I‘m so old that I remember a time — back in the hoary 1990s — when you couldn’t expect flair, or at times even fluency, from Nepal’s English-language media.
My grasp of the Nepali language was poor then. I had to rely entirely on the English-language media to understand my society. This put me at a distinct disadvantage vis-à-vis my peers who could read the Nepali-language press. They understood not only what was happening in the nation, but how everyone—and they—felt about it. Their intellectual lives were rich with nuances I could not begin to grasp.
The Nepali Times stands as testament that those days are gone. Thanks to this paper, The Kathmandu Post, and more recent publications such as The Record, English-language media has finally come of age in Nepal. And we are all more intelligent for it.
Nepali society has always suffered from a cultural chasm between those who are fluent in the national languages and those who are limited to English. The former group is grounded in the complex lived reality of this society, and can draw upon local histories, languages, knowledge bases, and intelligence systems to understand and analyze the contemporary moment. The latter group has money.
English has been a hothouse language here — the language of diplomats, aid industrialists, expatriates, foreign academics, travelers, and a handful of nationals educated in private schools or, like me, abroad. Together, these people wield vast power.