Reading Nepal in American Media

Nepal coverage in US media is encouraging

By Dinesh Wagle, New York
Wagle Street Journal, American Edition

nepal
Manish Swarup/Associated Press via The New York Times

Head of the wonderful American family that is hosting me in this alien land of New Jersey, half an hour drive from downtown New York City, was pleasantly surprised by what he saw on the front page of the New York Times. A big photo, actually four columns, with a boldfaced line under it: “Conciliatory Gesture by King of Nepal Does Little to Halt Violence.” Just below that line goes on the main body of the caption that explains the horrific photo to hundreds of thousands of Americans. “Police officers used clubs to break up an antimonarchy demonstration yesterday in Katmandu (Kathmandu as we spell). King Gyanendra said later that he would turn over power to a prime minister chosen by the political parties, but his statement seemed to bring little relief in the national crisis.” Then the Times wanted its readers to turn to Page A6 where there was yet another four-column photo with a six-column news story. The caption of the black and white photo read: “A photograph of King Gyanendra landed in a ditch yesterday with other items tossed there by demonstrators in Katmandu, the Nepalese capital”. The front page color photograph is credited to Manish Swarup/Associated Press where as the second one is clicked by Tomas van Houtryve for The New York Times. “It’s rare that I see Nepal on the front page of the Times,” my host said. (As I am writing this blog, I can see another report on Nepal is the leading news on the Times web site.)

A few minutes later his wife enthusiastically showed me the World Page of a local daily newspaper of the town that had given nearly quarter page long report on Nepal. “Oh..this is rare,” she said pointing out to another small piece of news about another country. “Before, this paper would give only this much of space. Today it’s big.” Yes, my hosts aren’t the only people surprised by the sudden increase of Nepal coverage in the US media in the last several days. No doubt, the coverage of the Times (by its reporters Somini Sengupta and Tilak P. Pokharel) is the best coming out from Nepal. And the same was observed by prominent media personalities of the US in an international conference of journalists from around the world. “The Nepal coverage of the Times is wonderful,” said Walter Isaacson, former CEO and ex-managing editor of Time Magazine: “It has fallen into the hands of very good reporters.” Isaacson was moderating a panel discussion taking part by celebrated American journalists including the legendry former Washington Post executive editor (now vice president at-large of the Post) Benjamin C. Bradlee. Gwen Ifill, a journalist with ABC, agreed.

“We have been working very closely with India. We welcome the proposal [put forward by the king]. Now [the arrow has been] turned to the political parties. Now they should form the government. That is extremely important.” -American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

The panel discussion was organized in Washington D.C. as part of an International symposium in which about 129 journalists, including myself, from around the world participated. All of those journalists were visiting the United States at the invitation of the US State Department. They went to different American cities, discussed about journalism and American society with American professors in different Universities (I went to University of Southern California along with the South Asian, South East Asian and English language African groups) and observed how their American counterparts work in different media houses. The symposium was also addressed by the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Responding to a question on the recent political situation in Nepal, especially the royal address, Rice said, “We have been working very closely with India. We welcome the proposal [put forward by the king]. Now [the arrow has been] turned to the political parties. Now they should form the government. That is extremely important.” She also mentioned of American ambassador’s consultations with Indian foreign secretary Shyam Sharan.

nepal
Pic by Tomas van Houtryve via The New York Times

Let me return to the Nepal coverage on American media. Many of the major newspapers including Chicago Tribune are carrying the reports by international news agencies like Associated Press. Even local papers like Los Angeles Daily news and regional papers like Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are giving significant space to the political development in Nepal. According to many whom I talked to about the Nepal coverage in US media, this is the first time that Nepal has got so much attention. An editor with the LA Daily News told me that the paper generally covers nothing about Nepal but this time around the situaition there is getting worse.

Apart from the newspapers, electronic media like CNN (the American edition), National Public Radio are also giving significant time for Nepali politics.

