Tag Archives: press freedom

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.] Continue reading Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Nepal’s Free Media

India Stops Nepal’s Newsprint

KATHMANDU- Indian authorities are holding 1,000 metric tonnes of newsprint imported by Kantipur Publications at Kolkata port for the last 26 days. Kantipur is Nepal’s largest publishing house that publishes Nepal’s largest selling newspapers and magazines.

India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has taken control of the newsprint imported from Canada and South Korea and stopped its shipment to Nepal, saying that the 39 containers carrying the newsprint need to be “investigated.”

No investigation, however, has been carried out despite repeated requests. Nor has Kantipur Publications been given a clear explanation for the continued delay, which has meant heavy demurrage and possibility of the newsprint getting damaged.

If the shipment is not released soon, it will put the publication of The Kathmandu Post and Kantipur dailies, and Saptahik weekly in jeopardy.

Asked to explain the reason behind the delay, DRI officials in Kolkata say, “We too don’t know why. Ask Delhi.” This is the first time any newsprint meant for Nepal’s publications has been held in the Indian port for “investigation.” Continue reading India Stops Nepal’s Newsprint

Maoist, the Party of Prime Minister, Attacks Himalmedia, the Newspaper House

Update: The CPN-UML boycotted a scheduled meeting of the political coordination committee, which was supposed to be attended by Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal, as a mark of protest against the Maoist attack on Himalmedia Pvt Ltd on Sunday. The UML also issued a statement condemning the Maoists for “brutal attack” on Himalmedia. Former CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal visited the Himalmedia office and expressed solidarity with the media. “This is condemnable attack and is aimed at intimidating the free press,” Nepal said after the visit. (source)

Himalmedia attacked
Himal Magazine journalist Damabar Krishna Shrestha, who was injured, talks about the attack.

Activists of the ruling party CPN-Maoist today attacked one dozen employees, including scribes, of the Himalmedia Pvt Ltd, the publisher of Nepali Times, Himal Magazine, Wave Magazine. The Maoist cadres vandalised the Himalmedia office at Hattiban in Lalitpur and attacked the staffers including Publisher and Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashutosh Tiwari, Executive Editor Kiran Nepal and senior correspondent Dambar Krishna Shrestha among others. Continue reading Maoist, the Party of Prime Minister, Attacks Himalmedia, the Newspaper House

Yes, Comrades Did It. Maoists Say They Killed Birendra Sah

The Maoist communists today admitted that they killing journalist Birendra Sah after abducting him.

The CPN Maoist today admitted that their cadres killed Bara-district journalist Birendra Sah. Unveiling the report of the high-level committee it had formed to probe into the case, the Maoists have also expressed commitment to give all possible support to the state to initiate legal action against the assailants. The report states that Sah was murdered by Maoist cadres Kundan Phaujdhar and Ram Iqbal Sahani under the orders of their area in-charge Lal Babu Chaudhary. Sah was shot in his temple and chest in an open area inside a jungle in between Juguwa village of Sapahi VDC and Sukhuwa village of Kakari VDC in Bara district. Sah’s body was buried in a ditch near the incident site, according to the report based on the statement recorded by Chaudhary. Sah was abducted from Pipara Bazaar of Bara district on October 4. Continue reading Yes, Comrades Did It. Maoists Say They Killed Birendra Sah

Nepal Press Freedom Update: Papers Back on Stands, Maoists Back Off, Editors Unite

Update: In a separate agitation program today, police detained over 35 journalists from the southern gate of Singha Durbar, the central administrative block as some scribes were protesting against the recent Maoist attack on the press. Demanding reinstatement of 49 scribes who were sacked from state-owned Gorakhapatra, press freedom, among other, the journalists were staging a sit-in at the south gate of Singha Durbar today. (more)

In a pleasant development in the struggle for press freedom, Nepali media emerged victorious yesterday after the Maoists backed off from their strikes in media houses. Meanwhile, prominent editors of the country have come under a common umbrella called Editors’ Alliance. Here’s the summary of the development:

Court Issues Stay Order: The Patan Appellate Court on Wednesday (15 Aug) issued a stay order requiring a Maoist-aligned trade union not to obstruct the printing and distribution of The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post dailies. The court noted that the obstruction has infringed people’s constitutional and legal right to information.

Mahara Urges Dialogue: Minister for Information and Communications Krishna Bahadur Mahara has urged the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and other media organizations to resolve the present crisis seen at media houses through dialogues. “We have a special request to the FNJ and other organizations to take positive initiative to resolve the dispute between working journalists and the managements of media organizations,” Mahara said in a statement. “The government is seriously concerned due to the uncomfortable situation at Gorkhapatra Corporation, HBC FM , Annapurna Post, The Himalayan Times and other institutions in recent days,” Mahara said. (source)

Shalikram Jamarkattle, Chief of the Maoist trade union, has said that his organization wouldn’t obstruct the publications of newspapers from 15 August. He issued a statement on 15 August saying that while launching agitation for the rights of workers, his trade union wouldn’t close down offices and disrupt printing and circulation of the newspapers. He also said that other forms of agitation would be opted. He also requested his union’s branch in the Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post not to obstruct the publication of the dailies, Annapurna Post reported in its 16 August edition. Continue reading Nepal Press Freedom Update: Papers Back on Stands, Maoists Back Off, Editors Unite

A Notice That Wasn't Printed in the Himalayan Times….

