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FES Nepal in the Press 2012

No to ethnic federalism <Top>

By Our Reporter

A one day workshop seminar titled “Democracy Building in the Post Conflict Phase” organized by the Association of Writers and Kathmandu Editors (AWAKE) and the People’s Review with the cooperation of the Fredrik Eibert Stiftung (FES) in Kathmandu on Friday.

Inaugurating the seminar, former Defense Minister and popular CPN (UML) leader Bidhya Bhandari said that there had been no agreement on “ethnic based federalism”.

“It is not there in our party’s manifesto, the Nepali Congress does not mention this, so this decision is only of the Maoists and I have always campaigned against this,” she emphasized.

Former minister Bhandari asked the Maoists to explain Maoist alliance.
She also said that late King Prithvi Narayan Shah had to be declared as a “nation builder”.
She also said that he should not be ignored just because of the fact that he was a King, he should be recognized as a “nation builder”.
Bhandari also reiterated that “federalism and ethnic states are more regressive that the panchayat system and they promoted autocracy and divided the society”.

In his keynote speech, special guest German Charge d’affaires a.i. Henning Hansen said that Nepal is at a historical juncture, and lasting democracy is within grasp. But the road to democracy is bumpy – like the roads of Kathmandu – and there remain important issues to be resolved. What we can derive from these demanding experiences is that democracy building also means learning to deal with temporary failures, disappointments, and initial setbacks. (Read full text of the speech inside page).

Dev Raj Dahal, FES-Nepal chief, said that without a negotiated social contract and logical conclusion of peace process, a just society cannot be build. Cooperation among the state authorities, mainstream parties and civil society can overcome a situation of lawlessness, create public order and build connection of the state with citizens. (Read full text of the address inside page.)

Former Minister Mahadev Gurung revealed that a republic system and secularism were not in the agenda of the restored “parliament”, of which he was a member.

Devendra Nepali, a very well known advocate and a senior leader of the Nepali Congress, empathically stated that all the decisions taken after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly were “unconstitutional” and even the President did not hold any constitutional power.
“We have to go back to where we started, before all the unconstitutional activities took place,” he said.

Two eminent intellectuals, Saurav Satyal and Deepak Gajurel presented working papers entitled “Democracy Building in Post Conflict Phase” and “The ethnic challenge to democracy in Nepal” respectively. Senior writers and analysts commented on the papers. Sashi Malla chaired the working session and Pradip B Malla was one of thecommentators.

Pushpa Raj Pradhan, the Publisher and Chief editor of the People’s Review gave the welcome address and Lok Deep Thapa, President of AWAKE, chaired the function.

Source: The People's review (16-22 August 2012)

Changing Federal Constitutions: Lessons from International Comparison <Top>

Arthur Benz and Felix Knupling eds. Changing Federal Constitutions: Lessons from International Comparison, Berlin: Barbara Budrich Publishers, 2012, PP.420, Price Euro 48.

Democratization processes have opened the prospects for constitutional amendments and federal restructuring of the states in some European, Asian, African and Latin American countries. Out of 196 countries of the world, however, only 28 of them have adopted federalism as a form of governance. Constitution defines the multi-level authority of government-federal, regional and local, guarantees their territorial integrity, allocation of rights and resources including the recognition of minority nationalities and linguistic and religious rights and measures for the progress of disadvantaged groups and territory. Only those constitutions are stable which are flexible to macro-political, economic and social changes and represent the aspiration of all the generations of citizens.

This book under review, based on a research project "Patterns of Federal Constitutional Reforms," is the product of laborious works of well-known experts -- Arthur Benz, Felix Knupling, Angelica Schwall-Duren, John Kincaid, Dieter Freiburghaus, Gerard Wettstein, Peter Bussjager, Anton Hofmann, Dave Sinardet, Nadia Verreli, Cesar Colino, Jose A. Olmeda, James Mitchell, Franco Bassanini, Patrick Le Lidec, Markus Kaltenborn, Carlos Closa, Jorg Kemmerzell, Bettina Petersohn, Christoph Konrath, Marc-Antoine, Martin Fournier and Wolfgang Renzsch- from nine countries. It has also incorporated seminar feedbacks from politicians and practioners into respective case studies defending federalism for three main reasons: closeness to citizens, division of power and contest to find the optimal ways of conflict resolution. It analyses constitutional changes in diverse form of federal and decentralizing countries from a comparative perspective and dissimilar nature of their constitutional challenges. Insights are derived from two sets of countries-fully federal (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Spain), and three other countries that are in the process of either federalization (Italy), devolution (UK) or decentralization/regionalization (France).

Constitutional change depends on popular consent. It is, therefore, subject to adaptation, amendment and even replacement with the changing aspirations of citizens for the longevity of polity. Among the eight developed federations-Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the US-the median age of all fifteen of their constitutions is 33 years while one-fifth of federal countries today display a history of constitutional instability. Habituation of citizens in the spirit of constitutionalism provides them civic identity and legitimacy of its durability. Therefore, constitutions last longer in democracy (21 years) than authoritarian regimes (15 years) (P 33-34) because a diversity of competing groups in a democratic environment averts the subversion of constitution. Regionalization of political economy entails the sharing of values and coordination of goals and means. In the European Union's membership, for example, democratic credential is necessary. This book empirically verifies that "older constitutions are amended more than the younger ones" (P.293) while legitimacy and durability depend on the political consensus on the protection of minorities and opposition with the ability to reconcile the demands of democratic age.

In Switzerland, new fiscal equalization scheme to subsidize poor cantons, Alpine regions and urban centers, allocation of tasks between the federal government and the cantons and collaboration among various cantons led to successful outcome in constitutional negotiations. The feel-good federalism of Austria represents the failure of ambitious constitutional reforms. Landers are, therefore, looking for modern and sustainable federalism in order to legitimize their continued existence (p. 116). In cooperative federalism of Germany, the success of two-phased constitutional reforms can be attributed to wisdom of its leadership in forming grand coalition of SPD-CDU in improving inter-governmental relations, more powers to Landers, equalization mechanism, administrative competence of federalism and moderation of conflict through compromise (P.132).

Constitutional reforms become difficult in divided societies. In Belgian multi-national federalism, the constitutional reforms were negotiated by the leaders of political parties as they were the key drivers of constitutional change even though commissions and parliament were also part of engagement in negotiations. Its state is labeled as "partitocracy," meaning that the government is dominated by the political parties of majority. In Sweden, a state known for its rigid process of constitutional change, cross-party consensus played a role. The mega-constitutional politics of Canada introduced change through non-constitutional route. Its identity as a federal country was determined by two crucial agreements-Meech Lake and Charlottetown, role of Quebec's distinct society, linguistic duality and protection of Aboriginal peoples and minorities. Its constitutional approval went beyond simple majority formula. Spain's constitutional negotiation for the autonomy of its constituent units and various autonomous communities only exhibited limits to federal constitutional change due to Spanish Constitutional Court's reluctance, mixture of issues of authority, redistribution and symbols and vulnerability to centrifugal and dysfunctional tendencies in terms of cohesion and unity. Therefore, its constitutional possibilities can be called just ways to "muddle through"(p.207) without any clear legal solution. The UK under Labor Party introduced devolution of power to resolve the problem of legitimacy rather than addressing the problem of asymmetrical system. Cross-party consensus is the key to resolve competing interests, adversarial pressures of real politics and constitutional innovation. When party advantage becomes the main drivers of constitutional change, the systematic losers are likely to emerge (P.226).

The Italian constitutional negotiation remains largely unfinished as the problem of balancing economic interests of various regions in time of economic crisis posed critical problem for the reform initiatives. Similarly, French decentralization is constrained by vertical regional and local governments especially municipalities and can be considered a case of "constitutional blockages." Federal system suffers from constitutional rigidity with lower amendment rate because reforms intrinsically shape power redistribution. Amendments largely depend on the will, power and skill of regional actors and those of the affected. The engagements of local actors in federal reforms sustain unequal structure while regional actors strengthen symmetrical structures (p.325).

This book argues that constitutional order and constitutional change require the consent of all section of society, including losers and, therefore, inclusive institutional structures, processes and strategies are needed for the success of constitutional amendments either through parliamentary approval, or referendum, even negotiation and holding national congress by reflecting the general will of sovereign people and unbinding the living generations to the will of dead ones. Federalism as constantly evolving system seeks to maintain unity in diversity-allowing the scope for differences without undermining the state from the waves of changes occurring at regional and global levels. States are competing for foreign aid, investments, technology transfer, tax revenue and jobs abroad. Constitutional amendments should seek to strike a balance between flexibility and rigidity and between Jeffersonian interpretation that "law is the codified rule of past generations, and as such its effects on the present generation could be arbitrary and even despotic" and Madisonian that seeks to entrench certain fundamental provisions for justice and democratic government, independence of certain institutions and institutional arrangement so that state stability is not drastically affected (p285-6). In multi-level federal governance, interdependence of policies require effective coordination across levels of governments. Where borders overlap, joint decision-making can resolve conflict of interests. This book mentions four types of constitutional negotiations-committees, commissions, conferences and conventions-engaging legislatures, governments and civil society (p. 398).

