All posts by Siromani Dhungana

I am a Kathmandu-based economic journalist (currently with The Himalayan Times), researcher and lecturer of Journalism and Mass Communication at Tribhuvan University. I have also been appointed by the Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Development Center to revise the journalism syllabus for grade nine and ten as well as to rewrite journalism textbooks for the secondary level.

Badhshala- A Bad Director Can Never Make a Good Film

Letter written by the Defence Ministry.
Letter written by the Defence Ministry. Click to enlarge

This is yet another example of former adversaries- the Nepali Army and the Maoists- coming together to cover their dirty secrets (conflict-era crimes).

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB

Habituated to the filthy political drama, the government imposed a ban on Nepali movie Badhshala (Slaughter House) in a clear sign that the government is going to be a butcher for the Freedom of Expression (FoE). In a letter (see pic above, and below by Ministry of Information and Communication to Nepal Film Development Board) sent to Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC), Ministry of Defense has asked to impose ban on the movie citing on the vague reason: ‘…some issues including use of Army regalia in the movie’. Republica, in an editorial, writes:

In a deplorable move, the Ministry of Defense, [currently led by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai],  has requested a ban on Nepali movie Badhshala, citing a rarely invoked rule. Apparently, the filmmaker should have taken permission to use Army regalia in the movie. But many Nepali movies have previously depicted characters in Army uniforms without any interference from the government. Hence the Defense Ministry’s reasoning falls flat at the outset. All previous movie bans were conducted by censor board (for example, the movie ATM that was banned for vulgarity). This is the first time that the Defense Ministry has gotten involved in preventing a movie’s screening.

American judge Potter Stewart says: “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”

So, the question is has our government lost its confidence? And whether it is heading towards an authoritarian regime? Many say that is exactly what is happing. Continue reading Badhshala- A Bad Director Can Never Make a Good Film

Advertisements

Populist Government’s Bumper Offer to Media Houses

Populist Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has now tried to lured media fraternity by offering, what media report suggests, ‘unnatural facilities’.

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB

If you can’t beat them, join them. Or, bribe them. If it turns out to be true, the Baburam Bhattarai-led government’s attempt to appease the media sector only exposes the real character of an ultra-leftist government. It will be a kind of bribe but with completing legal formalities.

Following sharp criticism for what it has been doing, the government has tried to appease media outlets by providing lucrative facilities. The government which, according to its own word, is committed to welfare of people has shifted its priority and started to appease different sectors which ruling UCPN (Maoist) used to brand as “agents of feudalism and expansionist forces.”

A 10-point incentive package has been forwarded to the Social Committee of the Cabinet and is likely to be okayed by the Cabinet this week, Prakash Acharya quotes an unnamed sources at the Office of Prime Minister as saying in The Himalayan Times. Continue reading Populist Government’s Bumper Offer to Media Houses

Press Council Nepal: From a Watchdog to the Maoist Lapdog

Awadesh Kumar Yadav
Awadesh Kumar Yadav

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB

The present Press Council Act in Nepal need to be revisited, restructured and reformed to ensure the independence of the council and to establish it as a true ‘watchdog mechanism’.

After the appointment of new chairman at Press Council Nepal (PCN), the need of reforming the existing legal provision has further garnered its relevancy.

In what appears to be a controversial move of the Government of Nepal, it appointed former Supreme Court Justice Awadhesh Kumar Yadav as the Chairman of Press Council Nepal on January 25, 2013.

Reportedly, Yadav as the apex court Justice had issued an order to prevent the prosecution of a war-era criminal case against then Maoist lawmaker Keshab Rai. Continue reading Press Council Nepal: From a Watchdog to the Maoist Lapdog

For an “Austere” Prime Minister, Far Too Many (and Costly) Helicopter Rides

But that’s the contradictory and hypocritical nature of Baburam Bhattarai. Can the Mustang-rider PM reveal the source of his party’s income to pay for his choppers fare?

By Siromani Dhungana

And the earth is round! Russian Mi-17 and French AS332 Super Puma helicopters were used by the then governments to fight against the decade-long Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) The story has taken a twist now and rebellion-turned-Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has been one of the frequent users of these flying machines.

Hiring these choppers cost from Rs 0.42 million to more than Rs 0.44 million for an hour, but that does not seem to deter our Mustang-rider Bhattarai from hiring helicopters for campaigning in favor of his party UCPN Maoist.

PM Bhattarai has spent Rs 19.09 million in chopper after assuming charge of the Prime Minister’s office in August 29‚ 2011, reports Kantipur Television.

He has chartered AS332 Super Puma and MI-17 helicopters of Nepal Army Air Wing for 23 times since August 2011. Dr Bhattarai, however, has cleared the chopper fair only once.

In September 2011, PM Bhattarai had said that his party would bear the cost of chartered flights that he takes to attend programs organized by the party. Speaking before the then State Affairs Committee of the parliament, the PM said the state would not have to bear the financial burden of his visits to party programs. Continue reading For an “Austere” Prime Minister, Far Too Many (and Costly) Helicopter Rides