Sunday, 29 November, 2020
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OPINION

Dixit's Contribution In Media Research



Harsha Man Maharjan

 

In his lifetime Kamal Dixit published 80 books. Among them, he wrote 55, edited 22 and translated 3. These books are related to Nepali language, literature, history, and culture. And a few of them contain essays and articles that fall under media and communication studies, which show his contribution in this field.
To understand his contribution in media research, we can analyse his early three books: Yasto Pani (2014 B.S.), Kalo Akshar (2017), and Kagati Ko Sirup (2026 B.S.). Yasto Pani contains 12 essays he wrote from 2013 B.S. to 2014 B.S. that covers issues such as printing press, drama, periodicals and literary writers. The second book, Kalo Akshar, includes another 12 essays written from 2014 B.S. to 2017 B.S. related to issues such as women writers, book publishing, periodicals, and litterateurs. The third book, Kagati Ko Sirup, (2026 B.S.) has 12 essays about a newspaper Gorkhapatra.
These essays mainly are about three aspects of media and communication studies - printing press, book publications and periodicals - that were directly related to his life. While living in Calcutta in 2010 B.S., he worked as the general manager of Alliance Press owned by some Indians and Nepalis. He also established Jagadamba Press after he returned to Nepal. He converted his personal collection of books into Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya in 1955. In 2013 B.S. he established Jagadamba Prakashan Private Limited.

Printing press
He gave priority to essays on the printing press from his first book, Yasto Pani (2014 B.S.). An interesting essay is on Giddhe Press, the press that Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana brought while returning from Britain in 1850. This press was used to print Gorkhapatra from 1902. In this essay, he wants to know where the press could be stationed before it settled in Gorkhapatra Chhapakhana. He also highlights that though the dominant narrative was that the Pashupat Press was the first printing press established in Nepal in 1950 B.S., there were at least three other printing presses which might have been established before Pashupat Press. Based on books published by these presses, he shows that Narayanhiti Press, Jangi Lithography Chhapakhana, and Nepal Monaranjan Press were in existence before Pashupat Press.
Dixit has written many essays on book publishing. One interesting essay published in Yasto Pani is about the activities or tactics of book publishers in Benaras before 1950. These publishers copied or emulated the popular books like religious books, sawai, bhajan, etc. He also provides an interesting case. Bhanubhakta Acharya's Ramayan having seven cantos became popular, so Bishwaraj Harihar Sharma published Rameshomegh having eight cantos. Then this book was promoted as the bigger Ramayan and requested readers to buy the real Ramayan, not the incomplete old one.
The essays on periodicals can be divided into two parts: on a particular periodical or on a trend.
Dixit wrote many essays about a newspaper, Gorkhapatra. In his essay, published in Yasto Pani, he looks into the early years of this newspaper. He points out that this newspaper was not totally government-owned in the beginning, but was semi-government owned. It was published in Pashupat Press from 1958 Baisakh to 1959 Asar, then in Gorkhapatra Chhapakhana. Dixit advanced this argument in an essay included in Kalo Akshar. In fact this essay starts with the quote from his old essay. He mentions that some people objected to his claim that Gorkhapatra was not government-owned from the beginning.
Analysing documents such as sanad (decree), he stressed that it indeed was true. He showed that Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher gave the newspaper to his son-in-law, Jay Prithvi Bahadur Singh in September 1903. Dixit argued that Gorkhapatra had three or four types of management: non-governmental or semi-governmental, private and government-owned. In an essay published in Kagati Ko Syrup (2026 B.S.), he ascertains that Gorkhapatra was older than Gorkha Khabar Kagat started in 1901. He reached this conclusion, as he had not seen the first issue of Gorkha Khabar Kagat published in 1901 January and he came to know that Gorkhapatra was published in 1901 May. Later studies have shown this is not true.
He has also published essays on other periodicals. For example, Kalo Akshar contains an essay on Sundari, published in India in 1963 B.S. In this essay, he has shown that Rashik Samaj which started this periodical could not continue to publish it, so Pandit Harihar Sharma published it. The same book also includes an essay on Kathmandu Municipality Patrika started on Mangsir 14, 2004 B.S. According to him, this periodical was stopped within 5-6 months because it started to disseminate messages promoting democratic values.

Editorials
He also published an essay in Kalo Akshar about the trend of not having enough readers of Nepali periodicals, which he called 'sabik rog'. In this essay he has cited editorials and notices from periodicals such as Gorkhapatra, Gorkhali, and Upanyash Tarangini that pleaded readers to love these periodicals.
Printing press, book publishing and periodicals were three main aspects in which Dixit conducted research and contributed in the field of media research. We need to further study how other scholars expanded the knowledge he produced in these aspects.

(Maharjan is a senior researcher at an academic NGO Martin Chautari and writes on issues related to media and technology. 

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