Offering or Not Offering

I am not talking about big things. I am talking about seats – offering the seat you are sitting on in a bus to a woman standing nearby or not offering it. In principle, men should offer the seat to the standing women – especially if she is pregnant, or carrying an infant or is old. In practice, it’s rare.

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Student Leader Calls for Revolution in Nepal

An hour ago, RFN interviewed a student leader, the vice-president of Nepal Student Union – the largest student union on telephone:

NSU Vice-president Pradeep Poudel, the vice-president of the Nepal Student Union (NSU) – the sister organization of one of the largest parties Nepali Congress, while giving an exclusive interview to the Radio Free Nepal claimed that the ‘new movement would overthrow the king’ and the country would ‘experience true democracy – that is democracy without king.’ Poudel believes it is impossible to bring kings under constitution and is now calling on the international community to support the democracy movement in Nepal and for donors to cut off the flow of aid to Nepal.

Excerpts of the telephone interview:

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When a Dream Crashes Down

From within a large number of heartbreaking news, some good news were coming off the field of cricket. Nepal did well in many tournaments and dreamt of representing the country in the 2007 World Cup. The dream broke down today when Nepal lost to Fiji in the semifinal of the World Cup Qualifying Series Division II in Malaysia. I am sad – in fact very, very sad.

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UTL Wireless Phone Is Resuming

UTL Wave Phone, the wireless phone of the United Telecom Limited pvt ltd, is resuming its services to the subscribers who chose to re-register for free. The advertisement of the company asking for re-registration says its in accordance with the ‘directives of Ministry of Information and Communication and Nepal Telecommunication Authority’. The subscribers have to fill up a form and attach citizenship certificate, if applicable employer’s letter and house owner’s letter.

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Media Prioritized Negative Side?

I came across an interesting news bulletin yesterday. The ‘Reporters’ News Corner: News Bulletin of Reporters’ Club Nepal’ is the rapport of the face-to-face program on media organized by the club. The headline ‘we are aware to be balanced and responsible: senior journalists’ is accompanied by ‘journalists admit press prioritized negative side’ in bold face. Naturally, I was more attracted towards the second line and looked for the journalists who admitted it in the story.

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Summoned Editors’ Smiling Faces

Update:editors agree to call off protest, at Sify.com

Editors of Weeklies are being interrogated by the District Administration Office for publishing blank opinion pages in protest of the media censorship. Kabir Rana, of Deshantar, and Rajendra Baidhya, of Bimarsha, went to District Administration Office on Feb 23 while three others, Gopal Budhathoki of Sanghu, Nawaraj Timilsina of Prakash and Shashidhar Bhandari of Hank will be interrogated on Feb 24.

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Appeal from Gagan Kumar Thapa

Gagan Thapa, the outspoken republic-advocate, and former General Secretary of Nepal Student Union, the sister-organization of the biggest political party Nepali Congress has issued an appeal urging the youth of the country to fight against the King’s move. Radio Free Nepal received the appeal in email and is being reproduced here.

APPEAL FROM GAGAN KUMAR THAPA

Democracy and individual freedoms are not only the hallmark of the 21st century but are the inalienable rights of a nation and its communities and individuals. Today these rights are not only restricted within documents but have become a way of life. King Gynendra’s assumption of absolute power in Nepal has not only caused a set-back to the national development but has also compelled all the freedom lovers to re-group to fight till the end using all peaceful means available. We the youth of Nepal represent the agents of change—more fit to invent, than to judge; more fit for execution, than for counsel; and more fit for new projects, than for existing business. No wonder our troubled nation has once again put her faith upon us.

Inefficiency in tackling Maoists and corruption by the political leaders in the past fourteen years has been the basis behind the king’s move towards the assumption of absolute power. But the past fourteen years of democratic practice has impacted the way people perceive their rights and freedom. Commoners have become more vocal in demanding their rights with the concerned authorities and that has been the greatest achievement of democracy in the last fourteen years. King Gyanendra claims that the democracy failed to represent the voice of people and is therefore, misleading and baseless. Nepal has remained poor and the justice has been curtailed since its unification. What about the corruption, inefficiency and injustices that have been perpetuated by the Monarch of Nepal for the past 237 years? Shouldn’t it be raised as a relevant question? And therefore we the young ones of Nepal have been advancing the cause of republic set-up in Nepal.

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Ekushey: Nepali Lai Maya Garau!

I feel sorry that I am writing this blog in English – a language that is not my mother tongue. I also feel sorry that I couldn’t compute in Nepali.

Exactly a year ago, I was in Chittagong, Bangladesh to cover Youth World Cup cricket and saw the Bagladeshi people celebrating Feb 21 as a very important day and they called it Ekushey. On Feb 20, at midnight, they will walk barefoot in groups to the chowks where I find three black pillars that represent martyrs who died during the movement for the Bangla language in 1952.