…because of the Maoist disruption in the production of the newspaper. UWB reproduces the full text of a notice issued by the Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post (published in today’s edition of Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post):

YCL Threat to Kantipur Journalist: Hari Bahadur Thapa, Chief Reporter at Kantipur, nation’s largest and most influential newspaper, said that he received threat on phone today morning “from a person who didn’t identify himself but warned me not to publish anything negative about YCL” (Young Communist League), the youth wing of CPN Maoist that is involved in intimidation through Nepal in recent months. “You have been maligning YCL,” the person told Thapa. “Completely stop this act.”

“Please come to our office and tell which news report you find objectionable,” Thapa told the person.

“Yes, we will come to the office but in a different form,” said the person and slammed down the phone.

Thapa called back at the number but found out that the phone belonged to a shop in the city and the shopkeeper said he couldn’t identify the person.

This threat comes at a time when senior Maoist leaders are expressing against the professionally run independent newspapers in the country that they say are trying to spread rumor or malign the Maoist party and not writing for the poor.

YCL tries to abduct reporter: Meanwhile, Drishti, a pro-leftist vernacular weekly, has issued a press statement a while ago saying that a group of about 18 YCL members reached the weekly’s office at 1 PM today and tried to abduct its reporter Madhav Basnet. The group first surrounded the office as they tried to take away journalist Basent. “This kind of act that has been coming against the journalists and media houses recently from the Maoist is a mocks our press freedom,” said the statement.

Notice Issued In Public Interest

This is to update all our valued readers, advertisers and society at large on the recent developments with regard to the disruption in the production and distribution of the newspapers, The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post.

The latest Chronology of events is as follows:

9th August 2007 (Thursday): A petition was filed by APCA Nepal against the office bearers of the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Communication and Printing Publication Workers’ Union (ANCPPWU) which had threatened to disrupt the distribution of the two newspapers from Saturday. APCA sought a stay order against the defendants as their activities violated rights guaranteed under Caluse 6 (6) and 9 of the Citizens Rights act 2012 BS.

10th August 2007 (Friday): A single bench of Justice Buddhi Prasad Regmi summoned the defendants to appear in court on 13th August (Monday) when the bench was to conduct a hearing and decide on whether or not to issue a stay order. The defendants refused to accept the Patan Appellate Court’s summons. Continue reading A Notice That Wasn't Printed in the Himalayan Times….

Jobless Journos of Gorkhapatra

The Maoist minister is trying to turn the state-owned publishing house a Maoist recruitment center

The other day, Gorkhapatra Corporation, the government owned publisher of dailies Gorkhapatra and the Rising Nepal, refused to renew the contract of 49 journalists, rendering them instantly jobless. Of the 49 working journalists, many were appointed during King Gyanendra’s direct rule as justified by the corporation for the refusal to renew the contract. But the question is: How many of them were pro-king journalists? Minister of Information and Communication Krishna Bahadur Mahara should be able to answer this though he has maintained a tight lip. The Maoists have formed labor unions and have talked about the rights of laborers in public gatherings. On this count, Mahara has turned his back conspicuously. Gorkhapatra Corporation has been a recruitment center of successive information and communication ministers. Mahara, being a Maoist, cannot be an exception. He apparently wants to fill the corporation with pro-Maoist journalists. Continue reading Jobless Journos of Gorkhapatra

Maoist Madness in The Himalayan Times

UWB is strongly against protest programs in newspapers and media house that aim at stopping the newspapers from reaching to the public.

The Himalayan Times Protest

To stop a newspaper from being circulated, like in the photo, is a crime against free society. Workers stop the circulation of the Himalayan Times. Pic via THT

The protesters in APCA House, the publishers of English daily The Himalayan Times and Nepali daily Annapurna Post have disrupted the distribution of papers as they are demanding facilities and benefits from management. The Maoist as a party is clearly behind this disruption and the national leadership must be held responsible for this mayhem in media sector. Maoists are trying to intimidate media by staging such drama in the name of facilities and benefits for workers. Yes, anyone including the Maoists can have peaceful protest for whatever the reason but while doing so no one can undermine people’s right to information. We respect and defend the agitators’ right to protest and demand facilities but we condemn their act of preventing the papers from being circulated. To stop papers from reaching to subscriber’s home or to try to stop a newspaper from being published is a crime against democracy and free society.

Information Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara of the Maoist party is encouraging such act by not acting against it and that only shows what his party might do in future. We know Maoists are not satisfied with the professional/commercial media houses in Nepal whose media outlets enjoy good circulation and ratings. Intimidation is not the way to counter those media and no newspaper in good conscience can become a Janadesh (a Maoist mouthpiece). Open your own newspaper, if you can, and join the competition. Provide quality content and readers/audiences will be yours. After all, the present media houses are not distributing their papers for free. People buy and when they do that they do that by their choice. Professional Commercial media needs to be flourished in Nepal for the shake of institutionalizing democracy in the country. Continue reading Maoist Madness in The Himalayan Times

Journalists’ Solidarity for Press Freedom

Nepali journalists on solidarity show in Kathmandu

More than 200 hundreds of journalists gathered at Maitighar, Kathmandu today showing solidarity for press freedom. Members of International Mission to study Nepal’s media situation too participated in the show.

