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FES Nepal in the Press 2010

Political commitment must for Democracy, say experts <Top>

By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Dec 28;

Academia, political analysts, legal and security experts Tuesday expressed their grave concern over the current political situation that have led the nation towards a 'failed state'. They questioned as to whether Nepal is passing through a transitional stage and becoming a weak state owing to the struggle for power. There are so many barriers that have impeded the process of making constitution and ensuring peace and security, they said.

Speaking a programme on "Critical Barriers in Creating Functional State in Nepal" organised by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) they pointed out that political parties were responsible for chaos and the current state of indecisiveness. The power gap creates development gap which triggers conflict in the society. To overcome such gap there is a need of reverse gear which helps expedite development capacity, said Dev Raj Dahal, head of the FES -Nepal.

To be functional, Nepali state has to remove the institutional gap between different components in the society. The state has to maintain autonomy from dominant interests groups of society, uphold sufficient capacity to mobilize tax and human resources, maximize the standards of human rights democracy and rule of law, he said. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by the Maoist rebel and the government has defined the normative, institutional and operational framework of peace to transcend the partial interests of the signing parties and include all those affected by the absence of peace, Dahal said.

Kashiraj Dahal, chairman of the Administrative Court Nepal noted that capacity building process should be given priority in order to make people feel about the political changes. Ensuring economic rights as fundamental rights has a far reaching impact, hence political parties should be very careful about the possible impact in the society, he said.
He also underlined the need for generating massive awareness among the general public for pressurizing political parties.

Ananda P. Shrestha, executive chairman of the NEFAS said that the faith of the people in the new leadership is fast eroding and in the process, even the political system itself has faltered considerably. It seems that the caretaker government is condemned to continue indefinitely. The entire political process set in motion to replace the caretaker government seems to have lost all sense of reality, legitimacy and credibility, he added.

Anand Aditya, political and social analyst spoke about the need for making political parties more responsible towards people.

Senior political analyst Prof. Prem Raman Tiwari, also spoke about the need for devising sustainable ways to overcome critical barriers in creating functional state in Nepal.

Khagendra Katuwal, an economist underlined the need for empowering people. Prof. Rudra Upadhayaya, Chairman, Central Department of Economics, TU, while commenting the paper of Katuwal said that economic rights of people should be given priority to make them feel as how democracy works for common people. Around 45 individuals from various institutions were taking part in the seminar.

Source: The Rising Nepal (29 December 2010)


Find common ground for social justice, parties told <Top>

Lalitpur, Dec 24 - Intellectuals and experts Friday called for adopting democratic socialistic approach in addressing contemporary political issues.

Speaking at an interaction on 'Debate on Contemporary Political Issues: Democratic Socialist Perspective,' they noted that a greater opportunity had come ahead of the country to push for socialist agenda in the ongoing political transformations that the nation is passing through."Since the three major parties, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist, are carrying socialistic philosophy, they should find a common ground to promote social justice and build an equitable society," they concurred.

The programme was jointly organised by Central for Consolidation of Democracy and Freidrich Ebert Stiftung, Nepal office. CCD chairman and vice-chairman of National Planning Commission Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel said that established values were being questioned worldwide Stating that confusion and tension prevailed in the nation, Dr. Pokharel noted that many nations had witnessed dramatic economic progress following the conflict but Nepal failed to seize such an opportunity. Nepal made stride in MDGs in the areas of health sectors but lagged behind in economic field, he said and added that there was the need to locate factors that stunted the economic growth in the post-conflict situation.
"There should be win-win situation for all. Therefore, we are focusing on consensus during the transition period," he said.Dev Raj Dahal, head of FES-Nepal, said that the definition of democratic socialism had changed with the change in time and context. "Where the social justice is strong, there the society becomes more inclusive," he added.

He said where there was massive poverty; democracy remained weak and where the middle class was not strong, there instability persisted.Karl Marx referred to the golden means between necessity and freedom while liberalists put emphasis on individualism in which costs were socialized but profits were individualised, added Dahal.

"In Nepal, there is the need to ensure inter-generational, social and gender justices but the nation is lacking the governance system to deliver them," he noted. Professor Dr. Lok Raj Baral said that democracy alone was not enough. "There must be social justice. However, governance system and order are more important for successfully executing the social and economic programmers," he added. Dr. Baral said that the political leaders should develop culture of consensus and work for social justice. CCD vice-chairman Dr. Yagya Adhikari said that the democratic socialism could be the common path of three major parties.

Stating that NC deviated from socialism under the whim of globalization and market economy, Dr. Adhikari said that if the leftist forces gave up their dogmatic views of the past, a golden opportunity had come before them to guide the nation towards democratic socialism.CCD director Sumit Sharma said that there was the need to define socialism through political, social and economic aspects. "With the 12-point agreement reached among the parliamentary parties and the Maoists, the existence of isms came to an end in Nepal," he claimed and stressed on consensus to bring about radical changes in the country. At the programme divided into three sessions, Maoist politburo member Devendra Poudel 'Sunil,' UML leader Dr. Bijay Kumar Poudel and Dr. Yagya Adhikari presented their working papers.Dr. Chaitanya Mishra, Dr. Narayan Narsingha Khatri and Dr. Upendra Koirala commented on their papers.

Source: The Rising Nepal (25 December 2010)


Self-sustained growth model stressed <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Dec. 19

Vice-Chancellor of the Tribhuvan University (TU) Prof. Dr. Madhav Prasad Sharma Sunday stressed on the need to initiate debates and discussion on public policy for state building.

Inaugurating the national seminar on ‘Initiating Debate on Public Policy for State Building’ organised by Centre for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA) in the capital, Prof. Sharma said that the debates and discussion programmes were essential at the policy level.

Lauding the role of academic institutions in generating public awareness, Prof. Dr. Soorya Lal Amatya, rector at the TU, reiterated that the academic institutions should take the lead for initiating debates on the public policy.

Presenting his working paper on ‘Foreign Labour Employment and Financial Crisis in Nepal: A Preliminary Assessment’ Prof. Dr. Bal Kumar KC called for improving the quality and reliability of statistics on international migration.

Saying that there was no official figure on the number of migrant workers who actually returned home from overseas with or without completing their contracts, he asked to give continuity for the migration questions in the upcoming census 2011.

Four different working papers from the experts were presented in the programme.

Senior economist Dr. Dilli Raj Khanal said that the country like Nepal needed to shift from the present neo-liberal model to more equitable self-sustained growth and development model.

He stressed on the agriculture development industrialisation in a more balanced way with a comprehensive agrarian reform.

Bharat Pokharel, executive director of CEDA, said that CEDA had initiated such debates on public policies.

"We had organised such programmes in the past too by inviting governors, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission and Advisors of the Ministry of Finance," he said.

He said that the conclusion of the discussions would be recommended to the government for making its policy.

Source: The Rising Nepal (20 december 2010)


Govt not implementing court orders: Chief Justice <Top>

Lalitpur, Dec. 17 - Chief Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha Friday said that the government was not serious about implementing the orders and decision of court, which he said, had hampered on forcing good governance in the country.

"It is the responsibility of the executive to implement the court’s directive order relating to the matter of public concern and legitimacy of laws but it is not aware about this fact," Chief Justice Shrestha said while addressing an interaction on ‘Good Governance and Justice’ jointly organised by the Office of Prime Minister and Administrative Court.

Shrestha also noted that the Apex Court had to spend most of its resources and time to settle the writs filed questioning the legitimacy of administrative decisions.

"I urge the top bureaucrats to make their decisions legal, tansparent and accountable," he added.

The Chief Justice said, "Until corruption is rooted out and zero corruption tolerance is created in the society, no efforts would be effective in regards to maintaining good governance and delivering justice no matter which political system the nation practices."

Chief Secretary Madhav Ghimire said that good governance and justice were complementary each other.

Ghimire said many of social, economic and political problems were the result of bad governance,

which arose when the laws, regulations and institutional norms were not followed.

The state has now become weakest in the history of Nepal which has thrown up more challenges to the bureaucracy to maintain good governance, he said.

"Both the political and administrative institutions, should be strong enough for the justice delivery in transition," he said adding that the role of state, market, civil society, media and NGO should be clearly defined to end chaos "But, sadly, they overlap and their roles have been messed up."

To maintain transparency, he said, the government should ensure people’s right to information.

Supreme Court Justice Kalyan Shrestha said that it was not enough to grant people with many rights, "What is more important is the building people’s capacity to exercise their right."

"Good governance can’t be maintained just by enacting beautiful laws. There is the need of building the capacity of law-enforcing agencies," he added.

Quoting the findings of World Bank, he said that when the capacity of law-enforcing agencies was enhanced, the GDP grew by 4.5 per cent.

There is tendency among the political parties to voice for the implementation of court decision when they are in opposition but they neglect judiciary while in power, he added.

Administrative Court chairman Kashi Raj Dahal said that the administration had challenge to maintain good governance and deliver justice despite being under pressure and political influence.

Dahal said that the function aimed at sharing the views of experts on good governance and justice during transition.

Administration expert Dr. Bhim Dev Bhatta and secretary at the office of Prime Minister Lila Mani Poudel presented their working papers at the interaction.

The programme was fifth round of dialogue the Administrative Court organised in collaboration with FES-Nepal.

Source: The Rising Nepal (18 December 2010)


South Asia’s Climate Concerns <Top>

Climatechange will bring security challenges in South Asia

By YOGESH GYAWALI

Climate change conferences have concluded that LDCs like Nepal and Bangladesh are most vulnerable in terms of adverse impacts. Experts believe that climate change, besides creating new problems, will add to ongoing problems of the LDCs and make them worse.

South Asia is home to the largest number of people living below the poverty line. Irregular monsoon patterns, prolonged droughts, floods, and melting of glaciers are some of the current environmental trends plaguing the region. Many parts of South Asia are also experiencing violent conflicts and some regions are in a turbulent post-conflict stages. Conflicts, natural disasters, poverty, and globalization are contributing to unsustainable urbanization of traditionally rural communities.

As there is a growing debate over this, about 82 distinguished guests comprising professors, law makers, journalists, members of the civil society and other intellectuals attended an interaction on Climate Change and Security in South Asia. The event was organized by Friedrich EbertStiftung Nepal (FES Nepal). Dr. Christian Wagner, Dev Raj Dahal, and Udo Weber made up the esteemed panel. FES country representative Dev Raj Dahal, stressed the need to move towards the path of sustainable development by using alternate sources of energy (solar, water, wind) instead of unabated use of fossil fuels.

