Seminar Report on Promoting
Active Citizenship for Building Modern State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
Bajhang (22-23 April 2011) and Tikapur,
Kailali (26-27 April 2011)
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office organised
two days seminar on Promoting Active Citizenship for Building
Modern State in Chainpur of Bajhang district and Tikapur of
Kailali district. . There were 140 participants out of which
30 were female. The programme was attended, among others, by
judges, Chief District Officers, Chief of District Police Offices,
Local Development Officers and other high-ranking government
officials, leaders of the political parties, academicians, teachers,
media personnel, lawyers, civil society members, students and
other stake-holders of society. In Tikapur there were more than
100 participants and out of which around 40 were females. Speaking
in the programme in Chainpur Chief District Officer Mohan Prasad
Upadhayay (who also chaired the inaugural session) said that
there is not common understanding of state Nepal. He said that
the challenge for us is to create a common understanding on
state. In Tikapur the programme was chaired by Ms. Devi Badi
- woman from Badi Community. She thanked FES for providing this
opportunity to chair the session and hoped that the same will
be reflected in the national politics as well. Speaking in the
inaugural programe, Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal said that
the level social and political consciousness has increased but
state has not been able to manage these them. This is primarily
because it has not been able to extend its authority into society.
Therefore the biggest challenge that lies ahead of us is to
strike a balance between the consciousness that generates the
sense of rights among people and the inherent duties that comes
with it. Equally important is to work collectively so that state
can extend its authority in society. This can only be done when
we inculcate the concept of active citizenship among people.
There were altogether three papers presented
by Dev Raj Dahal, Lal Babu Yadav - Associate Professor of Political
Science at the Tribhuvan University and C D Bhatta. Dahal presented
his paper on state and its challenges, Yadav on federalism,
election and other contemporary and Bhatta on democracy, civic
education, and citizenship building. In both places, significant
number of people took part in the seminar. In Bajghan the working
session was chaired by Jai Prithvi Bahadur Campus Chief Mr Mohan
Raj Upadhyay. He raised the question that their issues never
got reported by the media in the centre. Sam point was raised
by one L B Rawal - He said that all the important people - the
civil society leaders, intellectuals, media personnel, high-ranking
authorities, activist live in Kathmandu who are least bothered
about the problem of the people who living int he periphery.
Likewise Uma Shankar Joshi was particular concerned about civil
society and its role in Nepali politics. He was of the view
that civil society in Nepal is bounded by NGOs through project,
hierarchal, and not free from other elements of society.
Lal Bahadur Bohara enquired that during the
movement of 2005/2006 civil society played a crucial role in
the regime change but after that why it is silent on number
of crucial issues. Why the intellectuals of the society who
claim civil society leader are mum. He was also of the view
that the political parties tried to sideline civil society on
number of key issues. The unholy nexus that exists between political
leaders and bureaucracy has also become major obstacles for
the peace process in Nepal said Mr Bohara.
Another participant Indra Poudel inquired
about the civic virtues and he underlined the need of civic
education in Nepali society to address the perpetual conflict
in the society.
Mamata Shah was particularly concerned about
the political situation after May 28, 20100. Prabha Bajal said
that the discrimination against women is unabated in Bajhang
and there are different opinions on this issue even at the centre
which needs to be bridged for the development of an egalitarian
Basanta Singh asked a question as what type
of democracy would be best suitable in the 21st century - whether
it should be guided by the ideology or by the action. Uma Shankar
Joshi - former Joint Secretary of the Government of Nepal said
that there has been great deal of erosion in the theory of possibility
in Nepal primarily because of the chameleon like character of
the political leaders.
Dhirendra Nepali from Rastriya PRajatantra
Party (RPP) said that 65 percent of poor in the country our
out of state mechanism. They do not feel the presence of the
state. The NGOs and INGOs operating in the name of Dalits and
proletariats are merely promoting clientalism and consumerism
in the country. They are genuinely not concerned about the broader
problem of Nepali society. Arjun Thapa from UML inquired about
the prior use rights that has very forcefully in the country.
He also suggested that we really need to cut down the monopoly
of political parties in each and every aspect of state affairs
and promote the role of civil society and other actors of society.
Bahadur Shahi from Tikapur Multiple Campus was of the view that
people at large in Nepal are very much conscious about their
rights, they have been promised too much by the political leaders
but no mechanism has been developed to fulfil their rights and
promises which has resulted anti-political sentiment in society.
Nepali rulers over the years have failed to design economic
policies for the state. We rather promoted market oriented approached
that only served the interest of those who were already in power.
Keshar Bahadur Kunwar, Vice Campus Chief of
Tikapur Multiple College, opined that we have the dual economic
system in the country which has not been able to serve the purpose
of education. We need to strike a balance between spiritualism
and materialism argued Kunwar.
Similarly Yogendra Bajgai blamed that Nepali
media has failed to strengthen democratisation process in the
country. Dharma Bahadur Bista said that civil society should
posses the element of civility to work for the broader welfare
of the society. Morality and civility should go hand in hand
and the biggest challenge in the case of Nepal is to strike
a right balance between these two elements. We need to promote
public institutions which are in declining stage in Nepal.
Surat Bahadur Kunwar what are the basic characteristics
of ideal citizens (adharsha nagrik) and rights of the citizens?
There are many people in the rural areas who do not know about
these things. Ekendra Timilsina said that the lack of civic
political culture in the country has developed very negative
image in society. Many scandals such as Red Passport are the
product of this culture. Purna Bahadur Bogati blamed that we
have only elected party leaders not the leaders of citizen.
Federalism that is being purposed should work for the people
and society. We also have to uplift women who make of 51 percent
of total population. The rural women particularly need upliftment.
Yogendra Bajgai said that the political in Nepali is controlled
by the elites who do not like to interact with people but always
use them to float their agendas in society in different names.
This practice needs to be stopped. He suggested that we need
to make civic education and moral education compulsory in our
society so that we can address all the contradictions that exist
in our society.
The seminars in these two places emphasised
that there is an urgent need to introduce civic education in
our society at different levels. That can alone address our
problem of political instability as it will help to build up
the civic culture in our society/. Another point that was raised
in both the places is that the good people have not gone into
Nepali politics and there is an urgent need to develop such
a mechanism. Similarly, dynastic politics should be discouraged
which seems to be taking root in Nepal as well. We need to find
out democracy within our own tradition and culture which will
be more sustainable.