Monthly Archives: May 2011

To All Teachers

To many, teaching appears a complacent job – complacent because a teacher does not necessarily seem to fall headlong into destructive vicissitudes. This may be because a teacher, working with his mind and heart, skips being visible like our society’s militant muscle users. Positively, this may still be because teaching is accepted as fundamental to social progress and the teacher one of the principal agents for augmenting and sustaining such progress.  And, in reality, teachers can manage to live a leisurely and contented life despite hours/years of hard work  while the world around them falls into upheavals. But, are their lives without challenges behind this veil of complacence? 
Teaching involves the need to sustain a productive challenge, the challenge to constantly update and be updated. It is the challenge to exist as long as the urge for learning exists. It is equally to supply the society with progressive, inquisitive work force, who would work towards a brighter future from among the present’s pessimistic crowd.  We in KU feel this urge even more; we feel that our responsibilities are pressing though, as usual, the achievements relatively more distant. But we closely watch our hard work being rewarded with the successes of our students. We believe that our persistence proves the main motivation for our students. We work to keep our values intact while upgrading ourselves and consolidating our goals at a time many things are falling out of place in the country. 
We would like to dedicate KUFIT to all the teachers who share the motivation to sustain the challenges for building a better tomorrow. This issue contains reflections on pertinent social topics, teachers’ intimate narratives, and  cases from Nepali history. Finally, as we arrive the second issue of KUFIT, we feel a strong urge to ask our colleagues and readers to visit the site, read the articles, initiate discussions and plan for contributions in the months to come.
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Editorial


