Transitional Politics, Youth and the CA
A national seminar organized by the School
of Democracy (SoD)
23 December, Kathmandu
Report prepared by:
Ritu Raj Subedi
The Rising Nepal
Nepal's vicious cycle of political transition is like a rolling
stone of mythical character Sisyphus. Like his never-ending task
of rolling the large stone to the top of hill, the Nepali politicians
have never completed their engagement with the transitional politics.
The country has been weighed down by the prolonged transition
for the last over six decades. It saw three major political revolutions
but the revolution fed revolution and never concluded logically.
The protracted transition unleashed instabilities and wasted the
energy of one after another generation. It has put a crimp on
the entire health of the nation: retarded development, rampant
corruption and the loss of moral politics.
The Nepalese are impatient to get rid of the tedious transition.
Their hope for finding a convincing outlet has been rekindled
with the second Constituent Assembly (CA) election in which they
participated enthusiastically. It saw a record vote turnout. Ending
transition has become a recurrent political discourse debated
in the academic circles and seminars. Against this backdrop, the
School of Democracy in collaboration with FES, Nepal office organized
a seminar that had a theme of engaging youth in statute writing
and making the nagging transition a history. It called for giving
a due role to the youth so that they would infuse dynamism and
vision to the politics dominated by the old guards. It brought
leaders of major political parties and sought their commitment
to ensure internal democracy, recognize the role of youth and
guarantee the new constitution within a year. The attended leaders
vowed to work to give a logical outlet to the transition and deliver
the statute in a year.
End transition at the earliest: Deuba
As the chief speaker of the seminar, Nepali Congress senior
leader Sher Bhadur Deuba said that the transition period needed
to be concluded at the earliest.
"We need a stable constitution. Liberty is the heart of
democracy that ensures people's sovereignty and the rights of
the marginalized people," said Deuba, added that it is
the best system of forming government through election
He said that the new statute should be drafted on the basis
of consensus, and all parties should be represented in the new
Constituent Assembly (CA). "The statute cannot be written
by keeping some parties out of the CA."
Deuba said that it had become urgent to stop the flight of
youth towards foreign countries for employment.
Recent study has shown that around 100,000 megawatt of electricity
could be generated in Nepal, he said and added that the country
could see prosperity by harnessing its immense hydro power potential.
The parties need to strike a consensus for the development of
hydropower. There should be security guarantee for the foreign
investment. India can be our market for selling electricity.
The road networks should be expanded. The youths the basis
of human resources and should be provided job. Durable peace
is a must for taking the country ahead. The new statute must
guarantee the employment to the youths, said former PM Deuba.
NC leader Dr Narayan Khadka said that there should be interactions
between the applied and theoretical sides of democracy.
"Nepal has been a fertile land for the political experiments
for many years. If we fail to change our mindset and culture,
the transition is unlikely to be over even after writing the
new statute," he added.
It is nice that the SD had engaged the parties in the theoretical
Khadka said that 50 per cent of countries that witnessed conflicts
had fell back into the vicious cycle of conflict after the leadership
failed to manage it. Only around 30 per cent of them saw functional
"Without change in mental and cultural mindset, transition
is unlikely to end. The prolonged transition puts the country's
identity and independent under threat," he said.
He said that around 9 million youth, aged between 15 and 35,
were suffering from multiple problems. About 400,000 youths
join the labour market annually and 250,000 leave the country
for abroad in search of job, he said.
Stating that it was a critical time for introspection, he said
that all parties should embrace the universal dimensions of
"While mapping out the federal structure and framing the
statute, mountains, hills and Terai need to be taken into account.
Peace, development and stability must be ensured," he said.
CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal said that the nature of loktantra
varied according to the social-economic conditions of the countries.
We want to develop the kind of loktantra that can ensure political,
economic and social rights of the people.
He said that the parties had no right to prolong transition,
and the federal set-up should be carved out in a way that would
ensure the national identity of the country. "The UCPN-M
should respect the people's verdict. If the parties fail to
submit the list of the proportional representation candidates
by deadline, it will be tantamount to a disregard for the people's
Rawal said that the new provinces should be created in a way
that would be economically viable. "The people's mandate,
expressed in the second CA polls, is that the parties should
work together to deliver the new statute within a year. The
youth have their vital role in safeguarding loktantra."
