National Seminar on New Dynamics of Development:
Challenges and Prospects
Organized by Centre for Economic and Technical
12-13 November 2008,
Nepal Administrative Staff College, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur
After the signing of Comprehensive Peace
Agreement between the Government of Nepal and the rebel forces
in 2006, conflict in Nepal has largely subsided. Subsequently,
the country successfully conducted the Constituent Assembly
(CA) elections on 10 April 2008 and replaced 239-year old monarchy
with republican system. However, different armed groups have
still been creating law and order problems, particularly in
the Terai. Killings, abductions and extortions have become very
common in this region. If the situation is not handled carefully,
the country might plunge into civil war for a long time to come.
In order to create greater awareness among the people about
the gravity of the situation, the Centre for Economic and Technical
Studies (CETS) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
organized two-day national seminar on "New Dynamics of
Conflict in Nepal: Challenges and Opportunities" at Nepal
Administrative Staff College, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur on November
12 and 13, 2008.
Objectives of the
The overall objective of the seminar was to
support the government, political parties and other stake holders
to turn the post-conflict-related challenges into opportunities
with a view to restoring peace and promoting development in
the country. Specific objectives of the seminar were to:
- Review the role of external actors in conflict
and peace management;
- Analyze the economics of conflict and peace;
- Promote dialogue in mainstreaming the armed
and political groups;
- Encourage the role of civil society and
political party in current nation/state building process;
- Discuss the dynamics of conflict and peace
- Assess the peace initiatives.
The distinguished personalities and resource
persons who participated in the inaugural function and six other
sessions of the seminar represented various governmental and
non-governmental agencies, political parties, Dalit organizations,
academic institutions, research organizations and media.
The Inaugural function of the seminar started
in the morning at 9:00 on 12 November 2008. Hari Bansh Jha,
Executive Director of CETS presided over the function. Daman
Nath Dhungana, former Speaker of House of Representatives was
the Chief Guest on this occasion.
In his welcome address, Dev Raj Dahal, head
of FES said that the CA has given Nepalese leaders a rare opportunity
to expand social base of political representation, initiate
talks on constitutional issues and chart a peaceful future.
However, he added that the government was more survival oriented
rather than innovative. He further elaborated that the major
constitutional actors maintained disharmonious relations; while
the smaller actors were getting involved in petty self-interest
and the non-state armed groups were bent upon spoiling the peace,
security and stability of the nation. In such a situation, he
suggested all the stakeholders to work for the peaceful resolution
of conflict as this alone would ensure mutual reward to the
Another speaker, Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya,
former Foreign Minister stated that New Nepal could be made
only when the state actors reach the doorstep of common mass
of the people living in the villages and help resolve their
social and economic problems. It is only then that the feeling
of nationalism would grow, democracy would flourish and conflict
would be resolved, he added.
In his keynote address, Bishnu P. Poudel,
Professor at Stratford University, USA remarked that President-elect
Barack Obama tried to correct the global economic devastations
and the dwindling image of the United States. He hoped that
under the leadership of Obama there would be positive change
in global situation. Because of the ripple effect, this would
also help Nepal to resolve the conflict.
In his inaugural address, Daman Nath Dhungana remarked that
conflict in Nepal was primarily due to the lack of institution
making process at different levels. He added that the rebels
took arms at a time when the parliamentary system had not even
taken its roots. Even after the CA elections, the Prime Minister
has not been able to mobilize the support of different sections
of the society, he said. He further added that challenges before
the nation has been enormously increasing, though opportunities
are not yet lost. He concluded that republicanism does not guarantee
democracy and therefore there is possibility of another conflict
if the aspirations of different sections of the society are
Hari Bansh Jha concluded that the seminar
would contribute towards resolving conflict and restoring peace
in various parts of the country, including in Terai. He said
that views expressed in the papers and during the discussions
in the seminar would prove useful to the main actors in restoring
peace, promoting stability and ensuring rapid development of
the country. He also thanked the Chief Guest, Keynote speaker
and other distinguished speakers including the FES representative,
paper presenters and the seminar participants for their cooperation
to make the seminar successful.
The first session of the seminar started in
the morning at 11 on 12 November 2008 in which Bishnu P. Poudel
presented his paper on "The Role of External Actors in
Conflict and Peace Management in Nepal." Soorya Lal Amatya,
Rector, Tribhuvan University presided over this session.
In his paper, Poudel said that Nepal is endowed
with golden opportunities and so enactment of constitution should
be prioritized. He focused on the need to set aside all the
differences among the major actors through dialogue and make
compromises in the national interest. Nepal's external actors
would like to see that the Nepalese have the united stand on
major national issues, he added.
Making comments from the floor, K.D. Mishra
said that Nepal is rich but made poor. He added that the external
actors are creators of the problems. Ram Dayal Rakesh stated
that there is still a conflict going on in Terai. Rama Singh,
Shanti Shrestha, Manchala Jha, Keshab Acharya and Pushpa Thakur
raised several pertinent questions from the floor, which Bishnu
P. Poudel responded satisfactorily. Chairperson of the session
Soorya Lal Amatya observed, "It is the Nepalese who are
primarily responsible for resolving the national crisis and
develop the country. The external agencies have only secondary
role in the national affairs."
The second session of the seminar was chaired
by Madan Kumar Dahal, Professor of Economics, Tribhuvan University.
While presenting his paper on "Economics of Conflict and
Peace with focus on Nepal," Hari Bansh Jha mentioned how
conflict leads to destruction and peace invites prosperity.
