By PR Pradhan
All is not good in this land of “loktantra” and the media also falls in the same category. The 1990 constitution had guaranteed media freedom, unfortunately, this freedom also brought anarchism in the media sector. Along with the guarantee of media freedom, businessmen also started to make an entrance and invest in the media and they created several media empires of their own and publishers and owners thus started some sort of a parallel government. At present, some media houses are even more powerful than the Opposition party in the federal parliament and even powerful than the executive prime minister. Some media publishers believe themselves above the constitution.
Bargaining, blackmailing, defaming individuals, character assassination have become the main characteristic of the Nepali media. After being victims of some publications, some business houses started to run their own publication house and unhealthy competition has been witnessed in the media market. Such a trend in the media has defamed the entire Nepali media sector.
By taking benefit of the two-thirds majority, the government has tried to introduce a new media law. The government has not only tried to bring under control anarchism in media, but also tried to end media autonomy by developing the proposed media council as a government department. The government has planned to replace the existing Press Council by another government structured media council. We oppose the government plan to make media council as an organ totally under the control of the government, however, we believe, the media should never try to stay above the law. The concerned media should also be subjected to punishment if it violates the nation’s laws. We support the government spirit. But, we cannot support the government’s idea of curtailing media freedom. A section of journalists is organizing street agitations against the proposed media bill already tabled in the federal parliament. The government, with the strength of two-thirds majority, can easily endorse the bill. There are many positive points in the bill. However, some points are objectionable and it is believed, these points will curtail media freedom. Therefore if the bill is passed without any amendment, it will be very unfortunate. In the journalists’ agitation, there has been seen three types of journalists. One type of journalists is fighting against the government intention of curtailing media freedom. We too express our solidarity on this agitation. But the second type of journalists in agitation are trying to safeguard the interests of the big media houses and allow them to continue their hegemony in the society. On this, we have some reservations. Accordingly, the third type of journalists in agitation is serving the western interests of destroying Nepali culture, values and tradition. We are against such a mission. The new media council bill has introduced the provision of heavy punishments, which should be amended. But the trend of running print media and electronic media together by a publication house merging them has to be ended. The proposed media council should remain as a totally autonomous body monitoring the media on violation of the code of conduct and it should not be empowered as an executive body enjoying the legal authority such as arresting and punishing the media persons.
Be that as it may, the media sector should be responsible to the society and the society should accept the media sector as a prestigious profession.
Appreciation or condemnation?
The government claiming it is working for a prosperous Nepal is accelerating its all efforts to export our youths abroad. After signing an agreement with Japan, the government has signed agreements with Mauritius and UAE for exporting Nepali labourers. The government is keenly seeking markets for Nepali labour force abroad. When South Korea wished to employ 10 thousand Nepali laburers, above 84 thousand youths participated in the Korean language examination, which is mandatory for getting employment there. Clearly, 74 thousand youths are not going to get a chance to go to South Korea. They have already invested much money and time to learn the Korean language. If they cannot go to Korea, it will be a loss for them. May be, they will go to other destinations.
Already, the country is facing shortage of manpower and our land has been left uncultivated due to lack of manpower specially in the agricultural sector. In the construction sector also, there is scarcity of local manpower and the construction companies are bringing Indian labourers.
In such a situation, will the dream for a prosperous Nepal come true?
Traders of darkness
Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli says, he will not see the face of corrupt people near him. Unfortunately, he is encircled by the very corrupt and wicked brokers. Experts say, if every thing goes properly, it will take at least three years to complete the remaining works of the Melamchi drinking water project. It is an open secret that the Italian construction company quit the project at the last hours when some officials in the Project demanded commission while clearing the bills submitted by the construction company. The construction company denied to pay commission, instead they wished to quit the project. The company could return for work, but those corrupt officials, including Ghanashyam Bhattarai, PM Oli’s development expert opposed the idea of bringing back the Italian contractors. It is learnt that Bhattarai, who was associated with the Melamchi project in the past, had misused a huge amount of the project funds. Therefore, he was not ready to bring back the Italian contractor to rescue himself from the charge of corruption. Now, a new bidding process has been started to complete the remaining parts of the construction works. To rescue Bhattarai and also the vested interests of some corrupt officials, the project has become uncertain. Can Oli end corruption by appointing advisors like Bhattarai?
Now, a strong front of brokers has come up to lobby against Nepal Electricity Authority Managing Director Kulman Ghishing. According to sources, this group is ready to offer one billion rupees to Baluatar if Ghishing is ousted from NEA on corruption charges. PM Oli’s close confidante Mahesh Basnet and MP Amanlal Modi have already become active to defame Ghishing.
Not to forget, many traders of darkness, who were imposing load-shedding for 17 hours a day, are against Ghishing, who managed electricity supply and announced a load-shedding free Nepal. When Ghishing sent bills to those industrialists enjoying electricity from Feeder line even during acute shortage of electricity, they reached to the conclusion to punish Ghishing at any cost. This is “new” Nepal!