The recent hullabaloo about Dr Upendra Mahato’s donation of Rs 5 crore (which roughly comes to US $470,000 or A $650,000) has turned out to be a classic case of misleading reportage.
Media may or may not have intended it to be so but in an age when social media is so powerful in forming public opinion, numerous stories about the donated medicines quickly became international sensation. The news created two distinct impressions – first, that the medicines were paid for by Dr Mahato and second, the donation was meant specifically for the victims of the ongoing Indian blockade on Nepal. Both assumptions are faulty.
The southasia.com.au has learned that the medical drugs which the media reported as ‘handed over by Dr Mahato’ were in fact sent by NMC Health from UAE way back in May. The supplies were not sent for ‘the victims of the Indian blockade’ but were instead meant for the survivors of the devastating earthquake of April 25.
What was the stock doing in the storeroom of Grande Hospital for the last six months? And why should there be a flashy ‘hand-over ceremony’ for stock freighted to the country half a year earlier? These are questions the media is yet to ask. And it is a question the Grande management must answer to the Nepalese earthquake victims, an Australian based non-resident Nepalese wishing to remain anonymous demanded.
The Abu Dhabi-based NMC’s website claims it sent medicines worth UAE 1.8 million to Nepal weeks after the April earthquake, for the victims of the 7.8 magnitude disaster. The donated supplies were receipted by Kathmandu-based Grande Hospital, a hospital the Russia-based businessman holds major shares of.
Not surprisingly, AED 1.8 converts into little over Rs 5 crores, the exact amount of medicines media said Dr Mahato handed over to the Nepalese health minister.
In his telephone interview with southasia.com.au’s Kathmandu correspondent Krandan Chapagain, Grande’s Media and Public Relations manager Binod Adhikari confirmed that the medicine was indeed the same stock sent by the Gulf organisation, the NMC Health.
In a separate electronic document available to southasia.com.au, Mr Adhikari clarifies that the medicines meant for the earthquake victims was not entirely distributed by Grande and that it is now being repurposed for the victims of the Indian blockade.
Here, it is worth mentioning that although the world appears to be unaware of the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in the earthquake-battered republic, thousands of patients remain affected as medical supplies to the landlocked country remain blockaded at various Indo-Nepal border points. India says the blockade is not its doing but the result of the violent Madhesi movement.
Dr Mahato is a Belarus-based businessman of Nepalese origin who famously spearheaded the global movement of expatriate Nepalese nationals which came to be known as the now well-known Non Resident Nepali Association, present in some 70 nations. He has a number of philanthropic projects in Nepal including a trust opened in the name of his late mother, Phool Kumari Mahato Trust.
An Australian Nepalese who is passionate about the rehabilitation of the earthquake victims of Nepal was not pleased that the medicines were not used at the right time for the right target group. “Where are honest and hardworking journalists these days who feel it is their duty to give the correct information to the general mass? He/she should feel a sense of accountability to do so when it concerns the lives of millions of people instead of playing puppet to a handful who have bought them to be their mouth piece,” the social activist said requesting anonymity.
This article has been edited 29nov15 10.02 aest