Seminar on Building Modern State through Constitutional
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
7-8 April (Salyan), 9-10 April (Dang)
organised a two day seminar on Building Modern state through constitutional
Mechanism in Salyan and Dang district on 7-8th and 9-10th April,
2010 respectively. In both the district the programme was participated
by the high ranking government officials, officials of the security
organs, local political leaders, members of civil society, lawyers,
students, journalists and other stake-holders of society. In Salyan,
Acting Chief District Officer, District Police Chief, District
Education Officer actively participated in the programme. Likewise,
in Ghorahi, Chief District Officer Rishi Ram Dhakal actively participated
in the two days progrmme. In Ghorahi, Bidur Prasad Poudel, Vice
Chancellor of Mahendra Sanskrit University was the chief guest.
In both the places there were more than 100 participants. Speaking
from the Chair Vice Chancellor Poudel said that even if we extend
the tenure of Constituent Assembly, there is no guarantee that
constitution will be written in time. Political parties should
take responsibility of writing Constitution in time.
In both the programmes, Dev Raj Dahal, Kashi
Raj Dahal and Chandra D. Bhatta spoke about state, constitution
and the principles of democracy respectively.
Floor Discussion (Salyan)
During the floor discussion many participants
actively spoke about the current state of affairs in the country.
They talked about political, economic, educational, foreign
policy, security, and national interest related issues. Speaking
from the floor Durga Bahadur Shrestha said that we are a small
state and federalism is not suitable for us. Pawan Devkota asked
what the difference between law and social justice is and how
they are practiced in Nepal. Hari Shamra Acharya said that political
stability can contribute towards economic development. He said
that there are three phases of modern state-building in Nepal:
class struggle, class compromise and class coordination and
different political parties have different approaches to these
phases. But if we really wanted to have a functional state,
we have to strike a balance among these three factors.
Ms. Bishnu Sharma said that in order to successful
social transformation, we need to improve our education system.
Small state cannot afford to have federalism, he further commented.
Dhan Raj of Nepali Congress said that Ranas
ruled Nepal for 104 years and during that period they neither
constructed roads nor opened up schools as a result people could
not opposed the system primarily because neither they could
travel nor they could learn or understand the situation. He
further said that system of governance is linked with human
nature which is also linked with instinct to corrupt power and
we need to develop proper controlling mechanism than only system
can work - whether it is parliamentary or presidential. He suggested
for the need of some sort of moral education in the country.
We need to have independent judiciary (not controlled by political
parties) for the prompt deliverance of justice. Mahesh Bikram
GC said that we need qualified teachers. Teachers Service Commission
should be made constitutional Commission. Rishikesh Jung Shah
suggested that Nepal should not have more than 5-6 states and
should be drawn on the basis of geography. He further said that
the current education model is useless and there is an urgent
need for the vocational education to be introduced. We also
need to bridge the gap between urban and rural education system
as this can generate latent conflict in society. Perhaps, we
could take the benefits of modern technology to bridge this
Dhirendra Bhandari said that 1990 constitution
did not take any mechanism to control latent conflict in society
as a result it was disowned by some sections of society. Therefore,
we need to strike a balance here as well. He further said that
Chhetris are being ignored by the society and attempts are being
made to sideline them. We have not looked at the consequences
of doing this. We do not need to have the reservation system
as there is no concrete measuring rod as who is to be reserved,
perhaps, meritocracy should be respected and mechanism should
be developed so that everybody can have access to resources/power.
Moreover, it also contradicts with the notion of inclusive democracy
that we have floated. Sharada Bishwakarma said that rather than
focusing on reservation we need to uplift those who are weak
, backward in the society by adopting certain methods.
Jeevan BC suggested that education should be politically free.
Federal state should adopt education system as per their need.
The provision of punishment and reward should be employed in
every sector, including in the education sector. Tuition culture
should be discouraged as it is promoting corruption and abuse
of power in education.
Bir Bahadur Silwal said that freedom is most
important for the decent livelihood of human being. Our political
leaders and people are more into politics and less in productive
work as a result majority of our arable land is left barren.
He further lamented that political leaders are sending their
kids to the separate schools and they are using the kids of
common people (janataka chhora) for their political activities.
Merely distributing few books will not enable poor students
to stay in the school. We are using old political culture for
the new political movement which is not going to work.
Dilli Raj Regmi said that we should have constitution
based on democratic values that can address both current and
latent conflicts of society. We should focus more on social
security and economic justice and this can only happen when
we have social democracy. Political stability is important for
the development of the nation but the stability has to be accepted
by the all. We cannot have autocratic system in the name of
political stability. Likewise, Jeevan BC said that journalists
should be given due protection by the state both in terms of
professional development as well as physical security.
Dilli Raj said that we need to have political
system that works for all not the one that serves the interest
of few. The class based state system works for the certain classes.
