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FES Nepal in the Press - 2006

Post Conflict Role of Media discussed <Top>

By a Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU: Dec 16: Diplomats and experts Saturday highlighted the role of media and youths in the post-conflict era stating that both have a tremendous role in reshaping the nation's vision and mitigation generational conflict through peaceful means.

They also asserted that media has been obsessed with political reporting filled with the cacophonous speeches of political leaders, thereby neglecting the genuine issues and legitimate rights of youths.

They were speaking at a seminar 'the Role of Youth and Media in Development: A New Perspective' jointly organized by The Telegraph Weekly and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal here.

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Nepal Nam Sang-Jung said that media could pay the role of educating young better than the governments in developing countries, thus contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction.

Dev Raj Dahal, head of FES office, Nepal said that Nepal's main paradox rested between the rightful aspiration of youth and skewed opportunities of the state, the market and civil society officer for their creative participation.

"In a post-conflict society like Nepal media programmes need to cultivate youth about the habits of critical media analysis requiring them to question the contents of the message and defending the constituency of peace."

Norbert Meyer, counselor at the embassy of Federal Republic of Germany said that youths and the media should work for check and balance in the society.

Chief editor of The Telegraph N. P. Upadhyaya said that media could speed up the process of development if it worked without any political biases.

Economist Dr. Hari Bansa Jha, former president of Federation of Nepalese Journalists and Suresh Acharya also spoke about the contribution of media and youth in the peaceful democratic movement last April.

Dr. Gopal Pokharel and Dr. K. B. Bhattachan, presented their working papers on the given topics in two separate sessions chaired by Professor Ananda Shrestha and Dr. Dilli Ram Dahal respectively.

Source: The Rising Nepal (17 December 2006)


Experts for effective role of media <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

KATHMANDU, Sept. 21: Unbridled proliferation of media houses and lack of stringent policy to regulate media has created confusion among the Nepalese people. Though the media have played a vital role to make the People's Movement II a success, their biased attitude has always tampered the democratic exercises, said intellectuals and media analysts at a programme here in the capital today.

Dwelling upon the issues relating to 'the impact of Conflict on Media Policy in Nepal', they also remarked that lack of professionalism and political biasness has always been a problem of press freedom.

Speaking at a two-day seminar on "Impact of Conflict on Public Policy in Nepal"organised by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies(NEFAS) in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung(FES)they stressed the need for 'responsible role' of media.

Speaking at the programme, Dev Raj Dahal, chief of the FES,said the failure of politics in setting separation, decentralization and checks and balances of power among various groups and institutions of the society had weakened the confidence of the state.

Nepal's continuous development failure is attributed to the fact that institutional memory did not have any place in the disposition of governance and social feedbacks of policies were not incorporated in improving its institutional capacity, said Dahal.

He further said that Nepalese are confronting with the crisis of the political system. The crisis springs from two sources ? extra-systemic crisis especially due to the anarchic nature of international system and intra-systemic crisis related to ideology, vision, political leadership and institutional culture of the nation.

Over dependence on single approach becomes a part of the problem than solution. This is happening in Nepal as technical policy making has often masked the ideology and interest of certain groups in methodology, he added.

Executive director of the NEFAS Ananda P Shrestha while addressing the programme said the most visible impact of the conflict was on governance.

While the conflict was raging and taking a heavy toll, democratic infrastructures were badly affected and intra and inter party feuding too was on the rise. On the dispensation of justice front, things were no better, he said.

Source: The Rising Nepal (22 September 2006)


Conflict Transformation <Top>

With the objective of creating awareness about the role and function of the state, political parties and civil society, the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) organized a training-cum-workshop titled "Systematic Conflict Transformation for Peace Communications" last week. The program aimed at imparting training on systematic conflict transformation to journalists and other public opinion leaders such as union officials and university teachers.

FES, which is involved in imparting political information and knowledge in an impartial manner, stimulate communication between different political and social spheres, motivate public to discuss complex social, political and economic matters emerging from the pressures of daily decisions, organized the workshop as crisis prevention and peace building have become one of the priority areas of its development cooperation.

The systemic conflict during transformation takes a completely new approach to conflicts, in general, and provides a deeper understanding of hidden conflict structures and their solutions, it integrates established models of communication and conflict mediation, it allows every participant to get a clear image of his/ her own possibilities for influencing a conflict and where his/ her limits are, it empowers the participants to use their individual strengths and resources for transforming conflict in their environment, and it enables the participants to respect their limits as well, it supports the efficiency of the recently founded non- governmental organization, "Nepal Peace Communication" by clarifying relationship and task structures within the team, by revealing centers of conflict and by showing viable solution paths.

Jorgen Erik Klussmann, journalist, systemic and communication consultant and Marco de Carvalha, Surgeon, systematic consultant were the two trainers who trained the 25 participants on new method of constellations - which means that a detail of the relationship system which is supposed to be relevant for the conflict is placed in a given space or room according to an inner picture or image.

When asked about the contribution of constellation of solution of conflict management trainer Jorgen Erik Klussmann said," Systematic approach is a new dimension, it tries to involve all different aspects and ideology. It gives us certain perspective and it's a relationship system." Added, Marco de Carvalho," Systemic approach is a tool like a car which keeps mutual relationship between observer and analyzer. Through constellation social problem to political problem can be solved easily if taken seriously."
As Dev Raj Dahal, FES Foundation country director, says, "Conflict starts when a man goes beyond ambition and interest. Constellation is a symbol of conflict resolution. It focuses on hidden dynamic and thoughts of people. And it helps to eradicate different levels of conflict too."

The FES has introduced the concept of National Network of Peace Communicators (NNPC) with twin goals of enhancing and promoting regular sharing among peace communicators, and providing space of learning, sharing and networking for peace communicators.

Source: Spotlight (08 September 2006)


The Politics Of State Restructuring <Top>

By C. D. Bhatta

The issue of state restructuring has dominated the Nepali political discourse since the last couple of months. Nevertheless it has not been defined scientifically to set some parameters. This has left ample space for maneuvering the issue by the political parties and their leaders. When I asked a well-known political scientist at Fredrich Ebert Stiftung, Dev Raj Dahal, he said this is moving towards 'substantive democracy'.

Territorial restructuring

Literature rather stresses that one cannot change fundamental features of the state vis-?-vis the concrete territory; independent foreign and economic policy; existing distribution (location) of population and its organic identity merely to balance the imbalances. It generates some fundamental questions though as what 'state restructuring' is all about and how it can be done so that state does not falter away in the future. That for a layman is perplexing enough, as one may welter whether it is linked with territorial restructuring of the state or internal democratisation of the state machinery.

Clearly, state restructuring is something that is directly associated with political re-imagination of the state as per the spirit of the time and is a continuous process in democracy. It primarily hinges on three organs of the state - the judiciary, legislature and the executive body. It deals with how best all the three organs of the state can be made more representative and pro-public so that more and more citizens are collectively taken into the institutional life of the state and no group/caste/ethnicity/religion is left behind. Rather some sort of ownership of the state is regenerated.

