Nepal’s historical national daily, the Gorkhapatra published in Nepali has celebrated its 108th anniversary today. It is one of the few centenneial newspapers in South Asia. Dev Shumshere in the traditional media age initiated the publication of Nepal’s first newspaper Gorkhapatra in 1901. He was one of the short-term prime ministers during the 104 year-old Rana hereditary rule.
The Gorkhapatra daily has remained the government-owned newspaper. Although it had commenced its publication as a weekly paper in its earliest phase, it was made daily in 1961. This newspaper served the hereditary Rana rule at first. After hereditary Rana rule was gone in 1951, it served the partyless Panchayat rule run by absolute monarchy from 1961 to 1990. It, similarly, has worked as the government mouthpiece from 1990 onwards.
However, free media critics have raised the voice for making the centennial newspaper free from the government grips. For this, intellectuals have begun debates regarding whether to privatize the newspaper.
As far as its ownership issue is concerned, most of the people and civil society members want the newspaper to be kept under public ownership. While the newspaper is under government control, it has the tendency to serve the authorities. At the same time, private ownership is linked to power, ideology and political influence. In this context, most prefer public ownership under which even ordinary people will share financial burden. The current communication minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara has time and again reiterated that the government would work to make government made public media in the future.
However, pro-Western political forces in Nepal want to hand over everything to business individuals. Their ultimate goal to is to privatize everything regardless of human rights conditions in the country.
On the anniversary day, Vijay Chalise, the Chief Editor of the Gorkhapatra daily has stated in his lead article in the same daily today that the publication has professional manpower to utilize which expert hands of management are required. He means that the Gorkhaptra corporation has to improve its management aspects in order to compete with private media.
The Gorkhapatra is a popular newspaper in Nepal. Millions of its readers are middle class people, especially working as civil servants.