Civic Education: The Role of the Youth
in the Making of a Modern State
Seminar organised by Nepal Foundation for
Advanced Studies (NEFAS)
15 October 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 Sukuna,
Morang district. Hundred and four participants belonging to
different fields of life participated in the seminar. 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.
Mr. Bed Raj Acharya spoke about youth and the current situation.
The discussion that followed brought out the latent feelings
of the participants and gave an idea about the current public
mood at the grass-roots level. The participants were also provided
with the booklet 'Handouts on Democracy'.
Paper Presentation and Discussion
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-Nepal Foundation for Advanced
Studies (NEFAS) was founded in 1990. This is an intellectual
organization which holds seminars on different issues of current
interests. It has published thirty-five books, which incorporates
the views of the citizens, so far. These books have been included
in courses that are taught from the ten plus two level to the
post-graduate level. Some of these books are included in the
course 'Current Society'. The seminars are being organized with
three purposes in mind. They are (a) to help institutionalize
the democratic culture, (b) to highlight the importance of the
constitution-making process and to see that the national agenda
is not overshadowed by other issues and (c) to initiate discussions
on contemporary issues.
I would now like to request Mr. Laxmi Kumar
Shrestha, head of the education department, to chair the seminar.
I would also like to request Mr. Ananda Shrestha, who has thirty-two
years experience of teaching English, Professor Ram Kumar Dahal
and Dr. Bed Raj Acharya to take their seats in the podium. Mr.
Ananda Shrestha will now deliver the welcome address and shed
light on some aspects of the seminar.
Mr. Ananda Shrestha-Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has
already provided a short introduction. I will only add a few
things to shed light on the background and make things more
clear. NEFAS is a purely academic organization which was established
in 1990. As of now it has organized many seminars on economic,
political and social issues of national importance. This seminar
will also be useful for the future as it can serve as a guideline
for the policy-makers since its proceedings will be published
in a book form in the near future. This organization is not
aligned with any political party. It has published thirty-five
books so far. We are proud that these books are prescribed for
courses that are taught from the ten plus two level to the Masters
level. This has further motivated us.
The topic of discussion today is civic education
for the youth. We plan to hold seminars on this topic all over
Nepal. We have already been to thirty-five to forty places.
Youth social scientist, Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal, will present his
paper. This paper is not complete. If it is further refined
it can be published in book form. We have received various suggestions
in different places. This will help rectify the weaknesses.
We are confident that we will receive more inputs from you all.
You may wonder why this focus on the youth.
Youth is not defined in terms of age group. This term denote
those who can help in nation-building. That is why it is necessary
to focus on the youth. The youths are disengaging themselves
from the nation. Why do they not want to stay in the country?
We oppose the view that the youth should only focus on education.
We do not maintain that they should carry the flags of the parties
but that it is necessary that they should be politically conscious.
If they are not politically conscious the nation cannot move
ahead. The nation has tried different leadership in the last
sixteen years but the hopes of the people have been belied.
The youth do not have a voice in the decision-making
process. We only get to hear news of the youth wings of the
parties fighting among themselves. The sustainability of the
democratic system has still not been assured. If the youth can
be made conscious the leadership can be kept in check and this
can give us some hope. After the paper is presented, Professor
Ram Kumar Dahal and Mr. Bed Raj Acharya will make additional
comments. Once they have finished making their comments please
provide your suggestions, which we will publish. I would now
like to take your leave and would like to request the Chairman
to conduct the program.
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-I have presented the paper
in thirty to thirty-five places. I am not an expert. This paper
has been prepared to initiate the discussion. It is not chronological.
This topic is taught as part of 'Contemporary Society' in the
Education and Arts stream. Some time back it has been decided
to make this subject compulsory. In the Party Schools the cadres
are taught only the perspective of the party. Civic education
as such is not taught. In the past moral education was taught.
When Kashi Raj Dahal had gone to Italy he noticed that it only
took five people to register their dissent and the concerned
authorities took them seriously. But in Nepal dhunge sanskriti
(culture of violent protest) has developed. This is due to lack
of civic education.
There may be many nations within a state.
To protect nationalism the feelings of every group should be
respected and they must be given representation. The voters
must wisely utilize their rights. Fifteen lakhs people of voting
age are in the Gulf. The remittance they send accounts for nineteen
percent of the GDP. They however do not have any political clout.
Members of a limited number of families are living in the United
States, UK and other developed countries. They take a large
amount of foreign exchange with them. They have access to the
power centers. People who had sought refugee status in order
to stay in foreign lands are occupying important posts at present.
A minister needs to feel that he/she represents the whole country
once he/she becomes a minister. There is a need to spell out
qualifications for politicians who aspire to hold posts also.
