top whenever we talk about the road, because, it was he who initiated the idea and called everybody to help to build the road.

You were once a politician and a social worker as well, so in your thinking what is the development?
I think when you have the road and transport, a good supply of drinking water, good canal and irrigation then you can have the vegetable gardens as well and harvest twice a year, then all the villagers have enough to live on. So if all the people of the community are self-sufficient and live a happy and comfortable life I think that is development.

Would you like to say anything about the ActionAid?
ActionAid has helped us a lot for our development, it has provided us a good supply of drinking water, the schools and other necessary things. And we hope that in the future also we demand for some more help that it will help us by researching our needs.

What would you demand?
The things we can demand are like, scholarship for poor students. There are people in this area, who wants the ActionAid to help them do their chores. We have been talking about making a road from Dhakalthok. Nowadays a buffalo costs Rs. 20,000-25000, so if a buffalo falls in the ravine while following the trail then the poor will be at loss, so we've decided to get help from the ActionAid to build the road. But these people do not understand they want ActionAid to make the road for them, if they could, they would ask ActionAid to shift their goats!