Tuesday, September 24, 2013

History of Ministry of Communications /Information and Communications in Nepal

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Writing history of the Information and Communications Ministry is not easy. Tracing the growth of this ministry is also to look into the chances in its nomenclature. Only in the post 1990 period, the name of this ministry was changed from the Ministry of Communication to Ministry of Information and Communication.

There is sheer lack of research on this ministry. After accessing documents of the ministry, there is a possibility of writing a long article on its history. This article is revised version of a part of my thesis I wrote for Masters and I have used information related to the Ministry by others.  The chapters on the Ministry written by Tek Bahadur Khatri in his books were helpful to  me while writing this article.

There was no Ministry of Communications before 1970 and there were different ministries which did the activities like Ministry of Communications. Postal office is one of the oldest means of Mass Communication in Nepal which began in Malla period.  We don’t know which organ of government oversaw this means. So it would be appropriate to start the history of Ministry of communication from post 1950. During the interim government of the coalition of Rana-Congress, there were ministers but no ministries. Ministers oversaw 10 departments:  Department of Home Affairs, Department of Defense, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Finance, Department of Industry and Business, Department of Education, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Local Self Governance, and Department of Food and Agriculture (Name not mentioned 1951). Among them two departments, Department of Home Affairs and Department of Transportation oversaw means of communication. Gorkhapatra Press and Publicity Department were under Department of Home Affairs where as Telephone, Wireless and Postal Office were under Department of Transportation. At that time, Gorkhapatra Press published Nepal Gazette and other government documents. The Publicity Department managed Radio Nepal and censored newspapers.

The concept of ministries began from new government of Congress Party under the premiership of M.P. Koirala, which replaced Rana-Congress coalition government in 16 November 1951. In April 1952, M.P. Koirala approached Indian government to “study the existing organization of the civil administration in Nepal in the various departments both at the centre and the districts and make recommendations for its reorganization (Poudyal 1989)”. Accordingly, in 14 May 1952, three people-N.M. Buch, K.P. Mathrani and S.K.Anand arrived Nepal. Tilak Shumsher and Himalaya Shumsher assisted them. They submitted the report, Buch Commission in 23 June 1952 (Poudel 1989). According to this report there were 17 ministries in M.P. Government- 
This government made arrangement of 17 ministries:  Ministry of General Administration, Ministry of Foreign, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Ministry of Food and Land Administration, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Communication, Ministry of Forests, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Industries, Commerce and Civil Supplies, Ministry of Planning and Development, Ministry of Works, Mines and Power, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Self-Government, Ministry of Law and Justice, and Ministry of Health. Among them, two ministries Ministry of Home and Ministry of Transport and Communication governed means of communication. Information, Broadcasting, Cinema, Press Act were under Ministry of Home Affair and Telephone, telegraph and postal services were under Ministry of Transport and Communication (Buch commission).

When King Mahendra declared Panchayat system in 1960s, new ministry called National Guidance Ministry began and means of communications came under this ministry (Khatri 2032 v.s.). According to Tek B. Khatri, it was turned into Pamchayat Ministry in 2022 v.s(Khatri 2032 v.s.). What Khatri said seems to be untrue. There is a book published by Department of Publicity in 2021 Magh, nearly three months before 2022 v.s. began. In 2021 Magh, Department of Publicity published summary of Land related act 2021 (Shree Panch Ko Sarkar 2021 v.s. ). At that Department of Publicity was under Panchayat Ministry. Panchayat Ministry remained for few months only. In 2022 v.s Asar, Ministy of Publicity and Broadcasting was formed. It was turned into Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in 2025 v.s.  Till 1971 government used to take postal service, telephone and wirelesss as means of communication. Radio, cinema and printed materials were deemed means of publicity.. When 1971 communication plan was formed there were two Ministries which dealt with means of communications- Information and Broadcasting, and Ministry of Construction, Communication and Transportation.