It is true that the corollary of state restructuring is far sighted and demands rigorous discussions on issues which have metaphorically impinged heavily on making the state more participatory, representative and pro-public before jumping into any conclusion. The state can be restructured in many ways - it can be transformed from a capitalist to a welfare one; from unitary to federalism; and from single party to multiparty democracy. There can be internal readjustments of the electoral constituencies, devolution of power to the local government(s), the state can be more democratised (inclusive democracy) and it can develop special arrangements for those who are historically left behind in the development paradigm. But the state cannot be restructured principally on the basis of fault lines (such as ethnicity, religion, population and even geography to some extent) which pose substantial threat to national unity in the event of mismanagement. These are some but key elements that need to be taken into account while restructuring the existing nature of the state.

Restructuring of the state is a continuous process in a democracy as the internal shape of the state need to be attuned to the spirit of the time and popular wish engendered both by the internal forces (movements per se) and external forces (globalisation per se). What has to be borne in mind basically is that the Westminster political edict of 'winner takes all (majoritarian politics)' should cease to exist, at least in countries like Nepal, in an endeavour to bring all the societal forces into the institutional life of the state. However, for this to happen, not only is internal political restructuring of the state necessary, but an inclusive political culture must also be instilled in the ruling classes. This will help to reconstruct a 'commonwealth' of the people (the mythical Ram Rajya) as against the Hobbesian state.

Paradoxically, the way the debate on state restructuring is taking place in Nepal is somewhat worrying as it posits more questions and challenges than it answers. Issues beyond the capacity of any state, let alone Nepal, are surfacing and their semanticity is attached less with the democratisation process and more with identity politics. The simultaneous emergence of 'nationalities' and vague political agenda of state restructuring have become major tactics to sustain the conflict rather than accommodating all the societal forces. In one way or the other, the country is moving towards communal politics.

The restructuring agendas have more ethnic flavour and less democratic values. This bias in understanding is further augmented by demands generated by the janjaties, ethnicities, dalits, nationalities; linguisticity, religiosity that have emerged at the transitional threshold; and haphazard proposition of geographical division of the state by the professional political elite (parties). It has been taken for granted that 'federalism' is the panacea for all problems as against the unitary state of the yesteryear which failed to establish a connection between the Kathmandu city state and the peripheral sub-states.

But is it really so that federalism deciphers all problems? What happens if the federal states are taken as private enterprises by the political elite? This is likely to happen unless there is a substantial change in the behaviour of politicians. Does the debate on state restructuring really hold water to keep the Nepali state moving ahead without any further cycles of violence? These are some but pertinent questions that remain unanswered. In fact, the state restructuring agenda should include sustainable and cohesive intermingling of the people of different regions, religions, castes and ethnicities. That said we just cannot restructure the state for a particular class, ethnic group, religion, region or language, which will prove suicidal in the long run.

Perception change

A scientific mechanism should be developed so as to represent those who are not well represented, particularly the janjatis, dalits and madhesi community in politics, bureaucracy and alike. Moreover, the people's perception must change that things are wrong just because of a particular class, caste or religion (e.g. Brahmins, Chhetris and Hinduism). One must analyse his/her own weaknesses. The 'nationalities' including the donors accuse the Nepali bureaucracy of being usurped by Brahmins and Chhetris, but mind you, Gurungs, Rais, Magars and others are little interested in taking up government jobs.

In conclusion, every society has its own weaknesses, but they have to be rectified collectively with due sincerity by respecting each other. What we need at the end of the day is: a cohesive, tolerant and harmonious state and society. Overall, conflicts are resolved for perpetual peace (Kantian peace) not for perpetual war.

Source: The Rising Nepal (01 September 2006)


Perspectives of conflict resolution discussed <Top>

By Our Correspondent

LALITPUR, Aug. 27: A week-long training on 'Systemic Conflict Transformation'' organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Nepal concluded Friday.

Two experts Jorgen Erik Klussmann and Marco de Carvalho provided insights on the topic with different practices to peace communicators at Godavari village resort.

Participants discussed on various theoretical perspectives of conflict resolution and its causes like systemic approach, disorders and conflicts in the system, role of conscience, history of conflict models and peace models, current conflict transformation approaches, escalation and de-escalation, de-escalation with non-violent communication and current conflict sources in Nepal.

Speaking at the inaugural session head of FES Nepal Office Dev Raj Dahal said that non-violent communication could help formation of a rational consensus on conflict that is essential for conflict moderation and ultimately transformation.

"Media can pull together the connectors of society so as to link different groups in the bonding. Peace building largely rests on sustained peace education to journalists and peace communicators who can simplify arcane language of experts, researchers, and academics to make message and information clear, precise, and understandable to the ordinary public and create multiple constituencies of positive peace,"Dahal added.

A total of 30 persons including journalists participated in the programme.

Source: The Rising Nepal (28 August 2006)


Costs Of Conflict <Top>

By: PROFESSOR HARI BANSH JHA

Conflict occurs mostly in poor countries. It has a tendency to perpetuate once it erupts as pervasive poverty makes societies more vulnerable to conflict; while conflict creates more space for poverty. The violent conflict is the prediction of future large scale violence. Even in the post conflict situations, there are chances of the war resumption. In the international arena, war resumes within five years in 44 per cent of all post conflict situations.

Nepal at the present time is also passing through post conflict phase in which open warfare has ceased to exist. However, the internal situation of the country during this period is tense with major chances of large scale violence to erupt again. This time is very crucial. Experience of many other countries shows lapse in ceasing the opportunity during this phase might cause violence again. But careful handling of the situation could help restore peace for which it is most essential to launch economic development activities vigorously.

In light of the prevailing situation, it was appropriate for the Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS) to organize two-day seminar on " R ole of Civil Society in Conflict Mediation and Peace Building in Nepal" on July 15 and 16, 2006 at Nepal Administrative Staff College, Jawalakhel in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), a research wing of Social Democratic Party of Germany. During the seminar, experts on the subject of conflict and peace discussed wide range of subjects related to the role of civil society in conflict mediation and peace building. Apart from the issue like UN's role in arms management, the participants also discussed such aspects as economic costs of conflict and media's role in peace building.

It was found that ever since the eruption of conflict in Nepal in 1996 as many as15,000 people have been killed. Nearly 270,000 people are believed to have been displaced and 1.5 million youth have been forced to migrate to various countries for security, safety and livelihood. Besides, 1,500 VDC buildings have been partially or completely destroyed. Several rural bridges, schools, communication installations, district level government offices, police posts and private properties have been damaged.

During the period 1990-2000, the GDP growth rate in Nepal was 4.8 per cent, which declined perceptibly to 2.6 per cent when the conflict escalated between 2001 and 2005. This resulted into annual economic loss of GDP by 2.2 per cent. In monetary terms, R s. 92.5 billion is estimated to have been lost between 1991 and 2005.

Furthermore, the development expenditure recorded annual growth rate of 0.7 per cent between 1990 and 2000 at 1994-95 price. But it declined by 4.6 per cent between 2001 and 2005. R eversely, the actual defense expenditure which recorded 4.8 per cent between 1990 and 2000 at 1994-95 price grew spectacularly by nearly 12 per cent over the period 2001-2005.

