‘अष्ट ज’ अवधारणाका जन्मदात एवं अभियन्ता डा. दुर्गादत्त पौडलले अमेरिकाको लुजियाना राज्यको लाफियतस्थित युनिभर्सिटी अफ लुजियानामा प्राध्यापनरत् हुनुहुन्छ। प्रोफेसर पौडेलको परिचय यतिमा मात्र सीमित छैन। उहाँ जलवायु अध्ययनको क्षेत्रमा विशेष किसिमले संलग्न रहने एक उच्च वैज्ञानिक पनि हो । वैज्ञानिक पौडलले साहित्य एवं लेखनमा पनि उत्तिकै अभिरुची राख्नुहुन्छ ।

प्रस्तुत छ, ‘अष्ट ज’का संस्थापक एवं अभियन्ता डा. दुर्गा पौडेलसँग साहित्यपोस्टका लागि विश्वराज अधिकारीले गरेको कुराकानीको सम्पादित अंश;

‘अष्ट ज’ कस्तो संस्था हो?

We have Asta-Ja USA (www.astajausa.org), a 501c(3) nonprofit nongovernmental organization registered in Hawaii, USA (www.astajausa.org), and Asta-Ja Research and Development Center (Asta-Ja RDC) (www.astajardcnepal.org), a nonprofit nongovenrental organization registered in Kathmandu, Nepal. We also have Asta-Ja International Coordination Council (Asta-Ja ICC) (https://astajardcnepal.org/asta-ja-icc), an international platform of scholars, scientists, experts, businessmen, policymakers, and other stakeholders associated with Asta-Ja.

अष्ट “ज” अर्थात ‘आठ ज’अन्तर्गत के के पर्दछन् ?

डा. दुर्गादत्त पौडेल

Asta-Ja includes Jal (water), Jamin (land), Jungle (forest), Jadibuti (medicinal and aromatic plants), Janashakti (human resource), Janwar (animals), Jarajuri (crop plants), and Jalabayu (climate). These eight resources that start with Nepali letter Ja represent the Hydrosphere (Jal), Lithosphere (Land), Bisophere (Jungle, Jadibuti, Janashakti, Janawar and Jarajuri) and Atmosphere (Jalabayu), the four sub-system of the Earth System. The Nepali letter “Ja” is also the eighth letter of Devanagiri script.

के आधारमा नेपाललाई ‘आठ ज’हरूमा धनी देख्नुभयो ?

Nepal is endowed with vast natural resoucres such as water resources, beautiful landscape with large reserves of  mines and minerals, large forest area, remarkable biodiversity with the presence of unique medicinal and aromatic plants; excellent agroecology with diverse crop plants, domestic animals, and wildlife; presence of very diverse climatic zones from tropical and subtropical climate in Terai to cool and temperate zone in the mountains and alpine and tundra in high mountains and himalyan regions, and a sizeable very hardworking, pleasant, and dedicated human population. This unique assemblage of human and natural resources truly makes Nepal one of the richest countries in the world in terms of available natural and human resources for economic development. As a person born and raised in Nepal, as a person expereinced in local resources and economy of Nepal, as a person expereinced in varius developmental activities in Nepal; as a natural resource and agricultural scientist experienced working in many countries and places including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and for long time in USA, and as a researcher and a Professor directly involved in natural resources, agriculture, climate change, economic development, and envrionmental quality, I saw clearly that the Nepal is blessed with vast Asta-Ja resources which can help Nepal developing it into one of the most prosperous nations in the world in a very short period of time through sustainable conservation, development and utilization of Asta-Ja resources. My vision for Asta-Ja also aligns very closely with the teaching of Hindu religion in relation to wealth and prospertity. The Sri-Shukta in Rig Veda presents Goddess Asta-Laxmi for wealth and prsoperity. Goddess Astalakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of prosperity and the sources of wealth, also has eight maifestations:

1) Dhanya Laxmi (Laxmi of Grainery or agricultural wealth- Jarajuri or crop plants),

2) Gaja Laxmi (giver of the animal wealth, Janawar),

3) Santana Laxmi (Progeny Laxmi i.e. Janashakti),

4) Vidhya Laxmi (Laxmi of Knowledge, i.e. Janashakti)

5) Dhana Laxmi (Laxmi of Money, Goddess of Wealth)

6) Vijaya Laxmi (Laxmi of the Victory, the giver of the Victory)

7) Dhairya Laxmi (Laxmi of Courage, Laxmi for overcoming any difficulties), and

8) Aadi Laxmi (the First Laxmi, primordial form – Moksha Pradayani)

There are many asta concepts which are deep-rooted in Nepalese society such as Asta-Murti, Astanga Yoga, Asta Chirinjibi, Asta Vinayak, Asta Mangal, Eightfold Path of Lord Buddha, and Asta-Bakra. Therefore, Asta-Ja Framework blends very well in Nepalese society.