National Communications Services Plan 1971 envisaged the Ministry of Communications.  This plan brought 11 different communications institutions under the ministry: Department of Information, Department of Broadcasting or Radio Nepal, Department of Postal Service, Department of Printing, Press Council, Gorkhapatra Corporation, Ratna Recording Corporation, Royal Nepal Film Corporation, Cultural Corporation, National News Agency and Telecommunication Corporation.

So, by looking into the history of the ministry we can see how all means of national communications services came into a ministry in 1971 and what happened since then is mere continuation of that process.

More about the ministry from its website:

Photo source of the building of the Ministry: 

About the Ministry
The Ministry of Information & Communications (MOIC) in its present name was formed in the year 2049. The Ministry widely covers postal services, telecommunications, broadcasting, Press & Information and Film Development.
To develop and expand the information & communication sector upto the rural level in the form of infrastructure for social and economic development through wide spread participation of the private sector as well with emphasis on the dissemination of information and communication technology.
1.     To inform the public about the economic and social activities of the country and promote the democratic culture so as to safeguard and promote the freedom of expression and the right to information of the people and to ensure the institutional development of democracy while upholding the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national independence as well as the dignity of Nepal.
2.     To make the communications media efficient so as to make citizens conscious by creating an environment of equality, mutual goodwill and harmony among the various tribes, languages, classes and religious communities in such manner as the people in general may, on the basis of the rule of law, enjoy the benefits of democracy peaceably.
3.     To make the communications media active so as to facilitate the protection and consolidation of the basic norms and values of the sovereignty of the people and the National Unity while according top priority to the national interest.
4.     To make the information and communications sector active so as to preserve the various aspects of national identity and significance, as well as to secure peoples participation, international cooperation and goodwill in the process of allround development of the nation by creating public awareness.
Main Duties and Responsibilities:
1.     To implement or cause to be implemented effectively, the National Communication Policy.
2.     To establish coordination among communication related agencies and to implement their functions effectively.
3.     To enable the communication agencies to be capable of providing appropriate technology based modern, efficient communication services effectively and affordably available to the general public for overall national development.
4.     To make communication media active for the promotion of international mutual understanding and cooperation.
5.     To promote contact for cooperation and understanding with the international agencies related to the communication sector in order to cause Nepal to benefit from them.
6.     To develop/promote and disseminate arts and music that reflect national values, culture, art, and heritage.
7.     To promulgate the Acts/Regulations related to film production, exhibition, distribution and to promote the use of local resources related to film making.
8.     To manage and regularise film making in Nepal by foreigners.
9.     To formulate and implement relevant Acts/Regulations for the allocation, distribution, management of frequency/spectrum including the maintenance of a central inventory and monitoring the radio spectrum.
10.   To formulate/implement and or cause to be implemented Acts/Regulation code of conduct in matters related to Broadcasting.
11.   To strengthen the Department of Postal Services and Department of Information with necessary resources to carry out their respective services effectively.
12.   To promote the printing industry by encouraging printing presses to provide in country printing services.
13.   To develop the press council as an independent, autonomous, self ruled institution for the development of healthy and respectable journalism.
14.   To maintain, and or cause to maintain a cordial relationship between the government and the press.
15.   To formulate policy/rules and implement and or cause to be implemented for a good security, and protection of the infrastructure/institution related to the information and communication agencies.

Buch, N.M. 1952. Buch Commission. In Prashasan Sudhar Ayogko Pratibedanharu, Subara Chhetri, collector, pp. 1-150. Publisher not mentioned.
Khatri, Tek Bahadur. 2032 v.s. Nepalma Sarwajanik Sanchar. Kathmandu: Suchana Bibhag.
Name not Mentioned. 1951. Nepal Sarkarko Antarim Mantrimandalko Bibhajit Addakhana. Udaya 4(4-7) : 65-66.
Poudyal, Madhab P. 1989. Administrative Reforms in Nepal. New Delhi: National Book Organization

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

In 2004 I went to The Rising Nepal as an internee. This is the report I submitted to RR Campus. Here I am posting the unedited version as a document which might be useful to others.

