Nepali Times
State Of The State
First the good news


In keeping with the spirit of the times, the Fourth Estate has become phenomenally responsible. In the changed circumstances, this is as it should be. Even though the press, unlike the other three estates of the state, does not draw upon the public exchequer, it has a responsibility towards the society it serves. Services of desired nature can't be assured if journalists insist on the freedom to be irresponsible. Since national interest, as outlined by the appropriate authority, supersedes all other interests, it is the duty of the media to be dependable, to protect it at all costs.

For far too long, we in the media have been revelling in reporting calamities, disasters and scandals. Now we must desist from commenting upon the appointment of stalwarts Tulsi Giri and Kirtinidhi Bista to the king's council of ministers. Instead, the time has come to go back to our roots and discover the ways we exchanged news and views in the past. We need to re-invent traditions to suit present realities. Unlike the contemporary media, which devotes prime time to sensationalising, in the past we wrote with emphatic reassurances. We strove to ensure that others did not get too worried about the state of the state.

Traditionally, when a Nepali writes home the salutation often begins with the invocations of blessings from the local deity. This 'first, the good news' has served to keep our hopes alive. We seldom get to the 'now the bad news' part. We are used to enduring hard times in silence and telling folks back home not to worry. 'Everything will turn out fine,' we keep saying. Surprisingly, in the end, the world does go through the karmic cycle and bring redress to the righteous.

Telephones destroyed this quaint custom of writing long letters to indicate nothing more than the fact that the writer was still alive. With the phone in your face, carping comes naturally: bad weather, unfriendly neighbour, dull newspapers, whatever. There is never a shortage of things to grumble about.

The jump from snail mail to Internet was so sudden that it took many of us months to get used to writing concise letters that immediately got to the point. No longer could we meander about the fallow fields, the treeless streets, the cowering street fauna, the doves that flew away and the crows that looked lost.

Still, there are people who write e-mails that take longer than half-an-hour to read and beat around the bush. Like the telephone, emails just increase our worries.

When it comes to encouraging mindless gossip and tasteless jokes, there is nothing to beat SMS. That is one good thing you can say about the communication curtailment: no unsolicited beep-beep heralding the arrival of yet another recycled joke. Babies cry to express pain and draw the attention of their mothers. But when there is danger, even a concerned mother sometimes stops her child from crying. She cries later to compensate for her own cruelty.

This is the message on the 54th democracy day Phalgun Sat: everything will turn out fine as it always does in this kingdom of Gods.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)