Civic Education: The Role
of the Youth in the Making of a Modern State
Organised by Nepal Foundation for Advanced
14 November 2009
Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies
(NEFAS) in co-operation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
organized a one day seminar on "Civic Education: The Role
of the Youth in the Making of a Modern State" at Melamchi,
Sindhupalchowk district. Participants belonging to different
fields of life participated in the seminar. The youths were
well represented. Young social scientist Shiva Raj Dahal presented
a paper titled 'Civic Education for the Youth' and Professor
of political science Mr. Ram Kumar Dahal shed further light
on various aspects of civic education and on the fundamental
principles of democracy. He also dwelt on what needs to be done
to institutionalize democracy. Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta of FES
spoke about economic development and democracy. The discussion
that followed was instructive and gave an inkling of the evolving
public opinion at the grass-roots level. The participants were
also provided with the booklet 'Handouts on Democracy'.
Paper presented by Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal.
Shiva Raj Dahal: 'Civic Education: The Role
of the Youth in the Building of a Modern State.' (An outline
of the paper presented).
- Meaning of civic education-Civic education
is teachings concerned with self-governance. In addition to
promoting constitutionalism and good governance it helps create
a public consensus concerning the drafting of the new constitution.
- The importance of civic education in the
present context-As per the directive of the people's movement
of 2062/063 a constituent assembly to draft the new constitution
has been formed. This period is a transitional one. It is
necessary to ensure the widest possible participation of the
citizens and to move forward by collecting suggestions and
soliciting advice from them. But due to the unhealthy competition
among the parties for power the spirit of co-operation necessary
to implement the comprehensive peace agreement is being disturbed.
As a consequence, the suspicion that nationalism might be
endangered due to dependency created by foreign meddling is
- The state, nationalism and civic education-Only
when the citizens are ready to contribute through whatever
means for the sake of the motherland, will the state be able
to take a leap forward in the structural development. We are
the sovereign citizens of an independent and sovereign country.
That is why in order to promote the feelings of patriotism
among us it is necessary to have civic knowledge, civic skills
and civic virtue. This will help safeguard the pluralistic
society and promote nationalism.
- Loktantra and civic education- Loktantra
and civic education have a solid relationship. Loktantra is
a system that relies on consensus and co-operation for its
functioning and its permanence depends on the behavior, rationality,
co-operation and culture of individuals. Since loktantra is
a system based on facts it has acquired legitimacy at the
What is the meaning of loktantra? According to Abraham Lincoln
democracy is the government of the people, for the people
and by the people. Democracy acquires two forms-direct and
representative. In the representative form of democracy the
ordinary people and the state do not directly participate
in governance and in formulation of policies and laws but
entrust the entire responsibility for this to the people's
representative elected in a free and fair election.
Why democracy? (a) Democracy besides being a political system
has become a way of life of the citizens. (b) Democracy establishes
equality. (c) Democracy protects plurality. (d) Democracy
is an established system in which political decisions reached
on the basis of the participation of the people. (e) Democracy
ensures the legitimacy of governance process. (f) The democratic
system ensures the right of the citizen to enjoy the fundamental
rights and adheres to the directive principles provided by
the country's constitution.
- The qualities citizens must possess in
a democratic system-
(a) Civic Knowledge- Since the governing power is vested in
the sovereign people of Nepal, it is essential that the Nepalese
people have knowledge about civic education. After the peoples
movement of 2046 and 2063 many changes have already taken
place in the Nepalese society. The present education system
of Nepal is unsystematic, faulty and profit oriented. This
has lead to the weakening and destabilization of the present
social landscape and the whole democratic system itself.
(b) Civic Virtue- In a democratic system the state grants
its citizens economic, social, political and cultural rights.
The individual has to assume certain duties and responsibilities
towards the family, society and country as a free citizen.
The following are the virtues that a good citizen should possess
in a democratic system- reasoned commitment, honesty, civic
mindedness, civility, open mindedness, courage, patriotism,
and the ability to think critically.
(c) Civic Skill-A citizen needs intellectual and participatory
skills in order to correctly distinguish one's rights and
duties and to be aware and vigilant about one's rights, duties
- Democracy and democratic culture- It is
not only the constitution but constitutional behavior that
helps develop democratic way of life and culture. There is
a difference between a person who is a democrat and a one
who has internalized democratic culture.
- Democracy and political parties- Political
parties are the collective property, basis and life of democracy.
In democracy the opposition is esteemed because they serve
as the ears and eyes of the government. The following are
the tasks of the political parties in democracy-1) to make
the people politically conscious and to provide the kind of
leadership that reflects the peoples aspirations, 2) to take
part in elections and to govern, 3) to manage social and cultural
activities and to hand over the political values, mores and
system to the next generation, 4) to act as a bridge between
the people and the government, and 5) to help in the creation
of a egalitarian society.
- The youth and the present situation-The
term youth does not only denote a person of a certain age
but is also implies the possession of enthusiasm and certain
type of thinking. At present the middle class youth, who should
play an important role in our society, are becoming alienated
with nationalism and politics and are migrating and becoming
citizens of other countries. On the other hand considerable
numbers of youths from the lower and lower middle-class families,
after spending a long time underground, are living in temporary
cantonments. The implications of these developments must be
assessed. Otherwise the whole political and economic system
of the country might become crisis ridden and invite appalling
(a) The youth and politics-We tend to pay more attention to
the negative aspects of politics rather than the positive.
The political field represents the power of the people. That
is why national and constructive politics should be the common
concern of all conscious citizens.
- Leadership and civic education-Honest and
competent politicians are the treasure of the nation. But
on examining the record of selection of leaders until the
present, it is clear that the criteria for selection are the
ability to carry the party's baggage, time spent in jails
and the ability rebel. Such people are given tickets in election
and are given representation in the policy making level.
- Social justice and civic education-Social
justice is the main essence of a democratic system. But in
our society the state discriminates in the provision of medical
treatment education facilities.
