www.fesnepal.org
Committed to Social Democracy...
HOME
ABOUT FES
Introduction
FES in Nepal
FES Worldwide
ACTIVITIES
Democratization
Media Development
Trade Union Development
Regional Cooperation
Conflict Resolution
Good Governance
Gender
NEWS/EVENTS
Past Activities
FES in the Press
REPORTS
Annual Reports
Seminar/Workshop Reports
PUBLICATIONS
List of FES Publications
Book Reviews
FES Publications in University Curricula



Seminar Report on Initiative for State-building within the context of constitution making process

Arghakhachi ( 23-24 August 2008) and Kapilvastu (25-26 August 2008)

By Chandra D Bhatta
Email: cdbhatta@yahoo.com


Introducing the Programme

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) - a German Political Foundation has organised training-cum- seminar on 'Modern State-building and Constitution-making Process' in Sandhikharkha of Arghakhachi district and Taulihawa of Kapilvastu district. The programme was attended, among others, by political leaders of all political parties (including Maoist), academicians, teachers, NGO personnel, members of civil society, students, government officials, youths, and representatives of trade unions and other stakeholders of society. There were 125 participants in Sandhikharka and 175 participants in Taulihawa. In both district, the programme was chaired by respective judges of the district court (Mr Purushottam Dhakal in Sandhikharka and Mr Lekhnath Regmi n Taulihawa). Mr Bhawani Prasad Parajuli and Mr. Ram Bilas Roy Chief District Officers (CDOs) of Arghakhachi and Kapilvastu attended the programme. Likewise, head of the District Police Office and personnel from Nepal Army also attended the programme in both the districts.

The main objective of the programme was to educate people at the peripheral level on state-building and issues underpinning constitution-making process in order to enable them to participate in the political process meaningfully. Moreover, one of the main aims of this programme, among others, is to bridge the societal gap between different societal groups and bring them into the common platform so that problems of all societal groups could be identified and brought into the forefront for their inclusion into the policy in order to address them in a peaceful way.

The proceedings

Head of FES in Nepal - Mr. Dev Raj Dahal presented a paper on State and shed light on the basic tenets of state-building. Mr Dahal touched upon different facets such as political, cultural, religious, economic, foreign policy, electoral and many other issues that impinge state-building process in Nepal. Mr Dahal set the scene for the two days seminar and also discussed about current state of political affairs in the country. Similarly Mr Kashi Raj Dahal presented his paper on federalism and constitution-making process in the country. Mr Dahal stressed that political leaders and law of the land should protect interest of citizens. Another presenter Chandra D. Bhatta introduced hands-out on democracy. The central theme of hands-out on democracy was to consolidate rule of law and introduce civic education at different layers of society. This will help to construct civic citizenship and prelude the culture of peace and reconciliation. Mr Bhatta also talked about the role of civil society in post-conflict societies. He said that civil society could play a crucial role both in writing a democratic constitution and guiding peace-process to the logical end.

The Floor Discussion

All these three presentation on state, constitution and civil society have sparked very crucial questions. Almost all the participants in Arghakhachi talked about external intervention in the internal affairs of Nepal. They have talked border encroachment in different parts (60 places) of the country including Susta and Kalapani. One of the participants said that we have every 'ism'; that is, liberalism, Marxism, Socialism, Leninism, Maoism but only 'ism' that is missing is 'nationalism' because of this Nepali state is on the verge of collapse. They have blamed that bilateral treaties are not honoured by the neighbouring country and blamed on the political leaders of the country that they have despised citizens while signing treaties with India. They were of the view that frequent disintegration and integration of Nepalese political parties is squarely due to foreign intervention across political parties to meet vested interest. Indian domination is everywhere.

Another issue that stole limelight of the seminar was education and economic issues. Participants were of the view that education sector is in doldrums and said that we need competitive vibrant education system which could enable our people to compete in the international market and as well as promote sense of service and civic citizenship in a society. They have also said that private education system, private health system (dual policy) should be discouraged in order to bridge the societal gap and reduce class struggle. That commercialisation of education should stop outright. Equally important emphasis was paid on economic revolution in the country which is crucial for the political stability.