Udo Weber of the German Embassy to Nepal elaborated on the embassy’s role in dealing with climate change issues in Nepal. He stressed that climate change was a cross cutting issue, whose effects would be hardest felt by the rural population.

Dr. Chistian Wagner, an expert on policy, security, and environmental issues of South Asian countries, highlighted effects of climate change, particularly on water resources and agriculture.

The gist of his paper was that South Asian region’s existing security problems would aggravate due to climate change. Resources, particularly water, would be put under tremendous stress. Agriculture sector would be hit hard triggering migration and unsustainable urbanization, which would lead to tensions between the migrants and the community they move into. Rampant flooding and rising sea water would create environmental refugees.

Source: New Spotlight (17 December 2010)


Climate Change <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Lalitpur, Dec 8: A German expert Wednesday said that climate change should not be seen in isolation and suggested a new cooperative regime to deal with its consequences.

“There already existed the environmental problems such as floods, rising temperature, melting of ice and deforestation. Climate change is the aggravation of environmental degradation. It is the new dimension of the problem,” Dr. Christian Wagner, Head of Research Division, German Institute and Security Affairs, said at a talk programme ‘Climate Change and Security in South Asia’ organized by FES-Nepal in Lalitpur.

Wagner noted that climate change had added economic and ecological burden. It has come in the form of migration, giving rise to conflict and violence.

He admitted that advanced nations had bigger responsibility to support the poor countries like Nepal to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The international community has shown interest to help Nepal to fight the climate change as seen in the melting of Himalayan glaciers. “Nepal needs the technology adaptation for the purpose.”

Offering a regional perspective, he said that climate change could sharpen tension and conflict in the South Asia if it was not deal with through good governance, poverty reduction and regional cooperation.

Devraj Dahal, Head of Nepal FES Office said that the effects of climate change transcended domestic and foreign policy boundaries of nation state.

Dahal said that environmental change had brought critical challenges to the conventionally defined state-centric security.

“Real politic approach to national security planning is insufficient. Our survival requires a judicious balance between the awareness of human freedom and natures’ level of tolerance to it,” he said and added that risk of mutual vulnerability to climate change required mutual security through collective action.

Finally, governance of climate change – both policy formulation and implementation –entails regional and international framework beefed up by the states, non-state and transnational actors and their mutual accountability, said Dahal.

Udo Weber from German Embassy said climate change had global impacts and required global and regional cooperation to deal with it. He shed light on the German development cooperation in Nepal.

Source: The Rising Nepal (9 December 2010)


Crisis of confidence behind deadlock, says Nemwang <Top>

Lalitpur, Sept 3 - Constituent Assembly chairman Subash Nemawang Friday said that the crisis of confidence among the parties led to the current political deadlock.

"The current crisis occurred as the parties failed to implement the commitments they made in course of inking different agreements in the past," CA chair said while addressing an interaction ‘Peace Process and Constitution Building’ jointly organized by Administrative Court and FES-Nepal to mark the establishment day of the court.

Nemwang said that the statute writing hit a snag as the issues that lie outside the CA entered into it.

He said that the issues of peace process such as the army integration and the formation of the government came in the way as the CA was to settle the inner contents of the new statute.

Stating that CA was the outcome of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), he noted that the problems arose as the parties to the CPA did not implement its provisions.

"There is no alternative to consensus and the parties should move ahead based on the three-point deal struck on the eve of the CA’s extension on May 28," he stressed.

He said that parties claimed that consensus would be struck within half an hour of the inking of the 3-point deal. "But, they could not do so till the date."

Although the statute writing processes have been slowed down, the parties had committed that the statute writing process would not be disrupted under any pretext in coming months, said the CA chair.

Acting chief justice Khila Raj Regmi said that the new statute should reflect the diverse aspirations of the people.

"Independent judiciary is important to ensure peace and, therefore, the constitution must guarantee the independence of judiciary," he said.

Former speaker Daman Nath Dhungana said that the bigger deadlock was yet to come.

"The ongoing impasse is not so serious one. We have to face the bigger one in the days to come," he said.

He said that the country had at least now the parliament and the CA that would one day give a new statute.

Dhungana criticized the parties for their apathy towards the government programme, policy and budget.

He also urged the CPN-UML to break its neutral position, which he said, had only encouraged those forces, who want to finish off the achievement of the Janaandolan II.

He called on the parties to choose the new PM by first agreeing on agenda.

Constitutional Committee chairman Nilambar Acharya said that political parties were the decisive players and they should demonstrated political will to resolve the existing impasse.

Acharya said that delay in the statute writing happened as the parties did not identify the basic principles and agenda of the constitution before starting the process to this end.

"We did not have much knowledge about how to restructure the state and this issue has now become thorny," he said.

Chairman of Administrative Court Kashi Raj Dahal said that parties were hesitating to own the CPA.

"The peace process can’t come to conclusion if the peace accord is not strictly implemented and transitional government is not run on the basis of mutual consensus," he said.

He called for transitional justice to heal the wound of conflict, strong mechanism to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement and socio-economic transformation to address the expectation of the people in the post-conflict society.

"The constitution and laws are frame based on the outline prepared by the political leadership," he added.

Nepal Rastra Bank Governor Dr. Yuv Rj Khatiwada, CA legal advisor Tek Prasad Dhungana and Kashi Raj Dahal presented their working papers in the second session of the programme.

Source: The Rising Nepal (4 September 2010)


Peace and Constitution are in peril <Top>

Hari Prasad Joshi, Dhangadi

In a programme organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal Office on Building Modern State through Constitutional Process in Dhangadi, constitutional expert and Chariman of the Administrative Court Kashi Raj Dahal said that peace and constitutional process is in peril primarily due to the numerical approached adopted by the political parties. Though political parties talk about agreement but none of the agreements reached so far has been implemented honestly by the political parties. Political parties have completely forgotten the spirit of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPAs) and agreements reached thereafter and influenced by the power politics to serve the individual interests. Every effort has to be made to institutionalise achievements of the people’s movement which will alone provide some sort of solution to the current crisis. He further underlined the need of working for the nation.

Senior Journalist Yuba Raj Ghimire emphasised on the need of consensus to move peace and constitutional process towards logical end. State needs t be economically sound and it has take initiative towards this end said Ghimire. There are major issues yet to be sorted out and it is the need of the hour to reach consensus on the contentious issues if we really wanted to complete constitution writing process within the given time frame. Former lawmaker Sunil Bhandari also said that constitution should be written on time.

Chief District Officer (CDO) Narayan Prasad Bidari , District Court judge Narayan Prasad Dhital, representative of INSEC Khadak Raj Joshi, Dirgha Raj Upadhaya of Nepal Journalist Federation, Aarati Chataut of Nepal Television and FES Programme Officer Chandra Dev Bhatta, member of political parties among others spoke in the programme.

Source: Nepali Dainik, Rastriya Sandarva Daily (24 July 2010)


Unity among political parties is necessary <Top>

Mahendranagar 5 Shravan

Participants, in a seminar organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal Office, on Building Modern State through Constitutional Process, have stressed for the unity among political leaders to move peace-process towards logical end establish promulgate constitution and establish sustainable peace thereby. Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal also stressed that unity is also needed to institutionalise achievements of the people’s movement. He further said that differences exist among political leaders on 18 different topics which need to be sorted out for the timely completion of the constitution writing process. He also underlined the need of changes in the bureaucracy in order to have a strong functional state. Speaking in the same programme senior journalist Yuba Raj Ghimire underlined the need of political commitment, honesty, good governance and transparency for building modern state.

Source: Far west Times, Nepali Daily (22 July 2010)


Power Centred Politics will not help to write constitution <Top>

Kantipur Reporter

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that due to the over engagement of political leaders in power politics, the constitution would not come in time despite irrespective number of times we extend tenure of CA for this purpose.

He was speaking in a programme organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Manglung of Tehrathum on “building modern state through constitutional process’ Dahal further pointed out that the issue of constitution drafting has been sidelined due to the desire of power. There are so many contentious issues where agreement is yet to be reached among political parties and if they do not strike consensus on these contentious issues the process of constitution writing, which is the main law of the land, will get further sidelined.

Analyst Chandra Dev Bhatta, speaking in the same programme, said that in Nepal politics has only made political leaders rich but people at large and state have not risen up from the poverty line.

Source: Kantipur daily (07 July 2010)


Request to Move Along Democratic Line <Top>

Nishandaju Bhattarai

Dang July 5

Martyr Memorial Foundation (MMF) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung organized a two-day seminar in Ghorahi, Dang on 'Nepal's Democratic Choice: Liberal or Social?" The inauguration program was chaired by the general-secretary of MMF Khila Nath Dahal while the chief guest of the program was noted socialist thinker Dhundi Raj Shastri. Shastri said, "Political parties have to move along social democratic line to achieve the goals of peace and constitution drafting." He also said, "Nepalese martyrs have already trodden the path for the people and the nation along this path." Speaking on the occasion Head of Nepal Office of FES outlined several points: First, a way forward transformation in Nepal requires Nepalese leadership to break from its cycle of extra-constitutional change in roughly every 10 years of span, leadership should open their mind to social learning, institutionalize the shift of society from natural will to rational will, push for systemic measures for constitution-drafting, reforms and peace process and manage the geopolitical balance of the nation.

Many participants who spoke on the occasion were former president of teachers' union Kehav Bhattarai, President of Nepali Congress of Dang, Bir Keshari Gautam, Co-Chairman Bir Prasad Oli, President of NC from Salyan district Dhruba Puri, Nepal Trade Union Congress President Bam Bahadur DC, Youth leader Sushil Acharya, Chief District Officer Rishi Ram Dhakal, representative of Unified CPN (Maoist) Tara Adhikari, Chairman of CPN-UML of Dang Laxman Acharya, Secretary of CPN-ML Netra P. Panday, etc said that all the stakeholders of society should move along common path to achieve national goals.

Former President of Tribhuvan University Pradip Sharma, President of Dang Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chandra Raj Pant, Student leader Sunita Pokhrel, President of Women's organization Sunita Chaudhari, President of Dalit Organization Ghanashayam Sepaili, Sabitra Rana of Indigenous and Ethnic group, All Nepal National Student Union (Revolutionary) Pitambar Acharya and other expressed concern about the lack of institutionalization of democratic process. Khila Nath Dahal said that only social democracy can become meeting ground of all political parties. Four paper Presenters highlighted the importance of social democracy in Nepal's context for durable peace and stability-Dev Raj Dahal, Lawyer Ek Raj Pokhrel, Keshav Bhattarai. The papers were followed by intensive discussion.

Source: Goraksha National Daily (6 July 2010)


New deal should forge 'win-win' for all: Sushil <Top>

Lalitpur, June 19 - Nepali Congress (NC) acting president Sushil Koirala Saturday said that his party wanted to forge a consensus that would be a win-win situation for both the ruling coalition and the opposition Maoists.

"As a coalition partner, we guarantee the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal but the Maoists must implement the three-point agreement struck among the major parties to extend the Constituent Assembly's tenure on May 28," Koirala said while addressing a seminar 'Social Movement and Inclusive Democracy' jointly organised by Centre for Consolidation of Democracy (CCD) and Friedrich-Ebert- Stiftung (FES) here.

"In the last 4 years, we made several agreements with the Maoists but they never implemented them. We are not making any demand from them but just the implementation of the past agreements by them," he added.

Koirala said that some time ago European Union's envoys advised the NC, in its capacity of the largest democratic party, should shoulder the responsibility for finding consensus. "But I told them that his party has nothing to give to the Maoists. I asked them 'Do you want to give democracy in a silver package to the Maoist?"

He said that his party was not a hurdle to the peace and statute writing process. He accused the Maoists of retaining militia so as to capture the next elections.

Koirala, who is founding chairman of CCD and currently its patron, said that the extremist forces rose as ideology weakened.
He said that his party should follow the path of social democracy. The NC's guiding principle democratic socialism since its Birgunj convention in 2012 BS but the party followed neo-liberal agenda after it reached power following the democratic change in 2046 BS.

National Planning Commission (NPC) vice-chairman and CCD chairman Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokharel said that the need of the hour was to expand the boundary to tie up the social movement, inclusion and citizenship. "We should do so without disturbing the basic value system of the society."

He noted that Nepal's commitment to international conventions and laws impelled it adopt social democracy.

Dev Raj Dahal, FES head of Nepal office said that genuine social movements fostered the concept of inclusive citizenship educating them about rights and responsibilities and mobilisng them for the attainment of collective interests.

"Citizenship is the product of modernity and tries to liberate the citizens from pre-political (biological orientation), non-political (bureaucratization) and anti-political identities (commoditization) and franchises them to understand about the rules of their life in common and encourages their voluntary participation in the public sphere."

CCD vice-chairman Dr. Yagya Prasad Adhikari, general secretary Laxmi Rai, executive direction Sumit Sharma Sameer and lawmaker Shovakar Parajuli also expressed their views.

In the one-day seminar, three working papers - 'Understanding the Social Moveemnt in Nepal - A General Perspective' by Mohan Das Manandhar' Social Movement and Identity Politics in Nepal' by Mrigendra Bahadur Karki and 'Democracy and Citizenship Building in
Nepal' by Yubraj Ghimire were presented.

Meanwhile, acting president Koirala blamed the Maoists for the present unstable political situation in the nation. "Anarchist activities being carried out by the Maoists are the reasons behind the current state of lawlessness."

Talking to media persons at Alka Hospital in Jawalakhel where he went to see an injured NC party worker, Prabin Shyangtang, who was reportedly attacked by YCL cadres on Friday in Lalitpur, he said that the Maoists had tried to establish their dictatorship in the nation.

He said, "If the Maoists do not change their behaviours, they will face the fate of monarchy, the panchayat and Rana rulers."
Koirala said that there was vast gap between the Maoist words and action, which put their credibility at stake.
"The NC is not ready to compromise on the issues of democracy and freedom," he added.

Source: The Rising Nepal (20 June 2010)


Constitution should be drafted as per the popular will <Top>

Arjundhara, Bhadrapur, Ashar 3

Constitutional stability can only be achieved when constitution is written as per the people’s will said speakers in a programme organised in Bhadrapur, Jhapa by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung on Statebuilding and Constitutional Dynamics in Nepal. Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that the upcoming constitution should address the issues of the people living in the rural areas and emphasis should be given on education, science and technology, economic development so that people at large feel ownership towards constitution.

Chief District Officer (CDO) of Jhapa, Yadav Prasad Koirala said that the upcoming constitution should address problems (feelings) of civil servant as well as common people. Senior Journalist Yubaraj Ghimire presented a paper on state building challenges and challenges related with federalism.

Chief District Judge of Jhapa Gyanendra Bahadur Karki chaired the programme and people from different walks of life such as lawyers, teachers, lecturers, politicians, civil servants, civil society members, journalists and others actively participated in the programme.

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal presented explained about the different models of constitution and emphasised that we need to develop the model that serves our interest most. Chandra Dev Bhatta from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung led the programme.

Source: Arjundhara National Daily (18 June 2010)


Elite Sway in Nepalese Press <Top>

- By C. D. Bhatta

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung - the German political foundation recently organised trainings for the journalists in different parts of the country (Baitadi, Chitwan, Hetauda and Kathmandu). The focus of the training was on civic education, to persuade journalists to include citizens’ dimension into the news/reporting in order to enhance their contribution in citizenship building. In fact, every incident/event has its own unique connection with society which needs to be looked into carefully through conflict sensitive manner. In a democracy “citizens” need to be placed in the centre of political discourse and all the activities should be citizen centric. When media defend citizens’ interests (rather than just becoming eventorial) it can reinvigorate legitimacy, which stems from the sovereign citizen, thereby contributing in changing the society through rational communication and public culture. Civic education brings state closer to society and society into the state which ultimately consolidates people’s ownership towards the state and system. And media could become major actors in this process primarily because modern society is media mediated society and more and more people tend to communicate/listen/believe media than any other source of information.

In a country like Nepal where the benefits of democracy are monopolised by few influential elites, the need of civic education is essential to initiate de-monopolisation process so that people at large can become part of the system. Having said this, media can become part and parcel of this whole process. However, it is also important to ascertain where do media stand and how they are composed of? Whether journalists are co-opted by the corporate interests, political power or are free in reporting. These are some of the important issues that need to be answered before we delve into any concrete conclusion on their roles in democracy promotion. Based on the discussions, interviews, observations carried out with the working journalists in different parts of the country, including Kathmandu, this article tries to present empirical evidences on the nature of media in Nepal. That said, this will elucidate as who controls public sphere of which media is the important component.

When we talk about the current state of media, no doubt, one can conclude that Nepal has vibrant media. But what does that “vibrancy” means – well, there are more than 50,000 people directly or indirectly working in this sector. There are dozens of daily newspapers, more than a dozen TV channels; hundreds of weeklies, quarterly and monthly newspaper/magazines available in the market. However, all is not well with this vibrancy. The commonly held view that we have collected from the journalists working in the periphery is that 80 percent media space is given to the political leaders/parties, advertisements, entertainment, business community whereas only 20 percent space is provided for the genuine issues/concerns of the citizens. In the same vein, 80 percent space is reserved for urban centres whereas its only 20 percent that is reserved for the rural areas. The fact is that only 20 percent people live in the urban centres and rest in the rural areas. To our dismay, they are of the view, that media has always defended the interests of those who are in the power or close to the power centres and live in the urban areas.

In addition to this, there is a great deal of tendency to give space repeatedly in media to handful of self-declared intellectuals in a syndicated manner not confirming the life-world. This undermines role of the “others” in society and generates questions as who really are true stake-holders of this state – only the urban elites or those who live in the rural areas as well. Why we are merely treating people as “consumer” but not as citizen and develop liberal political culture of media. What is certain is that space for both independent media is getting squeezed as well as the voice of voiceless is not getting space in the urban centred media. This fact reveals that public sphere has not become sufficiently public to increase people’s right to information primarily because there is neither sense of “public media” nor public “responsiveness”. This leads us to argue that who really controls “media”, who sets the agendas and for what purposes.

The space that produces critical opinions and will formation required for the change is vibrant public sphere where access is decided by citizens not by educated classes and geographical proximity per se. But the very sphere is controlled by elites and urban intellectuals who mobilises media/opinions in their favour. Elites can manufacture consent and promote their own cultural hegemony by depriving the rural voice (through suppression, compression and thought controlling). During the training session, majority journalists have argued that illiberal media in Nepal has become an instrument of exploitation and subjugation of the common people and block the change. By contrast, they are found to have been generating false consciousness/reports merely to protect the regime of their interest. Citizens at large and rural journalists have become victims of this trend in the past. This could be the reason, among others, why people have not felt positive change despite intermittent regime changes over the years.

These all are happening because urban media has completely lost social dimensions while reporting or conducting opinion polls/survey. Moreover, media in the centre are tied by advertisements, donors agendas as they have multiple stake-holding and often use media to sale their own products. They commodify and projectise news to fulfill their own agendas and promote globally mobile elites(GMEs) who doesn’t have inbound stake, argued majority of the participants. Some of the influential media houses are found to have been taking financial aid from the donors thereby disabling them to float opinions that could, otherwise, have provided alternatives to address societal problems. It has become compulsive hearing, reading and listening – some sort of burden on the part of the attentive people of the periphery.

Likewise, the tendency of the centre to treat peripheral media as “local” is the product of feudalistic mindset while the news they produce has national importance with global reach. When asked to the participants as who controls media, the obvious answer, that we received was that most of the private media houses across the country are influenced, if not controlled, by the corporate interests. Today more and more people are opening media houses primarily due to some prerogatives available to it. But these prerogatives have been misused. The biggest misnomer, with regard to prerogatives, stems from the liberal media theory which calls it “fourth estate” and media personnel are taking undue advantage of this notion. By being the part of the state, they think that they could enjoy certain immunities whereas the only immunity available, theoretically, is immunity in collecting information for the benefit of society. Moreover, Nepali media personnel are engaged more in political “activism” and less in real journalism. Most of the time, journalists are raising their own issues related to freedom and professional development thereby completely undermining freedom for the citizens. Due to this practice, journalism in Nepal has not become “citizen’s journalism”.

Finally, if democracy is all about empowerment of the poor then media could be main agent of change. But the challenge is how we persuade media to listen to the voice of downtrodden and poor people whilst they have established multiple links both with capitalism and political power. This is where the role of “civic education” becomes important which enables people to think about society. The role of media is not only to communicate but translate that communication into action what Habermas calls connection of system with life-world and moralisation of both. Only then rights can be balanced with duties. In the context of Nepal, what is needed is democratisation of media elites who only respond hierarchy of the power which is central component in socialisation of people into citizen. This will help to build people’s confidence in “media”. We also have to provide enough resources to the journalists working in the periphery. We have to bear in mind that media is not only for the “intellectuals”, it is “public” property not the “private”. If we treat media as “private sphere” people will lose confidence on it.

Source: The Rising Nepal, Friday Supplement (11 June 2010)


People will lose confidence if the Constitution could not be promulgated in the extended time <Top>

Hotline Reporter

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that although the extension of Assembly is not constitutional, however, extension has been done merely to end the people dead-lock and everybody should understand the situation.

Speaking in a programme organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office, Dahal further said that even if the political parties failed to draft the constitution in the extended time frame people will lose faith on them. State that fails to maintain governance will virtually become a failed state. He further said that there is a great deal of dilemma wherein “people have to obey the laws made by others whereas those who make the laws don’t obey themselves”.

Political analysts Dev Raj Dahal and Chandra Dev Bhatta presented papers on state and governance and civil society and its role in state-building in Nepal respectively. Leaders of the political parties, intellectuals, professors, members of civil society, journalists and other stake-holders of the society commented on the papers presented.

Source: Pokhara Hotline National Daily (6 June 2010)


No one should stay above the constitution <Top>

Pokhara

Speaking in the programme organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office, In Pokhara on Constitutional State and Governance, many intellectuals, leaders of political parties, journalists and member s of civil society have emphasised that no one should stay above the constitution.

They further said that the need of the hour is to write a constitution in time and maintain peace and no one should deviate from this, especially political parties. Political parties should rise above the partisan interests to maintain rule of law in the country, pointed out the participants.

Speaking in the programme constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal has said that people will lose fail on political parties if they failed to draft the constitution even the extended time-frame. Due to lack of farsightedness, honesty and efficiency political parties could not draft the constitution in time, said Dahal.

In a programme organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office, in Pokhara, constitutional expert Dahal has blamed that constitution could be written during two years time primarily because political parties were not being responsible towards state and people. Therefore compromise and consensus among political parties is necessary if they really want to draft the new constitution in time and for that people also have to do the work of watch-dog.

In a programme organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office, in Pokhara, constitutional expert Dahal has blamed that constitution could be written during two years time primarily because political parties were not being responsible towards state and people. Therefore compromise and consensus among political parties is necessary if they really want to draft the new constitution in time and for that people also have to do the work of watch-dog.

Speaking in the programme Professor and Head of FES Nepal Dev Raj Dahal said that governance could not be maintained if the state fails to address the issues related to national security, rule of law, people’s participation, service delivery and alike. Prof. Dahal further said that political parties, who are the main agent of change, should work together for the benefit of state and society. Failing to do so will give space to other non-state entities.

Western Region’s Regional Administrator Arjun Bahadur Bhandari chaired the session and many speakers including Soviet Bahadur Adhikari of Nepali Congress, Punya Poudyal of UML, Chandra Dev Bhatta of FES, Senior Journalist Madhav Sharma, Dev Raj Chalise, Girdhari Dahal, Gehendrashwor Koirala, Padma Sharan Regmi, Bishwa Kalyan Parajuli, Yadav Gaudel, Lekhnath Bhattarai, Prem Sharma, among others, spoke in the programme.

In the programme Constitutional Expert Kashi Raj Dahal presented a paper on State, Constittuion and political parties, Dev Raj Dahal presented a paper on Nepali State and Challenges of Governance, and Chandra Dev Bhatta presented a paper on the role of civil society in State-building in Nepal.

Source: Adarsha Samaj National Daily (6 June 2010)


Constitution could not be drafted due to the difference among political parties <Top>

Pokhara

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal has said that if the political parties fail to promulgate new constitution in the extended time, people will completely loose their faith on political parties. Due to lack of farsightedness, honesty and efficiency political parties could not draft the constitution in time, said Dahal.

In a programme organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office, in Pokhara, constitutional expert Dahal has blamed that constitution could be written during two years time primarily because political parties were not being responsible towards state and people. Therefore compromise and consensus among political parties is necessary if they really want to draft the new constitution in time and for that people also have to do the work of watch-dog.

Speaking in the programme Professor and Head of FES Nepal Dev Raj Dahal said that governance could not be maintained if the state fails to address the issues related to national security, rule of law, people’s participation, service delivery and alike. Prof. Dahal further said that political parties, who are the main agent of change, should work together for the benefit of state and society. Failing to do so will give space to other non-state entities.

Western Region’s Regional Administrator Arjun Bahadur Bhandari chaired the session and many speakers including Chandra Dev Bhatta of FES Nepal, Girdhari Dahal of Prithivi Naryan Campus spoke in the programme on the need of rule of law in the country.

Source: Samadhan National Daily (6 June 2010)


New approach to governance <Top>

A treatise on how the idea of governance has changed in the modern world

CD Bhatta

MAY 21 -
There has been a plethora of writing on “governance” over the years. Hailed as the main mantra to speed up development, strengthen democracy and empower people, at some point, it appeared that the concept itself was simply rediscovered by donors whose major clients were countries of the South. The discussion on governance stole more limelight when majority of the newly-democratised states suffered the brunt of “intra-state conflicts” that ultimately led to the erosion of the traditional power of the state as polices adopted in the name of governance often failed to produce an accountable public authority.

It failed to bring polity nearer to the people and as a result, majority of the states fell apart, owing, apparently, to bad governance. But to our dismay, scholars and policymakers failed to identify what exactly is good or bad governance. In contrast, they provided ritualistic theoretical advice. They tried to replicate the same set of policies for all states. They thought what was good for the West would be good for the rest and what was good in theory would be good in practice as well.

This generates some fundamental questions about governance. The concept of governance itself is not new. In fact, it is as old as human civilisation. In fact we can find discussion about “governance”, in one form or the other, in all major religious literature. For example, it has been discussed broadly in Bhagavad Geeta; the Islamic Sharia provides comprehensive governance rules; and Christianity gives prime importance to the teachings of Christ’s management style. Governance has also been broadly discussed in Kautilaya’s Arthasashtra and cited by Plato. Likewise, Adam Smith argues that political state had to build institutions that can ensure justice, security and political and civic culture that value ethical standards. By and large, the idea of governance is to create democratic and just society based on the interest and priorities of the people. Mick Moore, Professor of Governance at IDS, Sussex, defines governance process through which states acquire and uses its power. For him, better governance comes from strengthening the responsiveness of states to the needs of their citizens, their accountability to citizens through rules-based mechanism, and through which they can be rewarded or sanctioned; and state capability — both political capability to determine needs and manage competing interests, and bureaucratic capability to design and implement policy, and enforce authority.

If governance, theoretically, is all about empowerment of people through responsive states why has it failed to deliver in the global South? Perhaps the time has come to reflect on where and how we failed. IDS tries to provide some answers through its recent publication An Upside Down View of Governance. The book is the product of five-year long research carried out by the Centre for the Future State at the different parts of the world (from Sao Paulo to New Delhi).

The book asks policymakers to think out of the box, discard their mental models of development, and look at what is actually happening in societies. It also suggests that the time has come for the donors to change. They should stop recycling policies and people as it does not bring change in society. The book offers new ‘drawing skills’ and explores how elements of public authority are being created through complex processes of bargaining between state and societal actors, and the interaction of formal and informal institutions.

The central argument of the book is that instead of prioritising reform of formal institutions, one should look at the structures, relationships, interests and incentives that underpin them. It suggests that informal and traditional institutions and personalised relationships not be seen as governance problem but as a part of solution. It argues that traditional Weberian ideas of the state capacity look out of date. Having said this, the process of state-building alone is not enough to address our problem brought about by the post-state challenges. The authors argue that instead of ‘state building’ and ‘state capacity’ we ought to be thinking about ‘public authority’. For them, ‘state building’ tends to evoke the historical experience of Western countries, notably France and Germany, in the 18th and 19th centuries and thus may not be suitable in other contexts. The authors recommend a shift in focus on creating ‘public authority’ — formal and informal institutions — that can undertake core governance functions. It goes on to argue that states are not the only sources of public authority. Governments today have to negotiate with a much greater diversity of actors, including an expanded private sector with transitional links. Also, in most poor countries the boundaries between ‘state’ and ‘society’ is unclear and the task of organising collective action to create public goods may be shared between state and non-state actors. Taken together, it underlines the need to create accountable and transparent public authority by taking all actors into the manifold.

The book further argues that merely strengthening civil society, as done in the past, will not benefit poor people primarily because civil societies are found to have been strengthened merely to serve the interests of certain networks of actors and power centres. And in many cases elites and, to some extent, donors are also promoting their own civil society merely to siphon off funds. What would be more important, against this backdrop, is to strike a balance between formal and informal institutions for the purpose of collective action.

Its not only weak institutions and high level of corruption, the book points out, that leads to creation of fragile states. Equally responsible are lack of elite incentives to create effective public authority and to accept change. The book argues that weak governance and ongoing conflict has provided more opportunities and benefits to the elites. Perhaps, this could be the reason, among others, why elites do not push for the timely resolution of the conflict in Nepal as well.

The book certainly could be a handy tool for both policymakers and scholars with its many new perspectives on governance. However, some of its arguments are problematic. For example, it does not prioritise the agenda of state building, instead devoting most of its focus on creating public authority. But the fact is that in a fragile state like Nepal public authority cannot be created in the absence of a functional state. Neither can public authority can be drawn through private sector nor through informal approaches. This will only generate broader security deficit for the citizens, albeit elites can protect themselves by hiring private security forces who will not feel the need to organise for the cause of security of citizenry at large. This certainly is the reason why Nepali citizens have failed to realise the change in real sense of term despite a number of successful regime changes over the years.

The author is affiliated with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (22 May 2010)


Defending and Explaining Freedom of Expression: A Comparison of Norway and Nepal <Top>

Tone Bleie, Director Centre for Peace Studies, University of Tromsø, Norway
Dev Raj Dahal, Head, FES Nepa

Introduction
Democracy and freedom of expression are considered inseparable. There is no democracy where the freedom of expression is not guaranteed. In an established democracy like Norway the enshrinement of this freedom is unquestioned, yet there are debates on how to ground the justification for the freedom of expression and what the ultimate limits are. An increasingly multicultural Norway harbours religious minorities, some of which uphold cultural rights for getting respect for religious sentiments and therefore setting new limits to press freedom - unleashing unusually engaged debates about how to fight for the freedom of expression. Through the escalation of ethnic politics in Nepal, new fault lines between group rights and individual human rights have developed. A weakened role of the Norwegian parliament and a weakly functioning Constituent Assembly (CA) in Nepal represent a second reason why experience sharing between Norwegians and Nepalese is interesting.

In a democratising country such as Nepal this freedom was enshrined since the 1990-constitution, but there is yet no consensus among the political parties on what freedom of expression really means in principle and in practice. And what may be even more important, political expressions in Nepal exhibit very contradictory ideas of the relationships between "what one says and does," which show a shared theatrical political culture steeped in authoritarian values, whose roots and resilience today needs to be self- critically debated. This shared culture, as we will show, risks violating universal principles of the freedom of expression, and compels us to ask the question if Nepal's traditional political culture is derailing the country's quest for freedom, justice and peace. If answer to this question is yes; how to transform this culture in order to nurture an alternative culture, beneficial to intra and inter-party consensus building, which is also a prerequisite for completing the constitutional process and strengthening the ailing CA?

Brief highlights of debates in Norway
The three universal pillars of the freedom of expression (that originated in the West but is no longer so); the principle of truth seeking, the autonomy principle or each person's freedom of opinion and finally the principle of democracy are the basis for the new paragraph 100 of the Norwegian Constitution. This new paragraph is formulated in a way that ensures freedom of expression as a negative freedom and juridical right. The need for a thorough debate and constitutional revisions is, as noted, related to emergence of a more multicultural society, not the least as it comes to religious and ethic minorities. This was the background for the establishment in the late 1990s of a Commission on the Freedom of Expression, whose report to the parliament was the basis for the revision of paragraph 100 a few years later.

Recent debates on freedom of expression were triggered by the violent mass condemnations in distant Muslim countries in the wake of the so-called Mohammed caricatures published firstly in a Danish newspaper. Very recently a major Norwegian daily newspaper published an article with a drawing of a pig with the name Muhammad written over. This drawing, meant to illustrate the article's content, is triggering different views in the Norwegian public. Interestingly, the divide is not only between a Muslim minority and a secular majority, but also between different Muslim organizations and milieus, some upholding that publishing the drawing was wrong and grossly insulting while others are strongly supportive of the freedom of expression. So far the meetings and demonstrations have been thankfully non-violent. The increasingly use of dialogues (at the expense of street politics - which has a tendency to trigger group-instincts leading to violence) has lead to reduced antagonism and to a new recognition of common interests around individual rights, at the expense of an exclusive focus on ethnic and religious group rights.

In Norway, there is also a more general debate on how to define the individual who has this inalienable right. Even in the Norwegian society there are individuals whose ability to act as moral agents in the public sphere might be seriously circumscribed due to sickness, disability, age, or oppression. Another matter of concern is the inabilities of future generations, our unborn grandchildren - to partake in current days' decisions that will have a very significant bearing on them. So is the distinction between the so called discursive freedom (for example in academic institutions) and the freedom of expression. Is this distinction a clear-cut one between reasoned arguments and acting on it deliberately or in affect? Or is there a more graded fluid transition between discourse and action? This is also illustrated by the last week's controversy, sparked by the already mentioned illustration of the Prophet Muhammad. In another recent controversial case a sacked professor from University of Oslo lost his court case against his earlier employer. The conflict stemmed from this professor's harsh oral and written critique of his superiors' in the media and in some internal emails. The court has put much emphasis on the term duty of loyalty. But is a university professor to be loyal to his employers or towards his discipline and academic quest? Quite many like to see that this case is taken before the High Court, since it touches very fundamentally on the freedom of expression in the universities.

Another recent debate in Norway is about certain recent worrisome tendencies in public opinion making. Before the main synergic action for a free and informed public opinion have been the movements of labour, political parties and civil society organizations. Now a new actor is intervening, the so called think tanks. Funded both by the private sector and by the labour movement, these think tanks have emerged in recent years. They are highly visible and well resourced. They publish books and arrange seminars and courses in posh hotels. Political analysis and politicians are asking, if not the Norwegian parliament, that the political parties' roles as the main ideological centres for free and informed debate are eroding.

Such think tanks are a legacy from the U.S., dating back to the establishment of the Heritage Foundation in the early 1970s. The influence of neo-liberal institutions like the Heritage Foundation and the UK-based Adam Smith Institute has been and still is enormous. Privatisation and New Public Management are i byists and other opinion makers. The Congress Representatives have to take positions on many kinds of issues, not sorting under the committees they are in. In Norway, the political parties have their own schools and other capacity building resources. So the influences of think tanks are definitely much less, in Norway than in the US - but that does not mean they are un-influential in today's Norway.

Brief Highlights of Debates in Nepal
Unlike in Norway, any firm relationship between the parliament, labour unions and the rest of the civil society and the political parties - has yet to be meticulously built up in Nepal. A number of domestic, geopolitical and international conditions intervene into the process of building the very foundations for freedom of expression. It is not ideologically-based domestic think tanks that hamper the efforts of making this axis the very centre for informed debates, based on the freedom of expression. It is the unduly heavy presence of international aid agencies, with "an army" of well-paid expertise, based on own staff, consultants and "inorganic intellectuals" to quote the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci. While the think tanks in the US and Norway are organs for converting money power (in the US mainly from private sector) into ideological power, the aid agencies are converting money power from development assistance and loans into public policies, programmes and reports that to varying degrees have ideological strings attached. Parliamentarians, party cadres and the aid-dependent sectors of civil society are busy reading these agencies books and reports, and attending their seminars and trainings both in Nepal and elsewhere and brining concepts invented to resolve the problems of entirely different context.

As the current Constituent Assembly (CA) is historic in terms of first-time elected politicians one should expect that their parties responded rapidly by building their own capacity and that the parliamentary committees and other organs had resources to seek highly qualified and independent advice and allow meanings and values of modern constitutionalism suitable to rationalize the public and private life of Nepalese. Representation of voices of social diversity in the constitutional debate is a must for being able to cope with the difficult and massive societal problems of Nepal. It is entirely wrong to silence the voices of ordinary people through the use of internal and external experts, who are historically and socially alien to the genuine experiences people have learned by their own often bitter realizations. The very dependency on financial assistance through international aid and loans also wing-breaks the CA's ability to have free and informed debates where informed choices are made between alternative priorities, based on the parliamentarians' satisfactory knowledge of the outcomes for different groups of citizens and for the country as a whole. In addition, geopolitics distorts open informed deliberations through both heavy handed and soft-power front and back-stage diplomacy.

Nepalese traditionalist political culture has unsurprisingly survived the transition from authoritarian to democratic government, since many of the current top politicians were groomed in the geriatric, authoritarian high-caste, masculine political cultures, where the distinction between what you say and what you actually think and act upon is fuzzy. Ordinary citizens are to some degree well aware of this culture of theatrical deception and posturing, and will not easily be convinced about front-stage promise and declarations. But this culture is nevertheless crippling both public debates and decision making, and there is no genuine inter-party discussion and deliberations in the parliament that lead to committing decisions that are implemented. In the recent public row between the Maoist stalwarts, people instantly got suspicious and asked if this is a "manufactured dissent." This disengagement is crippling, as quite some of the ideological debates in the Maoist leadership as well as in other parliamentary parties are important not only to notice, but also to engage with - in a critical and informed way.

Instead of open, informed debates, that can be observed and understood by Nepal's very young and partly inexperienced citizens, most important deliberations are either behind closed-doors and personalized or poured in street politics in the forms of demonstrations and general strikes. While the first are conducted in a manner uncomfortably alike the politics of the autocratic era, the second is a radical departure, since public dissent was not allowed in Nepal before the Jana Andolon of 1990 except a decade-long of hiatus in the 1950s. Therefore, the massive influx of social movements and political movements of conscious citizens into the public mpacting both Nepal and Norway. The American political system has many access points for experts, lob

domain is a positive marker of a new aspiring era. It is positive as it is democratizing the political parties, public institutions and even the state. But the use of street politics in Nepal has reached excessive proportions and has unfortunately become an impediment to establish well-functioning corporate channels for negotiations with the political system. Nepal's political system must open new constitutional and institutional channels of political participation of the diverse public, so that those deprived do not make "streets their main arena for legislation and action."

Conclusion
What can be learned from these experiences? The freedom of expression is essential for the people of Norway and Nepal in their similar quest to establish themselves as autonomous civic persons, capable of judgement and decisions about their life and liberty. In Norway there is a concern about the weakened axis between the parliament, the political parties and the labour movement, while in Nepal this axis needs to be firmly established. In both countries the superiority of experts are eroding the democratic axis, in Norway the think tanks are one such new brand of experts, in Nepal there is an army of development and conflict experts.

In Nepal, theatrical politicians deafen and discourage the voices of citizens and hinder proper collective reflections of citizens' experiences, and of independent will-formation. This making of a joint collective will is necessary, if we want to tackle the difficult societal problems in Nepal, while making relevant use in the Nepalese context of universal social movements, so that social relations between the generations, the genders, between castes and ethnic groups become equitable. The CA in Nepal has provided a historical opportunity for the Nepalese to start mastering the modern freedom of expression and reform their traditional politics and culture. So far this opportunity has regrettably not been seized. One needs to become familiar and comfortable with making use of cosmopolitan laws and getting rid of parochial high-caste and a political culture dominated mostly by old men.

While a new constitution is not a panacea, it can be a model for the society that can be implemented, granted the political culture is also sought challenged from below. Unlike Norway, where geopolitical interests are less important in politics, Nepal's choice has, however, been seriously hampered by its dependency of development experts and military and civilian elites. The incapacity of political leaders to define a constitutional vision based on the aspirations of ordinary citizens and to start the social transformation, so its early liberating effects can be felt - is causing grave dangers. In this context, inter-party consensus, genuine self-criticism and debate among leaders are necessary elements. This debate will open up a new honesty and realism in national life, address the problems of an increasingly fractured social order and settle the constitutional debate in a way that ensures a coherent set of ideas behind the constitution.

Source: Newsfront (22-28 February 2010)


National consensus prerequisite to my resignation, says PM <Top>

Kathmandu, May 19 - Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal Wednesday said that he was ready to step down if there was national consensus to conclude the peace and statue writing processes.

"The government wants to solve the present deadlock on the basis of consensus, co-work and unity among the parties," Premier Nepal told a function organized by Press Chautari Nepal (PCN) in Kathmandu.

PCN conducted the award distribution ceremony and an interaction on the role of media in the establishment of peace in coordination with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

PM Nepal said that until the Maoists turned into a civilian party, gave up their strategy of capturing the state and vacated the cantonments, national consensus was far from realization.

‘To strike consensus, they should also use the language of consensus and co-work," PM said in an apparent reference to the Maoists.

He said that the Maoists were circulating the rumors that the government wanted to dissolve the Constituent Assembly (CA) but now their claim had been debunked after the coalition registered a Bill at the parliament to extend the CA tenure.

"So, I urge all not to be swayed by misleading propaganda spread by the Maoists," he added.

He said that it was not time to engage in the blame game but to work for creating conducive atmosphere to build confidence and consensus among the parties.

Stating that there could not be consensus to fulfill the ego of particular leader, PM Nepal said that they could not move ahead by undermining the democratic norms and rule of law that they established through hard work and sacrifice.

He said that the role of the journalists had further increased in institutionalizing lokatantra in the transition period.

The media have been victim of non-state actors, he said and added that the government was committed to protecting professional rights and freedom of the journalists.

Minister for Information and Communications Shankar Pokharel said that some elements were trying to depict a dreadful scenario after May 28.

Minister Pokharel urged the media to play a constructive role to reduce such fear.

"The state will not remain in void no matter how much crisis is there," Pokharel said.

He said that the institutions of President, the government and the parliament would continue to function even after May 28, the deadline of the constitution writing.


The Nepalese political parties will finally find the way out of crisis within the framework of interim constitution and loktantrik values as happened in the past, he said.

Nepali Congress spokesman Arjun Narsingh KC asked journalists to impartially judge as to who were responsible to stall the peace and constitution writing process.

KC accused the main opposition Maoists of not implementing the past agreements signed between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists.

"It will be quite an injustice to put all the parties in the same basket for the current deadlock," he said.

CPN-UML publicity department head Pradeep Gyawali said that the Maoists were trying to barter the chair of PM with the extension of the CA.

Gyawali said that the Maoist-led government did nothing to conclude the peace process in line with the interim constitution.

"We are not ready to derail the peace process to satisfy the ego of a leader," he said referring to the Maoist demand of the formation of the government under their leadership.

If there is a guarantee to peace and statute writing, PM Nepal will tender his resignation within minutes, he said.

Dev Raj Dahal, head of the German political foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, said democracy offered the media to mediate contending perspectives through dialogue, non-violent communications and collective action.

He said that journalists needed to inform the public for the democratization of the society so as to democratize the politicians; to bring forth the diversity of the society to bolster its legitimacy; bridge knowledge gap between those who know more and those who know less; and spread civic education for building the culture of peace.

"Pro-active engagement of Nepalese media has been useful to remove the irrationalities of society and policy attention of stakeholders of society to mitigate conflict-producing root and proxy causes and struggle for peaceful and just future society," he added.

Federation of Nepalese Journalists Dharmendra Jha, PCN president Gagan Bista, former FNJ president Binshnu Nisthuri and SAFMA Nepal head Shiva Gaule also spoke at the function.

Meanwhile, PM Nepal presented Hridaya Chadra Singh Smriti Patrakarita Puraskar to senior journalist Chandra Bhandari (Jhapa), Agnisikha Smriti Patrakarita Puraskar to columnist Shyamal and Birendra Kumar Shah Kriyashil Yuva Patrakarita Puraskar to Myagdi-based journalist Amrit Baskune.

The awards, established by PCN, respectively carry Rs. 11,111, Rs. 11,111 and Rs. 5,151 along with appreciation letters.

In another function in Lalitpur, Prime Minister and Chancellor Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Madhav Kumar Nepal said that the government was ready to mobilize maximum available resources for the development of the academy.

"Science and technology can usher in economic prosperity," he said.

He was inaugurating a newly constructed lab of NAST. "Collaboration with private institutions and national and international organizations was necessary as the government alone could not provide all assistance to the academy."

Responding to journalists, he said that the government would not hesitate to take a stern action against the guilty in connection with revenue leakage and other irregularities in the Unity Life International, a networking business.

Source: The Rising Nepal (20 May 2010)


Media Should Provide Alternatives <Top>

Constitutional Expert Kashi Raj Dahal has said that media should provided alternatives and ways for compromise while reporting the news. He further said that media should strike a balance among political parties to come to the common platform so that constitutional process could take right direction. Media should also inform people as what exactly is happening in the political spectrum without any prior bias as such. He further said that there is no alternative to “compromise” and we should work to achieve this. Political parties should stick to the commitments they have made before the people said Dahal in a two days Civic Education Training programme for journalists, organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in cooperation with National Media Development Centre, in Hetauda.

Speaking in the programme Dev Raj Dahal, Head o FES Nepal, said that we need democracy more than constitution primarily because without democratic culture there is no way that we can have constitutional stability or political stability for that matter in the country. Regional Administrator Rudra Kumar Shrestha said that media should work independently. The programme was chaired by Ram Mani Dahal, President of Federation of Nepalese Journalist – Makwanpur Branch and participated by the working journalist from Narayani Zone, Nawalparasi and Rauthat.

Source: Hetauda Sandaesh - National Daily (16 May 2010)


Strong bureaucracy to negate effects of instable politics <Top>

KATHMANDU, May 15 -- Different high level officials and intellectuals of the country laid stress on political stability, national security, apt mechanism for punishment and effective administrative performance in order to maintain good governance The terms governance and good governance are increasingly being used in development literature. Governance describes the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). and administrative justice in the country.

"Due to unstable government, state bodies are facing hindrance in maintaining justice," said Kashi Raj Dahal, chairman at administrative court. "This has decreased peoples trust over governmental organisations."

Dahal said that political intervention in bureaucracy and lack of demarcation line regarding the rights of bureaucracy and political bodies (ministers) also has created barrier in maintaining good governance. "Many decisions that are to be made by bureaucracy are done through political level," said Dahal.

Intellectuals observed vague laws, lack of timely modification in laws according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3. international practice and procedural shortcomings for prevailing impunity. "The power gap, development gap and legitimacy gap between juridical Pertaining to the administration of justice or to the office of a judge.

A juridical act is one that conforms to the laws and the rules of court. A juridical day is one on which the courts are in session

JURIDICAL. status and ability of leaders to govern has made situation worse," said Dev Raj Dahal the country head at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

Pointing towards the lack of 'administrative action' over governmental employee breaching law, Secretary at ministry of General Administration Bala Nanda Poudel said that due to procedural mistake by administrative heads in punishment court often dismisses the case. "Such mistakes are often repeated I ask all the administrative heads to mind procedural criteria before referring for punishment," said Poudel.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from EKantipur.com. For more information on news feed please contact Sarabjit Jagirdar at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com


No Constitution Without Vision: Dahal <Top>

Constitutional analyst Kashi Raj Dahal said that new constitution cannot be formed without clear vision. Speaking in a two days training programme for mid-career journalists, organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in cooperation with Nepal Media Development Centre, in Hetauda constitutional analyst Dahal said that due to lack of commitment and honest at the highest level of political leadership, constitution will be promulgated on 28th of May, 2010. This has happened primarily because political leaders have failed to come out with clear framework on different issues, lamented Dahal. Rather than adopting consensual process, political leaders adopted numerical process to draft the constitution said Dahal. He further said that state can declarte emergency merely to extend the tenure of CA which goes against the spirit of fundamental rights of the citizens.

Speaking in the same programme Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal, highlighted the role of civic education in state-building in Nepal. Chief guest of the programme and regional administrator Mr Rudrakumar Shrestha has said that consensus and compromise among political leaders can break the current deadlock and open the avenues to write constitution. Another guest Rudra Prasad Paudel, Chief District Officer of Makwanpur, said that developmental works in the country has come to a standstill as the state is in transition. The journalists, who participated in the programme, have discussed about the current state of political affairs in the country as well as submitted solutions to come out of the political deadlock. In the programme there more than two dozen journalists from Nawalparasi, Sarlahi, and Narayani Zone.

Ram Mani Dahal, President of Makwanpur Branch of, Nepaese Federation of Journalists, presided the programme. Information officer of Hetaudua Municiplaity B K Maharjan, representative of Chamber of Commerce and NGO Federation of Nepal , among others, participated in the programme.

Source: Hetauda Today National Daily (15 May 2010)


Social Protection and its challenges in Nepali Context <Top>

By Chandra D. Bhatta

Social protection is the broader concept which includes number of areas where intervention of the state is required to protect its citizens. In the context of Nepal social protection is required in the areas like health, education, housing, food, water, energy, sanitation, old age benefits, service delivery, unemployment benefits, maternity benefits, poverty alleviation and many more. Interestingly, all these issues have taken a centre stage in recent years. The Interim Constitution emphasises on social protection and makes provision for new rights—right to work, education, health, food, social security, social justice, etc. However the major bone of contention is whether Nepali state will be able to fulfil them or not. Equally important is who are we going to protect, that is, are we going to protect those who live inside the ring-road of Kathmandu or those who live outside of it as well, are we going to protect those who have both jobs and houses or those who do not have anything at all. These are some of the important issues to be addressed primarily because there is a great deal of lapses in policy formulation which are directly related with the material and institutional framework of the state which is too weak to implement these rights. For example, the total contribution of tax to national GDP is only 12 percent which is not sufficient to maintain even the administration of the state let alone catering demands generated by different societal forces. Another important question is whether we want social protection or social security as both are two different terminologies and have different meanings as well as approaches. In the context of Nepal, where large numbers of people are working in the informal sector, social protection becomes most important.

