Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Unmanaged wires

On Dec 21, 2014, four passengers sitting on the roof of a bus were electrocuted. Over 10 others were injured in the incident when they jumped off the roof to escape the wires.
It is a sad incident. But we don’t seem to have learnt the lesson. And there is no reason to believe that such incidents will not be repeated.
Few months back I was walking along the road in Anamnagar when I saw a group of people gathered in the Chowk. "Watch out, there’s an electric cable," they were shouting. I realized I had been saved from touching a bare wire.
These are just examples.  

Take a ride around Kathmandu and you'll find that electric wires have not been managed properly. And, it’s not the issue of the capital city alone. I visited around 60 districts of Nepal during my official work, and the problem exists everywhere – be it Kathmandu or the far-flung districts of Mugu and Darchula. It’s not merely ruining the beauty of the places but also posing threats to people's lives.
These wires can result in fire that can destroy huge amounts of property. We have already witnessed such incidents in Kathmandu.
Few weeks back the chief of the Juddha Fire Brigade Kishor Kumar Bhattarai said in BBC Sajha Sawal that the hanging and unmanaged wires have created hurdles for fire brigades. “It’s difficult for us to work properly. The dangling electric wires make things worse,” he was saying.
He shared some incidents when they were unable to perform their duties because of the wires.
What if anyone is killed because of such negligence? Would anyone take responsibility?
We always talk about increasing the number of tourists in the country, but we never care about what they think of us. This clearly reflects the weaknesses and irresponsibility on the part of the government - shouldn't something that's easily visible to everyone instigate it to manage them? Yes, the country is in political transition currently, and our leaders are focusing on the constitution drafting. But this should not be an excuse.  
These days everyone of us receives a message from Nepal Telecom and Ncell requesting us to join the Bagmati River cleaning campaign. The campaign has become popular as it is backed by top officials including chief secretary of the government. And, it has certainly brought about positive results. 
Shouldn't we launch similar campaign to manage the wires? There'll be no need to call for volunteers as there are hundreds of government employees who are paid by the NEA, municipalities, DDCs and other government offices. 
The private cable and internet service providers should also come together in managing these wires as they are also one of the major contributors to the current state of unmanaged wires. 
If there is a will, there is a way. I think it's not difficult to manage those wires, and make our villages and cities safe and beautiful.

Is journalism still a career?

As the barber began shaving my beard, he said, “I received a call from my son in Malaysia. He asked me to request you to help me get his 10 months' salary from his previous employer here.”
Malaysia! I was surprised - who?

"Shyam! When did he go to Malaysia?"

“A few weeks back - we spent some 150,000 rupees.”

I was the one who repeatedly asked Shyam not to leave the job he had here in Nepal - a job of technician for one of the popular TV stations. I'd suggest him to use it as a platform to learn new things so he could always switch to other channels if he wanted.
I had never thought a well known TV channel would force its staff to work for 10 months without giving them a single penny. Unfortunately they did.
There’s a saying — No one sings on an empty belly. That's the precise reason Shyam left the job and flew off to Malaysia.
He often shared with me how his employer scolded whenever he asked for his salaries. He was almost beaten once when his colleagues decided to air 8 pm news at 8:20 as a protest.
He was really passionate about journalism. He had a Bachelors degree and several trainings to his credit. But now, he is working as a labour in Malaysia - earning some 15,000 Nepali rupees although he was promised 30,000 before leaving Kathmandu.
“Everything happens to poor people,” Shyam’s father was saying. He recounted to me the hardships he faced on spending for his son's studies in Kathmandu and for his departure to Malaysia.

Recently, I visited few a journalism colleges in Kathmandu. The students sounded very pessimistic towards their future. The only question they asked was if their future was secured? Are media houses in Nepal professional enough, strong enough to pay salaries to their staff? Although they were studying journalism, hardly 20 percent of them had plans of choosing journalism career; they had either experienced or heard about exploitation of journalists.
At least five of my friends working in different TV channels resigned from their jobs in the past few months. They didn’t quit because they got better, exciting opportunities; they quit out of compulsion as they were never paid, or not paid for more than six months.
Another friend, who now has taken a different job, once told me: "How hard it is to pay rent, cooking gas, transport in Kathmandu, and take care of siblings' fees on top of that," she said. "Yet, I don’t have any option than to continue with the job, hoping that I will be paid one day. Parents think I am doing good in Kathmandu but only I know I'm borrowing from colleagues and friends to sustain here."
In a public program, editor/publisher of one of the newspapers, said, "Newspapers can’t give both job and salary. Providing job is good enough."
Bitter, yes. But it reflects the perception of perhaps many media owners.
I often travel to different districts where I meet many stringers reporting for several media outlets in Kathmandu. I hardly find any satisfied with the renumeration they get. “The charming part of being associated with any media organisation is you get respect in the district and might get other indirect benefits," they say.

