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From Kathmandu to California: Part I

Some serious spinning of science with society is past overdue in many corners of the world. From my comfortable couch in my air-conditioned and sunny living room in California, I read of a starving woman in a cold remote Nepalese village who recently committed suicide after killing her two children. Her land must have lost its holy fertility.

From an agricultural economy, which exported food in the past, Nepal has now become one that imports food and one with thousands of forgotten citizens starving every year because they cannot grow enough on their infertile lands and the government cannot deliver them timely supplies. Political upheavals aside, science and society appear to have failed the farmers, the landless and the powerless over the last decades. Would a little more training in scientific farming and transfer of technological resources for rural men and women alike empower them to grow or buy more food in a sustainable manner?

When I left Nepal for the U.S. 8 years ago, cell phones were a joke. Cars were only for the rich. Now it's buzzing with millions of cell phones owned by all economic classes and fumigated with smoke from thousands more highly emissive vehicles owned by the nouveaux riche.

My recent trip back home made me realize how much it has changed. How much more industry and enterprise have seemed to evolve with transfer of technology from abroad and innovation based on local conditions such as intermittent electricity and water supply. However, what I saw was only Kathmandu, the capital. The few economic centers' swift progress is not representative of remote parts of the nation, which though also sprinkled with enterprising cell phone users, still allow the premature deaths of women and children precipitated by famine, improper cooking systems, non-existent skills, lack of proper medical treatment, or the belief and dependence on witchcraft and illogical societal practices.

For decades, scientists have reached them, researched them, and published papers and books about them, their health and environmental issues. But sadly, science still has not touched them enough or yet to save their lives.

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