The biggest dilemma stems from the fact that Nepalese political leaders and interest groups are busy in incorporating rights into the constitution but not developing mechanism to ensure these rights. The ambitious agenda of welfare state floated by political parties cannot be accomplished unless country’s tax base is expanded. The tax base can only be expanded when we move towards industrialisation, modernisation of agriculture and other productive sectors of economy where the country has both competitive and comparative advantage. But this has not been the case, we are simply promoting financial capitalism which does not produce anything but consumes everything. Those who work in the financial market and who operate it make hefty amounts of money but the lack of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) culture in this sector has meagrely contributed towards the welfare of the broader citizenry. It contributes four to five percent to national GDP. The current process of capital formation has made us a consumer state. By and large, it looks that political leaders are caught up by what noted political scientist Dev Raj Dahal calls the “populist” trap as political leaders are promising everything available under the sun without realising the fact that political rights can only be fulfilled through economic and social prosperity.

In terms of basic facilities like health and education, we have taken the reverse gear. This is so because we are operating media, schools and hospitals in the economic model of competition and this has created huge gap between private and public and haves and have nots. The classic example to this end is, we are systematically dismantling public institutions (like public hospitals, public schools, public enterprises etc) but promoting private ones. Again, the reality is that majority of Nepalese live in the rural areas who cannot afford to go either to private schools or to the private hospitals - who offer facilities of the five star hotels. These private organisations are creating hegemonic ideology to weaken freedom and dignity of workers thereby undermining their contribution in society. In the context of Nepal the important indicator of state inefficiency is the presence and extent of political patronage in administration. The phenomenon of patronage politics has resulted in the numerical expansion of employment in bureaucracy (administration) but this bureaucracy (including police administration) has paid little role in social protection let alone state-building owing to their party bias. By contrast, to our dismay, this process has created new classes in society as the gap between poor and rich continue to galore which, in turn, will directly hit into the heart of democracy.

The government data tells that poverty has declined from 42 percent to 25 percent. Is it really so? If the poverty has really declined how come we are hearing in TV/Radio and reading in the newspapers about people dying of hunger. This generates some fundamental questions how do we measure poverty and who do we include. Is it also Kathmandu centric like politics, power and opportunities?

The government does have some social protection programs - including civil service pension system, cash transfers to senior citizens and widows, food-for-work, micro-credit, micro-insurance, etc., however, overall reach of the programs, as measured by the number of beneficiaries and budget is small. The key social protection issues are primarily that government expenditures on social protection is low as it thought investment in the social sector is unproductive. Whatever the package of social safety net we have got, it covers only those who work in the formal sector which is only 10 percent and there is very little (except some cash transfer programs) for those who are in the informal sector or who don’t work at all. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) in collaboration with Trade Unions and Chamber of Commerce is developing new social security scheme that would cover 2 million people. The facilities will be funded by a separate Social Security Fund (SSF). The government had made a start on social security by imposing one pert tax up to the first slab of taxable income. This would be the good start if it is really implemented. But this will alone not address the problem. We have to create jobs, open-up small scale industries and enterprises and make them accountable to the state and citizens. Develop some sort of economic nationalism among business community which is completely lacking in Nepal. Rather than giving priority to “aid” that merely serves the interests of Kathmandu’s political elites, we have to give priority to “development” that can alone contribute significantly to this end.

Source: New Spotlight (30 April 2010)


Cordial ties between industry owners, workers stressed <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, April 28: Trade union representatives Wednesday sought their role in the state building with a call to incorporate their agenda in the new statute.

Government officials, experts and workers were unanimous that cordial relations among the government, employers and workers were needed for smooth functioning of the industry and promoting social security of the workers.

They shared their views at a national seminar ‘Role of Trade Union in State Building in Nepal’ jointly organized by Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German political foundation, in the capital.

The participants expressed their concern over the plight of 90 per cent labour force active in the informal sector. They were for effective role of trade unions to ensure the rights of remaining ten per cent work force engaged in the formal sector.

“Employers need to be flexible to implement the labour law and workers should contribute for the smooth functioning of the industries,” they said.

Many of the participants were wary of increasing militancy trade union campaign, which they said, had discredited the entire trade union movement of the country.

National Planning Commission vice-chairman Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel stressed on the peaceful co-existence of state mechanism, business community and trade unions for peace, stability and economic growth.

“Since Nepal possesses the features of both feudal and capitalistic economic system, a single economic formula is not workable here,” said Dr. Pokharel.

He called for identifying the real stakeholders and formulating the laws accordingly.

Dev Raj Dahal, head of FES, Nepal said that the state should be strong enough to protect the rights of weak and marginalized section of the society.

“The state must wield the rights to punish the violators of laws. There can’t be rule of law where the state is weak,” he said and added that the concerned stakeholders must have a say in the formulation of laws, which are related to them.

“Strengthening the unions’ position in organizing and collective bargaining in the workplace and holding a political position on decision making regarding the shaping pf state through democratic social contract, workable constitution is necessary to exert control on capital, maintain ‘relative autonomy’ over the dominant political and business interest,” he said.

CLASS-Nepal president Shankar Lamichhane said labour movement was a movement of creativity and should be utilsed for the economic development of the country.

Nepal Labour Academy chairman Khilanath Dahal said that the workers should not be merely recognized as a community that only demands from the state and does not contribute to the society.

GEFONT vice-chairperson Bina Shrestha said workers had played an important role in the popular movement in 2006 and their rights must be enshrined in the new statute.

A host of speakers including Erik Neilsen, LO-FTF, Council International Consultant, South Asia Sub region Office, Roman Awick, a consultant at the FNCCI, Rajendra Kumar Acharya, UNI Regional Programme Coordinator, Saran KC, Regional Coordinator trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland and representatives from various organizations shed light on the various aspects of labour movements in Nepal and stressed on the appropriate policies to address the workers conditions.

FES Programme officer Chandra Dev Bhatta and political scientist Deepak Gajurel presented their working papers at the two-day seminar.

Bhatta’s paper dwelt on the capital formation in Nepal and highlighted the relations between labour and capital.

He argued that in Nepal capital was formed in a wrong way and failed to reflect the aspirations of the poor.

Source: The Rising Nepal (29 April 2010)


Nidhi presses for women rights <Top>

Rastriya Samachar Samiti

KATHMANDU: General Secretary of the Nepali Congress Bimalendra Nidhi today said that a full-fledged democracy would be established in the country only after the state restructuring model and governance system are decided and women’s rights are ensured in the constitution.

Speaking at a programme organised by Modern Kanya Multiple College here, Nidhi said the women should be active themselves for ensuring their representation in all state bodies.

CA member Sapana Pradhan Malla said women face discrimination in society due to lack of education and self-reliance.

Leader of the Unified CPN (Maoist) Shanta Shrestha stressed on proportional representation of women in all sectors of Nation.

Professor Sushma Acharya said the women should launch a struggle if necessary to have their rights guaranteed in the constitution.

Chairman of the College Ram Prasad Dahal called on the government to bring a programme for providing Masters level education to at least 25 women in each VDC.

Source: The Himalayan Times (4 April 2010)


Modern Kanya Campus Organises National Seminar on Civic Education <Top>

Modern Kanya (Girls) Multiple College, Bhimsengola , Kathmandu organised one day seminar on civic education for graduate girl students, women teachers and other stakeholders of society. About four hundred women participated in the seminar. The seminar also discussed about the inclusive democracy and women’s rights. Those who spoke in the seminar were Bimalendra Nidhi - General Secretary of Nepali Congress, Sapana Malla, Constitutional lawyer and Constituent Assembly member from Communist Party of Nepal – Marxist-Leninist (UML), Vice Presidential Candidate from Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - Shanta Shrestha, Prof. Dr. Shushma Acharya, Prof. Dr. Ganesh Man Gurung. They talked about the issues of women’s rights in Nepal in the changing context and expressed need to bridge the gap through civic education.

Dev Raj Dahal and Chandra Dev Bhatta from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Aarati Chatuat – Media Personnel, Abha Mishra - Principal of Kist College, Sonica Tamang - Student, Kamal Prasad Gyawali of Kist Bank spoke in the programme while Kashi Raj Dahal – Constitutional Expert and Prof. Dr. Harinder Thapaliya from Padma Kanya Campus, Kathmandu presented papers. In the seminar, the issues were raised on the empowerment of women through awareness building, by providing reservation, through gender equality and overall more emphasis was given on education rather than “rights” of various sorts such as property and citizenship rights on the basis of “Bansaz”

Manju Dahal, Parvati Karki, Yadav Bhattarai, Sidhartha Lama, Rewati Pokhrel commented on the papers. The programme was moderated by Anita Bindu, news anchor of Nepal Television while Prof. Dr. Ganesh Gurung, Chairman of the State Restructuring Committee chaired the working sessions.

Source: Sourya National Weekly (4 April 2010)


Civic Education for Journalist <Top>

Api Reporter

Gadi Gauda/Baitadi, March 18, Thursday, 2010
Two day's Zonal level training on civic education for journalist has begun in Baitadi from Wednesday. Active working journalist from all four districts of Mahakali Zone has participated in the programme organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office in cooperation with National Media Development Centre (NMDC).

The training programme was jointly led by Dev Raj Dahal, Head - FES Nepal Office, Kashi Raj Dahal, Constitutional Expert, Chandra Dev Bhatta, Shree Ram Khanal and Bishnu Sharma, Chairman of NMDC.

Narendra Bhatta, acting president of Nepalese Federation of Journalist (NFJ) Baitadi branch has said that this type of programme is completely new and has been organised for the first time in Baitadi. On Wednesday's training programme constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that constitution can only be promulgated on 14th of Jestha 2067 if there is some sort of miracle, otherwise it is unlikely to be promulgated. He further said that under these circumstances journalist should play active role to end the culture of impunity in the country. He further emphasised that political parties show commitment only for the votes but once they are elevated to the power, they completely ignore issues of the people. Therefore journalist should highlight the issue of citizen and bring them into fore. Everybody is looking for rights and now the time has come for the journalists to play more proactive role in constructing society based on duty as well.

Likewise, Dev Raj Dahal, political analyst, said that "words" media personnel use reflects the culture of society, that is, we see the world through words. Therefore media personnel, which help us to see the world, need to have "awareness" about civic education. He further stated that journalists should bear in mind that we can resolve our conflicts of every sort and develop our society by using our indigenous knowledge. If we employ the knowledge that comes from outside world will completely be out of context for us and will only invite further conflict in society.

Dahal, well-known in his areas of expertise, said that if we write our constitution by exclusively using knowledge that is exported from outside by the foreign experts will not provide constitutional sustainability. He upheld the importance of local experience and indigenous knowledge by giving an example of Kodari highway that was surveyed and constructed by using the experience of local Nepal Army Constable while the Chinese Engineers were having hard time to prepare survey map for the construction of the highway due to lack of topographical knowledge of the region. He further said that technology based on local experience can contribute towards development.

