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Country Focus: Nepal



A brief description of current development scenario of a country

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The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia and is the world's youngest republic. It is bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. With an area of 147,181 square kilometers and a population of approximately 30 million, Nepal is the world's 93rd largest country by land mass and the 41st most populous country. Kathmandu is the nation's capital and the country's largest metropolitan city.

Geography:
Geography of Nepal is uncommonly diverse. Nepal is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 800 kilometers (500 mi) long and 200 kilometers (125 mi) wide, with an area of 147,181 square kilometers (56,827 sq mi). It is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: the Tarai, the Hills, and the Mountain region. These ecological belts run east-west and are vertically intersected by Nepal's major, north to south flowing river systems.

Economy:
Nepal's gross domestic product (GDP) for the year 2005 was estimated at just over US$39 billion (adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity), making it the 83rd-largest economy in the world.

Culture:
Nepalese culture is diverse, reflecting different ethnic origins of the people. The Newar community is particularly rich in cultural diversity; they celebrate many festivals, well known for their music and dance.

Religiosity:

Religion Percent
Hinduism 80.6%
Buddhism 10.7%
Islam 4.2%
Mundhum 3.6%
Christianity       0.5%
Other 0.4%

Population Structure:

Data Size
Population 28,676,547 (2005)
Growth Rate 2.2%
Population below 14 Years old       39%
Population of age 15 to 64 57.3%
Population above 65 3.7%
The median age (Average) 20.07
The median age (Male) 19.91
The median age (Females) 20.24
Ratio (Male: Female) 1, 000:1,060
Life expectancy (Average) 59.8 Years
Life expectancy (Male) 60.9
Life expectancy (Female) 59.5
Literacy Rate (Average) 53.74%
Literacy Rate (Male) 68.51%
Literacy Rate (Female) 42.49%

Infant Mortality Rate:
Total: 62 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 60.18 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 63.91 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

Demographics:
Nepal is a multi-lingual, religious and ethnic society. The National Language Policy Advisory Commission has listed 60 living languages in the Kingdom. Nepal is a Hindu majority nation like India with Hinduism accounting for over 80% of the population with Buddhism practiced by approximately 11% and Islam accounting for 4.2% of the population.

Education System:
The schooling system in Nepal has been divided in four levels including a) primary (grade I-V), b) lower secondary (VI-VIII), c) secondary (IX-X) and d) higher education. Education in Nepal and primary education in particular has developed significantly since 1971 when the New Education Plan was introduced. The number of primary schools increased from 10,600 to over 26,000 between 1971 and 2001. Between 1991 and 2001, on an average more than 900 new primary schools were added each year and the number of primary school teachers has reached nearly 100,000 in 2001.

National Social Welfare System:
There is a provident fund system in place which was updated in 1996 and is administered by the Employees Provident Fund. The coverage is compulsory for government employees and voluntary for any organization with 10 or more employees. The sources of funding for the provident fund are made through 10% contributions from the insured person's earning plus 10% from the employer.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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