The So-Called First Batch Tag

– Indira Fuyal

Reminiscing about the day I went to Kathmandu University in August 2014 just to dig into the details about the new program Business Information System and ending up with the enrolment at the end of the day, now feels like a “roller coaster ride” to me. That day I gave up all my academic plans which I had heaved for the past two years and made a decision to spend my four valuable years in studying the things which I never imagined I would opt for. I attempted and strived to get into the medical education field through scholarship for those two years which indeed resulted out to be an unattainable part of life for me. I just went on and on with the rhythm of try and try until you die track without realizing my valuable time and effort. So it was almost time for my track to break the ice; which happened unexpectedly and changed its way the day I visited Kathmandu University.

The vivid flashback of what, who and how I got motivated to study the program is brain-intriguing. Honestly speaking of the motivation factor, the semester wise course offering was the major one. But then again my mother was not fully supportive on my decision to join this program because she wanted me to study medicine which I had always dreamt for or at least an engineering course. Yet, I was able to convince her with the fact that whatever course I study I can do better in that field. Also, the head of the department and other faculties explained clearly to her about the benefits and future prospect of the course. I might have been tempted to go to Kathmandu or elsewhere for my undergraduate studies. But I saw that studying in a university close to my home had greater rewards. First, I was at the central campus, along with more than 3500 students from the programs of engineering and science, which was a huge community for befriending networking. Second, I could save a lot of time for my studies and other natural activities.

Resting under an umbrella of the Humanities and Management Unit (HMU), which in those days was under School of Engineering, this program Bachelor in Business Information System appeared alien to Kathmandu University ‘Central Campus’ because it was the first management program being taught there. All the other management programs were taught at the Kathmandu University School of Management. There began the so-called BBIS first-batch tag which made our class proud as well as isolated sometimes. We often went through the hardships of letting other departments know about our existence followed by the dilemma of the academic calendar. As per KUSOM calendar, our internal and end-semester exams were completed one month before engineering and science programs. This revealed the true genesis of a management program. However, our classes were resumed earlier when all the other departments were on a semester break. It was one of the most unacceptable in the eyes of youngsters like us because, perhaps vainly, we wished for a homogeneous calendar and identical treatment.

When I recall the days about my department and its activities, a blended feeling of happiness and frustration flow together. Some days, especially during the first year, we were frustrated about being excluded in the central campus activities and some other days were about the dissatisfaction of imbalance between course curriculum and lack of teaching resources. Despite the dissatisfaction coming and going, we enjoyed the combination study of management, information systems and information technology along with the study of social science and humanities. This perfect blend worked out to provide us a broader and better insight of the world, society, business, information technology and life as well. At the end of the day, those clashes and set offs drove great to shape up the unity among students and faculty members. Most of us were not financially much unprepared to start with, but the University provided us fair amount of financial aid as one of the key motivators in our studies. I received 50% exemption in my tuition fees, and worked hard to retain the facility throughout four years.  This also gave me an opportunity to provide practical managerial service (in return to the aid) to the University.

BBIS was a happy family, always ready to face challenges and imprint a bookmark for the upcoming batch. We understood that HMU had its own share of challenges making us feel comfortable at a time we carried the mixed feeling of alienation from the School and exclusion from the activities of central campus. We grew up empathizing and adjusting, making sense of the annals of limitations borne by all past and contemporary first batches in the University. I am glad to note that HMU, which had taken up this arduous assignment to launch BBIS in KU central campus by welcoming us, evolved into the Department of Management Informatics and Communication and got administratively relocated to School of Management. This happened with BBIS program as the key propelling factor. The batches following us have got a more consolidated, expanded and motivated guardian department functional under the parent School.

Talking about the current status of the BBIS program, it has grown to four batches after us. This triggers an extraordinary feeling to my heart making me realize the true meaning of adversities and blisses experienced during the formative days of our program. How BBIS marked a history in KU central campus? An exact answer to this question is difficult to assess but it is overwhelming to know that the awareness level about the program and its existence among the people around has increased since we graduated. People seem to be mindful of the importance of interdisciplinary courses like BBIS in university education system. In the initial days, for being run in the morning hours, BBIS was almost immune from the disturbances of the campus. Our calendar ran perfectly well while our counterparts at dayshifts were continually delayed by more than a month to start and end the semesters. It makes me slightly uneasy now the succeeding batches are facing occasional disturbances on campus.

A year ago the department invited me to speak in an orientation program to the new batch regarding my experiences about this program and its future prospects in the professional world. Decently, I was thrilled to share with them my experiences, those ups and downs and how this program led me to professionalism.

Ultimately, I want to remember the dedication, belief and everlasting assistance our professors as well as visiting faculties had upon the first batch. Even though many of us were confused and worried about our unclear future after graduation, they supported us in every hurdle and took this program to the next level. Bravo! Our batch is doing great after graduation. Some of us are working in financial sector, IT companies, banks, semi-government companies while some of us are pursuing post graduate studies here in Nepal as well as abroad. I feel honoured to wear the “so-called first batch” tag on my life which redirects me to a huge collection of memoirs and knowledge within me.

[Ms. Fuyal is an alumna from the first cohort of BBIS program at Kathmandu University]

Know Thy Mentor

A Conversation with Prof. Bivek Baral

– Anusha Gyawali, Shephalika Dhakal and Saugat Bastola


How was your journey as a student?

I was an above-average student during my school. I was more interested in developing my general knowledge than deeply burying myself in the textbooks only. Apart from interest in science, I had interest in paleoanthropology, anthropology, history, and culture.  I enjoyed my primary and secondary school days with a number of achievements in academics, quiz contests, debate competitions, and sports. Happy schooldays also had some exceptions of nasty incidents, with one of the notorious teachers of mathematics whose severe corporal punishment led me to lose my interest in the subject. It took very long to regain my interest in that very important subject. This incident made me realize that if a teacher is not good enough, a student goes through what I had experienced.  After I overcame the mental trauma, I was a fine student again.

Is there something you wish you knew when you started college?

When I started studying at KU, I was almost halfway to my Bachelor of Commerce degree. Soon after I completed my ISC, there were no other options to study engineering except in Pulchowk Campus, which had B.E. program in civil engineering only. Another option was to go to India to study other streams in engineering. But I was in a great dilemma whether to go there or not. Before deciding about joining KU or even knowing about the engineering program offered by KU, I was studying BCom in Biratnagar with the advice of my friends, to ultimately become a chartered accountant. I didn’t know about KU. The condition at that time was not as today. Newspaper was the only way to know about admissions notice. The first batch had already been enrolled when I came to know about KU and I decided to continue BCom.  However, somehow, I knew that I was not born to be a CA as my deep interest was to pursue my career in engineering or architecture. Basically, since I was a late starter at KU, I had enough consideration about my future career, studying at KU was a well-thought thing.

