Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
28-29 June 2014, Dolakha
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised
a two day seminar in Singate of Dolakha district on 28-29 June
2014. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship
for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. The seminar was attended
by 100 plus persons out of whom 25 were females. The participants
of the seminar came from various walks of life such as teachers,
lecturers, political leaders, students, members of civil society,
security personnel, local civil servants, other stake holders
of the society, among others. The seminar was organised in association
with Pratap Smiriti Campus and Kalinag Higher Secondary School.
Puspharaj Kandel of Kalinag Higher Secondary School and Chairman
of the Civil Society Groups of the Northern Region Chaired the
two-days programme. The overarching of aim of this seminar was
to revitalize the sense of civic-ness in our society and also
educate local political leaders/civil society activists and
teachers/students on issues pertaining to state-building and
constitutional process in Nepal.
Shree Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal welcomed participants.
During his welcome speech he spoke about the organisational
goals of FES and emphasised the need of generating civic awareness
in society along with the issues of national importance. He
said that we are in the new political juncture and there are
issues which needs broader discussion at the various levels
of society. Nepal's political process has been stalled and number
of issues could be held responsible for such a state of affairs.
However, having said this, what is also important is that people
at large, need to know about certain political terminologies
that are being recently floated in our society and which have
direct link with current state of Nepali politics. It is against
this background that FES has chosen this topic where three different
papers were presented. Mr Dahal also said that active participation
of people and inclusion of their voices, visions and views increase
legitimacy of politics with increased, people's ownership towards.
Such an approach provides constitutional stability in the country
and builds active citizenship rather than citizenship based
on consumerism. In the past, Nepal never had constitutional
Among three papers Mr. Dahal also talked about the state-society
interface in Nepal. He said that Nepali society has expanded
beyond its physical boundary. He also said that material well-being
alone is not enough for development - spiritual development
is also necessary as the latter can instill the sense of morality
- the basis of civic education. He also highlighted the changing
notion of democracy. Kashi Raj Dahal, as usual, presented his
paper on constitutional dynamics and federalism in Nepal. Chandra
D. Bhatta presenting spoke on building modern state and necessary
components of democracy which needs to be incorporated in polity
and upheld by all. He said that democracy in Nepal has been
misunderstood and it has not been defined or practiced as per
people's aspirations. Absence of all these factors has led to
the manifold crisis in our society. Another presenter Yubaraj
Ghimire, Senior Journalist also spoke about the role of media
in satebuilding. He also talked about the duty of journalist
- which is objectively informing people. Mr Ghimire also highlighted
on the current impasse in Nepali politics and emphasised that
democracy needs participation of people on the key issues which
seems not be the case here. For these reasons there is a great
deal of mismatch what we teach and what we practice.
Ghanshyam Pathak asked what type of federalism and the
system of governance would best serve the interest of Nepali
state and citizen. This programme should also be conducted for
our political leaders, requested Mr Pathak
Ramesh Basnet / Teacher said that there are numerous
challenges in the education sector and one of them is making
this profession more respectable. Compared to other sector,
education sector in Nepal is not attractive and there is tendency
to change the profession. Because of this, we have not been
able to retain good teacher and there is an urgent need to address
Likewise, in the economic spectrum - we don't respect our own
product and we don't feel proud on what we have. These factors
are creating some sort of tension in our society.
Amrit Acharya / Teacher asked who is responsible for
the sorry economic state of Nepal.
Kumar Khadka/Teacher said that the benefit of political
awareness in the country has been hijacked by the political
leaders and such an attitude has resulted in trust deficit in
Dill Krishna Malla / Teacher said that for the few years
we didn't have statesmen in our country. We need to develop
the notion of economic discipline for good leadership. The investment
environment in the country has to be enhanced as it can also
generate the sense of sovereignty among people.
Mahesh Malla was of the view that constitution will
not be written because of the issue of federalism.
Yubaraj Khati - Student - Grade 10 - was of the view
that Nepali political parties do not have their own vision and
asked how civil society can address this issue. Where does law
exist? Why did we include those persons in the election who
had double citizenship asked Master Khati. Why we have not been
able to develop sport in our country? What is our sports minister
He also asked why political leaders get free medical treatment
but not the poor people. Is it a democracy?
Lokraj Pathak argued that many NGOs are responsible
for not having been able to write constitution in time.
Sundar Khadka said that rule of law is important for
democracy and this can also help to strengthen democracy.
Sarita Tamang - Student - Cass 9 - The word Dharma Nirpekshata
is not suitable in the case of Nepal. Gautam Buddha was born
in this country and he has taught us about dharma not adharma.
She also said that we should respect child rights; polygamy
should be restricted by the law. She asked why Prachanda's son
has many wives. Where is law for him?
Bipin Rawat - Campus Chief - The country is facing many
challenges and one of them is commercialisation of agriculture.
If we could do something in this area - we can stop our people
going abroad for job. How long we will tolerate the situation
of border encroachment asked Mr. Rawat. Whether federalism will
move us towards prosperity - it is yet to be seen.
Ram Krishna Thami - Student - Class 9 asked why we let
go criminals on bail. Can religion is 'foreigner' - why don't
we have our own religion. Why companies from one country open
their office in another country asked Thami. Why the current
endeavours are not addressing the problem of poverty in our
Shyam Bhandari asked can we not run the state without
constitution. There are enough laws in the countries that regulate
our state and society? Why should we give too much time on it?
Sharada Thakuri - Student - asked who long time does
it normally take to write constitution.
One Manju said that the upcoming constitution should
be dalit friendly and poor friendly.
Kavita Khadka - Student - Class 10 asked how we can
discourage the dowry system and why it has not been eliminated
from our society. She also said that we need both practical
and theoretical education.
Shri Krishna Prasad Shivakoti - Teacher was of the view
that we need vocational education in the country that can alone
address the problem of unemployment. He also said that tax ceiling
should be strictly implemented.
Balananda Shivakoti was of the view that the existing
five development regions should be converted into the five federal
states. The upcoming model of federalism can create tension
of various nature in society and we ought to develop mechanism
to address the same.
Vikram Pariyar - Student - Class 9 said that we should
not use dalit word anymore as it does not pay respect to the
Hemanti Giri - how can media contribute in building
modern state and what would be the role of social media with
Ayush Pariyar - Student - Class 9 said for the last
so many year dalit in the country have been victimized by society
and the state. This tendency has gone up with the arrival of
modern NGOs (right-based). King Jayasthithi Malla came up with
this idea for different purpose but today's political leaders
and feudal are using it for various purpose albeit to meet their
own interests. I have objection that we should not use dalit
words anymore and should not be included in the constitution
as well. Rather, we have to give them opportunity.
Prakrati Shivakoti - Student - Class 9 - what type of
policies would serve best interest of Nepali people living from
Mechi to Mahakali?
Statebuilding process in Nepal, in recent times, has met many
obstacles. Such obstacles can be addressed with the promotion
of civic education at various layers of society. This also helps
to build civic political culture in society. Civic education
cultivates knowledge and traits that sustain democratic self-governance.
In recent times, many aspects of our civic life have become
dysfunctional and there is an urgent need to revive them. This
can also strengthen democracy and contribute harmonise state-society
relations. The discussion above reveals that the even the school
level students are very concerned about the state and its polity
and there is a great deal o frustration against politics. This
needs to be fixed-up for the better, prosperous and shared future.
By conducting seminars in different parts of the country FES
has been successful enough to in identifying the connectors