Report on Internship in The Rising Nepal
submitted by
Harsha Man Maharjan
BA II Year, Roll No. 239

submitted to
Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus
Department of Journalism and Mass Coummunication
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Tribhuwan University

In partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication
(JMC-303, 2nd Paper)

Thanks to:

Prabal Raj Pokharel, Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus (R.R. Campus)
Achuyut Babu Koirala (R.R. Campus)
Chiranjibi Khanal (R.R. Campus)
Ajay Rana, Deputy Executive Editor
Amar Mainali, Sub-editor
Sunil K.C. Associate Editor
Bijaya Lal Shrestha, Associated Editor.

Beginning of Internship

By lucky draw Prabal Raj Pokharel chose media organizations for our internship. I got the chance to do internship in The Rising Nepal,a English broadsheet daily owned by the government. Including me there were three students from our campus.
On the day we got the letter from Prabal Raj Pokharel to give TRN, we went there. We met Ajay Rana, Deputy Executive Editor of TRN. He asked us about our beats. Two of my friends replied that they would cover Education and Environment. But I could not give any specific beat. Yet I had thought about doing some remarkable news on book industry. I like books and I had more information on this industry.
Ajay Rana told us to visit after few days. But he even informed us that for regular reporting TRN has staffs. By his words I concluded that we had to do soft news. Thus my internship in TRN began.
All together I wrote three news with byline, and many other news. Though Ajay sir told us to do soft news, Sunil K.C., Associate Editor of TRN, under whom I did many of my news stories, told me that he would send me on assignment later. I was happy to hear this from him.
On the first day of our visit in TRN, Ajay Rana had told us that he would provide press pass for us. But later he informed us that he couldn't.
My experience while doing these news are given below:

News 1.
I did my first news on International Standard Book Number (ISBN). I had not planned to do news story on this issue.
Generally I used to visit Tribhuwan University Central Library (TUCL). I have good relation with staffs there. I talked with Krishna Mani Bhandari, chief librarian of TUCL about this issue. I even asked previous news reporting on ISBN issues if there is any one. He requested his staff to provide me their collection of news on this issue. I was surprised to see many news clipping on ISBN. I photocopied and studied them.
After studying these news and having a talk with Sushila Pradhan, who provides ISBN to book publishers I concluded that this no. is limited only to the book publishers of Kathmandu valley. Most of the news I studied, were concentrated on the no. of books, maps, computer software, posters that got ISBN.
Again I talked with Bhandari, TUCL, chief librarian. He will cause TUCL to invest large sum of money. I even proposed me need to increase Rs. 25 for ISBN form to Rs. 50 but he didn't accept is as an appropriate way.
I wrote the news story typed and gave it to Sunil K.C. He went through my news and changed few words. I had begun my news story like this. "International Standard Book Number (ISBN), introduced by Tribhuban University Central Library (TUCL) in Nepal on 16 January 2000, so popular mainly among the coteries of writers and publishers inside the Kathmandu valley." Mainly he told me that the word 'coterie' is a bad word here. He asked me to rewrite the whole news. And I did.
When he edited my news story. I was not there. It was published on 31 January. After seeing the news I became sad. I thought Sunil K.C. edited badly. The lead was changed. So instead of my previous headline: "ISBN Limited to Kathmandu Valley" it was TU Library issues ISBN numbers to publishers/writers "The headlines was too simple I thought.
Out of curiously I showed this news to a senior brother, a student of journalism. Going through my news he told me that the editor had done nothing wrong. I had not presented enough information on ISBN in the Kathmandu valley: How many publishers from the valley receive ISBN etc. But he request me not to use the word, manpower: Instead of this, he asked me to use the word 'personnel or staff : Later I discussed about the word with sunil KC, he told me that 'manpower' gives or special meaning, that other words ...give.
The Rising Nepal (TRN) is a English broadsheet daily. Gorkhapatra Sansthan publishes it. And the sansthan also published Gorkhapatr, a Nepali broadsheet daily. So there is much give and take between these two papers.
TRN receives news from muffesil in Nepali Language. It might have been sent for both papers. So most of time, news is to be translated. Translation is an important aspect of English journalism in Nepal.
On Feb. 14, Sunil K.C. requested me to translate a news on Eastern Regional Industrial, Trade and Tourism Fair 2060 which was going to be held in Birtamod from Feb 17. This was not my first time to translate something. I needed to translate many things during my classes. Yet it was not easy for me to translate the whole news. I wouldnot translate some words. Sunil K.C. helped me at that time. He even requested me not to copy the news line-by line but to write down the main information of this news.
During taiks with Krisha Mani Bhandari, chief librarian of TUCL for my first mews on ISBN, he told me that in Nepal it is difficult to give exact no. of books we publish every year. He even told me that ISBN is only authentic data on the no. of books even though many publishers don't bother to take this no. His information made me curious to know how other countries like India. USA manage to keep the record of the no. of books published from the country annually. He informed me that they have a special deposit no. of books compulsorily : An Act to collect, Preserve and Manage Nepal's Documentary Heritage.
With his information i came to know about the draft. When i desired more information on the draft he suggested me to meet Dashrath Thapa, Cheif librarion Nepal National Library. When i phoned him to know about the draft, the first thing he asked me was how i got information on the draft. I told him everything. I took time for meeting, during a talk with him, he informed me that DECORE consultancy group and NNL prepared the draft of the Act, and organized a one day workshop to finalized it on March 6, 1998 and forwarded it to Ministry of Education and Sport (MES). I requested him to provide me a copy of report of that programe. I got it.
Now I need to meet an authentic staff from MES. I asked about this with Thapa. He gave a name Arjun Koirala, under secretary at the law section, MES. I took appointment from him to meet and talk with him on the issue. He told me that the CCI is important for Nepal. But he opined that the draft needed some changes: publishers want to deposit 1 copy instead of 4 copy. I had read about this in the report of the seminar. I again meet Mahashwor Paudel, joint secretary at MES. He and Koirala informed me that in absense of Parliament this ACT would be issued. Paudel even told me that there was doubt whether NNL could shoulder tha burden of depositing documentary heritage.
I meet Madhav Maharjan, general secretary. National Booksellers and Publishers Association of Nepal (NBPAN) to know the authentic views from publisher.
On Feb 16. I typed my news stroy and showed it to Sunil K.C. He was not satisfactory with what i wrote. He advice me to add some information to clarify the draft and more than this he told me that having quotes from many people is not enough to make a news. Later I rewrite the whole news story and presented to Sunil K.C. This time I even included from where this king of law begin. For this I visited few websites through internet. On Feb 19 the news got published and it was a large one.

lesson: only quotes arenot sufficient to make news.

On Feb 23, Bijaya Shakya Associated editor informed me that three foreign cyclist are visiting TRN. He told me and one collage from Patan Multiple Campus, who was also in internship, to take interview with them. Sunil K.C. was not interested to provide us this change. He wanted to give this chance to senior journalist. Vijaya Shakys discussed with Sunil K.C. that if junior journalist or rookies are not given this kind of chance how they would learn. At last Sunil K.C. agreed to provide this job to us. But he requested us to write down all the necessary information. Among three cyclist two Swiss: Gregor Beermann, 21 and Bedoo Kumm, and another one is Dutch: Hugo Kruyt.
They told us that Nepal got priority in Western Media with 'Royal Masssacre'. Amar Mainali, sub editor requested us not to use that word. This forbidded word reminded me for the second time that I was in intern in government owned media oganization. I experienced some experience when Sunil K.C. cut Dashrath Thapa's words "As many government that come and went since 1998, gave no priority to that drafft, we have come to a conclusion that only agitation can pressurize the government" in my news about Legal Deposit Act.
This was my first interview in the internship. I had talked with many people to get information on my previous news. But this, I did thinking an interview.
While writing news Amar Mainali suggested us to write the news on next day. We thought his suggestion right for it is a soft news. We told this to Sunil K.C. But he wanted the news every day. Because he had given words to the interviewees. So we wrote news. While editing he questioned us on states whihc were inmentioned and ambigious. At that moment we realized what he said editor was right. We couldn't give some information he demanded.
Next day, The Kathmandu Post featrue special story on these three cyclists.

