Although your editorial "Bloody Well Right" (#109) tried to portray certain weak spots in the Nepali media, it failed to highlight a more serious issue, often ignored by the Fourth Estate as well as by our intellectuals. The print media is one of the most powerful agents to influence a society. Nepali media, knowingly or unknowingly, is systematically brainwashing the vast majority of poorly educated population, including the tender brains of the younger generation, and has succeeded to convince them that Nepal is a country full of political thugs, corrupt government servants, smuggler businessmen, teachers with fake certificates and what not. The majority of teenagers already have the feeling that their motherland is not worth living in.
The man-on-the-street, who obviously has to depend on print media for all kinds of national news and views, is not bothered about development activities, his only concern is the possible kickbacks involved in those activities. He is always staring at the half empty part of the glass. He is convinced that foreign aid is no good for the country, as it may involve commissions to business houses and business houses can only make money by illegal means. He thinks that Royal Nepal Airlines should not buy or hire any aircraft, as it will involve big money and hence big under-the-table dealings. A negative mind-set has become rampant in society and the main driving force for this state of the affairs is undoubtedly the news media.
Even CIAA Chief Surya Nath Upadhyaya once complained that media is being unnecessarily euphoric over corruption issues, thereby, prompting the entire population to believe that there is absolutely no hope for our country. The people are never told that we have many officials like Upadhyaya, that there are many incorruptible politicians with sincerity and dedication, that there are many journalists who cannot be bought, that there are many industrialists and businessmen who do fair business and sincerely pay taxes, and that we have many students who can excel at Harvard and Oxford.
But, alas, it will take years to de-brainwash our society to make them proud of their motherland, our society, our glorious history, our rich culture, our bravery, our hard-working farmers, and above all our tradition of "tolerance and sacrifice".
Sugat Ratna Kansakar
. Kudos on your superb editorial, "Bloody well right" as well as for Ani Rudra Silwal's excellent report, "Giving micro credit where it's due" (#109) on Pact's remarkable Women's Empowerment Program in the tarai. Thanks, too, not only for avoiding "body-bag" journalism but also focusing Nepali Times articles on how Nepal can heal the wounds and find solutions rather than glorify the violence, as other media tend to do as a matter of course.
Silwal's article does just that by highlighting the power and successes of some 130,000 rural Nepali women in creating a new model for literacy- and savings-led micro finance that is attracting global attention, having won five international awards/citations. One of the most amazing things about WEP is that everything that Silwal reports on is taking place over one year after the donor and Pact wound up their core funding and technical support. The women really are in charge-and they are busy, on their own, forming more Village Banks.
A recent external evaluation estimated that perhaps as many as 1,000 new economic groups-with some 20,000 members-have been formed by the women them selves among their sisters in their own and neighboring villages, often stitching up the bindings of their literacy and banking handbooks to pass them on to others. These groups carry on, even in the heart of Maoist territory, in a remarkable non-partisan manner bringing together women from all castes, economic levels, and political persuasions to work together to solve real problems through harmonious dialogue and collective action. There is much that our leaders and development agencies can learn from them about healing wounds, building peace, making a difference, and being "part of the
solution" instead of a "part of the problem".