Paper presented by Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal
Shiva Raj Dahal: 'Civic Education:
The Role of the Youth in the Building of a Modern State.'
- 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
8) (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. Bed Raj Acharya-We at NEFAS are
happy that we were able to hold this program in Sukuna Multi-purpose
Campus. This is a conscious area of Morang district and we are
happy that we have been given the opportunity to interact with
the intellectuals of this area. The Campus is running post-graduate
course in six subjects. I would like to convey my greetings
to you all. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has presented his paper. It
is an exhaustive paper which covers many things. When this paper
was presented in other parts of the country there was one comment
that was regularly heard-the paper was too harsh on the parties.
The country has seen many movements (from'36 to '62-63) and
twenty thousand people have died in this process and we have
now become a Republic. But if we observe the political situation
without any bias it is clear that the political problems have
not been fully solved.
By going though the newspapers one can see
that those who have been elected to the constituent assembly
to draft the constitution are debating trivial issues such as
who should be allowed to go the casinos. Some assert that the
states and sub-states in the federal system should be given
the right to self-determination without the right to secession.
Comments lacking in gravity such as these are heard. There are
some issues that are not put down in writing in the constitution.
If things are not implemented it has no meaning. The constitution
of 2046 was touted as the best in the world. Mr. Bharat Mohan
Adhikary, who I believe represented your constituency, was part
of the constitution drafting team.
But within ten years that constitution was
We are living in the twenty-first century
and the people have become conscious. Their feelings of conscious
citizens must be respected. A comment such as granting the right
to self-determination without the right to secession trivializes
the issue. This is my personal feeling. Some of you might think
that it is right that the constitution prohibits secessionism.
Time will tell. We cannot change what will happen tomorrow by
holding discussions today. Whether tomorrow will be a sunny
or a cloudy cannot be decided by holding discussions among us.
This is a thing that will be clear to everyone only tomorrow
morning. A political solution has still not been reached even
after the death of twenty thousand people and we are still stuck
in the political crossroads. We need an answer to the question
as to whether we have gained or lost what we were looking for.
This is the first question.
Those of us who are closely observing the
situation in the country are getting the impression that a sadist
psychology is taking hold in the country. I am a fifty year
old man and am beset with anxiety that I might be insulted anytime
I go out of my home in Biratnagar. In the name of empowerment
two Madesh movements have taken place. Madeshsi living in Nepal
have to be provided with quality education on a competitive
basis. But that does not mean they are to be provided opportunities
on a platter. This is the age of democracy, a competitive era.
You must get something from somewhere after demonstrating ones
qualifications and competence. Opportunities must be provided
on a competitive basis. The Madehesi community must be provided
access to health, educational facilities and opportunities for
economic development. Education, health, economic opportunities
and awareness program are the basis of empowerment. This is
the path to empowerment.
Empowerment does not come by throwing stones
at Pahadi girls and raising lathis (sticks) when others protest.
We have been provided relief from one conflict but are embroiled
in others. At a period when we are claiming that the nation
has made a big achievement the Pahadis are not in a position
to visit the fifteen southern districts of Sunsari for fear
of being kidnapped. Pahadis have moved from Janakpur to Bardibas
(around 30 kilometers distance) after selling their property
and from Rajbiraj to Fhattepur. Twenty thousand people have
died. Is this what we fought for, is this the achievement? We
need to seek an answer to this question. And in accordance with
the answer we have to improve our social behavior. When a adult
or women feels insecure as soon as he/she leaves her home, the
person will lose the feeling of being a citizen of a particular
country. This is my second question.
The third point is that sometimes I attend
different seminars in neighboring countries such as India and
Bangladesh. This is the age of communication and in this age
the internet, English language newspapers and reporters are
present everywhere. There are reporters from all over the world
in Kathmandu. In such a context, leaders talk frivolously to
impress their cadres. The media then highlights these remarks.
Friends from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India ask for clarification.
I had recently traveled by train from Calcutta to Hyderabad
before Dashian. In the bogey I met a number of intellectuals.
They asked many questions. It made me feel that we are insensitive.
They are aware of the activities and the opinions of our leaders.
Near my seat there was a Central Reserve Police Force sergeant.
He had passed the intermediate level and was going to Guwahati
as his force was dealing with the Bodoland movement. He said
that he did not know much about politics but said that the increase
of anti-India activities by Pakistan in Nepal was making them
Different persons posed different questions.
These questions were sensitive from the perspective of nationalism.
The image of our nation outside is not good. Another asked me
who is co-coordinating the top leader's activities now that
Nepal has a minority government. They asked questions in minute
details. I tried to defend the country and the nation's leaders
as best as I could. I do not know how successful I was. This
is the age of communications. We must not make others laugh
at us. Has the time come for us to insist that such remarks
not be made anymore? Is it not time we start to realize that
only if the country remains intact will the parties we support
continue to exist? After the establishment of the multi-party
system the whole political structure of the country was changed.
