Lagging in digitalization

Government has time and again failed to understand the need to go digital in all the sectors and put the effort in developing regulations to monitor the digital platforms

Few weeks back, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) announced that it will take serious action against those who receive or make international payments through social media platforms. Considering these transactions to be illegal, NRB has said that any such activities would be treated as foreign currency embezzlement for which the action would be taken under the Foreign Exchange Act (2019). The announcement was made amid the rising popularity of social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube. While NRB seems to have recognized the growing popularity of these channels, the statement indicates the failure of NRB to prescribe a proper solution to bring these transactions into a tax bracket.

It isn’t true that making or receiving payments over international online channels is illegal. However, as none of the banking sectors are connected to the international digital banking channels, most of the companies and individuals opt to make payments using foreign bank accounts and cards. These payments are then either sent or received through informal channels such as hundi which then happens to be illegal in nature.



Provisions so far
As stated by one of the officials of NRB, there is a provision that allows any institution or individual to make payments for advertising over social media platforms which requires approval from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Upon receiving the approval, the provision allows payments up to Rs 10,000 to be made through banks. It is unclear if this limit is per transaction or per year for an institution or an individual. However, any transactions beyond this limit require approval from NRB.

While the process to get an approval of almost a hundred US dollars is such a hassle, one can barely think of dealing with provisions to get approval beyond Rs 10,000. Moreover, for an agency providing advertising solutions to multiple clients and running multiple online ad campaigns, visiting a bank each time to make the payment is in no way a practical solution.



In one of the interviews, Sixit Bhatta, the founder of the popular Nepali ride-sharing app, said that “If we look at the developed economies, the absence of laws and regulations means it’s legal, and you make the frameworks very swiftly to accommodate innovation. In our (underdeveloped) economies, they (the government) deem the absence of laws as not legal and they are pretty slow in creating regulations.” The government has time and again failed to understand the need to go digital in all the sectors and put the effort in developing regulations to monitor the digital platforms.

In the absence of law, Pathao and Tootle riders have been cracked down and fined multiple times for “operating the vehicle against its purpose”. However, after a strong backlash from the public over the social media platforms, the government stepped back and stated that it would allow their operations. Soon it was heard that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli directed the Ministry of Physical Planning and Transportation to come up with the laws for governing these platforms. While the Department of Transport Management had stated that it would have the new law ready by the New Year’s Day of 2076 (April 2019), nothing has been heard of over these several months.

Third-party platforms have surely been a boon until now. However, the ability to make direct payments through the cards of the banks is much of an easier option.

Amid the growing popularity of online shopping portals and increased online transactions, the government released a national strategy for e-commerce only in August 2019, almost five years after the e-commerce began operating in a full-fledged manner. Yet lack of auxiliary infrastructures has been much of a hurdle for these platforms every now and then. For instance, the country lacks proper road maps and house numbering systems to locate or deliver the ordered goods. Moreover, the inability to make use of the debit or credit cards of the national banks for the payments in these platforms and compulsion to use third-party payment channels such as eSewa and Khalti has been a hassle for the users. Third-party platforms have surely been a boon until now. However, the ability to make direct payments through the cards of the banks is much of an easier option.



Time to speed up
No one can deny the fact that the offerings that can be made through online platforms are immense. The ability to encourage such platforms and accommodate them into the regulated market will not only ease the lives of the people but will also allow the government to bring these into a tax bracket and earn revenues.

Moreover, while the government aims to welcome millions of tourists there is a need to realize the significance of developing digital infrastructure to cater the needs of the tourists. For sure the tourists would prefer to search for a cab service online, book it through an app, and make payment using their card rather than taking up a hassle to walk to the street, look for a cab, bargain over the price, and get used to with the currency.