Do you consider any of your teachers as your mentor? Could you share one memorable experience with that person?

I consider my mother with my father in the background as my mentor. She gave me various books — widely available and inexpensive Russian translated books on literature, astronomy, and anthropology. Generally, mothers are the first mentors for everyone. However, whatever character I have and whatever knowledge I have today on various subjects is due to her persuasion to read.

Among many, one whom I consider my school-time mentor, was Jibanath Dhamala. It was he who nurtured my interest in general knowledge and trained me to become a quiz master of Biratnagar. I remember an incident in class 6 when he guided our team to compete in a quiz contest with various schools and clubs of the Eastern Region. We were the winner despite being the youngest lads. I saw in his eyes the sparkle of happiness and satisfaction. He was happier than all of us in the team. In building my overall personality, he provided me with the first stepping-stone.

What/Who inspired you to become a better version of yourself? In what ways has he or she helped you?

Even after my undergraduate studies, I was a passive person, without a strong ambition for my future career and studies. We had a teacher duo of Chemistry in KU at that time, Durga P Acharya and Rupak Aryal. Durga sir was my teacher during my first year and Rupak was a senior. Both of them had a very strong urge for academic enhancement. They would constantly remind me to aim high and try for further studies. At that time my horizon or wish to study was limited to getting admitted to a good engineering institute in India. They however constantly motivated me to look beyond and persuaded me to apply to the University of Tokyo, which was among world’s top 10 universities. Rupak provided me with all the academic materials to write a competitive proposal for the application. I worked hard and was successful in obtaining the prestigious Monbukagakusho scholarship to study at the University of Tokyo. I think this to be the biggest turning point in my life. I started believing in myself and started believing that hard work is the only key to success. Had I not had the duo’s motivation, I wouldn’t have been where I am now.

Could you tell us about any incident that led you to choose a specific direction in life? Were there any mentors involved in the decision-making process?

I would like to again mention the duo for creating such an important transition in my life. I was an engineering student of the second batch of a newly established university. The university, with all sorts of limitations in engineering education, tried to provide us with the knowledge that it could. I did not have enough confidence to compete with the graduates of other countries. I used to think that the world had gone much higher in the field. But the duo always encouraged me to dream higher and go for it. “It would be great if you go to some technologically advanced country, learn and serve your nation with the learnings after you return.” I still remember these words which actually forged a turning phase in my life.

A teacher, a professor, PhD Supervisor or whatever I am today, I do consider myself being a blueprint of Professor Robert Raine, who was my Guru in New Zealand. By seeing him, I came to realize what an ideal teacher is like. I tend to motivate my students the way he motivated me and also nurture the strengths the way he did mine. It is obvious that a student may not perform well every time. Even in such situations, he never lost his patience. He used to consider every work of mine as our work. His behavior directed me to make my personality even stronger.

What is the role/impact of the first few batches in the growth and establishment of academic programs in a university? What is your observation about Mechanical Engineering in particular, and other engineering programs in general?

In KU there was a trend to hire young faculties amongst its own graduates. There were and are many faculties who studied undergraduate in KU. All of them contributed their heart and sweat to uplift the quality of education in KU, expand physical infrastructure and introduce new undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Mechanical Engineering faculties including myself, Sunil Lohani, Biraj Singh Thapa were from the pioneer batches. We, along with other faculties who joined in later years, have been continuously associated with the department since graduation and working our best to provide quality education in mechanical engineering. There are similar examples in other departments as well. However, the instance of contribution of mechanical engineering graduates of KU is highly significant.

In those years the students used to sense some paucity, the paucity of infrastructures in KU in comparison to those of Pulchowk Campus. Though there was not a huge difference in time of establishment of the mechanical labs in these two organizations, the lab at Pulchowk was much more advanced. To make up for the shortage, the way the alumni contributed was very appreciable.

What first got you into the teaching profession? Did your passion for teaching change over time?

During my final year of undergraduate studies, I started thinking about my career and prospective direction. My teachers, Bhola Thapa and Brijesh Adhikari, suggested that I think about my career in academia and motivated me to apply to KU after my graduation. Teaching, which needed constant learning, was my passion. It was my passion then and my passion has not changed at all over time. It has rather got stronger. My passion always makes me work hard when I teach or supervise and I am always motivated to motivate the prospective engineers.

Do you try to connect with every student you teach? How do you assess the students that require the most attention?

I do try to connect with every student in many possible ways; that is by knowing them with their names, their academic performances, their strengths and weaknesses. I refer to their past academic records and accounts from their previous lecturers. This enables me to adopt certain methods in teaching and mentoring which makes them perform better. I try to personally connect to each individual possibly. I provide them with my contact information, so that they can connect with me when they need my guidance. Without making them feel that I am giving them more attention because of their weakness, I try to approach them.

How much do you value relationships with your students and what part of it do you value the most?

I greatly value the relationship with the students. Afterall we are under the same professional fraternity. The only difference will be that of the number of years of experience. I feel that there are always human values in any relationship. It is also true about teachers and students. In my relationship with the students I emphasize mutual trust, respect, affection, care, guidance and gratitude.

What is the best part of mentoring?

Mentorship is needed basically for your own better version. Good mentorship is that if you are good at something, you will be better at that. Seeing any individual I mentored, at a level uplifting and being capable on their own, provides me an immense satisfaction. Once, a student used to score rather low grades. I tried and was able to motivate him enough. Surprisingly, he secured very good marks in my subject and later did great in other subjects as well. When the mentorship you provide reflects through the increased capability of the mentee, it is the best part of mentoring.

Do you have a favorite success story for one of your students?

There are a lot of them, actually. I had a student who now runs manufacturing industry. His company has been recently involved in the construction of hydro mechanical system of hydropower projects of 5- 20 MW capacity. There are more than a few of these examples.

But the most memorable one was a student who went to the US for higher studies. After his graduation he applied for a job there and then gave me a call after he got it. He thanked me because, apparently, the things he was asked in the job interview was mostly what he had learnt in the bachelor’s level. He said he just recalled it from when I taught him and answered those questions.  It felt like a precious reward for my work when a student I had taught 5-6 years ago remembered me and my lecture which was very useful to him to secure the job.

As a hostel warden, you might have had opportunities to connect with students in a much deeper level. Can you share with us any mentorship roles you performed while you were the warden of the KU boys’ hostel?

I was actually not a good mentor as a warden. The reason might be that I myself was very young at the time. The hostellers were young, too. In those days, being a good hostel warden was all about being strict. I didn’t have much experience either. I wasn’t really aware of the whole concept of mentorship. I did fulfill my responsibilities, but in hindsight, I could have done so much better.

