Monday, November 11, 2013

Jung Bahadur Rana and Giddhe Chhapakhana

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Former Lecturer of Journalism at Peoples Campus, RR Campus, TU.

There is no doubt that the newspapers and the printing press have some kind of 'symbiotic' inter-relations. Although digital journalism is making inroads in newspaper industry, print journalism is here to stay.

Speaking of the printing press and history of Nepalese journalism, the preliminary accounts  of Nepal's journalistic chronicles demonstrate the fact that the first Rana prime minister Jung Bahadur Rana upon return from his Britain visit had brought with him a hand printing press in 1851.

It is to be noted that the Ranas came to power after Jung Bahadur Rana successfully orchestrated a coup d' etat in 1846. The autocratic rule of Rana oligarchy lasted for more than a century (1846-1951).During the period of century-old Rana rule, Nepal was Britain's sycophantic ally and was a big supplier of Nepalese manpower for the British colonial army.

True, no newspapers and magazines were published in Nepal during Jung Bahadur Rana's regime. Nepal's first weekly newspaper "Gorkhapatra" had to wait for liberal Rana prime minister Dev Shumshere Rana to be published in 1901. But Jung Bahadur Rana had laid the foundation for printing activities, even though it was limited to printing of government notices and orders.

Obviously, that was the era of colonialism. Almost all the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America were colonized by either Britain, France, Spain or Portugal. More liberal political and educational activities were allowed in the colonized countries than in 'uncolonized' Nepal and more importantly the colonized countries were not politically isolated like Nepal.

What made the Ranas not to permit the people to participate in political and social activities was the specter that it would politically awaken the people. Hence, the Nepalese were not only deprived of civil liberty and right to form organizations, but all those means of mass communications that might make them politically aware of their rights were also not allowed.

Prior to the usurpation of power by the Ranas, Nepal had conflicts with British India. If Anglo-Nepalese war of 1814-16 in the words of Karl Marx "opened the door for dealings of England with Nepal, the political coup d' etat orchestrated by Jung Bahadur Rana whom Marx called "the loyal dog of the British" meant the coming in power of the feudal family being obedient instrument and socio-political support for British colonizers in implementing expansionist plans in this region.

So what could have prompted Jung Bahadur Rana to bring the printing press to Nepal ? To promote printing activities in Nepal ? Nope. Judging by the parochial  and feudal attitudes of the Rana hardliners, it was unlikely that Jung Bahadur wanted to promote printing activities in Nepal. There can be no doubt whatsoever about it. Maybe, it was a part of diverse luxuries of the Rana rulers and vain pomposity. Since other means of mass communication like radios, photo cameras, libraries and books were also confined to the limits of Rana families and their loyal sycophants as part of luxuries, this assumption looks like valid.

Hence, it was surprising to note that Jung Bahadur had brought  a hand printing press from England visit. This hand printing machine was called "Giddhe Chhapakhana" (Vulture Press) named after the symbol it bore.

*I value your opinion. Please provide your feedback by posting a comment below.
**Shakya is also State Education Director, NRNA-USA Oregon Chapter, Portland, USA.

1 comment:

  1. Hello sir. I'd be grateful if you would kindly give me the source or the link about Karl Marx's writing on Nepal which you mentioned.
    Thank you.