This article was published on March 12, 2020 on Republica National Daily

मित्र(ता)को परीक्षा

१२ कक्षा सकिएको केहि समय भईसकेको थियो । मेरो दिनचरिया भनेको एउटा बन्दै गरेको वेबसाइटका लागि कन्टेन्ट लेख्ने, फुपुको छोरा (भाई) लाई पढाउने, देश बाहिर पढ्न जानकालागि तयारी गर्ने, र ११-१२ पढ्दा सुरु गरेको ‘एक्टिभिजम’ कायम राख्न विभिन्न कार्यक्रमहरु संचालन गर्ने वा यिनमा सामेल हुने थियो ।  त्यसताका आफुले पढेको कलेज मेरालागि दोश्रो घर जस्तै थियो । पछिल्ला २ वर्षमा मैले त्यहाँका धेरैजना गुरु र अन्य स्टाफहरुसँग निक्कै राम्रो सम्बन्ध बनाएको थिएँ । त्यसैले फुर्सदको समय त्यहाँ पुगेर म सबैसँग गफगाफ गर्न छुटाँउदिन थिएँ । यस्तै गफगाफ गर्न पुगेकाबेला त्यहाँका प्रिन्सिपल सरले मलाई समय भए त्यहि कलेजमा इन्टर्नसिप गर्न अफर गर्नु भयो । प्यारो कलेज, त्यसमाथि आफुसँगैका अरु दुई मित्रहरु पनि त्यहिँ काम गरी रहेकाले मैले बिना अन्य प्रश्न सरको अफरलाई “यस” भने । 

“यस” भनेको केहि दिन पछि म नियमितरुपमा कलेजमा काम गर्न थालेँ ।  भर्नाको समय चलिरहेको थियो । मेरो काम मुलतः कलेज र पढाई बारे बुझ्न आएका नयाँ  विद्यार्थीलाई जानकारी दिने र भर्नाका लागि जाँच दिने विधार्थीको कपी चेक गर्ने नै थियो । कहिले काहिँ भने कोहि क्लास लिने शिक्षक बिदामा बसेको दिन मैले गएर क्लासमा विधार्थीहरुसँग छलफल गर्ने गर्नुपर्थ्यो । 

भर्खरै १२ सकेको मलाई उत्साह एकतिर त थियो नै तर त्यो भन्दा बढी डर थियो कि ती विधार्थीले म भर्खरै १२ सकेको फुच्चे हो भन्ने चालपाए कसरी टेर्लान् ?!

यसरी काम गरिरहेको बेला एउटा अर्को कलेजको स्नातक तहको परीक्षाका लागि हाम्रो कलेज सेन्टर हुने खबर आयो ।  करिब हप्ता-दश दिन चल्ने त्यो परीक्षा लागि एग्जाम-हलमा बस्ने गार्डहरुको आवश्यकता पर्ने भयो । यसका लागि को-को बस्ने भने छलफलमा मलाई पनि गार्डका रुपमा राख्ने निर्णय गरियो। भर्खरै १२ सकेको मलाई स्नातक तहको जाँचमा गार्ड राख्ने भन्दा उत्साह एकतिर त थियो नै तर त्यो भन्दा बढी डर थियो कि ती विधार्थीले म भर्खरै १२ सकेको फुच्चे हो भन्ने चालपाए कसरी टेर्लान् ?! समस्या त्यति मात्र रहेन जब मलाई याद भयो कि जाँच दिन आउने विधार्थी मध्ये एकजना सोहि कलेजमा मसँग पढेको साथी सञ्जिब थियो जोसँग मेरो कलेज पढ्दा निकै राम्रो चिनजान थियो । सञ्जिब सँगै अर्को विधार्थी भने हामी भन्दा सोहि कलेजमा पढेका एकजना सिनियर दाई थिए । उसै त कलिलो अनुहार भएको म, त्यसमाथि उनीहरुले मेरो बारे अरुलाई सुनाइदिए भने झन् कसैले टेर्दैनन् भन्ने पिरलो औधि भयो । यसका लागि उनीहरुको भएको क्लासमा मलाई नराखिदिन मैले एग्जाम-इन्चार्ज रहेका गुरुलाई आग्रह गरेँ र उनीहरुको छेवै नपर्ने निर्णय गरेँ । 