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32 thoughts on “Reading Nepal in American Media”

  1. And did you notice the name of our capital city is spelled wrong?

    BTW, latest Newsweek report said it well –

    But can the Maoists be trusted? The fear is that they have made a tactical accommodation with the democratic parties and will sweep them aside and install a one-party dictatorship at the first opportunity. History is replete with examples of “bourgeois” parties that cooperated with their Leninist or Maoist counterparts only to be swallowed by a proletarian revolution. Unlike the mainstream parties—whose reformist ideas focus on bread-and-butter issues like jobs and education—the Maoists remain fixated on class warfare and radical redistribution. Even if we grant that the Maoist leadership has changed and recognizes that it cannot yet launch a revolution, the cadres will find compromise hard to swallow. A rift in the Maoist movement could create radical factions.

    Anyone who thinks Moists are coming to save us is fooling oneself. They are nothing but another aspiring autocratic bunch.

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  2. Hope, Dinesh’s journey to USA remained very fruitful. Now, I want to see Mr. Umesh Shresth, another Nepali blogger from Mysansar.com, to visit the United Staes next time. He is an another real hero journalist covering up to date live information from Nepal. If the US Ambassador Mr. Moriarty or any other embassy staffs are viewing this web, please consider him in the next similar gesture of USA-Nepal friendship.

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  3. The reasons why SPA has problems to go ahead with formation of New Government.

    1. They have already signed 12 point understanding with Maoist which says SPA have to fight for unconditional contitutional assembly, in return maoist will accept multi-party democracy.

    2. SPA will have difficult to find consesus candidate for PM. and ultimately that can break up SPA.

    3. People have been killed and injured which means if SPA goes in government, then it will show the people that they are power hungry.

    4. If SPA builds government, there will be still very less or not support at all from RNA, because RNA has been hold up by palace for a long time, and RNA been trained in a way that to respect king as a god.

    5. There are no current articles in a constitution that says SPA government can call for CA with out parliament, even if they go for it, then king have the right to reject it.

    6. Finally, people in general have been suffering from maoist, king and political forces for a long time and they want way out, thats why people want to fight for job done once and for all.

    7. There is no trust between king and people, king and political forces and maoist, which make hard to SPA to run the country.

    8. There is 127 article which can give supreme power to king to sack anyone at anytime.

    9. Therefore, SPA cannot deliver any promises to people and maoist, which have promised, that eventually make them hard to grab the government at this situation.

    However, if SPA donot come up with any strong agenda, then king won’t give up his throne easily, the fight will last long, and there comes win and loose situation. If SPA takes this oppertunity, then maoist will take their battle as usual, there will be less likely next compromise. The general election will be less likely go ahead causing same old war like situation. Finally SPA will loose faith to people and they will break up, ultimately king will grab the power again, people will be tired of fighting everytime when something goes wrong in the country and total monarchy will prevail.

    Due to above mentioned reasons, the situation is not favourable for SPA to go ahead for government.

    So, to solve the problem,
    1. SPA should talk to the king before making goverment if he is willing to give chance for CA. If not, then SPA have to hold general election , win major seats in parliament and then call for CA, which will be too late for maoist i guess.

    2. second solution is just keep fighting until the end and finish the bloody war and make king to declare reinstatement of parliament or call CA., giving chance to king just to say im still nepalese ceremonial king.
    Therefore, first solution, seems longer to achieve but there is less blood shed. Second solution can be achieved quickly but more blood shed.

    Finally, god bless all the nepalese who are fighting for freedom that they are born with.

    ” you can fool some people sometime but you cannot fool all the people all the time”

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  4. What do you mean – “Katmandu (Kathmandu as we spell)”? Every other major media spells it “KatHmandu”. If you have the guts, you’ll write to NY Times and complain that they are misspelling it. I did.

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  5. Sub Sydney,

    People want to go for 2nd option eventhough it is hard for them. I think this is the only the better option right now. Otherwise this King will give trouble again and again.