Effects of Gasoline Adulteration

Bibek Baral
Performance and emissions of internal combustion engines are sensitive to the fuel used as they are designed to run on fuels with certain specifications. When an engine is run on a fuel with altered specifications, the performance and emissions of the engine may deteriorate and the durability and reliability of the engine components may be affected. Fuel adulteration is often a surreptitious operation in which a higher priced fuel, such as gasoline, is mixed with other cheaply available hydrocarbon fuels or solvents. This changes the composition and physical properties of the base fuel, and use of such fuels often results in reduced drivability of vehicles and increased tailpipe emissions. This problem is pervasive throughout South Asia and has also been reported in Greece, Brazil and African countries.
The basic reason for fuel adulteration is the financial benefit obtained from differential taxes imposed on different fuels. In many developing countries including Nepal gasoline is more expensive than diesel and kerosene because gasoline is taxed while diesel and kerosene are subsidised. Kerosene is used by moderate to low income people for cooking and lighting purposes and so, after subsidy, it is significantly cheaper compared with gasoline. The price difference between these two fuels is the main reason behind one of the most common forms of fuel adulteration, i.e. blending kerosene with gasoline. The other factor for this type of adulteration is the easy availability. Other types of gasoline adulteration prevalent in Nepal include mixing of gasoline with gasoline boiling range industrial solvents such as toluene, xylene and other aromatics, or light hydrocarbons such as pentanes and hexanes (rubber solution) which carry insignificant tax. Diesel adulteration, which includes mixture of kerosene and used lubricants with diesel is also equally ubiquitous. However, gasoline-kerosene adulteration would be more harmful in terms of emissions and damage caused to the spark ignition (SI) engines than the diesel adulteration would do to compression ignition (CI) engines and its emissions. Fuel adulteration is usually done by the operators of ‘for hire’ vehicles who do not own the vehicles, and, according to media reports, also by some of the public distribution system operators, and the fuel transporters.
Blending kerosene with gasoline will primarily result in a fuel with heavier hydrocarbon components contributed by the kerosene and thus a fuel with reduced volatility. It particularly elevates the middle and final evaporation temperatures by the introduction of heavier hydrocarbons in the kerosene. On the other hand, mixing small amounts of hydrocarbon solvents such as toluene and xylene with gasoline would not significantly affect the evaporation characteristics of the gasoline, because of the fact that they have boiling points in the range similar to gasoline components and some even occur in gasoline itself. However, these solvents do spike the fuel with an excessive amount of certain types of hydrocarbons. Both of these factors, i.e., change in gasoline volatility as well as the increase in certain class of hydrocarbon component, especially aromatic hydrocarbon, play key roles in the emission of spark ignition (SI) engines (gasoline type engines). It has been established from various studies that increase in molecular weight of the fuel, and hence decrease in volatility of the fuel, increases total hydrocarbons (THC), and particulate matter (PM) emissions from spark-ignition engines. Besides, increases in certain classes of hydrocarbon in the fuel have been found to be associated with an increase in THC and PM emissions as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). These emissions, as shown by epidemiological studies, pose serious risk to public health and the environment. Some hydrocarbons, especially PAH, particularly are known carcinogens. Results from a series of experimental studies conducted by the author concluded that an adulterated blend containing 20% of kerosene produces 2 to 3 folds more THC, PM and PAH emission. The results are really alarming and if immediate action is not taken against the clandestine fuel adulteration operation, the general public will be exposed to a lot higher levels of such harmful pollutants. Situation is getting even worse by ever increasing number of vehicles in Kathmandu Valley and gasoline paucity which is promoting increased tendency of its adulteration by kerosene.
In addition to the emissions, the gasoline adulterated with kerosene would make the fuel more susceptible to knock, an abnormal combustion phenomenon in spark ignition engines. When knock is severe and persistent, it may damage the engine components including piston rings and lands, cylinder head gasket, and piston crown. Experimental studies showed that at certain engine condition when the engine fuelled with gasoline operates without knocking, a 10 percent kerosene blend would cause more than fifty percent of engine cycles knocking, and a 20 percent kerosene blend would cause almost all of the engine cycles knocking. Also at certain engine operating condition, the knock intensity resulting from 20 percent blend is more than 5 times greater than 10 percent kerosene blend whereas with 100 percent gasoline the knock intensity is zero. This indicates that prolonged running with adulterated fuel will seriously damage the engines.
The consequences of fuel adulteration range from environmental to economic. The increased emissions resulting from the use of the adulterated fuel has a direct environmental consequence. However, there may be indirect consequences as well. Kerosene, which is the basic fuel for cooking and lighting intended for lower income people, is misused in the transport sector, thus depriving those people of their daily cooking and lighting fuel. This may compel people to use inefficient biomass stoves as an alternative causing higher level indoor pollution. The economic consequence of fuel adulteration is the loss in tax due to the large scale channelling of subsidised kerosene to the transport sector. As adulterated fuel may affect the durability of engine components, for example, due to knock, prompting the engine components to be replaced earlier than their usual operating life, this is also an economic loss.
To conclude, adulterated gasoline which has adverse consequences on environment and economy has to be limited by any means. For this, the government agencies including the Ministry of Supplies, the state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation and Nepal Bureau of Standards should consider the matter more seriously and come up with proper strategy to deal with the furtive fuel adulteration practices. The consumers should also be careful and choose more reliable fuel supplier. After all, it comes to their own well-being. 
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Discourse