- Civil society and civic education-Civil
society engages in communicating, interacting, mediating and
jointly acting on issues of common interest. But civil society
is not an alternative to the state and it must not concern
itself with personal profit. Usually civil society is based
on three values. These values are independence, equality and
- Civic education and other subjects-An intense
debate is taking place in the country on whether technical
education is the key necessity of the country. This supposition
is true but not the whole truth. The knowledge of civic education
along with that of other subjects makes the democratic lifestyle
productive and effective.
- Conclusion-Nepal is passing through the
transitional stage. On the one hand since Nepal is a land-locked
country, she has to bear with foreign economic, political
and religious influence and on the other hand because of globalization
and the conditionality imposed by the WTO the principles of
democracy and social justice are being restricted. A constitution
drafted to reflect the aspirations of the people will ensure
the participation and identity of all and will generate a
sense of ownership. The task of restructuring a country is
a multi-dimensional, sensitive and difficult subject. To accomplish
this task it is necessary to rise above party, ethnic or narrow
communal thinking and bring about a transformation in culture,
tradition and mentality. The competition, alliances and political
polarization taking place among the political parties for
the sake of power only is deepening differences among them.
The responsibility not to let the national concerns be eclipsed
and to sensitively carry forward the task of civic empowerment
has now fallen on the shoulders of the youth.
Mr. Shiva Ram Dahal- Mr. Ananda Shrestha and the rest
of the team have arrived a bit late. He will now deliver the
welcome address and highlight the aim of the seminar.
Mr. Ananda Shrestha- I would first
like to apologize for coming a bit late. I will provide a short
introduction of Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS).
It was established in 1990. It has been organizing seminars
on national issues. The results of the seminar are published
in a book form. Around thirty to thirty-five books have been
published so far. Chapters from these books or the whole book
are used as course material for lessons taught from the ten
plus two level to the post-graduate level. Another objective
of NEFAS is to not confine itself to Kathmandu. Its primary
objective is to hold seminars in different parts of Nepal. It
is in this context we have chosen Melamchi as the seminar venue.
Many issues have been discussed in the paper and Mr. Shiva Raj
Dahal has already spoken about it. The direction of Nepalese
politics is uncertain. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow.
The prospects for peace and security are getting hazy. Many
people are getting angry and questioning whether people had
struggled for loktantra in order to bring about such a situation.
The youth do not have voice in the political decision making.
Until the youth become aware the situation will remain the same.
We have many leaders at present but no statesmen/stateswomen.
There is a vacuum at the leadership level. The youth have to
get involved. We do not say that they have to become members
of a particular political party. But they have to become politically
The youth are restive. Some are migrating
while others are joining parties. The authentic voice of the
youth has not been able to make itself heard. That is the reason
why this seminar is being organized. We have presented this
paper for discussion at ten to fifteen places. This paper is
not complete. Issues have to be added to the paper and it has
to be modified. Your suggestions will help to further refine
it and ultimately it will be published in a book-form. Suggestions
were given in other places also. Participants in those places
pointed out that many issues had not been included in the paper.
Different places have different problems.
I would like to thank you all for participating.
We have received help from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) for
publishing the books. Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta from the FES office
is here and he will also speak. We are grateful to FES for the
help provided. We believe in raising issues of national importance
in order to push forward such issues.
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-You all must have
received the booklet 'Handbook on Democracy'. One topic covered
is titled 'Democracy and its Branches'. This book has been written
in the Nepalese context. The branches are economy, environment
and history. The Nepalese economy is dependent on the donors.
Tax contributes only twelve percent of the GDP. Thought has
to be given to making the economy strong. We must also not forget
our history. If we attack our history our country might become
another Sikkim. Our foreign policy consists of supporting the
neighbor who is the stronger. We disparage China when we are
in India and criticize India when we are in China. We need to
adopt the policy of Panchasheel. Ours is a multicultural society
with diverse geography. Dolpa covers an area equivalent to four
districts of Terai but has a population of only twenty thousand.
These facts also have to be taken into account. We have to ensure
that in the name of federalism the country does not disintegrate.
We can win back democracy that has been usurped but once a country
has lost her independence it is not possible to undo it. Professor
Ram Kumar Dahal will now shed light on the major aspects of
Mr. Ram Kumar Dahal- Mr. Shiva Raj
Dahl has already spoken on some aspects. I will dwell on what
needs to be done to institutionalize loktantra from the perspective
of civic education.
Party Education-In classes run by parties
lessons are taught from the ideological point of view. Parties
other than one's own are projected as the villains. This gives
rise to a militant culture and as a consequence of this the
parties might clash with other.
Civic Education- On the other hand civic education
tends to approach this subject from the perspective of a citizen.
It tries to teach the citizens what rights and duties they have
from an apolitical perspective. Political education only is
not enough. It is necessary to look at the political parties
from the perspective of civic education also. The Terai provides
a good example of this. The education provided by political
parties has led to conflict. It is not possible for a single
party to gain a majority and rule. It is necessary to develop
a coalition culture. This has become a necessity because of
the election system we have chosen. Due to the mixed election
system the outcome of elections tomorrow will also probably
be the same. We have to learn to move ahead together and develop
a tolerant culture.
The focus at present is on the constituent
assembly and the new constitution. People have high hopes that
the new constitution will solve all the problems. But there
are growing fears about the constitution being completed in
time. There are no definite answers to such queries. If we move
ahead together it is possible. If we do not do so it will be
difficult. The information that is available to us is from the
same news media that is accessible to you all. The conflict
is not clear-cut as seen in the surface. We are hopeful however.
Globalization-If the economy is not strong democracy will not
be strong. The countries of SE Asia were not democracies before.
The opposition against these regimes was not strong however.
Here the economy is not strong but disruptive politics attracts
a strong following. According to this line of thinking the economy
must be strengthened to institutionalize democracy.
Since 2046 the impact of globalization and
liberalization has grown strong. The World Bank and the IMF
have imposed policy changes. In the process domestic infrastructures
and industries have been destroyed. We may have benefited to
some extent from this process but on the whole we have suffered.
