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Development of tourism industry in Nepal : possibilities and challenges

Prakash Ranjitkar

Malangwa-8, Sarlahi

Tourism is a priority sector of His Majesty’s Government (HMG) of Nepal . Tourism has enough potential to uplift national economy and change the citizens’ status. Of course, it needs combined efforts so that other components of the national economy also grow simultaneously to achieve the goal of balanced development. Tourism has been established as one of the dominant activities in world economy from the beginning of 21st century. In 2001, about 693 million visitors traveled from, one country to another, making tourism one of the top categories of international trade. It generates around 3 trillion USD per year in total revenues around the world. It has been estimated that the number of visitors will grow to a level of 937 million by 2010.

Nepal has over three decades of experience in tourism sector after establishment of Nepal Tourism Committee in 1970 followed by a Tourism Master Plan in 1972 and establishment of Ministry of Tourism in 1973. The number of tourist arrivals has drastically increased in past few decades with around 6,000 tourist arrivals in 1962, increased up to about 400,000 by 1996. At present, tourism sector is a major contributor in the national economy. Around three quarter of merchandise export and one quarter of the whole foreign exchange earning is coming from the tourism sector. There is no doubt that tourism has remained one of the buoyant sectors of the Nepali economy. The nature and environment has remained major attraction of Nepal ’s tourism industry. Tourism has not only created jobs for the rural and urban population in Nepal by expanding local craft and trade but also help build the local infrastructure and foster a sense of pride for a particular region. Thus, on the whole, it has helped to stabilize and diversify the rural economy.

Nepal has a lot to offer and satisfy a wide variety of tourists choices e.g. nature and environment tourism (visit to nature conservation sites, national parks, wildlife safaris, jungle resorts etc), adventure tourism (mountain climbing, mountaineering expeditions, mountain treks, camping, anti-port adventure, water adventure etc.), religious tourism (visit to pilgrimage and religious sites for Hindu and Buddhist), cultural tourism (cultural and ethnic life style experience programs, visit to world heritage sites), luxurious holidays (holiday package tours and special interest products e.g. gambling in casino, holiday in jungle resort etc).

Nepal has witnessed sudden but obvious influx of international tourists that led to development of tourism from top-down approach instead of the preferred bottom-up approach. The stabilization and strengthening of domestic tourism is important to provide a durable foundation support for long-term growth of international tourism. There are several places with historical significance but cannot be established as popular tourist destination due to geographical reasons. The emotional attachment of domestic tourists to historical events and places will help to promote such places as domestic tourist market that will help to preserve their heritage.

While talking intra-regional tourism, Nepal received about 27% (in 2000) of its total arrival from the SAARC region. The tourists from China are still confined within the 1.5% (in 2000) of the total share. While other countries of the region receive insignificantly low arrivals from the regional share. The prevalence of Hindu socio-cultural practices in Nepal and the large population of Indian Hindus promise an encouraging scope for religious and pilgrimage tourism. The Buddhist population of Sri Lanka and also South East Asian countries can be attracted to Lumbini (the birth place of Buddha) and various other Buddhist shrines. The increased tendency of SE Asian people to travel due to improved economy has opened the possibility of extension of inter-regional tourism. At present, tourist arrival from these countries are very low except in case of Japanese tourists, which is about 9% (2000) of total arrivals.

Quality tourism is a sustainable tourism development that meets the needs of the present day tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. It is envisaged that it will lead to the management of all resources in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems.

While promoting mass tourism, social and cultural impacts should be considered carefully. There are several problems associated with development of tourism. There are several examples of tourism being a prominent factor to damage indigenous way of life and cultural values of the host countries. Mt. Everest and Lumbini (the birth place of Lord Buddha) are unique attraction of Nepal ’s tourism industry.

Eco-tourism is another popular concept widely discussed that strikes at balance between nature and human beings to ensure co-existence of both. It is basically a participatory process to minimize negative impact of tourism on nature giving more priority to local conservation and development efforts. Nepal ’s main ecotourism sites are the Himalayan area such as the Annapurna Conservation Area and the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, the wildlife reserves in the southern Terai jungle, including Royal Chitwan national Park. These sectors alone are responsible for 25 % of tourist income in Nepal .

The Visit Nepal Year 1998 (VNY) programme had targeted to attract 500,000 tourists. Although the target was not met it was a good experience to organize similar programmes in the years ahead. HMG has decided to observe the Destination Nepal Year (DNY) beginning from mid-2002 with the target of attracting one million tourists. Given the national and international developments since the end of the VNY programme, the target seems to be very ambitious.

The year 2001 has witnessed around 16 % decline in tourist arrival over last year. The deteriorating political and security conditions in Nepal can be held responsible for these recent downfalls in tourism industry. Political stability and peace are desired preconditions for full flexure development of national economy. Besides this a proper development strategy is an important factor for well-balanced and long-lasting development.

Unfortunately, Nepal has already failed to maintain its previous image of a peaceful country mainly due to political instability and rise in violent activities in last few years. It is high time for Nepal to stop violence and divert its energy in reestablishing a peaceful country not only for tourism development but also for overall development of the country.


           依田明実(北海道大学 地球環境科学研究科 院生)








Fascinating trek to Nepal - my first trip and some thoughts for ecotourism

 Akemi YODA

Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University  

My first trip to Nepal was in 1995. I was in the trekking group to Annapurna Base camp. 

The bus took us from Pokhara to Phedi from where we started walking. Villages in the field, rhododendron woods, steep slope, bushes, snow and rocks...the scenery changed every day.

Some trails in and near the villages were paved with stones. We saw sheep, cow, yaks and other livestock on the trail. There were very steep sections. We had to climb down the very steep trail to go across a bridge and then we went up the steep hill of the other side of the river.

