Jun 23, 2015

Story of an entrepreneur: Aashish Adhikari of Red Mud Coffee

Despite myriads of coffee shops and restaurants vying for customers' attention in Kathmandu valley, one coffee shop has been able to make a distinct name for itself in a short span of time. Red Mud coffee, established by Mr. Aashish Adhikari has quickly grown into two outlets and has been able to developed a loyal customer base. The company was also among the ten companies selected in the business acceleration program of Rockstart Impact and managed to be the first among them to receive an investment from a venture capitalist. How did Red Mud came into being? How did the idea originate and how did a wish turn into reality? Mr. Aashish Adhikari, the founder of the coffee chain shares the story of his entrepreneurial journey in this video below. (The video was taken during Uddhyami Junction organized by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) Nepal on April 9, 2015.) Enjoy!!

May 31, 2015

Read Road to Serfdom in Nepali for free

“Dashatwa ko Bato” is the Nepali translation  of the book “Road to Serfdom” written by Nobel Laureate economist F. A. Hayek. The book was published towards the end of Second World War cautioning about the increasing role of the state and domination of central planning of different aspects of people's lives even in the  then democracies like United Kingdom and United States of America. Hayek had cautioned that the expansion of role of state during war times was likely to continue after the war too and would eventually end up creating slaves out of general public. The book generated a huge debate in the political discourse of the Western countries at that time.

I had published the Nepali version of the book's cartoons in my blog. The post is still among the most popular posts in my blog. And now, Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation, the publisher of the Nepali version of the book has decided to make the book free to read and download. I think this is a great opportunity to read one of the most prominent books championing liberty. So enjoy!!

Apr 3, 2015

Laser Eye Surgery in Nepal : Things You Need to Know

On October 21, 2014, after having worn glasses/contact lenses for almost 15 years, I finally
underwent a laser surgery (Refractive Surgery) for both of my eyes. I have been enjoying this new found freedom for almost 6 months now. Till date, once in a while I just look in the mirror and feel so good that the clear reflection I see of myself is devoid of any glasses or contact lenses. It would be quite difficult for people who have never worn powered glasses to comprehend the joy of getting rid of glasses. Only people who have gone through their lives feeling so dependent on glasses, feeling inadequate at even small moments in life such as rushing to find your glasses the moment you wake up, having a difficult time playing any sports for the fear of breaking your glasses, having a difficult time at the swimming pool would understand how great it feels to be free. 

Anyway, to come back to the objective of this post, ever since I went through the surgery, I have been receiving many calls from friends and acquaintances asking about the surgery. They usually want to know where I got the surgery, how much does it cost, if the quality in Nepal is good enough, how long does it take to recover and most of all: if the doctors will do some kind of check up before the actual surgery to ensure if it is suitable for their eyes. Based on my experience, I have already advised about a dozen people. Then I thought many other people might also want to know these things. So I have decided to present my readers this set of frequently asked questions about laser eye surgery in Nepal. I hope this helps.

1. Is it possible to do laser eye surgery in Nepal?
Of course. Tilganga Insitute of Opthalmology (TIO) has a ultra-modern Refractive Surgery Unit that can perform both LASIK and ReLEx SMILE surgeries and correct myopia (near-sightedness) and hypermetropia (far-sightedness). I don't think other hospitals in Nepal have such facility currently.

2. What are LASIK and ReLEx SMILE?
Just the name of the two technologies used. ReLEx SMILE is the latest one and better one but is more expensive than LASIK. At Tilganga both technologies are available and the surgeon decides which technology is more suited for you depending upon your eyes. They charge the same amount for both technologies.

3. How much does it cost?
At the time of my surgery, it cost NRs. 75,000 for both eyes. The total cost including pre-surgery check up and medicines would come to around NRs. 80,000. The cost could have gone up slightly now. Still the cost is relatively very cheaper than similar surgeries in other hospitals of Nepal and hospitals abroad. I hear it the cost starts from Rs. 200,000 in India. TIO provides discounts for poor and needy people.

4. Who can go through this surgery? What age group? Up to how much power?
The patient has to be above 18 years old. There is no upper limit regarding age. Powers of up to -14 and +6 can be corrected. But one has to go through a series of tests to see if he/she is eligible for the surgery. The doctors at Tilganga are quite fussy about the requirements. In my case, it seemed that they were checking my eyes over and over again. It was quite a  tiring process but comforting to know that they were ensuring safety. I had to even go through a special retina check up before they said yes.

5.What is the procedure? What steps are involved?
You have to call their office and book an appointment for pre-surgery check up. You can call either 977-1-4493775 or 977-1-4493684 to book an appointment but make sure that you mention that you are calling for RSVP or else they might mess up your appointment like they did mine. The check up consists of series of tests on your eyes that determine the dryness of your eyes, thickness of your cornea and the retina. The check lasts for about 4 hours. So be prepared to spend a whole day for the check up. It cost about NRs. 2500 last October. Only if you pass the pre-surgery tests, you can go through the surgery. If you pass the tests, then you can ask for a surgery date. The waiting time in not much long. In my case, it was two weeks.