no: dateline: editors didn't notice this.
I attended the award ceremonu of the boss creative Hunt Painting Compitition. While writing this news i had given priority to the fact that the theme: War and Peace won many prizes. I had written this in my lad. But later Sunil K.C. changed it. He told me that news should begin serially. I needed to inform about the competition first.

Attending this program was my nice experiences. I learned a lot about occupation safety. Earlier I had thought journalists were uncreative and unproductive by only attending formal program. But, from this program, i learned that we can learn a lot even from this king of programe. We can increase our source. Even we get clue which will help to do further story on various issues in this topic.
Sunul K.C. needed to edit little in this news

I became interested to know about reality after I found Economic ordinance with two different price. More that this, these ordinance had no name of publishers.
I thouhgt of linking these ordinanc with the issue of copyright. I informed about my interest with Sunil K.C. He helped me with the procedure I should take.
After economic Ordinance, I thought that I could link my story with law books. I came to know about las book managment committee. I meet Mohan Bahadur Chhetri and Purna Bahadur Thapa from LBMC. I took necessary document on LBMC from them. They provided me LBMC founding orders of 2021 B.S. They even requested me to meet Kul Ratna Bhurtel, chair of the LBMC and secretary at Ministry of law and justice. I got information on the history of LBMC. Bhurtel, chair of the LBMC informed me that LBMC operating this LBMC Founding order and he was demanding separate law for the LBMC. I gathered informed about the Nepal Gazette which contains all notice. laws and ordinance. I come to know that the same ordinance can be brought in rs. 15 as the Nepal Gaztte or rs 100 and rs 150 (from bookshop it can be bought in). This information became helpful for me.
The ministry of law and justice (MLJ) has authorized the LBMC to publish the bare text of the constitution, Acts. Ordinance and amendments made in the laws and treaties as well as to translate government documents. But private publisher too are publishing compilation of Acts, orders, etc only by discussing each and every article of these Acts, orders.
I talked with Khagendra Bhattarai, owner of Pairavi Book Center that publisher books on laws. He informed that LBMC doesnot publish books in time, so some publisher ehpl readers by publishing unpublished Acts, regulation etc. But Mohan Bhadure Chhetri, director of LBMC and Purna Bahadur Thapa, of LBMC opined that private publishers are violating the laws. They informed me that LBMC has no enouhg budget to pront new Acts, regulations etc in time.
This news too required re-writting. Sunil K.C. requested me to make clear some information on the first draft my news. And i did, as i included various aspects of LBMC, laws book, the news became long.

Lessons I Learned
· Many things I learned from this internship
· It is better to write news in simple way. If I could use short sentence to convey my massage why I should choose the long one.
· Rewritting is the most. Aa shoft news story I didm needed rewritting. Rewritting helped me to express my thoughts clearly.
· To get real experience of media organization. I came to know the situation of government owned media.

Before recommandation I am once again thankful to editors and staff of TRN as well as Journalism and Mass Communication teachers to provide me this internship. From my collages I came to know that many friends weren't given opportunitie by few media organization to do internship. Kantipur TN, The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post and some them that I know. So why this happened. Department of Journalism and Mass Communication must thing. My few recommandations are given below:
There should be nice relationship between Departent of Jand MC and other media organizations.
There should be nice evaluation system for internship.
Media education institutions are increasing. They send their students in internship. But media organizations have no concrete plan how to deal with internees. So it will be better if  RR Campus itself starts media or at least talk with media organization on the issues of internship.

The first issue of Udhyog, one of the first specialized magazines in Nepal published in Aug 1935 and the publisher's appeal distributed in 1936