29 May 2008

Small Medium, Big Revolution: Role of Pamphlets in Social Movements in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan

What was the role of Pamphlets in different social and political movements of Nepal? There is no concrete study on the issue.

Usually pamphlets are written material. They are prepared to persuade people on different issues. They might contain one-side issue. People use them to social transformation or to maintain status quo. They are portable, easy to hide. So pamphlet is effective medium for social movements.

Some people might think they are useless where about a half population are illiterate. But it is word of mouth that gives publicity to the content of pamphlets.
I don't know how pamphlets were used by political activists in Panchayat period (1960-1990) and before. Scholars might have mentioned about them in books. There is no doubt that pamphlet was important medium in these autocratic political systems when state media were in the hands of rulers and private media were few.

I can tell how Civil Movement for Peace and Democracy used pamphlets during the direct rule of king Gyanendra. In the early days of the rule it was difficult for private media to disseminate this information and pamphlet was main medium. After few months private media also courage to carry views and news opposed to the rule.

I think pamphlets played important role to bring down the Gyanenda rule. Nepal will be announced republic today (28 May 2008). I think it is time to remember the role of pamphlet in ending monarchy in Nepal. No doubt non government radios also propagate messages opposing the activities of the monarchy. Pamphlets will always be a medium of opposition.

25 May 2008

Chinese film on Kings and their Ambitons: Forget people

By Harsha Man Maharjan

There is a hope in Nepali people for 28th May 2008. Parliament will declare Nepal a republic on that day. So we are evaluating the role played by Shah Dynasty in Nepal.

In this context, Martin Chautari screened a Chinese film by Chen Kaige, The Emperor and the Assassin (161 mins, 1999, China) at its premises, Thapathali, Kathmandu, Nepal on 22 May 2008. Kaige is a member of Fifth generation Chinese directors. These directors use new film language and different plot than their elders. They revisited Chinese history and brought facets of history not presented by the establishment.

The Emperor and the Assassin is about Ying Zheng, king of the kingdom of Qin; his lover Zhao and his assassin Jink Ke. Zheng unified seven kingdoms of China in 221 BC. In this way we can compare Zheng with kings and queens of Shah dynasty who unified small principalities and kingdoms geographically. As in the case of Zheng, Shah rulers could not unified Nepali culturally.

So this film tells how Zheng’s lover goes to the kingdom of Yan being a spy. She has to find an assassin for the king of Yan. This assassin needs for killing Zheng. In this way Zheng and his lover hatch a plot to abort his assassination.
But watching inhuman treatment and massacre of people of the kingdom of Zhao she starts to hate Zheng and love the assassin.

At the end of film the assassins’ attempt of assassination fails and Zhao goes to Zheng to take the assassin’s dead body.

This film is a story of kings and their ambitions. It tells how general people suffer in the process of “nation building”. These power-hungry emperors hope that their unification process would bring peace and prosperity in general peoples’ live but their action does nothing but suffering.

Does that mean the process of nation building unnecessary? I have no answer. What I can say is that in this process people of enemy kingdoms are brutally killed, tortured. And in some cases their culture are destroyed. These scars of the suffering will remain for ever. So I think the film’s story of kings and their ambitions are universal.

23 May 2008

NBPAN: a Club of Few Big Book Publishers

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Few years National Booksellers and Publishers Association of Nepal (NBPAN) had more than two hundred members. Today it is less than fifty.
What are the reasons behind this? Ram Chandra Timothy, chair of NBPAN furnished his explanations on this issue in the program organized by Martin Chautari on 18 May 2008.
Main reason for this is weaknesses of NBPAN. Many things: training, seminar, research etc it was supposed to do are not done yet.

Another reason is the criteria required for being a member of NEBPAN. To be its members, booksellers and publishers must register themselves. According to Timothy there are many booksellers and publishers who are not registered.

Whatever may be the reasons behind the dwindling numbers of the members, it has turned NEBPAN into a club of few big book publishers and sellers at Kathmandu.

22 May 2008

Gloomy Pictures of 12th National Education and Book Fair 2008

This time also, there were only praises of 12th National Education and Book Fair 2008 in Nepalese media. Broadsheet like Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post published reports and dairies about the fair. It is more than zeal of journalists. It has something to with advertisements of the fair.

By praising, these media cooperated with the organizers of the fair. What is a point in presenting its weaknesses; it will only lose the advertisement.

Definitely the fair has bright sides. It is creating a book reading culture in Nepal and media have to support this. Is the fair only contained good aspect? No.

Here are some negative aspects. In the fair, there is majority of booksellers selling international books. The number of national publishers and booksellers are decreasing but Indian publishers are increasing. It has to do with money. I came to know that Indian publishers had to pay more than Nepali participants.

Some of Indian publishers were criticizing poor facilities they got in the fair. But Nepalese media only were full with Indian publishers’ appreciation of increasing visitors.

12 May 2008

What a Nice: Badri Bahadur Karki Taskforce's Report is Partially Public

By Harsha Man Maharjan

What a nice. What Badri Bahadur Karki’s High-level Taskforce on Restructuring and Autonomy of Government Media said is no more secret now. I moved heaven and earth to get this report. I call member of the taskforce Dhurba Hari Adhikari. He didn’t have the copy. I called Badri Bahadur himself he requested to ask in ministry of information. I call there and no one said no to me and no one provided me the report either.

Now the gist of the taskforce is available in a book named Patrakarita: Niti tatha Kanun(Journalism: Policy and Laws), published by Freedom Forum. Taranath Dahal and Bhimarjun Acharya are its writer. Dahal told me that his boss at RSS provided him the report. Actually I used to get the report from the RSS too. I could not get it.

Then I tried to get it from Gorkhapatra Corporation. Tej Prakash Pundit was member from that taskforce. But he is out of contact with me since his eviction from the corporation.

This report is not public yet. I hope government will make the report public soon.

02 May 2008

In the Praise of Workers of Nepalese Media Sector

By Harsha Man Maharjan

1 May.
International Workers' Day.
Salute workers in media sectors in Nepal and World.
Whose condition is poor, ustually.
Who have no place in media to disseminate their grievances.
Even competitors media house avoid the issue of exploitation of media workers.
Whose concerns some well paid Journalists disdain to voice .
Some examples: these journalists back management side
not workers' .
Readers generally talk about their right to access to media
not the welfare of these workers.