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FES Nepal in the Press - 2011

Environmentalists dwell on climate change <Top>

RSS

KATHMANDU: Climate change experts have stressed on awareness of each citizen for maintaining the environmental balance in the light of the adverse impact of climate change already becoming visible in people's life and the nature.

Participants of a workshop on impact of climate change organized by the Telegraph Weekly with support from the Frederic Ebert Stiftung here today pointed out that mosquitoes being seen in the high mountainous district of Mustang and the drying up of apple trees in Rasuwa district, another mountainous district were because of the impact of climate change.

Deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Germany in Kathmandu, Hansen Henning said even a country like Nepal that is yet to take on the path of industrialization has felt the impact of climate change.

Deforestation and over-utilization of the natural resources has resulted in environmental disturbance, he reasoned. Henning also said that the landslide occurred in Rukum couple of months back is also caused by the adverse impact of climate change. He stressed that it would be difficult to tide over such challenges without putting in concerted efforts.

Country Director of FES, Devraj Dahal also stressed the need of collective efforts for environment conservation.

Chief Editor of the Telegraph Weekly Narendra Upadhyaya said the workshop has been organized with the objective of informing the general public about the adverse impact of climate change and expressed the belief that the conclusions drawn by the workshop would help the government in formulation of policies.

Different working papers will be presented and discussed at the day-long workshop.

Source: The Himalayan times online (23 December 2012)


New policy for higher education stressed <Top>

RSS

2011-12-12 5:15 PM

KATHMANDU: Educationists have stressed on the need of making new policies to run the higher education in more systematic and effective way in the changed context.

They said that amending the current education policy to make the higher education practical is the need of the hour, and stressed that the Ministry of Education should cooperate on it.

Speaking at a discussion organised by the Tribhuvan University’s International Relations Centre in Lalitpur on Monday, the participants suggested on systemising higher education rather than controlling it.

Inaugurating the discussion, Chairman of the Tribhuvan University Grant Commission Prof. Dr. Ganesh Man Gurung said there is a need of new definition of higher education, and added that monitoring is required in the colleges rather than to give permission to open campuses haphazardly.

Pointing out the need to improve the higher education, Representative of the Frederich Ebert Stiftung Dr. Devraj Dahal said making the higher education useful for life is the need of the day.

Vice-Chancellor of Lumbini University Dr. Triratna Manandhar said that the government should prepare a clear draft for running the higher education.

On the occasion, Dr. Tirtha Khaniya, Bidhyanath Koirala, Pushkar Bajracharya and Basudev Kafle had presented separate working papers on higher education.

Source: The Himalayan Times (13 November 2011)


Leaders should stay off power-centred politics <Top>

The Himalayan Times
THT ONLINE
TANSEN: Kashi Raj Dahal, legal and constitutional expert, on Saturday has said the task of constitution drafting will not take up unless the consensus is forged among the political parties.

Speaking at a national workshop titled, “Social Democracy and the Role of Youths in Nepalese Politics,” jointly organised by Public Policy School and Fredrik Ebert Stiftung today at Tansen in Palpa, Dahal stated the political leaders cannot carry the national building task ahead if they do not stay off the power-centerred politics.

Leaders including youth leader Gagan Thapa, Thakur Gaire, Lekhanath Neupane, Yubaraj Pande had expressed their views on the occasion.

The programme was chaired by Pratap Poudel, coordinator of the workshop.

Source: The Himalayan Times (26 November 2011)


Bandipur youths striving for social transformation <Top>

By Our Correspondent

Bandipur, Nov. 20, Approximately 100 miles away from the capital city, Bandipur, one of the historic towns in the country has its own features to be proud. Though it is neglected, some tourism entrepreneurs and local people have done a lot to maintain its virginity. It is still serene, unpolluted, and rich in tradition.

Tourists having their dinner in candle lights in some restaurants also give an impression of the bars in Rome or London. Restaurants, bars and lodges in this hilly town are always packed.

However, it is said that common people in this historic and hilly town are still unaware of their rights. Though majority of the population in this place is literate, they seem to be ignorant about the value of democracy and individual rights. Moreover, youths and women between the age of 18 and 40 seem unresponsive to the politics.

They either prefer to go abroad to earn money or stay in the capital city. This trend has made Bandipur locals more frustrated, says a shopkeeper.

Nevertheless, there is a big hope amidst frustration. Some aspirant educated people like Bikram Piya, campus chief of Bandipur College are committed to do something in the society.

With a view of generating awareness among the youths and women in Bandipur, a Kathmandu based NGO - Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) recently organised an interaction programme on Civic Education for Consolidating Relations between People and Local Self Governance" in which local people expressed their views that they were frustrated even in democracy (Loktantra).

Responding their views, sociologist Shiv Raj Dahal said that youths should come to the forefront of politics. Politics should be in the hand of youths those who are genuine and honest. Presenting a paper on Civic Education for Consolidating Relations between People and Local Self Governance he said that youths should be imparted moral education.

Today’s education is baseless. It lacks organic knowledge. Hence our youths across the nation are deviating from the goal national building. Youths should be given civic education so that they would know the real essence of the society and the development process, he said.

Youths should be able to distinguish what is wrong and what is right. If they are deviated the society cannot a take a course as a result of which the entire society become docile.

Prof. Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma, while speaking at the programme noted that youths should be economically empowered. Youths are the most of productive element in the society, if they are misguided, the society will suffer to a large extent.

Former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission Prof. Sharma the (NPC) also spoke about the impact of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) between Nepal and India.

Prof. Sharma strongly claimed that BIPPA will have more serious impact in the country’s economy. The BIPPA has reinforced the1950 Treaty between Nepal and India which is in the interests of India.

Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal, while talking about the need for political awareness said that youths should not be kept aside of politics. They should be a part of politics and social activities.

Prof. Dahal stressed the need for generating awareness among youths. They should be informed that politics is not a dirty game. They should be encouraged to do politics for right cause. Knowledge without ideology becomes useless hence the youths should be genuinely encouraged took take part in the politics for good reason.

Chandra Dev Bhatta, programme officer at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) highlighting the objectives of the programme, said that youths should be encouraged to come to the mainstream of politics. Political dialogue, social dialogues among youths should be encouraged for social justice. If youths shy away who is going to take part in the politics for change?

Prof. Ananda Sharestha, chairman of the NEFAS said that civic education among youths plays a great role in strengthening democratic values and maintain discipline in the society. The prime objective of the programme was to collect views at grass-root levels and give input to the policy makers.

Bikram Piya, from the chair noted that Bandipur youths were striving for social transformation and development. Civic education and social awareness programme is must for the youths in the present context.

It is to be noted that NEFAS has been continuously working in the field of civic education. It has been organising programme in different parts of the country for the last six – seven years.

Source: The Rising Nepal (21 November 2011)


Eroding Authority Of Party Leadership <Top>

Ritu Raj Subedi

In a functional democracy, the political parties have a key role to bridge between the society and the government. They carry the diverse agenda of the people and implement them upon going to power. This is to ensure that ‘general will’ is well reflected in the governance system. The parties offer informed choices to the citizens about ideologies and programmes so that a vibrant democratic and civic culture evolves to the satisfaction and participation of all members of the society. According to political scientist professor Dr. Thomas Meyer, the parties hold central role in the political decision making process as they mediate between social interests and state action. In the Nepalese context too, the political parties are always at the forefront of bearing and executing the public agenda. As they are central agents of political changes, they also play their pivotal role to implement the crucial decisions that have larger implications in the society.

Under scrutiny

However, the competence of political leadership in Nepal has come under close scrutiny as the country passes through a turbulent transition phase. Its decision making power and implementing efficiency continues to erode with the rise of new pressure groups and intra-party conflict. The recent political events suffice to highlight the increasing tension between the party establishment and its opposition, and between the central leadership and the emerging subversive groups. The major political forces surrendered to the newly created janajati (ethnic) caucus and could not get the statute amendment bill endorsed by the parliament. After janajati lawmakers from the Maoist and UML threatened to defy the whip, the government was compelled to pull out the amendment bill aimed at forming the experts’ panel to suggest on state restructuring. This was a severe blow to the seven-point deal signed by the top leaders of UCPN-Maoist, CPN-UML, Nepali Congress and United Democratic Madhesi Front. The parties had to tread on the same path where they were hesitant to move for years. They finally agreed to form the state restructuring commission under the bizarre political maneuverings marked with threats, humiliation and helplessness.

The leadership of Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and UML chair Jhala Nath Khanal was bruised as they were unable to handle their resepctive parliamentary parties at the crucial moment. In the Maoist PP meeting Friday, Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai continuously requested the chairman to issue a whip to the Maoist lawmakers to vote for the amendment bill but Prachanda turned a deaf ear to his plea. He dragged his feet as he knew that his chief whip Dev Gurung, the frontline leader of Baidhya faction, and a large number of janajati lawmakers were sure to flout it. So, he opted to end the meeting in indecision and inaction to the satisfaction of Baidhya faction. It was a political loss to the PM and Prachanda himself and this will further encourage the Biadhya faction to undermine them in the days to come.

Khanal’s managerial capacity in the party was also challenged as he became a hostage to the demand of the janjati CA members, most of them his loyal. He also tested the limit of his leadership thanks to the emergence of new force in the ethnic line.

The creation of janajati caucus in the CA has not only debilitated the decision-making power of top leadership, this has also exposed weak ideological foundation of the parties.

The success of janajati caucus has sent another message: if united, even bigger force is compelled to recoil. Now what will happen if more caucuses come to the fore on similar grounds? Women lawmakers could form their caucus in the parliament and hamper the CA’s proceedings. The women have their century old grievances and could storm against the male-dominated parliament to frame more woman friendly law. The Madhesi lawmakers can do the same. They can squeeze the House to revenge the decades of discriminations against them by the past hill-origin ruling class. Not only this, even the lawmakers from Khas Chhetri and Brahmin community could form their own caucus and bring the CA business to a sheer halt, demanding that the federal units could not be structured on the ethnic lines. This might overturn the success of janajati caucus. This is possible because the number of lawmakers from Khas Chhetri and Brahmins far exceeds the other groups in the House. However, the need of the hour is not to carry politics on parochial line. Not any group should be guided by the historical grudges and vendetta.

