Sunday, September 10, 2017

Freedom of Expression

Picture from Internet
Of all the people on earth, journalist are among those who would like to practice freedom of expression more than anyone. No doubt, they advocate, practice, fight the concept of freedom of expression. But lets see how much they have got what they fight and stand for for fiercely.

May the corrupt rot :  Couple of years ago this is the slogan popularized by BBC journalist Rabindra Mishra. Mishra is famous for his scoop that gives him 15 minutes popularity was sporting T-shirt that read the slogan “may the corrupt rot.” He is that kind of journalist who always picks the topic that angers the public. It's not this easiest way to win the likeness for his choice ? But I would like to ask Mr Mishra  is practicing cursing to those who are in power position is freedom of expression ? There has to be someone in our society with clear conscience to tell  him, you got the concept totally wrong.

Let me be honest I started liking the eloquent Mr. Laxmi Guragai, Ex-editor of Gorkhapatra and his series of articles in Samhita that was published in 2072 - 2073. I enjoyed reading all of it and still even after reading Mr. Krisha Shrestha, another ex-editor of Gorkhapatra who exposed the lies of Mr Guragai with sufficient evidence. In the issue of 2073 Ashoj senior journalist lies, Mr Shrestha colleague of Mr Guragai helped us to see the real side of veteran journalist and the truth in his posted materials in Samhita. Mr. Guragain scuffed too much and tried to bend the news in his favor when the reality was different. Thank God, Samhita gave space for other veteran to cut the lies of veteran who misused the space provided by Samhita. This reminded me of a  movie the glass shattered. Here in this movie they talk about a guy who fabricated the news to be popular and enjoyed the name and fame until somebody busted his lies. I think Guragain had not seen than movie. How long you can soak in the pride of lies ?

We all know about how the journalist of charlie Hebdo was killed in 2015 April by some irate and irrational Muslim brothers. What the young Muslim did was very barbaric and irrational. There is no doubt. However, no one should provoke anyone to that extent that they would like to end the matter with gun. There are some opinions that better be kept unexpressed in the head, if it do not do greater good for the society. Freedom of Expression should not be [practiced if it may cause tragic accident. We should be sensitive to others views and believe also. And if such views and beliefs matter to a greater mass than practicing such expression may be avoided.  What Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists did can not be viewed as freedom of expression but it's the malpractice in the name of freedom of expression.

In the name of freedom of expression there should not be war or crime in our society. Instead we must use our pen and brain to end the war and crime from our society. If such barbarism can be stopped then that would be wise decision than the freedom of expression.

Many of our journalists have habit of filling whole pages without naming a single person or organization. As if what he knows whole nation knows about it.  Such journalist lives in small society. One such example is Darshan Sharma on Samhita 2073 Ashoj issue. He is talking about a mal practice in our media but he did not mention the name of media house he is talking about. Spilling beans is also not the work of journalist, they should go and write suspense novel. Because we don't like fiction or suspense but like to read bold media men who would tell us story that happened in our society.  Freedom of expression is more than art of oratory more than captivating way of taking and filling pages, it is not the loud opinion. All the expression in media men must have conscience, authenticity and sense of responsibility backed by audacity. The written thing must have direct and positive impact in our society also. If the practice of freedom of expression is chaos, crime or barbarism then I would keep a loud mum if some come forward with a gun and then crush such strong pen managed by journalists like Sarb and Riss.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Logical Error - II

Guna Raj Luitel

In the beginning of 2015, March the Kathmandu valley was shaken when there was an acid attack. Before they were successful to nab the culprit, whenever police tried to enter into the interrogation with two school girls who were victims, constantly denied having been in any kind of relationship. After three weeks of hunt, the man who committed crime was finally inside the police net. It was revealed then, it was the revenge action, like it happens in 99% cases of acid attack.

The young man was rejected by a girl so he thought of mutilating her with acid, with a motto : if I can't have you no one should. Just then a brilliant journalist named Mr. Gunaraj Luitel wrote a very good and convincing article in Setopati twisting the whole topic into the caste discrimination due to rejection in romantic affair instead of criminal charge. It was a well written article  with a very convincing smooth and gripping storytelling but defensive in its core. Outwardly he was focusing only about how rooted our caste discrimination in our society. He gave us the whole lot of different angle of the story. In his article he tried to tell us  how good son Jivan BK was, how loving and responsible brother he was and how caring boyfriend he was before his lie was busted. The journalist did not see anything wrong carrying a relationship based on a lie but his sympathy rested purely to the young man who was rejected.  How the loving man converted into a criminal when the girl came to know about his true caste which he had kept secret for long time when relationship have started and lasted until the lie was a secret.

Sure, nothing remained the same when his lie was exposed to girl and then to her family. Mr. Luitel who had already been Editor of the Annapurna Post before had joined Setopati team then was trying to take the job of defending the culprit with his powerful pen and brain instead of seeing the truth from the justice angle. Revenge can never ever reduce a criminal instincts and how come  Mr Luitel can think and then pick his pen for the criminal under the assumption of another mistake can do the first wrong right ! ? !