Gerd Schmitt, Secretary-General of German Bundesrat, says, "Federalism in its current form should first and foremost serve to make the state responsive to the needs of its citizens and, at the same time, enable it to reliably and outwardly govern all the important issues relating to the survival and dealings of the state." He also adds that success of federalism rests on the commitment of citizens of the countries concerned because it is their fundamental choice of governance. New developments especially techno-economic globalization and regionalization have entailed conceptual and structural adjustment of citizens and territorial states. Constitutional politics involve "rules of the game" which require the consent of winners and losers alike to provide legitimacy" (p.216) while public policies are determined by majority in the parliament. Constitutional negotiation is an ongoing process. It never ends with short-term success or failures of reforms. In this context, this book precisely informs policy makers, scholars, and students to learn from the constitutional reform experiences of various federal democracies, their weaknesses and strengths. Its practical suggestions as to how future constitutional reforms could be designed to make federalism successful are useful for policy makers and politicians.

By Dev Raj Dahal, Head, FES Nepal

Source: The reporter (20 August 2012)

Current state of mind of Nepal's elite <Top>

Binod P Bista

Foot dragging by the leaders of major political parties that once proved their strength in the Constituent Assembly is not only adding to the lingering confusion, now in its fifth year of the interim constitution, but also pushing the country to a disastrous state. Confusion and uncertainty have become the hallmarks of today's Nepal. This unfortunate situation has emerged largely as a result of inaction more than bad actions during the transition phase that Nepal is in today. The confusion is so all pervasive that it has trickled down to all strata of the Nepali society. Even the Nepali elite seems to have come into its grips. At a recent seminar organized by the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) with support from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (a German foundation also located in Nepal), and participated by senior officials of the foreign ministry, former ministers and ambassaadors together with university professors and media members covering international relations, this fact is revealed openly and clearly.

The foreign minister admitted that Nepal is in a complex, uncertain and volatile state today. Nevertheless, development assistance needed to be 'fully aligned with national priorities and needs' and to this end, focus needed to be provided on economic diplomacy. The minister also informed the meeting that the government is contemplating to initiate reform measures including training and grooming, deliniation of duties and responsibilities, increasing number of appointments of career diplomats in foreign missions and embassies, as well as increasing the number of staff positions in the ministry of foreign affairs. With a view to building a strong, capable and professional diplomatic machinery the government will revamp the research and training capacity of its institutions. IFA, too, will be revamped, broadened and strenthened, among other measures, that the government would take. As a speech delivered by a member of the incumbent government there is hardly any confusion on the future plans of the government.

However, as always, Nepal's problem has remained at its execution side as plans and programs are made as if in vacuum without any regard given to the existing situation, systems and machineries, availability of resources, human as well as financial, and the will of the government to get the task done within the prevailing acts and regulations.

One of the paper presenters bluntly stated that ''Nepal is a state without a state'' in the context of creating/recreating new history after the Jana Andolan II. Irony of present day Nepal reflects a sense of lost direction as everybody is harping on consensus but nobody agrees on anything. In discussing Indo-Nepal relations, the expert stated that both sides lacked imagination while dealing with contentious issues. Trust and confidence of neighbors should provide the starting point for a pragmatic foreign policy of Nepal. Chinese increasing concern on security sector, witnessed by high level military delegations in a frequent manner, calls for serious understanding and timely action of the issue. If left unattended Nepal will surely follow the path of a failed state.

Academicians of Nepal do not have an inkling of the operations of the foreign ministry. Absence of predictability of cabinet members holding important portfolios such as foreign or defense in a new government does not provide enough time for required preparations in giving continuity with issues at hand. Role of academicians and civil society is stunted most of the time. From a transit point concept to being a 'vibrant bridge' (needs further explanation by the government what it means by vibrant bridge) how much preparations have been made by Nepal whether it could fulfill this role of a bridge between India and China. In a simple sense a bridge, unless used by individuals and businesses, remains an unused structure serving no purpose. Similarly, unless India and China agree to use Nepal as a 'transit point' for their goods Nepal's potential will remain defunct and useless. Member of a media, supposedly covering international relations, seems to have no good idea as to 'who determines foreign policy and who conducts it' in Nepal. This certainly raises a serious question : Is Nepal playing a blind hand in conducting her foreign policy ?

Another paper presenter and a former ministry official indicated the difficulty of strengthening the office of foreign secretary despite several attempts made for more than a decade. The presenter believed that foreign policy in Nepal had been formulated and applied for political gains and which seems to be continuing even today, and thus outlined the need for institutionalization of decision making system. A policy planning section was the requirement in the ministry to streamline foreign policy, so he said. Another senior expert opined that the government should institute a system of reward and retribution in all missions which then can be assessed and monitored by members of civil society and non-resident Nepalis. He also valued independent activities (outside of government sanctions) taken up by one of the political appointees which he thought did make an useful contribution to Nepal. One of the prominent members of a civil society (perhaps INGO) boasted that his delegation was able to meet prominent government leaders of a country at a time when the head of state of Nepal was denied such courtesy. The highly educated, widely travelled and supposedly knowledgeable person took this incidence of humiliation of a nation as his personal victory.

One senior diplomat and a former minister of another time viewed that Nepal's foreign policy is crafted by a foreigner/s. When the president of Nepal says that Nepal is going down the failed state status, and the Prime Minister says he does not have the keys to run the nation, and when there is a confused domestic policy, fragmented Nepali society and over-politicized political parties trying to outsmart each other, how can we even think of coming up with a new foreign policy ? Universally, regime change does not change national policies but sadly it seems to be occurring in Nepal of late. This is a dangerous trend.

The dilemma of 'to do or not to do'' seems to be in the minds of Nepali elites. Granted that the consensus among majority political parties forms a basis for the formulation of a foreign policy, which has to be built on the existing policy-well tested and surviving, a nation per se cannot keep on waiting in eternity to conduct its relations with neighbors and friends, especially at times of crises.

Source: The reporter (20 August 2012)

Bhandari asks Maoists to explain federalist alliance <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Aug 10

Former Defense Minister Bidhya Bhandari Friday said the late king Prithvi Narayan Shah, who had united Nepal, should be declared a nation-builder.

Speaking at a workshop entitled "Democracy building in post-conflict phase" organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the People's Review weekly and the Association of Writers and Editors of Kathmandu, she urged not to blemish late Shah with the monarchy.

"It was bad luck that he was from the royal family, but his contribution to build the nation was great, so he should be declared a nation-builder.", she said.

On top of this CPN-UML vice chair Bhandari urged UCPN Maoist to explain what exactly the alliance of federal and ethnic groups meant. In her opinion "Federalism and ethnic states are more regressive than the Panchyat system was. They promote autocracy and divided society."
She heavily criticized the UCPN Maoist and said that the 12 point agreement inked by the key political parties was not based on any hypothesis; instead it was inked by arms.

"Accordingly the agreements could not bring results. If the agreements had been based on theory, the new constitution would have been in our hands and the new government would have been formed by way of a new election."

According to her, Nepali Congress and UML accepted the Constituent Assembly election results, as they wished to avoid a new round of conflict. "But the key parties each had their vested interests which were bringing up crisis after crisis."

During the workshop, political scientist Deepak Gajurel presented a working paper on the ethnic challenge to democracy in Nepal, while writer SauravSatyal presented a working paper entitled Democracy building in the post-conflict phase.

Gajurel concluded: " If, as other parties have claimed, this entails extra democratic privileges- say a state's target ethnic group post holds a de jure monopoly on the post of state minister- the proposal cannot be entertained: it is hostile to democratic norms and its implementation would be undemocratic."

In another paper Satyal stated that Nepal was not the same as it was before the 1990s, or 2005. "It changed the political face regularly in a fast pace. Foreign hands were more active than the internal reasons. Definitely, time will take to stabilize the changes."

Source: The Rising Nepal (11 August 2012)

Bhandari against ethno-federalism <Top>


2012-08-10 11:09 PM

KATHMANDU: Former minister Bidhya Devi Bhandari today said ethnicity-based federalism was an idea foreign to modern political philosophy.

“It is neither in the CPN-UML’s idea of People’s Multi Party Democracy nor in Nepali Congress’s Democratic Socialism. It is not a part of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy nor that of Marxists and Leninists,” added Bhandari, speaking at a workshop on ‘Democracy building in post conflict phase’ jointly organised by the Association of Writers and Editors of Kathmandu and People’s Review English Weekly in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal today.

The CPN-UML leader said, “Ethnicity-based federalism will promote autocracy, and divide the society.” In the programme, senior leader of Nepali Congress Devendra Nepali and chairman of FES Devraj Dahal also shed light on the current political situation.