The GDP growth rate in the current fiscal year 2005-06 declined to as low as 1.9 per cent from 2.7 per cent last year, which is largely due to the cumulative effective of conflict. There has also been human and capital flight from the conflict affected regions. Nearly 20 per cent of the male working age population had to leave certain affected districts. The conflict also dampened private sector investment and confidence owing to insecurity and at the same time lowered public investment caused by the curtailment of development spending. Sales of the private sector reduced by 20 to 25 per cent in the rural market.

Hence, to ensure that violent conflict does not erupt in Nepal again it is essential that the vicious circle of conflict and poverty is broken through economic development. Development activities not only provide an opportunity to different groups to work together but it also makes them forward looking rather than looking at the past. Any job providing alternative to fighting not only provides a new identity but it also has a tendency to forget the feeling of revenge of the past. It is the degree of economic development that can determine the possibility of occurrence of shooting and looting. Generation of massive employment opportunities through developmental activities and distribution of its fruits among different groups can largely break the chances of renewing conflict.

The rebel groups need to trade war and weapons for work and employment. These people should learn to make best use of new skills to reintegrate and contribute to peacetime workforce. Besides, seed money also needs to be given the women, young and disabled for starting business, small enterprises, learning trades and finding new jobs for which vocational training should be provided by the government institutions, NGOs, and religious groups. Micro and small enterprises should be developed and employment intensive work program be initiated.

In Mozambique , over 9,000 ex-combatants were provided skills-training courses and they were also given essential toolkits to start their own businesses. Over 70 per cent of these trained persons were employed and 600 micro-enterprises were created. However, some of these activities are so expensive that the resource-constrained country like Nepal cannot afford to make all needed investment. Hence, apart from the government, the donors, private sector and the civil society should join hands together to mitigate the problem.

The civil society could also help create Multi-donor Development Fund to support development activities. Besides, they could lobby and advocate at the national and international levels for debt write off of Nepal as this country is heavily indebted and its per capita income is too low (US $ 160 in 2004 as per World Development R eport 2006). The per capita debt in this country is N R s. 13,000, which needs to be waived in the post-conflict situation so that the expected resources are diverted to the development activities.

Nepal 's model of development during the post-conflict situation should also be based on the development of power. If this country has to be developed, massive power generation through hydro-power projects is unavoidable as there is immense scope of its development at micro, small, medium and mega levels. Nepal, if at all it follows this model, it can not only provide livelihood support to the population affected by the conflict but could also get rid of the insurgency related problem for ever once the poverty is rooted out from the country through the development of power.

Consolidation of peace should go simultaneously with activities related to reconstruction and development. It will not be wise enough to wait for the reconstruction and development plans to take its course till the political processes are over. If the state is not able to provide the general people means to improve their livelihood through reconstruction and development, the high pitch of April revolution is likely to wear off and the people will be disenchanted and disillusioned with this system as well in not too distant future.

(Professor Jha is Economist and Executive Director of Centre for Economic and Technical Studies, CETS)

Source: Spotlight (04-10 August 2006)


State Position on CA, Minister Thakur Tells Govt <Top>

Lalitpur, July 16

Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives Mahantha Thakur said the responsibility to clear confusions regarding constituent assembly (CA) lies with the government.

“We all are talking about the constituent assembly but nobody, including the government, is clear about the process and other details of it, though we believe that it is the only solution of the present crisis,” he said.

He was addressing a two-day seminar on Role of Civil Society in Conflict Mediation and Peace Building in Nepal, organised by the Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)on Saturday.

He further appreciated the role of civil society members and urged them to keep up the same vigil on political changes which, he said, are “easy to bring about”. What is difficult, he said, is to bring about changes regarding social, ethic, lingual and regional issues; so one has to keep fighting for equal representation in the government. He said an interim government has become essential for a political solution.

Civil society movement leader Dr Sundar Mani Dixit claimed that the government is interested neither in making the talks a success nor in holding election to a constituent assembly.

“The government is now in the hands of such people who never want any solution. They want to play games in the fluid political situation and keep things on the boil forever,” he said.

He also warned that the government is trying to “chase the Maoist talks team away” and “rule infinitely” on the basis of an “illegitimate” parliament.

Presenting a paper, Dr. Bishnu Raj Upreti, a conflict expert, said success or failure of the UN (in arms management) entirely depends upon the commitment, willingness and cooperation of the government and Maoists.

Prof. Hari Bansh Jha, the executive director of CETS, said the process of consolidation of peace should proceed simultaneously with actvities related to reconstruction and development.

Source: The Himalayan Times (16 July 2006)


Revitalising SAARC <Top>

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day seminar on "Expansion of SAARC: Challenges and Opportunities", organised by the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the other day, said that the regional body's expansion will give wider shape to the association and greatly contribute in realising the region's socio-economic development. The good intention with which SAARC was established to foster and increase economic cooperation in the region has yet to be realised.

Time and again, summits have been postponed, and the speed with which cooperation should have been undertaken has been painfully slow. DPM Oli also mentioned that the achievements of the SAARC did not match the aspirations of the people of the region. This is rather unfortunate as much hope is pinned on this regional organisation for the upliftment of the socio-economic status of the people living in the region. Despite the slow pace, the association has been able to notch a few commendable achievements with the development of an institutional and legal framework as well as initiatives for cooperation in certain areas. Moreover, agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) has been a significant achievement for liberalising trade, services and investment and mutually reinforcing the drive for poverty alleviation and economic development. On the occasion, international relations experts, strategists and policy makers discussed the various permutations and combinations in expanding SAARC. Herein, it would be worthwhile noting that Afghanistan is to formally join the association at its fourteenth summit. This means that SAARC has gained recognition internationally.

The SAARC initiative in South Asia was hailed when it was established. People had expected it to be a dynamic body that would build cooperation among the member countries to tackle the common problems of poverty and economic disparity. Home to over one-fifth of humanity, South Asia is still struggling to meet the basic needs of its people. Due to one reason or another, the association has not been able to meet the expectations. However, it is evident that there is consensus among the member nations to make SAARC more active. This commitment may reflect soon with SAARC gearing for socio-economic development through greater cooperation among the member states. Only when that state is reached, the existence of SAARC can be rightly justified.

Source: The Rising Nepal (1 July 2006)


USA and Korea keen to get observer status in SAARC: DPM Oli <Top>

A senior Nepali official has said that the USA and Republic of Korea have expressed interest to join the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as observers.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the two day regional seminar on “The expansion of SAARC: Challenges and Opportunities,” organized in Lalitpur on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister K. P. Sharma Oli said with the granting of observer status to China and Japan by the 13th summit, SAARC has attracted the attention of the rest of the world. He said the USA and the Republic of Korea have also expressed desire for observer state status with SAARC, which is yet another manifestation of the SAARC potentials. He said the collaboration and cooperation to SAARC from the big economies of Japan and China could be instrumental in energizing and electrifying the process of economic development in the region.

Deputy Prime Minister Oli further said the agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) that came into force since 1st January 2006 can be considered as a major milestone in the economic journey of SAARC. He said the vision of regional economic integration is expected to take concrete shape after the creation of the South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) by 2020. Emphasis on poverty alleviation is on focus with the adoption of the SAARC Development Goals and the SAARC Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation. People of South Asia feel much closer today than ever before because of the exchange of visits and interactions among themselves, said Oli.