Social dialogue

Why does the leadership fail to take the party on the ideological path? Why do the lawmakers from ethnic background still smell conspiracy that unitary system and Brahmanism will again be imposed in the country although the nation has already decided to adopt a federal system? There is certainly the problem of deficit of trust. To perceive things from ethnic lens erodes the basis of common ideological ground that sticks the people having diverse values and principles together. At the same time, the rising ethnic voices offer opportunity to the leadership to pursue inclusive policy so that the disadvantaged communities also get adequate space in the new political set-up. There is a need of launching social dialogue among the different communities for confidence building, harmony and broader political consensus. The political parties must follow realistic approach instead of rhetoric and populist ones, which only harm the nation in the long-term.

Source: The Rising Nepal (20 November 2011)


Sound economy key to effective diplomacy <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Nov 15

Politicians, experts and diplomats Monday said that political and economic stability was vital for the effective diplomacy.

"Stability, sound economy and improved governance are prerequisite to vigorously pursue economic diplomacy abroad," they said at a seminar ‘Emerging Challenges of Nepal’s Foreign Policy’ jointly organized by the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung in the capital.

They concurred that all political parties should come to closure for framing a common foreign policy.

Former foreign minister Dr. Ram Saran Mahat said that foreign policy was the extension of the domestic policy.

Nepal is one of the oldest nation states in the world and is in the advantageous position when it comes to its ties with international organizations like United Nations and NAM, he said.

"But, Nepal is unable to pursue strong diplomacy largely due to the political instability and weak economic position. Without sound economy, the country can’t play role in pushing economic diplomacy," added Dr Mahat.

He said that quality of governance must be improved while the best and the bright people should be brought into bureaucracy.

"Foreign policy does not only address the political issues. Neither does it solely come under the privilege of Foreign Ministry. Finance and Commerce Ministries have also equal role while dynamically pursuing the economic diplomacy," he said.

Chinese ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan said that foreign policy should reflect the aspirations for the domestic developments.

"Political stability and interconnectivity are preconditions for the successful execution of the foreign policy," said Houlan.

Stating that India and China secured rapid economic growth, the Chinese envoy suggested that Nepal should reap the benefits from this situation.

"I believe that China and India should provide opportunities to Nepal for its economic development," he said.

He said that China, India and Nepal should strive for mutual cooperation, which would be beneficial to all.

"Along with political stability and conclusion of the peace process, Nepal will embark on the path of prosperity," he said.

Houlan suggested harnessing immense hydropower potentials for the economic growth.

He reiterated that China was committed to stability and continued economic support to Nepal.

Tika Jung Thapa, executive director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs, said that Nepal should push for effective diplomacy as the world passing through turbulent moments.

"Nepal could not afford to be static as its two neighbours - India and China- are achieving spectacular economic growth," said Thapa.

He said that Nepal should seek its own way so that it moved ahead keeping its national security, sovereignty and independence intact.

Thapa also noted that Nepal should vie for positive ties with the global power as the world politics was witnessing critical changes.

Experts Binod Bista and former secretary at the Foreign Ministry Kedar Bhakta Shrestha presented their working papers on Nepal’s foreign policy and its challenges.

Source: The Rising Nepal (16 November 2011)


Youths role key in social transformation <Top>

By Our Correspondent

Parbat, Kusma, Nov 15

The local people here have expressed a serious concern that the number of youths going abroad for employment have been sharply increasing for the last couple of years.

Majority of youths in this hilly district either prefer to go Kathmandu for higher education or opt to go to the Middle East countries for employment. They are almost unaware of the country’s politics, said local intellectuals and political activists.

Expressing their concern, they said that the youths in the district were in dire need of imparting moral education so that they can feel their responsibilities and respect social and cultural values.
Speaking at an interaction programme on "Civic Education for Consolidating Relations between People and Local Self Governance" organized by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) recently; they underlined the need for institutional development of democracy (Loktantra).

Consolidation of democracy is not possible without active participation of youths. Hence youths should play proactive role for democracy and development, they said. Participation of youths in social and political activities is a must to make the society dynamic and forward looking for that youths need to be made aware of their individual rights and responsibilities, they added.

Presenting a working paper on "Civic Education for consolidating Relations between People and Local Self Governance" Shiv Raj Dahal from NEFAS underlined the need to transform people into citizen. Citizens represent the country, which is not possible without active participation of youths in political and social activities that take place in the society.

Whatever the political ideologies they have, the youths should be encouraged to take part in the social activities responsibly.

Navraj Gurung, leader of Nepali Congress in Parbat expressed doubt about the drafting constitution and conclusion of peace process. Youths are misguided and values of democracy are being misinterpreted. Therefore, youths should be encouraged to get involved in development activities.

Bikash Lamsal, representative of the CPN- UML Parbat district committee underlined the need to involve youths in the mainstream politics. Youths should be given responsibility and make them feel about their duties.

Speaking at the programme, Prof.Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma said that more and more youths should be involved in productive areas. The overall trend of going abroad for employment ultimately hampers the country’s future.

Prof. Sharma, who is also a former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) drew a gruesome picture of the economy and said that no democracy can be sustainable without promoting economic activities.

Sharma, former vice chairman of the NPC strongly claimed that BIPPA will have more serious impact in the country’s economy. The BIPPA has reinforced the 1950 Treaty between Nepal and India which is in the interests of India.

Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal, while talking about the need for political awareness said that youths should not be kept aside of politics. They should be a part of politics and social activities.

Prof. Dahal stressed the need for generating awareness among youths. They should be informed that politics is not a dirty game. They should be encouraged to do politics for right cause.

Chandra Dev Bhatta, programme officer at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) highlighted the objectives of the programme and said that youths should be encouraged to come to the mainstream of politics. Political dialogue, social dialogues among youths should be encouraged for social justice.

Bhatta also pointed out the need for generating awareness among the youths as what is right and what is wrong. Chairman of the NEFAS Prof. Ananda Shrestha highlighted the objectives of the programme.

From the chair Bir Bahadur C.K underlined the need for creating opportunities for youths. It is obvious that youths look for economic opportunities; hence the state should design programmes for youths.

The NEFAS has been organizing civic education programme in different parts of the country with the objective of generating awareness among youths. The programme was organized with the assistance of FES, the official sources at NEFAS said.

Source: The Rising Nepal (16 November 2011)


The Non-Linearity of Peace Processes: Theory and Practice of Systemic Conflict Transformation <Top>

Editors Daniela Körppen, Norbert Ropers and Hans J. Giessmann, Berlin: 2011. Price: Euro 33. Pages: 273, Barbara Budrich Publishers, Opladen / Farmington Hill.

Dev Raj Dahal, FES Nepal

Conflicts open the possibility to innovate scientific concepts. Resolution of changing nature of conflict entails new systemic awareness, constant learning of the context and finding pathways for its constructive transformation. As conflict operates in an open environment, it expands horizontally and vertically across many generations and, therefore, a viable transformation of conflict needs the engagement of all those affected. In this context, this book adds fresh tools to cope with uncertainty, contingency factors and rapid structural change and tells policy makers not to alienate any actor from the outcome of peace as it is also a part of the same system. Systemic conflict transformation aims to secure stable peace by preventing the outbreak of violence in society and creating condition under which root causes of conflicts are transformed.

In the process of dealing with multi-layered conflicts, two sister organizations--Berghof Foundation for Peace Support and Berghof Conflict Research got engaged in systemic discourses to glean critical insights from a spectrum of disciplines and find suitable means for the transformation of violent conflicts into liberal peace. Systemic thinking perceives conflict not as an isolated phenomenon but a part of the whole system where its interacting components are closely interwoven. This thinking process has updated the current theoretical debates on peace building adding a number of systemic properties, such as liberal peace, non-linearity of conflict dynamics, bridging the gaps in analysis, collaboration between action research and reflection on peace practice and innovation of systemic theory. It is mediated by inter-subjective knowledge and practical experience learned from various types of conflicts of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Guinea-Bissau, South Africa, Israel/Palestine, Georgia-Abkhazia and Kosovo arising out of geopolitics, ethnicity, identity, culture and governance failure.

The first part of this book covers articles by Daniela Körppen, Norbert Ropers, Hans J. Giessmann, Sirin Bernshausen, Thorsten Bonacker, Peter T. Coleman, Robin Vallacher, Andrea Bartoli, Andrzej Nowak, Lam Bui-Wrzosinska, Oliver Ramsbotham, Dany Burns, Dirk Splinter and Ljubjana Wustehube. They are engaged in conceptualizing systemic thinking from a variety of lenses--sociology, political science, organizational development and systemic constellation, the last one infuses human feeling and emotional intelligence in its method. The second part includes case studies by Luxshi Vimalrajah, Suthaharan Nadarajah, Norbert Ropers, David Peter Stroh, Robert Ricigliano, Peter Woodrow and Diana Chigas, Oliver Wolleh, Juba Khuzwayo, Berenice Meintje and Usche Merk. Their experiences of the crisis zones tots up insights into the implementation aspect of systemic thinking. A lucid Foreword by Hans J. Giessmann condenses the main arguments underlying the entire discourse while an Introduction by Daniela Körppen and Norbert Ropers presents comparative strengths of systemic conflict transformation into peace building.

The book adopts in its framework network structures, dynamic frames, contextual learning about solution from the conflict system, formulation of co-dependent perspectives, analysis of human impulses and their learning processes. Sustainable peace requires a non-linear, post-Cartesian knowledge of conflict and consciously guided social change at multi-track levels where the source of conflict and indigenous resource for its transformation are embedded. The underlying value addition of systemic conflict transformation are: First, conflict is a complex system embedded in context with changing needs, aspiration and relationship of actors whose ties are concurrently adversarial and symbiotic. Linear approach is, therefore, inadequate to respond to multi-layered conflict. Second, actors' interest in conflict and peace is determined by the incentives originating from its inter-action among themselves and with macro and micro environment. In this context, engagement of all stakeholders enables dominant actors to know the legitimate interest of others and optimize their own. Likewise, internalization of non-violent socialization, feedback, reflection and social learning about conflict dynamics shapes and modifies actor's behavior. Third, liberal values of human rights, democracy and social justice are keys to enter into compromise of interest, identity and ideology as they foster reciprocally civilized behavior among all actors, including the hidden one and a tolerance to opposing views of social and political actors. Democracy offers the possibility for feedback loops where rival actors can communicate and engage in a dialogue for mutual adjustment of their concerns. And finally, rational solution based on systemic conscience can make actors-actual, potential and left out-relatively satisfied. It helps to expand the scope for all actors to exercise their rights and share power and resources in the same space and foster peace building activities. Dissatisfaction of actors often generates a tension and deviation from the collective goal of negotiated peace. Systemic rationality, therefore, elicits coordination of means and end of peace and enforcement of accountability of actors and stakeholders so that spoilers cannot upset the effort of the drivers of constructive change. The entry points and leverage for peace building are crucial strategies to bring diverse actors into common ground for legitimate interest representation and comprehensive reconciliation.