Stop control over the press, restore press freedom: the banners reads. Continue reading Journalists’ Solidarity for Press Freedom

An Updated Report Of A Nepali Reporter

Birthday Blog. A reporter on his job in a changing political scenario of the country.

By Dinesh Wagle

“Are you pessimistic?” was one of her many questions that particularly put me in defensive position. “No, I am not,” was my instant reply. “I am not pessimistic at all.” Then I started explaining to the Japanese TV network NHK’s reporter who had come to film my reporting and blogging activities for her audience why I am still optimistic about the future of Nepal. “But look at this headline, this sounds so pessimistic,” she said, in a conversation that took place a few weeks ago in Kathmandu, pointing out to a printed version of my last year’s birthday blog on her table titled “A Melancholy Report of a Reporter.”

Today, exactly after a year, it’s again my birthday. I do not celebrate birthdays though, when reminded by others like today, I keep doing the math. I was born on the day of Falgun 17, 2035 (March 1, 1979) and with the sunrise of today, I enter 28th year of my life. [I did nothing special. Updated myself on the ongoing court drama on Dan Brown and his meghaselling ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in the Internet for my article and watched George W Bush on TV landing in New Delhi. It is a coincide this year that both Falgun 17 and March 1 fall in the same day just like Magh 19 and Feb 1 did four weeks ago!]

I have no complain with my life. I have my family with me, and a job that also happens to be my hobby to feed myself. But then whenever I contemplate a little more into the situation of myself, my family, my neighborhood and the society at large, I always feel compelled to think that it could have been better. Then I try to think where went wrong and exactly when that went wrong. Then I turn political because I see everything heading toward the political end. Despite all those corruptions and irregularities, financial statistics, and economic indicators force me to conclude that, we were heading toward prosperity in those days of democracy.

Where we have arrived at? Look at today’s headline. Army wants to operate 10 FM stations. Remember the other day’s headline? Information Minister tells independent radio broadcasters that the government is unable to provide security to those stations that air news. The government that is unable to provide adequate security guarantee of investments in independent media sector is quietly providing tax-free environment for the army to operate propaganda machinery. Will a man like me who joined the profession hoping to do free and fair journalism be happy with these headlines?

Journalism is not just my profession but my hobby since my college days. So it is also an inseparable part of my life. That is why whenever I talk about my life, journalism comes. And I have no hesitation to say that journalism remains one of the most challenging and riskiest jobs in Nepal. After the restoration of democracy, this profession got appeal and glamor and attracted college-going youths like me. The image of ‘jhole journalist’ rapidly evaporated with the coming of professionally managed, colorful daily newspapers, 24-hour FM stations and TV channels with modern newsrooms. I have seen journalists of previous generation getting astonished with the development and changes that this profession has seen over the years. We have seen increased level of professionalism and expanded amount of investments in the industry. I have closely observed the change in attitude of my sources toward me and my profession over the years. Now they deal with me in a more respectable manner.

It is not only because I am a member of a new breed of journalists in the country that sees Rang De Basanti in Jay Nepal Cinema and takes part in serious political rallies with same enthusiaism and understanding and writes news in a high-tech newsrooms filled with computers connected to the internet 24-hours a day but also because the level of understand of society regarding journalism has tremendously increased and the reach and influence of media has phenomenally risen. That is why even the army wants to be in journalism, that is why even army feels the need of operating separate radio stations.

It might seems that the freedom level for media has risen today compared to the situation immediately after the Feb 1, 2005 royal takeover. But it is like what they say hidden prices in marketing. Nepali media can not freely report the ongoing conflict, it can not freely report what is exactly going inside the high walls of Narayanhitti Royal Palace and it regularly faces threats from ministers and officials nominated by the king’s government blatantly ignoring the provisions of the constitution. Minutes before I came in front of this computer, I was watching American journalist Karl Bernstein of the Watergate fame in BBC World’s Hard Talk program. He was talking about how news value in American journalism was under threat and how networks like FOX, that sometime create news, were getting popularity in the market. “As journalist, our job is to offer news we find truthful,” he said. And I try to bring his word in Nepali context. Professional media were offering the news they find truthful and they were becoming very successful in their mission. Suddenly a break came in the form of king’s intervention in 2002 that was most visible in February 2005.

But there is silver lining. People are starting to understand the difference between the bright days of freedom and the dark days of tyranny. And this gives me power to defend myself against the questions posed by the Japanese reporter. “To fight with tyranny and grow up with the news of guns have become part of our life,” I said. “I consider myself as a man with a certain responsibility toward the society. All indications suggest that we are heading toward final push. Once we go through that, bright days are waiting for us.” She appeared to be convinced by my answer.