During the training session journalists from the region have discussed about the problems being faced by the journalist at the local level. Harish Bhatta, one of the participating journalist from the training session said that programme of this kind will make journalism as a profession more responsible towards state and society. Ani Ram Labad has said that this type of programme should be organised in Darchula District as well. Trainees have said that despite the complexities/difficulties (such as geographical inaccessibility, economic backwardness, lack of resources) being faced by the journalist of this region there are youths who are attracted towards this profession which is a matter of happiness.

Source: Api Post half weekly (18 March 2010)


Modernising The Parties <Top>

Ritu Raj Subedi

Nepalese political parties have played a pivotal role in ushering the country into an era of freedom and democracy. Their contribution to the major political changes is beyond doubt. Still the political parties tend to be highly unpopular institutions in Nepal. During the democratic movements, the parties are popular, but their public rating plunges as their priority shifts from realising the common goals of the political changes to grabbing power at any cost. This puts their moral authority into question. The people's disillusionment only grows as successive governments tumble one after another as they seek to fulfill partisan interests.

Rootless politicians
One of the major reasons behind the public's growing mistrust of the parties is the lack of ethical conduct and internal democracy. The parties that fought for democracy often fail to reflect a democratic culture and norms in their practices and behaviour. There is a gap between their rhetoric and actions. Their efforts are not for becoming statesman but cunning politicians.

Political scientist Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES, has noted that their preoccupation with power has made them rootless politicians. "The interest of the leaders in the executive power than in the legislative functions has produced many rootless politicians and constrained the process of transforming transactional, traditional and charismatic leaders into transformational ones based on electoral legitimacy."

It is puzzling that the leaders who have endured so many blows of autocratic rules often fall from grace within a few years of their stay in power. Why can't they transform themselves into competent, popular leaders capable of leading the nation towards stability, peace and prosperity? It is perhaps the lack of democratisation in the leaders, in the parties and in the society as a whole that is holding back the pace of social, political and economic changes promised during the revolutions.

In our context, the gaps between the ideological platforms and policy content, and incoherence between the spirit of the constitution and ideological leanings act as a stumbling block in modernising and democratising the parties. There is a vast gap between commitment and action. Their behaviours are not guided by their philosophical underpinning.

As Dahal observes, the rise of a new elite from the semi-feudalistic mode of production has created an obstacle in democratising the parties. The weak enforcement of party laws, high participation of citizens and low institutionalisation of the political parties, exclusionary political culture, lack of balance between individuals, groups and human rights, absence of a multi-track mechanism of inter and intra-party conflict resolution, and the tradition of a centralised leadership are some of the inherent problems of the Nepalese political parties.

The political parties need to develop a shared vision of nation-building and work together in that direction. They should formulate pragmatic programmes and policies based on broad-based consultation rather than rhetorical and ideological ones to achieve the goal of constitution writing, state-building, durable peace and structural reforms. Formulation of implementable programmes enhances the ability of the parties to deliver services.

One important thing is that the parties should develop a culture of listening to the legitimate grievances of their cadres and ordinary citizens. This will bridge the gap between the leaders and cadres, and instil confidence and faith in the party workers, which will help to mutually solve the cadre-leader conflicts.

The parties should promote diversity and inclusiveness in the committees from top to bottom. The inclusion of regional, class, ethnic, caste and gender identities of the nation discourages alienation, factionalism and split. This is necessary to boost social and system integration and widen the constituencies of the political parties. The slogan of inclusiveness has in recent times gained greater currency, putting pressure on the mainstream parties to include representatives of women, dalits, Madhesis and other disadvantaged communities in the party committees. The theory of inclusiveness will also check the decline in the party membership.

Another important thing is that the parties should focus on civic education for the young party workers. Civic education is the key to preventing cadres from joining militant politics. In recent times, the tendency of forming militant organisations is rising in the Terai and eastern hilly districts. There are more than 100 armed groups, most of them are engaged in disruptive politics through armed and criminal activities. The youth and unemployed are falling prey to their radical and fanatic ideology.

These underground armed groups have emerged as illegal offshoots of the Maoist insurgency that glorified violence for political change. Voice is getting louder even in the oldest democratic party, the Nepali Congress, to constitute militant groups to counter the Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League and the UML-affiliated Youth Force. The clashes between the youth organisations of the parties weaken inter-party relationship, thereby promoting the politics of violence and vendetta.

Civic education can be an antidote to the violence-inspired politics. It will engage them in policy debates, policymaking, mobilisation of various campaigns, membership in mass organisations, participation in study circles, development initiatives and voting in elections.

Predictable behaviours
The parties must abide by their promises made during the popular movements, in the party's policy and election manifestoes. Leadership transfer, intra-party democracy, consistency in approach and predictable behaviours are important for the democratisation of the parties. These will also enable them to institutionalise the achievements of bigger changes and live up to the public expectations

Source: The Rising Nepal (28 February 2010)


Deuba's stance <Top>

LALITPUR (RSS): Senior Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba on Friday said the integration and management of the Maoist combatants should be completed at the earliest possible. Addressing a two-day workshop organised by Martyrs' Memorial Foundation, Deuba also said the paramilitary structure of the Young Communist League, the youth wing of the Maoists, should also be dissolved. The former prime minister also called the Maoists to return the properties seized by the Maoists during the conflict. At the program, secretary of the CPN-UML Bishnu Poudel said doubts have risen over timely drafting of the constitution because of the Maoist activities against the peace agreement.

Source: Republica (27 February 2010)


Take Maoists along: Deuba <Top>

KATHMANDU, FEB 26 -
Senior Nepali Congress (NC) leader Sher Bahadur Deuba said on Friday that statute drafting and peace process cannot be completed by keeping the UCPN (Maoist) in isolation.

The former prime minister had some advice for the Maoists also. Speaking at an interaction titled 'Democratic Choice for Nepal: Social or Liberal' in the Capital, he called on the ex-rebels to act responsibly as they have "a key role in the peace process."

Deuba went on to ask the Maoists to take initiatives for arms management, dissolution of the Young Communist League (YCL)'s paramilitary structure, return of seized properties to rightful owners and adherence to past pacts. He also found time to speak on the history of Nepal's struggle for democracy.

"The country embarked on the process of strengthening democracy in 1951, but King Mahendra's intervention hijacked the process in 1961. Later, the Maoists stood against democratic norms and values the country had adopted through People's Movement in 1991," added Deuba.

He said the constitution should be drafted to safeguard people's fundamental rights.

CPN-UML secretary Bishnu Paudel said the ultra-leftist ideology surfacing in Nepali politics is hampering the statute-drafting process. "The constitution should embrace socialism with democratic values."

Source: The Kathmandu Post (27 February 2010)


No Constitution without peace <Top>

Gorkhapatra Samachardata

Senior leader of Nepali congress and former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur has said that constitution can be promulgated in time if the United Communist Party, (Maoist ( UCPN-Maoist) extend necessary support to move the peace-process to its logical conclusion.

Deuba said that without peace, constitution cannot be written in time, there is an urgent need to dissolve Young Communist League (YCL), integration of combatants and return of the captured property. He further lamented that UNCPN (Maoist) is still does not want to listen freedom and liberty let alone practising it in the real sense of the term. Deuba was of the view that development of water resources will contribute towards overall development of the nation. He was a speaking in an inaugural programme on Democratic Choice for Nepal: Liberal or Social organised by Martyrs Memorial Foundation.

Secretary of the United Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and Deputy Leader of the Party has said that constitution cannot be promulgated unless peace-process is moves towards logical-end and ultra leftist ideology stand as the major obstruction. Dhundi Raj Shastri, the president of the foundation, presided the programme. In the programme CA member Dina Upadhyay, Khilanath Dahal of the foundation, and Dr. Dev Raj Dahal of Friderich-Ebert-Stifgtung expressed their views

Source: Gorkhapatra Nepali Daily (27 February 2010)


Congress for Strong Trade Union Movement <Top>

Journalist and Trade Unionist have said that trade union movement in the media sector has become weak primarily because no proper study has been done both on the nature of the investment as well as workers involved in this sector. Speaking in the programme organised by Nepal Press Union in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a German Political Foundation, on Tuesday, they argued that politicisation and profit driven motives have victimised both journalists and workers in different ways.

The speakers blamed that dangerous trend of giving importance to capital by ignoring labour is prevailing strongly which have resulted in the capital formation process in favour of capitalist classes not in favour of poor and working classes. And unless and until we do not change this trend and strike a balance between capital and labor it is unlikely that democracy, state and citizens for that matter, will not prosper. Speakers further said that journalists who have played a crucial role for the establishment of democracy are now being victimised by the media houses and owners. Media should write for the welfare of workers and boost up trade union movement.

Highlighting the role of the press for the cause of democratic movement in the country, Arjun Narsingh KC , spokesperson of Nepali Congress party has said that time has come to make trade union movement, that started from Biratnagar Jute Mills, more powerful and Nepali congress party is committed for this cause. KC further said that Congress will never compromise on norms and values of democracy and appealed that media should always work as a watchdog to protect democracy, for social justice and labour rights

The General Secretary of Nepal Trade Union Congress and Constituent Assembly Member, Achyut Raj Pandey said that trade union movement is also divided due to political differences and blamed that unions working in the media sector have also failed to genuinely raise the issues of workers and trade unions in the country.

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal, said that though the intellectual classes of the country have studied about the economy but they have failed to understand the importance of labour correctly. Social justice and democratic socialism can only be established when media raises issues of labour and lobby for their empowerment, argued Dahal.

Tara Nath Dahal, former president of Nepalese Journalist Federation, pointed out that media houses in the country have become highly commercial and there is no sense of social accountability, against this background there is an urgent need that Press Union should play a crucial role in establishing trade union rights in the media houses.

Samir Jung Shah, President of Nepal Press Union, informed that due to weakness on the part of the state, journalists are even suffering in democracy and therefore Nepal Press Union, which is established under trade union act, is going to be transformed into federation to look into the issues more seriously.

Chandra Dev Bhatta from FES presented a paper on the role of media in highlighting issues of workers while Babita Basnet of Sancharika Samuha and Bishwakanta Ghimire - General Secretary of Press Union have expressed opinions on labours, trade union and the media.

Source: Gorkhapatra Daily (24 February 2010)

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