UCPN-M politburo member Devendra Poudel said that the people
had asked the political parties to move ahead as per consensus
"We need to develop culture of running the country based
on consensus. We must be able to find middle path to end transition
and bring about economic revolution so that the opportunities
of education and employment could be created for the youth,"
He hailed the seminar citing that it happened at a time when
there is a dearth ideological debate. In the 70s when postmodernism
held sway in the society, the debate of thoughts declined and
with the creeping effects of consumerism, a sense of anarchy
took a frontline seat of politics, further blighting the spirit
Stating that the forms of democracy varied according to the
countries and contexts, he said that the elements of self-independent
and dignity should be added to the list of freedom, equality
and justice for a consummate democracy.
Portraying the transitional situation of the country, UCPN-M
leader said, "Feudalism is nearer to its demise but the
edifice of capitalism has not been erected because there is
not development of capital and industrialization drive. In such
a situation, there is a strong longing for development and creation
of employment opportunities."
He called for people's democracy by ensuring the identity and
rights of the marginalized communities. "New democratic
culture can evolve with sacrifice and commitment of the parties
and the leader."
'Engage in building reflective consciousness'
Dev Raj Dahal, Head, FES Nepal, said that Nepal's transition
was multiple and complex and it would continue as long as leaders
did not invent a system to stabilize the behavioral expectations
of the state and its citizens.
Dahal categorized the existing political actors into three
groups - the radicals, the reformists and the traditionalists:
The radicals have infused revolutionary consciousness to restructure
the state along secular, federal, and democratic line. They
acted under the assumption of 'destructive creation' and accordingly,
cancelled the national unification day while also contesting
the nation's history considering everything associated with
Nepali hegemonic, called 2006 political movement Jana Aandolan
2, bade farewell to the political movement of 1950 and mobilized
those that refused to accept Nepal's independent existence considering
The reformists believed in 'creative destruction,' feared internal
radical onslaught and also prospect for power sharing with it
some agenda of the forces of destructive creators. They were
dragged into radical agenda without the change of hearts and
minds, and commitment to radical restructuring because they
could see that the state can ill-afford to survive destructive
The traditionalists became victims of political negation owing
to their defeat in political agitation of 2006. They sought
'creativity in the sanity of tradition' to adapt to changing
times, feared the continuity of legitimization of violent politics
and wanted the continuity of tradition and want to preserve
some of positive contribution of ancestors, values, symbols
and institutions to overcome crisis of substantive democracy,
state fragility and retarded development.
Dahal noted that Nepali youth should seek a middle path between
these three streams of thought and action and contribute to
fulfill CA-II's mandate of drafting a new constitution, democratic
nation-building, inclusive development and stable peace.
"The youth should engage in building reflective consciousness
that is an experience derived from both historical achievements,
changing needs and aspirations of people. They needed to construct
a political project and build discursive bridges between different
life-worlds of gender, ethnic, caste, religion and region, and
integrate the diverse sub-cultures into national political system
through reformist means."
Calling for striking balance between universal interests of
democracy and particular interests of parties, he said, "Nepal's
urgent need is to build an efficient state capable to subdue
chaos. The constitution, without a sovereign state commanding
general will, simply becomes unenforceable."
Democracy demands the national self-determination in three
realms: politics to establish popular sovereignty, human rights,
subsidiary and affected; law on discursive public reason to
prop up independent justice system; and indigenous development
policies to strengthen the capacity of CA and parliamentary
structures so that it remains above the dominant interests groups
of society and make public policies to resolve conflict, he
NC central committee member Min Bishwokarma said that the SD
was established three years ago with the objecting of realizing
freedom, justice and equality.
"Until democracy is linked with day-to day-life of the
people and development, democracy can't be a viable means of
change. There is a yawning between the principle and actions
of the parties," he said.
He said that if the leadership was democratized, only then
had it positive chain-effects on the people. "All parties
need to engage in democratization process and rise to above
the party line."
SD chairman Nain Singh Mahar said that there would have been
right application of ideologies if their propounders themselves
had implemented them.
"A whole generation wasted their life in political transition
and conflict. If the transition continues, the new generation
will not be able to see the country in stability and peace,"
he said, and urged the politicians to rise above petty interests.
