Seminar on Initiative for State-building and
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
(28-29 October, Inaruwa) (30-31 October,
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal
Office, organised a two- day seminar on the challenges of state-building
and constitutional questions in Inaruwa of Sunsari district
and Rajbiraj of Saptari district on 28th-29th and 30th-31st
October, 2009 respectively. There were altogether 150 plus participants
in both the places. The programme was attended, among others,
by judges, Chief District Officers, Chief of District Police
Offices, Local Development Officers and other high-ranking government
officials, leaders of the political parties, academicians, teachers,
media personnel, lawyers, civil society members, students and
other stake-holders of society. In Inaruwa Justice Ram Prasad
Adhikari, Justice Laxman Kumar Rai and CDO Hari Krishna Shestha
attended the programme while in Rajbiraj Chief Justice of the
Appellate Court Ali Akbar Mikrani, CDO Mr Ram Prasad Ghimire,
DSPBidur Karki, among others,
attended the programme.
The programme saw very good presence
of people from different communities, groups such as tharus,
Madeshis, women, pahadiyas, dalits, and ethnic groups. The overarching
aim of this seminar was to educate local political leaders/civil
society activists on issues pertaining to state-building and
constitutional process in Nepal.
In both the places Dev Raj Dahal, Head
of FES Nepal welcomed participants. During his welcome speech
he spoke about the organisational goal of FES and emphasised
on the fact that the whole idea of such types of programme is
to generate sense of awareness in society about the issues of
national importance. He said that we are in the process of writing
a new constitution and restructuring the state, at this juncture,
there are serious issues attached with this process which need
careful attention from all strata of society. In particular,
future model of governance, economy, foreign policy, and social
policy, the model of federalism needs rigorous deliberations.
Active participation of people and inclusion of their voices,
visions and views increase legitimacy, people's ownership towards
it and provide constitutional stability thereby constructing
active citizenship rather than citizenship based on consumerism.
In the past, Nepal never had constitutional stability. During
sixty years of constitutional history Nepali state have had
six constitutions, that is, one constitution in every ten years
of time. The current interim constitution has been amended for
the six times within the two-year period. This indicates that
there are fundamental problems with the way we conduct politics
which could be the reasons, among others, why Nepal is moving
from one conflict to another. The current debate attempts to
provide political stability in the country but we can only do
so when state-society relations are intact and healthy. Hence
unless we do not write constitution that address our fundamental
problems (the grievances of the past, challenges of the present
opportunities for the future) and carries public ownership there
is no way that we can have constitutional stability, let alone
Mr Kashi Raj Dahal, as usual, presented
various issues related to constitution, models of governance,
and models of federalism and highlighted on other legal issues.
Likewise Chandra D. Bhatta presenting spoke on building modern
state and necessary components of democracy that are necessary
to be incorporated into the future constitution. He said that
the clientalism that has been seen in every sphere of governances
needs to discourage. The clientele politics has disassociated
citizens from the state and the need of the hour is to bring
citizens closer to the polity.
In Inruwa the programme was chaired
by the District Court Judge Ram Prasad Adhikari and in Rajbiraj
by the Chief Justice of the Appellate Court Ali Akbar Mikrani.
The shared their views with the participants expressed the need
of the constitution that serves the interest of Nepali and Nepal.
Many participants feared that whether
constitution will be written in time or not, even if it is written
will it have legitimate voice of the people or not, that is,
will it provide political stability in the country. Disillusionment
were expressed by Kalu Ram Chaudhary from Nepali Rastriya Prajatantra
Party and Mr Mehta from Congress primarily because of the over
engagement of political parties on "power struggle".
Mr Dev Raj Madeshi from Nepal Sadhvawana Party has said that
there is a need of linguistic and territorial state in Nepal
not a modern state like the one we have now. The 12 percent
contribution of taxes to GDP mainly comes from the district
of Teari and people from the region should get reasonable share
on it for the development of the region. In fact Terai contributes
80 percent and 20 percent comes from the Pahad to the national
economy but not even five percent is spent for the development
of Terai. Abdesh Jaha said that political parties should respect
the existence of other societal forces as well. Another participant
said that economy should be developed on the basis of cooperatives
and boarding schools should be closed by ending dualism in education.
Another participant Geeta Pokhrel said that youths should be
involved in the project of nation-building. The current reality
is that majority of the youths are alienating from the state
as well as the system and state should come up with clear-cut
policy to stop this alienation.
