Seminar Report on State-building and Constitutional
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
22-23 June 2009 (Bandipur, Siraha) &
24-25 June 2009 (Lalgadh, Dhanusa)
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office
recently organised a two day seminar in Bandipur, Siraha district
(22nd - 23rd June, 2009) and Lalgadh, Dhanusa district (24th
-25th June, 2009) on state-building and constitutional dynamics.
More than 150 persons actively participated in the programme
in both the district [169 in Lalgadh and 146 in Bandipur]. In
Bandipur, the programme was chaired by Mr Ashok Rana-Principal
of Fulkumari Mahato National Higher Secondary School. Former
lawmaker Mr. Bishnu Lal Baiba also actively participated in
the promgramme. In Lalgadh the programme security personnel
from Nepal Police actively participated in the programme, among
others. The overarching aim of this seminar was to educate local
political leaders/civil society activists on issues pertaining
to state-building and constitutional dynamics in Nepal.
The intellectuals, political leaders and civil
society members of both the district expressed various social,
economic and political measures to build a prosperous Nepal.
Interestingly, both the programme saw very good presence from
Madeshi community and women. They argued that drafting of a
democratic constitution in the country requires inclusion of
various voices, visions and views of all the segments of Nepali
society. The concrete policies to address socio-economic problems,
the constitution alone will not guarantee rights; the underlying
social and political issues need to be dealt with.
In addition to constitutional issues, many
participants were concerned about the unabated border encroachment
from the Indian side and expressed dissatisfaction on the inability
of Nepali political parties to act promptly on this issue. They
viewed that the border issue has put our sovereignty at stake
and demanded that state should come up with some scientific
mechanism for the border management.
Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal presented
various models of constitution, model of governance, models
of federalism and many other issues related with constitution
and state-building. Likewise Chandra D. Bhatta spoke on building
modern state and components of democracy that are necessary
to be incorporated into the future constitution. He argued that
modern state is based on civic political culture which transcends
particularisms of the nations prevailing caste, class, region,
religion and ethnic affiliations.
The floor discussion spotlighted about the
drafting of a constitution and mechanism to guarantee rights
for various social groups, question on federalism, foreign intervention,
democratisation of political parties and many other topical
issues that beset politics of Nepali state.
In both the place, many participants say no
to 'federalism'. Women's from this region have raised strong
voice against the dowry system that is widely in practice in
Terai. They have also demanded for the special provision for
the agriculture sector (like subsidy in mal-khad, biu-bijan
Mr Bishnu Lal Baiba has demanded for the 'recall
system" as majority of Nepali political leaders/law makers
are least worried about the national issues and that of people
and these lawmakers should be recalled from their position.
Such a system has to be incorporated in the upcoming constitution
as it will clean up the politics.
In terms of model of governance - presidential
or prime Ministerial - there seems to have been great deal of
confusion partly because of the existing political culture.
But the fact is that change will automatically usher in (whatever
the system is ) if we could get rid of the current political
culture which has dismayed Nepali people.
Ms Kalayani Rayamajhi has said that the mushrooming
number of man power agencies and educational consultancies in
the urban areas are duping Nepali youths. She argued that state
should play proactive role in health, education, and employment
sector. She has also said that globalisation has brought some
negative effects in our society (development of chhada sanskriti)
and should be checked by the state as what is to be taken and
what is not from the global market.
In both places, people have demanded an end
to the culture of impunity and corruption - if we could wed
them out, we can definitely enter into new and prosperous era
irrespective the political system adopt. Today, there is no
difference between Panchayat system and democracy.
Many people feared that (including one Mr
Ram Avatar Rai) although constitution will be written but it
is still not clear that which class will it represent - the
elites or the poor. Our society is 'class based' society and
the gap between various classes (poor and rich) needs to be
bridged. By saying 'janata" we cannot put all in one basket
- we have Golchhas and Surya B. Thapa (who are also janatas)
and others. We have to be clear which janata we are focusing
Serious concerns were raised in both the places
on the tendency of appointing ministers to those who were defeated
in the election. This has set the wrong trend and is bound stay
as a precedent. It has also challenged the very notion of democracy
and democratic values. The lawmakers who were supposed to be
in the villages to collect public opinions on Constitution making
process were found in massage parlours of Kathmandu. We need
to develop proper mechanism to democratize political parties
and politics should not be taken as profession said Sameer Ghimire.
The politicization of society by political parties has to be
discouraged. Most of the political parties have vertically divided
Nepali society by opening various 'associations' affiliated
There was a strong voice in both the
places on the of border management, and revocation of unequal
treaties. State should come up with youth police as none of
the government in the past have worked in this direction.
State should come up with strong industrial
policy to address the unemployment problem in the country which
would ultimately contribute towards economic development. Economic
development (economic equality) is essential for to guarantee
Democracy can only grow if politicians
strengthen the civic political culture and rise above the partisan
interests and collective work to formulate policies that enables
public to be active participant in the institutional life of
the state. These are the ways to reduce anti-political sentiment
which is on the rise in recent years. This can reduce the pitfalls
of 'politics' opens up avenues for egalitarian democracy which
Peter Croch refers post-democracy.
By conducting seminars in different parts of the country FES
has successfully dentified various pitfalls of Nepali democracy
and politics. The issue ranges from foreign policy to internal
democracy in political parties, mismatch in politics and policy.
By and large, these pitfalls need to be addressed by the state
only then we can think of building a functional state that stand
for the people.