Nepal in the Press
must for participatory democracy <Top>
By Our Correspondent
Manahari, Makawanpur, Feb. 11: Civic education can be
instrumental in strengthening relations between the state
and citizens, averred a host of speakers here the other
"The Nepalese state has alarmingly been rendered
weak with the rise of non-state actors. Active citizenship
and participatory democracy can consolidate the state
through the effective application of civic education,"
they told a two-day seminar 'Civic education for consolidation
of state-citizen relations' held on the premises of Manahari
It was organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal
High Level Administrative Reforms and Monitoring Commission
chair Kashi Raj Dahal said that civic education connected
the people with the state, and enlighten the people about
their rights and duties.
"However, the nation is at risk of being a laboratory
of statute making on the trot. The non-state actors have
brought the country to its knees," he said, adding
that rule of law, transparency, effective service delivery
and accountability were key to strengthening democracy
and people's participation in the democratic process.
FES Nepal Office Head, Dev Raj Dahal, said that civic
education could modernise the Nepali society, promote
constitutional behaviour of leaders and citizens and help
build their national perspective. "As one of the
oldest nations of the world, Nepal has cherished history
of civic enlightenment that needs to be revived to check
the current moral and political decay."
Chief District Officer of Makawanpur District Narayan
Sharma Dawadi said that he had floated a 30-point action
plan after assuming office in the district.
He said that every citizen should know about the citizen
charter put up in front of the government offices to facilitate
"I ask the local government agencies and party workers
to inform the ordinary beings about the charter. It is
up to the civil society members to monitor and inform
my office whether or not it has been effectively implemented,"
Programme coordinator Shiva Raj Dahal underlined the
need for imparting civic education to the youth so that
they would batten down the hatches to build the nation.
District Education Officer Birendrajung Thapa said that
teachers were the real torchbearer of civic education.
"It is necessary to transform the people into citizens
while education should generate social feelings and awareness
Police Inspector Chitra Ghale said that the police and
local people should team up to do away with crimes and
various aberrations taking place in the villages.
He also asked the civil society to inform the police about
the crimes occurring in their locality.
From the chair, Manahari Multiple Campus Management Committee
Ram Hari Subedi said that the seminar was highly fruitful
to enlighten the people about their duties towards the
VDC secretary Meen Raj Koirala said that the secretaries
had groaned under the strain of oodles of works in the
absence of elected representatives.
"The VDC is ready to conduct a public hearing in
every four months if the local political parties come
up with the idea and support it," he said.
A host of participants such as Nava Raj Subedi, Ram Prasad
Dhakal, Ek Raj Upreti, Ram Prasad Dhakal, Shiva Kumar
Karki and Raj Kumar Praja also expressed their views at
the function attended by the people from different walks
Source: The Rising Nepal (12 February 2017)
Between State And Citizens <Top>
Ritu Raj Subedi
Democracy is a bottom-up process. An active citizenship
makes it meaningful, dynamic and functional. It goes beyond
the people's one-day election activities. In it, the people
collectively participate in the crucial social, political
and economic actions which have direct bearing on their
daily life and society as a whole. They engage in the
reasoned deliberations on the solution to the problems
facing the community. They play their constructive role
in decision-making and allocation of budget to the development
projects. They raise the issues of corruption, malfeasance
of bureaucrats and politicians, and red tape in the government
offices. In this way, the participatory democracy works
and benefits the people. This also effectively overcomes
deficits of representative form of democracy that has
failed to live up to the promises of social justice, inclusion
and economic equality.
Nepal's new constitution has embraced the spirit of participatory
democracy. It demands active participation of the people
in the nation building projects though the oodles of rights
risks making the nation a demanding society. It has guaranteed
31 fundamental rights to the people such as freedom of
speech and association, right to food, work, social justice,
education, health and so on. It has stipulated that the
people should be loyal to the nation, abide by laws, provide
compulsory services needed by the state and protect public
property. Supernumerary rights and fewer duties of the
people call for the spread of self-awareness, constitutional
and civic enlightenment among the people so as to understand
the national charter correctly and neutralise the strident
sentiments and ambitions of some minorities.
An interface between the state organs and the citizens
is the key not only to balance the lopsided attributes
of national charter but also to implement and repose public
faith in it. Against this backdrop, this writer describes
an interactive programme wherein the public, experts,
judges and government officials discussed the problems
and expressed their commitment to helping each other in
sorting out them. It was organised by a German political
foundation, FES, at Manahari VDC of Makawanpur district
last week. The ancientness of the site, scholarly thoughts
of experts and enthusiasm of the locals generated a unique
ambiance. It was near the Manahari River where the ancient
sage Ashtavakra was born and raised. A child prodigy,
Ashtavakra had challenged Rishis at the palace of King
Janak and beat them in critical discourse on spiritual
knowledge and the nature of soul, human existence and
While the locals were taken aback by the fact that they
are living near the bank of Manahari where Ashtavakra
attained knowledge, the visiting experts invoked and connected
his teachings with the civic education, which according
to political scientist Dev Raj Dahal, "liberates
citizens from self-tutelage, promotes the value of participatory
democracy, fosters trust and volunteerism and opens the
possibility for cooperative action across the nation's
heterogeneous population of 125 castes and ethnic groups,
123 languages and more than 7 religions."
The imbizo, moderated by High Level Administrative Reforms
and Monitoring Commission chair Kashi Raj Dahal, offered
the right platform for the participants comprising social
workers, members of local cooperatives, political parties,
teachers and students to articulate their aspirations.
