Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Nepal’s Free Media

These are not very good times for the relationship between the Nepali media industry and the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. They are at loggerheads, most recently, over a statement issued by the embassy on 27th blaming “certain print and television media” reporting “against products manufactured by Indian Joint Ventures in Nepal.” Past allegations of this nature, said the embassy, have been found to be false after thorough investigation by Nepal Government agencies.

The most damning part of the press statement is in the second paragraph. “The Indian JVs have informed the embassy that they have been approached by such media houses for release of advertisements and are being threatened with negative publicity if those requests are not met.”

Then the embassy provided us some background info on Indo-Nepal relationship telling us how much importance the JVs have in that.

“These Indian Joint Ventures make a substantial contribution to the Nepalese economy, employment, revenue to the Government and exports from Nepal. They maintain the highest standards of quality, which is proved by the fact that exports of their products are accepted across the globe. These companies are the pride of Nepal and a symbol of close relations between India and Nepal.” Then the embassy adds: “The baseless adverse publicity against the products of such joint ventures will not only hit the Nepalese economy and exports but will also deter new foreign direct investments into Nepal.”

Last, but not least, the embassy says: “We hope that concerned authorities will take suitable action against such unethical practices.”

Anything wrong with the statement? Nothing, had that been issued by a commercial company with business interests in Nepal. But the fact that it was issued by the official representative of the Republic of India in the Democratic Federal Republic of Nepal is troubling. The Indian embassy, under the able leadership of Rakesh Sood, in Nepal is not the East Nepal Company. Therefore it shouldn’t behave in a way that reminds us the East India Company. [Nepalis didn’t experience that, by the way, as they were never colonized by the British.] The embassy should have told the complaining JVs something like this: “This seems purely a commercial issue. You guys, being multinational companies, should know how to sort this out.”

But the embassy didn’t say that. It acted like the publicity wing of Dabur Nepal, the Indian company in Nepal, whose product- Real juice- got bad publicity because worm was reportedly found in its tetra pack.

The funniest thing is the company in question, Dabur Nepal, didn’t send letters or rebuttals to the media outlets that reported about its product.

The embassy’s views are highly exaggerated when it says the Indian JVs “are the pride of Nepal.” NO, they are NOT. Are Toyota, Coca Cola and Blackberry the pride of India? But yes Dabur, Nepal Unilever and Asian Paints in Nepal symbolize business relations (not close ties though) between our two nations. Dabur or Unilever are not in Nepal because they wanted to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. Profit is THE priority and that is paramount. We Nepalis do understand that and we are perfectly fine with that…as long as the companies abide by the rules, sell quality products and refrain from neglecting and compromising on quality. If Dabur goes, another company will soon come to sell us juice and hazmolas before we get thirsty and face problems with digestion. They are not distributing their products for free by bringing them from India. We also know that Nepal-India relationship is not based on such shaky foundations that rely on tetra-packs juices. We also know that if a company sells something substandard they are often reported in the free presses of the world. Nepal is no North Korea and no Myanmar (Burma) whose dictator General gets red carpet welcome in India. We have a free press, vibrant and very much functional, far more responsible than the Indian press DESPITE the fact that we are only two decades old. We are vibrant, responsible and functional especially when we are compared to some Indian papers that have more than 15 decades of history and experience. [The report of worm found in Real juice was first published by Naya Patrika, a daily tabloid. It was also carried by Sagarmatha TV, a news channel. Kantipur TV, not newspapers from Kantipur Publications, broadcasted a report on that on it’s late night news show, not regular and prime time news bulletins.]

It’s not unusual, though, for governments to lobby for the companies of their home country in foreign lands. That’s normal. Embassies are there to promote their country’s interests, including business interests, in the host nation. BUT that responsibility is not fulfilled by issuing statements with veiled threats. The Canadian High Commission in New Delhi didn’t issue such threatening statements against Indian media that wrote recently that Blackberry should abide by the Indian laws. Nor did the Chinese embassy in New Delhi threaten the Indian media for reporting about substandard Chinese toys in India. Diplomacy is not done by issuing statements. But Indian embassy in Kathmandu opted for a different path, the path of intimidation and highhandedness.