I think I need to admit that I did the job just for the sake of doing it. I couldn’t do any noteworthy work in terms of mentorship. But I didn’t know any better.

“University now and then”: will you comment on this based on your perception, struggles, and experiences?

Our university has definitely grown in terms of infrastructure, number of students and programs There’s no doubt about it. But I feel that much of the growth is only in the “hardware” part. The “software” part of the university is still the same old version. The attitude towards academics hasn’t improved in a way it should. It might sound harsh but it is the truth.

In 2004, there was a university in Bhutan that had just started running an engineering program. In 2013, they came to KU to learn the experience of KU in engineering education. They wanted to know how we grew over the years. Recently, in February, I went to the same university and taught there for about a month. I can say from what I saw that they have been doing better by their commitment and focus on technical education. The quality of delivery in KU hasn’t changed as much as it should have considering the amount of resources available at present. We still have a lot of room for improvement.

How are you different from or similar to your mentors?

When I was doing my masters in Japan, I had the opportunity of working with a mentor. But I didn’t really adopt much of that mentorship experience in my methods because mentorship there is still authoritative. It was mostly about following instructions and there was hardly any practice of arguing with anything the mentor said.

In New Zealand, however, it was completely different. My mentor was a graduate of one of the most prestigious universities of England, and it totally reflected on his mentorship approach. He always motivated me and taught me to highlight my strengths. He asked me to believe in myself. Whenever I said something based on some other references, he always nudged me to develop my own opinion on the matter. And when I showed some reluctance, he constantly reminded me to believe in myself. He gave me confidence and my method of mentoring at present is mostly based on that experience.

Do you have something you wish you had done differently?

Not really. I am satisfied with everything I did. Everything has come to me at the right time. I don’t really have much regret about what I did or didn’t do. I am happy with everything that happened and where it has led me to.

In your point of view, what might be the attributes to become a mentor?

Speaking from my experience, the connection between mentor and mentee should be the key attribute. The mentor has to be a professional, but he or she also should be able to maintain a human connection with the mentee.

This should be better in the context of Nepal because our culture itself considers that human factor. For an ideal mentorship, the connection is the key part. There is a saying that ‘Ph.D. is like a marriage’.

Apart from this, a mentor should be able to highlight the mentee’s strengths. Rather than just criticizing the mistakes and failures, a mentor should focus on a motivating environment.

So, yes, the key attributes for me as a mentor would be the ability to maintain a good connection with the mentee, highlight his strengths, and motivate them.

How does the work environment affect mentorship?

The work environment has major effects on the whole mentorship process. If I were in a better environment, I feel that I would have been more creative in the way I mentor my students. The connection is simple. If I am motivated, I will be able to motivate others better.

As a good mentor, the pressure and limitations I have must not reflect on my behavior towards the student. There is that part as well. But the work environment, definitely, shapes the mentorship ability.

Currently, I am in a position where I also have to, in a way, advocate the management’s roles and responsibilities in making a better work environment to the leaders of this University. I do this as the member of the University Senate. Once the working environment becomes better, it will resonate to the lowest level. I will be better able to motivate my students and they will also benefit directly.

Mentors don’t have to be necessarily a best friend, parent, or coach. What is your point of view in the statement? Can anyone be a mentor?

As I have already said before, I see my mother as a mentor. She laid the foundation of my interest in various subjects. But not only friends or teachers, anyone can be your mentor.

Rupak Aryal, the one I mentioned before as well, was a chemistry teacher. I was a mechanical engineering student. So, there was no link in our career path. Yet during our commute to university, we found a way to speak and connect with each other. He had a positive mindset. As he was senior to me, he used to share his experiences regarding his career. The things he said have influenced me and the path I choose in many different ways.

So, yes, your mentors need not necessarily be a parent or a teacher or a friend.

Mentors, or authority holders in general, are sometimes misunderstood by the students. Do you agree with this? Are there any incidences that come to your mind when you try to comply with this statement?

Yes, I do have experience regarding this. I recall a particular incident during my tenure at SWC. As you are familiar, there is a lot of student politics in the SWC. A student from environmental science was a bit of a hardliner. He mistook the suggestions I gave him and even threatened me. I was also a bit dissatisfied, but I didn’t lose my composure. I simply told him that he would not understand the things I am saying but, in the future, once he gains the experience, he will subscribe to what I was talking about then. Not so long ago, I met him in a forum and he was apologetic about that incident.

I don’t have these kinds of experiences with students of mechanical engineering because they are like junior colleagues and friends to me. As a teacher, there will be some disagreements. Sometimes, I might be hard on them, some other times a student might argue with me. These are part of the learning and mentorship process. I normally don’t even remember these arguments let alone hold a grudge against any students.





COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Impact on Working Women

– Dr. Rajani Shakya

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused catastrophe all over the world. It has flipped over lives of several millions of people. It has badly affected economies, and brought our hectic daily lives to a standstill. COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health issue but an unanticipated shock to our societies. Although we are yet to experience its full impact and aftermath, this worldwide threat has already created large uncertainties among all of us.

The Government of Nepal imposed strict lockdown on March 24. Before this pandemic, we were all pretty much occupied in our regular academic activities and many more. But for the last several months, we have been staying at home around the clock with families. It’s a life time experience which none of us have ever made. With the fast-paced life we had hardly got enough time previously to spend with our families. This period has given us the deprived family time generously and brought family members closer.

Practice of working from home has advanced during the pandemic. This is a good practice, especially for women who find difficulty getting out of home for work due to various family obligations. One can get improved work-life balance and can take proper care of kids. This shift to working from home gives women much flexibility to their work. Continuing such practice in universities is not appropriate every time but wherever possible depending upon nature of work, if it could be practiced, it could make life much easier for women staffs. And if you work sincerely, come out with desired results, then it doesn’t matter whether you work from office or home.

This lockdown in an overnight has made every working woman a full-time mother, cook, cleaner, caregiver and many more as family demands. House-helps are also unavailable during this time due to travel restrictions. It has now been more than six months but we, working women, are still struggling to establish a balance in the shared responsibilities. We are heavily juggling professional duties and domestic tasks. Earlier, we used to reach home at around 6:00 pm from office, then we entered the kitchen for the next job awaiting us. We could focus and plan very clearly what to do next at each of these workstations. Suddenly the boundaries that demarcate workplace from home are lost. In these days we are multitasking; we are in the kitchen and also in a meeting; sometimes helping kids with their homework and also checking students’ assignments at the same time. Home schooling has been added to our daily chores list at home. There is no leisure time to think and plan what to do next.