The linear conflict resolution approach based on power equation cannot offer sustainable resolution of conflict because it deprives the defeated and weaker ones and supports the winner's instinct for status quo. Old solution to new problems has simply become passé. For example, there is no linear path to resolve climate change, nuclear issue, terrorism, food insecurity, energy crisis, political conflict or family therapy. In this context, systemic thinking offers insights into multiple causes and consequences of conflict, their inter-linkages, underlying interests and driving actors. As conflict moves from simplicity to complexity, it perturbs earlier causes and earlier effects. The inadequacy of traditional conflict resolution, conflict mitigation and conflict management schools to cope with this perturbation gave birth to systemic conflict transformation and invented non-violent pattern of social cohesion and system integration. Likewise, the inclusion of underlying diversity of belief, behavior and relations of various actors and their vital interest and stakes in the systemic framework of peace building evoke a synergy for healing and justice to constructive changes for state-society coherence.

This book stores up immense usefulness. First, it is written by inter-disciplinary team of scholars enriched by theory and experience of many non-linear conflict contexts. Second, it seeks to bridge the gap between rational, spiritual, emotional and scientific knowledge and builds cycles of peace ranging from early warning, planning, intervention, monitoring and evaluation of peace process. Third, multiple perspectives including cultural one weaved into a systemic whole has made the book amply broad to capture multi-track mediation, intervention and peace building activities. As the book is a pioneer effort integrating systemic thinking into peace building theory and practice, it is useful to political leaders, policy makers, conflict experts, teachers and students in broadening their understanding about peaceful transformation of complex conflicts into stable peace.

Source: Published in The Reporter Weekly (6 November 2011)


Sustainable peace in Nepal <Top>

Third-track approaches

HARI BANSH JHA

A congenial environment would have to be created within the country to provide livelihood support to the people for which comprehensive long-term strategy would have to be adopted. The policy makers‚ planners and government must implement some of the crucial suggestions as put forward by the participants of the seminar. Many of the problems facing Nepal today are the outcome of the decade-long armed conflict, beginning 1996. Over 16,000 people were killed, and nearly 450,000 family members of those killed were directly affected. The conflict was also responsible for making 5,800 people disabled, 71,200 people internally displaced, 25,000 children orphaned, and 9,000 women widows. Besides, 1,350 persons were disappeared and property of 11,000 people was damaged.

However, the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) signed between the government of Nepal and the CPN (Maoists) in June 2006 proved a turning point in the history of Nepal. Following this development, the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction (MoPR) was established in April 2007 to play a constructive role in conflict management, relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and cantonment management (7 main and 21 satellites). The Local Peace Committees were formed in 67 out of 75 districts in the country. And, now the political parties have arrived at a consensus to allow 6,500 Maoist combatants to integrate into the security forces, but those who would opt for rehabilitation would be entitled to an amount between Rs. 500,000 and 800,000.

As a silver lining, the two-day national seminar organized recently by the Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung of Germany on "Track Three Approaches to Sustainable Peace in Nepal" in Kathmandu was able to bring out useful ideas not only for resolving the present conflict but also for restoring sustainable peace in the country. Such views could prove important to the policy makers, planners, government and all the stakeholders interested in establishing peace in Nepal. It was revealed during the seminar that peace is not important in itself. What is more important is the restoration of satoguni peace and, if possible, brahma peace in the society. Of the four categories of peace i.e. tamoguni peace, rajoguni peace, satoguni peace and brahma peace, the tamoguni peace is the result of inaction and toleration of injustice. On the other hand, the rajoguni peace is the end result of action; while the satoguni peace is the result of activities performed for the welfare of all. Most importantly, the first three categories of peace are perishable; while the fourth category of peace called brahma peace is achieved when a person develops oneness with all the instincts in the universe. Also, it was accepted that dharma should become a guiding force in the yet to be drafted constitution of Nepal.

Without adequate food security, peace cannot be guaranteed. Other livelihood base through industrialization, constructive activities, etc., which got to be affected due to the labour problems, strikes and forced donations would have to be improved. Of course, some efforts have recently been made to strengthen the livelihood base of the people, particularly through the implementation of High Mountain Agribusiness and Livelihood Improvement (HIMALI) project in 10 districts in the mountain region. Similarly, additional efforts have been made through the Livelihood Recovery for Peace (LRP) project to extend livelihood support to the people in three districts in Terai region. But some of these efforts are just piecemeal exercise and their contribution in overall improvement of livelihood prospect of the people is questionable. Another pre-condition for peace is the feeling of justice among the people.

Dignity and values of the women are primarily important for restoring peace in a society. Unfortunately, many of the women in our country who had little to do with People's War unleashed by the CPN-Maoists were victimized. In fact, the women were victimized more than the men. They became vulnerable to all forms of violence, including torture, rape, mass rape and trafficking. Yet, the perpetrators of the crime have not been punished due to the delay in the formation of High Level Truth and Reconciliation Commission together with the formation of the Commission on Forced Disappearance.

Finally, sustainable peace is ensured only in a situation in which all the sections of the society are benefited- irrespective of gender, caste, class and ethnicity. Discrimination with the communities, if any, would have to be removed. Justice needs to be given to all. People's aspirations have to be reflected in the constitution. Economy of violence has to be transformed into economy of peace for which law and order situation would have to be improved. Youth have to be engaged in productive employment and a sense has to be created among them that they would benefit more if they are engaged in peace enterprises.

A congenial environment would have to be created within the country to provide livelihood support to the people for which comprehensive long-term strategy would have to be adopted. If the policy makers, planners and government of Nepal implement some of these crucial suggestions as put forward by the participants of the seminar, there is no reason why sustainable peace and prosperity cannot be established in the country.

Source: The Himalayan Times (3 November 2011)


State is weak because of political failure <Top>

Ratnanagar, political analysts point that due to weak politics Nepal's state system is bordering on weakness. This is said in the two-day program organized at Ratnanagar municipality on "Role of civic education on building modern state." Experts said that political parties' leaders seemed appeared weak to steer the nation in right direction. Politics has left "policy making' duty as a result public aspirations have not been materialized. There is security vacuum in such context it is hard to maintain and promote peace.

The Chief of FES and political analyst Dev Raj Dahal said that the current weakness is mainly because of power orientation of leaders devoid of public interest. The all-around crisis is mainly caused by the abdication of public policy by leaders. Nepal needs national leaders capable of thinking in national perspective. The constitutional crisis arose because of unaccountability to agreements they signed. Democracy is a means to resolve conflict by compromise by non-violence. The growth of violence has weakened the base of democracy. Therefore, there is a need to rebuild state-society relations and reconstruct economy. The increasing dependence on foreign aid has diminished policy sovereignty and weakened the writ of state. Tax base of the state must be strengthened to make accountable governance.

In the program Senior journalist Yubaraj Ghimire said that there is a problem in transition management. To defend the nation citizens should themselves come up and take up conscious role. To remove constitutional vacuum and to safe the country from it, civil society must mobilize people. He also spoke on federalism, local governance and civic education. The program was participated by party leaders, INSEC representative, Mukunda Dahal, Satya N. Chaudahary, Advisor of Needs, Shibu Chhetri, Director of Pancha Kanya Bidya Mandir, and many others. Dev Raj Dahal moderated the program

Source: Chitwon Post Daily News (8 September 2011)


Educational Program of FES <Top>

Ratnanagar, FES began its two-day program on "Role of Civic Education in Building Modern State". The program discussed about the weaking of Nepali state following the failure of politics. Political parties are working against public policy. No state can achieve self-reliance if tax base of the state can be expanded says chief of Nepal office of FES.

Gokarna Malla, campus chief of Martyr Memorial Multiple Campus, Mukunda DAhal of INSEC, Shiba Chettri, Satya N. Choudhary, Bidur Subedi of NC also spoke on the occasion. The Capacity building of state rests on "active citizenship" and their loyalty to democracy and the primary of national identity over the subsidiary and economic development. Without education democracy cannot become stable and build the state.

Source: Loktantra Sandesh Daily (8 September 2011)


Role of civic education in state-building <Top>

Bhim Rawat, Bhadra 1, Kolhapur

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office has organized a two-day seminar on the role of civic education in state-building in Kohalpur, Banke on 18th and 19th August, 2011. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal spoke about the nature of Nepali state, model of governance, and economic, social and cultural dimension. Speaking about the economic condition of the country, Dahal said that the contribution of tax to national GDP is 12 percent and we are forced to look beyond resources of the state to meet additional expenses. Under such a state of affairs, there is no way that we can have functional democracy in the country. Obviously, if donors contribute more to the national budgetary system, they will also have influence in national politics. Nepal’s national economic is heavily reliant on remittance and every year 400000 people leave the country. But what is true, however, is that economy based on remittance cannot be sustainable. We have to bear in mind that we are losing productive manpower to other countries and this will have negative impact on our national productivity said Dahal. State should adopt policies that can maintain people’s loyalty towards it.

Associate Professor of Tribhuvan University, Lal Babu Yadav and C.D. Bhatta of FES also presented their papers in the seminars. Yadav spoke about local government, federalism, and model of government while Bhatta spoke about democracy and its contents. The programme was followed by followed by floor discussion. People from different walks of life such as academicians, journalists, government officials, NGO and rights activists, and members of civil society, political leaders, students, and businessmen participated in the programme. The programme was chaired by the president of the school administration committee of Bageshwori Public Campus Hari Prasad Rawat. Dev Raj Dahal shed light on the objectives of the programme and also introduced FES, Chief of the Mid-Regional Educational Office Dhanpati Bhetwal , Narayan Sigdel also spoke. Shiv Raj Dahal moderated the seminar.

Source: Mission Today Daily (19 August 2011)


Journalists of South Asia in Kathmandu <Top>

Kathamandu: About three dozens South Asian Journalists are assembled in Kathmandu. To strengthen the association of South Asian media workers International Federation of Journalist has (IFJ) has organized this three-day workship on "Local Struggles, Regional Solutions." The workshop has begun on Friday. The workshop is organized by IFJ-Asia-Pacific Office in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). Speaking at the inaugural function Head of Nepal FES Dev Raj Dahal said, "The common problem of all the South Asian journalists is their personal insecurity." The Chief of IFJ for South Asia J. Park said that the workshop will discuss about the problems of South Asian media workers in detail.