The Panchas were replaced by the multi-party leaders and cadres.
If the parties do not change their ways they also might be displaced.
The country must remain and we must be able to be proud of it.
I met different persons and they asked perceptive questions.
I did not have convincing answers. By their facial expressions
I could see that they were not convinced by my answers. It is
time to decide whether we must change or not.
I am a student of economics. Mr. Shiva Raj
Dahal has given the figure of migrant laborers as fifteen lakhs.
Last year I had gone to the Labor Department in course of small
research I was undertaking. According to the information given
by the Director General of the Labor Department thirty-five
to forty lakhs youth are working outside the country. Devendra
Bhattarai's report from Qatar in the Kantipur daily makes clear
the activities the youth are engaged in there. We hear of injuries,
deaths and imprisonment of the members of the expatriate community.
People leave the country for two reasons. The affluent class
studies and leaves the country for better opportunities. If
they can get respectable jobs it is good and the country should
be proud of them. The Indians are proud of Mahendra Chaudhary.
Chandrashekar Venkatarraman, an American citizen of Indian origin,
recently got the Noble prize. Baroda, a town in Gujarat, held
an illumination program to celebrate the occasion.
A Gurung from Jhapa has become a mayor in
UK. We have to be proud. The NRNs are at present holding a national
convention in Kathmandu. Mr. Shesh Ghale has expressed his willingness
to invest five billion rupees in Nepal. We must be proud of
such people. In this age of globalization people can go any-where
and help increase Nepal's image. But when people, due to lack
of capital, go abroad by selling two bighas of land to work
in low status jobs in extreme heat that is different. This lowers
the prestige of the country. What will be the state of the family
when people who were supposed to work and pay off the debt return
home in a coffin? The state of the people who go to work in
the Gulf countries is not good. The then Director-General of
the Labor Department told me that the hope of earning money
in the Gulf countries is a mirage. The person might bring back
five-six lakh rupees and he/she may use it to buy some dhur
of land in the towns to build a three-room house. If a proper
valuation is made of the property the amount will not be much
bigger than money he got by initially selling two bighas of
land. Only capital exchange has taken place. The person has
not gained much. I agree with his comments because he belongs
to a responsible entity.
Another thing we have to understand is that
people such as Mr. Shesh Ghale has shown a willingness to invest.
Everyone is giving them importance and every party is saying
that they should be granted dual citizenships. They are being
given the red carpet treatment. But with the coming of winter
if the party workers ask for donations from MR. Ghale and students
ask for contributions form the manager of Mr. Shesh Ghale to
fund their picnic programs the investors will be discouraged.
An investor must feel his investment is safe. This is our responsibility.
It is not me as an individual or a peasant toiling in the field
but the political parties and fraternal organizations which
should realize this. Mr. Upendra Mahato has stated that the
investment climate in the country is still not good. Must we
not think over this issue?
I am a man with elementary knowledge of economics.
What we should understand is that with the establishment of
the Sukuna Campus thirty to forty persons with MA and MEd. degrees
have been able to get work. If a primary school is established
in the locality three, four persons will be able to get work.
But the problem of rising unemployment will not be fundamentally
solved. To do that the establishment of industries is necessary.
An investment friendly environment for the NRNs must be created.
Are the laborers to be exploited to create such an environment?
No, they do not have to be exploited. The workers must get remunerations
according to their skills and productivity but unions should
not come up with unnecessary demands. If factories were established
those who go to the Arab world for jobs would get work here.
They can earn rupees ten-fifteen thousand in the Gulf countries
which they will be able to earn here if they work for the same
number of hours. If investment friendly environment is created
the Nepalese would not need to work in fifty degree centigrade
heat in Arab countries. Factories would be established in Kathmandu,
Hetauda and the Morang-Sunsari corridor and we would be able
to provide jobs in a better environment.
There is need to bring a change in mentality.
How to bring this about also should be the topic of discussion.
In India foreign investment is increasing and one of the major
destinations for such investment is Gujarat. Ratan Tata decided
to shift the production of Nano cars from West Bengal to Gujarat
after he faced trouble in West Bengal. As a result CPM lost
many seats in the election in West Bengal and Trimul Congress
won. Another investment friendly state is Orissa. There in a
single factory fifty to hundred thousand people get respectable
jobs. If ten such factories were established in Nepal those
people working in the Gulf would get work here without having
to leave home. Must we not be sensitive to create such an environment?
Another tragedy of our country is the failure
of diplomacy. Our relations with foreign countries are not good.
We are not sensitive about the effects of the remarks we make.