Ram Kumar Sah, Legal Professional, emphasised
on the need of modernization of agriculture and elimination
of all sorts of corruption from society. Others (Mr Chaulagai)
proposed for the effective law implementing agencies, stern
action should be taken to those who are involved in corruption.
The new constitution should come up with clear polices to this
end. Another participant Mr Raghunath Mehta said biggest achievement
of political parties in Nepal is that they have pushed this
state towards federalism without any proper models. Mr Nanda
Lal Misrha said that those who were defeated from two places
are now ruling this country what can we expect from them. He
said that Nepal's dependence on India for political favour or
to form the government at the Singhadubar is increasing by leap
and bounds. Kamala Mehata and Kalpana Dev talked about the women's
issues. They said that the proposed widow allowance is discriminatory
and allowances should be provided to widows when they lose their
husband irrespective of the age. Issues were also raised about
border problems and rise of crimes in the border area. Participant(s)
also wanted to have the mechanism of social auditing developed
in in order to maintain transparency in different affairs of
state mechanism. Poverty eradication is important to maintain
Many participants said that they have
not been able to do the business after the Madesh uprising.
The political parties' lust for political power has shattered
dreams and expectations of Nepali people and there is an urgent
need to wipe out this culture from society. In fact the political
leaders of Modern Nepal have forgotten the aim of CA said Mr
Sita Ram Poddar - Vice President of Nepal Sadhvawana Party.
Ms Sanju Shah - Human Rights Activist,
said that women's are still under represented in state mechanism.
What women need is not percentage but "equality".
The dowry culture is increasing in Terai in all communities
and government should make effort to discourage this culture.
The rise of non-state armed actors in Terai is directly related
with the lack of economic opportunity within the country. Government
should create jobs to stop crimes in Terai. Mr Yusuf Ali said
that Hindi should get priority "medium" of communication
in Terai. He said that entire Madesh should be declared one
state with right to self-determination. Mr Tirtha Ram Pokhrel
has blamed CA members for not working for the state. He also
emphasised on the need of modernization and professionalization
of agriculture. Mr Navnit Jha from Madeshi Jana Adhidkar Forum
(MJAF) has said that Nepal should adopt presidential system
for the benefit of Terian people. Likewise Mr Shiv Narayan Yadav
- Associate Professor of Tribhuvan University has said that
people should be empowered through knowledge and we should strike
a balance between population and land. He also said that state
restructuring should be done by being value free and should
have inclusive in nature. Mr Navin Singh from Bar Association
has said that executive should not influence judiciary which
has been rampantly happening in Nepal. ,Mr Shyam Kishore Singh
(MFAJ) and Mr Shayam Narayan Shah have said that Nepal should
be declared a Hindu State and education should not be politicised.
Ms Anu Tiwari said that political parties
and their leaders is the main enemy of this state, they don't
have love for this country. They are engaged in forming the
government without giving due attention to constitution making
process. Mr Ram Shah from UCPN (Maoist) has said that there
should be one education policy for all and education and health
should be provided by the state. Mr Dashrath Yadav from Nepal
Sadhbhawana Party (Ananda Devi) has said that rather than going
for the land reform we should focus on farmer's reform (capacity
Mr Lalit Kumar Yadav - Associate Professor
from Rajbiraj Campus has said that Minister themselves oppose
decisions taken by the council of ministers in many occasion.
This practice should be stopped with immediate effect. Nepal
should have 5 -7 federal states and all the languages spoken
in Nepal should be treated as national language. He further
said that government should provide free health and education
and come up with clear-cut policy on land reform as well as
for the development of agriculture. Mr. Uttam Acharya from Chure
Bhabar National United Party has said that federalism should
respect minorities as well. Mr Arbind Kisore Dev said that private
schools should be nationalized. There was a strong voice that
CA members should not be paid monthly allowances, honorarium
for the period of CA obstruction.
By and large many people have expressed
their serious concern about the current state of political affairs
in the country. They are of the view that Nepali state is going
to meet the same fate as it did during 1990s that is, the crisis
of governance. At this backdrop, the challenge for us is not
merely waging movements in the name of democracy but we need
to develop mechanism for the political stability in the country.
Democracy should be realized by the people at large not merely
by few individuals who are elected to the "office"
on the basis of money and muscle.