परीक्षा सुरु भयो ।  अलिक बुडो देखिन्छु कि भन्ने आशले केहि दिन यता मैले दारी काटेको थिइन र टिसर्टको सट्टा सर्ट लगाएर म गार्ड बस्न गएको थिएँ । पहिलो दिन सबैलाई प्रश्न पत्र र उत्तरपुस्तिका बाँडेपछि डराई-डराई चिट चोर्नेको कपि खोसीदिने कुरा सुनाएको स्मृति अझै पनि प्रष्ट छ । गार्डहरुलाई कडाईका साथ परीक्षा संचालन गर्न भनिएको थियो । सोहि निर्देशन अनुरुप १-२ पटक चोरेर वा चोर्न कोशिस गरेकाहरुको कपि मैले खोसिदिएको पनि थिएँ । त्यत्तिको कडाई भएको परीक्षा मैले आफुले पनि कमै मात्र देखेको-भोगेको थिएँ होला सायद । कपि खोस्दा होस् वा परीक्षा हलमा ल्याउन निषेधित मोबाईल-फोन जफत गर्दा, मलाई डर एउटै कुराको थियो – अरु कसैले म उनीहरु जस्तै ‘फुच्चे’ भन्ने थाहा पाए भने कि बाटो तिर कुट्लान् कि परीक्षा हलमा अर्को दिन देखि नटेर्लान् । 

मलाई डर एउटै कुराको थियो – अरु कसैले म उनीहरु जस्तै ‘फुच्चे’ भन्ने थाहा पाए भने कि बाटो तिर कुट्लान् कि परीक्षा हलमा अर्को दिन देखि नटेर्लान् । 

त्यसबेला अर्को क्लासमा एउटा घटना घट्यो । एउटा विधार्थीको मोबाईल-फोन कक्षामा गार्ड बसेको गुरुले जफत गरिदिएका रहेछन् । त्यसबेला स्मार्ट फोन हुनु ठुलो कुरो थियो । भर्खरै बजारमा आउन सुरु गरेको भएपनि धेरै मानिसहरु पुरानै ‘बटनवाला’ फोन चलाउने गर्थे । सरले भेटेको सो फोन पनि बटनवाला नै थियो । संयोगबस त्यो फोनमा कुनै किसिमको सेक्युरिटी-कोड हालेको रहेनछ । यस्सो एउटा बटन थिचेर हेर्दा फोन अनलक हुने देखियो । फोन जफत गरेको केहि समयपछि हामी केहि गार्डहरु स्टाफरुममा भेला भएका थियौँ । के सुरमा हो जफत गर्ने गुरुले फोन चलाउन थाले । गुरुले फोनमा भएको मेसेजहरु हेर्दा त्यस केटाको २ जना गर्लफ्रेन्ड भएको थाहा पाइयो । केटाका दुवै प्रेमिका पनि त्यहि कलेजका थिए र त्यहीँ जाँच दिदै थिए । हामी सबै यो कुरा थाहा पाएर गलल हाँस्यौँ । अहिले सम्झदा त्यसदिन सायद मैले नै अरुको फोनको म्यासेज हेर्नु गलत हो भनेर भन्नु पर्ने थियो कि जस्तो पनि लाग्छ ।

परीक्षाको अन्तिम दिन थियो । केहि कारणवश म मेरो साथी भएको परीक्षा हलको गार्ड परेँ । सञ्जिब मात्र हैन आफूभन्दा सिनिअर दाई पनि त्यहि क्लासमा थिए । भित्र छिर्नासाथ म डरले रातो पिरो भएँ । शायद नर्भस भएकै कारणले होला, मलाई त्यसबेलाको थोरै मात्र कुराहरु याद छन् । सबै कुरा सुमधुर चलिरहेको थियो ।  परीक्षा सकेर विधार्थीहरु हलबाट निस्कन थालिसकेका थिए । यसै बीच सञ्जिबले छेउमा रहेको उसको साथीलाई केहि सोध्न थाल्यो । मैले त्यसो नगर्ने आग्रह गरेँ । उसले केहीबेर त मान्यो तर फेरी बोल्न-हेर्न गर्यो। सायद जाँच सकिन थोरै मात्र समय बाँकि थियो, त्यसैले मैले अब कपि खोसे पनि साथीले पास गर्ने जति लेखिसक्यो होला भन्ने सोचेँ र उसको कपि लिईदिएँ । मित्र त्यसपछि केहि नभनी कोठा बाहिर गयो । त्यसयता सञ्जिबसँग लामो समय मेरो भेटघाट भएन ।



