Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
16-17 February 2014, Harion
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised
a two day seminar in Harion of Sarlahi district on 16-17 February,
2014. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship
for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were around 106
participants out of whom 26 were females. Among others, participants
of the seminar came from various walks of like such as teachers,
lecturers, political leaders, students, members of civil society,
security personnel, local civil servants, other stake holders
of the society. The seminar was chaired by Shree Rajkumar Upreti,
Chairman of the Campus Operating Committee, of Chaturbhjeshowr
Campus, Hariom, Sarlahi. 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.
Speaking in the inaugural session Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES
Nepal, highlighted the importance civic education and the role
it can play in building democratic political culture in society.
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 transition is still problematic even after
the election to the CA-2. He also underlined the need of people's
understanding of various political issues that have recently
stole political limelight in the country with direct link with
current state of Nepali politics. It is against this background
that FES has chosen to organise seminars in the peripheral areas
so that people living in such areas also get acquainted with
them. 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
stability. In the seminars, three different papers were presented.
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 in Nepal. Associate Prof. of
Tribhuvan University Shree Lal Babu Yadav presented his paper
on federalism, and local governance. 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.
Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, FM Radio, wondered how we
can develop civic political culture in our society. He also
asked we are in the process of declaring free defecation centre's
but the question here is who will make toilets for the poor.
Raj Kumar Thapa - VDC Secy. - informed that we are declaring
Sarlahi free defecation centre by 2073 and the government is
coming up with a plan to provide employment to the people of
these areas provided that they use toilets.
Indra Pal CPN-Maoist- he said that this progrmme is
somewhat negative. The presenters of the seminar said we have
lost many things after the big political movements. He reminded
that its this society that gives birth to the political leaders.
He also blamed that NGOs/INGOs have made our intellectuals their
porter of ideas who only say negative things about our society.
These lots talk more about rights but not necessarily about
duties attached with it. He argued that the international organisations
have spoiled our system.
Yamini Kumar Deb asked how can we promote the notion
of governance in the present context.
Hari Krishna Bohara - Teacher - said that we have to
modernize our policies as well
Ganesh Prasad Upreti asked is there any rules of the
game in politics or not as everything else has its own sets
of rules and regulations. He also asked why there is no provision
of minimum qualification in politics.
Ramdev Mahato / Teacher said that our leader has become
mere pawn in the geopolitical game. Under such a state of affairs
who will do the statebuilding. When we draft policy we have
to bear people's demand and aspiration in mind.
Dipendra Prasad Mainali said that most of our youths
are working abroad - how can we build the state? Where do we
get the builders from ?
Navaraj Prasai - teacher - asked the difference between
Prajatantra (democracy) and Lokatantra (folk-democracy). He
also asked the different between the Constitution of Nepal and
Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal.
Sita Thapa expressed her concern about the rising number
of cases of violence against women. How can we minimse such
violence asked Mrs. Thapa.
Arjun Prasad Dahal expressed his dissatisfaction with
the current state of affairs that exist in our education system.
He said unless we don't improve it - there is no way that we
can have democracy that is state and rule-based. We have two
types of education system - private vs. public - we need to
get rid of this model. He also asked whether the state of Nepal
has right to self-determination or not when it comes to the
point of developing policies or deciding politics for that matter.
Basudev Niraula asked whether we need federalism or
not. If we needed what type of federalism would serve our best
interest. The issue of right to self-determination will not
lead us anywhere. This concept has disintegrated USSR and there
are many problems in Nigeria. Ethiopia and Sudan. We have to
bear all these factors in mind, said Mr Niraula.
Bidur Bhattarai asked although federalism as a system
of governance exists in 28 states but what would be the key
difference between their federalism and our federalism. I have
a feeling that we do not need federalism. Why do we want to
have secularism just because EU wants it? In the name of inclusion
there are powers who are spreading the message of hatred if
that is the case we also wanted to go for barnashram system
which is one of the most inclusive and justifiable system of
Md. Kamaruddin asked about the boundary of modern state.
He also asked where do get the expert from. How do we generate
the sense of awareness among people as this can alone help instill
the sense of Nepaliness.
Ganesh Prasad Upreti said that federalism exists only
in 30 percent of the total states in the world and in majority
it does not. Why do we need to go for the system that does not
guarantee political stability or anything else?
Dinesh Luitel asked why our political scientists have
not their own ideas in terms of federalism or decentralisation
- why they are running after political leaders and foreign experts.
Such a situation has created crisis of confidence among Nepalese.
Krishna Prasad Khadka asked whether we are Madhesi or
Nepali or Pahadi?
Bhimlal Devkota said that Terai is ruled by Indians
and Hill area by the European Union's - where is Nepal?
Shanker Chalise said can we not stop federalism from
happening as this will destroy Nepal as a sovereign state.
Sita Thapa asked why we need federalism. Who has decided
secularism and why don't we have our own religion as the religion
of the state.
Dinesh Ghimire CDO of Sarlhai district also put his remarks
in the seminar. Ganesh Upreti said this is very good programme.
He further said that such activities would help to promote common
national identity which is essential for statebuilding in Nepal.
With regard to the statebuilding process in Nepal, in recent
times, it 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
here reveals that there is a great deal of frustration towards
the current political issues and federalism and inclusion have
become the major bone of contention. Sudden arrival of these
issues for mere political benefit has radicalised Nepali society.
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