Our relations with other countries are unbalanced and are getting
chillier. We are not sending experts to the diplomatic mission,
we are sending party workers. Economic diplomacy has not made
progress. The main conflict has been solved. The Maoists have
entered the mainstream and have won the largest number of seats
in the Constituent Assembly elections. But has all the other
conflicts ended? We cannot go to Siraha and Saptari for fear
of being kidnapped. Is this what we all were looking for?
There are other things such as the civil society.
It should be able to treat the whole society without bias. But
all the parties have their own civil societies. Will such groups
look after the interests of people who are not attached to any
party? At present while making appointments political affiliation
not competence has been made the basis. In Mahendra Morang Campus
people are interested in finding out whether their ethic group
or party has been represented or not while recruiting new teachers.
If posts are allocated on the basis of party affiliation and
ethnicity, will this increase or defuse the conflict? Are we
to further fuel the conflict or seeks ways to defuse it. This
also has to be a part of today's topic of discussion. There
are other things such as the mentality of not taking defeat
gracefully is also increasing in the parties. There is also
the tendency to seek victory at any cost. And if this does not
seem possible people are willing to even go to the extent of
breaking up the party. This will become a problem for the country.
We are also seeing the tendency of accepting an individual's
rule. This will not benefit anybody. The rule of law has to
take roots. Not enough voice has been raised in this regard
at the national level. Thank you
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-Professor Ram Kumar
Dahal will now highlight important points form the booklet 'Handbook
Mr. Ram Kumar Dahal-I want to add a
few things to what Mr. Acharya said about foreign relations.
Since the advent of the multi-party system the conduct of foreign
relations has been weak. Both are two neighbors are not happy
with us. One of the factors contributing to this is the weak
law and order situation in the country. The Indians complain
that anti-Indian activities are taking place in Nepal fuelled
by persons who travel to Nepal through the Karakoram highway
and enter Nepal through the Kodari highway. They also grumble
that industries with Indian investment are being targeted. The
Chinese on the other hand complain that Indian country nationals
come to Nepal unhindered and some Indian political leaders even
entered China by wearing Nepali caps. Nepal is becoming the
abode of criminals. For Nepalese money has become the most important
thing. If payments are made to them they are not concerned about
the activities of foreigners in Nepal. Pakistani criminals were
caught on the basis of information provided by the Indians.
Our security system is weak and our image
in the international arena is not good. I have had personal
experience of this. When the immigration department at the airport
in Paris saw my Nepalese passport they did not let me proceed
with the other passengers. I could not communicate with them
because of the language barrier. I was afraid that I would miss
the connecting flight to Copenhagen. The only reason for my
detention was because Nepal has an image problem. One of my
friends was body searched. This is due to weaknesses in foreign
policy. Untrained Nepalese manpower is being sent abroad. Our
parties do not have a common stand on foreign policy issues.
They support the agendas of different parties. Indian political
parties have difference of opinion on almost all domestic issues
but on matters concerning foreign policy they present a united
The hand-book explains what principles need
to be upheld to institutionalize democracy.
- Rule of Law-We
all know law must be supreme. The law is concerned only with
whether a crime has been committed or not and not with the
rank of a person. If democracy is to be institutionalized
the law has to be supreme, everyone has to adhere to it and
its autonomy must not be encroached. I will provide a small
example. The Prime Minister of New Zealand had once parked
his car in a prohibited area. He was fined seventy dollars
by the parking attendant. The prime minister was furious and
disclosed his identity. The attendant politely replied that
they do not have a separate park for the Prime Minister and
unless such space is provided for he would have to respect
the law. The Prime Minister paid the fine. The Prime Minister
has to obey the law. If this principle is not adhered to it
will not be possible to institutionalize democracy.
- Separation of Power-Every
student of political science knows that there are three organs
of the state and each has to function within its own sphere.
When Montesquieu had first laid down this principle he has
stated that the judiciary, executive and the legislature,
the three branches of the state, must have their own autonomous
sphere of activity and not
interfere in the work of the others. In Nepal however the
question to whom the judiciary should be accountable and from
whom the judges should take their oaths is being raised. The
Nepal Bar Association has objected to proposals to restrict
the autonomy of the judiciary. An independent judiciary can
establish the rule of law. If the judiciary is not independent
other problems might arise in the future. Any sort of action
that raises suspicion about the independence of the judiciary
must not be raised. We must think about how this principle
can be established in the new constitution.