Addressing the function, deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Mrs. Chitra Lekha Yadav said with two decades into existence, SAARC had become fully mature and it was time to evaluate what it has achieved so far and where it failed miserably. She said future development will be right-based, demand-driven and highly politicized. She said only an inclusive cooperation could build SAARC's bright future. Mrs. Yadav said SAARC should strengthen partnership culture at various levels in defining its vision. She added that political space within SAARC needed to be expanded in order to promote cooperation in the areas of socio-economic development.

Head of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in Nepal, Dev Raj Dahal, said Afghanistan's entry into SAARC had ensured the integrity of South Asian strategic geography and set a connection with the Middle East and Central Asia. He said SAARC needs to make major investment in human resource development and formulate a regional strategy to train skilled workforce to match with knowledge-based economy. The current economic dynamism of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), due to capital and natural resource surplus and expanding labor market opportunities, provides the South Asian governments an incentive to widen the base of remittance economy, trade, foreign direct investment and market opportunities, he added.

Mr. Dahal further said expansion of regional cooperation has disadvantages if internal coherence, effectiveness and symmetry of information are not properly attuned, opportunities for mutual interests remain vaguely defined and policy coordination suffers due to structural and institutional barriers. Successful progress in the region is vitally linked to the resiliency of the member states, markets and civil society groups, all acting in a common spirit to optimize the prospect for shared effort towards security, peace, progress and identity of South Asia.

The two-day seminar, being organized by the Institute of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with FES, has brought together scholars from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, among others.

Source: www.nepalnews.com (29 June 2006)


Seven Months in Nepal – a small experience report <Top>

Sylvia Ehrhardt, Berlin, Germany

At the beginning of November 2005 I had the chance of taking part in an internship by the German organization called Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Nepal. I have got to know the only Hindu realm with the highest mountain of the world during my several trekking tours some years before. Every time I have enjoyed my staying in Nepal. But now I have the chance to know the daily life of the Nepali citizenship far away from the tourist area. Therefore I was flying in the plane with a big anticipation and I was very excited what will happen in the next seven months (after finishing my internship I was able to stay a little bit longer in Nepal to go on trekking tour, visit friends and so on. So I was totally seven months here.)

The first impression from the Nepali mentality I have got at the airport in Kathmandu: after landing about 120 passengers had looked for their packages. Nobody knew why but our aircraft was loaded in Doha only with about one third of the luggage. The rest stayed in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Also two hours delayed we landed in Kathmandu. After security checking we were waiting for our packages. But the conveyor belt stopped after 10 minutes. Further 15 minutes were passed away and nothing had happened. Now the first passengers became restless and asked the airport personal. But they did not have any answer or idea respectively.

After the next 20 minutes everybody was sure that no package would come today.

Now everybody went to the lost and found office. One man was sitting there – masses came to him – and everybody had the same wish. But he kept cool and asked every single passenger for their luggage: the size, color etc. Communication problems did also their own. But suddenly I had to laugh only: in Germany such a big time expense will be unconceivable. But so different to Nepal: here they take time for every single guest ;-)

Three hours later I left the airport with my lost and found form. And I had the hope to get my luggage on the next day. And really, 24 hours later I have got it.

After this short adventure now back to the internship by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in Nepal. Dav Raj Dahal, the Head of the office, welcomed me with the words: "our office is also your office." A really good feeling. Nav Raj Dahal, the Administrative Manager, offered me typical Nepali Bonbon - Hajmola Candy. I expected sweet taste but it was spicy and so delicious. They become my favorite sweets besides to Pusta Kari.

My main field of research works was Gender issues. The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nepal work together with many different women organizations representing different interests of women. Therefore I have got a unique summary and insight into the social and political situation of the women in Nepal. Besides I took part in various seminars and workshops supporting by the FES.

From the political view I was traveling to Nepal when the Maoist has announced a one-sided ceasefire. It was broken up on 2 nd January 2006. A municipal poll had taken place in Kathmandu on 8 th February. Two and one week before there were many demonstrations organizing by the Seven-Parties-Alliance. After finishing the ceasefire the Maoist had also announced a lot of activities. That means there were many bomb attacks outside and even inside the Kathmandu-Valley on the 14 th January 2006. Therefore the government intensified the military- and policepersons; they had intended overnight curfews and on one day even a whole-day-curfew. Five days before the elections the Maoist have announced a new Bandha and only few cars, buses or taxis you were able to see in the streets. But in the evening after the poll they had broken up the bandha.

In these weeks of uncertainty the daily life of most of the Nepali people was going on.

Every Nepal-Traveller knows surely the hospitality. During a picnic trip with more than 200 Nepali we were invited we could also got know their singing condition. In the bus, during our stay in Pharping and after driving back home the Nepali people were singing and dancing the whole time. They are never got tired. After coming back on the Ring road surrounding Kathmandu we had to wait more than one hour in the street because of a blockade for the Crown Prince Paras. All the Nepali people have also danced and sung in the bus without thinking of a break. And everything was doing without alcohol.

The warmth of Nepali people – like during the picnic, weddings, and birthday parties, naming or even in the streets – their sensitivity among them and their spirituality made a deep impression on me. I will take a lot of these to Germany with me. For all I say dherai danyabad (Nepali language for thank you very much) to the people in Nepal.

I want to say also thank you to Mr. Ram Thapa, Honorary Consul in Germany as well as Dev Raj Dahal and all FES staffs for their very good pieces of advice and their helpfulness. I say dherai danyabad to the Nepali people who gave me the chance to look into their daily way of living and their thinking. So I have learned a lot from them. I am looking forward to seeing Nepal soon.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (5 April 2006)


Civic Education for Youth highlighted <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

BANEPA, Kavre, April 2: Teachers of schools, colleges and students of Kathmandu University in this town on Saturday converged to discuss the importance of civic education for youth in making them contribute positively to the society and the nation.

Many of the participants at this seminar, organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, stressed the need for improving the curriculum to transform the people into conscious citizens.
Chandra Dev Bhatta, a Ph. D. student at the London School of Economics presenting a paper on how civil society can contribute to civic education said that Nepal needs a politically secular civil society in urban areas and charity-oriented civil society in rural areas. The rural civil society groups which are involved in productive business and providing service to the needy people are asking what is going on with civil society in Kathmandu. The urban-based civil society groups have grounded their one leg in politics and another leg in civil society. Such groups cannot make youth responsive to social needs and contribute to peace building.

Shiv Raj Dahal had kicked off the discussion with his presentation in which he blamed the political leaders of ignoring the need of the society to turn "people into citizens", so that they can responsibly contribute positively to the society. It is this ignorance, he said, was giving politics a bad name, a sector that came last in the priority list of students pursuing higher education. The consensus among participants was that political awareness in students is not the problem, but making the schools a ground for playing partisan politics is.

Earlier, the seminar began with NEFAS Executive Director Ananda Srestha asking the participants to unearth the problems in the civic education curriculum they were teaching and ways to deal with them. The suggestions, he said, would be included in a book being compiled for the new civic education curriculum in schools.

FES representative in Nepal, Dev Raj Dahal, highlighted the theme of the discussion saying that students badly needed to know the roles that different social actors play for them to find a suitable place in society. Mere saying that people are sovereign is not enough, he said and added that the Constitution must be understood by students to be able to act in that manner, Dahal added.