त्यसदिन सो कुरा सुनेर हामी साथीभाई बीच एक राउण्ड हाँसो गुञ्जियो । आखिर त्यो घटना सम्झन योग्य नै थियो । 

कलेज पढ्दा मेरो मित्रता कलेजका धेरैसँग थियो। आफ्नो-आफ्नो समूह बनाएर बस्ने मित्रहरुबीच म कहिले कुन त कहिले कुन ग्याँङसँग बस्थेँ। सोहि मध्येको एउटा मिल्ने ग्याँङको मित्र सन्जिब पनि थियो। ‘परीक्षा काण्ड’ पश्चात सञ्जिबलाई मैले फेसबुकमा मात्र देखेको थिएँ । करिब २ वर्ष पछि सञ्जिब सामेल हाम्रो ग्याँङ भेट्ने कुरा भयो र हामी नयाँ बनेश्वोरको एक रोडसाइड स्टिक-फुड स्टलमा भेट्यौँ । धेरै पछि भेटेकाले होला, मलाई ‘परीक्षा काण्ड’को वास्ता थिएन । कुरैकुराबीच सबैसामु त्यो दिनको कुरा पनि निस्कियो । भएको के रहेछ भने सञ्जिबहरुको त्यसदिन गणित विषयको जाँच रहेछ । गणित सञ्जिब र मेरा लागि उस्तै-उस्तै थियो – आतंक ! प्रश्नपत्र हेर्दा सञ्जिबलाई उत्तर आउने भन्दा नआउने प्रश्नहरु धेरै रहेछन् । पास गर्न हम्मे-हम्मे हुने स्थितिको सामना गर्ने अवस्था आएछ । यहि आतंकको बीच सञ्जिबको सोच एक असल साथी पनि हुने र छेउछाउका मित्रहरुको उत्तर अलि-अलि हेर्दै पास पनि गर्ने रहेछ। यसका लागि उसले जाँचको पहिलो २ घण्टा आफ्नो मित्रलाई अफ्ट्यारो नपर्ने गरि आफुले जानेको केहि प्रश्नको उत्तर लेखेर र चुप्प लाग्दै समय बिताएको रहेछ । बिस्तारै जाँच सकेर जाने विधार्थीहरु बढ्दै गएर क्लास खाली-खाली हुन थालेपछि मात्र उसले आफ्नो नजर अरु मित्रहरुको उत्तरपुस्तिकामा डुलाउन थालेको रहेछ । तर कर्मनिष्ठ साथीले त्यसो गर्न थालेको केहि प्रयासमै सञ्जिबको उत्तरपुस्तिका खोदिएको रहेछ । त्यसदिन सो कुरा सुनेर हामी साथीभाई बीच एक राउण्ड हाँसो गुञ्जियो । आखिर त्यो घटना सम्झन योग्य नै थियो । 

त्यस दिनको सञ्जिबसँगको भेटघाट पछि हामी बेला-बेला भेटिनै रहन्थ्यौं । तर त्यस घटनाबारे सबैभन्दा अचम्मको कुरा त मैले कयौँ भेट पछि मात्र सुन्न पाएँ । स्नातक सकेको केहि समय पछि सन्जिबले मलाई एकदिन भन्यो, “मैले ब्याचलर्समा फेल भएर दोहोर्याएर दिनुपरेको एक मात्र सबजेक्ट त्यहि (गणित) नै हो।” त्यति बेला पो मन चसक्क भयो । लाग्यो साथीका लागि जाबो नदेखे जस्तो गरेर उसलाई अलि-अलि हेर्न दिएको भएपनि उसले पास त गर्ने थियो होला नि ! आहिले पनि प्रिय मित्र सन्जिबसँग बेला बखत भेट हुने गर्छ र सोहि कथाले संबादका क्रममा प्रवेश पाईरहन्छ ।



