The National Paddy Day is observed across the country on Asar 15 (June 29) by planting rice seedlings. The Day marks the official beginning of paddy plantation. The United Nations had announced to celebrate the year 1966 as the year of rice with the slogan ‘freedom from hunger’ announcing rice as the ‘crop of the year’. Nepal has been marking Asar 15 as the National Paddy Day since 2005. On this day, the farmers splash mud to each other planting paddy seedlings, eating curd and beaten rice and singing Asare folk songs. Rice is our cereal crop which is essential from birth to death. We need to conserve rice to conserve our identity and culture. In the urban areas most of the children are unaware of this day although Nepal is an agricultural country. Their parents and private boarding school teachers need to take them to the Asar planting fair and teach them food security. The main objective of celebrating the National Paddy Day is to increase the productivity of rice across the country. According to the Ministry of Agricultural Development, around 1.425 million hectares of land is suitable for paddy cultivation. But the young generation has given up traditional form of agriculture. Abhishek Kunwar, Pokhara

Lasting peace Apropos of the news story “Lasting peace not possible without ending inequalities” (THT, June 26, Page 5), lasting peace in the land of Lord Buddha will depend on how the issues of TRC and CIEDP are tackled and not necessarily on the concept of lab-perfect Utopian equality. Fullparticipation in and access to state mechanism for all irrespective of sex, age, class, creed, colour, caste, religion etc must be guaranteed by the constitution. But equality guaranteeing every woman, Dalit and Madhesi in all state mechanism may be light years away. After all, Virginia Raggi had to wait for 2,500 years to become the first woman mayor of Rome. It is the same in the US. Obama is the first coloured president and hopefully Hillary will be the first woman president. Khan is the first mayor in London from the marginalized group. In contrast, this country has seen women, Madhesis and Dalits as ministers and legislators even during autocracy. Who can forget the vocal health minister Sushila Thapa? King Mahendra invited educated women from Darjeeling to inspire the local women to imbibe formal education. He also made Dalits ministers when we were not even born. There were many Madhesi ministers, including Muslims, in the successive Panchayat governments. Madhesis also reportedly presided over the royal household as sons-and brothers-in-law who also became patrons in public institutions including sports bodies such as CAN. Incidentally, some of the first chief justices and RNAC honchos were all Madhesis. Nepal thus guaranteed equality to women, Dalits and Madhesis even during tyrannical days. Manohar Shrestha, Kathmandu