He cited several examples of the direct costs of conflict in
which financial resources are spent on such unproductive activities
as on military supplies, care for the displaced population and
reconstruction of destructed infrastructure. He found that the
indirect costs due to the destruction of economic infrastructure,
environmental degradation, break in communication, poor foreign
exchange earnings and restricted export markets pose more serious
problems to the conflict-affected countries. He concluded that
Nepal needs to enforce rule of law, avoid hyper-politicization
and maintain consistency in policy messages in order to ensure
proper recovery of the economy.
From the floor, Shambhu Rana, K.D. Mishra,
Rama Singh, Manchala Jha, Parashuram Jha, Pradeep Pokhrel, Narayan
Mishra, Shanti Shrestha, Keshab Jha, Indra Dev Mishra, Kiran
Karki, Pashupati Mishra, Keshab Acharya, Banbarilal Mittal,
Mahesh Kumar Upadhyaya and Ved Prasad Giri made useful comments
on the paper, which the author responded satisfactorily.
The third session of the seminar was co-chaired
by Dharmendra Jha, President, Federation of Nepali Journalists
and Mahesh Kumar Upadhyaya, former Vice-Chancellor of Tribhuvan
University. Chandrakishore presented his paper on "Role
of Dialogue in Mainstreaming the Armed and Political groups
In his paper, Chandrakishore said that the
discrimination with the Madheshi population led to the conflict
in Terai. To him, there are three groups operating in Terai-
traditional groups, radical groups and armed groups. He felt
that there is a need for dialogue with the armed groups for
the restoration of peace. Both the Maoist led government and
the armed groups would benefit from this deal, he added.
Commenting from the floor, Pashupati Mishra said that the paper
writer has been able to communicate the feelings of Madhesh
here in Kathmandu. He wanted that the dialogue with the armed
groups should take place without any further delay in Madhesh.
Bishnu P. Poudel, Narayan P. Mishra, Indra Dev Mishra, Keshab
Jha, Keshab Acharya, Gopal Thakur, Bimala Sharma, Dhir Bhandari,
Pradeep Pokhrel, Ram Chandra Mishra, Anjala Jha and K.D. Mishra
raised several pertinent questions from the floor, which the
author responded convincingly.
In his remarks as co-chairperson, Dharmendra
Jha said that even the dialogue with arms groups and federalism
is related to the writing of the constitution. He categorically
mentioned that the leadership of the country is not interested
in resolving the conflict. He felt that so long as the Terai-based
political parties are in the government and the question of
army integration is not resolved, the Madheshi armed groups
problems are not going to be over. Another co-chairperson of
the session, Mahesh Kumar Upadhyaya also felt the need of promoting
dialogue with the armed groups to resolve the crisis in Terai.
The fourth session of the seminar, which began
at 9:00 a.m. on 13 November 2008, was chaired by Bishnu P. Poudel,
Professor, Stratford University, USA. Manish Thapa presented
his paper on "Role of Civil Society and Political Party
in Current Nation/State Building Process in Nepal."
In his paper, Manish Thapa said Nepal needs
to work on institutionalizing the pillars of democracy, promote
free and fair elections and strengthen the rule of law in order
to see that the peace process is properly settled. However,
he maintained that the main challenge before the nation was
the integration of PLA and NA, rationalism of federalism and
establishment of the rule of law. In this respect, he felt that
the civil society should make advocacy for restoring and sustaining
democracy, peace and social justice. Besides, he wanted political
parties help develop culture of cooperation and consensus on
fundamental issues of constitution making. He concluded that
the need of the hour was to foster cooperation and compromise
and reduce polarization and divisions at all levels.
Shambhu Rana, K.D. Mishra, Ram Dayal Rakesh,
Bhawanand Thakur, Keshab Jha, Meena Sharma, Narayan P. Mishra,
Pradeep Pokhrel, Pashupati Mishra, Manchala Jha and Dev Raj
Dahal made important observations on the paper from the floor,
which Manish Thapa responded satisfactorily.
The fifth session of the seminar was chaired
by Kapil Shrestha, Professor of Political Science, Tribhuvan
University. Som Prasad Pudasaini presented his paper on "New
Dynamics of Conflict." In his paper, Pudasaini said that
conflict might be managed but it cannot be resolved. In the
Nepalese context, he focused on the need to prioritize the task
of constitution making and restructuring of the state.
Ayushma K.C., K.D. Mishra, Shambhu Rana, Manchala
Jha, Prakash A. Raj, Prashant Jha, Ratan Bhuwan Shrestha, Keshab
Acharya, Rashmi Thapa, Bhawanand Thakur, Sumit Sharma, Pashupati
Mishra, Ram Dayal Rakesh, Shivji Prasad Soni and Indra Dev Mishra
made important observations on the paper, which Som Pudasaini
Kapil Shrestha in his remarks as chairperson of the session
observed that the conflict is complex in nature and it does
not have any fixed solutions. He, therefore, wanted that Nepal
should try to resolve the problem in the post-conflict situation
as per the requirement of the nation.
The Sixth Session of the Seminar was chaired
by Keshab Raj Jha, former Ambassador. In this session, Dinesh
Tripathi presented his paper on "An Assessment of Peace
Initiatives in Nepal."
In his paper, Dinesh Tripathi said that there
were some positive impacts of the conflict despite many of the
losses. He felt that peace cannot be built so long as marginalization
of certain groups of population continues, social injustices
prevail, and access to resources is denied to different sections
of the society. He said that constitution cannot be workable
unless there is ownership of the people in it. He wanted more
efforts to be made for educating the people about constitution.
From the floor, Prakash A. Raj , Ram
Dayal Rakesh, Shambhu Rana, Narayan Mishra, Dev Raj Dahal, Shanti
Shrestha and Ratna Bhuwan Shrestha raised questions, which the
author responded properly. In his remarks as chairperson of
the session, Keshab Raj Jha observed that the culture of violence
should be replaced by the culture of peace.