The domestic industries could not compete. The government made
no attempt to save the industries. The Indians and the Chinese
only let the foreigners enter a limited area. They did not blindly
follow the liberalization policy. The economic system was liberalized
and the process of privatization initiated but the local industries
were given adequate protection. However in Nepal the local industries
could not compete. The locals of Kirtipur used to weave woolen
shawls and sell them in Ason. But they could not compete with
cheap, mass-produced shawls and folded up. The redundant labor
force joined political parties, worked for NGOs or sought foreign
employment. Our state did not try to protect the local industries.
We have not been able to rebuild the infrastructure
destroyed during the conflict. The economy is in shambles. The
movement in Terai, which was initially a political one, has
degenerated into Terain versus Pahadi conflict. Towards the
south of the East-West highway the situation of the Pahadis
is not good. There are thirty-three extremists group in existence
at present. In Birgunj many industries have closed down. The
industrial belt in Birgunj and Biratnagar are not functioning
in full steam. The situation is getting from bad to worse. This
is not a good sign.
After the success of the second movement the
influence of India has increased in Nepal. The foreigners are
not interested in democracy; they come here to fulfill their
interest. They will not help us to be economically independent.
I do not have concrete data here with me but in overall terms
the economy is in a bad state.
In order to institutionalize loktantra it
is necessary to respect history. It is said that history is
the story of those who win. We have to learn lessons from history
in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past. In a street
in Denmark I had visited there were statutes every five meters.
I asked my Danish friend the reason for this. He replied that
it is necessary to respect the role played by these persons
at the turning points of Danish history. Our students must be
aware of history.
The remote control that directs the affairs
of our country is not in our hands. The political events, both
seen and unseen are directed by India. The Americans have begun
to see Nepal through Indian eyes. The reins of the country should
be in Nepalese leader's hands. We must minimize foreign interference.
The citizens must be aware of the political developments. The
youth must understand which direction the government is taking.
They must be able to evaluate whether the foreigners activities
in our interest or not. The foreigners are bound to work in
their own interest. The Americans supported the military government
in Pakistan. Though the government violated human rights the
then Pakistani government served American interests. It is the
responsibility of the Nepalese people to understand what their
interests are and craft our policies accordingly.
Human Rights-Human right is important for
loktantra. As citizens we must be aware of our rights and duties.
At present every group is asking for their rights. This is not
a bad thing. The state must treat everyone without bias. We,
however, are not aware of our duties. In the new constitution
there is talk about incorporating the concept of fundamental
duties. At present there is no sense of responsibility towards
the state and disorder is increasing. Rights and responsibility
go hand in hand.
Rule of Law-The principles of the rule of
law will clearly be mentioned in the new constitution. Everybody
is expected to respect the rule of law. In this context I would
like to relate a small incident. Once in New Zealand the Prime
Minister parked his vehicle in the no-parking zone. The parking
attendant fined the Prime Minister. When he protested the attendant
politely replied that since there was no provision for a separate
parking slot for the Prime Minister he would have to pay the
fine. The Prime Minister paid up. If an infringement has been
committed the law breaker has to be punished irrespective of
his/her position. It is not only the weak that have to face
punishment. The law is only concerned with whether the law has
been broken or not. Law has to be supreme.
Separation of Power- The three organs of the
state are the legislature, judiciary and the executive. They
are equal in status and there should not be any outside interference
in their own particular spheres. But at present controversy
has arisen on the question of which is the proper authority
to administer the oath of office to the judges. It is our hope
that the new constitution will not infringe on the autonomy
of different organs. In such a situation the judicial organ
can warn the other organs when an infringement of the constitution
takes place. During the American presidential elections some
time back there was a problem with the electronic voting system.
The American presidential candidate Al Gore had lost his case
and when the press asked him for his reaction he replied that
since the court had given its verdict against him he would respect
the ruling. It is necessary to respect the judiciary. It helps
to ensure the human rights of the people.
Election-In order to establish democratic
government competitive, free and fair elections are necessary.
Then only will the people's choice be accurately reflected.
The election commission has to be neutral. Only then will loktantra
be strong. The defects of the election system have to be rectified.
Nepal was the first country in South Asia to bring into use
the voter's identity card system. Due to various reasons it
could not be used in the last election. In Kathmandu a person
had cast his ballot eighteen times. If such incidents of abnormalities
decrease loktantra will become strong.
Political Parties- Parties are organization of the people. If
they do not become strong loktantra will not become strong.
They are the pillar of democracy.
Siddhi Narayan Shrestha- Who was the
person who cast his vote eighteen times?
Ram Kumar Dahal- This has not been
officially proved. But the Avenues Television had broadcast
images of underage children casting their votes under the very
nose of representatives of human rights organizations, civil
societies and the election commission.
Civil Society- Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has already
said that civil society is an apolitical and non-profit organization
run to protect the interest of the citizens. The governments
in the western countries are scared of such organizations. American
civil society groups had organized a big demonstration in front
of the White House to protest against American intervention
in Vietnam. They had warned that intervention would adversely
affect the image of America. These groups wanted to be true
to their conscience. Whether the government would heed their
voice or not was a different matter. It is the duty of the civil
society to try to bring the government on the right track. In
Nepal, however, every party has its own civil society. It is
hard to identify civil society groups that are totally independent.
The civil societies have begun to develop after 2046. This is
a positive development.
Political Culture- Every citizen must understand that he/she
is a resident of a particular ward and a citizen of a particular
country and he/she has duties towards these institutions. Political
culture is not developed overnight. The culture has to be inculcated
from childhood. In Demark my friend stopped in front of the
red light at the traffic intersection. The street was empty
and there was no chance of any vehicle arriving within five
minutes. But he did not cross the street until the light turned
green. It is necessary to learn from childhood that rules must
not be broken. Without the development of such a culture the
country cannot move ahead. Civic education has an important
role to play in this. The return on investment on education
is not easily visible but it has a long-term impact.
Good Governance- After 2046 the policy of
liberalization was speeded up at the behest of the World Bank.