Source: Annapurna Post (30 July 2011)


Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Local Governance <Top>

Dev Raj Dahal, Head, FES Nepal Office

Introduction
The humanization of consciousness expanded the space for freedom and self-rule. It is the basis of participatory democracy and the endorsement of equal citizenship rights and duties to both male and female. Gender-responsive policies, however, came with the consideration of women the same nationality under constitutional dispensation and same humanity under Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Equality of law, however, does not mean factual equality. This gap between laws and facts inspired women as claimants of rights to wage social struggles for inclusive participation, voice, equality and justice and move their status beyond the recipient of welfare benefits. Nepal's gender policy too moved in tandem with the progress of global change seeking to bridge the gap between women and the state.
From paternalistic welfare approach to Women in Development, Women and Development, Gender and Development to empowerment, gender discourse moved women to makers, shapers and owners of public goods and services. Adopting these narratives and resolutions of various women's conferences including CEDAW, Education for All, ILO Core Labor Standards and public international and humanitarian laws, Nepali state has gradually reformed its laws, practices and institutions. Greater awareness of gender equality contributed to redefining women's relationship with the state, political parties, economic institutions, civil society and family and building their capacity for peaceful social change. The global frames of MDGs, aid effectiveness, public sector reforms and financing for development have encouraged Nepalese women to move from the social labor of child rearing, care for the elderly and household affairs to a space of conscious political choice with the ability to contest the rationality of their subordination. This has expunged the bourgeoisie separation between the public and the private sphere as the state monitors even families in cases of child abuse, domestic violence, suicide, discrimination etc. An admission to public sphere guided by internal vigilance is the prime condition for full-fledged citizenship-women's own sense of personal efficacy, self-determination and voice. Democratic politics prevents the conversion of security, law, education, health, family and ecology into a commodity and enables citizens to adopt policies and institutions suitable to their freedom and dignity.
Nepalese women's movement for power, resource and identity and international efforts are transforming Nepal's political practices and narrowing the historically existing gender gaps in the entire life-cycle. The Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 deconstructed the belief in the intrinsic inferiority of women to legitimize equal power relations between women and men and expanded the concept of citizens' rights from civil and political to social, economic, cultural and ecological domains. The country is declared secular, federal democratic republic. The peace accord signed in November 2006 promised the restructuring of Nepali state to address historically existing gender, caste, class, ethnic and regional disparities for the renegotiation of a new social contract. By granting the right to education, health, work, livelihood, social justice, etc Nepalese leadership is aspiring to create a social state. But the resource-strapped and institutionally deficient Nepali state cannot implement these rights. For example, tax contributes only 12 percent to GDP, economic growth barely balances population growth and ongoing high political dynamics has confiscated the capacity of the state to fulfill the demands generated by political parties, civil society, rights-based groups and militant non-state forces engaged in anomic, angry and extra-constitutional participation.

Public Participation and Accountability in Local governance
Participant political culture rooted in internal vigilance is the foundation of civic culture. Participation-conformist, reformist, transformational and emancipatory-aims to influence polity, expand the domain of public space and modify perspectives through opinion and will-formation. Participation also means exercise of constitutional and human rights in real life-world situation and the role occupation in public life. Representation and participation are two different terms-one is prescribed by laws which help to mediate the interest between the state and citizens while the other through conscious political choice of citizens aiming to bring the government closer to them. Citizens require participatory resources-information, knowledge, skills, technology, resources and dense web of institutions to exercise meaningful choice. Inequality of resources buffets the democratic quality of the polity. Local municipal governance essentially requires bottom -up process, down-ward accountability and direct involvement of citizens in various institutions of governance in knowledge building, decision making, public policies and concrete plans, programs and budgets. The wards, VDCs, municipalities and DDCs form the core of local self-governance. They are the foundation of local democracy and development in Nepal. Local Self-Governance Act 1999 and its By-Laws have increased the representation of 20 percent of women and also marginalized groups in local self-governance. The Interim Constitution has further increased women's representation to 33 percent in the CA but at the district level the sense of proportional representation is missing. Symmetry in political representation of women at all levels can change the face of Nepalese politics and entitle them to fetch budgets to fulfill their rights and realize benefits from health, drinking water, education, micro-credit, vocational training and reconciliatory measures for victims of domestic violence including civil conflict.
The analysis of gender relations in society, economy and the state, application of gender lenses and understanding gender as a vehicle to open to social change are keys to address Nepal's problems of gender and transitional justice, reconciliation, peace and address the unfair disposition of power, control and ownership in Nepalese society. Participation of women to choose leaders and engage in political process and polices has increased their civic competence. This has attendant effects on the development synergy. Only active citizenship of male and female can make leaders and mechanisms of governance efficient to implement gender-sensitive policies and programs from peace building to climate change. Only informed citizenry is capable of bridging the gap between assertion of rights, public participation and enforcing the accountability of institutional responsiveness to the weaker part of the public through constant monitoring and collective action by evoking right to information act embedded in the constitution.

Gender Budgeting
Right to development endorsed by Nepal is inclusive of gender rights. Budget is the vital aspect of political action mirroring the social, economic and political power relations of the state with the social classes including women. Implementation of binding gender budgeting and outcome-oriented budget management can foster democratic equity and create a vibrant public sphere to codetermine (not self-determine) shared welfare gains. Gender responsive budgeting in municipal governance is also expected to create an enabling environment in the cities to implement Nepal's international commitments, align government's priorities with them, increase the transparency and accountability of public administration in allocating resource and foster society-centric understanding of duties. These measures are the keys to address transformational aspirations of Nepalese citizens--both male and female.
But gender-budgeting equally requires similar policies and practices in the cases of donors, INGOs, NGOs, CBOs, civil society, local bodies and the institutions of good governance. Recognizing the equality of men and women in society and opportunity for equal life-choices, it seeks to analyze whether the distribution of budgetary outlay has equal positive outcome in their lives and made a difference. Participatory development and democracy requires the engagement of women in all the institutional resources of the state and access to labor market. It is not exclusively women's money as gender-responsive budgeting aims at reducing gender gaps in society from birth, education, participation and retired life. Nepali state has adopted this methodology four year ago in various ministries and departments seeking governance reforms. The problem is how to coordinate the state, non-state and international resources to address the diversity, use budget creatively to bring multiple levels of structural change and improve the quality of democracy in Nepal. An edifice of peace can be built on the shared experience of those who love to hate structural injustice and work for a rationalized life by improving the workings of structures, interest, ideology, culture and power and rectify entrenched gender bias.

Way Forward
Regular dialogues between policy makers, scholars and practicenors' reflection will allow measuring the functions, strengths and weaknesses of gender-responsive budgeting in municipal governance from multiple perspectives and addressing the existing gender gaps in Nepalese society seeking inclusive process of change towards greater social, gender and inter-generational justice. The practice-oriented reflection will also help to reform the methodology and knowledge through continuous feedbacks, reforms and adaptation and generate democratic equity in the Nepalese polity.

Source: The Reporter (24 July 2011)


National Call for quality education to all <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, July 2

Education experts Saturday called for imparting quality education to both the rich and the poor at a regional workshop in Lalitpur.

They were of critical of handing over education system to private sector in the name of public-private partnership.

Education International (EI), an international trade union organization working for the professional welfare of the teacher and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal provided the forum where trade union activists and teachers from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are participating.

The three-day workshop is being conducted under the title of Trade Union Skills Development.

The main objective of the workshop is to enhance the capacity of both male and female teachers and acquire perspectives on equality to be on the intrinsic components of human and trade union rights.

Sashibala Singh of EI said that the biggest challenge for South Asia is to develop mechanism to provide quality education to all – rich and poor. "But in the name of Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) the governments of the region are handing over education system to the private sectors and we do not know where will it land us?"

Dev Raj Dahal Head of FES said that the economic model of education that is being floated in the South Asian countries had created more fissures in the society and this needed to be rectified to live up to the slogan "education [quality] for all" in a real sense of the term.

He further said that an integrated South Asia could not be created by free play of market forces alone. "Wider participation of citizens from different walks of life including women would be necessary to establish social justice."

Source: The Rising Nepal (3 July 2011)


Reshaping globalisation <Top>

Sumit Sharma Sameer

JUN 22 -
World Trade Organization Director-General, Pascal Lamy in his speech “Whither Globalisation” at the Council of United States and Italy Conference in Venice on June 4 gave an impression that he has realised the importance of the values enshrined in ‘fair trade.’ He accepted the legitimacy of concerns and questions raised against a ‘one-sided’ view of globalisation forwarded by neo-liberals. However, he still seems to be hesitant in accepting the importance of national interest; thereby placing the agenda of reforming international systems and practices as a panacea to a nation’s liberation and prosperity. The purpose of the present article is to argue that globalisation is a multi-faceted issue and has deeper and wider repercussions’ on any nation state. Focusing only on reforming the international system without taking stock of national issues as put forth by neo-liberals, cannot uproot the negative repercussions of globalisation. The shrinking of time and space and the fluid borders is not a new and planned process as put forth by anti-globalists, but a natural process of human civilisation which can serve the values enshrined in humanism. This is provided that globalisation is localised to fit the interest of local contexts.

Gabriel Wolter, a young university student who participated in the International Summer School organised by Kassal University and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung with me, said: “Germany has achieved the zenith of development, but our society is fragmented. There is a dilemma and inter-generational disconnection. We young people do not exchange and interact with our elder generation. There are indeed benefit packages for the deprived ones, but fewer people exploit the opportunity as those who claim the benefit packages are considered failures and are looked upon as ‘societal waste’. New technologies and development have connected us far and wide, and yet we live an isolated and fragmented life failing to live life in its totality.” Gabriel’s statement aptly captures the larger picture of globalisation and suggests that growth oriented development and distribution that merely provides a welfare scheme to the deprived class does not necessarily connect them with wider society. There is a need to reflect on the economy based on the theory of greed and extra maximisation and accumulation of wealth at all costs. Classic economy has come to a point of exhaustion and there is a need to reexamine the issue while being sensitive towards the entire system.

As put forth by Ludwig Feurbach, there is a need to transform the concept of ‘human-being’ to the ‘species-being’ where it is necessary to visualise that the collective emancipation of species can only guarantee the liberation of human beings. Equally there is a danger in viewing and analysing the issue from a particular disciplinary approach as it confines and limits understanding. This does not however, necessarily mean that an issue can be analysed outside of a specific framework. Without a larger framework that takes gender, society, ecology, economy and politics into consideration, analysis is likely to undermine the natural foundation of life, where all species are interconnected with each other for survival and prosperity. Hence, reforming the international system as proposed by Pascal Lamy without taking national interest into consideration is not likely to reshape globalisation, but would rather create more crisis in the international system. This is because questions will arise which will be severely contested: Who defines the international system? What values and ethics does a nation have to compromise in order to ‘catch-up’ with the international system? What if the procedures, norms, values and ethics prescribed by the international system directly collide with communities and national identity? To sum up the argument against Pascal Lamy, it is important to remember what a German economist, Friedrich List said in the nineteenth century: “it is very common clever device that when anyone has attained, the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up in order to deprive others of the means of climbing up after him.”

