Parliament goes live!

Jul 28, 2017

In an effort to render itself more accessible and accountable to the people, Nepal’s Legislature-Parliament—with assistance from UNDP’s Parliament Support Programme—will be live-streaming sessions on its revamped website and connecting to users through a new mobile app

Nepal’s Legislature-Parliament has now unveiled its revamped website and a brand new mobile app that allow for live broadcasting of its sessions online. The services were officially launched by Speaker Onsari Ghartimagar amidst a programme held at the Lhotse Hall of the House on 27 June.

The revised website is set to enable live video-streaming of House deliberations, and saved audio versions of the sessions will also be available for visitors after the fact. Among the websites other interactive features is a chatroom wherein users can interact directly with MPs online. The app, on the other hand, can be downloaded for free, and will send notifications to users regarding updates on parliamentary business and other information.

The Parliament’s adoption of the new technology—set up with financial assistance from UNDP’s Parliament Support Project (PSP)—is part of its broader efforts to make the most of the possibilities of digital platforms and eventually go paperless. “It’s a step towards rendering the Parliament more accessible to the people,” the Speaker said, adding that they were also aiming to launch a TV and radio channel in the future. In the same vein, Joint Secretary of the Parliament Secretariat, Rose Nath Pande said, “We hope that viewers will be able to connect more with law-makers and politics overall.”

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As matters currently stand, House sittings are only viewable on television and some online news portals, but not in their entirety. The initiative, contributing to the objective of extending parliamentary outreach, is therefore expected to cater to the public’s appetite for more detailed, multi-faceted and direct information to do with the country’s supreme policy institution.

Journalists present at the programme welcomed the endeavor, and commented on its value to media coverage of the Parliament’s workings. “It will save us a lot of time and resources, otherwise spent in collecting the news in person,” said Bom Lal Giri of Thahakhabar Media. “It will also serve as a verification tool for the news desk in processing a reporter’s coverage of news from the Parliament.”

Praise came from other quarters, too. “Having an archive of sessions is great in that it makes it possible for people to follow the actions and reasoning of our parliamentarians, as well as hold them to account,” expressed youth activist Prakriti Bhattarai who recalled how she had struggled to locate a parliamentary speech online in the process of researching for her role as Prime Minister in a Mock Youth Parliament session some time back.

With the increased priority afforded to an online presence, the Parliament hopes that there will be more debates and productive discussions among people regarding the country’s politics and lawmaking, and enrich public discourse on important issues—essential in a functional democracy. It was precisely with this in mind—“the expectation that it would help build a stronger public-parliament interface and promote civic engagement in parliamentary affairs”—that UNDP backed the initiative, according to Programme Analyst at UNDP, Kalpana Sarkar.

UNDP, through its Parliament Support Project, has been providing technical support to the Legislature-Parliament on various fronts, institutional reform being one of the key areas. Such assistance includes technical resources to operationalize the Parliament's Internal Broadcasting System, which has helped to disseminate news on parliamentary affairs to the media and archive over 5,000 hours of audio-visual data on Parliamentary deliberations in the last two years.

Sessions are live at www.parliament.gov.np or www.can.gov.np

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