Rohini Pande, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and Co-Director of Evidence for Policy Design, is reputed for her pioneering research into economic costs and benefits of informal and formal institutions in the developing world and the role of public policy in affecting change. Michael Callen, who is an assistant professor at University of California San Diego, specializes in political economy, development economics and experimental economics. The two were recently in Kathmandu to train senior government bureaucrats on designing evidence-based policies. So how does Nepal benefit from such evidence-based policy-making? And what can it learn from other countries? Biswas Baral and Mahabir Paudyal caught up with the two while they were in the capital.

Nabindra Raj Joshi, who was the deputy mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City after the democratic movement of 1990, is the Minister for Industry. He has been actively engaged in endorsing long-stalled Acts and Policies, including SEZ Act and Company Act (Amendment), which are part of the second generation economic reforms in Nepal, through the parliament. Joshi, who has received applause from all quarters for hosting 2nd Nepal Investment Summit after a gap of 25 years, talked to Kuvera Chalise and Santosh Neupane of Republica on various issues related to business environment in Nepal. Excerpts:

After five people were killed in Saptari last Monday, Madheshi Morcha has been especially aggressive toward CPN-UML. It also withdrew its support to the Maoist-Congress coalition government after it failed to amend the constitution and postpone local level election. Is it the case that its protests are directed more at UML than the government?

KATHMANDU, March 8: President Bidya Devi Bhandari has said women's movement in Nepal has a strong foundation.  The World is celebrating the 107th International Women's Day (IWD) today with the theme of 'Be Bold for Change' and on the same context, RSS Editor-in-Chief Raju Shakya and Senior Reporter Narayan Neupane had an opportunity to interview the first woman President of Nepal, Bidya Devi Bhandari, focusing on the issues of the women's movement in Nepal, women's empowerment, her role as a patron of the Constitution, other contemporary issues and the upcoming election. President Bhandari assumed the high post on 29th October, 2015.

Michelle Simmons, Microsoft Corporation's general manager of South East Asia-New Markets, was recently in Nepal to participate in Nepal Investment Summit 2017. She was a panelist in the plenary session on 'International Experience Sharing'. The global technology giant is present in Nepal for nearly 10 years through a partnership with Microsoft Innovation Center Nepal.   In the immediate aftermath of 2016 earthquakes, Microsoft Corporation came to Nepal to provide technological helps to the government in earthquake recovery efforts. Sagar Ghimire of Republica met Simmons on the sideline of the summit to discuss about her observation and experience as well as the future plan of Microsoft Corporation in Nepal. Excerpts:

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) started its operation as a new multilateral financial institution on January 16 last year. Its president Jin Liqun is in Kathmandu to attend Nepal Investment Summit as a keynote speaker. Sagar Ghimire of Republica talked to Liqun on the sidelines of the summit. Excerpts:

Veteran Nepali Congress leader Farmullah Mansoor, who was elected into the parliament from Bara district in 2013, is among the most vocal Madheshi leaders in the party. Mansoor was a key person behind the first amendment of the constitution in January, 2016. What does he make of the second constitution amendment bill? Will it pass? And what happens if it fails? The Congress Central Committee member spoke to Republica’s Biswas Baral, Mahabir Paudyal and Kosh Raj Koirala.

CPN (Maoist Center) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha has been closely involved in inter-party negotiations surrounding the announcement of local elections on Monday. He also visited India last week and met a range of actors, including top Indian government officials. He reportedly informed them on the importance of timely local elections in Nepal.

Coolpad, a Chinese telecommunications company, entered the Nepali market on Monday. The company has been manufacturing telecommunication devices for the past 24 years. Coolpad has already been already launched in North America, South East Asia, South Asia and Europe. Ashim Neupane of Republica talked to Du Jinbiao, CEO of Coolpad Global Sales and Service, and Executive Vice President of Coolpad Group, to know more about the company and its business plans for Nepal. Excerpts:

Moushira Mahmoud Khattab, Ph.D, is Egypt's former Minister for Family & Population, the country's former ambassador to South Africa, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and has also worked for various diplomatic missions. She visited Nepal recently and held meetings with President Bidya Devi Bhandari, ministers and top government officials, seeking Nepal's support for her candidacy for the post of Director General of UNESCO. Khattab also worked as the chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, based at the UN Headquarters in Geneva. During her stay in Kathmandu, she talked to Republica about various issues. Excerpts: