At last count, there were 1,300 newspapers registered in Nepal. There is no shortage of newspapers in this country, and ironically that is why this newspaper has become necessary. When there is so much to choose from, a few must stand out. they must become must-reads. Nepali Times is an idea whose time has come.
Arthur Miller once said that a good newspaper is a nation talking to itself. Talking leads to understanding and awareness which in turn can spur action. Without understanding and public debate, actions taken may be inappropriate. We agree that things in Nepal are not quite right, we agree that the problems are serious and solutions are required urgently. Then, because we are a democracy, we have to start with awareness and understanding to achieve change.
Change, however, is a vector. It has magnitude as well as direction. There can also be uncontrolled change, a headlong plunge into an abyss. Change has to be understood and calibrated, only then will it be a change for the better, improve peoples\' lives and bring progress.
Great newspapers point the direction as well as record the speed of change in society. They are the essential elements of a feedback loop that constantly informs rulers and citizens about the immediate effects of public policy so corrections can be made.
Newspapers, then, do more than hold a mirror to society. They become the mirror itself. Journalism is called history in a hurry. It is also culture, sociology, anthropology, philology, and philosophy in a hurry. Nepali Times will aspire to be a true reflection of our times-a journal to record the life and times of Nepalis in the decades ahead.
There is a belief that literature is generally not read, and journalism is often unreadable. This newspaper will be different; it will seek to be informal, lively, clear and direct. Liveliness is serious business, it should not be confused with frivolity. Don\'t be fooled by the tabloid format, this is also a serious paper that tackles serious issues head-on, as this issue perhaps proves.
A newspaper cannot thrive by merely reporting. Collecting facts does not add up to truth Facts are expensive and opinions cheap, but a balance of comment fosters debate, and expands the public sphere. A newspaper also needs a set of values to sustain itself. In a society cursed with extreme inequality, some of those values are fairly obvious: to speak for the last, the lost and the least. We will be fair, and we will protect our independence intensely. This is a modern newspaper for a new Nepal. A sign of the times.
In the heyday of the Panchayat in the early 1980s, we were often asked why we worked for The Rising Nepal. Our stock reply: "Be cause His Majesty reads it."
Those were the days when few Nepalis outside the charmed circle of Kathmandu expatriates and local elite read English. In some ways, that is still the case. Only two percent of Nepal\'s 23 million people can read, write or speak English. So what has changed, and why a newspaper in English? Firstly, although literacy rates are barely keeping pace with population growth, the number of people who read English has grown. There are also signs of a budding middle class exposed to and using English.
More Nepalis than ever before are confident and comfortable with English. An increasing number of "boarding schools" and colleges are churning out graduates more conversant in the language.
Globalisation is turning English into a global lingua franca. It is the language that you need to surf the Net, follow English programmes on cable, or go abroad for further studies. There has emerged a class of Nepalis who want more than just make-do English, they want to be fluent in it.
English has another advantage over local languages: it is easier to be rational in it. One is expressive and effusive in one\'s mother tongue, feelings are stronger in the colloquial, and it is easier to be emotional. In a language that is learnt formally, and among readers of an international language, there less tolerance of intolerance.
Through English, we will take the concerns of those who matter to those who chatter. Issues raised by the English press is taken more seriously in the wine and cheese circles of the Kathmandu elite. We will talk about us in a language they understand.
Enough said. Now to work.