Science and Superstition: Reflections on Astrology

Pushpa Raj Adhikary
One area where science and superstition clash and confuse is astrology.  The clash and confusion stem from a popular misconception that astrology is the same scientific field as astronomy. In this article I will try to shed lights on the different facets of this misconception. 
In fact, the same ancient people, who made sense of the worldly things, also observed the sky, calculated the positions of prominent stars and planets and other heavenly bodies with respect to the earth and acquired the knowledge, which could predict the occurrences of solar and linear eclipses. Thus emerged the knowledge of astrology which mainly dealt with predicting the impacts of the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars on the events which occur on earth and the future lives of living beings.
Do the position of stars and planets in the sky, at the time of birth of a child affect the future of the child’s life and career? Astrology says it does. But how? The systematic and formulated knowledge accumulated so far does not have a rational reason to correlate a position of a certain planet or a star with that of life and career of any person. If so, then why and how does this strange belief of correlating the stars and planets with our future exist in our society? This belief persists in our society because of the curiosity of human beings to know whether some natural phenomenon brings about the well-being of particular person or persons. The astrologers come with their explanation to convince us that the position of a planet or the position of the sun in a particular constellation (rashi) at the time of their birth does affect the destiny of the new born. As a proof of their claim they asked: if astrology is not true or not a science, how can an astrologer predict the phenomenon of eclipse?
Of course, people wanted to know and also record the time of the birth of their children. Without a clock or the calendar how would people do it? The most obvious way of doing this was to record the time with respect to the position of the sun in a particular group of stars, which we call rashi, or the position of a planet, or a star. We have these positions recorded in a paper called the ‘horoscope’ or kundali. An astrologer reads time recorded in kundali and predicts the future of a person. Now a days, with such a large population on earth, it is most likely that several persons may be born at a particular time of the day. But do you have any record of such persons born at a particular time having identical habits, attitudes, or career? During the time of the election two different astrologers predict different outcomes for the same candidate. Is this not the proof that an astrologer’s prediction is a wild guess but not the outcome based on rational thinking?
Let us now briefly discuss about the subject called astronomy. Astronomers also observe the sky, record the position of planets and stars. They not only record the positions of the planets and stars, but also try to understand how stars and planets move in the sky, why they look different at different times of the year. Astronomers also study why stars are different from the planets, why stars are hot, how stars are formed, how long the stars survive, and most importantly, where all of these stars, planets, comets and other bodies in the sky come from. Does any book on astrology explain or answer any of these questions? Astronomy is a science and it keeps growing once we understand more and more of nature’s secret. But do you have the similar expansion of knowledge in astrology except something about the position of planets and stars and their impact on human beings? A branch of knowledge which does not improve continuously but becomes more and more perfect, and above all, satisfies the intellectual quest of human beings is not a science and is also irrelevant to us. And astrology is one of such branches of knowledge whereas astronomy, since its beginning to the present time, is equally interesting, challenging and requires greatest intellectual power of human beings to understand the material bodies and their interactions resulting in the form of natural phenomena.  
Our ancestors who studied sky and tried to understand the planet, stars, and their motion in sky did not necessarily do so to link their knowledge in predicting the future of human beings on earth. They studied the sky as part of human curiosity to understand about their surroundings and satisfy the intellectual quest. But somehow this knowledge, instead of growing as a science has grown to a pseudo-science misleading the society. These days astrologers not only tell you about your future but they predict whether you go abroad or not. Astrologers have even started to make a horoscope of a country. Would we, as rationale beings of a new millennium, like to be the citizens of a country whose fate is decided by astrologers?
Astrologers try to influence us in almost all of our activities including the area of our economy by predicting the rise and fall of stock market. They have even fooled politicians by making them more prone to astrological consultations. But how often do the predictions of astrologers come true? Have you had any record of how many predictions of astrologers have come true? The belief in astrology is thus based on a motive for a quick gain without any hard work. In fact, we should start taking astrologers to task for making false predictions which would affect the life of many.
It is true that science does not have answers to the many unknown phenomena in our lives. The efforts of scientists are directed to understanding the reasons for observing the objects around us  which are not explained through the existing knowledge. But astrologers may have answers to many questions which science does not have because they would not need reasons and logic to answer these questions. They put blame on some unknown planet or star and try to convince us this particular star or planet has determined our action or future. If you are a rationale human being you would not believe anything of it and discard this as total nonsense and regard astrology not as a science but superstition.
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Science


Reflective Journaling: An Autoethnographic Experience

Kashiraj Pandey
Reflective writing, or what I rather call journaling, empowers us to creatively and expressively portray who we are and what we experience. By challenging ourselves to be honest and to put our voices on paper, we cannot help but disrupt old patterns and beliefs. Anybody who may be present or absent in any given context is creative and it is all about whether or not we document our creativity that comes as a product of the interaction with the world around us which readily boosts confidence and cross cultural understanding for our overall transformation.
To me writing works as craft while not worrying on the meaning as we prefer to leave readers to make their own meanings that anyway keep changing according to social-temporal contexts. As response to our regular teaching learning activities, the teachers of English at the Department of Languages and Mass Communication are regularizing the practice of journaling with students since 2005. As a teacher and also the reflective practitioner, I always step into each classroom once a week, divide students into groups, facilitate the class while students in turn discuss the subject matter. With my frequent moderation and facilitation, I could see that more learning is taking place than just my teaching. According to the individual understanding, all students reflect through writing in journal, the outcome.
Maintaining a journal has helped us realize creativity as a plant growing in newer and more beautiful interweave every day making ourselves fresh and new. Thinking many might fail to do so not getting conducive environment, we encourage the students to explore their creativity that was seen in different levels in and outside the classroom. Based in our experience at Kathmandu University, as we start the semester with a set of instructions about using journals in the classroom, as Young (1999) suggests “that journals are valuable not just busy work, they are used daily as students and teacher build the knowledge of course” (p. 18), I like to propose some steps as guidelines in the beginning of each semester-group students. 

