News & Events

Event Date:
Event Type: News & Events
Event Location: IIDS

Movie on the House Episode-09

The Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) hosted the 9th episode of its Movie on the House (MOTH) series in collaboration with Accountability Lab Nepal and Onion Films on the 28th of June which featured three short documentaries centered around accountability and corruption in the public sector. The screening of the movies, ‘Threshold’, ‘Chyumi’ and ‘Dust to Disclosure’ followed an enlightening panel discussion comprised of experts on their respective fields. The panelists included Ms. Rabina Maharjan, Principal of Manamaiju Secondary School, Mr. Sharada Trital, Former Secretary, Government of Nepal, Dr. Anup Subedee, Public Health Expert and Ms. Devika Thapa, Research Lead of IIDS’s ‘Prison Reform’ research and Program Associate in the Centre for Governance, IIDS. The session was moderated by Mr. Arjun Kumar Thapa, Senior Program Assistant at the Centre for Governance, IIDS.

UNMASKING THE TRUTH: A Cinematic Exploration of Accountability and Corruption in the Public Sector 

The first documentary ‘Chyumi’ revolves around a newly appointed teacher at a primary level public school, Bijaya, who is challenged by the trials and tribulations of the education system of a village. When questioned, the principal of the school warns Bijaya to not get into the management of the school and that he would be removed from his job if he interferes any further. The documentary centers around how ironically quality education is the last thing that the school administration seeks to achieve, shedding light on how corruption and political involvement can tarnish the sole purpose of the educational sector. 

‘Threshold’ documents the realities of the bureaucratic health sector in our system through the story of Poonam, who is compelled to surrender her priorities to the hassles of the corrupt system in the pretext of seeking medical treatment for her injured brother. The overtly time-consuming medical system in the public hospital or health-post tests the patience of Poonam who ultimately has an outburst demanding timely health treatment along with the availability of all the prescribed medicines. Poonam’s demand for accountability was something that audience members could relate to.

The last documentary screened, ‘Dust to Disclosure’ captures the journey of an investigative journalist, Ms. Dipa Dahal who takes upon a mission to dig into the reality of a suspected illegal transfer of government-owned land to private ownership. The short film documents her interactions with the executive director of the factory along with many others to collect ample amounts of evidence that could further her project and ‘unmask the truth’. Ms. Dahal attended the event and answered many questions from the audience about her experiences.

‘Bhu-Mafia’ at a rise

Reflecting upon the short film ‘Dust to Disclosure’, Mr. Sharada Trital presented his unique insights during the panel discussion. Mr. Trital has had significant contributions in investigating the Baluwatar land case as well as the Tribhuvan University case. Shedding light on the role of different levels of the government, Mr. Trital expressed that as abided by the law, the ward is responsible for the assignment of boundaries and conservation mechanisms of the public land within the ward and so is the municipality and then the province. Hence, it becomes crucial from the ward level to partake in the role of ensuring public properties belonging to the respective ward whereas ‘Bhumisudhar Mantralaya’ plays an effective role to safeguard public properties on a national level. Bhu-mafia have been at a rise to exploit actual needs such as education and health jeopardizing public property conservation through political and bureaucratic connections. The silence of political as well as bureaucratic representatives often advances their motives. Addressing the question posed by the moderator, Mr. Trital believes that the conservation of public properties can be done through proper monitoring, investigation and by following the laws, escaping the trap of corruption. He further stressed that bureaucracy is of extreme importance to help eliminate corruption, especially in the land sector, promoting the conservation of public properties. Mr. Trital expressed that politics is the only such tool which has access to every household of Nepal, hence political awareness can be the most effective tool to help reduce corruption in all aspects.

Ensuring Educational Integrity in a politicized world 

Ms. Rabina Maharjan, the second panelist of the discussion highlighted the essence of politics in the country, elucidating on how it is the supreme principle that seeks to uplift the state, the society and the people. The emergence of teachers in politics has been an ever-going trend so, politics and teachers are those two terms that are often mingled together or intertwined. Ms. Maharjan emphasized the urgency of education in politics and not vice versa; she stated, if politics takes over education entirely, the education system will be disheveled. The globalized world demands an updated way of teaching and learning. Speaking of the difference in private and public schools, Ms. Maharjan raises an extremely important question of who is to bear the responsibility of educating the children of the poor? She symbolically stressed the importance of the presence of varieties of “flowers” that contribute to a colorful garden, hence, the difference of capacities in students going to different types of school is a blessing in disguise. Lastly, she added the significance of moral education in students, as positive awareness can be a viable parameter to measure the child’s capacity. 

Systemic Failures in Healthcare: Beyond Individual Blame 

Our third panelist, Dr. Anup Subedee expressed that the lack of medical facilities for the tax-paying citizens is in fact a form of corruption. Public hospitals only have the most basic services, which is why Dr. Subedee stressed that community-based primary care should be emphasized, which can help improve the medical quality provided to the public. There is a severe lack of public health infrastructure in the country which was exposed by the brutal Covid-19 pandemic. Further, he highlighted the waste of money on unnecessary equipment along with the problem of incentive culture. There is an organizational error in the system, hence, blaming a single person in the business leads to no gain in the long run. Referring to ‘Threshold’, Dr. Subedee mentioned the fault in ethics reflecting on the conflict of interest that arises when the doctor and the pharmacist have a nexus of commissions amongst each other. Lastly, he mentioned the dire need for public awareness in the medical sector as little knowledge creates more misunderstandings among people and mismanagement of public goods. 

Prison Reform: Nepal’s Judicial Dilemma 

Ms. Devika Thapa, our fourth panelist elaborated on the project that she has been leading at IIDS, the ‘Prison Reform’ emphasizing data that has been gathered during the process of research. She highlighted significant challenges in Nepal’s criminal justice system, noting low incarceration rates despite a rise in crime along with challenges such as overcrowded prisons operating at 153% of its official capacity. Ms. Thapa also stated that a majority of inmates are convicted for crimes (such as rape and attempt to murder), while corruption and other financial offenses make up a smaller percentage; the latter contribute to a significant backlog of cases in the Supreme Court. She identified judicial inefficiency, corruption, lack of resources, and loopholes in laws as critical issues that delay prosecutions and sentencing that undermine the system's effectiveness. These inefficiencies have also resulted in a substantial financial burden exceeding the prison budget by over 8 billion NPR in 2022 (according to MoHA 2022/23 report), further compounded by transparency issues and widespread corruption eroding public trust. Ms. Thapa advocated urgently for enhanced justice system skills, inmates’ redistribution, improved healthcare provisions, transparency in infrastructure upgrades, streamlined case management, and the creation of a dedicated Department of Corrections to address these pressing challenges and issues. 

Dust to Disclosure 

The panel discussion was followed by an interactive session with the audience. The curious audience was enlightened by an interactive session with Ms. Dipa Dahal. Addressing the questions, Dahal shared her ups and downs that she faced during the investigative journey inspiring everyone in the audience to believe in oneself when standing against something as heinous as corruption. She also credited her confidence in being able to garner the support of as many people as she did throughout the journey.

The Co-founder of Onion Films, Mr. Surath Giri, shared his lived experiences working with aspiring film makers through workshops (Lights, Camera, Anti-Corruption! being one of them) and overall providing a platform for spreading social messages through filmmaking. 

The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Sucheta Pyakuryal, the Director of the Centre for Governance, IIDS. 

Prepared by: Ms. Bhumika Shah, Intern, Centre for Governance