All of us here in Assdom were pleasantly surprised this week to see that Nepal’s rankings in the World Press Freedom Index has improved by leaps and bounds to #76 from #106 one year ago. The list was released on World Press Freedom Day on 3 May by Reporters Without Borders, but it is not clear if Nepal did better this year because all other countries did worse, or if it was because we Nepalis have the same freedom as that enjoyed by the wild ass on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Nevertheless, and be that as it may, what it means is that Nepalis are even freer now to complain about how miserable we are than we were in 2021. Putting this together with the World Happiness Report released by the UN in March that listed Nepal as the merriest country in South Asia, it can only mean one thing — that Nepalis are happiest when they are allowed to whine and dine.
Cynicism aside, let us rejoice at the hard-won freedoms we enjoy to poke fun at Comrade Sher Budder Deuba without any fear of being led off to the gallows. Where else in the world would a reporter be allowed to breach security protocols by barging into Air Farce One to interview the prime minister of Nepal, and stream it live on his YouTube channel?
But what I am much more concerned about is how come Sishi Dhamala could sneak into Business Class and imbibe free cocktails without an upgrade to Chyangra Class by the Erstwhile Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (ERNAC)?
However, what this incident proved is that Nepal’s journalists will leave no stone overturned, will go over with a fine-tooth comb, will brook no quarters, will test the limits of their constitutionally guaranteed rights, to comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable, from the safety of their comfort zones, and let the potato chips fall where they may.
Television talk show hosts have shown that when the argument during a live election broadcast gets heated, they will not shy away from drawing sword and challenging the interviewee to a duel on camera.
Nepal’s press is so free that the Ministry of Disinformation and Newspeak does not believe in blaming the messenger anymore, it will try to jail them. Especially if they upload irreverent music videos on YouTube about corruption in high places.
Nepali media takes its adversarial role seriously and uses its freedom to publish every hearsay fit to print. We do not take for granted the freedoms granted us in the Constitution, and will not hesitate to take to Twitter to lynch anyone who disagrees with us even slightly.
We do not think twice about praising the 5-Party Coalition (Pvt) Ltd, we only think once. Thanks to these freedoms, we will kowtow when asked to only take a bow. We will always be prepared to print handouts in exchange for handouts. We will not accept envelopes from our sources — unless it has hard cash in it.
And unlike some other professions, we are not the type to take the dough and run. No, we pocket the money, return the envelope, deduct 13% VAT and give a receipt, and adhere strictly to our journalistic code of ethics to loyally toe the party line in return.
Unless someone gives us a thicker envelope.