Thus the objection to the Indian embassy statement by a group of Nepali media on Sunday (29th Aug):

“Nepali media are free to choose their content and have fully utilised this right. We caution the embassy to respect diplomatic norms and values of press freedom,” said the media group in a statement. The signatories of the statement were: Nepal Media Society (print), Television Broadcasters, Broadcasting Association of Nepal (commercial radio) and Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal (the umbrella organisation for community radio broadcasters). They cautioned the Indian Embassy not to “overstep its boundary.” The statement also reminded the embassy that the Nepali media operate under the laws of sovereign Nepal. The statement accused the embassy of libel. “To make sweeping comments on the Nepali media on the basis of news published about food products with corroboration from the investigation of Nepali government agencies is objectionable,” the statement said.

“On behalf of all the media outlets in Nepal, we deplore this objectionable interference of the embassy.” The joint statement has also cautioned the embassy from repeating similar “mistakes” and asked the embassy to issue an apology. The media organisations have also called on the government to issue a rebuttal immediately.

Then the Indian Embassy issued anther statement on the same day (29th):

The spokesperson of Indian embassy said the embassy was surprised by “the reaction by some media associations to genuine concerns expressed by it at attempts to elicit advertising revenue from Indian joint ventures by a few media organisations”. “At no point did the embassy refer to the media in Nepal in general. The reaction by these media associations would have been credible if backed by a condemnation of such unethical practices and an offer to discuss how to address the issue with concerned companies,” said the spokesperson in response to media queries according to Himalayan Times, the English-language Indian newspaper published from Kathmandu.

Then, on Monday (30th) some newspapers, including Kantipur, responded with editorials and interviews from various citizens of Nepal who condemned the undiplomatic act of the Indian embassy.

[While reading this one shouldn’t forget the recent tensions between the Indian embassy and Kantipur Publications that saw the former holding newsprint imported by the later at Kolkata port.]

One of India’s ‘greatest newspapers’, The Lies of India (sometimes known as the Times of India) reacted to the incident on its website yesterday reminding us the ‘great’ Joseph Goebbels. This is exactly the reason why I said earlier Nepali media are far more responsible and mature than some Indian newspapers that are shame to journalism. Let’s not talk about ethics to these morons who sell news space to corporate. Their ‘reports’ are full of mistakes, they don’t know how to spell names of people from Nepal they are mentioning in their reports and don’t know when the incident they are writing about took place.

“Six years ago, a section of Nepal’s media showed its dark side when it falsely attributed anti-Nepal statements to Bollywood star Hritik Roshan, triggering anti-India riots in the Himalayan kingdom,” the Lies of India (known occasionally as Times of India) wrote yesterday. The moron who wrote this completely forgot that the Hritik Roshan incident happened ten years ago, not six. Though the false statement wrongly attributed to Roshan was carried first by a fringe newspaper coming out from Chitwan, to say that the riots were triggered by the media is same as saying that Indira Gandhi was killed by coverage of Emergency by the Indian Express. [Sorry Express for naming you in the same paragraph with the Lies of India.]

The LOI further writes about Kantipur: “Smarting under falling circulation and dwindling revenue…” Now, this moron is acting as Audit Bureau of Circulation for Nepalis newspapers. But revenue COULD be decreasing because the Indian embassy has threatened the Indian JVs in Nepal not to give advertisements to Kantipur group. Dabur officials are already complaining privately that their product Real is losing market share to Rio by Nepal’s Chaudhary Group because they are not being allowed to advertise on Kantipur. The officials at the Pepsi were heard cursing His Excellency Rakesh Sood, the able ambassador of India in Nepal, for not allowing them to do business freely in Nepal and holding them ransom to fulfil His Excellency’s personal ego.

The LOI further says: “The campaign is an echo of similar hate campaigns in the past. In 2003-4, when a new media organisation announced the launch of a Nepali daily, the group led a similar smear campaign.”

