Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
27-28 February 2015, Faparbari, Makwanpur
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised
a two day seminar at Faparbari of Makawanpur district on 27-28
February, 2015. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active
Citizenship for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were
around 190 participants out of whom 66 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 held in
the Shree Janata Higher Secondary School and chaired by Shree
Jeet Bahadur Shrestha, Chairman, School Management Committee.
There are teachers from 35 schools and two campuses. 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, political impasse and constitutional process
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.
Quoting German Philosopher Immanuel Kant he said that civic
enlightenment requires the liberation of citizen and leader
from family, civic and pious tutelages with the ability to think
and reflect and exercise freedom in personal and public lives.
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. This is one of the backward region of Makawanpur district
and very few such activities take place. 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. He underlined the
importance of civic education and its role in building prosperous
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.
Bhim Prasad Ghimire, Teacher, asked about free education
and enquired how realistic would it be in the case of Nepal.
He also asked the community forests are not working as per the
interests of the community.
Bhakta Bahadur Rai, Teacher, said that state is not
really helping people. In fact in many cases it has been working
against the interests of people. There are examples of double
standard from the part of state in many development related
activities. Such double standard can be avoided if the state
adopts integrated approach in its developmental activities.
Mithu Biswokarma, Political and Social Activist said
that rules and regulations differ from VDC to VDC and this is
creating problems for the people to avail services from the
VDCs. We need to have some sort of streamlining.
Netra Acharya, Gramin Mahila Sewa Kendra asked how we
can stop youths going abroad for their livelihood. He also asked
it would be good if we could engage them into the social works.
National Youth Policy should clearly come up with policies that
can provide solutions to the problems of youth.
Shantbir Pakhrin, Teacher, was of the view that Nepal's
current political process is dismantling the Nepali state that
was united by none other than P N Shah some 250 plus years ago.
He was of the view that political parties should refrain from
such activities. He also highlighted some problems that exists
in the education sector and requested that concerned authorities
should address these problems immediately. He further said that
although vocational subject has been introduced but it has only
been introduced in some classes. It would be better if it is
introduced in the entire classes of the high-schools.
Laxmi Maya Thokkar was of the view that we need to be
guided by the philosophy of Lord Buddha and Buddhism needs to
be promoted for the world peace.
Bhakta Bahadur Rai said that state need to proper mechanism
to address the consequences brought about by the climate change.
He was also of the view that we need to provide 'identity' to
those who are demanding it. This will also minimize the conflict
arising out of identity politics.
Dil Krishna Thapa, Teacher, asked from where the issue
of secularism came all of sudden as it was not the agenda of
movement of 2005/2006. He cautioned, while Islam and Christians
are fighting among themselves - we should be proud of the fact
that such fighting do not occur with Hindu-Buddhism faith vis-à-vis
others. He also expressed his dissatisfaction on continuous
attack on Nepali nationalism - he asked - is this what we wanted
Som Bdr. Yonzon expressed his dissatisfaction towards
dismal performance from the part of community schools. We need
go for a quality education. Similarly, the children of teachers
and school administrative authorities should also study in the
same schools which have not been the case until now.
Balkrishna Sangbang, Teacher, inquired about federalism
and secularism. He said that the Social Studies Book of Grade
8 explains federalism as ethnic component alone. Is it true
asked Mr. Sangbang? He further raised his concern about including
Brahmin and Chhetris in 'other' categories. He was of the view
that this will create problems in society and its gross exclusionary
policy. Nepal should remain as Hindu state as it gives us broader
identity. He also asked why should state pay to the CA members
who have continuously failed to delivery constitution.
Shantbir Pakhrin asked can we have constitution from
two-third majority. The current electoral system is faulty argued
Som Bahadur Yonzon the biggest challenge for us is as
how best to elevate the thinking of political leaders beyond
and above their own political parties and small petty interests.
He was of the view that we need to change in our education,
health, and economic policies as an endeavour to create an egalitarian
society. We need to change the system wherein the political
leaders are offered to go abroad for their medical check-up
whereas there is nothing for people.
Rajendra Won, Student asked about the education
tour should be made freely available to all the students. The
budget allocated for the same should reach to the beneficiaries.
In concluding seminar Ms. Mithu Biswokarma and Mr, Bhakta Bahadur
Rai have put their opinion and said that this is very good programme
and should continue in the future. Likewise another respondent
said also appreciated the 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 of society.
Report prepared by CDB/FES