On the other hand there are anti-globalists who view globalisation as a planned and new phenomenon which began alongside global democratisation and further believe that mere distribution of wealth can guarantee prosperity for all. This would be an equally naïve view. New imaginations, new inventions and wealth brought forth by globalisation have transformed the capacity of the nation state to negotiate their national interests at the global level. This can be seen in the cases of China, India and Brazil.

Furthermore, globalisation is not a planned process; it is not a process injected by the fist world countries to capitalise on the wealth of the third world countries. Indeed modern economic globalisation took place with the vested interest of wealth maximisation at the cost of other countries. For example, the Britain gave up its deplorable agricultural protection (the Corn Law) and other remnants of old mercantilist protectionist measures in 1846. Neverthless, the transfer of culture, religion and civilisation dates centuries back and has not always been synonymous to vested personal interests. In the case of Nepal, transfer of religion, culture and migration began two thousand years ago when migrants from both north and south travelled and settled in Nepal not only to expand their vested interests, but to help emancipate common miseries with culture and religion.

Thus, on the one hand there is a need to realise the positive aspects of globalization. On the other, globalization needs to be reshaped to be workable for all. A synergy needs to be built between wealth and other facets brought forth by the friction between localisation and globalisation. And for social democrats, it is important to realise that wealth is just one means of achieving the end. However, there still remains a large challenge in defining what it really means to achieve the end. Debate on the reshaping

of globalisation once again must be centred on questions— What is my end? And where is my end? And what are essential features of our lives that entail our end?

Source: The Kathmandu Post (23 June 2011)


Paudel Seeks Media Help to Implement 5-pt Deal <Top>

Kathmandu, June 9: Parliamentary Party leader of Nepali Congress Ram Chandra Poudel said the press sector should help implement the five-point agreement signed by the three major parties.

Congress is committed to implement the past agreements signed among the parties, he said while addressing an interaction organised by Nepal Press Union in the Capital Thursday in cooperation with FES.

Constitution drafting is on the back burner because peace process has been overshadowed, he said stressing the need to implement the five-point pact to conclude peace process.

At the function, senior journalist Harihar Birahi, referring to the attack by Youth Force of CPN-UML on a journalist in Biratnagar, said cadres of the party in the government are attacking media persons, making the development of journalism a tough task.

Former President of Federation of Nepali Journalists Dharmendra Jha said Press Union should fight for the rights of working journalists.
Other speakers said action should be taken against those involved in attacks on journalists and the Working Journalist Act should be implemented.

On the occasion, senior journalist Ram Krishna Regmi and former FNJ President Taranath Dahal presented separate working papers and highlighted diversity in media as well as challenges for the professional development of journalism.

Source: The Rising Nepal (10 June 2011)


Socialism only through respect to the dignity of work <Top>

Kathmandu, June 9

Vice President of Nepali Congress Ram Chandra Poudel said that the country can move to democratic socialism only when the work of every individual is respected. He said this in a seminar organized by Nepal Press Union in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) on "Role of Media in Highlighting Trade Union Issues in Nepal." "The society should appreciate the work of workers. Without this country's development cannot be achieved. Poudel also said that promulgation of constitution without the conclusion of peace process would be meaningless."

According priority to the peace process the tenure of Constituent Assembly has been extended three more months with the consent of Nepali Congress. Whether this three month would be productive or not depends on the behavior of Maoists. As a leader of parliamentary party of Nepali Congress Poudel said that press freedom depends on the security and safety of the rights of media workers where Press Union can play creative role.

Vice-President of Nepal Trade Union Congress -Independent Ganesh Niraula expressed solidarity to the Press Union for the protection of trade union rights and interests of media workers. President of Nepal Press Union Kiran Pokhrel expressed commitment to make Press Union a genuinely representative union of all journalists. Former President of Federation of Nepalese Journalists Dharmendra Jha said that democracy will not be safe without the safety and security of journalists. He suggested Press Union to lead a campaign for the protection of professional rights and security of journalists. Head of FES Nepal Dev Raj Dahal unless freedom and social justice are secured in the country professional rights cannot be protected. Senior journalist Ram Krishna Regmee highlighted on the problems of professional journalist on editorial autonomy and Tara Nath Dahal, former president of FNJ highlighted on the role of Press Union. Both of them presented papers.

Source: Annapurna post (10 June 2011)


Democracy and Press Freedom are complementary to each other <Top>

Gorkhapatra Correspondant
Kathmandu, June 8, 2011

Leaders of major political parties argued that the best measuring rod of the state of democracy is whether or not there is press freedom in the country. Speaking at a one-day national seminar organized by Press Chautari on "Media and Democratization" they said that we cannot conceive of democracy without freedom of the press.

Speakers of Constituent Assembly Subash Chandra Nembang argued that since press and democracy complement one another in the absence of one, other remain weak. He added that the paper presentor's remark that the soul and heart of press belong to the hand of advertisers stir his whole body. Despite so much sacrifice if the soul and heart of press do not belong to media persons and they have to work under the shadow of fear we should work together to bring press to its own place. He also suggested the leaders to work seriously in drafting constitution as the crisis has only been postponed not solved. He added that political parties have to be serious about national consensus for drafting constitution and concluding peace process within three months.

Vice-President of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Dr. Baburam Bhattarai believed that full flourishing of democracy rests on the evaluation of press freedom. Press freedom and democracy are two parts of the same coin. He added even during absolute monarchy and people's war mass media have suffered. He expressed that his party is in favor of full press freedom.

The main spirit of five-point consensus are peace, constitution and power-sharing. Therefore, it should not be narrated of the convenience of oneself. Since deadlock accused in power-sharing among leaders, Dr. Bhattarai argued that the country can riggle out of this situation if leaders are ready for national consensus.

Central Committee member of Nepali Congress Party Dr. Minendra Rijal said that for politicians media freedom is indespensable as "media is water and politicians are fish". He added one is forced to tolerate most of misinformation reported in the press. Dr. Rijal believed consensus did not evolved because of a vision of communist totalitarianism. "Maoist could not become honest." The NC even does not trust as to whether five-point agreement is implemented.

The Communication Department of CPN-UML Pradip Gyawali argued that it is ironical that after drastic political change press is in distress. The threat to media comes from non-state actors, not the state. There is a need to make media dignified, not controlled. He also said that national consensus government is needed to finalise peace and constitution in time.

Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Dev Raj Dahal said that state is the guardian of people. Since it is not secure people are also suffering. Media should transform partisan perspective into national perspective through democratization. Democracy cannot flourish without democrats. It cannot be imposed. He requested the leaders to internalize values and institutions of democracy.

Organized under the Chairmanship of Press Chautari Gagan Bisht, during interaction Chairman of Federation of Nepali Journalists Shiva Gaunle, Secretary General Om Sharma, Chairman of Press Union Kiran Pokharel, Journalist Gopal Budathoki, Shambu Shrestha, Pramod Dahal Bishnu Rijal spoke about the creation of conducive environment for press freedom. Senior journalist Tirtha Kiorala presented the paper on "Media and Democratization in Nepal".

Source: Translated from Gorkhapatra Nepali daily (9 June 2011)


Khanal Should Resign in favor of national Government: Bhattarai <Top>

Rajdhani Correspondent
Kathmandu, June 8.

Vice-President of UCPN (Maoist) party Dr. Baburam Bhattarai said, "For consensual national government and to expedite peace and constitution drafting Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal has to resign immediately." He said while addressing a seminar organized by Press Chautari on "Media and Democratization." Formation of a national unity government is indispensable to forward national agenda. He also said that there is a danger of wasting even three month's extended time for CA if 5-point agreement is misinterpreted. Since these points are related to peace, constitution and power-sharing all these should be implemented simultaneously.

"The spirit of five-point agreement between mainstream parties is related to peace, constitution and new government, the question of sequencing does not arise here" Bhattarai said. Parties main concern is the distribution of power. Admitting his party's role in weakening press freedom, he said that in the future his party will be committed to press freedom.

In the program Speaker of Constituent Assembly Subash Nembang also stressed on the need to implement five-point agreement. He said, "The crisis is not averted, not postponed. The only option to solve this is to implement five-point agreement." CPN-UML leader Pradip Gyawali, Central Committee member of NC Dr. Minendra Rijal, President of Federation of Nepalese Journlists Shiva Gaunle, Senior journalist Tirtha Koirala, Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Dev Raj Dahal, President of Nepal Press Union Kiran Pokhrel and other spoke about several dimension of press freedom and the practical and theoretic interrelationship between media and democratization in Nepal.

Source: Rajdhani Daily (9 June 2011)


Social Justice Must Be Cornerstone Of Democratic Republic <Top>

Ritu Raj Subedi

As the youngest republic of the world, Nepali is on the course of carving out its own unique socio-economic landscape following the abolition of monarchy three years ago though such a journey for the creation of equitable system is not without dangerous challenges and obstacles. After years of 'disastrous' experiment with multi-party system wherein its leaders sought only cosmetic reforms, today's Nepal is crying for inclusive and proportionate democracy that would recognize Nepalis as empowered citizens, not just passive masses that consider their duty being fulfilled by merely casting votes in periodic elections. The republican set-up has indeed given birth to spirited citizens with bundles of competitive demands and claims but they need to be equally aware about the poor capacity of the country. The denizens of the new brave world must learn to balance their rights and responsibility as well as their soaring ambitions and the state's limitation to deliver goods.

In fact, secular and federal democratic Nepal attempts to collectively emulate the values of liberalism, social democracy and Marxism by internalizing them in the typical Nepalese context. In doing so, however, the clashes with conservative ideology have not ended. The conservative system rests on the supremacy of tradition, order, authority, religion, national unity and hostility towards radical changes. Liberal democracy stresses on dominance of rationalism over tradition, civil liberties, property rights, rule of law and desires for timely reforms. Social democracy stands for welfare state with direct taxation to support equality, redistribution of wealth and social justice. Marxism calls for the social control of means of production, revamping the state, equal opportunity, and full employment to the workers. There are also the voices of feminists, who demand the equal parental rights, citizenship, opportunity and easy access to decision-making levels. Ethnic, Dalit, Madhesi, marginalized and minority groups have come to the front and are putting mounting pressure on the major political actors for social justice, equal opportunity and access to resources as the nation is in the middle of constitution writing and the peace processes. In principle, the parties agreed for incorporating these rights in the constitution but they face other extra-constitutional glitches to issue the main law of the land in time.

