himal edited
Edited Magazine Cover. Image Credit: Himal SouthAsian Magazine

Troubling Times for Journalism in Nepal?

Posted on by
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Print this page

In another blow to South Asian journalism, Himal SouthAsian recently announced the suspension of its publication services by November 2016. After 29 years of relentless journalism that transcends borders, this magazine has often been a common voice of reason in extremely dark times of South Asian history. It has extensively reported on regions from Afghanistan to Burma, from Tibet to the Maldives and their cultural exploits.

Many took to social media to express their disappointment with this decision.

Based out of Lalitpur, Nepal, the magazine in the same statement issued, further reprimanded bureaucratic structures that have prevented it from continuing its operations.

With no notification or explanation, grants meant for Himal were not approved over seven months of waiting, obtaining work permits for non-Nepali editorial staff became impossible, and there were unreasonable delays in processing payments for international contributors. Our dwindling workforce tried to overcome these and other challenges, but in the end suspension was the only option.

Earlier this year, journalist Kanak Mani Dixit (founding editor of Himal) was accused by Maoist forces to have been misusing funds by indulging in anti- peace activities. After such severe allegations, the Norwegian Embassy in Nepal defended its funding of the magazine saying it had “no reason to believe that the embassy’s funding to the Himal SouthAsia magazine has been misused.” Dixit, who has been a staunch supporter for a democratic and secular Nepal was later arrested by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on corruption charges. His arrest sparked an international outcry while the home media was divided in their opinions. Coincidentally, Dixit had led a campaign against Lokman Singh Karki from his appointment the Chief of CIAA. Karki was found guilty in 2006 for abusing state resources to stifle Nepal’s democracy movement. Interestingly, Karki was also the Chief Secretary to ex King Gyanendra.

An event that was largely acknowledged in Himal’s own statement, finally ending it with an uncertain assurance:

The editor Aunohita Mojumdar and her team remain committed to independent journalism and Himal will resume publication when circumstances in Nepal (or elsewhere) make it possible. We will keep our subscribers as well as the larger public informed about developments through notices at www.himalmag.com.

The unending tumultuous socio-political conditions in Nepal has been a major setback to its economic growth and development. To add more, Nepal’s civil societies are largely looked at with the same disdain of ineffectiveness as the political parties itself. In the last 8 years, the political administration will be changed for the ninth time and it doesn’t seem that this situation would stabilise anytime soon.

Sakshi Rai is the Co-Editor of the Inquilabist. Follow her on Twitter @sakshirai92.