Source: The Himalayan Times (10 August 2012)

Nepal: Strong state can execute workers’ rights, FES seminar finding <Top>

Telegraph Nepal

Former Labor Minister Mukunda Neupane speaking at a program “Social Movement and Labor Reforms” organized by CLASS-Nepal in cooperation with FES argued that Nepal should try to become self-reliant to avoid the culture of dependency and lack of sovereignty in policy and politics.

“Politics lacks clear national policy, society is fraying due to identity politics and economy is declining. Our ancestors were far better in the management of the state and maintenance of social cohesion and peace. Female bees remove the male drones from the hive because they only consume honey without collecting it. Collection is done by the labour of female bees. In the same way, political class is appropriating the nation’s surplus laboriously produced by labor classes. Transformation requires industrial development of the nation. Without transforming the culture of leadership it is not possible,” the former minister said.

Laxman Basnet, President of Nepal Trade Union Congress stressed on the need to create common minimum program and exert pressure on the government for job-creating policies so that people at the rock-bottom of society can be uplifted.

Program officer of ILO Narayan Bhattarai discussed on the improvement of labor laws attuned to ILO core labour standards.

Minister for Law and Employment Kumar Belbase stressed on several points: national self-reliance, utilization of the nation’s natural resources, work ethics, corporate business responsibility, robust management and utilization of national labor and capital. He expressed readiness to improve laws in line with the framework of social justice.

Vice-President of FNCCI Manish Aryal stressed on social dialogue to that employers and employees can come together to settle their grievances and create sound industrial relations.

President of CLASS-Nepal Shankar Lamichhane said that industrial peace can be achievable only through cooperative action of all the unions and leaders should strive for a single union which is also in the interest of employers.

Head of Nepal office of FES Dev Raj Dahal argued that since life is labour expansion of labour market, diversification and deepening can ensure survival, development and public goods. They also create real life-choices which is essential for democracy.

He said that labor must be transformed into citizen and human beings so that they can collaborate with others not as class enemy but as social partners in common pursuit of wealth-creation, exchange and distribution. Only a strong state can implement Nepali workers’ all rights. Therefore, they should work on mediation of capital, labor and the state.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (30 July 2012)

Education Minister raises concern about democracy <Top>


Minister Sharma underlined the need of fighting for safeguarding democracy.

KATHMANDU: Education Minister Dinanath Sharma has said that achievements of democracy could not be institutionalised due to the lack of balance between politics and economic policy.

Opening a seminar on 'Social Security in Social Democracy' organised by the Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation here today, Minister Sharma underlined the need of fighting for safeguarding democracy.

"Seeking a new way for the protection and promotion of democracy is the need of the hour," he said, adding that such achievement would not be possible until and unless rights of poor, suppressed and backward communities are guaranteed.

Also speaking on the occasion, Frederich Ebert Stiftung Chief Dr Devraj Dahal said responsible democracy was lost due to an imbalance between politics and law.

Sociologist Dr Meena Poudel and Chandra Dev Bhatta presented working papers on the topics.

Joint Secretary Bodh Raj Niroula of Local Development Ministry and Joint Secretary Upendra Adhikari of Women, Children and Social Welfare Ministry made comments on the working papers.

Foundation's Advisory Committee Coordinator Neelambar Acharya chaired the programme.

Source: The Himalayan Times (30 July 2012)

Nepal: Political contribution of single women in peace building <Top>

Samira Paudel, FES, Nepal Office

Women for Human Rights (WHR) with the cooperation of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a three day long workshop on “Promoting Single Women for Political Participation in Peace Building”, July 4 to 6, 2012, in Kathmandu.

There were altogether 30 participants from Central, Eastern, mid Western, Western and far Western development regions of Nepal.
These 30 diverse single women from across the country were selected and trained as political leaders to represent their respective districts and serve as trainer back home to their groups on gender, political and electoral issues as well as peace building, trauma healing and reconciliation. Most of the participants were single women members of the existing leading political parties.

The first day of the workshop moved forward with an inaugural session followed by contents of Gender and sex focusing on potential gender issues in elections, electoral cycle, quota debate and their affirmative action(s) from gender perspective as argued by gender expert Ms. Salina Joshi from UNDP.

The second day kicked off with an intensive panel discussion on women in political world, barriers the women face in accessing electoral process and sharing best and worst practices from the past locally, regionally and also globally.

They also discussed on the importance of free and fair elections and the problems women face during elections. The panel discussion was followed by different group works on building women’s leadership for effective mobilization at community level for gender justice, areas of interventions for the political empowerment of single women at executive, judiciary and legislative and discussing on strategies to increase single women’s participation at policy level and foster positive peace.

The first session of the third day concentrated on sharing of experiences of female ex CA members for lessons to be learnt which the future leaders can get the best out of it and get to know the challenges and obstacles they had to face in the days ahead being a women in a decision making position.

The second session focused more on strategies for advocacy, awareness, campaigns, capacity building, process and steps to be followed, networking nationally and internationally and also the role of single women group in politics.

At the end of the workshop, these selected 30 single women were believed to be fully prepared to become an active and successful political leader in their region to work on post conflict peace building process in Nepal. After the unsuccessful CA, the single women also developed a strategy of having a separate women political party with mixed groups holding three main mandates of Nationalism, Activism and Feminism. This idea of bringing a new political party in the country led by women groups, was supported by the representatives of different regions and promised to have a deep consultation with academics, civil society, media, government officials and members of different political parties to make the idea a concrete one and move forward with the new hopes for the country.

Er. Rabindra Kumar (member secretary of Social Welfare Council), Dev Raj Dahal (Head of FES Nepal), Lily Thapa (Founder of WHR), Kunda Sharma (Treasurer of WHR), Chandrika Bhattarai (President of WHR) and Professor Anjoo Sharan Upadhyaya (Professor from Banaras Hindu University, India and chair at the Political Science Department of TU) spoke at the Inaugural session.
The three day seminar was a grand success.

Source: Telegraphnepal online (11 July 2012)

Education key to lift dalits out of poverty <Top>

By Our Correspondent

Sandhikharka (Arghakhachi) June 24, 2012

With red-tika on their forehead and sacred thread tied in their wrist more than 70 participants (of which majority were women) from Dalit community cheerfully came to attend two-day programme on Equality and Social Justice for Dalits jointly organised by Nepal Dalit Utthan Sangha (NDUS) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office the other day. Speaking in the programme Man Bahadur Biswokarma, former minister and central committee member of Nepali Congress, said that what Dalits of Nepal needed is ‘education’ that can alone enable them to compete with others in society.

He further said that due to lack of educational opportunities in the past, they fell-behind in every sector. “Untouchability that exist in our society is the result of lack of awareness between the Dalits and non-Dalits and our society. This superstition can only be eliminated through education”.

C .D. Bhatta from the FES said that lack of awareness was mainly responsible for massive sate of ‘untouchability’in the society despite its legal abolition. Reservations or quota system is not the solutions to lift Dalits out of poverty and discrimination said Bhatta. Assistant Chief District Officer of Arghakhachi , Bhesh Raj Khanal, said that economic empowerment of dalits is important to realise the sense of equity and equality. Presenting his paper Lalbabu Yadav, Associate Professor of Political Science at the Tribhuvan University, said that the purposed non-territorial federalism for Dalit is nothing more than opening Pandora’s Box.

Many participants in the programme argued that Dalits are very much part and parcel of this society and we wanted to reclaim our right to have rights within here. “We deeply value the norms of our society but our own brothers are denying us from the rights and reinforcing discrimination against us. They are not yet ready to take us on board” they argued.

Sadly, repercussions of this attitude are such that others have found room to play in our internal affairs and they wanted to spoil the social fabric by pitting one community against other said Pritam Pariyar. He said that attempts are being made to impose alien values on us in the name of giving us rights which we are not ready to accept. “We strongly feel that we are part of our ancestors’ common heritage. The so called upper caste of this country should realise this fact, sooner the better”. The programme was chaired by Kamal Biswokarma of NDUS.

Source: The Rising Nepal (25 June 2012)

Women's Role in State-Building <Top>

Butwal, Rupandehi

Women's participation is demanded in every structure of the state. In a seminar organized in Butwal, Rupandehi District on "The Role of Women in State-Building" participants demanded equal engagement of women and men in various structures of the Nepali state. This seminar was jointly organized by Media Advocacy Group (MAG) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). Participants argued that in the context of erosion of Nepali state's governance indicators women as citizens have a great responsibility to constructively engage in building its capacity

in security, law, service delivery and reconciliation. These are the means to stabilize its authority and legitimacy.

In the seminar attended by leaders from various parties, representatives of social organizations, women, media persons and youth, Head of FES Dev Raj Dahal said, "Gender equality is the main indicator of social development. Only those countries have achieved highest level of gender parity where social development is strong." He added, "As women and men are citizens, the member of the state, both have primary duties to respect to each other's rights and duty to be loyal to the state. This enables them to achieve national identity. But, a conducive environment is a must for them to perform responsibility." He concluded that only a strong state can uplift the marginalized members of society including women.