With regard to federalism one of the participants Mr Bhakta Bdr Karki said that 'honesty' is missing and it might be dangerous, given the momentum of external intervention and (dis)honesty of our political leaders, for us hence serious discussion is needed on the subject. One participant said that while we are having problems to run one state how we can run multiple sub-states given the current political approach in the country. Participants also wanted to know about the basis of federalism and merits and demerits.

Mr Ashok Kumar Shrestha from Chamber of Commerce has said that Nepal Oil Corporation should be privatized to streamline the distribution of fuel in the country as it is adding further problems in society. The Chief District Officer Mr. Pokharel said that lack of commitment in implementing policies and culture of violence in the country is pushing Nepali state towards political anarchy. This legacy is continuing in the country as most of our current leaders are product of this culture of violence in the country. Vibrant discussion took place in this district and the common voice from the participants was that sectoral discussion is required on all the issues of sate-building.

In Kapilvastu discussion took place in diverse issues such as education, health, employment youths, rights of senior citizens, citizenship issues, access to justice, rule of law, federalism and its rationality, internal democratization of political parties, non-state actors, issues related to women, agriculture and challenges they are posing to the state, issues of Madesh, nationalism, land reform, transportation, religion, issues of dalits, and many more. Kapilvastu is dominated by Madeshi people but the sense of nationalism was found very high in this district compared to other district (like Dhanusha - Janakpur) of the country. Mr. Pashupati Tripathi and many other Madeshi participants were of the view that unless we protect national there is no way that we can have modern state.

Majority of the participants were skeptical on the issues of land reform. Participants blamed that the issue of land reform is floated parallel with democracy merely to buy the popular votes in favour but in a real sense of the term it is never going to be implemented. Any sort of ceiling on land is not acceptable said some of the participants. Mr Bikram Panti said that genuine Nepalese are not getting citizenship certificate whereas the people from the South (India) are easily availing the citizenship certificate.

Mrs Kamala Shrestha speaking from the floor said that rather than emphasizing on having rules related to women, it is crucially important to change behaviour towards women. We should create an environment wherein women, dalits and other marginalized group can participate in shaping and implementing national policies. Realistic inclusion is needed rather than introducing cosmetic changes and democracy should trickle down to the grassroots level so that everybody can feel it. Rights of senior citizen have to be protected.

On feudalism, many participants were of the view that Nepali society is engulfed by the feudal and it exists across the political parties and policy paradigm in different forms. The brining of family members into political sphere and maintenance of private schools, health system are the manifestation of this feudal culture. We need revolutionary changes in these areas and state should take a lead role.

On federalism many participants were clear and wanted to know its rationality in a tiny state like Nepal. One participant said that federalism is not suitable for Nepal. What is needed is decentralization with power devolution.

Conclusion

The conclusion that can be drawn from these two seminars is that there is a high sensitivity towards nationalism both in Argakhachi and Kapilvastu. People are wary about external intervention. They have demanded for a proper mechanism to inform and involve citizens while signing treaties with foreign countries including India. The biggest problem here in Nepal is the enforcement of laws and policies. Those leaders who failed to feel the responsibility towards state and citizens should be punished by law and there has to be provision to call them back or revoke the membership of parliamentarian if one fails to listen to the public.

The need of the hour is to educate citizenry at large on the issues of civility to build introduce civic political culture and FES has succeeded to fulfill these existing this gap by advocating civic education and issues underpinning state-building process. The debate in all places generated very valid questions, which need immediate collective attention from the state. The worry expressed at the rural areas on the national politics and their de-serious faith on democracy, nationalism is noteworthy.

 
Copyright©2001. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Nepal Office
The information on this site is subject to a
disclaimer and copyright notice.