Western countries do not give aid unconditionally. The main
reason that aid is denied to Burma is because it has a military
government. Good governance is one of the preconditions for
aid and the tenth five year plan has incorporated the concept
of good governance. The government has to be transparent and
accountable. The judiciary has to be independent and the participation
of the people in governance must be ensured. Good governance
is important because without it there will be no loktantra.
Types of Democracy- There are two types of
democracy- direct and indirect.
Reconciliation- We must develop the culture of reconciliation.
We must move ahead together otherwise the future will not be
bright. After the political changes in South Africa, Nelson
Mandela stressed the need to change priorities. He said that
the economic sector should given more importance than the political
sector now that the political change has occurred. We also need
to develop a common agenda. We have no one to put the blame
on now. Political parties have to show this spirit. Due to election
system the result of future elections is also likely to be the
same. Only the future will show how successful the politicians
will be at displaying political sensitivity.
Peace- It will take a long time to reconstruct
the infrastructure destroyed during the Maoist and Terai movements.
In the Terai many industries are closing down because of the
demand for donations and fear of being looted. The peace process
will not reach its logical conclusion if we do not act responsibly.
The foreigners are also contributing to the conflict. Nepal
is unique in that a decade long conflict was brought to an end
without third party mediation. The Maoists entered the mainstream
on their own initiative. Peace has to be in our own interest
and the process has to be owned by us.
The new constitution has to reflect the wishes
of the people if it is not to be burnt on the day it is promulgated.
Forty to fifty lakhs youth are working outside the country.
They will come home in their old age. This will turn Nepal into
an old-age home. Our government proudly proclaims that a hundred
and one countries have opened their doors to Nepalese laborers.
The state has to stop sending the youth outside the country
and create job opportunities within the country.
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal- FES Program Officer
Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta will now speak. He has submitted his
Phd. thesis to the London School of Economics.
Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta- I would like
to welcome you all on the behalf of FES. If we integrate all
the qualities mentioned above the country will be strong. There
have been seven, eight movements for the cause of democracy
but the problem has not been solved. Economic statistics show
that the poverty is increasing and disparity is widening. Ninety
percent of the population is mired in poverty. We are living
on slogans. Ten percent of the population controls ninety percent
of the resources. What needs to be done to break out from the
cycle of movements? We must discuss about this issue. Who will
guarantee the different categories of rights? Can the state
guarantee them all? People say that politics is a dirty game.
The youth are hesitating to join politics but it is the youth
who can bring about changes. We have to bring the youth into
the mainstream. Civic education can help create the critical
mass of conscious citizens. In our country people still equate
civic education with religious education. Civic education seeks
to develop civic culture. It has not yet developed in Nepal
and due to this reason political stability has eluded this country.
The 18-35 age group constitutes the biggest
chunk of voters. They however do not occupy positions of authority.
They are used and then discarded. Because of the lack of opportunity
many of them are leaving the country. If the economic, political
and social rights cannot be guaranteed political culture cannot
develop. This could lead to emergence of a counter-political
culture. There was a big political change in 2062-63 but the
thinking has not changed. The politicians who were active in
2007 still occupy the center stage.
The monarchy has been abolished but other
things remain the same. Unless we bring the youth into the mainstream
we cannot move ahead.
It is said that four hundred families control
the economic and political life of the country. They are well
represented in the media, politics, administration and the economy.
A hundred and twenty business houses control the economy. They
are given loans by the financial institutions and are protected
when they default on their loans. The government is creating
a dual system in the health and educational sector. One section
is run by the private sector while the other sector is run by
the government. Those educated in the public sector are not
able to successfully compete for jobs and they tend to go to
the Arab countries in search for jobs. Due to this sort of structure
we are creating two classes of people.
Politics is not being taken as a form of service but as a ladder
for self-aggrandizement. Until now no system has worked for
the public's welfare. Political equality flows from economic
equality. Many promises are made during the course of the movement
but with the conclusion of the movement they are promptly forgotten.
The productive sector has not been developed. In the aftermath
of the French Revolution people were afraid to assume responsibility
because of rampant insecurity. But once the productive sector
was expanded, people lost their obsession with politics. A large
chunk of the masses joined the productive sector. How can we
break away form spiral of bandhs and movements? Who is responsible?
The parties are under the grip of individuals
for long periods. Political parties must be strong. The more
trouble there is the greater the danger to our sovereignty.
There must be internal democracy in the parties. The tendency
to capture the party, government and the administration by a
small clique is growing. The voice of ordinary people is not
given a hearing. A client state is being created. We have to
think about how to transform the client culture into a civic
culture. We have to approach this task in a holistic way.
Ambassadors and other important appointments
are made on the basis of closeness to the power centers and
not on merit. Due to such causes the culture of Green Card is
developing. For the last fifty, sixty years we have been entrapped
in the same vicious circle. Our problems will not be solved
unless we can break out of it. The Russian President is around
forty to forty-two years of age. In Nepal people aged seventy
still claim they are youths. Everybody is aware of the problems
but who will bell the cat? If there are no changes another movement
might take place. We thought the movement of '62-'63 would solve
all the problems. The productive forces of the country are not
in the country.
This sort of seminar is held to increase the people's awareness.
We can put our problems before the political leaders. It takes
ten, twelve years to address the social problems but for that
we have to lay the basic foundations. According to the proponents
of globalization one should not invest in the social sector
because it does not give any return on the investment. They
believe money is everything. However social capital is also
important because without it political needs cannot be fulfilled.
It is needed to produce good political leaders. In other countries
also there are problems but they do not become prolonged. We
need change in every sector, especially the political culture.
Our leaders have an anti-intellectual culture.
The ultimate goal of democracy is to fulfill
our needs. Our per capita may have increased but this gain is
confined to the cities. In the villages there has been no real
change. We could not create new job opportunities. Industries
have to be established to solve this problem. We need change
in the economic, social and the political sector and we have
to urge the political parties to work towards this. In the 1980's
in Eastern Europe the leaders only dished out promises. The
citizens launched a movement against these empty promises and
put pressure on the leaders. At present there is political stability
and economic development there. Once the problems are identified
one can search for solutions. This sort of programs will also
help us to open up. Encouraging the youth to express themselves
as part of capacity building is another reason for organizing
this program. Thank you all for participating in the program.