- Political Culture-The
mere establishment of a democratic system is not enough. The
practice and behavior of the politicians, right from the top
to the lower rungs, has to conform to its value. If this does
not happen the country will not develop. In a seminar held
in Kathmandu the former head of the public service commission
had given an interesting example. Three or four boys had entered
his compound to steal fruits from his garden. When he asked
them if they were not ashamed to commit such a deed they replied
that when the members of the constituent assembly indulge
in vandalism and in wrong practices and are not ashamed why
they should be ashamed. What we should worry about is not
a particular theft has occurred but that culture conducive
to wrong-doing is taking roots. In our country people are
clamoring for their rights but none is willing to do his duty
to the state. A democratic system is not enough the culture
of the people and the leaders must be democratic
c) Public Service-Public service must be provided by those
working in public bodies to all on a timely basis. Service
delivery must be provided on time and if this does not take
place the democratic system cannot be consolidated.
- Good Governance-
The elements that lead to good governance must be strengthened.
The new constitution must ensure good governance in the country.
This concept must be incorporated in the constitution and
concrete plans to promote this concept must be put forward.
- Economic-The previous
speaker, who is scholar of economics, has already spoken about
the economy. He raised a good issue. Even though this is not
my field I would like to add a few things. The kind of trends
presently being seen in the country will not strengthen democracy.
I had recently gone to attend a seminar in Birgunj. Compared
to my previous visit the number of functioning industries
had gone down. There were many reasons for this state of affairs
but one of the main reasons was the fund raising activities
of the trade unions. Without a strong economy democracy cannot
be strengthened. Many industries in the Birgunj have been
closed. Many factories have to bear the brunt of the fund
raising activities of trade union and other groups. Until
industries are established there can be no strong economy
and without such an economy democracy will not prosper.
The government has to come up with concrete plans to rectify
the situation. The businessmen and industrialists have time
and again have stated that the law and order situation is
deteriorating and the economic condition is going from bad
to worse. The Marwaris only have retained their houses in
Nepal; they have transferred their capital outside because
of lack of investor friendly environment. Democracy might
fail because of the economy. This has happened in many third
world countries. In South East democracy is being strengthened
because of their strong economy. Whether we can succeed in
this task depends on the leaders. Nelson Mandela, once he
came to power, downplayed the political agenda and laid stress
on the economic agenda. But in Nepal we tend to talk only
about political issues. That is why the possibility of success
the small countries globalization is a curse. We are already
a member of WTO. For the rich countries this is a boon but
for us the picture is mixed. We have gained because the remittance
from the workers abroad is sustaining the economy. This was
one factor that sustained us during the conflict. People who
are capable have taken benefits from globalization. But poor
countries that do not have competitive export products are
at a disadvantage. In this competitive age we cannot remain
aloof from the global trends. We must identify our competitive
capabilities. Then we can make inroads in the world market.
But overall the process of globalization has not benefited
us. We need to minimize the negative fallout of globalization.
We cannot remain aloof. Thank you.
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-The organizers
of this seminar have expected a lot from you all. If you have
some questions the learned scholars are ready to provide answers.
I would now like the participants to provide their suggestions
and seek clarifications.
Mr. Amrit Prasad Acharya- I teach in
this campus. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal in his lengthy paper has dwelt
on the main issues. The presentation was good as it focused
on the major issues in a bid to save time. I am not conscious
of time constraints when I start to speak. Even if I exceed
the time limit I am hopeful that you will forgive me. Issues
have been raised in the paper. It is necessary to consolidate
some of the points raised and the paper presenter has missed
some points. Civilized behavior and morality can be gained either
through books or by experience. Concerning civilized behavior
I would like to relate my experience. To become civilized the
citizens and especially the intellectuals will have to make
a big effort. Without oneself being civilized one cannot make
others civilized. Let us assume we intellectuals are civilized.
In this context I want to talk about how a limited number of
persons can work towards making the youth and students civilized
all over the country.
One day while coming here from Biratnagar
I got into a bus going towards Dharan. Near me were seated a
couple with their two sons. The elder one, who was around eight
years old, was sitting with his father and the other one was
smaller and was sitting on the mother's lap. In the course of
the journey we struck up a conversation. Once the bus started
the mother took out oranges form the bag and gave it to her
sons. The younger boy peeled off the oranges and ate it but
kept the skin of the oranges with himself. I intently watched
them to see if he would throw the skin out of the window. But
the boy did not throw the skin out of the bus window. Near Itahari
the boy asked where the container was. I came to know that the
elder son was born while the father was in Japan. The younger
one was born abroad. They had come home after a gap of four,
five years. What can we learn about civilized behavior from
that child? The child ultimately deposited the skin in the bag
carried by his mother.
I will talk briefly about morality. This is
something I had read. This is an episode described by Shiva
Khare in the book 'Living with Honor'. A man went with his two
sons to watch a newly released film in the local cinema hall.
One son was around ten years old while the other was six. Inside
the gate of the cinema hall there was a sign-board with the
notice that children below the age of six would be provided
free entrance. At the counter the father asked for two tickets.