6.  How much time will the surgery take?
The surgery takes about only 15 minutes  for each eye. That means within half an hour you are done with the surgery of both of your eyes. Then you have to spend 10-15 minutes in another room with your eyes closed. You are visually incapacitated for the rest of the day though as you cannot open your eyes and you have to put in different kinds of drops every 15 minutes and every hour. For me, that was the most exhausting and irritating time.

7. Do they make you unconscious during the surgery? Or do they just anesthetize your eyes? Is it scary?
They just anesthetize your eyes. A tool keeps your eyes wide open preventing your eyelids from shutting. You can see everything. You feel slight irritation while the laser operates in your eyes but it lasts for a very short period of time. Nothing to worry about.

8. How long will it take to get back my normal eyesight?
Your sight is restored immediately after the surgery but it is quite blurry for the whole day. I had tried to watch TV to kill some time after the surgery but failed to do because the vision was too blurry. However, in the next 2-3 days I was able to return to my normal routine except riding my motorbike. You have to keep putting drops of medicines every half hour through the week though. That was a minor inconvenience. But you are not allowed to wash your face properly for a week, a major inconvenience.

9.  What are the risk/potential side effects of the surgery?
They say the risks associated with laser surgeries are almost non-existent. But they do exist. There are two major side-effects though. Dryness and Increased glare. For the next 3 months after the surgery, my eyes would get dry once in a while and I had to put a few teardrops. Teardrops do become your best friend after the surgery. Five months down the line, I still have to use teardrops but rarely. Maybe once in a week. Sometimes once a fortnight. My eyes need teardrops when I use computers for extended period of time. But at other times, my eyes are perfectly fine. Another side effect I witnessed is the increased glare while staring at light sources. This is a minor inconvenience while driving. The glare was large in the early days but returned to normal in about two months after the surgery.

Well, I have answered all the questions usually asked to me. I hope this helps you. If you have any additional queries you can just call or visit TIO. By the way, you can also check out this Avenues TV for more information:

Mar 27, 2015

Story of an entrepreneur: Nischal Tiwari of CricNepal

Started in 2010 with very few resources and manpower, CricNepal today has grown into one of the most popular sports portal of Nepal. Visited by millions of Nepali cricket fans every year, the site is a popular destination for both domestic and international matches. In this video below, Mr. Tiwari shares about why and how he started CricNepal, how it has been doing and what are his plans for the portal in future. The video was taken during Uddhyami Junction, one of the regular programs of Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) - Nepal in which an entrepreneur shares about his or her entrepreneurial journey to students and aspiring young entrepreneurs. Enjoy!

Feb 22, 2015

Story of an entrepreneur: Khadananda Shiwakoti of Shiwakoti Bags

Shiwakoti Bags is one of the leading bag brands of Nepal currently. It not only supplies bags to Nepali market but also exports them abroad. The annual turnover of Shiwakoti Bags is in millions but very few people know the humble beginnings of this company. The company was established by Khadananda Shiwakoti and his elder brother in 2000, who were then working as laborers in other bags manufacturers. Shiwakoti brothers who started their careers as street hawkers had managed to save Rs. 50,000 by 2000 when they decided to start their own company. Below is the video of Khadananda Shiwakoti sharing about his entrepreneurial journey from a street hawker to the proud owner of a leading national brand. The video was taken during Uddhyami Junction, one of the regular programs of SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship) Nepal.

Feb 20, 2015

How to Improve Electricity Transmission System in Nepal?

Majority of hydropower projects in Nepal have not gone under construction due to the absence of transmission lines and thus it is one of the key constraints that has been keeping the country from realizing its enormous hydro potential and easing the prevailing electricity crisis. Nepal Electricity Authority, the state owned monopoly has a practical monopoly in the construction and ownership of transmission lines in Nepal. Since Nepal Electricity Authority is mired with corruption and inefficiency, it has been acting as a bottleneck for the development of hydro-power development in Nepal. How can we solve this problem? What can be a better policy option for improving the transmission line system in Nepal? I have co-authored a paper titled "Policy Options for Improved Electricity Transmission System in Nepal" with my colleagues at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation. You can read it or download it below:

Please let me know if you have any comments or feedback on this paper.

Jan 3, 2015

Interview with Dr. Swarnim Wagle, Member of National Planning Commission

Just stumbled up on this interview of Dr. Swarnim Wagle who is currently one of the members of the National Planning Commission of Nepal. Dr. Wagle had an impressive career so far. Born in a remote village of Gorkha district, he got educated in the prestigious Budhanilkantha School and then attended London School of Economics, and Harvard University before finally getting his PHD from Australian National University. Having worked for international institutions like World Bank and UNDP in several countries, his decision to return to Nepal and take up a job at National Planning Commission that pays about 1/40 of his previous salary is truly appreciable. I am more impressed by the fact that he seems to be committed to promote the role of private sector in the economy and does not shy away from making his views clear although he is regularly swamped by leftist intellectuals and their centuries old rhetoric whenever he presents his views regarding the economy. I hope he will be able to make the changes he wishes to make before his willpower and motivation in engulfed by the corrupt Nepalese bureaucracy and politics. We need more people like him. My only fear, though, is that he may start patronizing and may end up making the state mechanism more efficient at repressive entrepreneurial aspirations of the citizens. I hope that does not happen.