Shiva Raj Dahal-Please mention your
names when you ask the questions.
Siddhi Narayan Shrestha- We heard many
things that were intellectually impressive. But when will we
solve our problems? There were discussions about the importance
of law. Nepal is handicapped because the law is handicapped.
There is folk tale that I would like to narrate. One day in
a certain country the queen began to cry. Soon the whole country,
from the king downwards to the common man, began to cry. A holy
man asked the people the reason for their tears. They had no
answer. The holy man insisted that there must be some reason
for their strange behavior. They then replied they were crying
because their immediate superior started crying. The holy man
then went to the queen and queried her. She said she started
crying because her best friend, a laundry girl, cried. The holy
man got hold of the laundry girl and quizzed her. She replied
that she was crying because her donkey had died. Nepal is a
country which cries when the donkey dies.
The leaders are like donkeys. Why stay in
this country when there is no future? Ideas are the most important
thing. People who fell a few trees are punished but those who
plunder the whole jungle go unpunished. You intellectuals please
try to do good things. We on our part will continue to plough
the field. I have studied till class eight in the school I established.
I am being used as a scapegoat. The Melamchi Project wants to
bypass our committee. We want to provide water to Kathmandu.
Sher Bahadur Deuba and Prakash Man Singh were imprisoned for
twelve months for taking a bribe of twelve cores. Nobody wants
to talk about this.
Shambhu Prasad Pandey-I am a United
Marxist Leninist party district committee member and the central
co-coordinator of the peasant's organization. If the ideas generated
in this seminar are implemented the country will develop. The
biggest problem with our country is that we have vision-less
leaders. Indira Gandhi had apologized to the people for the
mistakes committed by her after she lost the election and said
that she was not a devi. In the next election she won with a
two thirds majority. The problem with our country is that the
leaders are not willing to acknowledge their mistakes.
Nepal is a small country with rich resources.
But the problem is that nobody wants to work. They want to send
the youth of the country to various countries of the world so
that they rule the country peacefully. Another point is that
we do not have any pride. However idealistically we may talk
in reality we act at the prompting of others. We have to tell
India that Nepal is small country; different powers will enter
Nepal and create problems for India. There is conflict in the
Terai. The members of various groups create trouble in Nepal
and take shelter in India. In the Mahadev age there was war
in Terai. From this period it is clear that one cannot be successful
while conducting wars in the plains because armed groups can
be encircled and destroyed. We can manage our own security.
We can deploy our one lakh army in the Terai and seal the border.
We do not need India's help. The main root of the problem is
Without money nothing is possible. I invested
in farming and fisheries. The Agricultural Development Bank
only gives loans to Marwaris. Nepal Bank is more professional.
The bank mangers say it is better to lend large sums to big
businessmen than to provide loans to farmers. The Bharatiya
Janta Party is an urban based party in India. In Nepal the communist
parties are also becoming urban centered. Baburam Bhattarai
became the most successful finance minister in Nepal. But the
money he collected was misused. It was invested in land and
housing in the urban areas. The parties are successful in conducting
movements but not in institutionalizing the gains.
The conflict had its roots in the villages
and the fight there against injustice. The people had expected
big changes after the movement of 2046. There might be another
movement if the problems of the people are not addressed. The
government announced that it had decided to waive interest on
loans amounting to one lakh rupees and had refunded the banks
but the banks did not return the money to borrowers for two
years. The amount was invested in the urban areas. The money
did not go back to the villages. The managers said that it is
easier to provide loan of one cores to one person than disbursing
it to hundred persons. The Mahakali treaty was passed with stricture
attached after the House was disrupted. But after that the establishment
got more arrogant. The boundary must be regulated according
to the Harka Gurung's idea. Economics is the key. We are moving
towards the stone-age. There is demand for a state for each
ethnic group. This will lead to chaos. Nepaliness is our ethnicity.
Each federal state should incorporate the Himalayan region,
hills and the plains within it. This will lead to mutual benefit.
I initially thought NEFAS was just another
group that incites people but found it to be different. This
group should take its message from village to village. We have
a tendency to blindly support our leaders. May this seminar
give us the courage to choose the right path.
Prakash Shrestha-Civic education is
a multidimensional subject. The paper presented in praiseworthy
and it has included many things. The reality is hard. According
to one report thirty-four lakh people go to bed hungry and seventeen
lakh children below the age of five suffer from malnutrition.
According to a recent report of the Education Ministry out of
the forty-seven lakh children who joined the primary level only
thirty percent passed. Other data show that of the hundred students
who join class one only twelve reach the lower middle school
level. What I want to stress is that the hungry people and the
drop-outs are suffering because of the social, political and
economic structure. Only the creation of a thriving economy
will lead to the establishment of a stable democracy.
I am a bit confused. Please clarify what should
come first, democracy or the economy? Will there be economic
development with the establishment of democracy or will democracy
come after the creation of a strong economy? Is the wrong practice
of democracy responsible for the large number of dropouts? In
the Terai single women of economically weak background are labeled
as witches and mistreated. Rotten rice has been distributed
even while we talk about food sovereignty. All these issues
are related to social justice. Can such problems be solved through
the means of an authoritarian system? Or can democratic values
guarantee citizen's right and security? When will these rights
be guaranteed? The political parties, despite their public stances,
are not able to implement programs because of the diverse character
of the Nepalese society.
We have still not been able to properly manage
the conflict. Mr. Baburam Bhattarai had opposed the market economy
during the conflict. But during his tenure as finance minister
Mr. Bhattarai had to work with the World Bank and the Asian
Development Bank and accept the market-economy system. Globalization
and liberalization is a product of human development. Since
you are scholars please tell us what options there are and what
will ensure economic development and security? The program is
incomplete without the participation of political leaders since
such discussions among us will yield nothing. It is the political
leaders who teach people about rights and duties. Please rectify
this shortcoming in future programs.
