Kathmandu: A section of the Indian media has made news in Nepal — for the wrong reasons.
The electronic media in particular faces charges of sensationalism at a time when the Himalayan nation is recovering from the deadly scars of the April earthquake that left more than 8,500 people dead.
In Kathmandu, few hide their feelings vis-a-vis the Indian media.
“There is a lot of resentment against Indian journalists because of the biased approach they took to cover the tragic event,” Dinesh Gautam, deputy chief executive officer of Probiotech Industries, Nepal’s prominent feed industry, told IANS.
The main reason for the anger towards certain media, especially two prominent Hindi news channels, was the “insensitive” reportage following large-scale deaths and destruction, he said.
The one question which Indian TV reporters kept asking and which is the focus of much of the criticism is: “How are you feeling?”
“What would be your reaction to this question when you lose a family member in a disaster?” banker Nira Shrestha asked this IANS correspondent. She said there should be some sensitivity towards such incidents.
“If somebody is under trauma or lying on a stretcher with multiple injuries, you cannot pose silly questions. This is the main reason for the anger against the Indian media,” Shrestha said.
The oft-repeated remarks by Indian media commentators which created revulsion in Nepal was that it was not the earthquake but the buildings which killed people.
Narrating an incident, Nepalese journalist Ujjwal Risal said one of the survivors was so angry with the questions from journalists that he angrily pushed aside the microphone of a reporter of an Indian news channel.
He said lots of international journalists flocked to Nepal to report on the disaster.
“Though the international media played a major role to get immediate worldwide attention towards the tragedy, it’s only Indian news channels that faced flak. There was no problem with BBC News, CNN, Al Jazeera and even the local ones which also covered the quake widely,” Risal, who has been publishing a fortnightly news magazine for over a decade, told IANS.
Kathmandu-based leading news channel Kantipur Television was operating from a makeshift tent as one of its buildings got damaged.
Local entrepreneur Bhagwati Prasad said: “As Nepal is rebuilding, the Indian media outlets should come back and focus on voluntary agencies — national and international — involved in rehabilitating people. It has shown the heart-rending videos and not the human interest stories.”
Actress Michelle Yeoh, famous for her roles in James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies”, visited quake-hit villages on the outskirts of Kathmandu on May 15-17 to see the rehabilitation work undertaken by ‘Live to Love’ foundation of Buddhist leader Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in India and Nepal.
“You have to inspire through your writings the international community that quake-ravaged Nepal needs immediate help,” Yeoh told IANS.