Tootle vs. Pathao – Which is better? A Rider’s Perspective

Tootle and Pathao, as ride-sharing apps, have gained huge popularity over a short period of time. While a few people have even begun their journey as full-time riders for these applications, I recently experimented life as a Tootle as well as Pathao’s rider. Based on this interesting experience, I have prepared this short paper analyzing multiple aspects and the differences in both of the applications.

This paper looks into the financial, technological, psychological, usability, marketing, and a few other aspects on the rider’s end of two major ride-sharing apps of Nepal – Pathao and Tootle.



The research and the data presented in this paper is completely limited to the author’s experience of riding Pathao for 12 hours completing 12 rides, and riding Tootle for 10.5 hours completing 19 rides. Thus, having the sample size of one, all the figures that are based on the number of rides, hours spent, and revenues earned might not depict or match with the actual average figures. The opinions of the passengers were obtained from the conversation between the rider and passengers.



Paper aims at unraveling multiple aspects of these two applications in order to provide potential riders with a better understanding of both of the applications. Further, it aims at providing suggestions to both the companies to march forward with their goals and objectives. This paper is only published for unofficial use and is free of any copyrights for reuse. However, any use of the document is suggested to be only made with prior consent of the author.

Please have your comments or suggestions shared on the comments section below. Thank you!

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FAQs for people with Keratoconus in Nepal

It just felt to me that many of us are worried and confused about what Keratoconus really is and talk about the treatment of Keratoconus in Nepal. As a solution, I just thought to share some FAQs and answer them with the best knowledge that I have so far. I will try to answer in short so that it doesn’t get really boring to the readers. I’ll try to add the questions and their answers regarding Keratoconus in Nepal over time.

Let’s begin with the general questions and then dive into the specifics:

    1. What is Keratoconus? What causes it?
      • Basically, it is an eye disorder in which the cornea starts to thin and starts to bulge into a cone-like-shape. The cause behind Keratoconus is not much known. A few types of research suggest it to be a hereditary disorder, and some say it might be caused if you rub your eyes a lot much. You might have fruitful reading about my experience with Keratoconus in this previously written blog post.

        Keratoconus
        Source: firsteyecareirving.com
    2. I see multiple images overlapped and glare of lights in my eyes, is that Keratoconus?
      • There might be other reasons for this kind of vision but yes you also see multiple images overlapped and glare of lights in my eyes when you have Keratoconus. This is what you pretty much see:

        keratoconus vision
        Source: bettnervision.com
    1. What does “progression” mean in Keratoconus?
      • Progression simply means whether or not your cornea is thinning over time. A Keratoconus in progression means your cornea is thinning over time. To find out if your Keratoconus is under progression, you need to take the cornea topography test (known as Pentacam in Nepal) over two separate time intervals. If the thickness of your cornea is decreasing over time then your keratoconus is said to be in progression.
    1.   Can I do LASIK (Laser Eye Surgery) to cure Keratoconus?
      • Unfortunately, LASIK cannot cure Keratoconus.

        Depending on the thickness of your cornea and the rate of progression of Keratoconus, a specialist may suggest you the remedy accordingly.

    1. Can I wear glasses to correct my vision?
      • No, for most of the Keratoconic patients glasses don’t work well. As the problem is with the bulge in the cornea, glasses can make things look a little better but not perfectly fine.