Chandra Dev Bhatta- The question that
has been raised is a good one. Should development be for democracy
or democracy for development? In South-East Asia, including
China, human rights is not a priority, economic development
comes first. They believe that once development takes place
other rights can be guaranteed. As regards the question whether
a democratic country or authoritarian system meets citizen's
needs, Cuba is an authoritarian country but its health system
is the best in the world. Citizen's need in terms of health
and education has been fulfilled. When the state satisfies the
citizen's requirements they tend to show less interest in politics.
In France after the revolution people were afraid to assume
public posts because they feared the aroused public. It was
only after the revolution was backed by creation of jobs in
the industries that things stabilized. What sort of economic
system should we adopt? A system based on the principles of
liberalization, privatization and globalization? The Washington
Consensus has failed. Economic policies based on this principle
had dissolved the relations between the citizens and the state.
This doctrine did not believe in investing in unproductive sectors
such as education and health. But such investments help create
social capital. Five months ago the G 20 summit was held in
UK. The meeting decided that the old policies were not effective
and the time had come to think differently. These policies had
only increased the gap between different groups.
Globalization cannot be reversed. Countries
have to learn to compete within the context of globalization.
We need a social charter that lays down policies on such sectors
as education and health. We should welcome investment. But investment
has been coming in with certain conditionality such as the structural
adjustment program. The Latin American and South East Asian
countries have social charters. SAARC also has a social charter.
We need investment but we have to have some say in certain areas.
We have to democratize the economic structure and power. The
NGOs and INGOs hold social forums every two years and are working
to lessen the affect of WTO on small countries. How to protect
the interest of smaller countries is one of the issues they
discuss because such cannot compete with the developed countries
on equal terms.
We are developing bourgeoisie capitalism in
which only a certain group of people get jobs. Only economic
sectors such as housing and consultancy are flourishing. This
will not help address the problem of poverty. People with good
education background can only compete in such an economy. We
have to move towards industrialization and develop agriculture.
After 2046 we are no more self-sufficient in food products.
After the initiation of the process of liberalization in 2046,
subsidies given to the agricultural sector was removed. However
in the Europe and America the agriculture sector continues to
be subsidized. Agriculture sector affects the industrial sector
through forward linkages. The agriculture based industries collapsed
in Nepal. The leather factory was closed and the machines sent
to India. Many people lost jobs. If the agro-based industries
had survived many people would have found jobs within the country.
Now is the time to choose between revenue-based
economy and production based economy. We must hold discussions
concerning what sort of economy we need. There are demands that
the government guarantee social security. But does the government
have the capacity or resources to do so? Before 2046 thirty
one to thirty two percent people fell under the tax net. Now
it is even lower because of tax evasions. We have to move towards
production-based economy otherwise people will have to go outside
the country in search of jobs. The modern state has been created
to fulfill the different needs of the society. The migrants
might send back remittances but at the same time many come back
in coffins. This is a twenty-first century type of slavery.
Man-power agencies opened by people with political clout are
engaged in sending people outside. That is why there has been
no change. Each and every student believes that education should
be the responsibility of the state but the private educational
institutions have been opened by those with political clout.
Hospitals with five star facilities are being opened in the
country by the same group of people.
Another question concerns the civil society.
One of the participants wants to know the reasons for the civil
society hesitating to raise issues of public concern and what
role civil society can play in the present context. In the last
six seven years a wrong concept of civil society has developed.
The civil society should work for common benefit of the people
and not for personal interest. But in Nepal such is not the
case, here the state has been captured by certain groups and
a client state has been created. Each party has its own civil
society. This has politicized the civil society groups and they
are unable to think about the interest of the state and the
problems of the citizens. Since they are divided they cannot
address our problem.
There are many issues that the civil society
should be tackling. For example the relations between the hills
and Terai are deteriorating. They should be working on repairing
the torn social fabric and initiating discussions about which
sort of a federal system will help strengthen the relations
between different parts of the country and which sort will weaken
relations among them. The urban based civil society has a different
agenda and is not concerned even if the country breaks up because
its funds and philosophy comes form outside the country. They
are accountable to outsiders. The civil society has not been
able to initiate serious discussions because its leaders are
self-declared. The Katwal case exposed the divisions within
the civil society. They have not been able to create a critical
mass of conscious citizens. The traditional civil society, which
used to help people in times of need, has been suppressed by
the city-based ones. We could not institutionalize democracy
after 2046 because the state did not develop a mechanism to
address the development of an apolitical culture.
Rajendra Prasad Shrestha-We are happy
to be able to listen to the intellectuals from NEFAS about civic
education. It is a matter of regret that we Nepalese do not
seem capable of seeing the broader picture. Janga Bahadur had
gone to UK more than a hundred years back. He gave no thought
to what aspects of British culture was worthy of emulation and
of the need to put stress on education. He was more interested
in remaining the Maharaja and the Ranas ruled for a hundred
and four years. The Panchayat system remained for thirty years.
Nepal has not been able to progress. I had got the opportunity
to visit America. In Virginia there is one kilometer long tunnel
which people can visit by paying an entrance fees. Outside the
tunnel there is plaque that states the tunnel was constructed
in 1725. Products of that period such as carriages and toys
are exhibited there. The goods are of better quality than those
produced by Japan at present. We are three hundred years behind.
Politicians tend to be blind. Many children
in the nearby villages have not been able to study. The attention
of the whole world is fixed on Katmandu and large amount of
donations have been provided. Big apartments and hospitals have
been built at huge costs but their sewerage pipes have been
connected to the Bagmati River. They have not even built their
own septic tanks. A road to link Gaushala to New Baneshwar has
not yet been constructed. Sometime back a tank had been constructed
in Patan to make use of the garbage collected in Kathmandu but
we do not hear of it anymore. Dissatisfied people belonging
to political parties hinder the disposal of garbage and create
havoc in Kathmandu.
