The Demise Of development INTERNATIONAL

Learning about the rise and fall of Development International has been instructive. DI tried to do internationally what Himal is attempting regionally. Mark Feisenthal, Associate Editor of DI until its collapse, describes how good intentions were not enough. Felshenthal has worked in Nepal as a writer and photographer for UNICEF.
There was one question the editors of Development International were always ready for. "A slick, glossy magazine about development? Isn´t it a bit incongruous?" people asked. But was the implication that because the magazine was about the Third World, it had to look like it was printed in the basement? It was time for an independent publication to cover development, and the magazine should be as professional as the people it was addressing.
DI published a prototype issue in October 1986 and a premiere issue two months later. It sent out tens of thousands of copies to readers in developing countries. It published reports on topics as diverse as AIDS in Africa, the over abundance of foreign aid in Nepal,  and the setbacks   Nicaragua  has
suffered as a result of its civil war. It ran stories critical of dam construction in Madhya Pradesh, pesticide spraying in the Caribbean, and a controversial immunization test in the Philippines.
But DI barely published a year´s worth of issues. Tension with USAID and an odd bureaucratic imbroglio caused funding to dry up, leaving the magazine casting about unsuccessfully for alternative funding sources. The last issue appeared in early August 1987.
The magazine was conceived in 1985 when USAID offered a grant to initiate a publication that would provide information exchange for development professionals. The grant was sizable: U$ 3 million over five years, during which time DI would have to become self sufficient.
The editors sought to make the magazine genuinely international by recruiting non western writers. Aware of the implications of being based in Washington DC, they deliberately limited articles about USAID.
But the first problems began precisely when DI tested the limits of its independence. An article on rehydration therapy in the prototype issue did not mention USAID and this upset the administrator whose section had made the grant. DI was committed to remaining independent and left the story as it was.
Then the editor of a magazine published in Hong Kong which happened to be named International Development felt threatened by DI. No matter that his journal was devoted to the construction industry and had next to no interest in "development" other than real estate development. He complained to his congressman that USAID was undercutting a private initiative and contradicting the very philosophy of the Reagan Administration.
The publisher´s complaint was sufficiently embarrassing to USAID, which decided to wash its hands of the matter. The five year grant term was cut in half, ostensibly for reasons of "budgetary restraint".
Ironically, the magazine was just hitting stride, breaking new ground in writing about development, getting away from cliches and providing a broad selection of readable articles. Word about DI was getting out, but it was not enough. The money ran out.
Did DI shoot the moon in trying to produce an attractive, presentable publication on development? Development work deserves journalism that goes a step beyond communicating the agendas of development agencies. DI simply did not have enough time to find a way to make that kind of journalism pay.Publish Or Perish
John K. Locke, who edits Kailash in Kathmandu, says his main problem has always been with the printers. After a local press took seven months to publish one issue, he tried printing in Varanasi, then back again in Kathmandu, and is now planning to typeset in Kathmandu and print in Delhi.
Kailash bills itself as a journal of Himalayan studies, but so far has concentrated on Nepal. "We do want to cover the whole region, and all areas of academic discipline, from botany to history and anthropology," says Locke. Most of Kailash´s contributors are also Western academics who have to "publish or perish". Such imperatives do not seem to drive Nepali scholars nearly as much.
Unlike the Kathmandu journals, those in India do attract a fair number of local talent. Indian scholars contribute to publications such as the Journal of Himalayan Studies and Regional Development, published by Garhwal University in Srinagar, which emphasizes study of the hill economy, the environment and development issues. Himalayan Research and Development, now in its   seventh year,  in a bi-annual
interdisciplinary journal that is the mouthpiece of the Himalayan Research Group in Naini TaL
Looking at the region from abroad is Mountain Research and Development, from the University of Colorado. It is a technical journal that emphasizes the hard sciences such as mapping, climatology and geology and deals with mountains regions worldwide, but in doing so covers the Himalaya thoroughly. The South Asian Institute at Columbia University in New York publishes the Himalayan Research Bulletin. Bruce Owens, a coeditor of the journal, says it serves as a bulletin for researchers on the Himalaya. He says the goal is broaden its reach by publishing theme oriented issues.
Emotional  Attachment
Pahar, a Hindi annual published by the People´s Association for Himalaya Area Research in Naini Tal, is decidedly grassroots in its orientation. "Publishing a journal in the vernacular is very difficult, but essential for people´s awareness," says its editor Shekhar Pathak, adding, "Mere publication is not enough. We always interrelate study, publication and action. Ours is a very collective  kind of work. Pahar is  made
possible by the curiosity, hard work and research of people who love the Himalaya."
Unfortunately, sheer emotional drive is usually not enough to maintain a magazine in the undeveloped media market. Many periodicals have bitten the Himalayan dust in the past decade, the only indication of their passing to be found in yellowing cards in library catalogues. Thus it was that Himalayan Culture expired after only a promising first issue. A consistently high-quality journal on Himalayan plants, from Kalimpong, similarly seems to have given up.
Despite the failures, however, many continue to struggle and survive, providing space for debate and provocative writing. In the latest Kailash, Dutch geographer Wim van Spengen tells everything anyone would want to know about the Manang-Bhot region of central Nepal. The Himalayan Research Bulletin has lately carried an illuminating give-and-take on Tibet. And the latest issue of Contributions has an article that questions the Rajput lineage claimed by Jung Bahadur. It argues that this doyen of the Rana clan in Nepal was a Khadka. A Chhetri, that is, but not a Thakuri. 

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