Monday, October 19, 2015

Are the NRNs of the US Sidelined in the Recent NRNA Vote?

Rabin Man Shakya
State Education Director, NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

The seventh international convention of the Non-resident Nepalese Association and election of the new leadership (Oct 14-17, 2015) in Kathmandu was observed with keen interest and curiosity not only in Nepal but across the countries in the world, thanks to digital journalism and social media sites like Facebook.

NRN from Australia Shesh Ghale was reelected the president of the NRNA-International Coordination Committee for two years for the second consecutive term.

It may be a coincidence but I happened to be at Odessa Polytechnic Institute (OPI) in Odessa, Ukraine at the Preparatory Department for learning the Russian language in 1979, and Mr Shesh Ghale was also a student learning Russian at the OPI in Odessa at that time. Ukraine then was one of the Soviet Socialist Republics under the former Soviet Union. True, I have not again met and seen Mr Ghale after the Russian language course in Odessa.

Anyway, I congratulate Mr Ghale for being reelected to the post of the president of NRNs' umbrella organization and extend best wishes to him in successfully executing his activities on reconstruction and rebuilding of earthquake-hit Nepal, and in navigating the NRNA in striving to contribute to the overall development of Nepal.

Meanwhile, the election of the umbrella body of NRNs was based on electronic voting for the first time.  1127 NRN representatives from across 52 countries from across the world had taken part in the NRNA vote.

Among the 100,000 NRN individual members in the world, 10,000 are only from the US making it the biggest and the most representative NRN-National Coordination Council body in the world. But the important portfolios of the NRNA president, two vice presidents, general secretary, treasurer and other posts have been won by NRNs from Australia, Japan, Germany, Russia and other countries.

The NRNA election news that has conspicuously sidelined NRNs from the US to some important portfolios has raised questions about whether the hopes and aspirations of 10,000 US individual NRN members have been crushed?

A section of the people within the NRN movement are reportedly inclined to create fissures through political polarization which will not do good to the spirit and goodwill of the NRNA. NRNA should not be a political platform and NRNs should not be contracted by viruses of political maneuvers and bickering.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Social Media and Socio-political Crisis in Nepal

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Lecturer of Journalism, People's Campus, RR Campus.

As far back as 1992, when I first stepped into the newsroom of The Rising Nepal and started working as the sub-editor, the scenario of print journalism was quite optimistic. The Rising Nepal was the only broadsheet English language daily newspaper of Nepal. Today Nepal can boast of, at least, four daily English broadsheet newspapers.

Today journalistic professionalism is more palpable in the Nepalese newspaper industry. But the journalists working for the newspapers and TV channels are not optimistic  about their jobs and the future.

Today more than ever, people across the world are more and more attracted to the digital and social media than the newspapers. Well, newspapers in the US and elsewhere  in the world are gasping for air, but still they are pretty much alive.

Digital journalism and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become ubiquitous source of information and news. Digital journalism and social media  are breaking the news. The newspapers and even TV channels are lagging behind the digital and social media. Whenever  something happens, people immediately turn to the social media. Social media has become the integral part of the modern human civilization.

One of the reasons the digital and social media sites are becoming ubiquitous source of news and information is that they are not only breaking the news, they are constantly updating the news as well. And if there are some mistakes and errors, they can correct them instantly. If there are errors and mistakes in the stories of a newspaper, they will be corrected only in the next edition of the newspaper. The newspapers in the US especially The New York Times have corrections sections. But the newspapers in countries like India and Nepal do not bother much about the mistakes in the news stories.

Therefore, there were many cases when the Nepalese newspapers made mistakes, particularly on high profile news stories, the Nepalese readers and viewers had to take them to Facebook and Twitter to point them out.

Right now, we are not seeing a ton of original materials on social media because much of the news and views on these sites originate from mainstream media. But we are seeing much more discussions and debates about the burning issues.

It is in the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter where more and more Nepalese people are debating about the burning issues of Nepal's new constitution and about the socio-economic and political crisis in Nepal following India's blockade game.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are exploding with comments, visuals and photos about the economic and political crisis in Nepal. We are seeing that social media platforms give the ethnic communities a chance to make their voices heard. The ongoing protests of the ethnic communities against the government is fueled by deep frustrations with the new constitution that it discriminates against the ethnic groups.

The frustrations that have remained suppressed within these communities since long had to explode and they have just burst out finally. There is no doubt the contents of the social media give a polarized view of the Nepalese political development. Wide spread disputes about the discrimination of ethnic communities have marred the post-constitution period and thrown the country into the turmoil.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Impunity and Role of Watchdog Journalism

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

In the journalism world, call someone 'watchdog' and people and readers know exactly what you mean. Watchdog journalists are those honest and true species who try to uncover the misdeeds of the powerful politicians and powerful administrators. Watchdog journalists try to spill the beans about misdeeds of notorious tycoons and about their illicit connivance with the politicians. They try  to prevent the abuse of power, prevent the scope of impunity.

If royalty and its extended family were impune from any legal actions for their misdeeds during the Panchayat regime, today the powerful elites of the ruling class as well as the opposition are acting with impunity because of their power. It is here that the Nepalese watchdog journalists have to show their prowess  in exposing the misdeeds and criminal acts of the political elites.

Watchdog journalism is the writing and reporting that keeps politicians, power brokers, administrators and organizations with power accountable for their decisions and actions. Watchdog reporting helps to right the wrong.

Coverage of the Watergate scandal was one of the best examples of watchdog journalism leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Revelation of Pentagon Papers by The New York Times in 1971 is another example of watchdog journalism. Similarly, president Joseph Estrada of the Philippines had to step down and be arrested because of the watchdog journalism.

Watchdog journalism is relevant especially in countries like Nepal where abuse of power, political corruption and embezzlement of billions of rupees are rampant in various ministries, departments, corporations and government undertakings, and majority of the perpetrators go scot-free.

There were cases when former powerful and notorious ministers like Jaya Prakash Gupta, Govind Bahadur Joshi, Khum Bahadur Khadka and Chiranjivi Wagle were convicted of corruption  charges and served prison terms respectively. but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Nepal, a democratic nation, is one of the countries in the world where powerful political elites still have been enjoying privilege of impunity from prosecution for years. Anybody got guts to touch Khadga Oli and Prachanda? Nope.

Well, the wrong-doings of various governments have been exposed by the Nepalese press time and again to some extents.  But it is also equally true that the Nepalese press could not play an effective role in exposing the Dhamija scandal, Lauda Air scandal and tens of other high-profile scams, they were just unable to publish in-depth and investigative news stories  with full proofs and evidence about those scandals.

There is no doubt that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Nepal is becoming poorer and poorer because of the political corruption, skulduggery and embezzlement of billions of rupees by the politicians and top administrators. So the question arises where is Nepal's watchdog journalism and why is it silent?

Impunity is a big challenge not only for Nepal, it has affected press freedom and political systems globally. The media is the watchdog of the nation, if it is hindered, it can not carry out its responsibility towards the community and the nation. Free press has a significant role in rooting out the seeds of impunity.

At a time when Nepal is reeling from the blockade imposed by India, the Madheshi politicians are speaking out loudly that they were the ones creating the blockades. What the rotten bastards ? The present vulnerable and volatile scenario could be the part of a grand design of Madheshi politicos and the South Block to destabilize Nepal. It looks like a number of Madheshi politicians are maneuvering to curry favor from the South Block.

Therefore, it is the duty of the watchdog journalism to expose the misdeeds and criminal activities of the Madheshi leaders. It is the duty of the watchdog journalism to uncover sources of billions of rupees of the Madheshi politicians.