Participants lamented over the general tendency in schools and colleges to emphasize rote learning over practical knowledge and theoretical brainstorming over vocational skills. The society, participants said, was in a mess because youth lacking in the urge to do something for the society were leaving the country in hordes and leaving the rural areas a lack of change agents. Their lack of disciplined approach in everything they do, the school teachers said, meant that the void in civic education was stark.

Other participants had grosser problems at hand to deal with, for example their inability to run their classes smoothly because of the general security situation in the country. Still some others saw gross interference by the political sector in the periodic modification of the school curriculum to suit their partisan interests.

Professor of political science, Ram Kumar Dahal of Tribhuvan University had chaired the discussions.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (5 April 2006)


Civic education for youth discussed <Top>

By A Staff Reporter
BANEPA, Kavre, April 2: Teachers of schools in this town and its surroundings gathered on Saturday to discuss the importance of civic education for youth in making them contribute positively to the society.

Many of the participants at this seminar, organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, stressed the need for improving the school curriculum to turn the tide in the society's favour.

They lamented over the general tendency in schools to emphasize rote learning over practical knowledge and theoretical brainstorming over vocational skills. The society, participants said, was in a mess because youth lacking in the urge to do something for the society were leaving the country in hordes. Their lack of disciplined approach in everything they do, the school teachers said, meant that the void in civic education was stark.

Other participants had grosser problems at hand to deal with, for example their inability to run their classes smoothly because of the general security situation in the country. Still some others saw gross interference by the political sector in the periodic modification of the school curriculum to suit their partisan interests.

Shiv Raj Dahal had kicked off the discussion with his presentation in which he blamed the political leaders of ignoring the need of the society to turn "people into citizens", so that they can responsibly contribute positively to the society. It is this ignorance, he said, was giving politics a bad name, a sector that came last in the priority list of students pursuing higher education. The consensus among participants was that political awareness in students is not the problem, but making the schools a ground for playing partisan politics is.

Earlier, the seminar began with NEFAS Executive Director Ananda Srestha asking the participants to unearth the problems in the civic education curriculum they were teaching and ways to deal with them. The suggestions, he said, would be included in a book being compiled for the new civic education curriculum in schools.

FES representative in Nepal, Dev Raj Dahal, highlighted the theme of the discussion saying that students badly needed to know the roles that different social actors play for them to find a suitable place in society. Mere saying that people are sovereign is not enough, he said and added that the Constitution must be understood by students to be able to act in that manner. Professor Ram Kumar Dahal of Tribhuvan University had chaired the discussions

Source: The Rising Nepal (3 April 2006)


Ongoing Conflict & State's Delivery System <Top>

By Prof. Ananda P. Srestha

Due to Nepal's rugged topography, delivery of goods and services to remote parts of the kingdom even during normal times has always been a major problem and an issue that has generated much discussion. In today's conflict situation, the public distribution system has not only raised additional concern but has further fueled the debate regarding its efficiency and functioning. Therefore, it is but natural in the present near civil-war situation for questions to consistently crop up regarding the effective supply of essential goods and services to the needy living in the country's not so easily accessible Himalayan and mountain districts.

It was with this issue in mind that some time ago, Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) with the cooperation of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) held a two-day national seminar on "Delivery of Goods and Services to the Needy in a Conflict Situation in Nepal" to look into and deliberate on the issue.

The matter acquires prominence in that effective delivery of goods and services to the remote parts of the country is not only a major component of an economic system but also that it is a viable indicator in testing the state's capability, degree of responsiveness and accountability to the people at large especially, the vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups. This becomes even more so in today's democratic context as the protection and promotion of human rights of such groups, their right to life and the right to basic needs becomes particularly important.

Effective delivery of basic necessities and services therefore, and that too in a mountainous and severely landlocked country like Nepal, needs to bear more responsibilities in serving the interests of the people in the changed national, regional and international context. Though the democratically elected governments after 1990 encouraged the process of supplying goods and services to the remote parts of the country, the situation after 1996 following the Maoists People's War against the state changed dramatically, thus posing serious challenges to the country's already weak and inept distribution system.

From the discussions that ensued, it became abundantly clear that in today's conflict ridden situation, the goods and services delivered are in general irregular, sub-standard and in most cases irresponsible and inadequate as against the people's needs and expectations. Moreover, the political and administrative corruption, frequent Nepal bandhs, Valley bandhs and the country's main highways being closed by the Maoists for long periods have gravely affected the distribution system.

The targeted groups for whom the goods are intended therefore, have suffered much. If during the 1990 to 1995 period the needy groups faced hardships due to the crisis of governance that brought about political instability in the country, the post 1996 period to date, following the Maoist insurgency has rendered the situation worse. As a welfare state, Nepal must effectively supply the basic commodities particularly to the rural poor in remote areas but the fluid political situation in the country has made the task tremendously difficult.

Due to poor governance, democracy therefore, has little to offer to these needy people except that the tedious parroting of poverty reduction/alleviation remains more pronounced within the democratic framework. If on the one hand, due to the growing population there is a short supply of food, the inefficient and ineffective distribution system has rendered the situation worse, particularly in remote and conflict prone areas. This is seen especially in the supply of goods including food from surplus areas to deficit ones.

The capacity of Nepal Oil Corporation, National Trading Limited and Nepal Food Corporation and even Salt Trading Corporation in the course of discussions, was pointed out to be pathetically limited. The need for drastic changes in their institutional set up to be in tune with modern times especially, in relation to the public supply system was highlighted so as to bring about an effective distribution chain linking the remote areas. That even now, the distribution network covers only remote District Headquarters, and that rural areas remain untouched by the service, makes it amply clear that the country's distribution network is still "ancient" and has stubbornly remained unchanged over the years.

Another major shortcoming that came up in the course of the discussions is that the services do not assure quality, that there is no cost reduction scheme and that there are several barriers in the transport of commodities. The severe shortage of good godowns in remote areas, which severely effects cost and quality of distribution and the lack of transport subsidy provided to all the necessary items consumed in remote areas, also came up as additional cases in point.

That distributed items in remote districts are diverted to government employees and powerful better off people at the cost of the poor and needy who cannot even afford to pay for such subsidized goods is said to have further complicated matters. Besides, the hindrance to free movement of goods including food within the country and barriers to such transport, including local charges levied by different districts en route was seen as an additional problem that needed to be discouraged by the government.

It was also categorically pointed out that Nepal's essential commodities supply arrangement differs with that of other countries in that the Public Distribution System in Nepal does not provide any price subsidy as in other countries. That Nepal is even withdrawing transport subsidy on food items where there is road access came in for a lot of criticism. Obstacles that have stubbornly subsisted from the start and not looked into by the state such as problems in institutional network, connectivity with the market, legal problems etc. also came up as points for policy recommendations in the future.

Under the present circumstances, it is imperative that the government formulate policies and strategies to facilitate the distribution system network, negotiate with donor agencies for additional funds if necessary and give priority in connecting all the district headquarters at the earliest. But before this becomes a reality, a conducive atmosphere for implementation of the same needs to be created. Therefore, it is vital that the warring factions see sense even at this late hour, come to a basic understanding of sorts, sit at the negotiating table and set the peace ball rolling. Until this happens, things will not look up. The poor and the needy will continue to be trapped between the ongoing conflict, on the one hand and by an inept public distribution system on the other.