Indubitably, making balance between family responsibility and professional responsibility is very essential. Most of us may be lucky enough to get family support so that continuing work from home is possible. Still there are interruptions now and then, especially if you have small kids at home, and it may be hard getting the same result as being physically present there at the workplace. As it sounds easy, it is not simple to be a work-from-home mom. Though work-from-home concept gives women flexibility of the timing of work but many of us may find it even harder. In our male-dominated society, taking care of kids, other family members and home is considered a responsibility primarily of women. Over here many of us still live in larger joint families, so we also do have responsibility to take care of elderly family members. All these impose additional obligations on women, even when both women and their spouses are working from home during the lockdown. We can find many women who have reduced their duty hours or even left their jobs simply because they have to accomplish all their household chores, and look after their children. We could still find a deep rooted patriarchy in our society.

Even in modern families there are gender disparity to some extent. From the very beginning women are considered as a  homemakers and mothers and men as primary wage earners.  This mentality hasn’t changed much even today. We still find lack of support system for women. In many occasions their occupancy in domestic tasks may conflict with career demands which lead to women delaying their up-gradation in higher positions. We can find increasing number of working women now a days. But advancement of women in higher authority positions or decision making position has not kept pace with this rise in number. In our workplace most of us are competing with men who have to do far less at home. It’s not that there are exceptions, but in majority of households, it’s the women who find difficulty managing time for their professional growth. In academia also a dip in productivity of women has been reported across the globe. In this pandemic it’s reported that the number of publications from male authors is growing faster than the number of female authors. So, it’s the problem not only of this country. It seems that globally women are lagging behind to some extent during this period.

Having said this we also can seem lots of female health care professionals; doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other doing outstanding work during this difficulty time as a frontline responders. They have left their family back at home, stayed whole day and night at hospitals for caring sick patients. Their sacrifices are extremely appreciable and remarkable. In the amidst of the coronavirus pandemic we have seen that nations led by women have been more successful at containing this disease.

There are lots of obstacles in the way up for women in our society. Getting higher education, coming out of home for career, achieving success one has dreamt is still not so easy for women in our region. But one she gets an opportunity she can show that she is no less than the male counterpart. Being incredibly resilient and task-focused a woman can make significant impact and lead to success of any institution or even a country.

[Dr. Shakya is Associate Professor and Head at the Department of Pharmacy]



Career Counseling Begins at Home

    – Sabin Bikram Pant


Education begins at home, a common phrase that we have been hearing since our childhood. But now the time has come to modify this phrase, Career Counseling also begins at home.

In one of the surveys carried out in USA recently, a question was asked “What are their greatest regrets in life. Good number of people responded as “I wish I would’ve followed my dreams when I was in my late teens and deciding what I wanted to take in University. Had I made the decision to believe in myself — my talents, my passions, and my dreams; my life would be very different today”. The moral of the story is; career counseling is the very important part of a child’s life and it needs to begin at home.

So now the problem is – how do we ensure that our child is on right path in terms of their career? In other words, do their area of interest really represent their attitude, value, and behavior? For example, one of the issues that we regularly face when a student comes to us and asks, should I take marketing or finance as a major in my BBA/MBA?  Our child may ask the same question to us. They may also ask us should I take Science or Commerce after completing +2 exams. What will be our answer? The answer that we will give may shape their future right or wrong – their future is at stake. So how do we respond to them? We have a tendency that we take these questions very lightly and answer casually. This is the first mistake we make.

The fact is child’s career decision, or lack thereof, can impact not only the child but the parents as well. While peers largely influence our children on matters such as music or dress, research indicates that overall, parents are still the most significant influencing factor when it comes to a child’s career decision. It’s important to have career discussions with our children. Followings are few tips which may help us to understand the interest and behavior of our child.

Try to understand the behavior, value and interest of your children.

Let me explain with an example. When students come to me and ask should I take marketing as a major or finance, I respond with a set of questions; who are you? Do you like to interact with people? Do you feel awkward while taking to group of friends and families during a classroom or social gathering? Do you like to play with the numbers? Which section of news paper do you like most? Is it money or economic sections or general section? How often you participated in extra / co circular activates? Do you like to work in a team or alone? The reasons for asking these questions are very simple. Because based on their response, we can fairly make an educated guess about the personality of a person. If they feel awkward while taking group of people, they may be not good at marketing. This is just an example and may not necessarily be true all the time. But what really matters is to observe our child’s changing behavior, value and interest over the period of time.

It is extremely important to note that, our child’s interest and behavior changes over the period time. During the school days, they may be very shy person but now they may be comfortable talking to people. Similarly, it is common to see that they have different career goal in different phase of their life. For example, during their teens, they may want to be a doctor or an engineer but now at 16, they may want to be an entrepreneur. By the time they reach 20, they have completely different career goal. Do not discourage them from dreaming of what they want to be in the future. Let them explore, in fact encourage them to explore so that they themselves figure out what they actually want. However, make sure to help them in the process and don’t just sit out on the other side of the fence. Most importantly, when you help them in the process, make sure to have complete understanding of your child’s changing behavior, value and interest.

Try to be open minded

There is a chance that you may have always wanted your child to own your own business or may have beliefs that since I am lawyer my son/ daughter also needs to be a lawyer.  Understand that values (i.e., what an individual determines to be important) are critical determinants of career satisfaction and career longevity. We need to help our children explore what is important to him or her, and changes in the values. Importantly we need to be prepared for the possibility of a conflict of values between us and our child. A difference in values can be a learning experience for both parents and the child. As tough as it sometimes is, we need to try to be open minded and listen rather than judge. Research shows that most of the time children listen very seriously to an open minded parents rather than imposing parents.

Do not compare

The number one mistake parents do is to compare between our child, his or her siblings and friends and even yourself. The statement “when I was your age…” will likely undermine your child’s feelings and experiences. I have seen lots of students who get frustrated due to this very reason. Making comparisons doesn’t help our child to understand his or her experiences nor does it necessarily provide him/her with an opportunity to learn more about themselves or possible career options. It can be great for us to share your experiences with our child, but let him/her develop and learn from their own experiences too.

Stay updated

How updated are we in terms of job market? Do we know what the trend is in job market? When we teach students, we want to make sure that whatever concept and practices that we are teaching must be relevant for at least coming five to ten years. We are trying to prepare our students for future based on past trends. Therefore, if we are well into our own career or haven’t experienced a recent career shift, we may not have noticed some of the trends affecting our child’s career development. It’s important that our child make career decisions based on current and future trends, and not the past trends.