Chairperson of MAG Babita Basnet explained her works in the field of women empowerment and now civic education for women in that link. She said that education and engagement of women in public life can create level playing fields for women and men and their equal contribution to uplift this state from post-conflict condition and social tension. Chairman of Administrative Court of Nepal Kashi Raj Dahal said that legislative measures are favorable for the empowerment of women and their participation in the institutions of governance but due to a lack of capacity building measures women still lag behind in both policy and decision-making. Legal reforms-such as reproductive, property, no-exploitation, equal pay for equal work and non-discrimination- are necessary but not sufficient until society and especially women themselves are prepared for social modernization and reform of patriarchal culture.

In the program former Chairman of National News Agency Bal Krishna Chapagain, former President of Rupandehi Brach of Nepal Bar Association, Chandra Dev Bhatta and others also shared their views on the role of women in strengthening Nepali state and restoring its capacity for coherence with diverse society.

Source: Ghatana Ra Bichar (2069-3-6) 20 June 2012

Two Day Journalism Training on Civic Education <Top>

Purna B Khanda

Mangalsen, June 16.

Two day training of journalists began in Mangelsen, Achham. National Media Development Center (NMDC), District Branch of Federation of Nepalese Journalists and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) are organizing the program.

President of NMDC Bishnu Sharma said that the program is organized to familiarize the vernacular media persons about civic education and spread the message to rural areas and villages as this is crucial to shore up democracy. Media persons can disseminate the constitutional right to information through local media persons and educate the public about public affairs. The training also aims to impart knowledge to journalists on how to do civic reporting. NMDC has begun health, education and basic training on journalism and civic reporting and imparted skills to journalists of 66 districts of the country since 2007. On civic education it has imparted knowledge and skills to 8 districts of far-west region. The current training provides skills to journalists of Achham, Doti and Dadeldhura.

Speaking on the occasion Chief District of Achham Dharma Raj Rokaya said that journalists have to play role in bringing the news of periphery to the center, give voice to the voiceless and act as an agent of social transformation. Constitutional expert Kashi raj dahal said that journalists can compensate the gap in civic education among the citizens. Unless citizens know their rights and responsibilities it is hard to connect them to the state and build constitutional governance. Social cohesion can be increased only on the basis of trust and civic virtues.

Political analyst Dev raj Dahal said that as critical masses of society journalists have to sensitize citizens about modernity and activate their informed participation. He added, since the country is in the phase of transition conflict sensitivity of media is equally essential for reconciliation. Prof. Ram Krishna Regmee argued journalists should work in promoting conscious and active citizens. Secretary of FNJ Achham branch Pahal Saund chaired the session while Police Inspector Amar Thapa spoke about building relationship between citizens and security to improve law and order condition. In the program Janak Raj Bhandai and Narendra Rawal also highlighted the importance of civic education in democracy building.

Source: Khaptadnews National Daily, Sunday (17 June 2012)

Women's Participation Strengthens the State <Top>

Rajdhani Correspondant Rupandehi, Jestha 27

Seminar organized here on "Role of Women in State Building" in Butwal by Media Advocacy Group and FES said that policy based on gender-sensitivity can address the problem of women in Nepal. Only those states are successful and stable who have promoted gender equality in their national life. Gender equality is also an indicator of social development. Constitutional Expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that women should have increased role in building Nepali state as their number is small in both policy and decision making. Strong laws should be brought because in many Nepali societies women are confined to private sphere of life. Chairperson of Media Advocacy Group Babita Basnet stressed on economic empowerment of women as this empowerment unfolds them opportunities in other spheres of life. She stressed on the need to exert legal, social and political pressure so that attitude change can promote social transformation of the country.

Sociologist and professor of Tribhuvan University Dev Raj Dahal said that those countries are better developed where women are active participants in public life. He stressed on the need for social justice as a cornerstone of public policy. He added the examples of the world to justify his arguments. Chandra Dev Bhatta argued that democracy offers equal opportunity for both male and female it should correspond to women's representation. Economic upliftment is one of the priorities of women. The program involved many social workers, party leaders, journalists, students, lawyers and women of the district. The program was moderated by Journalist Amrita Anmol. Former Chief of National News Agency and Advisor of Federation of Nepalese Journalists Rupandehi branch also spoke on the occasion.

Source: Rajdhani Daily 28 Jestha 28 2069 (10 June 2012)

Parties minimise CA's role <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, May 16: Political scientists and constitution experts Wednesday expressed their serious concerns over the little participation of people and Constituent Assembly members in the historic process of statute writing. They warned that the people could not own up the new statute as the top leaders of major parties minimized the role of the CA in the constitution writing process. They were sharing their views at a seminar ‘Challenges of Constitutional Processes in Nepal’ jointly organized by Nepal Law Campus and FES, Nepal, here.

Majority of the speakers said that ongoing statute writing process failed to meet due procedures while some others called for becoming optimistic and embracing the spirit of changes. Political scientist professor Dr Lokaraj Baral said that despite various shortcomings, the current political leadership had demonstrated its absorbing capacity in course of statute writing.“The ongoing agitations taking place across the nation will help in bolstering the unification of the nation,” said Dr. Baral.

Urging all to shun negative attitude, he said that democracy and stability should go side by side. He noted that the Nepalese people would not tolerate authoritarian rule of any sort in the days to come. Constitution expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that there was erosion in the monopoly of the legitimacy of the state.“The ongoing peace process should address the deep-rooted causes of conflicts so that they would not surface again in future,” said Dahal.Stating that the constitution was a judicious compromise among the different social groups, he said that there should be a sense of humanity and a culture of respecting each other for the effective functioning of the constitution and political system.

FES Nepal head Dev Raj Dahal said that only enlightened citizens and leaders were capable of upholding constitutional patriotism and exercising norm-governed action.“In a country of immense diversity where pre-modern politics is governed by sectoral identities and post-modern by politics of difference and repudiation of the sources that united the Nepalese, only constitutional patriotism can serve as a common ground for conflict resolution and common citizenship,” said Dahal.He stressed that Nepal’s new constitution had to address the entire systemic problems, cope with the changing dynamics of politics and adapt to negotiated compromises.

Ganesh Dutta Bhatta, associate professor at Law Campus, said that there was not the true participation of the people in the statute writing while the role of CA members was minimized in the process.“Due to the weakness of the political parties, the statute writing process failed to move on the right track,” he said. He claimed that there was danger of country being plunged into instability and conflicts among the ethnic groups even after the promulgation of the new statue. Lawyer Dr Surya Dhungel said that ongoing statute writing procedure was faulty as it reduced the CA's role in the historic process. Another lawyer Dinesh Tripathy said that elected CA was rendered powerless while the selected leaders were powerful in the statute writing process.

Former registrar of Supreme Court Ram Krishna Timilsina said that ethnicity issue was blown out of proportion while the agenda of national unity was sidelined in the course of car carving out the federal units. Political scientist Lal Babu Yadav called for putting emphasis on national identity instead of ethnic identity in order to strengthen the state.

Source: The Rising Nepal (17 May 2012)

Present time ‘not all roses’ for media <Top>


Leaders and senior journalists have said the weak state affairs at present cannot preserve press freedom.

Speaking at a programme in the Capital on Tuesday organised by Press Union and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Nepali Congress leader Ram Saran Mahat said media persons were being targeted time and again due to an erosion of trust in sate capacity to handle security.

“The state has become helpless. Governance, police, administration are weakening. Our ancestors had maintained the country. Now we are destroying it and every societal structure is in the process of deconstruction.”

Haling media expansion, diversification, wide range of coverage, increasing quality, technical know-how and new adoption like corporate culture, Mahat pointed out some of weakness and drawbacks of Nepali media.

“Political news were given unnecessary hype and glamourised. Market economy is major driver to sustain media at present,” he said, CPN-UML leader Pradip Gyawali noted that a paradigm shift has taken place in media fraternity as Nepalis have been practicing more political rights. “The state is increasingly becoming more unfriendly towards media and unable to implement the rights of journalists,” he claimed. Non-sate players are posing a serious threat to journalists, he said, adding that media also should act responsibly.

UCPN (Maoist) lawmaker Narayan Sharma said all people should enjoy the equal rights of press freedom and democracy. “Media can play a crucial role to sensitise malpractices,” he said.

At the programme, senior journalists and former FNJ presidents Tara Nath Dahal and Dharmendra Jha presented separate papers. They highlighted the problems of Nepali media, institutional and legal reforms that took place in the past and outlined some suggestions to be addressed in the future.