Source: The Rising Nepal (19 March 2006)


Building Peace Getting Stakeholders Involved <Top>

Somnath Lamichhane

Party-sponsored upheavals are marring the aspirations of general people. The political leaders, while in power, were unable to handle the politico-social situation and address the problems related to caste and ethnic discrimination, gender inequality, geographical disparity and the like. Structural violence triggered by the Maoists and the political instability created by both the Maoists and seven agitating political parties have paralysed the democratic process of the country.

Losses

The cost of this ongoing violence is indeed hard to quantify, such has been the irresistible losses in these last ten years. The insurgency was defective right from the beginning, as it had pursued a failed and bankrupt ideology. In addition, it has only brought misery and human sufferings. During these ten years, thousands have been killed, tortured and maimed, while many more have been forced to leave their birth places, hundreds of thousands live in constant fear of persecution at the hands of Maoist. Are these so called revolutions meaningful to the 21st century people? Yet these warlords (Maoists) are not willing to disarm, come to the negotiation table, or follow a peaceful path in the near future.

Their intentions are hazy, ambiguous and deep. In these ten years that they have tried to a one-party communist state and worked hard to show the world that such a state is possible in the 21st century. But abetting the Maoists in this endeavour have been the political parties who have of late become nothing more than the playing cards of the Maoists.

If we see the history, Maoists are throwing different cards to beguile the entire community that believe in democracy, human rights and rule of law. In fact, parties have joined hands with Maoists to safeguard their tainted and corrupt images, which they committed in the past. The faulty roles played by both the parties and the Maoists have damaged the nerve system of Nepal's polity, economy and society by generating distrust and division among the people.The Maoists are making a mockery of everyone by acting as an ultra liberal and a protector of human rights.

Changing position

Now, the time has come to address this grave situation faced by the fellow citizens with utmost sincerity. Though it is very difficult, all the concerned forces should understand the reality of the country. In this context, the parties in the conflict should change their positions and try to understand the grievances of the people. People-centered politics and the sight of the tragedy befalling the common man should make everyone ponder over the issue at hand. In this context, we must assess the society in minute detail and seek a mechanism for social change.

Since Nepal is very fragile due to its socio-political condition, there must be internal understanding among the forces involved in the conflict. For this, people must stand in the foremost because they are the most tortured and victimized in these ten years. Joergen Klussmann, a German instructor for peace, says that unless the conflicting parties do not change their position, they will hardly understand problems faced by the family, society and the nation. Here, only concerted efforts will enable one to connect with a bigger picture and achieve practical solutions to the most complex of issues. Addressing issues through a constellation or joint efforts can lead to resolutions that move people and their situations forward with renewed energy.

Peace communicators

Bert Hellinger, a German family systems therapist and philosopher, has come up with the idea that systemic constellation and joint efforts can help to understand the family, society and the nation and recommends reducing problems through them. In addition, peace communicators, with the help of a systemic transformation process, can contribute greately to addressing the anguish of the general people and reducing the existing violence and conflict.

Dedicated, politically unbiased and people-friendly peace communicators can win the hearts of feeble, war-torn and deserted families. We know that the most of the political leaders and urban-centered people are concerned only about their selfish interests. Peace is the foremost necessity of the general people residing in the villages. Peace communicators can definitely raise the voice of these sufferers with utmost transparency, ventilate the reality to the decision-makers and promote peace among the families.

During these years, media people and some humanitarian agencies have tried to de-escalate the conflict and bring about a cease-fire. Efforts have been made at peace education and peace-building. The protracted conflict with its multi-polar and multi-layered nature has increased the tremendous responsibilities of all the stakeholders in the society. The ability to understand the root causes of the conflict from different standpoints and presenting them in an independent and professional manner to an attentive public can play a vital role in increasing the possibility of restoring normalcy and peace. Peace communicators can play the role of a watchdog by taking a critical look at the conflicting sides while analyzing the causes and consequences of a conflict and generating public opinion and peace action for conflict transformation.

Mr. Lamichhane is associated with RSS.

Source: The Rising Nepal (18 March 2006)


Is SOCIALISM dead? <Top>

BY RITU RAJ SUBEDI

Democracy: An Introduction of Democratic Practice;
By Professor Dr Thomas Meyer, University of Dortmund
Academy for Political Education of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Germany;
Published by FES, Indonesia Office; Price not mentioned; Page 57

In this twenty-first century, ‘democracy’ has become a cherished word for both its foes and friends. With the end of Second World War and Cold War, democracy emerged victorious and unrivalled beating communism, fascism and Nazism. Thus, democracy that recognizes periodic elections, rule of law, human rights, free media and freedom to expressions and associations, has already proved itself a better political system.

Dr Meyer first tries to prove the supremacy of democracy. He argues that democracy is not a personal property of the rich and the elites but a system better ensures a just distribution of wealth than any other political system.

"Democracy is not a luxury to be indulged in by rich countries citizens but an indispensable instrument of control for ensuring a development that satisfied the basic needs in every country," he writes.

He strongly opposes the idea that democracy is a by-product of the western civilization and a ‘dubious legacy of colonial rule.’ This line of argumentation was used as an objection to democracy in the debates of the 80’s and 90’s of last century.

He says that ancient people in Africa practiced it for conflict resolution while it existed in the form of local self-governance in the South and South East Asia long before it was developed by the West. He further states that in the long history of the West from the spread of Christianity (since the 4th century) to the bourgeois revolutions of the 18th century, democracy had virtually no role to play. "Democracy is founded on a sober, realistic conception of man that is not dependent on any particular cultural, ideological and religious base."

His presentation of four theories and two model of democracy are noteworthy. According to him, currently there are four theories of democracy -- economy theory, radical grassroots theory, populist media and participative party. The models are – presidential or parliamentary democracy and representative or direct democracy.

In economic theory, political elites offer alternative solutions to the political problems and people choose between them while the radical grass root democracy calls for the direct self-government of the governed to satisfy the full claim of democracy. In the populist media democracy, the mass media, particularly television, greatly influences the public opinion and the actions of politicians and political institutions. But author defends participative party democracy, in which political parties can effectively coordinate all political levels through uniform actions, thereby giving a goal-oriented shape to entire polity.

Likewise, his distinction between Left and Right parties, and liberal and social democracy is crucial to understand the current politics in sophisticated democracies of West and the US. Parties that stand for a free market economy, the exercise of authority, the acceptance of inequality and rigorous law and order policy are considered to belong the Right. Parties that, on the other hand, support a more liberal law and order policy besides backing the welfare state, political intervention in the economy and greater equality are considered to be part of the Left, he writes.

The author points out religious-political fundamentalism as a temptation for weak democracies with corrupt political elites. His description of ‘defective’ democracy is tantamount to our democracy that undergoes through various jerks and jolts in its transitional phase. He writes: "Defective democracies are characterized by the fact that although they have created an important basis for democracy by introducing the universal and equal right to vote, they either do not or only very inadequately fulfill democratic norms in other important respects."