The clerk at the ticket counter looked at the younger son and
asked how old the boy was. The father had beforehand instructed
his younger son to tell anyone who asked his age that he was
five years old. The boy replied accordingly and they managed
to watch the movie at the cost of two tickets. Next day another
father came with his two sons of similar age group but asked
for three tickets. The ticket clerk asked the age of the younger
son and was told he was six years old. The clerk told the father
that if he had asked for two tickets the clerk would have provided
it without fuss. The father replied that was it right to make
his son immoral since an early age in order to save two dollars.
He declared that he would do no such thing. What sort of moral
lessons should we learn from this story?
Another issue that has come up is about the
sister organizations of parties. The sister organizations and
the political parties need to consolidate themselves. The sister
organizations, as the very word sister implies, are not the
ward of the political parties. It members consist of educated
people also. They should be able to direct the parties towards
the correct path. But in our case the sister organizations tow
the party line blindly. We have not seen the sister organizations
pointing out the mistakes of their mother organization. They
are only being used as a tool. This will bring problems in the
The constitution is in the process of being
drafted. As there is still time left we have to be optimistic
and believe that it will be drafted. As we are living in a distant
part of the country we do not know what is really happening.
If the government is studying minutely the constitutions of
other democratic constitutions we welcome it. But if that is
not the case NEFAS and other similar organizations should conduct
an in-depth study of different constitutions in the remaining
time period and come up with a model suited to the local condition.
This will ensure the longevity of the up-coming constitution.
Has this been done? I am curious about this.
The conduct of foreign policy is one among
the many failures that we are at present confronted with. India,
because she is a close neighbor, and America, due to her status
as the sole superpower, show interest in Nepalese affairs. In
India, whichever party or coalition comes to power, their policy
remains constant. In this context I would like to emphasize
the need to make our foreign policy constant through discussions
among the different parties. I liked the idea of internationalization
of the border issue. Without internationalization of the issue
we will continue to be bullied and the boundary will continue
to be encroached.
In the context of civic education it should
be taught in some form from the basic to the university level.
If possible it should be taught as a different subject and if
that is not possible in some form or other. Civic education
becomes automatically intertwined with moral education and knowledge
of this needed for every field. At present there is the wrong
perception that moral education is linked with religion. We
need to transform moral education into a form of civic education.
Moral education has to be integrated in this manner and the
course designed accordingly. I would like to especially request
NEFAS to provide civic education to the youth from its side
and to put pressure on the political parties to provide civic
education to their youth. The parties are using the members
only to carry their agenda and for electoral purposes only.
Even those at the leadership level at the districts are not
versed even in the basic concepts of the ideology they profess.
Let the party provide civic education to their sister wings.
If the parties do not agree organizations with a national outlook
must provide civic education both inside the classrooms and
I feel this point can be a new thing. I will
not dwell on elections before '48 because they are Panchayati
elections. From '48 to '56 there were regular elections-by-elections,
local and parliamentary elections. Youths from Mechi to Mahakali
must ask one question with those who ask for votes. They must
be questioned whether there will be consensus on issues that
the state must raise and act upon once their candidate is elected.
The party's own agenda and the national agenda must be differentiated.
The nation should come first and then only the others. How many
among the six hundred and one constituent assembly members can
tell the difference between national agenda and the personal
political program? At the most a hundred members can point out
The issue that needs to be added is impunity.
There are no two opinions on the fact that the impunity has
increased. A criminal is a criminal, in the eyes of the law
all are equal. In New Zealand the Prime Minister had to pay
the fine. In our country we have to strongly demand that the
political parties not give protection to those who break the
law. A criminal is a criminal no matter what. Binod Luitel was
kidnapped and murdered on the eve of Dashain. Many younger brothers
are being murdered and younger sisters raped. If we can end
this state of impunity the country will take a leap forward.
This has to be emphasized. I am sorry for taking such a long
Mr. Laxmi Kumar Shrestha (Chairman)-If
some one has anything to say please express it briefly, otherwise
we will move towards concluding the seminar.
Mr. Mohan Lal Majhi Khaswas- I would first
like to thank NEFAS for holding the program and providing me
the opportunity to participate in it. We Nepalese have conducted
large movements in 2007, 2046 and 2062-63. But despite these
events and in spite of living in the twenty-first century we
are in a Kumbakarna like state. Kumbakarna used to go sleep
for six months and remain awake for the rest of the year. The
Nepalese have become conscious but the problem is that there
are as many parties as there are individuals. All of us here
are affiliated to one or the other party. Once a person had
asked Yudhisthir what one should do to become rich? He had replied
that one must be able to be self-less. But we cannot sacrifice
our self-interest. We tend to teach in ten schools and engage
in multiple professions.