अन्तर्वार्ताकार- विश्वराज अधिकारी

नेपालको गरिबी न्युनीकरणमा आठ ‘ज’हरूले कस्तो भूमिका निर्वाह गर्न सक्छन| ?

This is a very powerful and extremely relevant question. Thank you for asking it. Asta-Ja is a comprehensive and unifying planning and development Framework for sustainable conservation, development and utilization of Asta-Ja resources to achieve accelerated economic growth and fast-paced socio-economic transformation of Nepal. Asta-Ja gives the highest priority for human resource development and employment generation within the country. It strives for self-reliance economic development. Asta-Ja brings strong motivation, commitment, dedication and vision for Nepal’s economic development to reach at the par of developed nation by 2040 AD! Asta-Ja Framework has eight principles: 1) Community awareness, 2) Capacity-building, 3) Policy decision-making, 4) Interrelationships and linkages among and between Asta-Ja, 5) Comprehensive assessment of Asta-Ja, 6) Sustainable technologies and practices, 7) Institutions, trade and governance, and 8) Sustainable community development. Asta-Ja activities are guided through these eight principles. Asta-Ja Framework is a grassroots based, self-reliant economic development model which emphasizes community capacity-buidling, income generation, natural resources conservation, community resiliency, good governance and sustainable coomunity development and socio-economic transformation. It also emphasizes the governance of Asta-Ja resources at the community level. Asta-Ja empowers local communities through resource governance, science and technology transfer, community capacity-building, social inclusions, income generation, trade, and policy decision-making. Asta-Ja strives for sustainable agro-enterprise development and agro-jadibuti industrialization in the country.

‘अष्ट ज’ अवधारणाको विकास तपाइँले गर्नुभएको हो ?

Yes. I am the Founder of the Asta-Ja Framework. I have published research articles on Asta-Ja Theoretical Framework, Policy Framework, Strategic Framework, and Capacity-building Framework in peer-reviewed international research Journals. These original framework articles are further enriched through several published research articles that elucidate Asta-Ja system and provide clear guidelines for Asta-Ja implementation. You can find many of these artciles at https://astajardcnepal.org/publications , Asta-Ja RDC website, and at http://www.astajausa.org/publications/ , Asta-Ja USA website.   I have published research articles giving practical guidelines and frameworks for achieving Food, Energy, Water, Environment, and Climate security under the umbrella of Asta-Ja in Nepal. I am the Founding President of Asta-Ja Research and Development Center in Kathmandu Nepal, and Asta-Ja USA in Hawaii, USA. I am the Founding memebr of Asta-Ja Abhiyan Nepal. I am the Founding Coordinator, currently the Chair, of Asta-Ja International Coordination Council (Asta-Ja ICC).

‘अष्ट ज’अन्तर्गत अहिले नेपालमा के के कार्यक्रमहरू भइरहेका छन् र ती कार्यहरूले राष्ट्रको आर्थिक विकासमा के कस्ता योगदान पुर्याउन सक्छन् जस्तो लाग्छ ?

Asta-Ja has been involved in many research, community capacity-building, community awareness, policy advocacy and policy lobbying, relief works, publications, and Asta-Ja outreach activities in Nepal. Some of these activties can be listed as:

  • Climate change adaptation research in Nuwakot, supported by USAID.
  • Food and nutrition research and support in Kavre, supported by UNICEF.
  • Chure degradation research in Bara and Rautahat district, supported by University of La supported.
  • Chunder Drinking Water Project, Tanahu, supported by Rotary International.
  • Basic Education Improvement Project, Tanahu, supported by Rotary International.
  • Environmental Community Awareness Monthly Seminars, Kathmandu Valley, supported by NRNA NCC USA.
  • Relief Works following 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, supported by GreaterGood.org, SNEHA Hawaii, and Acadiana Indian Association (AIA), Louisiana.
  • Relief works during COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Book publication, 2000 copies, Impact of Covid-19 pandemic in Nepal, launched virtually by Satabdi Purush Shree Sataya Mohan Joshi.
  • Rgular publication of Newsletters and Policy Briefs (please visit astajausa.org website).
  • Distribution of uniforms and educational materials to schoolchildren, supported by Education International Foundation, Hawaii.
  • Establishment of Native Vegetation Garden and School Cafetaria, supported by Asta-Ja USA.
  • Organic Vegetable Production project in Tanahu, supported by  com
  • Hosting numorous workshops, seminars, farm visits, and meetings.

Up-coming projects and activties:

  • Nationwide network of Community Laboratories for agro-enterprise development.
  • Supply chain and logistics.
  • Women empowerment and enterprise development.
  • Kathmandu valley envrionmental quality project.
  • Center of excellence fo envrionemnt and climate change.
  • Post Covid-19 Pandemic Convention for Nation-building.
  • Children Welfare Project, Tanahu.

तपाइँ एक वैज्ञानिक । तपाइँको क्षेत्र पनि वातावरण र वनस्पतीसँग सम्बन्धित छ । आर्थिक विकासका कुराहरूले तपाइँलाई कसरी आकर्षित गर्यो ?

Poverty alleviaton, raising people’s living standard, better infrastrucutre, employment generation, and economic development are the dreams of any individual who is born and raised in the Least Developed Country like Nepal. I always remember a poem from Kabi Siromani Lekha Nath Paudyal, “Dhani ho sarbottam sara je chha, je chha dhanai bhitrai luki rahechha”. He has very nicely and clearly conveyed his message emphasizing the role of wealth on a successful human life and a nation. I believe that knowledge and skills,  expertise, and expereince that we have gained must be directly or indirectly translated into the betterment of our common people and sustainable economic development of our nation.

तपाइँ जस्तो वैज्ञानिक व्यक्ति, नेपालको बौद्धिक सम्पत्ति, आफ्नै देश नेपालको आर्थिक विकासमा लाग्न तपाइँ नेपालमा फर्किनु पर्ने होइन र ?

Yes. Thank you for asking this question. The time is coming. As I mentioned earlier, I have identified and developed a path for self-reliance sustainable economic development, sustainable community, social inclusions, nation-building, and environmental quality through  Asta-Ja Franework. Over the past 14 years, I have enriched the Asta-Ja Framework through numerous scientific literatures, developmental  activities, research, seminar presentations, and by establishing and nortuting state-of-the-art organizations, programs, and networks both inside Nepal and outside the country. Asta-Ja has received tremendous community good-wills and support. We have identified excellent programs for nationwide implementation focusing on effective transfer of science and technologies for community empowerment and agroenterprise development, employment generation, enhcancement of environmental quality, climate change adaptation, among others. In the near future, we will be reaching out to the Government of Nepal and other stakeholders in the country for support and partnerships in these noble initiatives for fast-paced socio-economic transformation of Nepalese society through Asta-Ja. We have entered into the full-fledge implementation stage of Asta-Ja in Nepal.

‘अष्ट ज’लाई अमेरिकी सहयोगकर्तासँग पनि जोड्ने योजना गर्नुभएको छ ?

Yes, we have done it. This is the reason why we established Asta-Ja USA, a 501c(3) nonprofit nongovernmental organization, registered in Hawaii, USA, four years ago (www.astajausa.org). Asta-Ja is open for all Nepali and well-wishers of Nepal wherever theyreside. Anybody interested in community development, conservation and utilization of Asta-Ja resources, climate change adaptation, self-reliant development, agricultural idustrialization, supply chain and logistics, environmental quality, food security, energy security, water secutity, climate security, etc., can find place very easily in Asta-Ja. It is largely a voluntary organization and believes on collective works, clear outputs, mutual respect, transparecncy, and accountability.

नेपालमा ‘अष्ट ज’अन्तर्गत तपाइँले कतिपय कार्यक्रमहरू आफ्नै व्यक्तिगत खर्चमा पनि सञ्चालन गर्नुभएको छ । हो ?

