The Information and Technology sector has been facing problems due to the govt's inconsistent policies

Although Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal has given assurances to address the problems faced by the private sector, the latter is unhappy with the government due to its unstable policies every time a government changes.

Inaugurating the national assembly of cable television entrepreneurs in the capital on Wednesday, Bhusal said the government was pursuing development activities by taking the private sector into confidence.

She said the development activities would be carried out through the mobilisation of the state agencies, private sector and cooperatives – the three pillars of the economy as defined by the constitution.

Bhusal also stressed the need to strengthen information and communications technology (ICT) so that people could benefit from it to achieve prosperity. It is the ICT sector that has gained momentum over the last decade though it has also been facing problems due to the government's inconsistent policies. Overall media sector has been hit hard, especially due to the government's harsh measures to control the right to information and the coronavirus pandemic since last year. Many of the print and electronic media have either folded up or have laid-off many working journalists following the prolonged lockdowns and prohibitory orders.

The Federation of Nepal Cable Television Entrepreneurs (FNCTE) vented their ire over the government's inconsistent policy towards cable television operators, who also air foreign channels in the country. They have demanded that the state close illegal broadcasting and bring the broadcasting sector under the purview of the tax net as per the existing law and determine the pole rent only after discussing the matter with them. The FNCTE is in agitation after the state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority unilaterally decided to hike the pole rent to cover the cost of erecting electricity poles. The federation has asked the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MoCIT) to resolve the issue.

The daylong conclave discussed issues related to the hiked pole rent, broadcasting and distribution fees, and related policies and regulations as well as protection of the rights and interest of the cable operators, among others. One of the major demands of the cable television operators is the removal of the 'clean feed policy' implemented by the government on October 23 last year. Nepal implemented the clean feed policy in the country, making foreign television channels free from international advertisements.

The policy implemented by the MoCIT was meant to provide the domestic advertisement industry a boost. As per the clean feed policy, foreign channels are not allowed to air advertisements, while Nepali television channels are also not allowed to play advertisements in foreign languages or even foreign advertisements that have been dubbed in the Nepali language. If a foreign product or service wishes to air advertisements in Nepal, they need to produce their contents in the Nepali languages by using Nepali artistes and landscapes. The domestic television operators have welcomed the move while the FNCTE is still reluctant to fully implement it, saying it increases the cost of operation.

Heart ailments

One would think that heart disease is the preserve of the urban class. Well it used to be, but not anymore.

With development seeping into every nook and corner of the country, it is helping to import the urban way of life in the rural areas. Good roads mean people no longer have to walk long distances as in the past. They also don't have to put in a lot of physical labour to produce food in the villages with agriculture tools and machinery arriving at their doorsteps.

Roads also mean, apart from packaged foodstuffs, cereals like rice and wheat will be imported to replace the more nutritious local crops, such as millet and buckwheat. Therefore, it is not surprising that heart disease is emerging as a major problem in the rural areas in recent times.

It is a fact that smoking is pervasive in the rural areas of Nepal, even among the womenfolk. Smoking together with the consumption of poor quality liquor only enhances the risk of heart disease. Rural people must now also be made aware of the reasons behind heart disease so that they change their food habits and sedentary lifestyle, and exercise more. As, unlike in an urban setting, it is not feasible to quickly rush a critical patient to a hospital during an emergency.

A version of this article appears in the print on October 1, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.