One time I turned back, and what I saw was the village we stayed at the night before on the steep hillside far away. Then I recognized the distance I could walk in one day. I never had a chance to confirm the distance with my own eyes how far I could walk in one day, so the distance was a discovery for me. When I came back to Japan and walked on the crowded streets in Tokyo , I had a funny feeling as if my eyes were not focusing on the objects around the street. Then I realized that what I saw during the trek were mountains and skies in far distance. My eyes have got longer focal length.

We were lucky to have a member who had a rich knowledge of wildlife, and we could identify some raptors and mammals. Also we learned Nepalese words and short phrases and games and dances from Nepalese staff members.  

My research topic is ecotourism, and when I think about ecotourism model, one of the images comes to my mind is this trekking experience in Nepal . One can find many things when you walk (move slowly), otherwise one won't notice. One can develop senses hardly used in daily life. Besides ensuring safety, it is important to have guides or guidebooks to help answering one's questions. Cultural experience is also an essential part of ecotourism. Finally it is important to think how to contribute to the people and the area in return for what one could obtain during the trip.

I hope for the early return of peace in Nepal .

NGOs and women empowerment

Vijaya Acharya

Lainchaur, Kathmandu

The growth of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in the third world is enormous nowadays. Three major reasons-societal conflicts and tensions; the need to respond more effectively to the crisis coming from the breakdown of traditional social structures; and ideological and value differences to the planning and implementation of development works– can be noted as relevant for the NGO evolution.

In the nongovernmental development schemes, there are three clear and distinct participants: Grass-root Organizations (GROs); Local and National Nongovernmental Development Organizations (NGDOs), which cater to the multiple needs of grass-root sectors; and International Development Cooperation Institutions (IDICs), which are international NGOs, solidarities or funding agencies.

Source: Directory of NGOs in Nepal , Social Welfare Council, Kathmandu , 2000.

Along with lessening government’s role in economic activities during economic liberalization and globalization, government’s role in social activities has also becoming less over the years in many developing countries despite tremendous needs of investment in socio-economic development infrastructures. There are gradual efforts to fulfill those gaps by the NGO activities. They work in both hardware and software aspects of development infrastructures. Majority of NGOs work in latter aspect, aiming at empowering socially and economically deprived section of the society, which is always a big chunk in the countryside of an underdeveloped country, and basically they are women. Thus, the term empowerment mostly refers to women empowerment.

The economic empowerment refers to the access and control over economic resources, whereas the social empowerment refers to the civil rights, awareness and liberty. Though these issues are difficult to measure, some major social development indicators are being used to meet this purpose, for example, literacy rate, legal rights of women, basic health indicators, etc.


At the core of all empowerment efforts, the basic objective remains how to make the target group self-reliant. Though promoting economic self-reliance of the deprived generally becomes the focal point in the empowerment process, the socio-political empowerment can also not be ignored as they ultimately translate into economic empowerment.

Since the decade of eighties, economic liberalism is developing in parallel with social liberalism. In many development activities, non-government sectors have been promoted, the role of them is basically to reach rural poor population and help develop human development infrastructures. In these concurrent movements of government and non-government activities, government mainly builds physical infrastructures and the non-government organizations mainly work for social welfare. The domestic NGOs in many countries are working in almost all areas of development whereas the international NGOs are working in the areas of social aspect of development in general and economic aspects in particular cases.

In Nepal also, the I(NGO) activities especially flourished since the beginning of the 1990s. Since the non-government activities are to meet the development needs, their activities are also of varying nature (see the graph for major activities of NGOs in Nepal ) so that it is quite difficult to merge them into a common denominator.

NGOs working in the areas of community development, women services, environmental protection and youth activities are over 8000, constituting approximately 80% of the total NGOs in the country. The community development activities basically focus on deprived section of the society, mainly illiterate women, disables and dalits, indicating that the major concern of NGOs is to empowering these sections of the community.

Challenges and forward move

NGOs are facing a challenge to organize themselves to work in more global and strategic ways in the future. NGOs are addressing such challenge by integrating micro and macro-level action in their projects and advocacy activities. The changing global context challenges is making them adopt this natural way of working. Recently, in the ground of empowerment, many NGOs have to work among destitute poor women where the resource generation is virtually absent in one hand, and have to compete in the more competitive world for winning the resources, on the other. Working with dual strategies of security and competition at the same time is really a challenge.

Moving from development as delivery to development as leverage is the fundamental change that characterizes this shift, and it has major implications for the ways in which NGOs organize themselves, raise and spend their resources, and relate to others. NGOs must build outwards from concrete innovations at grassroots level to connect with the forces that influence patterns of poverty, prejudice and violence, exclusionary economics, discriminatory politics, selfish and violent personal behavior, and the capture of the world of knowledge and ideas by elites.
Do you know which vegetable is the best for your health?

Megh Raj Bhandari

Prakashpur-6, Sunsari

Consumption of fresh vegetables has been associated with the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, aging, and several others in humans. A significant inverse correlation has also been reported between total vegetable intake and cerebrovascular disease mortality. Food scientists indicated that a constant supply of vegetable with desirable health benefits is essential beyond basic nutrition to furnish the defensive mechanism to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Among the most commonly consumed 10 vegetables, namely, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Lettuce, Onion, Potato, Red pepper and Spinach, following is the suggested reference order for consumers to choose on the basis of their health promotional (Bioactivity Index) activities.

Reflect works in Nepal

Manvi Bista

Manbhawan, Jawlakhel, Kathmandu

Reflect is an innovative approach to adult learning and social change, which blends the theory of Paulo Freire (1921-1997) with the methodology of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) while working with the community. Paulo Freire was a Brazil-born educator, who is renowned for his struggle to liberation of the poorest of the poor, the marginalized classes that constitute the culture of silence in many places. His philosophy on culture of silence is a characteristic attributed to the oppressed people, who would internalize their images negatively (images created and imposed by the oppressor) and feel incapable of self-governance.

