No Sarkozy, Internet is Not a “Territory” and Don’t Even Try Conquering it

So over at Paris, world leaders and new media CEOs had a fun time discussing the internet, social media, regulations and stuff in between like how to conquer the internet.

Ok, that conquering part was entirely French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s idea. Apparently, technology innovations and the wildness promoted by the un-governed world of internet is getting too much for the President and he wants it reigned in.

If only it was that easy.First off, Mr. President, internet is not that wild ( I don’t know stuff the French are watching online though!). There are already number of regulations and checks imposed by various governments to control this beast. Try posting a video of Saudi woman driving and the government there will show you who is the boss.

Following events in Egypt and Tunisia, more and more government are imposing restrictions on the internet and how and when information can be accessed. You obviously haven’t heard about the Great Firewall.

And you still want to conquer this territory with regulations and restrictions?  Internet and online contents need some order, not because a President wants so, but because this tool is too valuable to be squandered. It is a platform that promotes democracy and freedom in countries under dictatorship; it is a bridge and it is a mirror. Regulations to stifle internet’s creativity and vitality will only make it a government tool; not the great equalizer people want it to be.

So please drop the idea of conquering the internet. It is not a territory, it will never be.Shouldn’t you be more worried about the economy?

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Joe Niemczura: Kathmandu Critical Care

Niemczura is an American nursing instructor at that University of Hawaii. His is currently in Nepal, working on a nursing education project. His blog Kathmandu Critical Care chronicles his Nepal adventure-getting a cell phone, working through the country’s “system”-which seems very archaic and outdated at times, for example the number of certificates you need to present to get simple things done like opening a bank account or getting a phone, and also about Nepal’s health care and education system.

His book  “The Hospital at the End of the World” describes  his experience working in a Nepali hospital and what it means to bring health care to the poor population in a developing country.

At Nepal Blogs, we have shared about “foreigners” blogging on Nepal and Nepali issues.  You get see your country and culture through an outsider’s eyes-always hilarious and sometimes pushes you to soul search. Go ahead and check out what Joe has to say.

 

 

#ca28May: Did the Mainstream Media Miss the Bus?

As the drama was unfolding in Kathmandu on May 29th, the Twitterverse was busy. Will the constituent assembly’s term be extended or is the country headed towards a constitutional accident and perhaps a military rule or the monarchy’s return? these questions troubled many and they were glued to their local TV and radio sets.

For Nepali diaspora population, the internet was the only source of information. Mainstream media sites, Facebook, Twitter, live stream from local television and radio networks-the interested ones were plugged in, following the development.

But the mainstream Nepali media completely missed this opportunity to explore emerging avenues of communication and viewer engagement.At Twitter, bloggers and some journalists in personal capacity were Tweeting about the new developments but where were the newspapers and television networks?

When tornado struck Joplin, Missouri; a New York Times journalist tweeted his experience and later said that his tweets were perhaps better in engaging and informing the readers than the usual newspaper post on it.

Nepali diaspora is growing, they present a viable market and revenue source for Nepali media.Browsing through advertising at Kantipur or Republica’s website, it is clear that they are trying to appeal to the non-resident audience.So why were they so reluctant to spend few hours to make sure that this important group of audience is updated?

While the majority may not be avid Twitter followers, they are certainly internet savvy and use it to stay connected to the developments back home. Media organizations were absent on Twitter, at least they could have updated their webpages more often or live blogged the event. That didn’t happen either.

The Nepali media does not know where the world of journalism and communication is heading or it does not care. They are far ahead in extracting financial value out of their diaspora and online audience, than in giving them true value.

Code of Ethics for Nepali Bloggers: My Observations

Ujjwal Acharya is now leading the effort to establish code of ethics for Nepali bloggers. A welcome initiative and his leadership on this is appreciated. As he brings both real world journalism and blogging experience, I am interested to hear what specifics he proposes. For now, his post on the code of ethics has broad outline.

“Here is a primary plan:

  1. A code of Ethics is formulated
  2. Bloggers can choose to become a signatory of the Code of Ethics
  3. The Code of Ethics will be kept online officially with the list of signatories
  4. All signatory bloggers agree to follow the Code of Ethics”
From where I stand, I see a general code of ethics for Nepali bloggers as a necessity.
MySansar being bullied by the Press Council, questions raised after MySansar published IP and email address of some who commented on one of their posts and the flap over Hello Sukrabar publishing tweets of unsuspecting users-Nepali blogosphere needs to uphold certain standards if it wants to be taken seriously and maintain newfound influence.
Journalists, media houses, publishers, all have code of ethics to abide by. These rules ensure that the members behave in certain way and promise to uphold professional duties in honorable fashion. Yes, there are some who don’t care about ethics and degrade themselves; but majority still does honor these codes( with varying degree of commitment, of course).
Creating a group of Nepali bloggers with high ethics standards will not only ensure  quality and professionalism; but will also boost the country’s citizen media’s trust worthiness. Mainstream media in the country has been long accused of being biased and not taking ethics seriously; committed bloggers with ethical standards will be able to provide an alternative-however limited.
My only concern, at this point where no specifics have been discussed or decided, is the enforcement part. How to check on bloggers who have pledged to honor code of ethics? what are the consequences, if any, of signing on and then breaking the promise? And, how to create an environment where breaking ethics code is a serious offense when the country itself does not take ethics seriously? (Consider Nepal’s  tainted politics, corruption at various levels in private and public sector and a growing trend of dishonesty in academia)
This effort to unite Nepali bloggers through code of ethics should not just be an exercise in networking and signing the pledge; but be an honest commitment. And this is the most difficult part, but for now let us welcome this effort .

Celebrating Young Nepali Achievers

This post concludes Republic Day observation at Nepal Blogs.Prabal Gurung, Deepak Adhikari of AFP, Subel Bhandari and artist Anup Bhandari-these young achievers represent Nepal’s potential. It is hard to see positive rays of hope in today’s chaotic conditions; but if the people come together, change is possible.

Prabal Gurung

President Lady Michelle Obama in Prabal Gurung dress for 2011 Governor's Dinner. Image via White Flickr Stream.

Michelle Obama, Demi Moore and Oprah Winfrey have worn his designs and now he is designing for J Crew. Prabal Gurung is no doubt one of the fastest rising star in the world fashion industry.

Born in Singapore and raised in Kathmandu, Gurung is active in promoting social causes. He is a goodwill ambassador for Maiti Nepal-organization fighting human trafficking.

Prabal Gurung could replace the scandal tainted John Galliano at Dior.

Through his work and his commitment towards social issues, Prabal Gurung has made Nepal proud. Cheers to this Nepali Tara!

Deepak Adhikari 

Adhikari’s reports on Nepal frequently appear at number of international publications of repute, more recently at Time Magazine. It is nice to read stories on Nepal reported by a Nepali. True, journalists need to report without bias, or judgement; but it adds to the report when a local journalist is covering it and not a parachute reporter.

His success is a model for Nepali journalists looking to break into the international media scene. It is not that Nepal is not a hot territory for international news, you just need to tell a compelling story and make it relevant for your audience.

Deepak Adhikari’s work is bringing in new audience for Nepal and related news; and for that thank you! because in these tough times, every bit to present a different side of Nepal is a welcome effort.

Subel Bhandari

Subel is a journalist/photographer currently based in Afghanistan. He works for German newswire Deutsche Presse Agentur.

His reports on Afghan conflict, local extremists and the Afghan society are very straight forward-a tough thing to achieve when you are covering a war zone. This photographs are a different story. They are incisive, human and very off beat. You think Afghanistan is a war-torn country, deep in trouble? then you have to see the  picture where there are majestic highways and trucks that look like art masterpieces. Subel pictures show you the different side of Afghanistan.

He is doing a great job and he is a Nepali. Subel has to be a star!

Anup Bhandari

Anup is a Nepali artists who is getting lot of attention around Texas. TexasNepal.com describes him as,

“Mr. Bhandari loved to paint since his school days but he got into painting as a professional after coming to the United States. He says his father, late Achyut Bhandari, encouraged him very much to pursue his field of interest. He did his schooling from Budhanilkantha School in Kathmandu and came to the United States in 1999 for higher education. He attended Kilgore College and graduated with an associate degree in Fine Arts. After that, he continued his education at University of Texas at Tyler, where he received a full scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.

His apartment is filled with beautiful paintings, lot of which give out a message of peace to the world. His art is very admired by everybody who comes to his apartment or see the paintings at the local art gallery. Local television stations have featured him and several newspapers have published articles about his work. Three of his paintings have been chosen for permanent collections at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts.”

At Nepal Blogs, we have a short post on Anup and his work in the Arts section.

Anup Bhandari’s art and his success breaks the stereotype that every Nepali who wants to make it big in the US has to either be a tech genius or be a big entrepreneur. Art is generally an undervalued and under appreciated pursuit in Nepali society, especially when a young person decides to pursue it as a career. Thanks to Bhandari, there is a hope for change in that mindset. He gets a big star for that!

And yes, this list is not complete and we still have many more who need to be recognized and honored. Please take this as a first step..we have miles to go

Nepal: Women Human Rights Activists Attacked

At Nepal Blogs, we do not publish political posts. We do however support human rights campaigners and civic activism. In keeping with our commitment towards civic activism, here is an update received through Nepali Women’s Global Network.

WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS THRASED AND DETAINED

NEPAL – Despite the call for a nationwide strike by a respective political party, the Women’s Campaign for Democratic and Progressive Constitution defied this call, and continued their campaign for the 23rd Day.  The campaign has been led by 7 women’s network  involving different sections of women’s movement, under one umbrella as Women’s Campaign for Democratic and Progressive Constitution.  The movement constitutes of Defenders advocating for different thematic issues such as equality and non discrimination in the areas of disability, sexual orientation, land rights, squatter rights, natural resources and workers rights respectively. The campaign has been supported, and promoted by numerous members of civil society, networks, institutions respectively, creating a campaign of/for all. The campaign has involved used social networking (facebook) as a tool to disseminate the information as widely as possible.

The Campaign has been organizing sit in protest in front of the Constituent Assembly from 14th April.  One of the core strategies of the Campaign is, to demand for a conducive environment to implement the pledges committed by the Political Parties, to bring the Peace Process to an end by promulgating the constitution on the stipulated time of 28 May, 2011.

The demands of the Campaign are:

a)      To update the citizens about the current status of the constitution, and promulgate the draft constitution on 28 May;

b)      To create a dependable environment to implement the peace process;

c)       To ensure the 33% representation of women in all Portfolios of Ministries, and other structures related to Peace Building

This morning, the government declared the areas around the Constituent Assembly as “a Prohibited Zone”.  No one is allowed to organize any forms of protest around the area.  Around 11 AM, as a part of the regular campaign activities, the women activists entered the zone, and continued their protest peacefully stating that the Constituent Asssembly cannot be dissolved, and the Constitution has to be promulgated on stipulated time. However, the Police intervened, and started abusing the women in foul languages; one of the activists claim that” it was a way to destroy our spirit, and insult and harass us for just being women.”

The first group of 21 Women Human Rights Defenders entered the zone, and protested peacefully. The Police intervened, and started baton charging the women. The detained Defenders claim that when the Women Police made hesitant gestures to the Male Police, it created anger amongst the male, and they started charging the women vehemently with their batons. Most of the women sustained injuries, while four defenders sustained minor injurites while one Defender, Shyam Sah from Siraha district who was standing behind the group was chased all the way outside of the Prohibited zone, and when she tried to take seek refuge inside the house, she was  mercilessly dragged out, and charged repeatedly with batons. All the 21 Defenders were arrested and then detained at the Baneshwor Police Station. Some of the injured have been taken to the hospital upon the request made by the activists to the Police Personnels.

We condemn such brutal act of the Goverment.

Please disseminate this widely to your networks.

We will update the videos and photos later.

Thank you for your continous support.

Women’s Campaign for Democratic and Progressive Constitution

PRESS RELEASE Via WOREC Nepal – 5/24/11


Richa Bhattarai Introduces Yuwa

We posted a short introduction to Yuwa last week. That post was first one in a series of three to mark upcoming Republic Day. Here is Yuwa’s Vice President Richa Bhattarai with a more detailed look into the organization. 

Richa Bhattarai

Established in 2009, YUWA is a registered, not for profit, purely youth run and youth led organization between 15-29 working to promote youth participation through empowerment and advocacy. YUWA was born out of a group of committed youths, working in various social sectors since 2005. The initial focus was to develop leadership skills of involved youths or to get trained as a youth activist and advocate for change, thus resulting into a wide and diverse array of knowledge, skills and experience in this sector. It led to the realization of the seriousness of youth issues and the need to act, which, finally took shape of YUWA. The word “YUWA” has its root in the Nepali language referring youths.

YUWA defines youth as people between the age of “15-29” and its leadership and staffs strictly follows this age bracket. However, YUWA also promotes youth-adult partnership.  YUWA envisions a situation where the youth as an indispensable agent of change are valued partners in decision-making at all levels. It aims to reach this vision through two tools of empowerment and advocacy. YUWA is committed to provide platform for young generation discourses and innovation, promote Y-culture, and facilitate the meaningful youth participation in decision-making and to recognise and enhance intergenerational partnership.

YUWA works in five thematic areas and there are programs addressing each thematic area, some of them are already executed and some are in the process of execution. For detailed description, here is a table.

Recently YUWA celebrated the GYSD, Global Youth Service Day as a national lead agency on April 15, 16 and 17 coordination with other different youth organisations. On these three days, service oriented activities were organised. As a part of it, an airport cleaning campaign was also organised with the theme “Change through Volunteerism” where more than 500 youth had gathered to clean the only International Airport.

Currently YUWA is running a library project with aim to establish a library at Manakamana VDC of Syanja District for the students’ up to Grade 10. We are collecting books and anyone who is interested to donate books relevant for the students up to Grade 10 is requested to contact at YUWA Office at

60, Nirajan Bikram Marga, Minbhawan, Kathmandu, Nepal. Or call 4487743