Friday, 3 December, 2021
logo
OPINION

Panday: Nepal’s First Media Bibliographer



Harsha Man Maharjan

What is the role of presenting papers in an international forum like Asian Mass Communication Research and Information Centre (AMIC) in expanding a discipline? How can we evaluate the contribution of a person who prepared the first media bibliography in Nepal? These are the key questions to make sense of what Narendra Raj Panday did for the discipline.
Born on August 29, 1938 in Kathmandu, Panday completed MA in political science from Tribhuvan University in 1966. He joined Radio Nepal as an English news editor and reader in 1965. While working in Radio Nepal, he was granted leave-without-pay to study in the US under Fulbright Scholarship. Then, he studied MA in government in the Claremont Graduate School in California in 1968. After returning to Nepal in September 1969, he resumed his work in Radio Nepal.

He worked in the royal palace for a long period. In December 1974, he joined the royal service as Assistant Press Secretary under Joint Press Secretary Chiran Shumsher. He was promoted to Deputy Secretary in 1979 and to Joint Secretary in 1992. He became private secretary to the king in 1992. In 1999, he retired from the royal palace service. He was appointed the ambassador to China in May 2003. He returned home in June 2006. He passed away on March 16, 2013.

AMIC connection
His contribution to mass media in Nepal is connected to AMIC, which was established in Singapore in 1971 through the grant of $500,000 from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. In his autobiography, he has mentioned that he was the country representative of AMIC since he worked with Radio Nepal. He presented a paper, "Professional Institutions Engaged in Mass Communication in Nepal” in the Second AMIC Correspondents’ meeting held in Singapore in August 1972. The AMIC's online archive shows that he regularly participated in such conferences from 1986. We could guess what could be the reason. After he joined the royal palace as Assistant Press Secretary in December 1974, he must have been busy. Despite this busy schedule, he compiled materials for a bibliography published by AMIC in 1977. In 'Preface' of this book, written in December 1977, he has mentioned that while he was working in Radio Nepal, AMIC requested him to do this compilation.

The archive shows that he presented his papers regularly from 1986 to 1993 except in 1990. Let us look at the first and the last papers. The first paper was presented at the AMIC seminar on Media Laws and Regulations in Asia, organised on January 7-8, 1986. In the paper, "Laws and Regulations Relating to Mass Media in Nepal", he has discussed different provisions of laws like the civil liberty Act, 1955, Press and Publications Act, 1982, and Copyright Act, 1964. He concluded that legal provisions needed to be revised. He presented the last paper at the AMIC Seminar on the Social and Cultural Impact of Satellite Broadcasting in Asia, Singapore held on February 1-3, 1993. In the paper "Satellite Television in Nepal", he talked about the growing access to Indian channels through dish antennas. He concluded that negative impacts could be checked through broadcasting better contents.

It is interesting that he regularly presented papers in the AMIC conferences in different aspects of Nepali media such as media laws, films, women, and rural communication. There may be at least two reasons for his participation. One, he was working inside the Press Secretariat, which also looked after mass communication sector. So he must be familiar with what was happening inside this sector. Since he had a lot of information about this sector, he could use this international forum to share his thoughts and observations. That must have given him opportunities to know what was happening in the Asian region in the mass communication sector.

Contributions
His notable contribution is Mass Communication in Nepal: An Annotated Bibliography (1977). AMIC wanted to know the possible areas where further research could be done. However, preparing such a bibliography was not easy in Nepal. As mentioned in the "Preface" of the bibliography, it took him three years to finish this bibliography containing published and unpublished materials from 1960 and 1974. Though this bibliography only had 34 pages of main text, it holds much significance. It is the only annotated bibliography on Nepali media. The writings have been divided into 17 broad groups. It took about 25 years to make an attempt for a more comprehensive media bibliography. A team of researchers at Martin Chautari worked on Nepali Media Bibliography and published it in 2003.

In a nutshell, Panday has made a lot of contribution in Nepali media studies by regularly writing papers on different aspects of mass communication and compiling an annotated bibliography. Though these papers have been compiled in a book form, they are available online. They do give glimpses of mass communication in Nepal. The bibliography is useful to scholars who are interested in knowing more about writings on Nepali media.

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