Encourage them to participate in the Extra Curricular Activities and Volunteer Work

Job market and doing business is not easy toady as it used to be. In the past we had only few options available and it was not as highly competitive as it is today. Therefore, getting university degree, is of course a necessary condition but not sufficient condition. My experience as a Coordinator of Placement Cell in Kathmandu University School of Management and experience from my corporate experience, companies give high value for those who have good attitude and other soft skills. Hence, apart from good university degree, companies are looking at people who possess good soft. Soft skills refer to personalities, attributes, qualities and personal behavior of individuals. Good university degree may help our child to bring them at interview table but to get selected from interview; they must have some soft skills. Schools and university teach lots of concepts and theories to our child but there are few things that our child needs to learn apart from course books. These are known as soft skills. Some soft skills can be learnt from the regular studies in the classrooms, but there are, definitely many things they need to learn from outside their classrooms. Allowing our child to participate in the extra circular activates and volunteer works will help them to increase their skills of working in a team, ability to work under pressure, increase communication skills, problem-solving skills and most importantly it raises their self esteem, Many times, our child feel that they are worthless or there is nothing that they are good at. Involvement in extra circular activities will help them discover themselves and eventually it will help to increase their positive attitude. These skills will not only make them stand out of the crowd but also help them while they choose their career

Finally: Listen, Listen and Listen 

We must recognize that fact that each person is unique, so it stands to reason that our child’s career development will similarly be unique. As a parent, we always have the best of intentions when it comes to our child and his or her career decisions. It’s important to recognize that our child may have their own definitions of success and happiness. Therefore, my suggestion is; be an active listener. The listening process involves five stages: receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering, and responding. We have a tendency to take things easily when it comes to our child’s opinion because they are our child and we always think that we know better than them. Therefore, most of the time, we directly jump to the last part i.e. responding without understanding and evaluating, I have a experience that students frequently visits to me say that their parents do not listen to them and it is frustrating. Therefore, we must listen and listen very actively even though we know that you may have some reservations on his/her opinion. Active listening gives very positive signals to our child and it will be easy for you to explain him/her about the pros and cons of his/her opinion. If we are active listener, the good thing is, most of the time, our child also listen to us.

Career decision making is a dynamic process; it is subjected to chance and isn’t only about making one choice. As a parent and as a teacher, we are well positioned to be one of the strongest allies and one of the greatest career decision making supports in our child’s / student’s life. Therefore, as a parent and a teacher, let us be a very active listener at the same time, be curious, be understanding, and most of all, be patient.

Meditation on Aging

– Narayan Niroula

The term aging imprints the wrinkled face of humans in my mind. They could be parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers or anybody. Human understanding has it that only elderly people can be aging; therefore, an impression of older ones comes into mind. Does aging denote getting weaker nearing death or culminating experience of life ? A harsh reality is that aging comes along with birth. To mean aging, we need to understand the entire course of life; either your life or someone else(Moody, 2006).

The book Evolutionary Biology of Aging  offers aging definition as continuous decline of fitness due to internal physiological deterioration(Ross, 1994). Physical shrink and loss of life is inevitable. Palpability of life degrades as a person grows older. What about the other side of the story ? If humans take aging as distancing from last year’s age to future age, they create a aloofness. The more distancing, the more the gap widens. Is the gap a difference in behavior and values? If so, “we have to deal with paradoxes such as absence of gap in major values but presence of gap in minor values”(Troll, 1972, p.348).

Aging is subjective terminology in social science and objective term for biological science. Biologically speaking, aging can best be understood as detuning during the first part of adulthood due to gradual decline of internal forces of natural selection and when such declines stop, aging ultimately ceases(Rose et al., 2012). Stopping aging denotes end of life. Socially speaking,

there is thus no scientific justification for assuming that each and every type of physiological deterioration that has been associated with aging must continue without remit throughout late adult life.This realization leads to another fundamental change in our thinking about “the process of aging”: it is not actually     a physiological process, in and of itself(Rose et al., 2012, p.1).

Chalise(2019) wrote “aging is classified as biological aging, psychological aging, social aging, chronological aging and functional aging”(p.8).  Generational consciousness has become more advanced than before to describe aging. Aging has been considered to evaluate by more physiological and biological evidence. It becomes important to look into aging from a more sociopsycho perspective. Aging is a psychological phenomena when “I” plays an important role to trick you as an older or a younger person.

Getting older is aging as society understands it. Aging has been understood this way because that is the observation of the society. From behavior and value’s point of view, the older generation can not do much further. Aging creates a divide between older and newer generations. I do not perceive it as an issue as the term is coined to explain the difference between demography, workplace culture, and attitude, usage of language and technical knowledge and skill.

To me, change in consciousness is aging, regardless of the age. A child can transition to adulthood by a higher level of consciousness. It is the consciousness that brings aging early or later. As a matter of fact, aging is an element of the system we are already corporated in.“In sum , the trend in birth rate, death rate and the flow of cohorts all contribute to population aging, what makes matters complicated is that all three trend can happen simultaneously”(Moody, Prologue xxiii).

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”(Henry Ford’s Quote). Hormonal change sourcing from  knowledgeable activities keeps one mentally fit. You need to be childlike to learn more from your surroundings.(Osho discourse, Child’s sensory organs are open without social clothes of hypocrisy. It is upto the person who wants to stay older or younger. Aging is a relative understanding of psychic structure in association with the universe. I would like to bring eagle rebirth story here by AECT president to his employee:

The eagle has the longest life span among birds. In its 40s, the eagle’s long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey and their long and sharp beaks become bent. Their old-aged and heavy wings (due to thick feathers) become stuck to their chest making it difficult to fly. At this point, eagles are left with two options: die or go through a painful process of change that lasts 150 days. The change process requires that the eagle fly to a mountain top, build a nest, and proceed to knock its beak against a rock until it is gone. The eagle uses the rocks to destroy their useless talons and then waits for them to grow back. Emaciated now, when the talons have grown back, the eagle starts plucking the matted feathers from its chest and wings. THEN, after five long months, the eagle takes flight in a rebirth and lives for 30 more years!(Persichetti, 2016).

Imagine, if the eagle admits the end of life in 40 years and does nothing. Psychological aging appears to be more important than physiological one  in Eagles’ case. Empirical life of humans provides a deeper understanding  of aging. Does the experience of life not bring many other things together with it?

Closing eyes please remember your childhood, open your eyes and look in the mirror. Is that you who were born so and so years ago? Activity Theory of aging believes that aged citizens become more happier in social interaction and successful aging takes place(Havighurst,1961). Aging is the entire course of life to recollect into a short package. It helps to comprehend the phenomena in life. Aging is a feeling in tranquility. Human recollects his/her past about the long course of life and smiles at herself/himself if success has been obtained, disappointing otherwise.