Country representative of FES Dev Raj Dahal said internal vigilance inside the media has to be increased and effective implementation of right to information should be implemented. The state should provide security to the journalists, he said.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (2 May 2012)

Nepali state was never so weak as it is now <Top>

Kathmandu, May 1. Leader of Nepali Congress Dr. ram Sharan Mahat said that Nepali state was never so weak as it is now. Speaking on the role of Press Union in a seminar organized by Nepal Press Union he added that the bomb explosion in Janakpur, frequent attack on journalists, increased insecurity, and culture of impunity indicate this fact. The main concern is whether we can protect this nation created strong by our ancestors as there will be more risk of getting it vulnerable in the future.

In the same vein, leader of CPN-UML Pradeep Gyawali said that theoretically we are giving more rights but practically their space is squeezing as non-state actors are getting stronger than the state. Leader of UCPN (Maoist) Narayan Sharama pointed a tendency in Nepali society where each person is demanding his rights and identity while caring less to others. Under the chairmanship of Nepal Press Union President Kiran Pokhrel Tara Nath Dahal and Dharmendra Jha presented their papers on the challenges of press union workers. Bishnu Nishthuri, former President of Nepal Federation of Journalists also expressed his opinion. In the program, CA member Shobhakar Parajuli, FES Chief Dev raj Dahal, Chairman of Press Chautari Gagan Bisht, Treasurer of Revolutionary Journalist Association Khila Bhandari, former president of Nepal Press Union Samir Jung Shah expressed their opinions.

Source: The Gorkhapatra Daily (2 May 2012)

Leaders turn scanner on role of press <Top>


KATHMANDU: Political leaders and journalists stressed on effective implementation of laws enacted for guaranteeing the professional security of working journalists in different media houses.

At an interaction programme "Role of Nepal Press Union on Burning Issues of Working Journalists" organised by Nepal Press Union (NPU) here today on the occasion of the International Labour Day, they stressed on strengthening security of media persons as it is becoming serious day by day.

They said though the government has formulated required laws for the rights of journalists, numerous challenges have piled up before the working journalists and that they were facing growing physical and professional insecurity due to lack of effective implementation of laws.

On the occasion, leader of the Nepali Congress, Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat said that the state was weak in protecting the media persons when they are becoming the victims of attacks from all sides due to their political ideology and conviction.

He stated that the Janakpur incident on Monday was the latest example of state's weakness.

Mahat complained that Nepali media houses have been neglecting social responsibility though the media houses were becoming result-oriented and qualitative.

Similarly, the UCPN-Maoist leader, Narayan Sharma pointed out that the media persons should play the main role for institutionalising the achievements of the democratic movement.

He added that all unions should be united against attacks on media persons.

Leader of the CPN (UML), Pradip Gyawali stressed on ensuring security to all the citizens at a time when the political system needs to be made stable, democratic and responsible to people, adding that state restructuring was necessary for maintaining harmony among the people in the country.

Leader of the Nepali Congress and founder of the Nepal Press Union, Shobhakhar Parajuli, said that the Nepalese journalism should discourage all kinds of malpractices in the country by adopting a more responsive approach and respectable form of journalism establishing democratic norms and values.

Senior journalist Taranath Dahal presented a paper on 'Contemporary Problems in Nepali Media and Role of Press Union' and stressed on making the state and the management at the media houses serious on practical implementation of the Labour Act and the Working Journalists Act.

Similarly, former President of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Dharmendra Jha, presented a paper on 'Challenges of Working Journalists' and stressed on running a campaign for the structural reforms in the media policy and laws to ensure press freedom and pluralism in the media world.

Nepal Chief of the Frederich Ebert Stiftung, Devraj Dahal, journalists Kulchandra Wagle, Gagan Bista, Bishnu Nisthuri, Khil Bahadur Bhandari, Samirjung Shah, Anil Yogi, Ekraj Pathak among others said the bodies concerned should be serious for the security of Nepali media, professional security and implementation of the Media Act.

Source: The Himalayan Times (2 May 2012)

Effective Implementation Of Laws Stressed <Top>

Kathmandu, May 1: Political leaders and journalists stressed on effective implementation of laws enacted for guaranteeing the professional security of working journalists in different media houses.

At an interaction programme “Role of Nepal Press Union on Burning Issues of Working Journalists” organized by Nepal Press Union (NPU) here today on the occasion of the International Labour Day, they stressed on strengthening security of media persons as it is becoming serious day by day.

They said though the government has formulated required laws for the rights of journalists, numerous challenges have piled up before the working journalists and that they were facing growing physical and professional insecurity due to lack of effective implementation of laws.

On the occasion, leader of the Nepali Congress, Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat said that the state was weak in protecting the media persons when they are becoming the victims of attacks from all sides due to their political ideology and conviction.

He stated that the Janakpur incident on Monday was the latest example of state’s weakness.

Mahat complained that Nepali media houses have been neglecting social responsibility though the media houses were becoming result-oriented and qualitative.

Similarly, the UCPN-Maoist leader, Narayan Sharma pointed out that the media persons should play the main role for institutionalizing the achievements of the democratic movement.

He added that all unions should be united against attacks on media persons.

Leader of the CPN (UML), Pradip Gyawali stressed ensuring security to all the citizens at a time when the political system needs to be made stable, democratic and responsible to people, adding that state restructuring was necessary for maintaining harmony among the people in the country.

Leader of the Nepali Congress and founder of the Nepal Press Union, Shobhakhar Parajuli, said that the Nepalese journalism should discourage all kinds of malpractices in the country by adopting a more responsive approach and respectable form of journalism establishing democratic norms and values.

Senior journalist Taranath Dahal presented a paper on ‘Contemporary Problems in Nepali Media and Role of Press Union’ and stressed on making the state and the management at the media houses serious on practical implementation of the Labour Act and the Working Journalists Act.

Similarly, former President of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Dharmendra Jha, presented a paper on ‘Challenges of Working Journalists’ and stressed on running a campaign for the structural reforms in the media policy and laws to ensure press freedom and pluralism in the media world.

Nepal Chief of the Frederich Ebert Stiftung, Devraj Dahal, journalists Kulchandra Wagle, Gagan Bista, Bishnu Nisthuri, Khil Bahadur Bhandari, Samirjung Shah, Anil Yogi, Ekraj Pathak among others said the bodies concerned should be serious for the security of Nepali media, professional security and implementation of the Media Act.

Source: Hamrakura (1 May 2012)

Avoid voting for statute: CA chair <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, April 26

Constituent Assembly (CA) Chairman Subas Chandra Nembang Thursday urged all leaders to avoid the voting procedure on the contentious issues of the statute and find concrete results for the constitution promulgation through consensus.

Speaking at an interaction, "The role of media in peace, constitution and democratization", organized by Press Chautari Nepal in collaboration with FES, Nembang suggested the leaders they should hold result-oriented dialogues during the added two days’ period as the frequent dialogues held among leaders had failed to achieve desired outcomes in the past.

The task of bringing out new constitution draft will be easier if the parties reach consensus as soon as possible, he said.

Nembang emphasized that the leaders must go to the people even with a preliminary draft of the constitution by the deadline. He also urged all political parties to stop internal disputes for the sake of peace and constitution.

The new constitution should be inclusive and should also include federalism, he said. "Such as constitution is possible if all parties agree on it."

Stating that the peace and constitution processes were moving in right direction in recent times, he expressed his confidence that the constitution would be promulgated within the deadline.

The Nepali media has played important roles during several political movements in the past and it can play constructive role in peace building and constitution writing too, he added. "The freedom of press is guaranteed only when democracy is institutionalized."

Pradeep Gayawali, chief of CPN-UML publicity department, said the decision to handover Maoist combatants to Nepal Army on March 10 was an important and relevant step to complete peace and constitution writing processes.

He said that it was nothing but a biased outlook to suspect the Nepal Army’s way of functioning and urged the Maoists’ Baidhya faction to take the right decisions on army integration positively.

The nation had to pay dearly in the past because of the delay in peace and constitution writing processes and the country may suffer unimaginable crisis if the uncertainties over peace and constitution linger on for long, he added.

Leader of Nepali Congress Arjun Narsingh K.C. urged all to be positive towards the ongoing political process, which is currently moving towards right direction and was expected to produce desired results.

He ensured that constitution would be promulgated within the deadline because the parties had come closure than before with an environment of trust.

Dev Prasad Gurung, leader of UCPN-Maoist, blamed that the government had gone against the spirit of the Interim Constitution after handing the Maoist cantonments to the Nepali Army. It was not an integration but surrender, he said adding the decision of March 10 had come unexpectedly.

Senior journalist Mahendra Bista presented a paper on role of media in democracy at the programme, presided over by Press Chautari Nepal President Gagan Bista.

Likewise, FES Nepal chief Devraj Dahal, FJN president Shiv Gaunle, senior journalist Kundal Aryal, Nepal Press Union President Kiran Pokharel, Revolutionary Students Union President Maheshwor Dahal expressed that the media should play constructive role in peace building and constitution writing.