As pilot projects, the Reflect approach was first applied in Bangladesh , El Salvador and Uganda . Since then it has expanded, diversified and adapted to the multitude of contexts in which it is adopted. It is now being practiced over 60 countries in the world.

It was adopted in Nepal in 1995. This was the time when most of the NGOs, INGOs were frustrated with the performance of the conventional adult literacy program and were in need of an alternative. It was introduced as a pilot action research in three districts of Nepal and was evaluated later. It was proved to be more effective than adult literacy programme with primer-based methods, though both of them were working for literacy with empowerment.  In addition to it, the former also increased people’s participation in community organizations. These encouraging results of pilot projects led to the expansion of Reflect works, and now reached to 30 districts.

Key features

In contrast to the conventional adult education program, which is fully focused on 'literacy learning circle'; Reflect is rather a 'social or community forum', which provides people with a framework for critical self and social analysis. The Reflect Approach also provides a 'basket of tools and techniques' for this analysis. It helps create a democratic space and culture, which can facilitate the process of critical analysis.

In addition to literacy, this approach also emphasizes on organizing the community for collective reflection about various aspects of their lives. The Reflect Circle becomes a social forum to identify problems and explore new opportunities.

People's rights-focused Reflect practice

Nepal is among the few countries in the world where Reflect work has special focus on improving civil society organizations and networks for enhancing peoples' rights'. The literacy component may still be there, but it is not taken as the prime objective. Instead, rights-based approach to social change and development is stressed.  It has helped people in building or strengthening their organizations, which aim at protecting peoples' basic rights. Reflect has also helped people and communities critically analyze people's rights, identify ways to organize, as well as educate and empower deprived groups and communities.

Dalit movement of Sapatri: a case of Reflect work in Nepal

The early stages of organizing dalits in Saptari District were greatly facilitated by the structure created by Reflect Centers.  In 1998, 15 women centers were launched to establish women network and provide them an opportunity to identify and discuss issues related with their skills, and develop confidence as well as leadership. In their meetings, the women began conducting an analysis of the caste system and the situation of women. Groups also discussed the importance of creating an action plan to counter discrimination and identified the need to develop an organization to create group strength.  In response, eight women’s Sanghams (organization) were formed.

Groups themselves served to break down caste barriers, raised the participants’ self-confidence and dignity.  The rigid caste discrimination (between dalit and non-dalit women; for example, when the Reflect classes were started, dalits had to sit outside the class and were not allowed to use the same water tap or share food with the non-dalit class members) existing at the beginning began to break down. This motivated in-depth analysis and discussion on rigid caste divisions in the Reflect circles.  Barriers were gradually broken down and conscious changes were made to rectify the unjust treatment over the dalits.  After some time, non-dalit and dalit women started to mingle around, share food and sit together in a common class. This in itself was a major achievement over the stringent cultural taboos surrounding the caste behavior.

The turning point in the development of the dalit movement in this area was Sangham’s decision to abandon their traditional jobs to throw carcass as vested by the caste system.  Although carcass throwing was a job relegated only to the chamar (shoemaker) caste, Sangham was able to unite the castes in supporting the ban because the job was a perfect example of the caste-based exploitation and discrimination against dalit.  This directly challenged and attacked to the roots of the caste system and provoked a new level of opposition by the high caste community.  Realizing this, participation in sangham groups from dalits got increased and thus the dalit movement gained momentum.  The dalit communities’ solidarity, and ultimate victory in sustaining the boycotts, confirmed their faith and commitment to the movement, helping attract new members and spreading the dalit movement throughout the region.

Experience shows that grassroots empowerment work is very important though it has many limitations. In order to establish deprived people's fundamental rights in society, people's movements need to address several issues of governance that are affected by national and global decisions. Dalits in Nepal have started becoming more organized than they were in the past. The restoration of democracy in 1990 may have attributed to this change significantly. The credit also goes to Reflect works in making people aware about the situation and making them ready for action on their own. However, this movement still has a long way to go. Reflect is still as useful as it was when the movement had started.

High altitude geomorphic processes and their significances in the Nepal Himalayas

Dhananjay Regmi

Pauwai Gaunde-2, Syangja

The implications of the studies on periglacial processes in high altitude Himalayas are questioned, as connections between high altitude geomorphic processes and the human activities are not straightforward. An attempt has been made here to provide a short glimpse on some of the geomorphic processes active in the high altitude area of the Himalaya and the potential hazards associated with them.

Nearly 25 percent of Nepal ’s land is under the mountain belt (3600 m – 8850 m). These mountains are of high importance because they act as metrological barrier and, in turn, cause rainfall in the country. Moreover, from the resource point of view, they are the source of perennial rivers, various mineral and herbs. The splendid landscape is also the center of attraction for developing tourism. On the contrary, these mountains may cause catastrophic hazards like Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) resulting fatal consequences.

If we observe mountains closely, it is found that the present mountain landscapes are the result of many geomorphic processes of the long past. The processes include snow ice avalanches; debris/mud flow and torrential floods; rockfall; glacial lake outburst; slow mass movement; and shallow soil erosion on grassland; they are related either with the glacial or freeze thaw processes, and are controlled directly or indirectly by the climatic factors. The magnitude and the intensity of these processes are increasing in recent decades because of the so-called Global warming.