Dr Meyer finally points out that democracy is both robust and vulnerable: "It is robust because it can withstand and process conflicts of interests and values that could break dictatorships. It is vulnerable because it sis not sustainable without people reposing confidence in it and without a practical implementation which is in consonance with its spirit."

The book is extremely useful to know the basics of democracy. But it would have been more reading worthy if he had presented the particular examples in describing his theories and models. He has not also touched on one of the most perplexing questions: Why did democracy fail to save mankind from the horrific wars? If the democratic system is unrivalled and the best, why does it frequently fail to prevent its practitioners from engaging into wars? The First and Second World Wars took place when the Europeans were practicing liberal and social democracy. The problem of wars remained a tough philosophical discourse in every century. Is that democracy allows ‘the deadliest and harshest’ means to gain its cherished goals? If not so, how did George Bush, president of the US that champion democracy in our time, went to war against Iraq? Is it vulnerability of democracy when the elected presidents and the prime ministers succumb to power as their military and economic power reach at critical level? The modern theories of democracy must give satisfying answers to these questions. Likewise, Dr Meyer does not bother to talk about the fate of socialism in the 21st century. If the classical communism is dead, has socialism also lost its individual identity and found place in the wider framework of democracy?

Source: People's Review (16-22 March 2006)


Strengthening supply lines during conflict <Top>

BY OUR CORRESPONDENT

Academicians and policymakers gathered in Lalitpur on Friday to discuss ways to improve the supply system, particularly in remote areas at a time of conflict.

Although the academic discussion organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung assistance centered chiefly around the different paradigms and ideologies that guide the system, there was no dearth of voices unearthing the hard reality in today’s arrangements for supplying the basic needs to the people.

Prof. Guna Nidhi Sharma tried to wean the discussions away from the ideological left-right divide and put it squarely on the pragmatic problem of how to reach the needy. Participants did agree that the need to reach every nook and corner was the most basic question rather than allegiance to the kind of vehicle to do so. If the market is better at it, let it carry out the job, and if it does not want to do so, let the state or the civil society take care of it was the consensus that came out of the brainstorming.

Veteran retired civil servant Vidya Nath Nepal described the existing state of the supply lines in the public distribution system. He had a hard time fielding off queries as participants dealt with him as if he was there to defend the government’s supply system.

Participants would not let go of the fact that corruption and curtailing went on in the subsidy regime and the need to address them. The passion subsided a bit when the presenter said that the subsidy in foodstuff was too small to warrant much discussion and that too applied only for the transportation of the 50,000 odd quintals of rice. Perhaps the most passionate of all discussions took place during Vidya Bir Singh Kansakar’s presentation as he had provided the geo-political angle to the supply system in the country saying that the remote areas portrayed as the most resource starved are in fact loaded with riches waiting to be exploited. He also proposed that the new supply routes in the remote mountainous areas be charted through Tibet of China rather than using the costly airlifts being used today.

The second day’s discussion began with Jagannath Ojha’s portrayal of the existing institutional and system arrangements responsible for governance and the weaknesses hampering public service delivery. His warning was that since in some parts of the country the government’s delivery system was being challenged by the Maoists as their sphere of governance, the government had a much more important task ahead than just supplying the necessity- that of proving its legitimacy.

His suggestion that civil society be used as a vehicle particularly drew flak from some of the commentators who accused the donors of fuelling the conflict rather than trying to solve it.

Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal talked about the linkage between development work and the supply of basic needs in the form of wage goods to the people of the remote mountainous districts.

Earlier, NEFAS Executive Director Ananda P Srestha introduced the theme of the seminar calling on the participants to provide some useful academic input for policymakers to work in conflict areas. Dev Raj Dahal, head of FES in Nepal, had followed saying that it was the inability of the policymaker to deal with policy challenges arising from the need to manage the varied interests of the state, market and civil society that produced the conflict in the first place.

Source: People's Review (16-22 March 2006)


Donors creating disparity: Experts <Top>

By a Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Mar11: The international donors have played a key role in intensifying the conflict in the society by lopsided distribution of resources according to the researchers, development experts and representative from civil societies. The role being played by the donors in creating disparity should be brought into spotlight, they said at an interaction programme here organized by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) today.

Prof. Rabindra Khanal said while interacting with the other researchers added that the donor's money visibly triggered disparity in the society which has culminated into conflict. Social scientist and strategist Dev Raj Dahal said that governance arrangements were crucial to enable diverse people with various preferences, resources and stakes into the outcome of contractual arrangements and reduce the transactional costs.

All the actors of governance - the state, the market and the civil society have their own mechanism of supply delivery and achieve synergy from their compatible strategies, he said. A polycentric arrangement of service delivery requires sound coordination, communication and collective action among the actors, he added.

Speaking at the concluding session of the two day seminar on "Delivery of Goods and Services to the Needy in a Conflict Situation in Nepal", Dahal also added that donors had contributed to spark disparity in the society to a large extent.

Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma while speaking about the effective delivery system described the role of the state and the private sector.

Jagannath Ojha, a researcher from the Ministry of Local Development while presenting a working paper on 'Institutional Arrangements for Distribution of Basic Goods and Services in Conflict Area of Nepal' spoke about the general trend of distribution system in the country. Ram Kumar Dahal said that the distribution mechanism had been deeply marred by corruption.

He also described how corruption has weakened the distribution of essential goods to rural and needy areas.

Source: The Rising Nepal (12 March 2006)


Poverty, malnutrition raising rural mortality <Top>

By a staff reporter
KATHMANDU, Mar 10: Poverty, malnutrition and unhygienic living conditions in the remote areas are the major factors contributing to high incidence of morbidity and mortality in the remote areas. Moreover the on going insurgency has heavily affected the supply system in those areas since past couple of years, said economists and development experts.

Speaking at a seminar on "Delivery of Goods and Services to the Needy in a Conflict Situation to Nepal" organized by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) they spoke about the role of the state in delivering goods and services in the remote and conflict hit areas.

The effective delivery of goods and services to the country's remotest parts is also an indicator to gauge the state's capability, degree of responsiveness and accountability to the common people, they noted. They also blamed the government for turning a deaf ear to the needs of people living in the remote areas in the country. 'The supply system has worsened since last one year', they said.

Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma while presenting a paper on "State Vs Market in Social Supply Nets" observed that Nepal society is getting continuously transformed into a modern consumer society changing behaviour of the system of consumption with effect on total supply comprising domestic production plus imports.

Prof. Sharma further said that the public actions in the social supply nets in Nepal cover the government strategies enhancing domestic production found in policies, programmes and planning relating to all the activities in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

On top of that, according to Sharma the direct delivery programmes including the public distribution system (PDS) engaged in the supply of selective essential goods and services at official process at both the accessible and remote areas.

Sharma mentioned that the direct government action to provide needy the relief or economic security through public distribution system and market streamlining too seems totally mishandled by the worst governance which instead of becoming publicly responsible is loyal to central authority.

Development expert Dr. Vidya Bir Singh Kansakar while speaking about the "Remote Areas of Nepal: Reality, Potentiality and Prospects of Development and Delivery of Basic Services and Infrastructures" said that proportion of malnourishment among the children below five years of age in most of the districts is higher than average for the country due to the shortage of cereal calorie per day in most of the districts expect Manang, Mustang, Rukum and Rasuwa.

