Report on Democracy and Peace building in
Nepal: Role of Media in Constitution making process
Organised by The Telegraph Weekly (TW)
17 December, Kathmandu
The Telegraph Weekly (TW) Organized a one-day
seminar on "Democracy and Peace-Building in Nepal,"
on December 17 in Kathmandu. Altogether 70 participants representing
media, peace commission, army integration special commission,
CA members, embassies, European Commission and academia discussed
on the role of media in constitutional discourse and democratization
of society. Participants focused on the role of media in giving
voice, visibility and access of minorities and left out groups
in various CA committees. The questions about the democratization
of media, political parties and state institutions were also raised
as they concluded that rationalization of means is a precondition
to the achieve democratic end of politics-peaceful plural coexistence.
Nepals highly acclaimed academicians
and senior journalists have painted a very gloomy picture of
this country. The Nepalese scholars exhibited their pessimism
over the countrys future given the tussle, friction and
differences seen in and among the political parties that have
a say in the countrys politics. The intellectuals and
the responsible media men were of the opinion that though the
political system had changed, however, the said change could
not be felt by the common men of the country. The two sections
of the Nepali society expressed their surprise over the Prime
Minister Dahals fresh declaration wherein he had appealed
the population to take up to the arms if need be in order to
preserve the political gains after the declaration of a republican
order in the country.
Both the scholars and the media men urged
the ruling elites and other major political actors to mend their
petty differences and concentrate their entire efforts in drafting
of a new constitution as promised to the population. They made
their views known to all at a Telegraph Weekly and Friedrich
Ebert Stiftung sponsored media seminar entitled Role of
Media in Constitution Making Process held in Kathmandu,
17 December 2008. Welcoming the attending galaxy of scholars,
the chief editor of the Telegraph Weekly, Mr. N.P. Upadhyaya
said that what the nation needed today was a cross cutting
cleavages which should speak people from my region-people from
other regions; people from my class and people from other classes;
people from my race and concurrently people from other races.
Mr. Upadhyaya dwelling on the role of media in the constitution
making process opined that it can at best forward suggestions
to the CA parliamentarians to sense the heart beat of the population
and draft a charter that takes care of all the ailments that
have had gripped this country in the past. He further
maintained that the media can caution the CA members to draft
a constitution that allows each and every individual to claim
that this is my constitution, and our constitution. (See second
impression for Mr. Upadhyayas welcome speech).
The General Secretary of the Federation of
Nepalese Journalists, Mr. Poshan K.C lamented that even with
the installation of the republican order in the nation, the
Nepali media were still being subjected to threat and intimidation
from political quarters.
The relation between the Press and the
Political parties are not good as it should have been even after
the change, said Mr. K.C demanding the new constitution
must guarantee the freedom of the press under any circumstances.
Though the system changed, however,
the old political mindset to look at the media remains the same,
concluded the FNJ functionary. Mark Larsen, the Public Affairs
Officer, U.S. Embassy, Nepal was the chief guest of the media
seminar. Delivering his key note speech at the inaugural session
of the seminar, Mr. Larsen said that the media had an enormous
role in the constitution making process. The media should, said
Mark Larsen, make investigative reporting, bring out opinions
from different sectors of the society to open debate which would
be later utilized by the CA members while drafting of the constitution.
The media can conduct research as to
what the people want
how the constitution should be
ensures the rights of each and every section of the society,
added Mark. According to Mark Larsen, the media should provide
a forum for discussion and debate to the people so that the
people in turn could ventilate their feelings. Good journalism
with balanced news and views from various sectors of the society
must reach to the CA prior to the drafting of a new constitution
for Nepal, added the US embassy official. Professor Dr.
Sushil Raj Pandey, the Head of the Political Science Department,
Tribhuwan University said that the constitution must be
drafted that is inclusive in nature and content both, however,
how much time the drafting of the constituted was immaterial.
He opined that the CA members must remain sensitive towards
the so far neglected population and draft a national charter
that addressed their grievances so that the emerging Nepali
society remains friction-less. Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal, Tribhuwan
University also maintained that the new constitution should
embrace the entire diverse culture and address to the genuine
grievances of the people who had been denied their participation
in the mainstream politics. Dr. Dahal lauded the efforts of
the Telegraph Weekly in catering to the needs of the Nepali
academicians by publishing academic articles which, in his opinion,
were of immense value and importance to those who were engaged
in the field of research works.
Similarly, the Head of the Friedrich Ebert
Stiftung, Nepal Office, Mr. Dev Raj Dahal said that a
democracy infected by huge disparity in power, wealth and access
to the means of public communication can neither set citizens
free from fear nor free from the deficiency of essential good.
Dahal opines, A democratic order can exist only out of
necessity of public reason of government to be responsive and
compliance of citizens to public institutions and laws and that
it was essentially false to presume that the government alone
can create public order without the consent of the governed.
Dahal concluded his vote of thanks by quoting the German scholar
of international standing who said, Democracy is a means
and an end to both individual and social emancipation.
But this emancipation requires the liberation of Nepalese
politics from its excessive preoccupation with utilitarian instinct
and making it serve public purpose of a peaceful future,
says Dahal prior to making the concluding remarks.
After the inaugural session, Mr. Chandra Dev
Bhatta presented a working paper on Democracy and Peace
Building in Nepal: Role of Media in Constitution Making Process.
Mr. Bhatta in his paper has said that political parties
who are supposed to give good governance either as the party
in government or party in the opposition are engaged in get-rich-overnight
business and that their precepts are openly emulated by others
in all organs of the government and have thus institutionalized
corruption in the society.
Mr. Bhatta opines that political parties
and their leaders have always used and abused the system for
their own personal and partisan benefits and kept on practicing
hypocrisy. (See telegraphnepal.com for Mr. Bhattas
entire text presented at the seminar). Speaking from the Chair,
Dr. Rabindra Khanal congratulated Mr. Bhatta for his excellent
presentation and urged the media men to begin public debate
on the issues that are to be included in the new constitution
and that may have serious impact in Nepals socio-economic
and political development.
During the second session of the seminar,
senior advocate Mr. Satya Mohan Joshi-Tharu presented his paper
and stated that role of the media is very important which
carry out functions of a watch-dog in the pressure group.
Mr. Tharu says that the government and the political parties
have so far not become successful in presenting the activities
of probable framework as specified by the Interim Constitution
after analyzing the important new structure in the new constitution
making to-date-that is formation of a State Restructuring Commission
and formation of a Commission together with to provide shape
for the integration of the Maoist army. He further says that
inequality and lack of opportunities are the major impediments
and thus the Nepali society needed a sort of revamp that takes
care of the interests of all those who have had been left in
the cold in the past. Speaking from the Chair, Prof. Dr.
Hari Bansh Jha wished that the new constitution contributes
to the enhancement of the communal harmony in and among all
the communities residing inside the Nepali territory.