Meanwhile, many journalists working from districts are engaged with various organisations and committees in district level. How could we expect fair and good journalism in such circumstances?  
The liberal economy which the country adopted after People’s Movement of 1990 paved way for private companies including media to flourish. Consequently, more than a dozen TV stations and hundreds of FM stations were founded. But there’s still a long way to go in terms of developing their professionalism and sustainability. Except a handful of media organisations, media houses are either paying a very low salary, or not paying their staff.
The recent closure of nepalnews.com, one of the first news website in Nepal, leaving its staff in lurch shows that it is still is difficult for journalists to sustain by doing journalism. More shocking news was that the staff were not given prior information about the website's closure.
This not just shows the dark future of Nepali media sector, but also highlights the irresponsibility of the media owners and their duty towards their staff. Additionally, this also points to a lack of check and balance - neither a government mechanism to give justice to the staff nor a private mechanism to ensure the rights of the employees. Who should take the responsibility? The weak state? The publisher/owner, or the journalists themselves?
When I joined into college, faculty of mass communication and journalism was a major attraction with hundreds of students enrolled in every college. Things have changed now; colleges struggle to sustain even when they have a small section dedicated to this faculty. The simple answer to this is many students do not find a secure future in this field.

There was nothing I could do to help Shyam's father other than offer sympathy.
The question is whether TV stations are really not making any money to pay their staff, or they are simply cheating them by investing the profit in other businesses. Where’s the state mechanism to speak for the rights of employees, or the journalist welfare organisations to secure the basic rights of journalists?

Monday, March 16, 2015

बेथितिको पराकाष्ठा

By Ananda Kumar Shrestha

साह्रै पछुतो भयो । यो नोटको बन्डल लिन्न भनेर फिर्ता गरिदिएको भए हुनेरहेछ ।बित्थामा यत्रो सास्ती भो । सत्रवटा किला ठोक्नु पर्ने के परेछ ? 
हरेक बैंक वा संस्थाले रबरले बाँधेर, पर्चा हालेर किला ठोक्नु पर्ने किन ? 

 संस्थाको प्रचार कि, अविश्वास ? को प्रति अविश्वास ? ग्राहक कि अाफ्नै कर्मचारी प्रतिको अविश्वास ? ग्राहक प्रतिको अविश्वास त पक्कै होइन होला, किनकि यसमा तिनको कुनै भुमिका हुन्न । कुरो त वित्तिय संस्थाहरुको आपसी र तिनको अाफ्नै कर्मचारी प्रतिकै अविश्वास त होला ? सुटुक्क दुईवटा नोट झिकिदेला भनेर यत्रा किला ठोक्या त होलानि । अनि किला ठोकेर बिश्वास बढ्छ ? 

च्यातेको नोट चलेकैछ नेपालमा, टुक्रा चै हुनै पर्यो जोड्दा भैगो, अनि जत्ति किला ठोकेनि सरक्क च्यातेर जोडे भैगोनि । त्यैभ'र यो सत्रवटा किला र सत्रैवटा पर्चा अनि सत्रै रबरको डोरीको केही कामछैन । बिनाबित्थामा खोल्नुको सास्ती मात्र । सबै ठाउँमा त यस्ता किला उखेल्ने अाैजार कहाँ पाईएला र ? एकताका त राष्ट्रबैंकले यसरी किला ठोक्न पाईन्न भन्ने उर्दी जारी गरेको पढेझै मान्छु, त्यो खारेज भएछकि क्याहो कुन्नि, सास्ती खेप्नु परेकैछ । 

अब त नोटको बन्डलमा ठोकेका किला उखेल्न ज्याला दिएर काम लाउनु पर्ला जस्तो पो भो त । 

पहिला राष्ट्रबैकमा नोट गन्ने जागिर पाईन्थ्यो अब किला उखेल्ने नयाँ किसिमको रोजगारी पो सिर्जना होला जस्तो भो त, देशमा बेरोजगारी बढेको बेला । यस्तो किला ठोक्या बन्डल लिन्न भन्नेकि, बेथितिको पराकाष्ठा झेल्दै नयाँ किसिमको रोजगारीको सम्भावनालाई यथावत राख्ने भन्ने द्वुविधामा अाएर मेरो लेखाई टुंगियो है ।