The thick-head moron has no idea that the daily s/she is talking about is the Himalayan Times, an Indian newspaper run by Indians in Kathmandu, that wrote Buddha was born in India. I think even LOI would feel hesitant to print such lie regarding Buddha’s birthplace and the THT was condemned for such untruthful reports and backdoor entry of Indian investment in Nepali newspaper industry.

It would be childish to expect fair coverage from LOI so I am not asking why the LOI didn’t think it was necessary to put other side (Kantipur)’s view on a news report.

Finally, here’s a report in yesterday’s Hindustan Times about what our great democratic neighbour is planning. While reading this you will have to keep this fact in mind that NO Nepali newspaper is allowed to be circulated in Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai where as almost every Indian media outlet from Delhi have physical or virtual presence in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. Despite such uneven relationship (in terms of media presence) India still thinks commercially run Nepali radios are threat to its security. What can you do to those who see things through distorted looking glass of their own paranoia?

[Indian] Govt to counter Nepali, Pak TV & radio

By Nandini R Iyer

New Delhi: The government will shortly set up FM radio services at the India-Nepal border in Bihar to counter the popularity Nepali channels enjoy in the region.

This comes soon after it moved to buttress the strength of Indian radio and television signals along the India-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir.

The government last week cleared a proposal to set up FM radio relay centres in Bihar’s border districts of Bettiah, Motihari and Madhubani.

Nepali FM radio is very popular in the villages of these districts. “People are not able to tune in to Indian radio stations, but they are able to connect to Nepalese radio stations easily,” explained an official.

Security agencies have twice warned the government that Nepali FM stations could be misused by Maoists — or even Pak militants — for anti-India propaganda.

The information and broadcasting ministry recently approved expenditure of R100 crore to strengthen Indian transmission signals at the J&K border. “We need to be sure our signals are strong enough, and that they are stronger than anything beamed from the other side,” said a ministry official.

Apart from improving transmission and transformer capacity at the border, the ministry has also asked Doordarshan and AIR officials to plan and mount programmes on a regular basis to counter any foreign misinformation campaign, a senior intelligence official said.

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21 thoughts on “Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Nepal’s Free Media”

  1. Yes, as soon as I read the news about Nepali FM stations this morning on HT, I thought whats wrong with India? And after going through your article its clear about how ‘fake’ this ‘harmonial relation’ is , that indians claim of having with us. The Indian ambassador should have instead questioned Dabur Nepal over its quality issues. I once proudly showed my boss Real’s Mango & Orange juice tetra packs mentioning ‘packaged in Nepal’. And we are still using the product. How can Dabur Nepal be so insensitive over a product that it exports to India? I personally think that the embassy is frustrated over its failure of dominance on Nepal’s politics and are nosing around with such stupid acts. Thanx for the article.

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  2. amusing to see how people can make career out of assumptions and virtuous than thou attitude .High time you look inwards and concentrate on the mockery going on in Nepal . Seems you guys are going the paki way

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  3. Looks like Indian Embassy get their writing little wrong, they should not have said Indian JV’s are pride of Nepal.
    I don’t find any wrong in Indian Embassy defending Indian JV’s but they should be little cautious.
    But these issues should not go forward from both sides, they will only help in troubling relations.

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  4. It seems that India has been found that it even started to forget that Nepal is sovereign country,that’s why all these types of unwanted and immoral things are happening.If talking very clearly and lawfully,if this case is happend to India,the Indian government could not direct Indian media in a manner it the Indian embassy did in Nepal.So,India needs to think twice about the very things that are happening in Nepal by it’s embassy officials and immediately take a very appropriate step towards the same,so that it might not be repeating.In other way,It’s also the result of not united the whole media when India statrted to interferences in Nepal’s internal affairs.

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  5. Wow, pretty charged up article. I guess the issue is very emotional for the writer too.

    I liked the part about LOI- which is a shame for a newspaper which is the most read in the world. But in fact, it has a purpose, just like Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Fox News. The editors of LOI and HT are the likes of rush limbaugh and glenn becks.

    pretty shame the liberals of india cant do anything.

    And the current indian mission in nepal is a shame rather than a success. Rakesh Sood and co. have damaged whatever reputation India had in Nepal and I think Indian government should immediately rethink its doings in its harmless northern neighbor before things get worse. The working style and attitude of his administration has left no room for the sympathizers of better Into-Nepal ties to show face.