Taking a swipe at the politicians, he said, "Our leaders
are so obsessed with power that they want to take their chairs
along with their coffin. There should be the provision of the
retirement for the leaders. He asked the Nepalese politicians
to emulate former British prime minister Blair and former US
presidents Bush and Clinton who disappeared from the political
scene after completion of their terms in office.
Welcoming the guests and participants, Bishnu Pande of SD lamented
that democracy had not been for the people, of the people and
the by the people. The SD also seeks to ensure gender justice,
Paper presentation sessions
Former president of Nepal Student Union Guru Raj Ghimire presented
his working paper 'the Role of the Youth in Writing the New
Constitution' in the first session chaired by Nabina Lama of
All Nepal National Free Student Union. Former president of Federation
of Nepalese Journalists Dharmendra Jha commented Ghimire's paper.
The gist of Ghimire's paper:
In fact, until any society or the nation taps into the ability
and energy of the youth, it does not catch the pace of the development.
Unfortunately, the young generation in Nepal has never been
assured of the leadership. The people have pinned their hopes
on the youth lawmakers for the timely statute writing:
1. Hope of new generation
The onus to meet the expectations of the new generation lies
with the young lawmakers in the CA. The CA members below 50
consist of 40 per cent in the new assembly. The young CA members
have their role to make their leadership realize their responsibility
towards the statute- writing. In the context of widespread worries
whether the new CA will write the constitution, the youth lawmakers
must play their proactive role to make the CA effective.
2. Rise above the partisan line
The young lawmakers need to understand that the statute is
a national legal document that is far above the statute of the
political parties. If needed, they must break the narrow boundary
of the political parties they are affiliated to and engage in
the statute-writing task with a sense of broader national duty.
3. Intensive discussion
The only way to resolve conflict is the mutual dialogues among
the parties. The parties to conflict should be involved in the
relentless debates. Sometimes, it requires rising above the
4. Competence/expertise on the statute's contents
The young lawmakers should sharpen their knowledge on their
areas. The things such as one spent a long time in the prison
or suffered tortures in police custody or had a long history
of political struggle will not help write a good constitution.
These are, of course, a certificate of political integrity.
The lawmakers should have knowledge about the important elements
and parts of the world's best statutes and they should be taken
to the discussion in the thematic committees and finally be
incorporated into the new statute.
5. Strong confidence
The youth lawmakers must have 'I can do' spirit. Writing the
new statute is not an easy task. They should take a resolve
of delivering the statute within a year.
Those youth, who are outside the CA, should also play their
effective role. The history is a witness to the fact that the
big political changes have become possible owing to the powerful
pressure or resistance of the students and the youth. The youth
lawmakers have got a chance to work in the CA. If an individual
fails to discharge his/her responsibility even after getting
a chance, there will be no any big stupidity than this. It will
be a betrayal of the people's trust, if they merely become pawns
or do leaders' bidding.
Comments from Jha
Although his paper encompassed many things, it further requires
facts to substantiate his arguments. If the paper had clearly
specified the role of youth inside and outside the CA, it would
have been far better. I would like to express my personal views
on the themes being discussed today. It seems that we lacked
proper language to convince the people about loktantra. Whether
our language has become more classical? The politics needs to
be linked with social service. The rise of Aam Admi Party in
India has added new dimensions to loktantra whose continuous
exercises make it mature. The youth need to seek their role-
what should they do in the CA and what should they do outside
it? They can play a creative role outside the CA. The political
schooling needs to be strengthened and pro-youth programmes
should be chalked out.
Comment from the floor
A host of participants, including Bishal Shrestha, Menuka Prasai,
Santosh Kshetri, Tekjang Awasthi, Omjang Bhusal, Abhijanh Pathak
and Dharmendra Paswan aired their opinions on the working paper.
There is a low participation of the youth in the new CA. Their
role should be defined. The political leaders do not suit their
action to their words. They must exercise their conventional
wisdom. There is still no hope that they will give a good constitution
to the country despite the election of the second CA. There
should be evaluation of the role of youths in the last CA. They
failed to intervene in the statute-making. They just worked
at their leaders' bidding. On a different note, one participant
said that the NSU that makes a clarion call for the rights of
the students is unable to hold its own convention. Likewise,
the students' organization became unable to hold the FSU polls.
It makes no sense if the youth endorse the agreements struck
in the last CA. The youth should take their agenda in the CA.