He also claimed that the ongoing insurgency had further aggravated the situation in the remote areas.

Vidya Nath Nepal, former secretary and economist said that the distribution of goods including food items and services in the country has confronted a number of challenges over the years.

There is a limitation in the supply of agricultural land for production of food crops. The productivity of per hector land is also not increasing significantly. Nepal has been facing food deficit problem that has been solved by imports, he said.

Earlier, executive director of NEFAS Prof. Ananda P. Shrestha said that delivery of goods and services had always been a sensitive issue and a problem in relation to Nepal's rugged topography even during normal times. The effective supply of essential goods to remote Himalayan and mountain districts was essential.

This, he said was one of the key politico-economic issues of post 1990 Nepal when a pluralistic political system responsive to the wishes of the people was introduced in 1990 under the wave of global democratization and human rights movement.

Dev Raj Dahal, chief of the FES Nepal said that governance arrangements are crucial to enable diverse people with various preferences, resources and stakes into the outcome of contractual arrangements and reduce the transactional costs.

Capacity building of all the mechanisms were essential to make it possible to integrate several public functions, he added.

Dr. Mohan Man Sainju also spoke about the effective delivery of goods and services across the country.

Source: The Rising Nepal (11 March 2006)


National network of peace communicators formed <Top>

A group of peace communicators from different professions have established a network to contribute to peace building efforts in the country.

The network, National Network of Peace Communicators (NNPC), was the result of a training program 'Systemic Conflict Transformation for Peace Communicators', organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) a few days earlier.

The main objectives of the network are to create awareness on peace, research and publications of peace related issues, peace volunteer training, capacity building activities and others.

The members of the network are academicians, researchers, trade unionists, journalists and representatives of civil society organizations with various expertise in their respective fields of work, a statement released by NNPC said.

The statement also said that the most remarkable feature of the network is that it is working without a fixed office building and without being registered as an NGO, which makes it a truly voluntary organisation. nepalnews.com rh Mar 06 06

Source: www.nepalnews.com (06 March 2006)


Klussmann's Mission <Top>

Gopal Khanal

Dead bodies are lying in the middle. Sitting around this scene are the ordinary people appealing for peace. In the next circle the state, Maoist rebels and political parties are placed. The state is motionless. Maoists are not serious. Political parties are in the role of a pendulum switching sides sometimes to the state and sometimes to Maoists.

There is a pin drop silence. People are frozen. Each sees the face of other. An uneasy serenity passes through. German Professor and journalist Joergen Klussmann then suddenly breaks the silence and asks the conflicting parties if they are interested to change their position. He asks the state and Maoists to look into the dead bodies. To him, this is the way of paying respect to the people. There is a sudden feeling of change when the state and Maoists bow down to the dead bodies. This creates an environment of dialogue. Media and peace communicators are closely watching this unfolding scene.

He enters into the subject matters and tells the journalists and peace communicators about the importance of their impartial role in monitoring and reporting about the conflict. And clarifies the role of conflicting parties. He calls this method of resolving conflict "systemic constellation."

The tall and little fat Klussmann has an alternative way of thinking to the prevailing conflict resolution theories. He is sharing his theoretical and practical knowledge to the Nepalese since almost six years. He makes journalists, rights activists and political activists perform like actors in a real life drama. He says that he has trained 80 peace communicators, sometimes at Godavari Village Resort, sometimes at Dhulikhel Lodge Resort. He puts all the participants in close up camp between four to five days and teases them with a series of serious questions. He asks them to perform like Maoists, the state and media reflecting the actual life situation. The ultimate mission of his life is: "Peace, Peace and Peace."

But, he is not alone in his mission. A German INGO Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is cooperating him. He has got the company of equally energetic Nepali friend Dev Raj Dahal. Winner of a gold medal in political science he is the head of Nepal office of FES and is often seen with his serious articles in international journals. Turn by turn both teach the methods of conflict resolution in an interactive style. "Distorted communication contributes to violence, I want to see that should not happen," says Klussmann. Now he is in a peace mission after several years of conflict reporting in South Africa, Syria, Yugoslavia and Germany.

Besides Nepal, he is providing similar kind of training in Sri Lanka. He says, "During conflict time the first thing media loses is the truth." In Nepal, however, "media has maintained this. This is admirable." Forty-three years old Klussmann looks like a philosopher. He offers suggestion: " Let us respect all, build trust, this will open the door to conflict resolution.

Source: Koseli, Kantipur Daily (6 March 2006)


Role of peace communicators discussed <Top>

By A Staff Reporter
LALITPUR, Feb. 25: A distorted communication that lacks transparency and adequate information, instead of bringing two conflicting parties closer, only aggravates a conflict situation. And the role of peace communicators, including journalists, is to establish a linkage between the two through an objective analysis of the various components involved in conflict without passing a judgement.

This is what the trainers at “Systemic Conflict Transformation for Peace Communicators” said during four days of interaction that concluded Thursday. Journalists and advocacy actors including representatives from civil society organisations and trade unions participated in the training organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal.

Joergen Klussmann, a German expert on peace and Dev Raj Dahal, a Nepali political scientist associated with FES Nepal, delivered the dynamics of conflict and various aspects of peace building.

Klussmann said that through systemic constellation, a practice to make victims and perpetrators realise and understand each others’ position, would prove to be a great tool in lessening violent conflicts. He practically demonstrated the process by having the participants role-play a real situation.

Stating that changing position was crucial in settling a dispute, he said that communicators through their objective analysis could make the contending sides see the issue in hand from different perspectives.

While discussing various aspects of communications (objective information, personal confession, relationship and appeal), he asked the peace communicators to refrain from interpreting a situation or an issue.

Dahal said that peace communicators had a vital role to play in re-establishing a linkage, ruptured by conflict, between two warring parties. Absence of positive and transparent communication could only lead to confusion and escalation of violence, he added.

Both Klussmann and Dahal displayed a ‘conflict mapping’ that gives a graphic illustration of various actors of conflict and their components and helps an analyst identify peace measures by showing the complexity of relations between and within these actors.

Chuda Bahadur Shrestha, former police officer and a participant in the training, presented a paper illustrating how a community approach had increasingly been a successful tool in conflict management.

Source: The Rising Nepal (26 February 2006)


Experts call for 'peace with democracy' <Top>

Political analysts and experts in peace education have urged all for serious efforts to establish lasting peace, inclusive of democratic system, in the country.

Addressing the concluding ceremony of a five-day long training on Systemic Conflict Transformation for Peace Communicators on Thursday, Joergen Erik Klussmann, a German expert on peace education, emphasised that impartial and realistic assessment of conflict related issues is vital for bringing about 'positive peace'.

He also further said that as different dynamics regarding the family system, community system and national system exist in the society, permanent peace could be achieved only after the need for peace is perceived at the individual level.

Citing various models of peace such as 'imperial peace', 'hegemonic peace' and 'democratic peace' accepted by nations around the world, political analyst Dev Raj Dahal said, "Only democratic peace can drive the nation to the path of development."

22 persons from different fields participated in the training organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Nepal.

Source: www.nepalnews.com (23 February 2006)

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