Source: The Rising Nepal (27 April 2012)

Discourage militarization process of civilians <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Apr. 12: Speakers at an interaction Thursday underscored that the militarization process of civilians should be discouraged to mitigate conflict in the society.

Psychological wellbeing was equally important along with the physical wellbeing of the people to deal with stress and trauma rampant in the society, they said speaking at a national seminar on 'Civil Military (Security) Relation in Nepal jointly organized by Nepal Retired Police Organisation and FES-Nepal.

Former Inspector General of Nepal Police D.B. Lama said that the government should be able to utilize the experiences of ex-police officers for the effective implementation of security plans to maintain law and order in the society. "But the government line agencies are reluctant to listen to our concerns in this regard."

FES-Nepal chief Dev Raj Dahal said, "Rectification of the defects of democracy, de-radicalization and democratization of armed groups and professional security agencies must be accompanied with a formulation of national security doctrine, institutionalization of dialogue and regular identification of sources of threat by various stakeholders of society; and strengthening of national security council through interdisciplinary team of experts coordinated by defense and home ministries who can also inform about early warning of fault-line conflicts and suggest measures for early response."

Mutual appreciation of each other's roles and responsibilities between civil and security forces was crucial for the construction of a post-conflict Nepal and build a shared, peaceful future as co-owners of their national common, he said.

Clinical psychologist of The Relief Trust, Nepal Chetana Lokshum presented a working paper on 'Importance of Psychological Wellbeing in Security Forces," while Professor Dr. Shir Subba, Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha, among others, expressed views on the topic.

Source: The Rising Nepal (13 April 2012, p. 3)

Nepal: Regime used security officials to repress People say experts <Top>

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung-FES, Nepal Office, in association with Ex-Police Organizations’ organized one day high-level national seminar on Civil Military (Security) Relations in Nepal on 12th April, 2012 in Kathmandu.

The seminar was well attended by the high-ranking serving and retired security personnel, civil servants, academicians, journalists, members of civil society and other stakeholders.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Head of FES Nepal Dev Raj Dahal said that state’s outreach in society can only be extended when the relationship between citizen and public institutions are improved. He further said that the reasons of the state can only be realized by the people, when there is a rule of law in society. And security agencies play vital role in strengthening the rule of law. The tendency to deconstruct state-centric security with the help of non-state-actors has generated feeling of insecurity in society.

Speaking at the inaugural session, former IGP D B Lama said that the morale of security agencies needs to be upheld in order to maintain sustainable peace in the society. He also required the government to periodically consult retired officials as they are in touch with the people and can provide vital information needed for security.

Likewise, while presenting his paper former AIGP Rajendra Bahadur Singh said that Nepal Police has been continually used as a tool of repression by the government at the helm of power and this has strained relationship between the people and the police. Singh also pointed out that various scandals mediated by the political parties have also tarnished the image of Nepal police. The classic example to this end is the Sudan Darfur APC Scandal where the then ruling government misused police department for their benefit.

Lt. General (Retd.) Sadip Shah said that the civil-military concept that has been floated in our society is completely a Western notion and may not be suitable for us. He was of the view that the civil-military relations in Nepal are not that bad as it has been propagated by the media.

Another presenter, Col. (Retd) Ratindra Chhetri said that civil-military relations in Nepal is in the transition phase but the same has to be understood in a different note unlike the recent debate that has raged this sector.

He recommended that new national security policy should be developed and it should include coordination of all security related agencies, joint training of politicians and security officials about national security challenges, strengthening of public relations unit and institutionalization of National Security Council which can draw the prevailing security scenario in the country and later formulate rapid response mechanism accordingly.

Source: The telegraphnepal online (13 April 2012)

Nepal's Brewing Constitutional Crisis <Top>

Melamchi, April 7-8, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal office organized a two-day long seminar on “Building Modern State Through Civic Education” which inspired over 150 participants of all walks of life—politicians, teachers, community leaders, civil society members, NGOs, students and attentive citizens.

Presenting his paper on constitutional process of Nepal, the noted Constitutional Expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that the verdict of Supreme Court does not leave any option other than to draft a new constitution by the Constituent Assembly by May 27. It is possible to do so if there is sufficient political will of leaders, demonstrate their ability to stand above partisan interests and enter into a compromise formula on many unsettled issues—federalism, form of governance, election system, autonomy of judiciary, etc. Otherwise, fresh mandate is needed which can carry the work left by the CA and settle issues. Failure in either case can trigger constitutional and political crisis and push the nation into uncertainty.

Another Speaker Prof. Lal Babu Yadav asserted that the purpose of the constitution is to unite all Nepalese, not dividing them. This means the concept of nation building requires the leaders to stand above class, ethnic and regional preoccupations and think as national citizens with equal rights and equal duties.

Federalism devoid of any sense of nationalism is conflict-generating. The constituency-oriented tendency of leaders blurred their larger national vision, reduced their perspective to parochial ends and weakened the base of Nepali nation-state. Civic initiatives should be generated for path correction, continued Professor Yadav.

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal office discussed about the concept of “active citizenship” to build constitutional state which is capable of making governance efficient, responsive and transparent. He argued that a transition from post-conflict phase to durable peace, stability and progress requires enlightened action on the part of both leaders and citizens and fulfillment of legitimate interest of all sides. As one of the oldest nation of the world it has rich civility which needs to be shored up to foster comprehensive reconciliation in society. But, it needs to transform people into citizen and alter pre-modern politics of divide and rule into modern politics of cooperative action. In time of national stress sustained by protracted political transition, Nepalese leaders too should be governed by national goals than remain dictated by crowd psychology, populism and post-modern turmoil. Creation of mindful societal needs and virtuous action and enlargement of the enlightenment education at multi-stakeholders of society.

Chairperson of the seminar Radha K. Shrestha stressed the need for taking constitutional discussion to building civic competence of citizens. Many other participants such as Rajendra P. Shrestha, Ganesh Bikram Silwal, Siddi Narayan Shrestha, Kedar Nepal, Prakash Shrestha, Bal Krishna Deuja, Shambhu Panday, Yadav Dulal C. P. Dulala, Ms. Indra Maya Gurung, Laxman Dulal, Balchandra Sapkota, Narayan Subedi, and other took active part in the discussion and furnished suggestions to strengthen state-citizenship relationship for Nepal’s peaceful and stable future.

Source: The telegraphnepal online (9 April 2012)

Two-Day workshop on Labour Begins <Top>

Butwal, April 6, 2012

FES Nepal and TWARO Council jointly organised a two-day workshop on Social Security and New Labour Law in Butwal. The joint programme of Nepal Trade Union Congress-Independent (NTUC-I) and GEFONT included participants from Nepal Independent Worker's Union, Nepal Independent Textiles and Garment Workers Union, Nepal Independent Carpet Worker's Union, Nepal Factory Workers Union, Nepal Embroidery Handicrafts and Sewing Knitting Unions, Nepal Carpet Worker's Unions, and Nepal Garment Worker's Unions. There were 35 participants in the programme. The workers will be trained by Dinesh Rai, Vice President of TWARO Council Nepal, Chandra D Bhatta of FES Nepal, Yubaraj Lama of NTUCI-I and Tej Prasad Rijal, President of Embroidery Workers Union of Nepal.

The programme was charied by Dinesh Rai, Vice-President of TWARO Council Nepal. The objectives of the programmes were highlighted by Hari Kari , Lumbini- Rapti Zonal President of GEFONT, Kajiman Shrestha, President - Nepal Trade Union Congress Rupendehi District, Chandra D Bhatta from the FES and Tej Prasad Rijal, Member of TWARO Council.

Source: Nawa Tilottama (National Daily Published from Butwal) , Friday 6 April 2012

Democracy Under Stress: The Global Crisis and Beyond <Top>

Ursula van Beek and Edmund Wnuk-Lipinski eds. Democracy Under Stress: The Global Crisis and Beyond, Berlin: Barbara Budrich Publishers, Opladen, 2012, Price: Euro 29.90. Pages: 244.

Dev Raj Dahal, FES, Nepal

This edited volume Democracy under Stress draws a correlation between capitalism and democracy and covers a wide range of topics from history, liberal democratic theory, authoritarianism, globalization, financial crisis, media, China to global governance. In her introduction Ursula J. Van Beek argues that the financial crisis that shook the world in 2008 exposed fault-lines between still irreconcilable democratic and authoritarian capitalisms. The roots of crisis lie deeper into the poor governance, corruption and concentration of wealth including underlying consumer-oriented values, attitudes and beliefs as revealed by Piere du Toit. The crisis, therefore, has just been deferred by stimulus packages and debt-shuffling from the private to the public sector. Still, it "tilted the political axis of the globe away from the center with the erosion of monopoly of established democracies in global affairs" (p.12) as they are facing job layoffs, debts, protests and agitations. Stan du Plessis and Dirk Berg-Schlosser found that the decline of civic virtues, excesses of greed and credit-fuelled bubble bear negative consequences for democracy. Obviously, capital market liberalisation in the 1990s opened up spaces for corporate lobbyists, finance-oriented politicians and consultants, often rationalized by sensationalist journalism and academics which contributed to the retrenchment of the quality of life, equality, trust and tolerance that characterized civic virtues.