I consider myself a lucky person if my small contribution brings some positive changes in the real lives of common people in my country.

‘अष्ट ज’ अभियान अहिले नेपालको कुन कुन जिल्लाहरूमा सञ्चालित छन् ?

We have reached to 35-40 districts at different levels, some districts have visible projects such as I presented above, some districts have received relief materials, and some districts have been reached through Asta-Ja outreach activities.

‘अष्ट ज’लाई नेपाल सरकारको पनि कार्यक्रमअन्तर्गत राख्न नेपाल सरकारको सम्बन्धित निकायहरूसँग सम्पर्क गर्नुभएको छ?

Yes, we always work in close coordination with the Government of Nepal. For example, along with the Rotary Club Damauli, the Vyas Municipality is very heavily involved in our Drinking Water, Organic Vegetable Production, and Basic Education Improvement projects in Tanahu. District Agricultural Office, NARC, and TU were heavily involved in our Climate Change Adaptation project in Nuwakot. Department of Health, District Agriculutral Office and Village Decelopment Committe were heavily involved in our Food and Nutrition project in Kavre. Asta-Ja believes on strong partnerships with the Governmental agencies and other stakeholders in its program development and implementation.

एक प्रोफेसर एवं वैज्ञानिकको नाताले नेपाल कृषिको क्षेत्रमा ज्यादै पछाडि पर्नुको कारण तपाइँ के के देख्नु हुन्छ?

It is mainly due to the gross neglect of “Smallholder Mixed-Farming System”, which is the “nucleus” of Nepalese agriculutre, by Nepalese policy makers, governmental agencies, researchers, academicians, and other stakeholders. Undermining the country’s millenia tested sustainable agricultural production system, overexcitement to the western industrial agriculture, and faulty agricultural policies pushed Nepalese agriculture to this disaster.

‘भिजन २०४०’ के हो?

Based on Asta-Ja Framework and Nepal’s current socio-economic and environmental challenges, I developed Asta-Ja Nepal Vision 2040. Nepal Vision 2040 aims elevating Nepal at the par of a developed nation by 2040 AD. I have created Asta-Ja Nepal Vision 2040 Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Asta-Ja-Nepal-Vision-2040-107422161868118/) for those who like to be linked in this mission.  Nepal Vision 2040 identifies nine strategies for sustainable economic development of the country, 1) Food self-sufficiency, 2) Renewable resource energy, 3) Thirty million tourists annually, 4) Export of organic foods, medicinal and aromatic plants and other products, 5) Corruption control, 6) Infrastructural development, 7) Community resiliency, 8) Social services, and 9) Asta-Ja conservation, utilization and development. Please find the link here (https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/c20df895-a248-4428-b32e-8960577b8de0/downloads/9.%20Poudel%2C%20D.D.%202018.%20Restructuring%20National%20P.pdf?ver=1589816408620) for my article on Nepal Vision 2040.

नेपालबाट तीव्र गतिमा प्रतिभा पलायन विदेशतिर भइरहेका छन् । यस्तो हुनमा सरकार वा जनतालाई दोषी मान्नु हुन्छ ?

It is not the people’s fault. It is government’s fault. As Asta-Ja has identified human resources (Janashakti) and natural resources (Jal, Jamin, Jungle, Jadibuti, Janawar, Jarajuri, and Jalabayu) as the critical elements for accelerated economic growth and fast-paced socio-economic transformation of the nation, the Government of Nepal must give the highest priority for the development of human resources and the generation of employment opportunities within the country. A loss of Janshakti through outmigration is an irreversible loss for Nepal.

Thanks to Mr. Bishworaj Adhikari for giving me this excellent opportunity for  sharing Asta-Ja Framework and Nepal Vision 2040 to this worldwide and esteemed readers of Sahitya Post  and its popular column Prawas Warta. I would like take an opportunity express my sincere thanks to all scholars, individuals, students, community mobilizers, Asta-Ja Campaigners, media persons and media, community memebrs, donor communities, governmental agencies, social organizations, well-wishers of Asta-Ja, and all highly respected individuals who are serving as Executive Officers, Board Members, Life Members, or general members of various Asta-Ja organizations for their continued support for Asta-Ja movement and its mission of elevating  Nepal to the level of a developed nation by 2040 AD!  For additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at ddpoudel@gmail.com. Thank you.