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National Seminar on New Dynamics of Development: Challenges and Prospects

Papers Presented in the Seminar

Organized by Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS)

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 Seminar

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:

  1. Review the role of external actors in conflict and peace management;
  2. Analyze the economics of conflict and peace;
  3. Promote dialogue in mainstreaming the armed and political groups;
  4. Encourage the role of civil society and political party in current nation/state building process;
  5. Discuss the dynamics of conflict and peace building; and
  6. Assess the peace initiatives.

The Seminar

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.

Inaugural Function

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 society.

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 not met.

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.

Seminar Sessions

First Session

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."

Second Session

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.

Third Session

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 Terai."

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.

Fourth Session

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.

Fifth Session

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 responded.

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.

Sixth Session

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.

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