This volume recounts the events from the racism of Norway, crisis of euro-zone to Arab Spring. The first part by Stan due Plessis and Dirk Berg-Schlosser highlight the impacts of global economic crises and their political impacts on democracy. Both foresee the possibility of the "stabilization of authoritarian democracy." Laurence Whitehead provides a critical account of the democratic system as error correction of global economy and argues, "Democratic procedures have offered a safety valve for citizen discontent, an opportunity for the peaceful renewal of political authorities, and perhaps even more some scope for the termination of failed strategies of economic management and their replacement by more promising approaches' (p.84-85) but he expresses doubt about the potential of the US and the UK as "neither of these democratic processes unfolded in a manner favourable to the effective redress of past errors, of the holding account of failed officeholders, or the subsequent improvement of economic policymaking to guard against further relapses of the same kind in the future" (p.86). He suggests better feedback from informed citizens because "one clear lesson of the 2008 crisis is that politicians who rely uncritically on a narrow set of orthodox indicators and advisers will not escape blame when their errors are exposed" (p.94). Only informed citizens can make rational choices that are implemented by a leadership who put the public good over their short-term outcome in a media-mediated society. Its unflinching belief in the Western liberal democratic model for state-building, peace and development is in litmus test in the post-conflict and fragile states.

Ursula Hoffmann-Lange's chapter explains the model of liberal democracy and varieties of capitalism in the context of the various waves of democracy and argues that birth of "Chinese model will remain an attractive option for developing countries" (p.77) because of its effort to create harmonious society based on Confucian ethics and ability to contribute to poly-centric world order based on geopolitics of Beijing Consensus, such as multiplicity of development models, social justice, cooperation and peace as opposed to neo-liberal market-based Washington Consensus. Can there be a synthesis between the two consensuses? Ursula van Beek, compares the ability of consolidated and less institutionalized democracy of developing countries. She says: "While the wealthy consolidated democracies can be considered strong enough to cope with even major political and economic challenges, the poor Third Wave democracies are much more vulnerable because their political institutions and party systems are not well established, democratic value orientations are not deeply rooted in their political culture and they have fewer economic resources to cope with income losses" (p.114). Edmund Wnuk-Lipinski concludes his article on the possibility of bi-polarizaiton of world order under conditions that it serves as a model for authoritarian capitalism and defective democracies if it becomes successful to stabilize its home-grown polity. The Chinese crisis management style narrated by Han Sang-Jin and Lu Peng bring various scenarios asserting that the global economic crisis "relieved the Chinese leaders' previous concern of an overheating economy and encouraged a reorientation to production towards the domestic market" (p. 157). They show several points for its successes-internal legitimacy of one-party state, strong bureaucracy, elite consensus on political stability, interest of private entrepreneurs to seek support from the state, ideological assertion of cultural elites of its ancient heritage, wage reforms for workers and its ability to modernize. The authors conclude that Chinese experience requires more reflection and more analysis to understand its' propensity to democratize under internal or external incentives.

The last part brings insight into a new global configuration following the great recession that impinged on individual and collective lives of people the world over. Christer Jönsson's probes into the possibility of democratic approaches to a new world order based on a model of governance but asks whether basic dimension of democratic qualities, such as transparency, accountability and inclusion can be included in democratic governance. For this, "global governance arrangements in general, and those in global finance in particular, rate low on basic democratic criteria. The best we can hope for in the short to medium run seems to be incremental steps in a democratising direction"(p.197). There is an element of a truth, indeed. The editors of this book reveal: "If we do not wish to be driven by the blind forces of globalization, the world needs democratic control. And this is probably the biggest challenge we face in 21st Century" (p. 171). When power of veto and voting are decided on the basis of strength, not election, it would be difficult to make global governance democratic and collectively addresses post-state challenges. The crucial question is how to remove the constraints on liberal constitutionalism.

Bernard Lategen's article gives details about the values, interests, power and democracy at a time of crisis affirming that the binary mode of conflict resolution is simply not sufficient to address the complex systemic crises and conflicts of the world. Even laws have become more transversal than the nation-state. He seeks common values in a world divided by culture, religion and economy and asserting that the ability to deal with values and conflicting claims based on these values will grow, the quest for common ground will increase and opportunities for participation and representation in all spheres of society will rise. The last article by Edmund Wnuk-Lipinski talks about the impact of the recession, builds scenarios and hypothesis and then concludes, "The advancement of globalization calls for a new initiatives which would adjust obsolete institutional arrangements to the needs of the interconnected world of today." (p.226). In sum, this book adds many self-reflective learning from the ground reality, embeds their analysis in the context of real-life developments, explains the origins of the economic crisis and probes into how democratic institutions and systems to balance private profits and public goods. It also tests the inadequacy of many democratic theories in the light of system change in various parts of the world, social change at both macro and micro levels, their connections to and impact on democracy under stress and strategies to improve the situaiton. Its imagination of the future is bold.

Book Review published in The Reporter Weekly, Vol. 2, No. 56, March 11, 2012

New Statute shall end social crimes, discriminations <Top>

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, Mar 10: Constitutional Committee (CC) chairman Nilambar Acharya Saturday said that the new constitution would end social crimes and discriminations.

Speaking at an interaction organized by Modern Kanya Multiple College, Acharya said that the parties were trying to conclude the twin tasks of peace and constitution and added that the new constitution would end all types of social discriminations.

A federal democratic republican constitution would resolve all types of social problems, he said, stressing that gender-based discrimination was a big challenge for Nepal.

He said that the new constitution would help fight gender-based discrimination and violence.

He said that the political parties should intensify the task of peace and constitution drafting within the stipulated deadline.

Acharya said that the Nepalese people succeeded to achieve political changes and it was the duty of all parties to institutionalize the political achievements brought about by the Nepalese people.

“The duty of all parties now is to institutionalize the rights of all communities and classes,” he said.

He said that the Nepalese people had demanded a logical end to peace and constitution writing processes and added, “The parties should honestly try to resolve the disputed issues of peace and constitution.”

UCPN-Maoist lawmaker Ranu Chanda said that the new constitution should guarantee economic, political and social rights to women and added that all parties should be careful to establish the rights of women.

On the occasion, experts Kashiraj Dahal, Sabita Sapkota, Sharmila Koirala, Modern Kanya Multiple College chief Ram Prasad Dahal and others stressed that the political parties should honestly establish the rights of women in the new constitution.

Source: The Rising Nepal (11 March 2012)

The Study of Ethnicity and Politics: Recent Analytical Developments <Top>

Adrian Guelke and Jean Tournon, eds. The Study of Ethnicity and Politics: Recent Analytical Developments, Berlin: Barbara Budrich Publishers, 2012. Pages 176, Price $29.95.

Dev Raj Dahal, FES, Kathmandu

The resurgence of ethnic identity, formed on the basis of self-identification, shared history, culture and solidarity, critically influences both domestic and international politics. Post-modern times of future will be turbulent, disorganized and precarious as communication of grievances and hopes activates primordial human emotion and reaction embittering the competition of people for scarce resources. Persistence of global economic meltdown will intensify the scope of ethnic conflicts paving the roads to peace, stability, and democracy difficult. Comparative politics and strategic studies have, therefore, focused their attention to ethnic politics which was a subject of neglect among political scientists for long due to its derogatory use stressing on the absolutization of the particular group’s interest, not the general will. This edited volume examines various approaches to ethnic politics and ways of coping with ethnic conflicts in various contexts of America, Europe, Africa, and Asian countries. Tracing the Greek origin of ethnos, meaning non-Greeks, ethnic politics is now associated with differentiating others, minorities, colored people, various races, lineage groups, people of common ancestry etc. The recent release of the pent up ethnic conflicts deeply rooted in history, memory, and a sense of common belonging marked not the end of grand history of ideological empires but an acceleration of mini-histories against the subordination of ethnicity to state sovereignty during the cold-war, its accommodation and integration thereafter, to its resurgence following the collapse of Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, September 9/11 events, and its fusion with extremism, global economic meltdown embittering inter-ethnic relations to recent Arab Spring.