Some of these processes are of high magnitude with low frequency i.e. GLOF, and has tremendous effects in down stream. There are 2,323 glacial lakes in Nepal , out of which 20 glacial lakes were identified as potentially dangerous. Sometimes, low magnitude geomorphological processes and resultant landscapes, which are mainly associated with freeze-thaw actions, are eroded away by the high magnitude processes. As a result, sediment transport during the GLOF is exceptionally high in the high altitude areas. Furthermore, the material is also eroded from the riverbanks, terraces, and slopes in downstream. As a result, slope instabilities are triggered off. Impact caused by GLOF is seen to be occurred in far downstream (>90 km) resulting sedimentation in the agriculture land, destruction of infrastructure, etc.

In these contexts, the precise observation on the mountain landscapes, and the study of geomorphologic processes could be of immense help to understand these processes and the rate of landscape development that may be of high significance to take precaution so as to reduce the possible catastrophic damages.
Teej 2060 in Hokkaido , Japan

Gita Bhandari

Prakashpur-6, Sunsari  

"Teej" or Haritalika is purely a women's festival. It takes place in late August or early September. The festival is a three-day long celebration that combines sumptuous feasts as well as rigid fasting. Through this religious fasting, Nepali women pray for marital bliss, well being of their spouse and children and purification of their own body and soul.

A group picture taken during Teej Festival

Traditionally, the ritual of Teej is obligatory for all married women and girls who have reached puberty. According to the holy books, the Goddess Parbatee fasted and prayed fervently for the great Lord Shiva to become her spouse. Touched by her devotion, he made her his wife. Goddess Parbatee, in gratitude, sent her emissary to preach and disseminate this religious fasting to women wishing prosperity and longevity of their family’s the lives. Thus, the festival of Teej was born.

The important part of the Teej is called the "Dar-Khane-Din". On this day the women, both married and unmarried, assemble at one place, in their finest attires (mostly women are seen wearing red garments invariable and decked in all sorts of jewellery), and start dancing and singing with devotional Teej songs. The jollity often goes on till midnight, after which the 24 - hour fasting commences. Some women stay without any food or even a drop of water while others take liquid and fruit. On the third day, women goes to river and bath with “datiwoon’ a plant with regular nodules. Teej ends with Panchamee puja (religious ceremony) with offerings of flowers, fruits, etc., to Shiva and Parbati, beseeching their blessing upon the husband and family. 

We, Nepali women residing at Hokkaido Japan, celebrated Teej of 2060 BS. The program was organized on the auspicious day of Teej (on Aug 29, 2003) at International Plaza of Hokkaido University. All Nepali family members, including women, men and children, participated. The program was started at 6:00 PM, by singing a Teej song “Teej Ko Lahar Ayo Bari Lai”and later the environment become livelier with group dance. The additional funs of this program were couple as well as group photo sessions, jokes and musical chair competition. Finally, we enjoyed with typical Nepali foods, as a part of special dinner called DAR. The specialty of this dinner was: individual women prepared particular dish.  Oh! Khir, Masu-Bahat (meat and rice), Acchar, Tarkari (vegetable), Salad, Noodles, etc., were so delicious that we really enjoyed with these multiple tastes. Finally, group dancing with famous Nepali folk song “Wari Jamuna Pari Jamuna” ended Teej festival around 9:00 PM.

Thanks to all members of our HUNSA community who initiated to organize Teej festival in foreign land, this made us feel at home. Special thanks to women group for their contributions in preparation of food and performance of Teej dance in typical Nepali dress “Saree and Cholo”! After all, it has become one of the memorable events of our life: Teej Festival in Hokkaido , Japan !

Tourism potential and Nepal

Sunil Kumar Lama

Maharajgunj-4, Kathmandu

Scenic mountains and landscapes, wide biodiversity, climatic variation within of the short distance, locally spread tribal ethnic culture are the key offerings of Nepal , which will be deserving more interest and contentment for the visitors to Nepal . The outsiders often imagine Nepal as the country of mountains, so obviously they might have the target to sight its scenic view, but when they come along the step-by-step fascinating charming of Nepal then they will really get the intriguing experience. It is just to explain that Nepal has the vast potential of tourism and in return will provide immediate response on economical and social sector of nation and most importantly for people up to the village level if managed and promoted properly.

The growing interest of people to wander the undisturbed nature could most be exploited in Nepal and in this context Nepal has to build up some basic foundation for its fulfillment. The most important in this sector is to minimize the possible over exploitation of the natural resources due to the thrust from the tourism and social disturbances due to the difference in cultural and habitual behavior of the incoming guest. Medical support and evacuation facility in the case of the emergency make use of the local resources and skills and with most importantly the security providing should be simultaneously addressed too. These are the most prime but not much difficult sectors to be addressed truthfully.

Wandering of undisturbed nature with the local living standard could provide unique experience to the visitors and it will also help both for comfortable interactions. It will provide both of them to know closely and share their opinions and experience on the more natural ground without the bound of their economic and intellectual difference. It will also make possible to have the direct economic benefit and employment generation to the village level people.

Alternative use of energy, information centers, hygienic condition improvement activities, community approach for the equal sharing of benefits, capacity building activities are the sectors where the central, local level government and non government organization have to play crucial role with the maximum participation of the local people on its management and the decision making.

Awareness and capacity building of the local people should be addressed extensively as it will decide on the success of the targeted aim. For the equal sharing of the benefits either community based income sources could be established such as community lodge, camping site and other recreational activities/spots or there should be minimum standard rules and regulation for providing the facilities. It will help for the fair contest in the community with poor economic background. Community based management committee should play important role on the community based decision and directives 

For the balance of the energy consumption due to the flux of the tourist, alternative source of energy, which could be micro hydropower, solar power, improved stove or kerosene etc, should be promoted. Micro hydro, solar power generation could be developed with the joint contribution of village level people and help from governmental/non-governmental organizations providing subsidy, supervision and backstopping. Kerosene depot could be established even through the local capacity.