State of flux

The state is in a high-flux because the things have not yet fully settled. The liberals and communists are still clashing and have not struck a new social contract. Pro-royalist forces, who represent conservative viewpoint, have come to the streets before the liberal democrats and leftists negotiated the tricky agendas of new Nepal. The regional forces have also made their effective presence in the scene though they suffer from perpetual splits. Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal has challenged the Constituent Assembly's (CA) historic decision to end the 240-year old Shah dynasty. This party, populated by the supporters of ex-king, calls for referendum on monarchy, Hindu religion and federalism. The reason behind the emboldened face of pro-monarchical forces is clear. The reformist and radical parties are divided over the framing of the constitution and concluding the peace process. They are equally split on the form of governance and federalism. This has led to the unanticipated slowdown in the statute making despite extending CA's term beyond its set deadline.

For a sustained and strong federal system that Nepal aspires to be, the centre and federative units must work in tandem with rational sharing of powers. One bigger challenge of federal Nepal is the fragmented nationalism. The rising ethnic, regional and other subsidiary identities put threat to the coherent national identity. People today tend to introduce themselves not as Nepali but as Madhesi, Dalit, Rai, Magar, Khas Chhetri, Tamang, Gurung, Newar and so on. Ethnicity-based politics often undermines common national values that keep the people together for the peaceful coexistence.

"Absolutisation of singular identity can threaten democratic decentralisation and peace-building intentions of federalist states," write conflict experts Tone Bleie and Dev Raj Dahal. So, there is a need to explore common bond of citizenship, constitutional solidarity and shared future. The people should adopt democratic methods of solving the social problems. They must develop the culture of listening to one another through dialogue and negotiations, and must stop the indiscriminate use of strike, blockages, violence and rumours to fulfill their vested interests.
On the positive side, most of the Nepalese political parties accepted social democracy and realized that social justice must be delivered. This is because of the switch of liberalists towards the socialist economic values and radicalists towards the pluralistic political system. However, abject poverty, massive disparity and meager national income do not allow the nation to realise social democracy overnight, which ensures economic, social and cultural rights of the people. It offers institutional support to the needy and oppressed and creates a level playing field for equal participation and opportunity for all. Unlike the liberal political system, social democracy does not create winners and losers.

Political stability

Freedom and social justice should be central thrust of new democratic republic Nepal while people's rights to basic needs - food, housing and cloth - must be non-negotiable provisions in the new constitution. However, the new political system does not survive on mere rhetoric. What it requires is the political stability, democratization of political institutions, sustainable economic growth, redistribution of vital resources, the development of critical development infrastructure, sufficient job creation, investment on public health and education, support for the weak segment of society and heightened ecological awareness. The remnants of violence must be ended for durable peace. A culture of negotiation, compromise and collaboration should guide the competing forces so that new republican set-up takes its root and fares better for the well-being of the Nepalese.

Source: The Rising Nepal (29 May 2011)


Peace process must be guaranteed prior to extension of CA term <Top>

Lalitpur, May 26 - CPN-UML and Nepali Congress (NC) leaders Thursday said that the peace process must be guaranteed before the extension of Constituent Assembly’s (CA) term.

"UCPN-Maoist must sever ties with their arms and combatants," they said at a seminar entitled ‘Democratic Socialism in Nepalese Perspective’ in Lalitpur.

They noted that the Maoists had to create a basis for the completion of the peace process by submitting arms to the government. "This task can be done within one or two days. For this, the Maoists will have to sacrifice arms, not their posts."

They also held unanimous view that Nepali-version of social democracy should embrace the rich tradition of local knowledge, culture and civilization existed and practiced since the ancient time.

NC leader Bimaledra Nidhi said that the arms from the seven cantonments could be submitted to the government within one or two days.

Nidhi said that most of the issues included in the 10-point proposal of his party could be addressed in a day one or two.

"If the Maoists give up arms, their image will soar up and they will further grow in the masses," he added.

He asked the Maoists to be honest to the peace process.

Nidhi said that democratic socialism, which combined the virtues of capitalism and socialism, had become an acceptable

form of political system universally.

UML leader Pradeep Gyawali said that the CA’s term needed to be extended by guaranteeing the peace process.

"There is the crisis of confidence because of the parties’ past activities. The Maoist should sacrifice and demonstrate willingness to integrate and rehabilitate their combatants," he added.

He warned that the achievements of past political revolutions were in the risks of being lost if the CA’s term was not extended.

The UML leader stressed on developing socialism with the Nepali characteristics.

"It should entail inclusiveness, social justice and freedom," he added.

Maoist leader Barsha Man Pun said that the parties must launch debate for the search of the new political stream that incorporated the ingredients of both loktantrik and leftist ideologies.

"Today’s politics reflects a situation in which the communist forces switch towards pluralism and the democratic forces towards social justice," he said.

Pun said that the ideological differences among the parties obstructed the peace and statute writing processes. "So, there is the need of convergence of ideologies, giving a birth to a new social contract on the basis of negotiation, consensus and collaboration."

The Maoist leader called for setting modality, number, norms and timetable for the quick integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants.

FES-Nepal head Dev Raj Dahal said that there should be the balanced role of capital, labour and the state so that the spirit of social justice and inclusiveness could be maintained in the society.

Dwelling on the principle of social democracy, Dahal said that it viewed human being as un-alienated and creative social creature well-disposed to engage in cooperative action.

"Social justice, the prop of social democracy, requires substantial democratization of political power, communication and institutions, investment in job-creation, health, education, disabilities and development necessary to fulfill basic livelihood," he added.

He said that current crises the country is facing were due to the parties’ sought changes by going beyond constitutional framework.

Socialist thinker Dhundi Raj Shastri pointed out the need of focusing on the poor and rural economy for the creation of just society.

Sahid Smriti Pratisthan general secretary Khila Nath Dahal said that martyrs were now forgotten while those wounded in the political movements were living a difficult life.

The two-day seminar was jointly organized by FES-Nepal and Pratisthan. Experts from different disciplines also presented their working papers.

Source: The Rising Nepal (27 May 2011)


Two day seminar started <Top>

Tikapur Correspondent:

Tikapur,12 Baishak/ Two day seminar titled "Promoting Active Citizenship for Building Modern State" started in Tikapur, Kailali.

Political Analyst, Dev Raj Dahal presented a paper on the challenges of making modern state and Lal Babu Yadav Presented on improving the relation of civil society & local governance.

Academics, Lecturers, teachers, civil workers and respresentatives of different political parties from Tikapur region were present in the seminar organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

The seminar was inaugurated by Umadevi Badi, leader of Badi Community.

Source: Tikapur Nepali Daily (26 April 2011)


Civil Society should build pressure for constitution <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Mar 27: Intellectuals and experts Sunday called to invigorate the civil society to execute the historic tasks of statute and peace building.

Most of the participants were critical of the role of civil society in Nepal but they were unanimous that it must press the political parties for writing the pro-people constitution, restoring lasting peace and achieving prosperity.

They lamented that the civil society was highly polarised and fragmented, and now it was stagnant at a time it needed to play a robust role to
facilitate the stalled political process.

Some criticised that it was donor-driven while others insisted that the civil society leaders turned an instrument of the given parties and, therefore, failed to transcend the partisan agenda.

They shared their views at function jointly organised by Pragya Foundation and FES-Nepal. Its theme was 'Replenishing the Roots of Civil Society: Building Peace, Development and Democratization.'

Kashi Raj Dahal, chairman of Administrative Court, said that the past constitutions failed as the institutions, envisaged by the constitution,
could not become effective and functional."The statute must reflect the reality of the nation and the parties must not try to cram everything in it," added Dahal.

Nepal Hariyali Party leader Kuber Sharma took a swipe on the civil society and accused its members of being agents of NGOs and political parties. "They are mostly guided by the donors and parties' agenda."

FES-Nepal chief Dev Raj Dahal said that the civil society, as the embodiment of reason and capable of achieving self-consciousness, must
instill historical awareness to respond to the changing aspirations of the Nepalese citizens, not only just for the interest of present generation
but also for the inter-generational justice.

"The organic formation of civil society in Nepal is essential to free itself from borrowed existence and open a debate in the public sphere about the democratisation of state power, economy and international system and exhort the leaders to execute the people's mandate's for a new constitution."

Pragya Foundation chief Ananda Aditya said that the civil society in Nepal did a lot in the country's democratization but it was fragmented and
highly politicised.

"Civil society could do what the private sector and government can not do alone to render the state peaceful, safe, secure and stable for the
citizens."

Tone Bleie, Academic Director of University of Tromsoe, Norway, asked the elite to engage in socio-economic transformations and create space for the deprived citizens.

A number of other speakers dwelt on the various dimensions of civil society and pointed out the need for its members to rise above the partisan interests.

Source: The Rising Nepal (28 March 2011)


Don't treat country as a Fief: Prof Mathema <Top>

Reporter News Service

Noted educationists and some Ex-Vice Chancellors are worried about the deteriorating academic climate and political interference leading to the collapse of Tribhuvan University, the oldest university in the country.

"We are extremely worried about it, and we have met the Prime Minister and others as part of our exercise to save the university", Prof Kedar
Bhakta Mathema, one of the most respected intellectuals in the country and a former Vice Chancellor Tribhuvan University, revealed in a
seminar organised by Public Policy Pathshala with the support of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)--on Social Democracy and role of Youth
in politics.

"Look at what has happened. T U is getting weaker, and may collapse all together. It has a glorious history and it's a pillar of equality. But the present regime has used T U and other government institutions like their fiefs, filling up top posts with people who are not qualified,” he said, criticising the youths for having kept silent when entire country is treated as private property by the political parties.

"People's faith in the system and ability of political parties to govern is on the wane. I have traveled to parts of Terai. The condition of school infrastructure there is worse than it was during the Panchayat regime", Prof Mathema said drawing pin drop silence from all sides . The programme was attended by youth leaders from three major parties--Maoists, UML and the Nepali Congress—besides independent youth and students.

Prof Mathema prescribed access to quality education to all saying "those who get good education are not interested in Nepal and those who are interested on Nepal do not get to go to good schools', and such a problem should be issued, and 'public school system must be
saved from being destroyed.

While advocating that deprived castes and regions must be raised at par with others, 'over stetching' the caste issue will fragment or destroy the country.”