He further said that only the people's constitution that upheld
republicanism can address different types of conflict that exists
in society. Everybody knows the problem but what is important
is to address the problem and bring about positive changes in
society. In Nepal, changes are not accepted by few sections
of society and this has been the case since 1990. We have to
understand that by giving rights to the people society does
not necessarily disintegrate. He further purposed complete overhauling
of the current judicial system which is corrupt, inefficient
and very expensive. Disparity in society has to be bridged as
there are people who have everything to their disposal whereas
there are some who doesn't have anything at all not even a roof
to live in. We have no idea who will contribute towards state-building
as our grandparents had worked abroad, father had worked abroad
and the son is also going abroad for livelihood. We also have
to define Nepali nationalism clearly. There is tendency that
whenever political parties run out of ideas they talk about
nationalism and likewise whenever the king (rulers for that
matter) run out of options or ideas they visit temples and perform
prayers. We do not have that culture of respecting each other.
Top Bahadur Shrestha, District Education Officer,
said that everybody should get an opportunity for the good education.
We should not run schools, hospital on economic models. He further
said that over the years Nepali political system has constructed
the notion of citizenship that serves the interest of ruling
classes which necessarily do not promote civic nationalism.
We also have to strike a balance between private and public
education. Federal states should have their own model of education
as per the need of the society. We have to overthrow the patriarch
system that is being patronised by the top leaders who make
decisions without consulting small political leaders let alone
public at large. He further asked who is responsible for making
us dependent on donors both for political and developmental
purposes. We have to strike a balance between rights and duties
said Mr. Shrestha.
Mahesh Devkota of UCPN (Maoist) said that
there are different schools of thought about federalism due
to the ignorance on the part of our political parties they have
failed to choose the right one. He further said that ethnic
communities who have asked for preferential rights contradicts
with inclusive democracy , therefore, we have to develop right
approach to address the issues of the marginalized groups as
Shobita Basnet blamed that women's human rights
have not been implemented even those incorporated in the interim
constitution. Ramesh Gautam of Rapti Radio said rather than
debating about the model of federalism, we have to introspect
whether the particular model will sustain or not. Likwise, rather
than the type of system, the most important question to be asked
is to what extent that particular system is accountable to the
citizen as no system is inherently bad on itself. In the context
ofNepal, what is important is are we demanding more than what
Nepali state can deliver as without developing capacity of the
state we are putting too much pressure on it.
Dhirendra Bhandari said that democracy, social
justice, economic prosperity is the need of the hour. Local
government brings people closer to the people and we have to
strengthen it. Ganesh Chand has said that the gap between poverty
and prosperity is increasing and we have to strike balance here
to construct egalitarian society. Sushila Giri of UML has demanded
for the women's court.
In the same vein, Hem Raj Dangi said that
we have to strike a balance between private and public education
system as we cannot compete between the one who studies in the
rural schools and the one in the private boarding schools of
the Kathmandu, if we really wanted to upheld the notion of social
Proceedings of Ghorahi, Dang
In Dang as well many participants actively
asked question on different issues. For example, Sushil Gautam,
media personnel, said that state is in crisis and during this
time of crisis the programme brought about by FES for sure will
definitely provide some leeway to address the crisis. He further
said B P Koiral's policy of national reconciliation was instrumental
in state-building had political parties truly adopted it. He
further said that we have lost control on our policies and the
MRP (Machine readable Passport) is the case in point. Political
parties are running on the basis of syndicate system and they
tended to wear garland of 50 KGs but never works for the state
and society. We have to adopt economic policies that can strike
a balance between rich and poor and also can deal with the challenges
brought about by the globalization per se factors. System of
governance depends on the nature of political culture. The power
has become rule in the country. There has been great deal of
gap after the monarchy was abolished from the country and there
is an urgent need to develop such centre that can unite whole
state into a single thread.
Giri Raj Neupane argued that state should
provide basic facilities to the people by expanding the tax
sphere. Santosh Pokhrel has said that there is a great deal
of dilemma as how to define civil society in Nepali context.
Sabitra Rana has said that civil society has failed to truly
work for the state and society.
Baburam Bishwakarma has said that we have
to develop political tolerance in our political culture than
only we can work together. We need to have foreign investment
without jeoparadising national interest. Bikas Gywali enquired
as how we can minimise political corruption in the country as
well as political cirminalisatin in the country. Civil Society
should rise above the party and we have set the criteria to
come into politics.
Santosh Pokhrel has said that defeated persons
are coming into politics as we do not give due attention to
the democratic norms and values. This government is against
the norms of democracy. Yogesh Kumar Lamsal said that everybody
has a right to organise in a democracy as there are people in
society who are opposing the political activities of Kamal Thapa.
This should not happen in democracy.
The mid-west is the hinterland of Maoist movement
that started more than a decade ago. The level political awareness
and the feeling of nationalism is very high. However, like in
the other region many people are skeptical about the federalism.
They are even not convinced that the current political system
will deliver and work for the broader society. Perhaps, the
time has come for Nepali state to look into the real issues
that impedes our society rather than entangling too much on