13-year-old Indian Girl Reaches the Top of Everest


Olivia Elswick, Asia CorrespondentLast Modified: 10:04 a.m. DST, 14 June 2014

"Steel Bridges of Everest Base Camp Trek" Photo by: ilkerenderTIBET--A 13-year-old Indian girl wept after overcoming her fears. Her fears differ a bit from most young girls. This girl, Poorna Malavath, the daughter of poor Indian farmers in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, cried tears of joy after successfully climbing Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Her bravery and tenacity is incredible, especially since 16 Sherpa’s recently died in an avalanche, Everest’s deadliest ever, prompting the government to shut down the climbing season.

As the youngest female to climb Everest, she feels her victory is not only for herself but also for all young women, because “they tell us that we are nothing, that we can do nothing…but I know that I could do something, and I kept my eye on the goal, and now I made it.”

Though Nepal requires climbers to be at least 16 to scale the mountain, Malavath and her team of guides started from the northern side of Tibet, an area under control of China, which has no age restrictions. This side is considered significantly more difficult and dangerous, and in 2010 Jordan Romero, 13, of Big Bear, California became the youngest male to climb Everest, also from the Tibetan side. Before Malavath’s climb, the previous youngest woman to reach the top of Everest was Nepal’s Nima Chemji Sherpa, 16, in 2002.

She was sponsored by the Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Educational Institution Society as part of its initiative to encourage underprivileged students in India. Most people in her hometown cannot read or write, and her town does not have internet or roads. Her parents are dalits, also known as “untouchable,” at the bottom of India’s caste system. Malavath attends a boarding school where she studies her native Telugu, Hindi, and English, and participates in track and field, volleyball, and kabaddi. Nine months ago she signed up for mountaineering training, a club where she would climb boulders and walls of an old fortress. Now she has reached the 29,029 foot top of the world’s highest peak after a 52-day expedition.

Though she had a few months of training, this expedition to Everest was her first mountain climb and along the way Malavath faced elevation sickness, temperatures of 40 degrees below zero and saw six dead bodies. A major challenge for Malavath was the packaged food she had to consume. “I did not like its smell or taste. I wanted to go home and eat my mother’s food,” she said. Despite being initially sent back to base camp for altitude sickness, she made it to the top before her 16-year-old friend, S. Anand Kumar.

India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi praised the duo on Twitter saying, “Was very happy to read this. Congrats to our youngsters. They make us truly proud.”

When she returns to school she will catch up on homework and she hopes to eventually join the police force, in homage to a retired policeman who introduced her and others at her school to mountaineering. When I finish my studies, I want to join the police because [of him]," she says. "It will be my thank-you to him for changing my life."

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Asia Correspondent: @OCELswick


54th Tibetan Uprising Anniversary


Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 11:50 a.m. DST, 11 March 2013

Tibetan Monk, Photo by Romain Barrabas

TIBET - On March 10, 2013, Tibetans marked the 54th anniversary of the uprising against the People’s Republic of China in Tibet.

Known as "Tibetan Uprising Day," exiles from across Asia and Europe demonstrated to mark the failed uprising against Chinese rule. In Europe, thousands of Tibetans marched in Brussels to press the European Union to reach out to China to end its repression.

In Nepal, Nepalese authorities have arrested 18 people in the capital Kathmandu based on the suspicion of “anti-China activities.” What is meant by anti-Chinese activities remains unclear at this time.

Tibetan activists in Kathmandu are concerned about the curtailment of Tibetan expression in Nepal.

On February 13, a Tibetan monk set himself on fire in Kathmandu. Overall, more than 100 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule since 2009.

China claims that Tibet has always been part of their territory, but Tibet claims to have been virtually independent until Chinese troops invaded in the 1950s.

Compromise for Tibet’s independence seems grim. Tibet’s location is vital to China’s national security, as Tibet protects the core of China. China further fears the result of Indian and Tibetan relations; India has had as history of hosting Buddhist Tibetans, and China sees this as an attempt to undermine Chinese power.

Tibet further represents the single biggest ethnic challenge in China. If China allows Tibetan autonomy, this would threaten China’s control and integrity over their other territories.

China also receives 30% of their fresh water from Tibet, and has created plans on using the water systems in Tibet as sources of hydropower.

In China, Tibetans have no right to protest about their situation; peaceful demonstrations even met with military crackdowns. Those found protesting are arrested and tortured, China deeming the actions such as waving a Tibetan flag and distributing leaflets of information as “splittist” or “subversive.”

China has stepped up tactics within the last few months to discourage protests, jailing and detaining people it says has incited unrest.

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Bagmati River Slum Razed


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 18:19 PM EDT, 10 May 2012

Slum Children, Kathmandu, Nepal, Photo by Takayuki ShiraiwaKATHMANDU, Nepal – Wednesday, 8 May 2012, was a day of great disruption and equal measure of sorrow for the residents of the shanty town at UN Park in the Thapathali area in Kathmandu. Most of the make-shift neighborhood encompassed an area 400-metre long, running from the Bagmati Bridge to Buddhanagar.

The poorest of the poor had built a shanty town on the banks of the Bagmati River where between 1,300 and 1,500 residents raised families and eked out a living by shifting through the rubbish discarded by more affluent Nepalese.

This is not the first time that their lean-to houses with corrugated steel roofs have been razed to the ground. As in the past, the government initiated the of residents of this and other slums around the area, leaving them with no recourse or options and no place to go.

Many residents cried, some screamed angry epithets, others threw stones, and then some just sat in resigned silence as a total of 251 houses were demolished by security personnel from various government agencies. In the past, the residents quickly rebuilt their dwellings, but this time may be different as certain elements in the government are pushing for the permanent eradication of this "public blight."

According to news sources “The government, in a show of force, dispatched 2,200 security personnel from Nepal Police (NP), the Armed Police Force (APF) and the City Police. The joint force led by SSP Jay Bahadur Chand from the NP and SP Sanjay Rana from the APF used four bulldozers to bring down the houses. “

Beyond the loss of their dwellings, possessions, and food, many of the residents were upset by the callous and inhumane treatment they were subjected to by the soldiers and police. Some were able to salvage their meager belongings, but most of their possessions which were viewed as trash, were bulldozed under with the rest of the buildings.

There are many countries in emerging markets in which governments face overwhelming social and financial challenges as well as corruption. As a consequence, the provision of a safety net via social services for their most vulnerable citizens is relegated to a low or non-existent priority.

The complaint by many residents of the Bagmati shanty town, was that the government failed to provide shelter for homeless people prior to them building these residences for themselves. Additionally, they complained that before their eviction, they were given insufficient notice and no offer of alternative options for housing. Not only do these residents have no place to go, they have no food, no water, and now no hope.

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