Source: The Reporter, Issue 10 , published on March 27, 2011


Utilise youth power properly <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Lalitpur, Mar 25: Participants at a seminar Friday called for giving space to youth to consolidate the achievements of political revolutions and carry out the development works in the country.

They said that the youth were often left in the lurch after they were used in the political upheavals. “As a result, the parties failed to manage the outcomes of revolutions.”

They shared a forum entitled ‘Social Democracy and Role of Youth in Nepali Politics,’ jointly organized by Public Policy Pathsala and FES, Nepal
office.

Former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University Kedar Bhakta Mathema said that the Nepalese youths were suffering from alienation.

“Youths should not be carried away by populism but strive to strengthen institutions and put system in place,” added Mathema.

He said that public institutions in Nepal declined owing to over-politicisation and high dose of union activities.

Tone Bleie, Academic Director of Centre for Peace Studies at University of Tromso, Norway, drew differences on the concept of youth leadership in politics in Nepal and her country.

She called for enhancing inner democracy in the political parties so as to give chance to young generation leaders.

FES-Nepal Representative, C.D. Bhatta said the parties had abused the youth in Nepal as they discarded them after using in political movements.

“The youth have no say in decision making. They are also deprived of social and economic security,” Bhatta added.

He said that social democracy offered space to the youth to increase their stake in the society.

Writer Sumit Sharma said that the programme aimed at providing insights on practical politics to the youths.

Sharma asked the youth to carry struggle to enable the state, not to weaken it.

Public Policy Pathsala chairman Dilli Ram Subedi said that the seminar highlighted the role of youths in social democracy.

He stressed on public education for the youth.

Youth leaders from major parties – Gagan Thapa, Yogesh Bhattarai and Lekha Nath Neupane – had presented their working papers on various aspects of youth role in the Nepalese context.

Source: The Rising Nepal (27 March 2011)


Prospects for an integrated army in Nepal <Top>

By JOSHI RATALA DINESH PRASAD
Special to The Japan Times

BEPPU, Oita Prefecture — Be it the Nepali Congress Rebellion in 1950-51 and 1961-62 or the movement for democracy in the 1990s, such events have had profound impacts on the political and socio-economic condition of the country.

Thanks to these struggles, political awareness has greatly risen among civilians. In the early '90s when disparity in the name of class, caste and region was rampant in every ward and village of the nation, one of the communist factions of the country — commonly known as the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (CPN-M) — found the perfect opportunity to challenge the ruling system. It started a political struggle to express people's dissatisfaction with the government. Since then, their "peoples' war" has become the longest and most devastating battle in the modern political history of Nepal.

"The nine-year-old Maoist insurgency and counterinsurgency operations by the state in Nepal have weakened the authority of the state and eroded the space for democratic politics," writes Dev Raj Dahal in his working paper.

Some social reforms like equal representation of minorities at the national level were observable in Nepalese society within a decade but at the cost of immense human suffering. According to Dinesh Tripathi, author of "The New Dynamics of Conflict in Nepal" (2009), the war cost 13,000 lives. Approximately 500,000 people were disabled, and property and infrastructure worth billions of dollars were destroyed.

During this Maoist upsurge, kidnappings, murders and extortion became daily occurrences in Nepal at the local and national levels. The decade-long conflict not only stimulated people's desire for peace but also encouraged the creation of a "New Nepal" in the minds of political leaders. Eventually, the civilian uprising made possible the unity of various political parties with the CPN-M despite differences over ideologies, priorities and strategies.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed Nov. 21, 2006, by the Maoists and the government's seven-party alliance. The historical pact formally declared the end of violent conflict in Nepal. People assumed that improvements in national security would restore peace. They also expected that a coordinated political mechanism would revive the economy.

Parliament, which had been dysfunctional since 1999, was reinstated on April 24, 2006. The Constituent Assembly (CA) elections proved successful on April 10, 2008, and the Maoists became the leading party with 220 of 601 seats. The Maoists' journey, which had been initiated with bullets, was finally able to lead in democratic competition directly associated with ballots at the national level. With this triumph, the Maoist-led government was charged with the responsibility of taking serious peace-building initiatives in Nepal.

Peace building was not as easy as it seemed at first because the understanding of peace differed among the various stakeholders in the process. The other reason why peace building remained a challenge was that it had to deal with one of the most sensitive issues — the integration and rehabilitation of former fighters. Four years have passed, and 19,602 verified Maoist combatants remain in seven main cantonments across the country.

The Maoist-led government constituted a high-level special committee for army integration on Oct. 28, 2008. Supervision, reintegration and rehabilitation of ex-Maoist combatants remained the primary mission of the committee. Parallel to this, another committee was formed to address the democratization of the Nepalese army. These committees have made little headway in their action plans. The overemphasis on priorities and the addition of conditions after an agreement between the political parties had been reached brought about the failure to forge a national consensus.

In postconflict Nepal, two governments formed after the CA elections have already taken office and the third one is on trial. But the trend shows that unless and until the parties agree to compromise, the integration of Maoist ex-combatants is unlikely. No matter how many governments may topple, the integration process will be successful only after responsible stakeholders learn to coordinate their political moves.

There is no doubt that the process of army integration remains a major challenge to the peace-building process in Nepal. But this is all due to the lack of action on the part of Nepal's big three parliamentary parties. They should perceive the increasing number of verified combatants who ditch their cantonments as a threat to social order.

At first, they should be able to convince the fringe parties that the integration issue is a common problem for all. Then they should come forward to resolve their differences, inviting the army and Maoist representatives to a single table to discuss the number and modality of integration.

Because of the present political volatility and lack of a common framework for integration, Maoist fighters face an uncertain future. And the people face another long and painful wait for a prosperous Nepal.

Joshi Ratala Dinesh Prasad is a fourth-year student at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in international strategic studies.

Source: The Japan Times online (Tuesday,15 March 2011)


UNI Nepal LC MEI Interaction Forum <Top>

UNI NLC Media Affiliates convened an interaction and interactive forum for media workers and trade unions as part of the building effort to providing trade union and labour education

UNI NLC held an interaction program on Media Workers and Trade Union on 5th March of 2011 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The program was organized with the aim of forming an umbrella union of all media workers in Nepal known as UNI MEA. UNI MEA is an initiative of UNI NLC Nepal.
The program was attended by more than 50 workers from different media organizations in the country. During the program, they had their say about UNI MEA. All of them appreciated UNI NLC’s effort to form an umbrella union and pledged to join it.

Mr. Christopher Ng, Regional Secretary, UNI APRO addressed the program as a chief guest. He said that UNI APRO is always ready to support workers in their effort to form a union. He also said that he never wanted to impose anything on workers but let them have their own choices to implement the best course of actions as the context that unions operate in are very different. He expressed confidence for the unions to bring out innovative and brilliant ideas to grow unions.

Another key speaker in the program was Dr. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal. He presented his paper which dealt with the relationship of trade union and society reinforcing the argument that trade unions is one of the key players in social transformation where in good practices of unionism brings prosperity to a country.

The other key speakers to address the program were Dr. Sharan KC, South Asia Coordinator SASK Finland and Mr. Rajendra Acharya, Director, UNI DOC Nepal. Both of them promised to support the workers in their organizing effort from their respective positions. The program was chaired by Mr. L P Burlakoti, President UNI NLC.

Source: 03/16/2011 Nepal


A fine Balance <Top>

CD Bhatta

FEB 10 -
The neo-Gramscian literature of the 1980s perceives the role of the state as ‘hegemonic protected by the armour of coercion’, and that of civil society to be the torchbearer of democratisation and the agent of setting limits on state power. But we really don’t know much about state-civil society relations in Nepal, as they are seldom discussed. How do the Nepali state and civil society view each other? Much of the discussion has focused on NGOs and their relationship with the government and the state. But it would be interesting to know where each stands vis-à-vis the other.

Every state constructs its own ‘state-civil society’ relations. Whatever the case, they cannot be divorced from each other as civil society organisations (CSOs) require a political and legal framework to function, and the state provides that base. This is how the state and society go ahead harmoniously. The state, therefore, has the power to set the terms of reference to what kind of CSOs it wants to promote. Civil society, for its part, enjoys rights to oppose the state’s activities only as defined by the law.

However, if they cross the boundary of the set principles both encounter a legitimacy crisis. When we look at state-civil society relations in Nepal, all is not well. State-civil society togetherness is largely the prerogative of the regime in power which collaborates with its clients in civil society and contributes to developing a state based on clientelism. Part of the blame goes to the Washington Consensus—a model which is hostile to the state, but welcomes the market as its friend. Over the years, this process has consolidated patron-client relationships and developed a civil society which is closer to the patron than to citizens. Civil societies thus formed are closer to political parties, governments, and others (e.g. donors and the market) but not to the state and sovereigns. This is the reason Nepali civil society lacks people’s confidence. The entrenched patron-client relationship and hijacking of the public sphere compelled broader society to turn against the regime. Some scholars blame the whole process for blocking the real change required for the transformation of society, resulting in a lack of trust between the state and civil society.

The advocates of civil society regarded both the state and its institutions as their arch-enemies resulting in a low-level of interaction and collaboration between them on a number of important issues. The myth that considers civil society as a ‘symbol of virtue’ and the state as the ‘incarnation of evil’ seems to have prevailed here. Those who subscribe to this school of thought point out the state’s weaknesses in a number of areas over the years and squarely blame it for not addressing problems faced by the poor and the powerless. This has paved the way for civil society to come forward as their messiah—the weapon of the weak. Civil society seems to have missed two things here—first, they have failed to understand the state and second, they have failed to introspect on their own roles.

On many occasions, civil society seems to have gone against the state considering it evil. Much of their advocacy in recent years is influenced by this heroic notion where oppositional politics is believed to be necessary to challenge the state. But another set of scholars argues that the oppositional politics over the years have virtually put democracy itself virtually in crisis.

Civil society has also earned a sizeable numbers of critics as it has failed to work for those it purports to help. In many cases, it is blamed for jeopardising state-society relations. During the transition period, the goal of much of civil society should have been to play the role of watchdog and advise the government. But this has not been the case. Most CSOs are aligned with political forces which is weakening capacity of the state to perform its role. Some CSOs who supported political parties during the movement to get them into the helm of power have turned against their erstwhile patrons feeling betrayed, while others continue to act to protect their own interests and status.