So for the actual exploitation of the nature tourism, should focus on maximum utilization of the local resources and skill with exposing our rich tradition and culture, in which there is no necessary to have the huge financial investment but proper management and vision. Care should be taken that with due of economic growth, our nature, culture and tradition should not be displaced, which often happens, other wise we will be loosing our most thriving property and tourism charming for the future generation.

Renewal energy: a sustainable future for all

Bijay Giri

Biratnagar, Morang

The Final Report of G8 Renewable Energy Task Force 2001 presents renewable as a key element of sustainable development.  Sustainable development that has at present been the goal of mankind and the planet is a kind of development that guarantees everyone the means and place to carry on lives and various activities attached to them without compromising the need of future generations. The fundamental needs of a society encompass food, housing, health and clothing, and in more elaborated sense includes education, culture, civil rights, quality of the natural environment, leisure, etc.

Modern fuels and electricity in today's world are not universally accessible. The current energy system is neither sufficient nor affordable to support widespread economic growth. The productivity of one third of the world’s population is restrained by lack of access to commercial energy, and another one third suffers economic hardship and insecurity due to unreliable energy supplies. Inappropriate energy production and consumption can threaten the health and well being of current and future generations. Thus, today's need is to address this global challenge of establishing appropriate energy system.

Energy systems

The global energy demand is ever increasing due to the increasing population and industrialization. Most of the energy used is generated from fossil fuels, which is now considered as a major source of man-made pollution with eventual negative impacts like climatic change, global warming, acid rain, and problems for waste disposal. In developing countries, non-commercial fuels like wood and animal dung overwhelmingly dominate household energy consumption, resulting deforestation and indoor pollution.

Dependence on non-renewable resources can be regarded as unsustainable in the long term.  In this regard, promotion of renewable energy is a very important global issue. Renewable energy sources are collected from current ambient energy flows or from substances derived from them. These include solar energy, hydropower, bio energy, wind energy, wave and tidal energy, geothermal energy, ocean, hydrogen fuel cells as well as domestic and industrial wastes. Renewable energies are considered effective in meeting the environmental and developmental concerns simultaneously, and can supply sustainable energy creating very less environmental pressure. The ratio of non-renewable to renewable energy resources represents a measure of a country's sustainability. Promoting the use of such renewable energy is gradually getting to be an important topic in the recent development discussions.


Sustainable energy needs a long-term consideration on cost of production and the extent of emission. Governments have a significant role in developing strategies on shifting to such sustainable renewable energies. Phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and re-direct funding to energy conservation and the production and consumption of the most sustainable renewable sources of energy like micro-hydro, wind, solar cookers, solar PV for remote areas, hybrid wind-solar systems, and biomass is one of the interventions that the government can administer. The macroeconomic calculations and energy policy and pricing should include both positive and externalities of different energy sources. The renewable energy, which has higher positive externalities, should be promoted by various fiscal policies.  The government can also promote renewable energy by introducing various financial strategies like micro-credit for small sustainable energy businesses and arranging funds for research and development of sustainable energy production. Education and training on sustainable energy not only for policy-makers in governments, but also for the people working in intergovernmental agencies and major groups in civil society is very important. Such education is equally important for the general public, and especially for primary school children.

Attaining sustainable energy requires a combination of strong governmental and intergovernmental leadership in adopting policies that promote conservation and sustainable energy production and use. National and International organizations and various major groups of civil society, including NGOs, too have very critical role in attaining this. Networking of major stakeholders in civil society should be established to share information on sustainable energy and the transfer of energy technologies. This can support regional and international cooperation and technology transfer.


Renewable energy sources can contribute towards reduction in dependency of imported fossil fuels and meeting the energy demands and provides national energy security. Renewable energy sources assume special significance in the country like Nepal when viewed in the context of the geographic diversity and size.

Besides increasing the utilization of renewable energy, sustainable energy development also requires more efficient use of energy, especially at the point of end use in buildings, electric appliances, vehicles, and production processes. This should be backed up with generation of new sustainable energy technologies.

 Since the renewable energy resources are diffuse and decentralized, they are more appropriate in meeting basic energy needs of the rural poor. The operational cost of renewable energy is often very low and at times even zero, through their initial capital costs are often at present higher than those of conventional energy technologies. If locally available sources are used to tap renewable energies, local control can be enhanced.  In this manner, renewable energy can be utilized to supplement or gradually replace conventional energy in meeting energy needs in an equitable and sustainable way.

Evolution of hard disk drives and giant magneto resistance read head sensors

C.L.S. Rizal and Y. Ueda

Muroran Institute of Technology, Muroran

Hard disk drive is one of the essential components of modern-day personal computers. The first storage medium used on computers was actually paper; holes were punched into paper tape or cards to record data. A beam of light was used to read: where a hole was found it read “1”, otherwise “0”. The evolution so advanced that modern hard disk drive, which employs magnetic multilayer films, has no physical contact between the read head sensor and surface of the hard disk.

Fig.1 Photographs of Modern HDD, Source: IBM

Fig. 2 Platter showing Tracks/Sectors

 A hard disk uses round flat disks called platters, coated on both sides with a special media material designed to store information in the form of magnetic patterns (Fig. 1). The platters are mounted in the center by cutting a hole and stacking them onto a spindle. The platters rotate at high speed, driven by a special spindle motor connected to the spindle. Special electromagnetic read/write devices called heads are mounted onto sliders and used to either record information onto the disk or read information from it. The sliders are mounted onto arms, all of which are mechanically connected into a single assembly and positioned over the surface of the disk. A logic board controls the action of the other components and communicates with the rest of the personal computers (PCs). Each facade of each platter on the disk can hold tens of billions of individual bits of data. Each platter has two heads, one on the top of the platter and one on the bottom, so a hard disk with three platters (normally) has six surfaces and six total heads. Each platter has its information recorded in concentric circles called tracks (Fig. 2). Each track is further broken down into smaller pieces called sectors, each of which holds 512 bytes of information.

