Make Love, Not War (Against the King) ?

By Dinesh Wagle on February 14th, 2005 in Wagle Street Journal

Thirteen days after experiencing a dramatic political change in their country, Nepali people, mostly youth and in the city area are in a mood of celebration today. Know why? Valentine fever has caught them like a fire in an African jungle. Yes there are “huge huge” demonstrations (with not more than 100 people participating) and rallies (with around 30 people biking) that are strongly FOR Royal Takeover. I saw one of the rally a day back and by chance, captured that in my camera. Yes, I will post that here.
With many democratic political leaders (well, most of them are corrupt and damn corrupt, I am sorry I have to write the truth) still either under house arrest or behind bar, there is no immediate possibility of Pro-democratic rallies taking place on the streets. Some human rights activists were arrested for trying to protest the Royal move. Yes, freedom is the ultimate goal of Nepali people. I think, right now, people too don’t want to go to the streets shouting WE WANT DEMOCRACY under the leadership of same old and corrupted leaders as they did in 1990.

They want to give a chance to the King. They are thinking: “Well, after all, he did what he shouldn’t have done. But why not give him a chance? Lets see what he has on the card.” So, people in Nepal are waiting for King to deliver as per their expectation. I am sure, that delivery will demand a hard ‘labour’ from the King. I am wondering how many months, if not year, King will take for that delivery. Till then, nobody seems to be mourning the imprisonment of political leaders.

Yes, let’s come to the Valentine fever. Devendra, my pal at Kantipur who is full of tons of sense of humour has just arrived from a theater where he saw the latest Sanjay Leela Bhansali epic Black. He was in melodramatic mood. The film made him serious. I cried thrice while watching the same movie. He couldn’t hold tears at least once.

He told me that the city has been covered with Valentine love. He is single and, I pity him, went to cinema alone in the mid day. Good that he saw so many lovebirds. He seemed to be satisfied just by seeing those pairs. At once, some weeks back, I still remember, he told me that he wasn’t going to marry…not at all, never. Today, I think, he will change his mind..

“Oh..pal,” he came saying, “I think the valentines day has become a sort of National festival. I feel like that today. Every where people are talking about Valentines Day.” Though the Valentine culture is relatively new in Nepalese society, it hasn’t taken much time to grab the influence. Several gift- and flower-shops are doing terribly good business and one of them told a reporter yesterday that the way people express their love has changed dramatically. “They have become more frank,” she told. Well, when it comes to politics, they are not trying to be very much frank, really.

Well, nobody’s talking about the political change. Nobody wants to be politically incorrect. So, everybody wants to talk about LOVE, not war with power seizing MONARCHY. Nobody is talking about the ongoing Bloody People’s War that has taken several thousand lives in the last 10 years. Why would they talk? They have, in city, a gift to present to their Romeo or Juliet. They have money to buy that gift. And, the most important thing is they are in city and are not dying indiscriminately either by the Maoist Guerillas or Security forces. City is in the mood to make love. Not in war…not with King, at least.

1 Response to “Make Love, Not War (Against the King) ?”

1. pathak Says:
February 14th, 2005 at 6:49 pm

I agree with Dinesh that there is no immediate possibility of Pro-democratic rallies taking place on the streets. but freedom is the ultimate goal of Nepali people. SOthat Nepali people will revolt from their own homeland which may be sustainable .People will shout WE WANT DEMOCRACY under the new leadership because critical time born the new leader.


New Kind of Journalism in Nepal- II

Theme of the Blog: Those odd-looking editorials in Nepali newspapers published immediately after the Royal Takeover of Feb 1, 2005 were not odd, in fact.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle’s Web Log

Since the government order following the Royal Proclamation suspended civil liberties, among others, we were in a great dilemma…as to what exactly to write and not to write in the paper, Kantipur, of which I am a reporter, and, at times, an editorial writer too. All reporters were looking toward Narayan Wagle, the editor. I think that day, and that moment, was one of his decisive moments in his life, in his career as a journalist and as an editor. Dito with Prateek Pradhan, editor of the Kathmandu Post, sister publication of Kantipur.

It was rumored that the editors of several newspapers were summoned to the royal palace and were given instructions, if not intimidated, as to how they should go about in the days to come. Some editors were even threatened of their life if they dared to go against the government’s wish. As the New York Times reported in its Feb 7 issue, “the king’s press secretary told some editors last week that he would not be able to help if the military decided to “disappear” them for a few hours, according to one editor who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

I saw Kanak Mani Dixit, publisher of Himal Khabarpatrika Magazine and Rajendra Dahal, editor of the same magazine visiting the offices of Kantipur Publications. Communication was totally disrupted and editors badly needed to consult with each other at that time, I guessed. [In the same evening, Kanak gave a powerful comment to BBC’s Nepali Service. He was strongly against the Royal move. I liked him and his comment and thought, from tomorrow, BBC Nepali Service would be taken off the air from various FM stations around the country.

That’s exactly what happened the following day and FMs are now barred from broadcasting any kind of news reports.] I was also confused. I had not faced such a situation before. I belong to the breed of journalists who started their career in a democratic society and were raised in a democratic environment. As of now, 10 days since the royal takeover, I am still learning to live and behave in a new atmosphere/situation. It was not unusual, in any way, for thousands of readers of Kantipur, Nepal’s most influential and largest circulated daily, to expect a hard hitting and opinionated front-page editorial on the Royal Takeover– condemning it. But since the basic rights were suspended, the paper, its management and the editor couldn’t have risked the future of the newspaper and hundreds of jobs provided by the publication.