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How Many Sides A Story Has?

While having lunch with Dinesh and me, Deepak talked about an incident. He told us that he along with Saroj, a reporter of Nepal Weekly, went to receive their editor at the airport when he returned from Europe. Other at his office called it palm-greasing. He replied them saying they didn’t go because they were afraid of tight security at the airport. And he told us – it showed a story has two sides. Then, I told them actually any story has more than two sides.

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Where Does NewsLookMag Go?

I don’t know what happened but when I tried visiting NewsLookMag.com, a site that collects all the headlines relating to Nepal, it didn’t appear. It looks like either the site has ceased operation or is being blocked by my ISP.

Update:Ditto with Nepalipost.com, a site operated by Nepali journalists in US. Thanks to Dinesh

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What do you think about media censorship?

Senior journalist Durganath Sharma, who off course holds the position of General Manager at the state-owned Nepal Television, asked many of my friends during a practical examination that I also attended. What should I have answered? Many had advised me before I went inside the viva-room that I should not denounce it outright.

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Making Mockery of Democracy

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

– Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Lincoln’s definition to democracy, in his Gettysburg Speech given at the height of American Civil War, is the most widely used and simplest to understand. But Nepal’s King Gyanendra either couldn’t understand it or is trying to make mockery of it.

Falgun 7, which fell on February 18 this year, is celebrated in Nepal as the Democracy Day because in 1950 AD, for the first time democracy was introduced here ending the 104-year-long autocratic Rana Regime.

King Gyanendra’s grandfather King Tribhuvan, a democratic king, led the fight for democracy. Gyanendra’s father Mahendra however didn’t like democracy and in 1960, suspended democratically elected government to introduce partyless Panchayat System that ended through People’s Movement in 1990.

History is gone. But what King Gyanendra is trying hard these days is to show him the most ardent supporter of democracy. The function of democracy day that was live on state-run television and radio, Gyanendra listened while his follower reiterated his support for democracy.

The democracy day was celebrated in manner that would have made a lot of sense in democracy. But at the time, when democracy is dead, it was not more than a mockery of democracy.

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An Account from Kantipur TV News Staff on Censoring

This report was written several days ago and recounts the moment immediately preceding the coup when the military took control of Nepali broadcast facilities prior to the announcement of the coup by King Gyanendra.

The army began cordoning our office premises at around 9:30 (0445GMT) in the morning, some half an hour ahead of the Royal Proclamation… the state-owned radio and television had already announced that King Gyanendra was going to address the nation. Nothing more than that had been said, except that the King had summoned the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and chiefs of security agencies for a Royal audience.

As the group of armymen covered the periphery of the premises, an army major, in his military outfit and a gun, asked for an entry into the television station’s newsroom. He politely said that he was here to provide security to the office in case an incident like September 1 occurs (On Sept 1, following the killing of 12 Nepalis in Iraq, there were riots in the city…the rioters had vandalized the office, burning several vehicles and pelting stones on the office building).

All of us, almost the entire news team, watched the Royal Proclamation live on the state owned television. Following the proclamation, the army major asked whether he could visit the control room. By then, the telephone lines were already cut and the cellular phones were cut during the address to the nation itself.

He was promptly shown the studio and news control room of the television station. A lot of confusion had already been created with the announcement of emergency, following the sacking of the then government. A lot of fundamental rights were suspended with the announcement.

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Cats to Guard Milk: The Anti-Corruption Move

Corruption, which has been continuously spreading its tentacles, has not only cast a shadow over politics and administration, but has also obstructed the nation’s march towards progress. Corruption has struck at the very core of our society, the result of which the common man’s confidence in the laws of the land has been shaken. Therefore, in keeping with the popular will and to fulfill the main criterion of good governance, effective measures will be adopted to curb corruption, while ensuring that the principles of justice are not infringed upon.

King Gyanendra told the nation in his Royal Proclamation on Feb 1. His commitment towards curbing the corruption which is deep-rooted in the country ‘ensuring that principles of justice are not infringed upon’ was sweet to the ears. On Feb 16, he constituted five-member Royal Commission for it.

But sadly enough, the reality is, what he had told and what he had done do not match. Indeed he has been asking cats to guard milk.

Let’s begin with Day 2 when he constituted his cabinet. His sweet-worded commitment towards curbing corrupting became bitter within 24 hours. His cabinet included two such ministers who can not be called clean in the regard.

Minister of Home Affairs Dan Bahadur Shahi is still under investigation for the suspected embezzlement of NRs. 6,7100,000 along with 14 others. The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is investigating that ‘corruption’ in importing chemical fertilizers which happened when he was agriculture secretary. And wasn’t he the one who was sacked during Girija Prasad Koirala’s premiership for dubious charters tics (later to be reinstated by court).

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