Nepali Times Asian Paints
CK LAL
Fourth Estate
Unreported reportages


CK LAL


Finally, it's official. A legislative committee has concluded that the rate of deforestation over last one year has surpassed the record of last three decades.

In 1979, random forest clearance was allowed to ensure the victory of status quo in a plebiscite held to decide the fate of the Panchayat system. Back then it was the fear of the Nepali Congress that destroyed trees, this time the barbarians at the door are the Maoists that must be stopped in their tracks at all costs.

The UML-led anti-Maoist coalition has used logging profits to buy the loyalty of supporters. The audience of the mainstream media had no inkling of the scale of devastation because national newspapers, radio and television channels were too busy tracking the antics of politicos or preparations being made for yet another Miss Neighbourhood beauty pageant.

Agriculture which employs over two-thirds of Nepalis is also sidelined in the media. Much is made out of the fact that rural electrification, mobile phones and satellite transmission of television channel has reached some of the remotest corners of the country. Few stories explore the angst of those left out of the modernisation and marketisation trend.

Villages need irrigation facilities, credits on easy terms, extension services, educational and health centres, fertilisers, seeds, sanitation and administrative services. All they are being given is a chance to buy DTH services so they can watch commercials of luxury items they can't afford.

The community broadcasters of the FM revolution promised far too much than they could deliver. Most of them ensure their survival by playing popular Hindi and Nepali songs. In the name of news, they relay what donor-funded producers of Kathmandu dish out to them.

It's not just the misery, even survival stories from the countryside could have made the urban consumers of the metropolitan media aware of the harsh realities of the country they live in. In the floodplains of Tarai, an abundance of fish once used to be the mainstay of livelihood of the poor: they sold their goats to traders from the hills as the aquatic catch from rice fields served as savouries with millet bread. The tradition continues to be marked a day before the Jitiya festival. A famine-like situation this year, combined with privatisation of the commons, meant that the poor have nowhere to fish. The compensation the government gave them was announced as a day off for Madhesi women: a group with negligible presence in the formal employment.

The national media can't examine such issues because it hardly has any presence outside of the district capitals. Apparently, the press is even more divorced from the masses than the much-maligned government. Newspapers are awash with advertisements announcing the launch of multiplexes, bumper sale of branded goods and marketing schemes promoting cars, motorcycles, furniture, and household appliances. It's natural that the media downplays reports that can spoil the endless partying in Kathmandu.

Political parties that swear by the poor should have the ability to redirect the attention of the media towards those who have no way to get their stories into television channels. Unfortunately, the only time political parties hit the headlines are when they are collecting donations.

This season's extravaganzas began with the Nepali Congress jamboree. The UML-affiliated student union's carnival is next, to be followed by Maoist revolutionaries feting their party chairman with one-lakh strong general assembly. Newspapers will be publishing cases of threats, intimidation and pressure tactics used by organisers to raise funds. Rest assured, nothing reported would be convincing enough to take the matter to the courts.

If it is any consolation, the degeneration of the fourth estate into stenographers to power is a global phenomenon. Nepal is merely the newest entrant.

READ ALSO:
Merry go round, PUBLISHER'S NOTE
Old leaders of New Nepal, INDU NEPAL



1. Niranjan Koirala
Another thought -provoking piece by C.K. Lal. I hope relevant people are reading this.....

2. Akanchhya Gurung

C.K.Lal has written an excellent, unbiased and relevant article for the first time in my memory..........

Good Job!!!!!Keep writing good!!!! Hats off!!!



3. Slarti
You are being too clever by half, but since your lot are going to win, whats the point arguing unnecessarily over each line which is either twisted facts or a blatant lie. 

The media has indeed missed the real story, the suffering is indeed real, and the failure of the elite is indeed glaring. But, good luck with expectations of any relief ever, as long as the line of thinking you represent prevails.




4. shylock
Interesting piece..but the cartoon? Louis Vuitton?


