I was born in Nepal but brought up in India and have always felt very close to it. I do regular businesses there also, and the number of my Indian friends equals or exceeds that of my friends in Nepal. We share a bond that goes beyond business or politics.
But, why did we, still, stop Indian news channels – this is what many people have asked me.
Someone has called it an affront to freedom of speech and expression; others have talked about consumer rights. I would like to point out that even under the Indian law, this freedom is subject to reasonable restrictions. Unfortunately, some Indian news channels crossed that line.
We may be wrong, but a senior citizen, in his seventh decade of life, having had two kidney transplants, deserves at least some respect. And, if someone reports that he is frolicking with a dignitary from another country, how is any nation supposed to take it? And that too, giving it a dirty twist that has no basis on facts.
I would like to ask my Indian friends if they have ever heard that anyone in Nepali media has made such disparaging remarks about Indian leaders? Please, any answers?
In the last 20 years that I have been in the TV business, such crassly irresponsible coverage had never happened. When the downlinking licence given to us by the Nepal government clearly states that no anti-national or seditious content that demeans our nation can be allowed to be transmitted, how are we wrong in exercising our discretion and responsibility? Just because we are businesspersons, it should not mean that we have no patriotism or self-respect.
I may not be a big fan of my government; I may have different opinions about a trillion things. But, I will fight along with it regarding this issue.
Nobody else has a right to disrespect my country especially when the source, the context, and the agenda are all twisted. No one has the right to peddle fake news, about our country and inside our country, period.
Secondly, there are many people here who are upset about this issue. Why should they hold us responsible for a News channel’s mistakes? So, we just wriggled out of it.
Journalism is actually about the fearless pursuit of truth. And, the truth is that the freedom of India also rests on the sacrifices of fearless Nepalis. It is thousands of our Gurkha brethren who guard their borders. Please treat your guardian angels with respect.
May I also respond to the Indian outlets that have gone into an anti-Nepal overdrive in recent days that we have never been a slave nation? We do not feel enslaved to anyone, India or China; we are a free land. So, please sort out your perception problems.
We have a right to self-respect; so does everyone. Our soldiers are sought after by the best armies in the world. You may not consider us powerful or intelligent, but that reflects more on you than us. We are certainly loyal and dependable, and we have never been opportunistic. It is our bravery, loyalty, and character that makes us who we are.
A deeper reason behind the decision to shut down the noise that you claim is news is, actually, we want to build closer bonds based on mutual respect. I come from a family of proud Hindus and humbly request Indian media to maintain a semblance of decency when reporting on Nepal. I want to remain friends with you from deep inside my heart, but please give me that space. Therefore, we think it is better to sidestep and ignore rabble-rousing by shutting the noise down so as not to escalate any misunderstanding. Please, do not do tabloid journalism.
Dear government of Nepal, we humbly request you with folded hands that we are not the only carriers of content. Irresponsible content is multiplying unchecked, particularly online. All disinformation needs to be stopped, no matter what media it conveys. So, I would also request you to immediately clamp down on any and all content that affronts the dignity of our nation.
Sharma is the vice-president of Mega Max TV Pvt Ltd.