Experience from aging people can be better spoken in front of people than in writing. It takes gestures and body language to share with. Younger generation learns by aged ones. Aging makes a history the younger better learn from. It is the aging that constitutes lifetime consequences ; the matter of successful aging or unsuccessful is upto the social activity of the person. Aging collects  randomly existing events of life. Humans may not care about the existence of randomness(Taleb, 2005). Finally, aging is acceptance of existence.


  • Chalise, Hom Nath. (2019). Aging: Basic Concept. American Journal of Biomedical Science & Research. 1. 10.34297/AJBSR.2019.01.000503.
  • Havighurst RJ (1961) Successful aging. Gerontologist.
  • Moody, H. R. (2006). Aging: Concepts and controversies. Pine Forge Press.
  • Persichitte, K.A. Rebirth. TechTrends 60, 304 (2016).
  • Rose, M., Flatt, T., Graves Jr, J. L., Greer, L. F., Martinez, D. E., Matos, M., … & Shahrestani, P. (2012). What is aging?. Frontiers in genetics, 3, 134.
  • Rose, M. R. (1994). Evolutionary biology of aging. Oxford University Press on Demand.
  • Taleb, N. (2005). Fooled by randomness: The hidden role of chance in life and in the markets (Vol. 1). Random House Incorporated.
  • Troll, L. E. (1972). Is parent-child conflict what we mean by the generation gap. The Family Coordinator, 21(3), 347-349.

जीवनको विश्वविद्यालयकी कर्मठ अम्बिका थापा

– दामोदर घिमिरे

कुनै जमाना यस्तो थियो जागीर भन्ने वित्तिकै सरकारी अनि धनि हुनको लागि धानको भकारीको अतिरिक्त जग्गा जमिन र गोठभरी गाइवस्तु हुनु पर्दथ्यो । हाम्रो सामाजिक परिवेश अनि जीन्दगीका भोगाईहरु प्रत्येक मानव, जात धर्म र भौगोलिक वनावट तथा रीतिरिवाज अनुसार फरक हुनु स्वभाविकै हो । परम्परागत सोच विचार र प्रविधीको बदलामा आधुनिक शिप, ज्ञान र उत्पादनले स्थान लिएको तपाई हामी सवैले देख्दै अनि भोग्दै आइरहेका छौं । विश्व भुमण्डलीकरण भनौ वा समयको परिवर्तनले अहिलेको समयमा धनि हुन अन्नपात गाईगोरु वा खेतीपाती होइन की कुन विषय वा क्षेत्रमा दक्षता हासिल गरेको अनि के के काम गर्न आउ‘छ ? भनेर मापन गर्न थालिएको छ ।
हाम्रो समाजमा कोहि साधारण औषधोपचार, शिक्षा र रोजगार नपाईरहेका छन भने नेताहरु विदेशको महंगो उपचार तथा उत्पादन र शिक्षाको नाममा अरवौं खर्च गरिरहेका छन । एकै घरका ५÷७ जना छोराछोरी मध्ये कोहि पढ्नमा तीक्ष्ण हुन्छन त कोहि वाद्यवादन र व्यवसायमा अव्बल ठहरिन्छन भने कत्तिले अबसर पाएर पनि त्यसको उचित उपयोग गर्दैनन भने केहिले सानो अवसरमा पनि ठुलो उपलव्धि हासिल गरिरहेका हुन्छन । यस लेखमा काभे्रको धुलिखेलमा जन्मिएर आफ्नो क्षमताले भ्याएसम्मको संघर्ष गर्देै आफु, आफ्नो परिवार र समाजको विकासमा कर्मको माध्यमवाट उदाहरणीय बन्न सफल अम्विका थापाका वारेमा केहि जानकारी दिन लागिएको छ।

वि.स.२०३६ श्रावण २९ गते पिता हरिशरण र माता शकुन्तला थापाका २ छोरी र २ छोरामध्य जेठी छोरीको रुपमा काभे्र जिल्लाको धुलिखेल ७ मा जन्मनु भएकी अम्विका थापाको राशिचाही चाही वृष रहेछ । २०४२ सालमा घरनजिकैको श्रीखण्डपुर मा.वि., कक्षा १ मा भर्ना भएर शिक्षारम्म गर्नुभएकी थापाले सोहि स्कुलवाट २०५३ सालमा एस एल सी उतीर्ण गरेको पाइयो।

हिङ्ग नभएपनि हिङ्ग वाधेको टालो भनिएजस्तै राष्ट्रिय स्तरको नेता नभएपनि स्थानीय समाजसेवीको रुपमा परिचित वुवाको नाम र आमाको कठिन परिश्रमका कारण अम्विकाको वाल्यजीवन सुखमय वितेको रहेछ । एस एल सी परिक्षा दिएसंगै सिलाईवुनाई र वुट्टाभर्ने शिप सिकेर र गाँउघरका आमा,दिदी बहिनि हरुलाई प्रौढ शिक्षा समेत पढाएकी र गाँउघरका दिदी बहिनीहरुलाई अफ्ठ्यारो पर्दा उचित रायसल्लाह दिएर सहयोग पुराउदै भविष्यको रेखाकोर्ने जमर्को गर्नुभएकी अम्विकाले २०५६ साल भाद्रवाट काठमाडौं विश्वविद्यालयको केन्द्रीय कार्यालय, टेफिोन अपे्रटरको रुपमा काम शुरु भएछ।

वि.स.२०६३ बैशाख २९ गते भक्तपुरको पलासे निवासी जनक खड्कासंग मागि विवाह भएकी थापाले घर र अफिसको कामका अतिरिक्त काभे्र वहुमुखी क्याम्पस बनेपावाट २०६५ सालमा वि.कम उतीर्ण गर्न सफल हुनुभएछ ।
तनमन वचन र कर्मले तोकिएका जिम्वेवारी पुरा गरेकै कारण सेवारम्भ गरेको १८ महिनामै स्थायी सेवामा प्रवेश गरेकी थापाले टेलिफोन अपे्रटरको रुपमा १० वर्ष र २०६७ सालवाट वि.स.२०७७ सम्म रजिष्ट्रार तथा उपकुलपतिको कार्यालय, कार्यालय सहायकको रुपमा सेवारत हुनुहु न्छ।

