Nepalese media group targets Indian ventures

Kathmandu, Aug 29 (Calcutta Tube) The smear campaign by a section of Nepal’s disgruntled media against Indian joint ventures intensified Sunday with fierce new propaganda that also targeted the Indian embassy in Kathmandu.

Nepal’s private media house, the Kantipur Group, began spearheading a campaign asking the Indian embassy to apologise after the group distorted the embassy’s concerns regarding Indian investment companies in Nepal as a pressure tactic to force substandard food products on Nepal.

The media campaign begun several months ago when some of the leading Indian JVs in Nepal, including Dabur Nepal, stopped advertising with the group and rejected calls by some other dailies and television stations to advertise with them.

Regular reports started appearing, alleging Dabur Nepal’s Real brand of fruit juices to be below standard even when the issue was in court. Dabur Nepal said it had brought the matter to the attention of Nepal’s Press Council.

On Friday, the Indian embassy here, concerned at the media attacks on Dabur as well as other Indian joint venture companies, issued a statement, warning Nepal’s authorities that such ‘baseless adverse publicity against the products of such joint ventures will not only hit the Nepali economy and exports but will also deter new foreign direct investments into Nepal’.

Since the statement was issued, the Kantipur Group has intensified its campaign, projecting the Indian government’s concern as an effort to force substandard products on Nepal.

It has also begun circulating a ‘condemnation’ and a demand for an apology by four media groups, one of which is headed by the company’s own chairman.

In the recent past, the same media group had led another campaign against the Indian embassy, accusing it of stopping a consignment of its newsprint at Kolkata port, an allegation that the embassy refuted as baseless.

Reacting to the intensified propaganda, the Indian embassy Sunday said the reaction would have been credible if backed up by a condemnation of the ‘unethical practices’ of trying to arm-twist companies into advertising and an offer to discuss how to address the issue with the companies concerned.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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