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  6. The smalles problem is tackled now, autocracy.
    The biggest problem is the wolf in sheep disguise: Maoism.
    the second biggest problem is how to find hounest, talented and effective working politicians?

    Give them a chance SPA + M = SPAM, I do not see another way. It will be very difficult but not impossible.

    Good Luck NEPAL.

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  7. Without bringing Maoists in the mainstream politics, there is no solution.

    But we must remember that with only one condition, with the announcement of the elections to the CA, they must surrender all arms as promised.

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  8. maoist are playing the bin and the SPA is dancing to thieir tunes….

    100 thousand people violent people do no represent the whole nation….but they can destroy the nation and we are seeing nepal slowly but surely headin to become a failed state.

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  9. Layman, when do you the CA should be held? Right now or don’t you think a certain environment where people can vote properly without fear should be created?

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  10. Usually everything that happens in Nepal happens with logic opposite to the conventional one. So SPA + M might be read as MAPS, hopefully roadmap to peace.

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  11. really surprised at all international media, for years and years 0 coverage, then excuse me, the country rebels against the King.
    Somebody forgets history and why and what. Does anybody know happy maoists republics?

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  12. a little bit of sense, FINALLY, in this blog.

    happy to know nepalese can think.

    i dont give a shit about democracy or autocracy. all i want to do is live my [icd] remaining 20 years of life in peace in my own land.

    so give me peace you [icd].

    i hated the politicians and democracy in nepal before. paying 1000Rs. to file 5000 tax does get you frustrated. but even that is better than having to stay at home or be forced to walk on the street for SUPPORT OF DEMOCRACY.

    why dont you [icd] let me and my like live my [icd] life.

    shit. sorry. what else can you expect from a country ruled by hooligans. student unions are RULED by political goons. a large portion of the young population has got nothing better to do than to contribute to violence. i mean SUSTAIN violence.

    when wolves(maoist) and foxes (SPAM-M) have their say in a [icd] country like nepal, i guess you cannot expect much.

    throw a nuclear bomb in nepal. then all will be well.

    good luck [icd]

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  13. Mr. g- U got nice place to write something. I am sure U do not care how bullshit arguments u present so long as u can get freedom to write….We do not expect but have to go through ur more crappy stuffs….We are ready dude. Write here whatever u want. U can even present ur anger to political parties even when ur wife beats u up by her bathroom slipper.

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  14. i dont give a shit about democracy or autocracy. all i want to do is live my [icd] remaining 20 years of life in peace in my own land.

    You’re pathetic and deserve the miserable existence you obviously live.

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  15. I half expected the likes of Deuba licking their chops and trying to
    garner support for the premiership as soon as the mahabani came out
    saying he was the rightful candidate.That would have been fatal…and we
    would be back to the 3 way tug-o-war again between king, party and maos
    with people caught in the middle. The bait is set but the fish are not
    biting…..

    Instead , it seems they have gotten wiser ( maybe some contemplation
    during the jailed days) and didn’t rush things realizing that a new PM
    is like cheap wine disguised in an old bottle and getting appointed
    without parliamentary support would be a mistake.

    instead they are now asking pertinent questions about the lapses in
    the royal statement viz- seems the PM is again being ‘appointed’, what
    about the parliament thing( remember it?) and the rebels participation?
    and dare we ask… what about the army and the role of supreme
    commander? Why did you forget to mention these things? Seems he is hoping for a
    replay of the vicious cycle of greedy politicians and people who are
    fed up…

    What WAS surprising was the way our southern neighbour and the US
    jumping the gun …. you can’t help but feel that it is their prescription
    that came out as the mahabani and they want us to swallow it whether we
    like it or not.Well , that will not give us a lasting solution.

    If the king thinks he is popular among the massses, he should have
    the courage to face the peoples mandate regarding his future role.If the
    people really like him, this exercise will go a long way in helping him
    and his descendents.He seems to be having a hangover of popularity
    after his well orchestrated padyatras in the countryside. I think people
    will be willing to give him the benefit of a 2/3 majortiy thing instead
    of the 50-50 thing. If less than a 3rd of the people want him ,then its
    time to pack the …well..helicoper for some banana republic or some
    private isle in the Carribbean.