We have organized this program top impart
knowledge of civic education to the youth but all of them have
left the country. It is already twenty years since democracy
has been established but the result is not satisfactory. Who
is to blame? I believe the education system introduced in 2028
has failed. I also worked as a teacher and the Director used
to tell us that fifteen to twenty percent of the students had
to be passed. The Minister recently beat up the CDO. In such
a situation who will build Nepal? People who love the country
have not been able to reach the top while many illiterates are
members of the constituent assembly. In ward number four of
Melamchi there are five hundred households but the children
there can only study till class three. Children marry at the
age of fourteen and fifteen and beget many children. Those who
have studied till class three might become criminals as well
as members of parliament. The only thing such members of parliament
know is how to insult others. If there is mutual respect loktantara
will become strong. If not foreign interference will increase,
Nepal might become another Sikkim, Afghanistan or the army might
Dhana Prasad Shrestha-I am the former
chairman of the village development committee. We got the opportunity
to hear many things. The participation of the youth should have
been greater and those present should interact more. But we
seem to be too pessimistic and comments such as there are no
visionary leaders in Nepal were heard. If such comments are
true we have no hope. We should be optimistic. We also hear
a lot about the control of Nepalese affairs being in foreign
hands. This is not true in all fields. We have to be optimistic
otherwise there will be no change. I did not earn any money
while I was the chairman and some people consider those who
do not earn by any means as useless. This is the culture we
live in; therefore we should not blame the leaders only. We
have to change the culture.
Shiva Raj Dahal- We have pointed out
the weaknesses of the political parties and leaders in order
to help them overcome those deficiencies. We do not seek to
malign them but to encourage them.
Prakash Shrestha-Mr. Dhana Prasad Shrestha
seems to have gotten into the habit of listening only to praises.
Shiva Raj Dahal-Dinesh Giri and Ram
Dunwar seem to have asked a similar type of question. They have
asked why civic education is necessary. We are in the transitional
stage. People ask for rights but they have forgotten about duties
and responsibilities. Civic education brings about a balance
between the two. Dependency has increased. We have to learn
to be self-reliant. We feel proud to become the citizens of
a foreign country. We have to think about what can be done to
enhance our pride in being Nepalese. Civic education helps to
make us conscious of this need. Our boundary is being encroached.
Yes, India is stronger than us but can we not internationalize
this issue? The youths can pressurize the leaders on this issue.
This is another reason why civic education is necessary. From
a practical point of view also this education is necessary.
The youths are not aware of the need to shut public taps to
conserve water and to turn off public lights during day time
despite load-shedding. Toilets have been built but people defecate
and urinate behind it. The toilet here is also unusable. Can
one person keep a toilet used by so many students clean? The
youth have to be conscious.
The court has prohibited smoking in public
places. But in public gatherings we seek out places in order
to smoke. Who is to teach people? Civic education is the medium
to teach people about these issues. Respect for elders, considerate
behavior towards the juniors and other such aspects of socialization
is inculcated through the means of civic education. There is
trend among the good students to leave the country. Only students
poor in studies and those who lack money remain in the country.
Where will this take the country? The labor of the youth should
be exerted for the good of their families and country's sake
and not only for the foreigners. The youth should understand
their duty towards the country and towards themselves. If a
person is healthy the country becomes healthy. Even if the youth
leave the country for foreign lands they should be aware of
their responsibility towards the country. Their behavior outside
will reflect on the country. The parties have created a militant
culture among the youth of the country. There should have been
one student organization working for the welfare of the students
of the country. However each party has its student wing and
each seeks to create hurdles in the functioning of others. This
creates conflict. Civic education is thus also necessary to
make the students aware of their responsibilities to the nation
Prakash Shrestha-I think you should
deal with questions that deal with other aspects of civic education
rather than those already discussed beforehand.
Shiva Raj Dahal- There is another question
from Dinesh Giri. He says that the trend of going abroad for
studies has increased and asks whether only by studying in a
foreign country a person will become capable. I believe that
knowledge cannot be found in cities. If it were to be found
there we would not have come here to conduct this seminar. Gautam
Buddha had acquired knowledge in the villages; he had not been
to any university. The villages are being used to test concepts.
To be a famous person it is not necessary to go to foreign countries,
one can be great by serving the country.
Daman Bahadur Bharati- Some of the
issues raised here is being taught to the students from the
elementary level. It is not necessary to raise such issues in
seminars. New areas should have been explored. Toilet training
is a part of simple civilized behavior. On page eight of the
paper the term constitutionalism is mentioned. What is the meaning
of this term?
Ram Kumar Dahal- Laxman Dulal has asked
a question that has to do with the rule of law and impunity.
He wants to know the role of the state and civil society in
this regard. We all know about these concepts and I tell my
students that my job is to teach about this concept and yours
to study it. But in reality these concepts are not put into
practice because we do not have a proper environment. None of
us seem to be in favor of implementing the rule of law. Impunity
is a big problem. In order to end impunity and establish the
rule of law the role of both the state and the civil society
is important. But since the state also sometimes violates these
norms the civil society has to play the central role in this
regard. Let us hope the civil society of the future will play
an important role in this regard.
I want to add a few words on the issue raised
by Prakash Shrestha concerning a sustainable economy and loktantra.
There is debate going on in the context of writing the new constitution
on what sort of role the state should have in the field of development.
One line of thought believes that the state should only act
as a facilitator while others stress the need for the state
to actively participate in developmental activities. I also
teach in the Rural Development Department. I believe in the
urban areas the state acting only as a facilitator might be
enough. But in Humla and Jumla this sort of role will not be
adequate. There the state may have to act as an initiator of
development. The state must not shirk from its responsibilities.
If there is democracy economic development can take place and
if there is economic development democracy can be strengthened.
There is a reciprocal relationship between the two.
Rita Pakhrin has asked how women's right can
be secured in the new constitution. There is no need to worry
on this account. The women activists are putting pressure on
the drafters of the constitution in this regard and they have
been successful to a large extent. There will definitely be
some positive development in the new constitution concerning
Dhan Bahadur Moktan has asked why thirty to
thirty five percent of the eligible voters cast their votes
in America and European countries while over sixty-five percent
of the voters cast their vote in Nepal. In America and Australia
some people are maintaining that not to cast ones vote is also
ones right. But if the trend of declining voter's participation
continues, laws that make voting compulsory might be enacted.