First, to ask students buy a No. 3 Register. Secondly, to make them clear on the language of the journal, in our case it should be English as mentioned in the prescribed text book, “unless told otherwise, in this class we shall use only English, even in conversations among students before, during, and after class” (Lohani & Nissani, 2008, p. 9 ). Thirdly, to monitor, facilitate, collect, and read the journal on a regular basis. Then, encouraging them to write about a wide variety of topics of their choice as free writing with a theme that has link to the text discussed in the class, we can ask students to leave a blank space between entries for room to comment later. This process holds significant place in learning through creating individual stories and poems when all the students write something during and after the class time. Finally, we can look for ways to share the journals between and among students. To ensure that the students understood the connection between the theory in the lectures (and readings), and the practice in real life; we do practice reflective journal writing in the classroom among assigning a series of questions each week to help students make connections between the lecture and the textbooks, and what learning really meant to them. Done honestly, writing neatens what affects us and who really we are. When the students are able to develop friendship with literary texts and make these texts part of their life and develop enthusiasm to decipher more and more texts from the works of imagination, their communication strength empowers and there meets the objectives of learning in the courses on technical communication for students of Media Studies, Science, and Engineering. As students start to find meaning in the texts in relation to their lives, it strengthens their reading habit, “in order to develop as a writer, one must be a reader” (Colonna & Gilbert, 2006, p. v), therefore helps them in vocabulary expansion, communication, production, presentation, and in overall level of understanding linking with background concept for writing, the reflective practice of journaling.

Even before one actually sits and writes, the most important thing I remember is that it makes us read and read, explore new worlds, new minds, and new avenues. In our case, English as language is used most effectively at its idiomatic best in literary texts as to enhance the students’ competence in creativity thus leading to their overall transformation most effectively. A good introduction to literature can compensate for the deficiencies of linguistic approach in the area of grammar, vocabulary and syntax that can enhance the students’ competence in creativity. Writing provides the students abundant practice with examples of the subtle and complex uses of grammar and vocabulary of a language. We all perform pretty well and in almost the same way in our subject matter, more specifically in the particular area of Science and Engineering, but what makes us different is our better skills in communication, may it be verbal or non-verbal, thereby we hunt the job, and lead the market.

Hiemstra (2001) puts “Journaling in its various forms is a means for recording personal thoughts, daily experiences, and evolving insights” (p. 20). In this regard, honoring the past in our own words with our own uncensored reflections, we document our memories before they are lost. This reflective process often evokes conversations with self and a real or even an imagined other person making the practitioners able to review or reread the earlier reflections with a progressive clarification of possible insights. Even with the sufficient use and attempts by the educators to encourage personal reflection in various ways, journaling still remains underused as a teaching or learning tool. My continuous effort to bolster creativity from the students’ side where the teacher merely facilitates or just positively motivates students to think with different thoughts to explore and explore has brought more creative writers from various disciplines who are more interdisciplinary in fact.
In the past thirty years friendship with Literature, and during my seven year journey at the Kathmandu University, discussing literary texts every semester, I along with my students have reached in such a state that I hardly find difference between myself (ourselves) and the authors. In the process of producing reflective understanding, I saw how the classroom became interactive time and again as the teaching and learning activity happened at the same time and product was seen in the form of individual journaling. Instead of one way, the learning happens in multiple levels, a differently depicted world produced by multiple discourses not only to deconstruct the accepted social categories, but also in believing multiple truths where our personal stories are set in cultural contexts.
As part of my own reflective journaling and along with the students, I have also created many stories, poems, and essays. While comparing to the first day of this teachering career, as I reflect I feel different now. I am different in the sense that because of reflection and assimilation, I have come to realize many defaults in my way of teaching, dealing, and evaluating the students that led me to make changes accordingly. I have gained confidence in making presentations in more effective ways. I have become more tolerant and respectful to the self and “other” cultural/ ideological differences. Moreover, this autoethnographic mode of inquiry led me to realize and reflect so much that my suppressed agonies, confusions, regrets, contempt, timidity, all got a platform to flourish into humility. Journaling, the product of reflective thinking has helped the students and me to improve our language skills once we passed through all (given) rigorous activities. Accordingly, I believe there are a number of potential benefits for learners in maintaining journal in a writing class. For example, students achieve enhanced intellectual growth and development especially as they gain more experience with the writing based on their lived experiences.
Colonna, M. & Gilbert, J. (2006). Reason to write. London: Oxford.
Hiemstra, R. (2001). Uses and benefits of journal writing. In L. M. English & M. A.

