More info (22nd Nov): Followups to this blog post can be seen here: How was the polling day? and Citizens’ Statement about Maoists’ walkout from vote counting. After polling closed across Nepal, I have made some revisions about my prediction made in the initial posts of this series. The results that are coming out right now confirm the general mood in Nepal I had described in one another post and the vested interests and ignorance of the echo-chamber.
Starting today, I’ll cover some of the discussion from the Nepali social media circle related to the upcoming election. Because of the discussions being in Nepali, many outside observers will miss the real pulse of Nepal as we draw very close to the election. The aim of this blog-series is to narrow this gap and let everybody get a feel of how it is like here at present. Many such reports will be missed in English language reports and newspapers, for reasons of language, and more importantly, ideology.
I have repeated many times that the English language media circuit in Nepal is an echo chamber, consisting of a very narrow group of privileged and detached people who always agree with each other, often to imply that the Maoist war was the greatest achievement in the history of Nepal. As it is, relying on most of Nepal’s English language pundits can end up in very embarrassing situations for yourself. As was evident in one instance from last week, a very vocal “Nepal expert” English language writer was found criticizing a New York Times article because, according to her, the article was making fun of the Maoists in Nepal by calling then “Dashists” and “Cashists.” In fact, the Nepali language press and the streets of Nepal have long been using these terms coined by the Maoists themselves. In the past, the Maoists have made public remarks like calling the third largest party “an eunuch party,” and the echo chamber didn’t even produce as much as a whisper for this insult (or joke for them) that would be unacceptable in most of the civilized countries.
Take another example. We had an election for the constituency assembly in 2008 too. The run up to that election was full of violence, intimidation and countless other incidents that could have influenced the result in the end. However, election observers and foreign press, watching elections in the polling centers near the highways, and from the eyes of Nepal’s English language commentators, were unaware of all that was going around. In the end, a very violent polling campaign was termed as completely free and fair, even before polling had closed at all centers.
Nepal’s politics and society is much complex than it seems. The English language press can make you believe in a very simplistic picture of good guys vs bad guys (with Nepal’s radical forces always being their good guys), but you will be left very ill informed with sources like these, which can be both ignorant about the issues and manipulative and driven by their vested interests at the same time. It is no surprise that many commentators, writers and columnists do not provide full disclosure in Nepal, often hiding their affiliations with interest groups, which however, are of common knowledge to many others inside Nepal.
Don’t panic yet. Ushaft will help you understand the most important discussion happening in Nepal right now related to the upcoming Constituency Assembly elections. I will help you remain safe from countless embarrassments like the ones mentioned above. As a result, you will have a much better and clearer picture of what is actually happening in Nepal.