I started studying civic education from class
nine and at the masters level I studied political science which
is another type of civic education. The leaders struggled for
democracy in '46 and for loktantra in '60-'63. Both the terms
mean the same thing. Political science and civic education teach
the same thing. Political science talks of political and social
rights. We are in the transitional stage. Because we are living
in the twenty-first century it is necessary modify concepts
and incorporate them in the new constitution in order to move
forward. You have come here at a time when we are engaged in
this process. You all must have given your suggestions when
the members of the constituent assembly had come here to gather
suggestions. The draft constitution will again be sent to the
villages for discussion. Then also you can give your suggestions.
Our generation cannot make drastic improvements but we can show
the way. The mistakes of the past cannot be rectified at once.
Mr. Guru Prasad Adhikari-The paper
is good and has treated the issues in depth. It has given a
realistic picture of the present political situation. But I
am curious about one thing. The main heading of the paper states
the theme of the seminar as 'Civic Education: The Role of the
Youth in the Making of the State' while just below the topic
of the seminar is given as 'Civic Education for the Youth'.
Which of these titles expresses the theme of this seminar? Or
are both of the titles complementary to each other. This paper
has analyzed the present political scenario well but the main
focus of the paper, the role of the youth, could have been addressed
better. If data about the percentage of youth, who fall in the
age group 15-35, who are involved in criminal activities had
been provided it would have been better. We heard that fifteen
lakhs youths are working outside the country. Data about how
many youths are employed within the country and how many of
them remain unemployed should have been provided. If such a
breakdown of the data had been provided it would have provided
a clear picture of the situation of the youth in the country.
In context of giving civic education what issues should be included
within it should have been specified and the agencies (such
as teachers, political parties, family, NGOs and clubs) that
should be responsible for providing this education should have
been specified. The paper has highlighted the present political
situation and has not put enough stress on the youth and the
Mr. Prem Prasad Bhattarai-I work in
this campus and I would like to thank NEFAS for deciding to
hold this interesting seminar here. This is a good issue. Although
the topic is a bit vague this is important and challenging issue.
This effort to raise awareness among the Nepalese people and
make them conscious of their environment is praiseworthy. We
are more concerned with the personal lives of others and not
enough with question about which direction the country is heading.
At present the question of civil supremacy has become a challenging
one. What is civil supremacy? If things do not go according
to ones preference there is tendency to oppose it. We do not
have a statesman capable of looking after the interests of the
whole country. The country does not have a guardian at present.
This is a good point raised in the paper. The country is like
an orphan, we do not know where to go if there is injustice.
If one is a member of a party one might receive help. The goons
are receiving political protection. There is a reason for this.
If the goons are not provided protection the politicians will
lose the election. We have elected only leaders, not statesmen.
A women and her paramour had killed the woman's husband in a
nearby village. The human rights workers went to the detention
centre and demanded to know why she was kept in a damp room
and why she had not been provided with a mobile-phone. These
activists work to protect criminals. These activists also need
to be provided civic education.
The task of building the nation is not easy. We have to have
knowledge of our past. We tend to read books about Marx and
Gandhi. Have we read our own books that are rooted in our soil?
Of what help will be the principles of Gandhi and Marx be? We
are getting this sort of education. We thrive by putting the
blame on others. The Panchas blamed the Ranas and the proponents
of the multi-party system put the blame on the Panchas. We talk
of the Madhesis committing atrocities against the Pahadis. We
however have not behaved well in past as our treatment of the
former Panchas shows. Many of them had to leave their homes
and they were not allowed to canvass during the election.
We have not made a proper study of our soil and geography. I
have studied up-to to the Masters level but I was not taught
about the local perspective. We say people have become sovereign
but the reality is that the people are starving. What sort of
sovereignty are we talking about? In the past some people had
to enter the jungle or go to India because of the pain they
felt. These people have been elected as our representatives.
They have big hearts but are ignorant of the methods. What did
they learn in the jungle? They seem to have learnt how to create
obstructions. Those who cannot get things done indulge in the
politics of opposition. Many people at present cannot survive
without alms. We talk about the problems of the proletariat
but a growing amount of cultivable land is being developed as
housing plots and sold. Many parents are not able to feed their
children. We are producing criminals. This paper did not touch
on these aspects. Our basic mentality is that we have a propensity
to proffer advice but not to work. My basic point is that we
need education that reflects the actual condition of the country.
Our district level leaders are not present here today. They
are comfortable doing what they know.
Mr. Uma Nath Bhattarai-It is not necessary
to teach the conscious youth about civic education. One needs
to go to the grassroots level. Things are not working properly
because of this defect.