तपाइले विश्वविद्यालयवाट २० वर्षको सेवा अवधिमा के पाउनु भयो भनेर सोधिएको प्रश्नमा ः कामगरेपछी पारिश्रमिक पाउनु त स्वभाविकै हो त्यसको अतिरिक्त मुख्यताया राम्रो संस्थागत संस्कार अन्तराष्ट्रिय स्तरमा कहलिएका व्यत्तित्वहरु संग काम गर्ने अवसर र विभिन्न संघसंस्थाका प्रमुखहरुसंगको चिनाजानी तथा कार्यगत सम्वन्ध वढाउँन पाएकोमा थापालाई गौरब लागेको पाइयो । नियमित, मासिक वा वार्षिक रुपमा तोकेरै कुनै वालवालिका वा संघसंस्थालाई सहयोग नगरेता पनि थापाले खानलाउन नपाएका, सडकमा वास भएकालाई एकल तथा साथिहरुसंग मिलेर वेलावेलामा खाद्यान्न तथा कपडा र कम्वल वाडेर सामाजिम कार्य गरेको पाइयो । २०७२ सालको भुक्पमा समेत थापाले ४÷५ जना साथीसंग मिलेर पाँचखाल खरेलथोक काभे्रका ३०÷३२ घरका दनुवारलाई राहत वितरण गरिएको रहेछ।

खानेमुखलाई जुगाले छेक्दैन अनि विवाह गर्न उमेरले रोक्दैन भनिएझैं अफिसको जिम्वेवारी सफलता पुर्वक वहन गर्दै २ जना छोराछोरीकी आमा सासुसुराकी एक्ली वुहारी भएरपनि ४१ वर्षको उमेरमा एम वि एस , अन्तिम वर्षको परिक्षा तयारीमा जुट्न जोकोहिले प्रयाशनै गर्देन । आफ्ना आमा वुवाको अतिरिक्त धुलिखेलका नगरपिता बेलप्रसाद श्रेष्ठ र छिमेकी यज्ञप्रसाद थपलियालाई आफ्नो प्रेरणाका स्रोत मान्ने थापाले काठमाडौं विश्वविद्यालयका संस्थापक उपकुलपति डा. सुरेशराज शर्मा सहित डा.रामकण्ठ माकजु श्रेष्ठ, रजिष्ट्रारहरू डा. भद्रमान तुलाधर, भोला थापा र सुवोध शर्मासंग २ देखि ६ वर्षसम्म असिष्टेण्ट बनेर काम गरेको अनुभव छ।

वि.स.२०६२ सालमा भारतको व्याङ्गलोर, पटना, जगन्नाथपुरी, रामेश्वरम, चेन्नाई पुटपर्ती, मिनाक्षी, कर्णाटक आदि सहरको तिर्थाटन गरेकी थापालाई २०७४ सालमा अफिसवाट १५ दिने चिनको ग्वांजाव, वेइजिङ्ग, सिजाजोन,गे्रटवाल सहित हानवान विश्वविद्यालय र कन्फ्युसियसको जन्मस्थान घुम्ने, हेर्ने मौका मिलेको रहेछ । स्कुल एवं कलेजमा अध्ययनरत रहँदा विभिन्न खेलकुद, दौड प्रतियोगिता, कविता तथा वतृत्वकलामा भाग लिएकी थापाले वि.स.२०६० सालमा शिक्षा मन्त्रालयवाट समेत शिक्षा पुरस्कार प्राप्त गरेको पाइयो।

सहकुल ढकाल र लक्ष्मी पोखे्रललाई टेलिफोन अपे्रटिङ्ग सम्वन्धि, सुप्रिया जोशि, निर्मला अधिकारीलाई सेके्रटेरियल तथा सरु मानन्धर लगाइतलाई कार्यालय व्यवस्थापन एवं पत्राचार सम्वन्धिको काम सिकाएकी थापालाई विश्वविद्यालयकै उपकुलपति, डा.रामकण्ठ माकजू, डा.भद्रमान तुलाधर, भोला थापा, हेमराज काफ्ले र महेन्द्रकुमार निरौलावाट काम गर्ने तौरतरिकाहरु सिक्ने अवसर मिलेछ । संघर्षमय उकाली ओलीको यात्रालाई जीबन ठानेकी थापाले आफ्ना वुवाको स्वार्गारोहण भएको दिनलाई दुःख र विश्वविद्यालयमा जागिर खान थालेको पहिलो दिनलाई सुखको दिन ठानेको पाइयो ।
उज्यालकोमा पुग्नु छ भने अध्याराको यात्रा तय गर्नुपर्छ भनिएजस्तै टेलिफोन अपे्रटरजस्तो ड्युटी समयमा १÷२ मिनेट पनि कार्यस्थान छाड्न नमिल्ने, आजकालको जस्तो मोवायल वा इमेल नभएको समयमा देश तथा विदेशका सयौं व्यत्तिहरुसंग भाका र भाषा मिलाएर कुरागर्ने अम्विकाको वोलीवचन र कार्यशैली प्रशंसनीय रहेको थियो र अहिले पनि उत्तिकै छ भनेर उपकुलपतिको कार्यालयमा ३ वर्ष र २०७४ वाट स्कुल अफ आर्टसको असिष्टेण्ट प्रोफेसर पदमा अध्यापनरत सुदर्शन दाहालले वताउनु भएको छ।

माझिले खोला तारेका यात्री २÷४ वर्षमा त्यहिवाटो फर्कदा कत्तिले विर्सेलान त कत्तिले सम्झेर वोलाउँलान त्यो यात्रीमा भर पर्नेकुरा भएजस्तै सिलौटो र लोहोराको विचमा पिसिएर मिचिएर उपभोत्ताको लागि स्वादिष्ट अचार वा मसला बनिएजस्तै कार्यालय प्रमुख र आगन्तुक विचको सेतुका रुपमा रहने सेके्रटरीको कामकाज र चार्टर एकाउण्टेण्टको अध्ययन उस्तैउस्तै हुन भन्दा फरक नपर्ला । आफ्नो अनुरोध र प्रयासवाट हालसम्म विभिन्न तह र निकायमा ५÷७ जनालाई छात्रवृत्ति र २÷४ जनालाई पुर्ण तथा आंशिक रोजगारीको पहल गर्नुभएकी थापाले ४÷५ पटक रक्तान गर्नुभएको रहेछ ।
निश्कर्षमा के भन्न सकिन्छ भने कुनैपनि मानिसले दत्तचित्तले लागिप–र्यो भने जस्तासुकै कठिन कार्य पनि गर्न सक्छ । बुवाआमा मैले पालेको छु भनेर वा पाल्नुपरो भनेर टाढिने वा जीउनी ताक्ने अहिलेको जमानामा विवाह अगाडी आफ्ना २ जना भाई र १ वहिनीको शिक्षादिक्षा आर्जनका लागि यथेष्ट लागनी र रोजगारको पहलमा समेत काध थापेका कारण अहिले आफ्ना भाइवहिनीहरु शिक्षा, स्वास्त्थ्य र इन्जिनियरिङ्गका क्षेत्रमा अव्वल बनेको देख्नपाउँदा थापाको मन गौरवान्वित हुदोरहेछे । हात्ति र हात्तिछाप चप्पल उस्तैउस्तै हुन भनिएपनि यथार्थमा उस्तै हुदैनन । जङ्गलको सिंहलाई खोरमा थुन्छु भन्न जति सजिलो छ त्यसलाई समात्न वा उशको उदेश्य वमोजम आवश्यक्ता पुरागर्दै राम र रावण अनि मानव कथित दानवविचको समन्वय गराउँन जोकोहिको भाति पुग्दैन । व्यक्ति ठुलो पदले होइन कर्मले वन्दछ भन्ने उक्तीको नमुना अम्विका थापाको आँट र कार्यशैलीवाट हामिले धेरै कुराहरु सिक्नुपर्ने देखिन्छ ।

Alumni on Board

Welcome to the August 2020 Issue of the Forum for Interdisciplinary Discourse !