Sensitivity of magneto resistance (MR)

The field dependence of magneto-resistance ratio with the current flown perpendicular to the magnetic field is shown in Fig. 3. The electrical resistance of the thin film prepared by electro -deposition method decreases on the application magnetic field. There is a sharp decrease in electrical resistance of the multilayers or thin films on the application of the magnetic field which is referred to as sensitivity. The sensitivity of the multilayer films [Co10 Å-Au10 Å]40 as shown in the figure is about 1.5% at the magnetic filed of 20 kOe. The more the sensitivity, the better the performance of the read head sensor.

A sensitive change in resistance, discovered as giant magnetoresistive (GMR) in the late-1980s, was noticed in the late 1980s when the material was subjected to magnetic fields while working with large magnetic fields and thin layers of various magnetic materials; the discovery of GMR effect formed the basis for the development of present hard disk drives.

 The structure of present GMR head assembly is shown in Fig. 4. Furthermore, a key advance was the discovery that the GMR effect would work on multilayers of materials deposited by various preparation techniques. The hard disk products using GMR heads were first produced commercially in December 1997.

Fig 3 MR ratio as a function of field (H)

Fig. 4 Structure of a GMR head

Upper (+) values represented as “1” and lower (-) negative as “0” and vice versa

Fig. 5 Conceptual Operation of a Sensor

Fig. 6 Magnetic Curves: Flux reversals

The operation of a Spin Valve GMR head encompasses four layers of thin material sandwiched together into a single structure (Fig. 5). As the head moves across a bit, electrons in the free layer rotate, increasing the resistance of the overall structure. Free Layer (Ni-Fe) is the sensing layer, made of a nickel-iron alloy, and is passed over the surface of the data bits to be read. As its name implies, it is free to rotate in response to the magnetic patterns on the disk. The spacer layer is usually a non- magnetic, typically made from copper, and is placed between the free and pinned layers to separate them magnetically. Pinned Layer made of cobalt material is held in a fixed magnetic orientation by virtue of its adjacency to the exchange layer. There is an exchange layer (Fe-Mn), which is made of "antiferromagnetic" material, typically constructed from iron and manganese, and fixes the pinned layer's magnetic orientation. When the head passes over a magnetic field of one polarity (say, a "0" on the disk), the free layer has its electrons turn to be aligned with those of the pinned layer; this creates a lower resistance in the entire head structure. When the head over a magnetic field of the opposite polarity ("1"), the electrons in the free layer rotate so that they are not aligned with those of the pinned layer. This causes an increase in the resistance of the overall structure. The resistance changes are caused by changes to the spin characteristics of electrons in the free layer, and for this reason, it is termed as spin valve structure.

GMR read / electromagnetic write heads

The read/write heads of the hard disk are the boundary between the magnetic physical media on which the data is stored and the electronic components that make up the rest of the hard disk or personal computer. What the heads do is to simply convert bits to magnetic pulses (Fig. 6) and store them on the platters. This process is reversed when the data have to be read back again. New head technologies are often the triggering point to increasing the speed and size of modern hard disks. Although the read/write heads are the most complicated part of the hard disk drives, which is itself a technological miracle, they don't get very much attention, it can be due to the fact that it is not seen directly by eyes. However, in concept, which is itself a technological miracle, they don't get very much attention, it can be due to the fact that it is not seen directly by eyes. However, in concept, hard disk heads are relatively simple. In the process of reading or writing, they convert electrical signals to magnetic signals, and magnetic signals back to electrical ones again. These are like tiny electromagnets that perform conversion from electrical information to magnetic and back again. Each bit of data to be stored is recorded onto the hard disk using special encoding methods that translates zeros and ones into patterns of magnetic flux reversals (Fig. 6).

Previous hard disk heads were working by making use of the two main principles of electromagnetic force. The first is that applying an electrical current through a coil produces a magnetic field; when writing to the disk. The direction of the magnetic field produced dependent on the direction of the current flow in the coil. The second is the opposite that applying a magnetic field to a coil will cause an electrical current to flow; when reading back the previously written information. Again here, the direction of the current flow dependent on the direction of the magnetic field applied to the coil. Newer MR/GMR heads don't use the induced current in the coil to read back the information; they function instead by using the principle of MR, where certain materials change their resistance when subjected to different magnetic fields. The heads are composites that include a different element for writing and reading. This design is more complicated to manufacture, but is required because the MR effect used in these heads only functions in the read mode. Having separate units for writing and reading also allows each to be tuned to the particular function it does, while a single head must be designed as a compromise between fine-tuning for the write/read function.


Giant magneto-resistance / Spin Valve heads are superior to conventional MR. The sensitivity of the modern GMR/Spin Valve Sensors used in the modern personal computers lies in the range of 5% to 8%, which is almost four times higher than the older MR heads. GMR heads used in the latest technology drives have capacities of up to 75 GB and areal densities of approximately 10 to 15 Gbits/in2. As of 2002, the development of an advanced GMR head for reading data on hard disk drives with recording densities of 300 gigabits per square inch (Gb/in2) and greater has already been successful in Japan . The innovative technology displays that there will be eventually an individual 2.5" hard-drive units to have capacities in the range of 160 to 360 gigabytes, with commercial introduction of the novel read-head technology within the next few years period.