In America time is money. At a minimum people can earn two dollars
for one hours work. If a person works for seven hours he can
earn fourteen dollars. From the monetary perspective he/she
will gain nothing by voting. Since they tend to think in terms
of money the number of persons casting their votes might further
Another questioner wants to know how the political
deadlock can be broken. The parties have the capability to enforce
a Nepal bandh at the drop of a hat. If they have the desire
they can easily solve the problem. What is needed is political
commitment. If everybody sticks to his stand this deadlock cannot
Shiva Raj Dahal- I will try to clarify
a point raised by one of our friends and then we will move towards
the conclusion. Daman Bahadur Bharati seemed to imply in his
remarks that children have already received moral education
in schools. However there is a difference between moral education
and civic education. Moral education maintains that our elders
and teachers do not make mistakes and we have to obey them.
But the current concept maintains that we must be able to assess
what they say and obey them only if they are in the right. If
they are wrong one must be able to convince them of their mistaken
view. Moral education relates poverty with one's fate and blames
it on one's misdeeds in the previous life. But civic education
puts the blame for poverty on the incompetence of the state.
It says poverty exits because of the failure of governance on
the part of the state. The Christian religion exhorts people
to work hard to improve one's condition while our religion asks
us to be satisfied with what we have. That is why we have to
improve on the traditional moral education and move towards
adopting civic education.
Another point I want to clarify is that the
concept of constitutionalism that I have mentioned in the paper
is not new. To gain international acceptance we have to adopt
certain values. The first point is that sovereignty should be
vested in the people. Secondly the state should be run by persons
elected by the people. Thirdly law should act as a check on
the arbitrary actions of a majority government. Fourthly there
should be a balance between citizen's right and human rights
under constitutionalism. Fifthly there should be a constitutional
guarantee of an individual's right and freedom. Sixthly there
should be separation of powers and lastly there should be a
responsible and accountable administration.
Ram Kumar Dahal- I would like reply
to another question by Narayan Prasad Subedi concerning the
guarantee of fundamental rights. The rights will be guaranteed
in the new constitution but the important thing is whether we
will be able to exercise it or not. We will know the answer
to this only in the future. Another question concerns the applicability
of civic education in real life. Once there was a priest who
publicly in his preaching exhorted the people not to eat brinjal.
But in his home he asked his wife to serve him brinjal and told
her his exhortations were only meant for public consumption.
Application of the norms depends on ones personal behavior and
without adherence to the values lecturing only has no meaning.
Another participant has asked when people will become aware.
It takes years to develop the appropriate culture and this is
a difficult task. If the subject is included in the curriculum
and the children are educated from an early stage on that basis
the correct foundation can be laid.
Shiva Raj Dahal- I would like to request
Radha Krishna Sir to make the concluding remarks. The good turnout
of people in this program is due to him.
Radha Khrishna- I am happy that many issues
were raised is course of the discussion. I would like to thank
NEFAS for giving us the opportunity to host this program and
I would also like to thank the participants who consented to
attend this program. Both the elders and youths have put forward
their views. All of us are engaged in our professions by abiding
with certain ideals. There may be certain weaknesses in this
regard but all of us are trying to fulfill our duties. The main
lesson we must learn is the need to be accountable and then
to safeguard our rights. I am engaged in the teaching profession
and this seminar has been helpful in this regard. How accountable
have I been towards the students? How responsible is the student
towards his/her own future? The weaknesses have to be rectified
or lessened. Civic education will help us distinguish the right
from the wrong.
The people are angry with the politicians.
But as the paper has pointed out the ultimate solution has to
come from them. Everything is directed by politics. Blaming
the politicians only will not bring any benefits. That does
not mean that constructive criticism is not necessary. We have
to provide suggestions. Educational certificate is not enough,
we have to be aware. However much we talk about the qualities
of a good citizen the test is in the application of these values
in our interaction with the family, friends and society at large.
It is only due to chance that I got the opportunity to know
this institution. I did not have any prior interaction with
this institution. I had only talked on the phone with Shiva
Raj Dahal. NEFAS had originally planned to organize the seminar
in the district headquarters but a chance encounter with Shiva
Raj Dahal led them to hold the seminar in Melamchi. I would
like to thank them for this opportunity.
Chandra Dev Bhatta-We have received
one last question. The questioner has asked why civic education
is necessary. I would like to provide a short answer this question.
People have multiple identities. A person is first a human being,
secondly a member of either female or male sex, thirdly he/she
belongs to a certain nation, fourthly he/she is a member of
a certain caste, and fifthly he/s she belongs to a particular
language group. People thus have diverse identities. Multiple
identities will not help consolidate loktantra. The challenge
is to create a national identity and a civic identity from these
different strands. America is also working towards this end.
America is receiving migrants from all parts of the world. America
is promoting civic education to create an American identity
form these multiple identities. In Nepal people are struggling
with identity crisis in the form of ethnicity, regionalism,
social problems etc. Civic education is necessary to create
a national identity.
Shiva Raj Dahal-In the end let me talk
briefly about nationality. In Europe the national flag flutters
from every house. In Nepal we find party flags in the houses
but we will not find the national flag even if we search for
it in the whole locality. In Nepal at present the situation
is such that the national flag and constitution are being burnt.
A country acquires a distinct identity through religion, culture
and tradition. These are the very elements that are under attack
at present. Huntington has said that if religion and culture
are attacked the state cannot continue to exist and disintegration
can take place. We have to take this into consideration. If
loktantra is taken away we can bring it back. But if in the
name of self-determination in Terai nationality is fragmented
we will find it very hard to restore it. The youth have to keep
this in mind. Constitution is the medium which acts to bring
the citizen and the state together. That is why we have sent
our representatives to the Constituent Assembly to draft the
constitution. We have to evaluate whether these members are
working to fulfill the mandate we have given them. If we fail
in our duty the future politics of the country might be problematic.
We have to be on our guard.
Laya Prasai-The one day seminar has
given the message that the youth are the most important element
of the society. If the youth's leave the country the nation
will be faced with intellectual vacuum. I now declare the seminar