In a bid to feature relatively less noticed or unheard voices, we reached out to the University’s alumni this time. As a result, we have had five people on board. Mr. Anuroop Manandhar (Biotechnology) and Ms. Rubeena Mahato (Media Studies) represent the graduates of the first batches of the programs launched first time in Nepal. Dr. Uttam Budhathoki, Ms. Roshee Lamichhane Bhusal, and Dr. Nirish Vaidya, alumni of Pharmacy, Management and Medical Sciences, respectively, are currently the faculties in the University.  This makes it an Alumni Special Issue, and grasps visible diversity of subjects.

However, readers may discern broad themes of mentoring and growth represented here or there.

We have also added two other categories from this issue: “Know Thy Mentor” and “From the University of Life.” For the first, we will feature at least one passionate teacher/mentor. The second will have at least one non-teaching staff who has served the University for an extended period of time. In a sense, these columns will introduce those who choose to work and thrive silently and celebrate their achievements with utmost optimism no matter how big or small the achievements are.

List of Posts in this issue:

  1. Anuroop Manandhar: “The Prices and Rewards of Being Early”
  2. Rubeena Mahato: “We Didn’t Do So Bad, After All”
  3. Anusha Gyawali, Shephalika Dhakal and Saugat Bastola: “Meet Thy Mentor: Dr. Uttam Budhathoki”
  4. Roshee Lamichhane: “What It Means to Be an Assistant Professor”
  5. Nirish Vaidya: “Myths and Realities behind ‘Whole Body Check-up”
  6. Niraj Poudyal: “On Mentors”
  7. दामोदर घिमिरेः “जीवनको विश्वविद्यालयका कर्मयोगी तेजबहादुर पुरी”

We invite constructive feedback for our works and, yes, valuable write-ups for the future issues. Happy reading!

The Prices and Rewards of Being Early

– Anuroop Manandhar

I still remember the time, fall of 2003, when all the first-year students were gathered in the ground in front of KU Library and given a moral boosting talk to kick-start the undergraduate program.  This happened a long time ago, yet in my mind it somehow does not seem so distant.

When Dr. Hem Raj Kafle asked me to write a piece on the ‘prices and rewards of being early’, with reflections of the experiences I had as a first batch biotech graduate, it took me back to those days. Amidst those memories, I became nostalgic thinking of my first year English Communication Skills classes taught by Dr. Kafle. It was one of the best 4 credits (2 credits in 1st and 2nd semester) courses of the undergraduate program where I was taught to relay stories and I am forever grateful for that.

I along with 47 others graduated from Kathmandu University (KU) in the fall of 2007 with the degree of B. Tech in Biotechnology. This was the first-ever batch of Biotech graduates, not just from KU, but the entire nation. When I recall those times, I believe all 48 of us had similar experiences. There was the excitement of being a graduate, but also there was fear of uncertainty and the lack of clear vision and direction.

Biotechnology is a very broad term used to describe any study where one uses some sort of technology (e.g. genetic manipulation) on biological objects (microbes, plants, animals) to get a product. It can be applied in various fields including medicine, food-tech, agriculture and dairy industries. After graduation, the first major obstacle was that this subject itself required introduction in Nepal. Not many were aware of the subject and, to my dismay, there are still very few places in Nepal that offer opportunity to work in this field.

No wonder, there was a lot of confusion and anxiety among my batch mates. Nonetheless, like every river that finds its way, the students opted for higher degree programs to pave their paths for future. Within two years, 90 percent of my batch mates joined masters/ PhD programs abroad, many funded by scholarships.  As a result, I see many of my friends working in big pharma companies or academic labs trying to find answers to nature’s complex problems.  That undergraduate degree in KU did open up a lot of doors for personal rewards and it would not have been the case if KU had not started a biotechnology degree.

But what about those who do not wish to study abroad, or cannot afford to do so? The lack of employment opportunities in Nepal has been difficult both personally and professionally. Such situation compels graduates to find their destiny in foreign lands. And since each year many graduates leave the country, the growth of biotech sector in Nepal has been slow. Unfortunately, the story repeats; the experience is similar for every new batch.

I have listened to the former Vice Chancellor of KU, Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma, speaking in different forums why the University started biotechnology degree. In his own words, “Nepal had missed many technological revolutions in the past, hence for the nation to remain ready for biotechnology revolution, it needs qualified biotech scientists.” This was definitely a visionary step, many colleges and universities since have started their biotech programs in the country. It also makes good business sense to take risk of starting new programs as it can attract more students. He as the leader did succeed in that.

I am one of those very few biotech graduates who are currently working in Nepal. I run an agro-biotech company called ‘Ficus Biotech,’ which produces healthy saplings from plant tissue culture technology. I have co-founded this company with other biotechnology graduates, one being my undergraduate batch-mate. We provide products and services that were not previously available in Nepal. There are some other companies/research institutes run by KU biotech graduates. In a way, starting a biotechnology program at KU has contributed in some or the other ways to the development of the nation, and in many ways in the development of the researchers/entrepreneurs like us.

However, for the development of any industry, we need a favorable eco-system.  It is important that companies are run by qualified individuals. Competent individuals are essential at each node of the value chain. Products development must be research-based, which is only possible if companies are run by individuals with aptitude and background in research.  Unfortunately, many of the product and service providers in Nepal today do not have knowledge, nor do they have interest in gaining any. For them it is more about the numbers in balance sheet. It is because of the lack of competent individuals that the technology is not developing and when such products are needed, they are imported in high price. The current pandemic has shown how shallow the talent pool of biomedical scientists is in the country, at least in places where they could make some difference.

The fact is, the first batch of students do face a lot of challenges as the future direction is always murky. It becomes difficult to understand the repercussions of the decisions we take and the career path trajectory it leads to. Nonetheless, there are rewards in the form of bringing innovations to your work, to present yourself as an entrepreneur, to bring the change that others only dream of – the reward of creating avenues for those uncertain young fellows who are looking for some light in their paths ahead.

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