    But what is the solution? I dont know. Maybe DW should start writing occasional columns in some respected liberal media outlet. And others should too.

    Just my $0.02

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  6. u have got a great point here. The Times Of India is a mockery to The Times,fromwhich paper it got its name from under the british aegis…Its so true to call it The LIES Of India…. i had been in New delhi for 1.5 years now…I had been a subscriber of TOI but within 2 months i got so sick of its news that i gave up the subscription and opted for another Daily….How cud one write and more surprisingly world’s largest number of reader , read such venom….U should have read the coverage of the Dantewada Massacre in the TOI… It was absolutely shameless….It was such biasednews that i coudn’t even complete it…Shame on indian press..

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  7. You mentioned somewhere the name of TOI. Please, do not copy, or take report from TOI as it only lowers the standard of your blog. Being in India for the past eight years, I have very high regard to TOI as equal to ‘Toiletpaper Of India’.

    Rest, nothing to comment! We should just hope that MAKUNE, OLI, DEUBA etc. first stop sucking and licking SUD and his Co.

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  8. To chasing che, so what happened in the coverage of the Dantewada massacre? we lost 80 of our paramilitary troops, the whole nation was outraged and saddened, what did you find disgusting? you say you lived in Delhi for 1.5 yrs, were you one of those Nepalese guys who come to India, live here, earn money and talk crap about India and how uncool we “dhotis” are. I really wish we would stop this forced camaraderie with your country and treat you like any other country, where Nepalese would require visas to come to India and seal the border with you. then you can all go merrily to China and Pakistan for work. Atleast we wont have to handhold this nutcase of a country where you can’t even elect a PM without coming to N Delhi. i am sure your comrades in Beijing would love to see the maoists in party and then you can join the Chinese motherland. Just sick of you guys whining about how bad India is and how unfair the Friendship treaty is.

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  9. Nepal is already a Chinese colony for a while, its high time India should end friendship treaty with Nepal and erect a fencing to stop these communists from flowing to India. These Nepali’s couldn’t understand anything but their own medicine.

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  10. to steven,
    when you say to treat us like any other countries you read by thought. what would you do may be compulsory passport and visa and some amount of cash required. that also mean lot of cash from visiting indian besides lots of our bother are going to other countries paying amount of cash and they do earn a lot than india. It will be blessing in disguise. May be we will be able get facility to go to china with zero visa fee. Only think we want from you is passage to Bangladesh for sea passage and its our right.
    we might suffer at first but we will be far better without you medling around
    you are just nobody who talk like you owe us big but dont know a damm history just over proud indian we would be happy to get away from you.

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  11. The concern’s of Indian Embassy for it’s JV’s aboard is not a matter of surprise, surely they do have. Theirs presence aboard is manifested, indeed, by these products as we remember of US after coca-cola and Denmark after having swig of Tuborg Beer. but the thing it is surprising is why this sort of issue is highlighted by Nepalese media. This sort of attitude would surely threaten foreign direct investment, rather the issue should have to be solved through the other channel.We the Nepalese are not in the situation of making hostile environment with the investors. please, remember the children of poor workers working at Dabur. But, the Dabur should not be negligent in it’s quality. It will surely harm itself.

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  12. @nepali … Yes, most Indians and Nepalis do not want open border as it was bad for both countries. I hope govts should do something regarding the same. As you pointed out, you guys are entitled to have a passage to Bangladesh through a dedicated road which should be regulated by Indian authorities.