Mr. Ganesh Lal-There is many good things
in this paper. This education should be imparted at the central,
grassroots and party level. This institution must work as a
pressure group. This subject must be taught not only to those
who join the humanities stream but in engineering and medical
courses. It is necessary to have knowledge of this subject to
work in any field. This concept is similar to the idea of compulsory
Mr. Shyam Narayan Shah-We are a country
without any statesman. The politicians are drafting the new
constitution. Six committees only have finished their work.
The day the constitution is promulgated it will be burnt in
the districts because of the type of ideas they have incorporated
in the constitution. If the politicians had been properly taught
in party schools we would have gotten a better constitution.
We might get a new constitution but only with foreign help.
Mr. Ananda Shrestha-I believe we do
not even have leaders (netas). Leaders have some vision. We
only have politicians in this country.
Ms. Kamala Maskey-NEFAS has held a
good program on youth and civic education. Suggestions have
also been provided. What is the role of youth in national development?
This aspect should have been incorporated. It is necessary to
increase the participation of youth in this field. It would
have helped the constitution making process if the netas (leaders)
had also been socialized in this field. The citizens have already
provided their suggestions.
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal- We have come to
the end of the program. Weighty suggestions have been provided.
The deliberation will be published in book form. Earlier books
have been quoted in the course Contemporary Nepalese Society.
We have organized seminars in thirty-five to forty places. Three
years ago we had organized a seminar in Biratnagar.
A man on a cycle used to pass though the border point between
Nepal and India everyday with bag full of sand. The ASI of the
post and cyclist developed a friendship over the course of time.
Two years later the officer was transferred. In their last meeting
the officer asked the cyclist what he did with the sand since
he had not built a house. After much coaxing, the cyclist replied
that it not sand that he was transporting. He confessed that
he was smuggling bicycles and the bags of sands were used to
divert attention of the security officials.
Many suggestions have been provided and we
will incorporate it. We are passing through the transitional
phase. In Europe every country has a national flag and it hung
with pride. Here we are burning our national flags. If religion
and tradition are encroached upon the state will not survive.
If history is denied than Nepal might not survive.
Professor Ram Kumar Dahal-I have often
been asked to define what civil supremacy is. The basic principle
of civil supremacy is that those who are elected should rule.
.Democratization of army means that elected representatives
should be responsible for laying down policies.
Mr. Amrit Prasad Acharya-When I spoke
before I did not raise the issue of language. This paper should
have conformed to the norms of contemporary Nepalese grammar.
If I did not point out the shortcomings in this field I would
have failed in my duty. I read English books and I understand
enough of it. I do not find grammatical errors in them. The
present paper must pay attention to the contemporary standards
of Nepalese grammar and spelling. One has to be careful to ensure
that because of the language shortcomings a wrong impression
is not created.
Professor Ram Kumar Dahal- We would
like to thank you all for the suggestions. We will follow your
Mr. Laxmi Kumar Shrestha (Chairman)-Thank
you all for participating in the program. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal
and Mr. Bed Raj Acharya had requested us to help hold this program.
We had sent out invitations to around seventy-five to eighty
people. Because a holiday has been declared in the campus the
number of participants has been affected. Party intellectuals
had also been invited. NEFAS had left this matter up-to us.
Today's speakers have come from Kathmandu and we were looking
forward to listen to what they had to say. The participation
today is encouraging. Many friends take part in programs organized
by their respective parties only. This is somewhat different
program, it is an intellectual program. It has provided an opportunity
to express their innermost feelings. These views will be published
and the books are prescribed in the course Contemporary Nepalese
Society and are taught from the ten plus two level to the Masters
level. We need to know what our needs and interests are and
about the past and present trends. In this paper the focus is
on youth. While in college we were fond of singing revolutionary
songs. These had depicted social reality of that particular
time. The trend then was to become a lahure and the songs of
that period depicted the life of Malaya Lahures. When the Nepalese
in Assam were persecuted songs were written about it. Fifty
lakhs youth are said to be working outside the country at present.
Different songs reflect this reality.
Our ministers and secretaries proudly announce
that they have been able to secure quota for five hundred workers
from Korea. What is the implication of this type of thinking?
In the villages poverty stricken people go the well-off people
and request them to raise their children in return for the service
they will render. What is the difference between such people
and our government? Politically conscious citizens are needed.
Every youth must understand this. The political parties are
the key. The youths of '36-'46 are in leading positions. But
where are the products of '45-'56? A gap is being seen and a
vacuum has emerged. This has created a leadership vacuum. Participants
have said that there is no statesman at present but history
also creates leaders. BP and Puspa Lal were ideological leaders
while Madan Bhandari was an ideological as well as a charismatic
leader. The present generation of leaders is known as rebel
leaders. Big changes have been made but we have not been able
to institutionalize it. We must hope and not indulge in negative
thinking only. Time will show the results. We have solved a
major problem and reached this stage. We can take South Africa
as an example. We have to analyze things positively.