In those circumstances came my utility as an editorial writer. Correctly sensing and judging the situation, Narayan Walge, editor, summoned me to give this order: “Dinesh, write an editorial on Charumati.” In Kantipur, reporters are encouraged to write articles and editorials on their respected field of reporting. On the very same day, an article written by me about a dance-drama had appeared on the Arts and Style section of the daily. The dance-drama was based on Emperor Ashoka’s Nepal visit and his daughter Charumati’s love affair with a Nepali hunk. Satya Mohan Joshi, 85, the legendary writer and culture expert directed the ballet. So, the issue itself was perfectly suitable for an editorial. Here I go… Hey folks out there at New York Times or the Guardian, don’t laugh at me. We in Nepal are habituated with the kind of journalism where, not so long ago, a single man would be a publisher, reporter, editor and a hawker. The situation is slowly changing after the arrival of big newspapers with large number of reporters. But we still have a long way to go to have a separate department of editorial writers who are gray-haired and expert on what they editorialize.

I wrote the editorial on the ballet. When it was published, people were kind of surprised and shocked to read that piece. As I said, the had expected an editorial about the Royal decision. So, many of the readers still read the write-up expecting that the editorial, in some way or the other, might talk about the event through satire or something. The topics themselves were not unsuitable for the editorial but the timing made them so. The next day’s editorial dealt with ways to internationalize our archery performances. Then followed a peace about Nepali cricket.

All subjects, in my opinion, were suitable for an editorial but people expected different topics in that situation. Kathmandu Post ran an editorial about socks: what kinds of socks to wear, which color and brand etc. Nepali Times, a weekly, wrote about the sudden fall of trees in the city and called upon the concerned authorities to restore the greenery in the valley. Now, international media including BBC World Service started reading between the lines. They saw a kind of revolt, hidden meaning in those editorials. The Post’s headline was “Socks in the Society”.

Was that metaphoric? Well, for some, yes. For many, all those odd editorials were metaphoric. They were voicing papers’ disapproval of what the King had done a day ago… Political reporters in different media, including Kantipur, were joking that they would be jobless in a few days if the situation continued. Some columnists were of the opinion that they won’t be able to continue their column in future. Many columns, including ‘’ of Narayan Wagle in Kantipur, are still off the pages. Even satirical column like that of ‘Under my Hat’ (Nepali Times) of Kunda Dixit seem to have been censored.

I have a slightly different opinion on this regard. I think that this (restriction) will help the Nepali journalism in the long run. Do I seem like a reactionary? Sorry, if I did. I am a democrat by heart and support multiparty democracy system in the country. Democracy will help expand journalism for sure. But the current restrictions over political reporting will help us to find different topics to cover– social ones that are directly related to readers…to the people. Why write or publish repeated interviews of ‘corrupt’ leaders as Kusum suggested in his letter?

Lets write about sports, lets write about village life, about people’s plight. Political freedom is the ultimate goal of Nepal and Nepalis. No one can block that from coming in to Nepal. Even King, in his TV address, has repeatedly promised to restore multiparty democracy in Nepal. So, let’s not worry about that guys. In the mean time, lets try to write on topics other than politics!

1 Comment » 1. Great! this is the way,journalists shuld follow. Comment by Visbas — 2/11/2005 @ 4:39 pm

New Kind of Journalism in Nepal- I

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle’s Web Log

Theme of the Blog: After being banned from writing on hot political topics, Nepali journalists are trying to go cover the subjects that they have been ignoring for a long time. It seems readers are enjoying.

After writing some odd-looking editorials and leaving some blank spaces, newspapers, it seems, are back to business with a difference. They are writing about people, places, traditions and lifestyles. A reader’s comment published in today’s Himalayan Times under the title “Quite a Relief” caught my attention this morning.

“I am very happy to read news and articles that are of importance to the general public these days in the newspapers,” Kusum Shahi writes. “I am particularly impressed by the write-ups on pet keeping, environmental topics, development activities and social issues like the recently published article on widows determined to wear red henceforth.”

The chairman of Diana Travels and Tours, Thamel goes on saying that issues that interest the readers and are relevant to our day-to-day activities should be given more importance rather than repeated interviews of corrupt politicians to the distaste of many. “Too much emphasis on politics can make a newspaper boring to that segment which seldom reads political write-ups.”

Very well said, Kusum. Yes, newspapers are now writing about the people. They are writing about societies, not just how many people were killed in the last gunfire and battle between the Maoists and the security forces.

On the very day of Feb 1 when King appeared on national television to declare that he was dismissing the ‘multiparty coalition government headed by PM Sher Bahadur Deuba and assuming the executive authority himself’, the atmosphere  in the offices of media outlets was worth observing. Here I am shedding some light on how it was like to be in the offices of the biggest publication in the country.

Next: The Newsroom Environment of Kantipur Daily.

Great to be here Again!

By Dinesh Wagle

It feels so great to return to this site after a long long long week. For the first time in my life, I knew the importance of this site, a place to express myself, ourself…A great forum to share ideas.

As you might have already know, dear friends, Nepal is going throught a very very difficult time in it’s history. We, the people are facing unprecedented situation…

Last week, on Feb 1 to be specific, the King of Nepal, Gyanendra, sacked the Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government and took charge of the country himself as the executive head of state. Because of my basic human rights, like right to express, speak and writing, are suspended and I am in no position to express my feeling or openion regarding the royal takeover. Here in Nepal, press freedom is being curtailed and, according to the government, our website can’t report on political issues…
All kinds of communication means were suspended, and some of them are still suspended. Like, the internet connection resumed for the first time since Feb 1 and I am writing my first blog after the royal takeover. Mobile and wireless telephone is still not working. Hundreds of newspapers haven’t resumed their publications…

1 Comment »

1. gooooooooooooooooooooooooood

Comment by email sharma — 2/9/2005 @ 12:36 pm