The youth have their vital role in the national politics so
they should be active to assert their role. The youth organizations
affiliated to different parties should create their network.
Likewise, the parties with ideological proximity should form
an alliance to ease the statute writing task. The positive pressure
will bear fruit.
From the chair Nabina Lama said: There lies a great prospect
of having a pro-youth statute. The people gave their mandate
to write a loktantrik constitution. The condition of youth is
miserable owing to poverty. It is sad to note that the youth's
role ahs been confined to documents. Around 60 per cent of youth
want that the PM post should be awarded to a youth. Youth in
all parties should be active so that they are granted an appropriate
role to play.
In the second session, UML youth leader Thakur Gaire presented
his working paper 'the Nepali Society: Youth and their Role'.
The session was moderated by Rhisikesh Jang Shah. Min Bishwokarma
commented the paper.
Ensure youth's participation in leadership: Gaire
The summary of Gaire's paper:
Youth encompass both thought and a particular age group. There
have been diverse debates on the role of the youths in the world.
The Youth Policy 2063 BS has underlined the need for bringing
a concrete youth policy to ensure the youths' active role in
every process of the state management and economic, political,
social and cultural transformations. It says that people aged
between 16 and 40 years old are youth. Based on this assumption,
youths consist of around 40 per cent of total population in
the country. A large faction of the youths is affiliated to
the political parties. Virtually all parties have identified
themselves as the socialist forces. In this context, socialist
thought and programme is the youth's thought and programme.
However, there is not sufficient debate on kind of philosophical
bases of socialism. There are two schools of thoughts on achieving
socialism. Some youth believe that violence is necessary to
bring about social changes while some others believe in the
periodic election for the purpose. Another stream of youths
considers peaceful movement and democratic method as the viable
means to achieve their goals. There have been enough discussions
about the problems of the youth but the zeal for taking initiatives
to resolve them is not there. The youths should be engaged in
the following activities in order to work to the benefit of
the nation and the people:
1. To spread ideological awareness among the youths,
2. To guarantee the participation of 40 per cent youths in every
3. To ensure the sufficient presence of youths in the leadership
of the parties,
4. To determine the youth role in the policy making,
5. To ensure the participation of the youth in the leadership
level of the state organs,
6. To get youth involved in the productive works, make them
pay the taxes and develop the ethics of not abusing the state's
7. To make a resolve for social justice and equality and stand
against social, economic, cultural discrimination and discrepancies.
Comment from Bishwokarma: Democracy is a process of
civilization. It becomes mature after passing through a long
practice. Those above 40 cannot be called youth. However, it
is not just age that makes one youth. In fact, youth signifies
contemplation. They are the agents of changes. They should have
missions, visions and plans. Democracy is itself inclusive but
we started dividing people into real and fake. The constitution
should spur development. The youth are disillusioned if there
is bad governance. In democracy, every citizen should feel that
s/he is a bona fide member of the state. Democracy never discriminates
people on the basis of caste, colour, gender and region. It
envisions a society sans discrimination. For this, youth need
to participate in the political process. The distributive system
of the agriculture should be enhanced. The youth should assert
their role in every political party.
Comments from the floor: A host of participants, including
Menuka Prasai, Kamala Bohara, Rajeeb Lamichhane, Omjan Rawal
and Bishal Shah commented Gaire'paper:
The change should emanate from oneself. There are 15 CA members
below 40. It is a daunting task for them to play their role
in the favour of the youths. The condition of the youth in the
UML is pathetic. They have to discharge their duty to the family,
party and the nation simultaneously. The youth should be made
to realize their responsibility. The youth is a thought group
that never gets old. But, it is not clear as to how they get
opportunity. Likewise, there needs to be clarity for the mobilization
of the youth outside the CA. The National Youth Council should
be activated. The youth should rise above their parties' agenda.
The youth leaders have shown their arrogance. Like the old
guards, upon reaching the leadership rung, they become active
to scuttle the rise of their rivals. The paper is not research-oriented.
It has not clearly put forth the problems of youths and their
solution. Employment creation should be the prime agenda of
the youth. They should engage in the activities of tapping the
potentialities of the hydro power and natural resources. When
the political leaders visit villages, they are asked to provide
drinking water, electricity and job. The paper has not clearly
defined the politics of competition. All youth should be up
in arms to press the leaders to write the new statute within
a year so that the prolonged transition will come to an end
soon. The youth should be taken to the decision-making forum.