That brilliant article was way off the track in whole different direction which diverted the mass to feel sorry for the man than to demand for the punishment under the criminal act. Even Though, all the thirteen national dailies have carried editorials in unison demanding the strong punishment for the acid attacker.  Acid attack is a criminal case and punishable act and caste discrimination is social offence and a lot less punishable compared to acid attack.  Social offence and crime is a whole lot of different issue. But the seasoned Journalist was trying to convert it battle of sex   over the VAW cases rather than siding with justice.

Now, Mr Luitel is Editor in Nagarik but whenever I read him that always make me react strongly. In another case when I read him in on on his facebook status that read like this, nowadays children learn to protest ever since they come out from the womb. to prove his case strong he had posted the picture of seven years and younger children who were used by some NGO in Nepalgunj some time back  to protest for child rights. No wonder that made me write on his comment post, ‘have you been hit by a baseball bat on your head and bumped on the sharp edge of pillar before you wrote it ? some time latter I read in social site that the NGO[s] were being prosecuted for using young children nude most of them wearing black goggles also to pull the attention of authority. I am not going to believe this, that  his angle and my angle are way too different and will clash all the time. His angle do have power to divert mass attention to the wrong direction and  I see a logical error in his conviction.

I keep reading in media that our mainstream media are biased about the issues that are related  to women. Be it her basic rights, gender issues and equal rights, VAW cases; they are simply scared to open talk about it. They view women right activists merely as people who work only to earn dollar, as if, this is not our society’s problem but these issues should be of INGO or NGOs.  Realizing this, to become the collective voice of women journalist Sancharika Samuha was established around 1998. Sancharika Samuha runs a TV program under the name of Samakone which is a funded project by a Norwegian Embassy. No wonder woman's right issues are viewed by men and women in our society as a borrowed concept. They also argue our society do not need such drastic changes as women rights activists fight or demand for.

Couple of month ago, I read an article in Nagariknews by Mr. Subash Ghimire, editor Republica, how an ex-president of Harvard had to resign from his position in 2005 after his controversial speech saying one reason there are relatively few women in top positions in science may be "issues of intrinsic aptitude." The remarks were made at a small seminar on January 14. When The Boston Globe reported on the remarks -- and the anger of some women who heard them -- the comments became the focus of an international debate.

Nirmala Sharma, President SAS
After reading this piece of article, my mind reeled back to the time when Mrs. Nirmala Sharma, President of Sancharika Samuha appointed Mr. Gunaraj Luitel as an editor just after he wrote that contradicting article on Setopati. Where he converted the whole episode of acid attack - a serious form of crime against VAW - into a caste base issue. There was no voice raised by a single women right activists against that article. On top of that, there was this appointment; to tease the women right activists as well as journalists of this country. That appointment made me think real hard. I also did not get a chance to read or hear a buzz within Sancharika Samuha on its online site. How come, we don't have a single journalists working within or outside of Sancharika Samuha to raise voice against that appointment ?  I really wonder why ?

Had it been in any other country, chances are very high that Mrs Sharma would have to resign from her position for such appointment. This appointment is the mocking of women rights, abuse of power and keeping her sight way out of track when the real action was needed from her establishment Just then, she sided with the journalist who diverted the whole discourse in media. It diverted people demanding punishment for culprit to suddenly sympathizing him as the ‘poor man’ was rejected due to his lower caste. Why no  journalists [ does she really has to be a female/journalist ?] raised their voice, when Sangita the victim and the Jiban BK case was so swiftly overturned  by the power of pen of a seasoned journalist who has so strong pen and opinion.

When I read that article, I was stunned. His appointment was equally stunning, but, may be that was not enough. What is more interesting to pay attention here was, Mr. Luitel left the team of Sancharika Samuha in less than 35 days to join Nagarik as its editor around May 2015. No other person could find better way to slap on the face of feminist journalists as well as women right activists than Mr Luitel, which he did with his two act, back to back. I really wonder why, no one raised a voice about this also ?  And how come Mrs Sharma can ignore the whole episode and yet appoint him as the editor of a Sancharika online which main objective is to raise voice for women's rights ? How come the mutilated face of Sangeeta Pulami Magar did not haunted the President of the Sancharika Samuha when she shook hands with the journalist who diverted the whole discourse in  media.

Was that because the journalists [all female] in Sancharika did not wanted to lose friendship with Mr. Luitel. Or this also could be, they wanted to keep the road open for future posting when they leave this alternative media to join mainstream media ? Can these journalists be trusted to raise voice for women’s right, when the voiceless need them to raise voice for them ? I seriously doubt so.

You may want to call  it freedom of speech, some of you may call it perspective. We know it very well, there is vast difference between a perspective and a logic, and when a logic goes in the wrong path then the accident happens in society. Therefore, I call it logic lost. And when people think of limited people's benefit over the mass interest, then the logic will always be lost.

Note : This article has already been published in Samhita, Chaitra 2072 [March-April 2016]. This is a trimester magazine published by Press Council Nepal.