My name is Punam Giri

I was born and brought up in perhaps the most famous Industrial city of Nepal, Biratnagar. Throughout my childhood I saw the steady decline of the city from being a vibrant industrial hub to becoming a town full of defunct “ghost industries” during the Maoist communist insurgency throughout much of my growing years. I studied management and like most youths of my time, dreamt of working at a bank, which I initially did. But I soon realized that there was more to me than just Banking.

Nepal was changing and suddenly the political discourse began to shift from class-struggle and revolutionary calls, to economic prosperity. And I was naturally drawn to a very new organization that called itself a think tank of the East, Bikalpa an Alternative. Soon, I came in contact with the vibrant classical liberal community of Nepal and sought to create a space for myself in this sphere. I first worked on a research paper on barrier to entry on electric rickshaw. This further helped me in understanding the policy making environment of my country. During the same time, I began working on advocacy campaign of Bikalpa by producing advocacy videos on various livelihood issues. Apart from that, I was also a council member of the United States Embassy Youth council through which I conducted Biratnagar’s first Mayoral Debate just before the 2017 local election. In 2015, film-making was a very niche market, and Bikalpa was able to make many sensitizing videos on various policy issues. Soon I shifted my focus on the visual media department of Bikalpa and over the years, we have made over 46 videos on various policy issues.

In 2018, one of our videos titled “Why is Nepal poor?” was among the three finalists at the Light Camera Liberty awards. That provided a world-wide platform to showcase my work and in 2019, Bikalpa was awarded The Asia Liberty Award for its visual media activities. As I began specializing on visual media, I also realized its true potential in creating public discourse. Therefore, in order to counter the growing populism and an ever growing and interfering government, we wanted to train general public the art of film making so that they could articulate the public policy issues through videos which would enable them to reach out to a larger audience. Hence, we designed “Liberty Filmmaking workshop”, which is a 10-day workshop on film making.

And I have been working and growing simultaneously with Bikalpa, championing the liberal cause in eastern Nepal. Many of my friends are currently working as bankers or in the service sector. But I have taken a very different part of social entrepreneurship, and working as the visual media officer in a think tank. And it has taken a lot of courage and sacrifice to do things differently in the society. And I continue in my pursuit of creating a freer future.



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