Gillen, (Eds.), Promoting journal writing in adult education (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 90, pp. 19-26). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lohani, S. & Nissani, M. (Eds.). (2008). Flax golden tales. Kathmandu: Ekta.
Young, A. (1999). Teaching writing across the curriculum (3rd ed.). NJ: Prentice Hall.
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Discourse


Different Parvas in Nepali History

Eak Prasad Duwadi
Many parvas[1] have occurred in the Nepali History in the last two centuries. They have their own significance (s) for their own times. In this article I have tried to introduce a few incidents related to the Rana Oligarchy. Among these some were the causes for the beginning of the regime, whereas others acted as the boomerang. The incidents I venture to write about are Kotparva (1903 Ashwin 2), Bhandarkhalparva (1903 Kartik 1), Alauparva (1904 Shrawan), 1938 Parva, 1942 Parva, Makai Parva, Library Parva. I have given short descriptions of each hereby.
Dawn of Ranarchy
Kanchhi rani (the second queen) summoned Mathvar Singh Thapa to Nepal and made him the PM to get fulfill her covert intentions. The British were alerted as Thapa was anti-British. East india Company wanted such person in the power who would be very loyal to them. They found Jung Br as such. Mathvar Singh who was Jung Br’s maternal uncle soon became unpopular among all—king, queen, Pandeys and Gagan Singh Khawas. As the result in 1903 B. S. Jetha 2 night, Mathvar Singh Thapa was summoned in the queen’s palace and murdered by Jung Bahadur.
Kanchhi Rani had trust on Jung Br and Gagan Singh, but the king did not trust Jung Br. After the assassination of Mathvar Singh Thapa, Fatte Singh Chautariya was made the PM. But Gagan Singh was made powerful giving him the portfolios of Foreign affairs and public Administration. Gagan Singh was also anti-British Raj. So with the help of overambitious Jung Br. British conspired to finish Gagan Singh. So on Aswin 1, 1903 Lal Jha shot Gagan Singh dead in his pooja room. 
Gagan Singh’s death created tremors in the palace. However, JB could not get the power. The royal couple wanted to get the investigation done on this incident and punish the culprit. For this JB suggested them to gather all courtiers and interrogate them. Neither the queen nor the king understood JB’s vested interest. So in Aswin 2, 1903 night, all courtiers and employees were called in to the Kot. By seeing the plot, the king escaped from the scene. When Abhiman Singh Basnyat tried to escape, he was killed. Then JB’s supporters killed everyone present there. This massacre in the history of Nepal is known as Kotparva. After this, queen Rajyalaxmi made JB the PM. 
Red Carpeting Ranarchy
After becoming the PM, JB and Rajyalaxmi had differences as each of them wanted to usurp power. Her plan was to make her own son the next king; she purposed the same to JB. JB was determined to sideline the queen from his path. The queen understood that JB was never going to execute her plans as he was doing the other way. As the power had shifted to JB after Kotparva, the king and the queen even began to feel insecure. The queen wanted to eliminate her enemy. Therefore, she made a plan for it. Bajir Singh, Gagan Singh’s son himself wanted to take revenge on his father’s murderer/s. he took the responsibility of killing JB. They planned to invite JB in the Bhandarkhal and kill him there. However, as here were JB’s spies inside the palace, he had already acquired the queen’s secret plan. Interestingly, it was the queen’s tactic, but JB took the advantage. JB and his men finished all remaining opponents.
After Bhandarkhal Parva, the queen became very weak. JB blamed the queen for being responsible for all killings in Nepal. Remaining power was transformed to JB. The queen was made go in exile to Kashi. Both the king and the queen fled to Kashi. In this way, JB took all powers and made Surendra the king of Nepal.