    The talk abouth the ‘Shah bansh ko den’ doesn’t seem to be washing
    well with people who can think and ask some questions rather than take
    things at face value.

    We had King PN Shah ‘uniting’ the country( maybe the forefathers of
    the Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur and elsewhere believed differntly
    -history belongs to the victors remember).But yes, the foundation for
    a country was laid…

    After PN Shah, we did not have any other Shah worth mentioning and
    the excuse was because of ‘Rana sashan’. King Tribhuwan was brought back
    by the grace of the Nepali people, King Birendra was respected only
    after relinquishing his power … so maybe its time to take the litmus
    test….and let people decide – we also read about how Drabya Shah tricked
    everyone and ran only half the race and still got to be king of Ligligkot. Let
    this king run at least a third of the ballot race!!

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  16. Kirat,
    Elections canbe held within a year.But first the parliament should be restored and it should declare the date and modalities of CA.

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  17. Layman, until the Maoists are disarmed elections to the CA are fruitless-do you think they will agree to this while an RNA loyal to Gyane still exists?

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  18. When the Govt. would be coalition of all seven parties and Maoists themselves, they must surrender the arms. This is what they promised, as far I can understand. RNA will not disarm because they are the National Army. Have you heard a Nation’s army being disarmed ? It now seems that it only works for the King but when the Interim Govt. will be constituted there is no way for the RNA to obey its orders. Otherwise, we can demand for them to be disarmed from the International community or through the UN Security Council Resolution.

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  19. UWB received this press release.

    Press Release

    We the members of Alliance for Democratic Republic Nepal, Reading UK are extremely concerned with recent “King’s” proclamation and denounce the attempt to deceive Nepali people to retain the political power with him. Even though the king has admitted that all his “wishes” failed to materialise during his direct rule, and declared that the sovereignty of Nepali people has been returned to them immediately, we found that:

    · He attempts to glorify the dark years of inhuman and armed suppression of his direct rule. He lies that the general people and civil servant supported his move. It is evident that he, denying basic human rights, persistently issued shoot-at-sight curfew orders.
    · He has asked for a name for the prime minister, and assigned a task to hold general elections. This indicates that he still wants to dictate the ways a new government could act. The proclamation is thus a ploy to play a game, which he has been incessantly playing ever since he sacked an elected prime minister.

    · It has not addressed the demand of SPA, demands of Maoist insurgents and voice of the ordinary people. It only attempts to take us back to the situation of 2001 not forward. The country is in desperate need to find a solution to the current political problem, which the king’s address has failed to recognise.

    Therefore:

    1. We urge the SPA not to give in to royal deception until it is agreed that people will be given a chance to testify the relevance of monarchy and call for constitutional assembly, hence, rewriting new democratic constitution will be held for restructuring Nepal.

    2. At this very historical juncture, we would like to ask the international community to critically examine the basis of the legitimacy of the monarchy in Nepal at a time when the whole country en masse is uprising against the autocratic monarchy. Therefore, we urge international community not to haste to welcome such cosmetic changes that leads Nepal back to the departure point from where we stated reeling into the cycle of problems, not solutions. We urge them not to impose Nepali people to embrace the master of all problems, the monarchy, rather let the people decide it through popular polls.

    3. We express our full solidarity to the 12-point pact and urge all to continue protests until we virtually put the autocracy to an end making people sovereign of Nepal in true sense.

    In support of free and democratic Nepal,
    Long live democracy! Down with despot king!

    Alliance for Democratic Republic Nepal
    Reading, UK
    21/04/2006

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  20. Ah I was wondering who the hell’s this Dr.Nepal, turns out it’s something else. UWB gang, why are you publising ‘press releases’ which nobody cares about ? And look at them, they are so proud, they think that they have come up with great ideas. Yup throw a blind support to ’12 pact agreement’, you really win the case. And they urge everyone to keep on protesting. Jokers.