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  13. Yes Nepali, you deserve a the full right to get free visa to China, maybe your great leader Prachanda (after becoming the PM) can easily get this arrangement from his leaders, then all of you can go to China, and i am sure the Chinese would love to pour all their cheap stuff into your country and infact get a new Extra friendship treaty with you guys. oh yeah we are not forcing Nepalis to come to India to work right, its just that your country can’t give jobs to all of you guys so that’s why they come, and of course i am a proud Indian, why wouldn’t i be. we will give you port access to bangladesh but only after bangladesh allows us the same right. why on hell would we allow our soil to be used when we are not getting back the same rights. and what on earth are you gonna do with the link, oh i forgot, it will be cheaper to migrate from Nepal to Bangladesh and then by boats to other parts of the world. Hell we don’t want to do anything with you, its just that we leave you alone to sort out things and you make a mess out of it and make our lives miserable. but i am sure once you are bosom buddies with China they will solve all your problems and with the help of Prachanda become one nation. after all working in China must be so much more wonderful than with the “dhotis”, i am sure you guys will be treated as they treat their workers. well if you think you are well read then do tell me which part of the friendship treaty do you object to, and do mention it to me. its easy to just say friendship treaty is bad because everyone says so, but read it actually and then mention it to me how India is taking advantage of you. do you have any facts and figures to prove your point or you are just talking your hat off.

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  14. I am Nepali but i am not complete with out India.
    People ask me where are you from, i find very difficult to answer. I born in Nepal but after 10th i did all my education in India. Now i am 26 years old almost half of my life i spend in India. I love this country. When i see political contradict between this two country, it gives me pain.

    We are brothers, our culture, our way of thinking are same. There are so many things i see same between Indian and Nepali.

    Though we live are different by country Vise But we are one in Heart.

    Jay Hind Jai Nepal.
    Indian ho Ya Nepali, Akhir Hum to hai Bhai Bahi.

    Lets respect one another and grow in Brotherly Love

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  15. dear nepali freinds,

    we indians now really wanted you to go to china along with mr prachanda a greatest leader of nepal, who bloody fucked with thousands of nepali life [we are nothing to do with it]. i think now its high time that india should tightly close its border for these guys who makes mess in their own country. let them solve their own problems with help of prachanda and china. infact they must go to china now and work there at their feets. so that there can be another tibet made out of nepal. we are enough capable of taking care of ourself. how much u help these guys they will not be grateful to you. if time comes then we should cut all diplomatic relation with nepal. Now they got very high profile leader like prachanda who is going to surely make them slave of china in days to come. how big air these nepali guys take in their body they wud remain frog and they can not be bull.
    its leave them to their destiny.

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  16. Nepal is no North Korea and no Myanmar (Burma) whose dictator General gets red carpet welcome in India. We have a free press, vibrant and very much functional, far more responsible than the Indian press DESPITE the fact that we are only two decades old.

    I like this statement. Look those fu..king Indians when will they grow up. We can see their attitude seeing how did they show their reputation in Common Wealth Game. For the shake of money they do any thing. They say Jay Hind with their mouth but they are ready to sell even their reputation, country and show their actual face to the world. Look at Prince Charles wife laughing from VVIP cabinet during Common Wealth Game opening ceremony. You know why did she laugh because she saw what actually India is heheehhe . All the world will laugh at you in coming days because you beasts are sucking your poor neighbour and the god is cursing on you. You fu..ckers just to know to breed and make lots of poor people and make a slogan Jai Hind. Have you fu…kers realize that there are more that 15% of world population is there in your country so why do you not try to solve your own problems.
    For the shake of corruption they do any thing. They are not shy and ashamed of any thing. Therefore, what I can tell is that they do not have mercy on any one . Nepal is small and poor country but this big devil brother on South would not have inter fair it would be very beautiful and prosperous nation.

    Fu ..ck INDIANS a decade from today you will be more fucked up your people will suffer more. More than half of your people will sleep on platform and will be begging, looting and the Biharis will be the greatest Mafias more dangerous than Mexican drug Cartel. By that time we poor, innocent Nepali should build 900 km fences on the South to get rid of you violent Mafias.
    After two decades there will be Fu..cking 20 independent states instead of Republic of India it is because of your bad attitude to small poor neighbor.

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  17. What concerns me most is that :

    Although there could be odd cases of insects in it,but it happens in all countries[even european countries]..

    nepal should know that these products are consumed in india most..I know dabur nepal products are exported to north of india..So rather than cribbing over something which gives you export,employment and foreign reserves,you should take it lightly ..
    in india such news dont come into lime light…its not a terrorist attack..

    So take it cool.

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