Eric Kaufmann and Daniele Conversi make a clear distinction between the American and the continental European approaches to nation-building. They argue that since Americans only comprehend democracy, not nationalism, they do not have the problem of irredentist claims while ethnically territorialized Europe is persistently encountering this problem. Therefore, from Ireland to Slavic states there are simmering discontents of ethnic grievances. Adrian Guelke finds the cause of the resurgence of ethnic politics in the transformation of international system attributing it to four important factors: erosion of the institutional structure of the Westphalian state system based on a legitimate monopoly of power; expansion of the roles of non-state actors, such as NGOs, civil society, inter-governmental groups, MNCs, social movements and interest-based groups; shift in the ethnic balance of power within the nation-states through migration, electoral geography and demographic change; and various levels of integration of subsidiary identity groups in the international system (p.129) offering ethnic groups essential opportunities, resources, legitimacy, and partnership for collective action. Anarchic structure posed security dilemma for the states causing vicious arms race and vitiation of inter-state relations. Similarly, selective interpretation of international norms about self-determination stoked potential ethnic groups to cross the boundaries of state and challenge its autonomy and sovereignty. The theory of self-determination justified the emergence of Bangladesh and the West’s pre-existing commitments to the independence of Baltic States. Ethnic politics also found its expression in terrorism in multi-ethnic as ethnic groups inflated their demands and stitched the support from co-ethics across the borders. As a result, tension in one affected conflict in the other in vicious ways. The anti- irredentist claim of national leadership and distrust over minorities also impinged on the internal cohesion of statehood.

Jean Tournon links ethnic politics to kinship, religion, language, race, localism, nationalism, and the state and situates the logics as to how the state ethnicizes itself. He illustrates the case of Canada’s split into nationalist pro-Quebecois, ethnicist-localists and pro-Canadan nationalists (p. 41). While analyzing the time dimension for the state and ethnicity Tournon concludes “electoral defeat is the replacement of one state by another.” This holds true to neo-patrimonial states where the concept of democratic legitimacy is defined only by election, not impersonality and performance. His analysis of belonging to the state and ethnic group debunks the concepts of cultural transmission, conformity, and naturalization of people in the territorial boundaries of the state. Culture glues ethnicity to the state. Eric Kaufmann and Daniele Conversi elaborate in detail the process of ethnic and nationalist mobilization. They use an instrumentalist approach where elite self-interest constructs ethnic identity; promordialist approach where genetic and cultural factors matter; and ethnosymbolist approach were social facts, genealogy, and tradition of territoriality count in the making of ethnic nationalism. They distil the intellectual traditions of paradigm shifts in rebuilding the nation and the state. Africa, for them, symbolizes the onion-like nature of the ethnicity-within-ethnicity structure which has also rendered conflict resolution complex. They argue that homogeneous Botswana has less conflict than heterogeneous Nigeria. This means ethnic diversity requires a consensual base of democracy while majoritarian polity can work in an uniform nation where competition is only for power and change of government, not separate identities of diverse groups. They believe that protracted political transition generates ethnic and nationalist conflicts as power-sharing often become unstable and shifting influencing many constitutional issues. They bring five distinct modes of international influence on ethnicity and nationalism: state support for ethnic secessionist movement for geopolitical or liberal internationalist reasons; ethnic foreign policy lobbies within states; national identity and foreign policy, including irredentist claims against anti-irredentist state; international laws and norms of self-determination and sovereignty; and globalization and cosmopolitanism (p. 71). Conflict resolution requires managing macro-micro linkages of issues, interests, ideologies, and identities.

Brendan O’ Leary and John McGarry make a distinction between two concepts—integration of ethnos into the public identity of citizenship and equality before law while accommodation prefers separate identity. Other two concepts are fusion of two ethnic groups to produce a new identity akin to the melting pot approach to nation-building while acculturation admits the adoption of other’s culture. These concepts are then contrasted with various ideologies and methods such as multiculturalism, consociation, territorial pluralism, and centripetalism to address ethnic diversity and conflict. Of these, multiculturalism embraces salad-bowl approach. The republican tradition favors popular sovereignty where all subsidiary identities are transformed into equal citizenship while ethnicity prefers interest group politics, supports social inequality, and weakens the egalitarian base of democracy. Obviously, participatory democracy requires building the social competence of citizens for equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal outcome and a system of “constitutional patriotism” as well which can override the primordial loyalties and expose the citizens to their cosmopolitan existence defined by human rights. The concluding chapter by Brit Cartrite and Dan Miodownik offers a quantitative analysis of books and articles on ethnic politics covering a period of thirty years. These articles underlie several means to resolve ethnic conflicts that vitiate inter and intra-state relations now, such as inclusive citizenship, civic nationalism, identification of a common ground for social and system integration, inter-ethnic cooperation, power sharing, redistributive justice, and civic education to transform ethnos into demos. To those interested in a sober analysis of identity politics, costs of ethnic conflict and promotion of civilized coexistence, reading this book is a must. Policymakers, politicians and statesmen can immensely benefit from the insights offered in this book.

Book review published in The Reporter Weekly, Vol 2, Issue No. 55, March 4, 2005.

A world in crisis <Top>

By Chandra D. Bhatta (chandra.bhatta@fesnepal.org)

When Queen Elizabeth visited the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2009, her first question was how did the ‘top minds’ in Britain fail to predict the recession of 2008? This stunned LSE academics. The second shock that

academics had to face (particularly the economists), in the same year, was the Noble Prize in Economic Science being awarded to Elinor Ostrom—a trained political scientist. The decision to award the Economics Nobel Prize to a political scientist sends a clear message to policy makers indicating that the continuation of the present model of the global financial system could pose a threat to the democratic structure that we so cherish.

The financial crisis has brought into sharp focus the issue of global governance, and above all, the issue of accountability, and more precisely, the severe deficit in the democratic accountability of policy makers whose decisions have global implications. The crisis that destroyed the Lehman Brothers in 2008 is now engulfing much of the rich world, notes The Economist. The Economist also ran a special story on Jan 21 about whether state-led capitalism could be an alternative model to save the global economy from the intermittent meltdown, and restore people’s confidence in the political system thereof.

By and large, the crisis has brought a financial earthquake. Although the epicentre of this crisis was in the Western ‘liberal democratic’ states, its reverberations were witnessed everywhere, unlike the Great Depression of the 1930s. That said, however, following the Great Depression, a number of parliamentary democracies had suffered serious legitimacy problems and some were replaced by autocratic regimes. In order to avert the same fate this time there are academics and research institutes working towards this end.

A plethora of literature has come up as an endeavour to provide hindsight on the crisis. Democracy Under Stress: The Global Crisis and Beyond is the latest addition to this list. The volume is a thoughtful study by a wide-ranging group of contributors. It enables us to understand why the contest between democratic and authoritarian capitalism is emerging as one of the critical issues of our time. The book discusses the Great Recession and its possible impact on democracy. It also compels us to look, in retrospect, at what democracy is all about and whom it should work for, what makes it so desirable and preferable to other

political systems, what its inherent strengths and weaknesses are, how it fares in various cultural contexts, and how it is linked to the market economy. What is important though is whether or not democracy improves the living standards of wider segments of society. What would be the best model for that?

Divided into four parts, Democracy Under Stress deals with global economic crises and their political impacts in Part One; Part Two covers the economy and democracy, Part Three addresses an authoritarian response to the crisis, and finally, Part Four focuses on new global configuration. The central thesis of this work is to debate whether the current economic policy really supports democracy and serves broader humankind in a true sense of the term. If not, what would then be the solution?

The volume also points out that most of the decisions ‘taken elsewhere’ suffer not only from the deficit of democratic legitimacy but also from the lack of transparency—especially in the financial and military arenas. The book argues that in the globalised world “we are all affected by decisions taken elsewhere”, a truth that was revealed by the Great Recession. Against this backdrop, the challenge is to make decision making processes more representative. The book also discusses the Chinese model of ‘state-led’ capitalism and asks whether it might be best suitable for liberal democracies in the West. This emerges from the fact that China did not suffer as much from the financial crisis, and even used it to show off its striking competitive edge in the global market.

The economic crisis has emphasised the need for political changes and also a remodelling of economic governance at the global level. The weakest countries, such as Greece, have already plunged into chaos and democracy is in deep crisis. The economic earthquake exposed fault lines which we can afford to ignore only at our own peril, argues the volume.

If democracy, as a system of governance, is merely used as an ‘iron rice bowl’ (jobs and perks for few people), society at large will lose faith in it. The recent uprising in Wall Street and the flurry of opposition waged in major financial centres around the world is an instance of this. The ‘occupiers’ on Wall Street argued that the existing financial structure backed by the extant political system have bred unbridgeable inequality in society.

For example, during the last 40 years, the annual incomes of the top one percent of US taxpayers rose threefold. The volume suggests the world needs democratic control to bridge this bulging gap.

Alex de Tocqueville said that “the most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it begins to reform”. This, perhaps, is the right-time for policy makers to develop a People’s Consensus rather than defending the much-debated Washington Consensus, which will certainly ruin democracy if it is left in the current form. The volume is based on the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, but there is no common framework or shared empirical data here, neither do the authors necessarily agree with each other on the models of democracy and the global financial system. As such, readers are left to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. This book is certainly worth reading to understand the nuances of the economic crisis and subsequent fallout.

Source: On Saturday, The Kathmandu Post (18 February 2012)


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