From the chair, Rhrishikesh Jang Shah said that the youth wanted
that a democratic statute be written. Peace and prosperity will
be our goal. The youth outside the CA need to keep vigil at
the statute writing task, he said and asked them not solely
depend on the leaders. "The youth should try to purify
themselves and their organizations. They should play interventionist
role in development and planning at VDC, Area and District Committees.
The things might be quite different if the youth become active
to get 4,000 projects endorsed from the 400 VDCs."
Dr Uddhav Raj Pyakurel presented his working paper in the third
session chaired by Ram Krishna Lakandri. Dr Ram Krishna Timilsina
commented the paper. However, the organizer could not distribute
Dr Pyakurel's paper to the participants and the presenter had
to ad-lib the whole speech.
Leaders must understand social structure: Dr Pyakurel
Dr. Pyakurel's opinion: In fact, Nepal is not in transition
that implies a situation in which the state has no the statute
and is in the process of getting it. But, we have interim statute
and working to write another to replace it. The country has
seen several governments. Transition is an excuse for the leaders
to avoid the pressure from the lower class people. The youth
are the most vulnerable lot in Nepal. The youth have sought
their representation in the governance system after discourse
on the inclusive democracy began to take centre stage. The youth
are not only thought but also an age group. The state should
bring a policy to tap on the potentials of the youth. There
should be the system of grooming the youth leadership. The statute
should be youth-friendly. Making the new statute is like the
leaders' cup of tea. There is also the system for the management
of the leadership. The term of the leaders in office must be
fixed. There is negative culture that if the cadres do not visit
the leaders' houses and refuse to suck up to them, it becomes
difficult for them to climb the leadership rung. The leaders
must develop the habit of appreciating the cadres of independent
minds. The leaders must be able to examine the social structure.
The agricultural and hair-cutting occupations should be made
prestigious. If so, many youths would not leave the country
abroad for the job. The old structures are being dismantled
but the new ones are not yet to be erected. The youths should
be patriotic. They should refrained themselves from being reactive.
There should be smooth leadership hand-over system.
Comment from Ram Krishna Timilsina: The politics should be
blended with the social elements. The country has been in transition
since 2007 BS. We are running after a statute. Those countries
that started their democratic journey are exercising mature
democracy but we are still at the nascent phase. The youth should
not be confused with age and ideology. One, who is capable of
taking on the leadership mantle, is youth. The youth force should
be utilized for the development. Evil spirit should be transformed
into civil sprit and destructive into constructive one. The
youth should not be used to pester others. The youth, who have
not assumed the posts, have also played important role. They
should not run after posts but strive to tap their potential.
We need a small statute that takes us into the era of constitutionalism.
We should feel proud of present and live in the present. The
efforts should be concentrated on enhancing the core values
Comments from the floor: Nabina Lam, Shree Ram Lamichhane
The people of all professions should be honest. The tendency
to reproach the leaders must be stopped. We are in transition.
We have not found outlet. The youth is all- thought, age and
vision. Politics requires youth with vision. There is a tendency
among the youths to brownnose their leaders to grab the leadership.
They should engage in learning the new technology. The youth
should involve in the acts of awareness drive and putting pressure.
The transition phase can come to an end only when we get a new
statute. The country is operating on the basis of interim statute
that has not barred anyone from doing something constructive.
The youth should not be selfish. To be youth, they must be clean
in their conduct. There is corruption at the ideological and
economic level. The management of leadership is necessary. Conflict
in the organization stops the leaders from being autocrat and
promotes internal democracy. The youth leaders have confined
themselves as the yes men of the leaders. The Nepalese youths
are toiling in the deserts of Middle East while some others
have indulged in burning tyres on the streets. The youth must
intervene to formulate the youth policy. A youth council must
From the chair, Ram Krishna Lakindri said: The new constitution
should be ethnic and Dalit friendly. It is sad that the NC failed
to field a single candidate from Dalit community in 240 constituencies
under the direct polls. The CA will give an outlet to the existing
deadlock. Democracy is a continuous process of refinement. Its
alternative is the better democracy. Politics is the umbrella
and all belong to it. In order to improve the character of the
state, the youth and state should be linked.