Multiple uses of Artemisia species in Japan and Nepal

Krishna H Gautam1, Chieko Imakawa2 and Teiji Watanabe1

  1. Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University
  2. Ishikari , Hokkaido







Mugwort (Artemisia spp.), common plant in Japan and Nepal , has been valuable species for spiritual and material uses. Various products are produced from mugwort plant in Japan , whereas it is still limited to traditional and domestic uses in Nepal . Industrial use of mugwort plant may change the economy of rural people in Nepal through generating employment and income. Sharing Japanese experiences could be a great contribution to the development of mugwort products in Nepal . Further research and development of mugwort plant product is suggested.



Artemisia, a shrubby species, is distributed widely in different geographical regions. International Plant Name Index Query ( showed 2058 entries for genus ‘Artemisia’, reflecting richness of species and varieties of Artemisia genus.  A. vulgaris and A. Montana are widely distributed in Nepal and Japan respectively. These two species look alike based on their appearances, sizes and overall site-characteristics; however, genetic closeness cannot be claimed without further investigation. Vernacular name for Artemisia species is ‘mugwort’, and this study considers that mugwort represents both the species cited earlier. Mugwort plants are used for spiritual and material needs by many races around the world. We attempt here to list the different uses of these plants in Japan and Nepal . As the present paper constitutes a part of the study on Ainu’s indigenous forest management practices, the information relating to the uses in Japan were collected mainly from Ainu’s homeland Hokkaido , the northernmost island of Japan .

Mugwort plant, ‘yomogi’ in Japanese and ‘noya’ in Ainu languages, is called ‘pati’ or ‘titepati (bitter-leaf plant)’ in Nepal . Different uses of mugwort in Japan and Nepal are detailed in the next section.


Evolution of mugwort use in Japan

The major traditional uses of mugwort by Ainu people are listed below; however, the present-day continuations of such uses are yet to be investigated.

a)      Ainu people have high spiritual value associated with mugwort plant. They believe that the stems and leaves of mugwort plant protect them from the demons of sickness related to smell. This belief was based mainly on the smell of Artemisia, which they think would discourage the demons to come near that plant.

b)      Mugwort was used for treating people with psychogenic disturbances. The patient had to be slapped with the plant while shouting ‘hussa!’,  ‘husse!’ or ‘hus!’ for chasing the devils away. Chasing started from patient’s head to down through to the feet, and repeated the process through back.

c)      Heat and smoke from mugwort-stem fire are thought to be effective in purifying the person affected by psychogenic disease. Withered mugwort stems were bundled and piled for forming six house-like objects on the riverbank. Once the objects were on fire, the patient was forced to pass 12 times through fire (to and fro for 6 times).

Dr Kayano Shigeru, a prominent Ainu researcher and President of Kayano Shigeru’s Nibutani Ainu Museum , wrote in one of his books on Ainu culture “Mountain silkworm (empikki) was one of the most disliked worms in Ainu community. Ainu people considered the sighting of an empikki as the omen of bad things. So when they happened to see the empikki, they beat it to death and stuck it through the body of the empikki with the 3-years-old dried mugwort stick (riya-noya). Ainu believed the empikki would never come back to life (revive) after that.”

d)      While walking/working in the places where devils were thought to be present, Ainu people used to put branches of mugwort on their head, usually along two ears wrapping by a scarf, and facing the upside of the branches forward (see figure below).

An Ainu woman with mugwort leaves (Copied from a publication of Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu culture)

e)      Ainu people consider that mugwort has special power to chase devils away; they believed that eating stems and leaves (decocting and drinking leaves and stems of mugwort) drove the disease god away, effectively protecting against any parasite into their body. They used to eat rice gruel and the leaves and stems of mugwort (sprinkling sliced young leaves over rice gruel boiled hot) to prevent infection with or for vermifuge of roundworms and tapeworms. The most reasonable method of treatment for vermifugal action was to eat regularly noya (mugwort)-sayo (rice gruel) or to decoct mugwort for drinking.

f)       Mugwort was easily available medicine for emergency hemostatic and antiseptic treatments on cuts. Ainu people used to pick the soft leaves of mugwort growing nearby, crush them and press them on the affected part for sometime. After that they used to tie the leaves on with cloth, other large leaves or bark of the Betula spp. This treatment was said to prevent suppuration.

Pharmaceutical research has traced the anti-inflammatory action in the poultice of the leaves of Artemisia as well.

g)      The technique of treatment for cold (diaphoretic treatment) was called Yay (oneself)-su (pan)-maw (steam)-kare (to cause to do). Method followed by boiling the decocted mugwort in a large pan. The patient sitting near the hearth holds the pan. Patient’s head needs to be covered with a hood-like cloth (a blanket would be good), covering his/her face and the pan. Then the steam/vapour causes the patient to perspire. Sometimes the patient drinks the decoction to accelerate the process. The process lasts for 5 to 8 minutes depending upon the steam flow and condition of the patient. The patient perspires profusely.

h)      Ainu people used to treat venereal disease such as syphilis and gonorrhoea with mugwort plants. Washing genitals by leaves and stems of mugwort or/and drinking the decoction were found to be effective for controlling such venereal diseases.   

i)        Some eye diseases were treated with leaves of mugwort plant. Broiled leaves of the plant used to be attached to the eyelid of the affected eyes.

j)        Mugwort was also said to be appropriate for relieving from dental problems. Mugwort leaves used to be grounded and mixed with salt, then applied to the root of the aching tooth/teeth. Sometimes boiled leaves were chewed with aching tooth/teeth.

k)      Mugwort plant was considered as insect repellent as well (see the following box). 

A Japanese elder woman’s recollection

In the early-1940s, I was visiting my elder sister’s family. The windows in their house had nothing to stop the insects/mosquitoes coming in.  Neither the mosquito-coils were available. So we burnt the dry mugwort stems and slept. In the morning while we could see some dead mosquitoes inside the house, but not a single bite on us. However, I felt some discomfort with my throat for sometime.