Handing all power to Surendra, King Rajendra with his two sons, Ranendra and Birendra left Nepal having felt unsafe here. However, he wanted to return to Kathmandu in 3 month’s time. JB could not stop them because of the possible mutiny in his army and the public support, so he sent one of his cousins, Khadka Br to India as his messenger.
In Kashi the king designed to regain power. Chautariya Guruprasad Shah and Rang Nath Pandey were his advisors. Acooding to the plan the king set out from India. When he arrived at Sugauli, his supporters joined him. With 16000 men he moved towards Alau at Birgunj. Then, Khadga Br reported everything to JB. Leaflets which carried messages to the Nepali Army by the king were seized in Kathmandu. As JB was very clever, he made all army men to take oath from incumbent king Surendra to stop them joining the former king. Humble soldiers did not know JB’s conspiracy. When JB attacked Alau his mission was a success. Many of king Rajendra’s supporters were killed in that attack and the remaining fled. Rajendra was imprisoned and blind-folded in Bhaktapur Durbar. Knowing the king’s design to escape from there, JB transferred him to Hanuman Dhoka where he died in 1938. 
Feuds among Ranas
After the death of king Surendra, 6 year old Prithvi Bikram ascended to the throne. Prince Narendra Bir Bikram Shah plotted against Ranodip, Dhir Shamsher, and his sons by calling them in a feast. As just before 11 hours of the execution of the plan, one of the conspirators, Uttardhowj Khawas (Gagan Singh’s grandson) disclosed the plot to Dhir Shamser. Later several courtiers were perished and Narendra was imprisoned in Chunar jail. Consequently, Dhir Shamsher became more powerful.
Shift of Reign from Bahadurs to Shumshers
An army troop was going to take part in Rawalpindi under the command of Bir Shamsher in 1942. Just one day before going there, Bir Shamsher got his brothers to shoot his uncle Ranodip dead .Then JB’s son Jagat Jung was also killed. Subsequently, Jung family was displaced from the ruling chain. Those who were alive left the country in exile. After this incident, Bir Shamsher’s kinsmen ruled Nepal for 59 years. This incident strengthened the Rana oligarchy.
Convergence against Ranarchy
In 1977 B. S. an employee of Kaushir Adda Krishna Lal Adhikari wrote and published 1000 copies of a book, Makai ko Kheti. In his book he stated, “We prefer the foreign dog to the native, but native dog come more useful than the foreign one”. Chandra Shamsher’s Pundits, Ramhari Adhikari and Bhojraj Kafle blamed Adhikari claiming that it was an irony for then Shree Tin Chandra Shamsher. Then, Krishnalal was arrested in the charge of treachery, and decided for a 9 year imprisonment. However, in case he returned all 1000 copies, the punishment could lessen to 6 year only. He returned 999 but one. Before the time was over, he died in the jail. The duo who interpreted Makai ko Kheti got a reward of Rs. 1000 each.
Tying bells on the Cat’s Neck
In Bhim Shamsher’s tenure (1986/87 B. S. ), some charismatic and energetic youths were campaigning for opening a library in Kathmandu. They wanted to bring awareness among Nepalis who were subconscious against Rana oligarchy. However, one of the members, Ramchandra Adhikari disclosed the mission of that campaign. Therefore, those 45 involved youths including Laxmi Prasad Devkota were arrested and charged Rs. 100 each. Out of the sum, half was rewarded Adhikari for his help. This incident is known as Library Parva.
Each parva was the milestone of that time as they were the harbinger of the changes destined to occur. Interestingly, first ones facilitated to Ranarchy in Nepal, but later ones became Damocles’ Sword to those rulers. 
Maskey, T. (1999). Nepal Parichaya (9th ed.). Kathmandu: Jara.

Shah, S. B. (1978-80). Rana prime ministers and their role of succession. Voice of History , 4 (5), 3.

Sharma, D. (1991). Modern Nepal’s History. Kathmandu: Dipak Press.

Shrestha, H. (1999). Nepal Parichaya. Kathmandu: M. K.

[1] Key incidents
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Miscellaneous