Dahal, who is also the chair of Administrative Court,
invited Chief District Officer (CDO), District Education
Officer, inspector of Area Police Post and DVC secretary
to listen to and address the problems of the people without
delay. It was a sort of public hearing that lasted for
two days. On the first day, a woman participant complained
that drivers were using the road to wash their vehicles,
causing damage to it and making it dirty. As soon as the
interaction concluded, inspector Chitra Ghale rushed to
the site to warn the drivers. The cops also seized pipes
from them. The locals were assured that the east-west
highway, which also links Terai with the capital, would
not fall into disrepair in their locality.
However, it is the underdevelopment of the VDC that worried
the locals greatly. It mirrors national malady that hits
the development projects. Insufficient allocation of budget,
lack of effective monitoring, corruption and negligence
of political parties marred the development activities.
One participant said that no project had completed more
than 25 per cent of works. This is a worrisome scenario
that demands urgent response from the government. Partly,
in the absence of elected representatives, the development
activities are taking place at a snail's pace.
The locals emphatically brought up negative impacts of
the stone crusher industries that are eating away at the
surrounding ecology and fragile Shiwalik hills. "The
crusher industries have turned the life topsy-turvy with
the government losing millions of rupees in tax,"
they said in unison. The crusher industries have extracted
the stones and sand from the local rivers and hills, posing
a serious health hazard to the locals. It is believed
that mafias are active to plunder the resources without
giving due share of profits to the locals and government.
Such industries have to be set up 5-km away from the villages
as per the given directives but this provision has been
openly flouted and the government is at its wit's end
as how to manage them.
Nepali state has been weakened to the extent that it
is faltering to implement laws and indigenous development
policies and programmes. Despite having rosy provisions
in the constitution, the Nepalese democracy has not deepened.
A handful of rent-seeking leaders have captured it, leaving
the masses high and dry. This has delinked the people
from the state. To stop the erosion of state and democratic
values, the people should wake up to the constitutional
rights and duties. It is only with the civic education
that the democratic deficit can be overcome and vibrant
relations between the state and citizens can be restored
as it converts the 'people into jagrit manushya (awakened
human), helps them acquire maturity and make critical
judgment, build national identity and close gender and
Source: The Rising Nepal (11 February 2017)
immune to impending global recession <Top>
By Ritu Raj Subedi
Kathmandu, Jan 26: A noted economist has said that the
national economy was in a shambles and not immune to the
impending global recession.
"The outcome of the six-decade-long planned economy
is pessimistic," said Professor Madan Kumar Dahal
while analysing the macroeconomic indicators of the country.
He shared his views at an interaction organised by the
FES, Nepal Office here.
"Our economy is highly costly. Agriculture is subsistence
in nature though its contribution to GDP is 33 per cent,"
he said. "And we are extremely dependent on India."
Economic growth stands at 0.77 per cent, down from 3.5
per cent in the aftermath of the earthquake and unofficial
blockade by India.
Over 65 per cent of the Nepalese are living below the
poverty line as per the reports of UNDP and Oxford University
released last year. There is a yawning gap between the
import and export ratio. The country annually exports
products worth Rs 70 billion but imports goods worth Rs
703 million. Development expenditures stood only at 53
per cent last year, and the current spending goes beyond
the revenue collected from different areas.
"The country should have revised its economic policies
in order to deal with the difficult situation that arose
from devastating earthquake, unofficial Indian blockade
and prolonged transition, but this did not happen,"
said Dahal, adding that low investment in infrastructure
development and widespread corruption have hit hard good
governance and economy as well.
On the soaring inflation, Professor Dahal said that the
country was not in a condition to curb it because Nepal
did not produce goods and it depended on imports for virtually
According to the World Atlas 2016, Nepal ranks 17th among
the world's 25 poorest nations.
"But, here is an economic quandary. Nepal has the
lowest economic growth, but here the banks and financial
institutions are in profit and distribute dividends among
its shareholders. This is an incongruous situation. This
demands a serious enquiry," he said.
He said the World Economic Forum had predicted that another
recession - bigger than the 2008 economic crisis - would
hit the globe again
"It also has sent an alarm bell ringing for the
Nepalese economy. If the bigger recession occurs, it will
put around 4 million Nepalese migrant workers out of job,"
Touching on federalism, he said that it should be guided
by the principle of economic development.
"The mountain, the hill and the Terai have close
and natural ties. If this interdependency is destroyed,
this will invite disaster."
The 14th three-year plan seeks to increase by 7.2 per
cent. The country has focused on high and sustainable
economic growth to ensure social justice.
He outlined the need for building a self-reliant economy,
ensuring security of life, fiscal discipline and infrastructure
development. "It is high time Nepal espoused an outward-
oriented national economy to usher in prosperity of the
Today is the age of globalisation, and we have to benefit
from it and we have to enhance the quality of human resources
going abroad, he said. "The tax structure should
also be revised and a congenial atmosphere for foreign
investment must be built," he added.
"We have to take planning and development works aggressively
with a view to carrying out a green revolution by framing
a 15-year agro plan," he said.
He suggested that Nepal's huge trade deficit with India
could be reduced only by selling electricity to the southern
Casting a critical tone towards the politicians, he said
that the Nepalese leadership had no sense of compunction
about the abysmal economy.
"Endowed with abundant natural resources, we are
an unfortunate people living between the worlds' fastest
economies. There is no hurdle for foreign investment.
What we need is a leadership with a vision and strong
will power," he said.
FES Nepal Office head Dev Raj Dahal said that Nepal had
a long history of resilience and it should be maintained.
"The youth are the future of nation. We have to
retain them at home, not to send abroad," he said,
adding that small identities should be transformed into
a national identity so as to build a strong and unified
Source: The Rising Nepal (27 Januar 2017)