On the basis of these traditional experiences, various products are developed from mugwort plants in Japan . The Japanese custom of eating rice cakes containing mugwort could have been derived from the same idea as Ainu have, although further studies are needed to understand if the idea had been distributed from Ainu.  Most of the Japanese are familiar with the products, such as mochi, dango (Japanese sweets), chiffon cakes, cha (tea), sekken (soap), essensu (essence), zeri (jelly to apply on insect bite) and mogusa (a rice grain-size balls used in Okyu, an eastern medical technology), from mugwort plants. These products are available in departmental and convenient stores, including sweet shops and pharmacy in city such as Sapporo . Besides these products, dried or fresh leaves of mugwort plant are put into furo (Japanese traditional bathtub). 

During spring, people prepare mochi, dango and cha from mugwort leaves for own use. Yomogi sweets are popular in festivals like hina-matsuri (doll’s festival) and kodomo-no-hi (children’s day). Sweet factories, such as Rokkatei, use fresh yomogi during spring and procure frozen to use in other times of the year. As the spring in Hokkaido is relatively late, sweet factories in Hokkaido procure yomogi in early spring from Honshu . However, some sweetshops (confectioners) procure frozen yomogi from a company in Otaru, indicating the economic activities relating to yomogi in Hokkaido .


Mugwort uses in Nepal

a)      Mugwort has high spiritual value in Nepal ; it is one of the most religious plants in Nepal , and is offered in almost all ritual celebrations. Mugwort and flower are synonyms. Whenever people build new houses the foliage of mugwort is kept on the ridge of the roof, so that it can protect the new houses from the evils.

It is also used extensively in spiritual treatment of patient. Local healers use the foliage in chasing the evils away from the patient’s body.

Mugwort flower has special importance during dashain (biggest festival of Hindu in September/October) celebration. Senior people bless younger putting mugwort flowers/foliages on their head.   Flowering of mugwort is also an indication of approaching dashain festival.

Author(khg)’s recollections about Artemisia in Nepal hills

1. In the early-1960s, I used to go with cattle in the forest during holidays (Saturdays and two month holidays in planting/rainy season). Sometimes I used to accompany my parents to paddy planting and weeding in the fields located in the lowland river valley (beshi). All kids were warned not to sleep in beshi saying them that they might get fever from evil ghost and/or witches presumed to be living profusely in the beshi (in fact it was malaria fever). However, someone who felt asleep badly was advised to lie on close to patighari (mugwort bush) within the sound of the flowing stream.


2. Though there were a few local healers in our village, my parent relied most on the one who was in his sixties (about) when I was kid. Whenever any member of my family felt ill we used to rush to find him. He used to be busy all the time treating patients in the village. His treatment, indeed, were very effective. He used to prepare medicines from local plants, and used to feed with some rituals. One day he was telling me (I don’t remember the sequence why he was telling me) the use of pati, he was so confident that he could treat any disease using different parts of this plant. He further added that collection should be made in different time of the year and also potency varies with the location. His tone was clear and demanding that I would guess now he would had some clues to use pati for treating serious disease, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, too.  So I would not be surprised if someone finds chemicals in mugwort plants to treat HIV/AIDS and cancer patients.

b)      Mugwort plant is the most reliable and accessible medicine to rural people in Nepal for treatments of cut and wounds. People squeeze the fresh leaves of mugwort and apply on cut wounds. They believe that the mugwort leaves’ extract heals the cut-wound quickly by preventing infection.

c)      Mugwort is very effective in protecting from leeches. People who have to walk or work in leech-prone areas rub its leaves on their skin. If they find leeches biting on their body, they simply squeeze the leaves and drop the extract on the bite-spot. Then the leech immediately ceases biting and vomits blood.

d)      Mugwort foliages are kept in the room to get rid of fleas.

e)      Broom made of its foliage is thought to be effective in maintaining healthy environment by repelling the insects.

f)       Mugwort is used as green manure, and more as insecticide. Usually the green foliages are used to mulch seedbeds. Its stems are also used for support for young bean plants, probably, presuming its insecticidal role to protect the young sprouts.

g)      Mugwort plant is the most favourite fodder of goat, and thus contributes to the rural economy in the hill regions of Nepal .

Discussion and conclusion

Both spiritual and material values of mugwort plant are recognised in Japan and Nepal . It can clearly be seen that the age-old spiritual values recognised the quality of mugwort plant, especially its characteristics for repelling, antiseptic and insecticidal uses.

Mugwort is used as fodder for goat in Nepal , indicating the use of this plant in feed production, whereas no such evidences were found in Japan . Furthermore, the mugwort is still used for manure and insecticide in cropland in Nepal , but such practice was not observed in Japan . The potentiality of mugwort to use in farm for manure and insecticide could fit in the people’s increasing concern about organic farming.

Studies in Japan have confirmed the chemical contents of the plant in line with the indigenous uses. Based on the indigenous practices, various items of food and medicine are developed from mugwort plant in Japan , indicating clearly the reliability of indigenous knowledge; the instances suggest the scope of such knowledge in other fields as well.

Thus, mugwort plant is now used in Japan for industrial use, whereas its uses are still confined in the traditional/household uses in Nepal . In lack of knowledge and technology, mugwort is still seen in Nepal as a weed plant. In this context, transferring Japanese knowledge and technology to Nepal could be an instrumental in converting the so-called weed plant to industrial plant. As the mugwort is distributed widely in the world, indigenous knowledge from different communities may yield substantial information on its varied uses. Such knowledge may guide future research on mugwort, and thus further research on the various uses of mugwort is suggested.