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  21. Till now RNA seems to be King’s army but when the Interim Coaliton Govt including the Maoists will be formed, they must obey the order of this Govt.Otherwise, they would be considered as unconstitutional armed gang if they again support the King.
    This Coaltion Govt. can order the elections to CA and CA will decide whether Monarchy should be ceremonialonly or Constitutional or its abolition and the declaration of Nepal as Democratic Republic of Nepal. Hope not like DPRK. Ha ha ha

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  22. I am writing as a US supporter of peace and democracy in Nepal in response to Dinesh Wagle’s remarks on the US press and its coverage of current developments.

    From the point of view of progressive people in the US, while the sudden interest in Nepal by the US media is surely noteworthy and the amount and quality of information coming from its reporters from Nepal is certainly more and better than it has been , perhaps, ever, we would be remiss if we did not warn readers in Nepal that one should not adopt a naive and uncritical approach in evaluating the present coverage in its US and international context.

    The fact is that with regards to Nepal , as in most other areas of coverage of international affairs — the big exceptions being the Iraq war and plans towards Iran, where there is a split in press opinion — the major US media slavishly follow the lead of the US State Department. This means that, following the lead of Condoleeza Rice, an unprincipled, fanatical toady of the Bush Administration who could care less about the future of the Nepalese people except in terms of US geopolitical interests, the press has framed the issue of the democratic revolt in Nepal in a manner which is meant to give credence to Gyandendra’s allegedly democratic overtures and to make it seem like the SPA is someohow obliged to take them seriously. The theme is “the ball inis in the court of the SPA” , meaning that the SPA must “take advantage of the opportunity” supposedly afforded by the King’s call for the appointment of a PM. This is decidedly not an unprejudiced approach to the issues. It underplays or simply doesn’t even register the importance of the 12-point program and is at pains to cast the alliance with the CPN(M) in the most suspicious light.

    The way in which the US audience of teh media reads all this is that the SPA is now respon sible for reining in the protests and negotatiting with the Palace.

    Indeed, like Bush and Rice, the main preoccupation of the US media is with not whether real progress towards social and economic justice and democratic development can be made for the entire Nepalese people, but whether “stability” can be “restored”. There has been, it should be well noted, little or no coverage of the corruption and criminality of the Monarchy, there has been no coverage of the repression by the monarchy prior to this very last period. There is, on the other hand, constant reiteration of the palace’s claims of the extent of Maoist crimes (so-called “kidnappings”, “massacres” ,executions, etc).

    I have the greatest respect for Dinesh Wagle and hope his visit to the US is worthwhile and that he not only learns much here but that he teaches his hosts much about the real situation in Nepal which he has reported on with acimen and courage. But one should beware the blandishments of the US Administration and the mainstrean media here: they have their own agendas and while their power allows them to represent it as some kind of objective point of view it really is biased against any kind of independent and fundamental changes in countries like Nepal.

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  23. The credit of the second photo is wrong, it’s a Tomas van Houtryve photograph:

    UWB: Thank you Osama for pointing out our mistake which has been corrected by now. We regret the error.

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  24. mr g. i really appreciate ur idea…u have spoken the truth which today i think most nepalese dont dare to speak….that truth but its bitter… u r absolutely right….well such things wont change in nepal whoever comes..it was before and it will persist….politics has a great influence here in people….the gov. colleges and universities are political party offices..that can never change…well i hope tho’ peace will soon be restored in nepal… i dont expect more coz its useless….nothing will change coz people are the same only system will change (if at all..)…and when political parties will come to power they will again start the post 046 period…

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  25. yes usa media is giving a lot of coverage about nepal where most of the ppl don’t even know where is nepal.. I live in tiny town of upper peninsula of michigan where yesterday’s local newspaper carried a news about nepal..It was quiet surprising to see..Everyone around the world is listening what nepali are saying but who should listen ’em turned his ear deaf..Irony!!

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