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Nepali Sahitya Parisad Bhutan, the publication house for The Bhutan Jagaran Fortnightly, a Nepali-Language newspaper written by and for Bhutanese refugees in [[Nepal]], stated the paper can no longer be printed due to lack of adequate funds.

The newspaper was continuously getting published since the mid of November 2001 with financial support from Austcare , an Australian organization, through Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

General Secretary of Sahitya Parisad and Chief Editor for Jagaran Khem Shandilya informed that the possibility of paper’s closure has increased following the donor’s unwillingness to grant further financial support.

Bhutan Jagaran
Bhutan Jagaran

The four-page black-and-white Bhutan Jagaran contains issues related to Bhutanese refugees. Closure of this newspaper’s hardcopy print would indirectly bar Bhutanese refugees from their right to information, as it is the only Nepali newspaper meant for private circulation and is the most widely-read within this small community in eastern districts of Nepal.

The support received from the [[Austcare]] used to meet the basic expenses for the printing of the newspaper.

“I worry that the closure of this newspaper would create troublesome particularly to minors inside refugee camps who do not have access to internet and other national dailies of the host country”, says Shandilya.

According to Shandilya, the cost for the publication of the newspaper comes as just 3,000 Nepalese rupees per issue, which is equivalent to 48 US dollar.

Associate Editor of the Bhutan News Service, Ichha Poudel working in the office
Associate Editor of the Bhutan News Service, Ichha Poudel working in the office

Editor Shandilya further said that he even wishes to publish Jagaran on a monthly basis if any individuals, well wishers or media organisations are able to extend financial support. Shandilya strongly urges donors to help with the continued printing of Jagaran’s hardcopy.

The possibility of the Jagaran’s closure comes at a time when The Bhutan Reporter (TBR) monthly, an English-language newspaper, which started its publication in October 2004, has already stopped its print run because of a lack of funding.

TBR, which was funded for three months by World Association of Newspaper and later for a year by Rajen Giri, a US-based Bhutanese refugee, is no longer printed following the completion of the contract period with the sponsors.

The Bhutan Reporter
The Bhutan Reporter

The publisher of TBR, I.P Adhikari, says attempts are underway to find sponsors so that they can give continuity to the hardcopy publication of this, the only English newspaper in the Bhutanese refugee community.

“We are committed towards its hardcopy print should it become possible to find a long-term sponsor”, says Adhikari.

All staff, including the editorial team associated with the Bhutan Jagaran and TBR work on a volunteer basis. These newspapers lack advertising and other means of income generation in accordance with the legal laws of the host country.

Meanwhile, the Bhutan Chapter of Third World Media Network (TWMN) has appealed the international organisations, working for the promotion of the media, to extend possible financial support to ensure the continued existence of the newspaper.

“It would be one of the saddest parts if newspapers such as the Jagaran and TBR are shut down as these are the only existed newspaper in the Bhutanese refugee community with good circulations”, reads a statement issued by the TWMN, adding there is urgent need to make the printing of the papers alive so as to continue disseminating information to Bhutanese refugee community in Nepal.

TWMN also expressed gratitude to the donors that extended support in the earlier days.

Currently, there are only three newspapers including Nawlo Awaj, a Nepali-language newspaper that carries activities of Birat-led Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxists-Leninists-Maoists) running for and by Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.

Jagaran Fortnightly and TBR are only newspaper carrying impartial and balanced news stories.

Besides running a news portal www.bhutannewsservice.com , Bhutanese journalists in exile also produce and broadcast Saranarthi Sarokar, a 30-minute long weekly radio programme from two of the FM stations in Nepal.


Editor's Note: A short-cut glimpse over media situation both in Bhutan and inside refugee camps in nepal can be assessed at: www.bhutanimedia.blogspot.com, a blog run by the author of this story, T.P. Mishra, who is president of Third World Media Network - Bhutan Chapter and the editor of the Bhutan News Service (BNS) and chief coordinator for Helping Hand - Bhutan (a social organisation). He is also the winner of Bhutan’s journalist of the year award, 2006

The following are notes for editors into the situation regarding media for Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.

The circulation of both newspapers
Bhutan Jagaran: Within camps (schools, camp committee members, health staffs, offices of donor agencies), some parts of India such as Siliguri.

The Bhutan Reporter: Within the refugee camps, (Biratnaga, Dharan, Birthamod) and the cities of Nepal where refugee students study, diplomatic missions and refugee aid agencies in Kathmandu, aid-agencies at Damak and Birtamod, towns near the camps.

Estimated readership of each copy
Bhutan Jagaran: 30,000 (this doesn't corresponds to no of copies. A copy is circulated among many, a number of times for example, if a copy is dropped in teachers' room in a school, 80 percent of teachers read that copy). The number is high for this as it is in Nepali vernacular Language.

The Bhutan Reporter: 15,000

Number of refugees
There are seven camps (one in Morang District and six in Jhapa District of eastern Nepal), There are 107,000 registered Bhutanese refugees in UNHCR camps and 30,000 in various states of India and cities in Nepal.

Democraphic of the refugees
Students upto grade 12: Around 35,000 (where around 33,000 study within camp schools Managed by Caritas Nepal an NGO, sponsored by UNHCR.

  • 0- 5 yrs - 7,856
  • 5-17 yrs - 29,975
  • 18-59 yrs - 62,973
  • Elderly - 6,999

Alternative news sources for refugees

  • A few read Nepali dailies such as The Kathmandu Post and local Nepali dailes such as Purbanchan Dainik
  • Private FM radios Kantipur FM, Pathibhara FM, Saptarangi FM
  • Occassional information leaflets published by UNHCR/IOM/LWF
  • TV, but extremely rarely

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