5. K. K. Sharma
Where has the dreams of the like of CK Lal gone, these days?

 Lal, remember you cannot qualify to be a Nepali intellectual, if you do not keep dreaming of unfeasible things. So stop attempting to come down to reality. 


6. wtf

Indeed a good and relevant article, the plight of the needy detoriates more and more as the power honchos are leap years away from even become worthy of their positions, leave aside delivering some development.

My only rant is, and not just for this article but everywhere, don't substitute the word 'Kathmandu' to represent only elite partygoers and gossipers. Not everyone here falls in that category, simply use the direct word you want. It's always "Da da da da is happening in the country while Kathmandu is partying"....not so, I think a majority of Kathmanduites are aware of everything.



7. Keshav Pokhrel
This is relatively balanced and relevant article after  a long time by Mr.Lal . People like C K Lal should come out of the boundary of races, gender and ethnicity.  I am personally happy that Mr. Lal came out of  (at least for this article) the boundary of so called rights of "jatis" and  " madhesis"  and so on. As we have already seen that we have been divided and continuing
 to do so in the name small strata of the society.  If we start thinking about overall development then there is no need to cry for specific gender, races and ethnicity.
 Its time to work for humanity not for the ethnicity. Let us hope that  people like Mr.Lal will come out of ethnic boundary and start working  and thinking for humanity.


8. Khagendra Prasi

This is how media works in capitalism. Everywhere, the story is same. Take for instance, how corporate pwer control and use media to suit their interest best and brainwash the minds of many people in advanced capitalism such as USA. 

The fourth estate is driven entirely by profit motive and no longer retains its essential character. There is a strong need to rethink on media policy.



9. rita
"The UML-led anti-Maoist coalition has used logging profits to buy the loyalty of supporters."  This story is incomplete.  They have kicked out the NCwalas from the community forestry and have taken over it.   NC now has created its own forest community organization, which is very ineffective.  So, the media (mostly political arms) will never bring out the real truth behind the racket that the powerful political bosses --national and local (UMl and Maoists) are protecting.  CK Lal should go to the field and bring out the real truth behind this devastating loss the country is facing.


10. Anonymous
 " In the floodplains of Tarai, an abundance of fish once used to be the mainstay of livelihood of the poor: they sold their goats to traders from the hills as the aquatic catch from rice fields served as savouries with millet bread. The tradition continues to be marked a day before the Jitiya festival. A famine-like situation this year, combined with privatization of the commons, meant that the poor have nowhere to fish." The narrative sounds tragic, yet is very poetic! Shouldn't these lines stir the conscience of the Nation? Sadly, the 'netaji', the 'bureaucrats', and the so-called urban 'intelligentsia', surrounded by fancy electronic gadgets, and bombarded with billion bites of cooked (mis-) information, dwell in the cocoon of virtual reality. This monster created by the consumer society neither "sees" nor "hears" the inner voice of the country folks-- "main kabtak pookaru!"

Salute to Mr. Lal for your audacity to echo the pain and cry of the rural hinterland!! Your depth of insight reminds me of the great native Russian thinkers and writers of the nineteenth century. Those, who speak for the toilers and tillers of the Land, speak for the life force. Very much Jeffersonian!


11. Sagar

Bravo CK Lal.  Let me share a few more headlines for unreported reportages:

1. An educationist is asked to "get out of Dodge" because he is a "Pahadi". (Janakpur)

2. An orphanage in Kathmandu has to negotiate with and pay tolls to the YCL.

3. A journalist is intimidated and hit with repeated threatening phone calls for reporting "anti-Maoist" news. (Birgunj)

4. YCL goons negotiate "compensation" for a hit-and-run accident and give "judgments".  They pocket portion of the settlement as service fees. (Kathmandu)

5. A hotelier is made to pay "taxes" to a band of thugs for protection from potential untoward incidents. He is "advised" not to report it to the police. (Pokhara)



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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