Anew phase of discussion has been initiated to bail the Gorkhapatra out of the crisis it is in right now. This thanks to the new leadership in the Corporation for catalysing and playing host to the discussions to define and concretise measures to breathe a new life into it.
Former editors, print media experts, advertisers and well-wishers have been consulted and invited to share their views and insights into the working of the Gorkhapatra and suggest ways and means on how the statutory enterprise can be reformed to survive the ever growing and compounding challenges facing the body.
Needless to describe, the Gorkhapatra - an institution with an 111-year-old history- is in need of resuscitation if it is to be made a living proposition with relevance, acceptance and appropriateness in the evolving context of the country. The Corporation is run according to the law that was enacted some half a century ago, and the purpose with which the Corporation was incorporated at that time definitely calls for a review, revision and readjustment.
Moreover, the Corporation that has been publishing Nepalís oldest broadsheet dailies both in the Nepali and English languages - the Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal - has been, of late, confronting challenges - internal and external. As a result, its performance on all fronts has been rated as poor and dismal.
What needs to be pointed out in this context are the different strands of propositions that have been marshaled time and again in restructuring and reforming the Corporation. Some have even questioned the rationale of the Corporation in the present situation of the country where pluralism and democratic professionalism of the media has occurred substantively, rendering the proposition of the state-owned publishing house irrelevant and inappropriate.
The logical result of this line of argument is going for privatisation of the Corporation according to the free market economy principle. It was reported that the public enterprise privatisation cell working within the Ministry of Finance had shortlisted the Corporation among the bodies to be privatised. However, the process did not witness further acceleration for reasons one does not know yet. This may be, one may guess, due to the change of governments that did not fully subscribe to the notion of privatising the Gorkhapatra which is endowed with a rich legacy and glorious history of Nepalese journalism.
Another reason may be functionalist, as governments and ministers, irrespective of the ideology and policies, have the natural inclination to seek favourable and pliant publicity, which the Gorkhapatra has been doing sincerely and submissively through its publications for long. Moreover, the government has found in the Gorkhapatra a media publicity outlet without having to incur expenses from the state coffer for the services provided by it.
An emergent and stabilising view against privatisation of the Gorkhapatra has lately grown stronger, and many who see its rationale and relevance in todayís Nepal argue that the Corporation needs to be reformed and restructured to enhance its performance and make its publications more relevant and competitive. It is to pursue this line of argument hinging on capitalising upon the rich legacy and history of the Gorkhapatra that the new Corporation leadership has initiated discussions on this count.
The Corporation leadership has even thrashed out and drafted some concrete proposals for implementation to inject new life into the vitality of the Gorkhapatra so that the organisational performance on all fronts is enhanced and achieved. The measures to be initiated have been rightfully categorised as immediate, short-term and long-term .
There is nothing to point out precisely about the merits or relevance of the concrete points drafted and floated on behalf of the Corporation leadership. However, it must be said that the focus should be on toning and enhancing the relevance, credibility and effectiveness of the publications so as to have a positive impact on the organisational performance and results of the Corporation.
Basically institutional and organisational bottlenecks that come on the way of enhancing credibility and readership of the publications need to be reviewed and removed. Internal restructuring can be carried out, keeping in mind the need of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Corporation so that its publications are responded to positively and accepted from the demand side.
In a public enterprise, too, management principles used in the private sector can be applied, and certain services can even be contracted out. With a view to infusing motivation for hard work and achievement in certain sections of the Corporation, new result-based incentive structures can be introduced. One can learn from the incentive system applied in the Finance Ministry to enhance performance-based results in revenue mobilisation and collection. The authority can decide where such result-based incentives are needed to compete, grow and gain sizeable space in the market.
The Corporation can serve social and public purposes while incorporating certain market-based devices and instruments to keep it functionally viable, especially in performance terms. In order to move ahead, the needed support and input from the management consultants and experts can be sought. However, in the end, it is warranted that the Corporation remain a public institution owned and respected by the citizens.