In recent years, the state has put in place an adequate legal framework for CSOs to work on diverse issues, but their occasional conflict with the former have reduced chances of collaborative work. The numerical expansion of CSOs did not necessarily lead to what Habermas calls “societalisation of the state”. The proliferation, in fact, has produced surplus elites who tend to dominate and control society on their own terms. In Nepal, there is no clarity on where the state’s role ends and that of civil society begins. Neither is clear about the proper boundary between civil society and political society. This is important because we could see people from the political sphere negotiating with NGOs for resources, programmes and employment for their constituencies. People from the civic sphere also expect favours from the former. There is nothing wrong with this as it happens in a majority of the aid-recipient countries—where people in the political sphere need support to strengthen their capacity as well as to push political processes ahead. But both parties must bear in mind that the benefits accrued must be utilised for social welfare.

If politics is seized by salaried political classes and civil society by careerist activists, then it becomes part of the problem as both thrive on political instability and societal problems. The duty of the state is to correct this flaw and keep state-society relations intact. The state should define how it wants CSOs, NGOs and INGOs to operate and in which areas aid should be disbursed. Civil society groups, for their part, should realise that it’s the state that provides them space and should collectively engage in strengthening its capacity and that of its institutions.

Bhatta is associated with FES Nepal.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (11 February 2011)


Critical Barriers in Creating a Functional State <Top>

By Dev Raj Dahal, Head, FES Nepal

The modern state is based on constitutional and cosmopolitan foundation and its effectiveness is based on legitimate monopoly on power, taxation, loyalty of citizens, and international recognition. A democratic constitution, moreover, unites the general will of all citizens into a sovereign power to abolish the state of nature and reduces the risk of eternal fear and anarchy in society fomented by irrational human nature, nature of state, and the state of anarchy that characterizes the international system.

In Nepal, the peace accord signed by Maoist rebels and the government defines the normative, institutional, and operational framework of peace to transcend the partial interests of the signing parties envisioning a democratic constitutional state just outlined above and include all those affected by the shortfall of peace. The democratic peace postulated by the peace accord and the judgment built on it aim to reduce conflict by eradicating the structural injustice of society, brining social transformation, and setting off post-conflict peacebuilding process to eliminate the future source of conflict. One can, however, see a clear disparity between the public expectation of post-conflict peace dividend, and the leaders’ capacity to deliver peace and create public order. The domination of entire governing structures from local self-governance to the cabinet by all-party committees and extension of patronage in all areas of public life indicate that leaders are more comfortable in arbitrating laws through a patrimonial system of governance which has subordinated the national integrity system of polity to control corruption, impunity, and geopolitical cross-pressures.

Sociologist Andreas Wimmer argues that the modern nation-state is the "product of four closely interconnected processes of institutional closure, such as a political one (democracy tied to national self-determination), a legal one (citizenship tied to nationality), a military one (universal conscription tied to national citizenship) and a social one (the institutions of the welfare state linked to the control of the immigration of foreigners)." The cosmopolitan requirements, however, have increased the institutional opening of all states, with Nepal no exception, to external environment, commitment to human security, and the transformation of ethno-based nation into a demo-based constitutional state with the ability to complement governance effectiveness including its role in the balance of regional and global geopolitical interests. In such a context, the constitutional state of future Nepal has to be designed in a way to lower transaction costs enabling its governance to realize its goals—national security, rule of law, voice, civic participation, service delivery and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

To be truly functional, Nepali state has to render itself free from the dominant interest groups of society, uphold sufficient capacity to mobilize tax and human resources, maximize the standards of human rights, democracy and rule of law and embed itself in a robust ecology and the general interest of all citizens, and muster the legitimacy of its statehood. Today, however, it is facing several institutional gaps: vision gap between the demands of the changing yug dharma and traditional mode of statecraft; power gap between the state’s juridical international status and its actual political capacity for internal social cohesion and system integration; development gap between the starkly divided and unequal classes of society; and legitimacy gap between the claims of its leaders to govern and their capacity to fulfill legitimate aspiration of citizens for liberty, property, justice, peace, and pursuit of happiness. These are the gaps that continue to divide the state and society and the possibility to address the distributional struggle of the left out sections of society.

The deviation of leadership from state-bearing institutions and their bids for exclusive executive power have begun to erode the nation’s civic spirit itself undermining national polity on many fronts: constitutional vision, institutional vitality and political harmony. As a result, one can now see continuous deadlock over power-sharing, constitutional issues, and diminishing outreach of state in society delaying the possibility of transforming negative peace into positive peace because neither the Maoists nor the others are willing to concede to inspire confidence in each other for the vision of a common good and address the anarchy of armed outfits who oppose state sovereignty. Informed dialogues among the leaders of major parties have so far failed to open up a common ground and provide room for each other’s legitimate interests to work for a shared outcome that could liberate all Nepali citizens.

There is a truth in what Nietzsche says: “The degree of suffering is determined by the position in hierarchy.” The intense craving of Nepali citizens for a release from their suffering remains ignored as their voice remains unheard and unheeded in the corridor of power. In the situation of utter contempt for the powerless, state building requires reduction of the transaction costs imposed by hierarchy by activating multi-track dialogue, offering peace dividends, curtailing the menace of violence, and democratizing the pyramids of undemocratic structures. But this ultimately means that Nepalese leaders have to be accountable to politics as a public responsibility and link the society to the public sphere rendering it active and articulate more openly. But this would be possible only by fostering an ‘active citizenship’ aligned with the public spirited actors, institutions, networks, and movements.

Building productive relationship with the cultural industries such as media, civil society, public intellectuals, and intermediary institutions and movements can alone awaken the leaders to their accountability towards drafting a social contract, structural reforms, and sustainable peace through rational consensus. All this can also help to weaken the confidence of the spoilers of peace. A rational consensus based on peace accord shuns the concept of winner and loser and renders leaders accountable for the benefit they frantically enjoyed from democratic deficit. It is possible to overcome this situation if intermediary institutions nurture social capital across various empirical divides of the nation and socialize their leadership in the virtues of peace as a common good to revitalize the national economy.

The challenges before the upcoming state lie in building bridges across the gaps between the state and society, system and life-world, center and periphery, and groups and individuals through healing and reconciling with the spiritual, social, economic, and political resources of the nation. This, however, requires a self-reflective learning of the leadership about the wisdom of ordinary folk, public opinion, and cultural heritage of the nation’s tolerance of diversity nurtured by its sages, statesmen, and citizens for long. Now, national identity of Nepalese formulated on the common background condition, socialization and mutual expectation of a shared future has to be beefed up by shoring the national spirit and the fortitude of international cooperation.

Dahal is Head, FES Nepal Office

Source: New Spotlight (21 January - 3 February 2011)


By the people, for all people <Top>

C. D. Bhatta

JAN 31 -
With the signing of the Compreh-ensive Peace Agreement (CPA), Nepal principally entered into a post-conflict phase. However, all is not well. A great

deal of fear is lurking, particularly regarding the fate of the peace process since major issues are not yet resolved and the constitution writing process is at the crossroads. Dissenting voices are increasing by leaps and bounds and no mechanism has been developed to address their grievances and bridge widening societal gaps.

In fact, the uphill task of taking the peace process to a ‘logical end’ has become even more difficult during this time of transition. There are many reasons for this, among them, the fact that the peace process itself has produced winners and losers. But peace is public good, and it can’t afford to have winners and losers. Since the signing of the 12 point agreement, many other agreements have followed but, to our dismay, all of them were and are used to serve personal interests—not those of the people at large or to genuinely push the peace process forward. The Nepali state is encircled by organisations which are promoting a rights-based culture. Though protecting rights is important, these organisations are putting too much pressure on the transitional state—something that limits opportunities to strengthen the capacity of the state. As a result, all the approaches adopted to install peace, from those taken up by the political parties and their leaders, citizen-led initiatives, government-led initiatives to international attempts, have produced meagre dividends.

During the last 60 years, people have witnessed six constitutions and an equal number of political movements. Even after the April uprising of 2006, we have had three prime ministers and an extended race for the next over the last eight months. The Interim Constitution has been intermittently amended. All these illustrate the severe political and constitutional crisis looming large, similar to the one in the 1990s when Nepal saw more than a dozen prime ministers in less than 15 years. If the same governance crisis continues, which is likely, consolidation of democracy may be next to impossible.

But why is there perpetual political instability in Nepal? Perhaps, over the years, political movements have merely altered society’s ‘power equations’, but not the ‘power structure’—something that has resulted in little change for those who remain outside of the equation. Here are three possible reasons for this: First, despite frequent regime changes, we have continued with the same essence of governance—we have recycled people and policies. James Scott of Princeton University argues that ‘recycling’ does not bring real changes into people’s lives. Second, we have developed a mechanism to rule the people, but never developed a system for them to govern themselves. And last, we have failed to strike a balance between politics and the laws outlined in the constitution. Instead, they have all been used to play the power game. Constitutions have been used for the benefits of those who could manipulate them in the court—a place where laws have dissolved into politics and vice-versa as deemed necessary. For example, during the 1990s, the dissolution and subsequent reinstatement of the Parliament by the Supreme Court—which opened doors for long-term political instability and eroded the authority of the law—is a classic example.

Historical instability in the constitutional system has contributed to the failure to establish consensual rule in Nepal. The Constituent Assembly (CA) election authorised citizens to become authors of the law and bring about a durable peace, with an end to different kinds of injustices. This braided law and politics into a single rope; we have to utilise this opportunity for the benefit of the state and society. But for this to happen, the constitutional process must be completed in time and it should reflect the aspirations, voice and vision of the people. The constitution and all other laws and by-laws should be based on ‘popular sovereignty’.

A durable solution will require creation of a constitutional state, formation of an efficient service delivery mechanism, an embedded economic policy, and distributive justice—all of which depends on the future polity we adopt and political decisions we make. Inequality results not only from economic activity itself, but from political decisions about the distribution of gains from economic activity.

In the 1990s, we failed miserably when it came to distributive justice. Despite constitutional provisions for an egalitarian society, state-adopted economic and social policies produced more ‘classes’ rather than bridging the class gap. More precisely, the state produced two types of citizens—’private’ and ‘public’—as we had two types of social polices. An egalitarian society is only possible when there is an equal playing field for all citizens. This can be done by giving the less fortunate more access to resources and opportunities.

Ensuring a common identity between those who draft the constitution and those for whom it is written is important. This has not been the case in the past—we wrote the constitution for the ‘people’ but failed to define who the ‘people’ were. The poor people living in remote regions or those who reside in the urban centres with all possible facilities at their disposal?

The drafting of the new constitution also provides us the opportunity to bridge the gap between ‘people’ and ‘citizens’—a chance to transform multiple identities into one national identity.

Bhatta is associated with FES Nepal.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (31 January 2011)

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