    1. Then what’s the cure for Keratoconus? 
      • There is no specific cure for Keratoconus that brings back your vision to normal. Rather, depending on the thickness of your cornea and the rate of progression of Keratoconus, a specialist may suggest the remedies accordingly. They might include following remedies:
          1. Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Lens or Hard Lens: When Keratoconus is at basic stage, you might be recommended with RGP or Hard Contact Lenses. These lenses help in slowing or stopping the progression of Keratoconus and try to fix the bulging of the cornea. However, as someone who had previously tried these lenses, I have found it to be a big-time headache in using them. Also, as I have heard from other people in Nepal who have used these, they have not been a comfortable solution.
          1. Scleral Lens: Scleral Lenses or mini-Scleral Lenses is different kind of contact lens whose edges sit in the sclera (white section) of the eye. This makes these lenses extremely comfortable compared to the RGP or Hard Lenses. They also help to slow down the progression of Keratoconus and improve the vision. However, they are extremely expensive and cost a minimum of around Rs.70,000-80,000 for a pair. These lenses are something I have been using for a while and have proven to be a boon to me.
          1. Cornea Collagen  Cross-Linking (CXL): It is a procedure that stops the progression of Keratoconus. This procedure involves putting drops of Riboflavin (Vitamin B) in the cornea and exposing it to ultraviolet (UV) rays which resultantly reinforces the cornea and halts the progression of Keratoconus. Usually, you are required to have the minimum de-epithelialized corneal thickness of 400 μm in order to conduct CXL. At Tilganga, the regular cost (waiting in the queue) of CXL is Rs.25,000 and for expedited process costs Rs.37,000 per eye.
        1. Cornea Transplant: This is the last resort for Keratoconus which is usually done when your corneal thickness is really low or when your cornea gets so thin that it tears ( known as Corneal Abrasion). Cornea Transplant, as the name suggests, is the procedure where you get your cornea replaced with another one. The risk with this is that corneal tissues might get rejected even after several years of cornea transplant.
    1. Who should I visit/consult if I have Keratoconus?
      • You should visit a cornea specialist in the first place to know about the status of your Keratoconus. Once you are done with that depending on the suggestions made by the specialist, you should then visit a contact lens specialist who can suggest to you on what kind of visual aid (glasses/contact lens) you should get.



    1. Which is the best place to check my eyes in Nepal?
      • I recommend you to visit Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology on this matter. I have heard of several other eye hospitals but I do not have much imformation on them. At Tilganga, it might be a hassle waiting for the doctors in the queue, it is the best place. You should at first itself tell the optometrist that you have Keratoconus so that they can recommend you to visit the specific doctor. You can visit during the extended-hours (during afternoon) to avoid the huge crowd in the the morning.
    1. What are the other risks associated to Keratoconus?
      • Rapid progression of Keratoconus can result in tearing of the cornea. You might have to then go for a cornea transplant. Also, I have heard that since Keratoconic patients have extremely poor vision, the retina of the eyes have higher chances of tearing. Thus, it is suggested that we also visit the retina specialist to see if our retina is fine. I have however never found or heard of any Keratoconic patient who has have a tear in their retina.
  1. Who are some of the recommended specialists to consult on Keratoconus?
    • There might be many but let write the name of some of the doctors whom I know.
        1. Dr.Reena Gurung: Cornea Specialist at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology. She also has a clinic at Jawalakhel.
        1. Dr.Purshottam Dhungana: Consultant at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology. He has a clinic at Narayangopal Chowk named Visual Line. He is the one who imports Scleral Lens in Nepal.
        1. Dr.Ashik Pradhan: Contact Lens Specialist at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology. ( Extremely good person! But heard he has left Tilganga recently).
      1. Dr.Rachana Singh: Cornea Specialist at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology. (I haven’t met her in person but have heard her name from someone else)

That’s all for now. Do post me questions that you have in case you have any. I’ll add it to the list and try to answer them.


Disclaimer: The answers are completely based on my knowledge as a Keratoconic patient. My understanding might be wrong in some cases.

Join the community of doctors, and patients in Nepal with Keratoconus at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/993265627680756/