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Seminar Report on State-building and Constitutional Dynamics

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

9-10 April 2009 (Tamghas, Gulmi) & 11-12 April 2009 (Waling, Syangja)


Two day-seminar on state-building and constitutional dynamics was organised in Tamghas of Gulmi and Waling of Syangja on 9-10 April and 11-12 April respectively. There were approximately 140 participants in Tamghas and over 100 in Waling. Both programmes drew people from different walks of life such as teachers, members of trade union, journalists, students, local politicians, member of civil society and other stake holders of society. The programme was attended, among others, by quite a good number of women participants as well.

In both occasions, the main objectives of the programme were to educate people of the peripheral level on the various facets of constitution, federalism, governance, democracy and other contemporary issues. Mr. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES in Nepal, Mr Kashi Raj Dahal, Constitutional Expert and Chandra D. Bhatta, an expert on civil society, spoke on the issues impinging the process of state-building as well as on the constitutional dynamics.

The Proceedings

Altogether 30 participants asked questions on various themes but the major bone of contention was on 'federalism', lack of democratic political culture and other policy relevant issues that underpin Nepali political discourse for many years. Many respondents were of the view that they have been robbed off by the politicians particularly on the subject of 'federalism'. Although federalism has been accepted in principle but without enough debate (advantages and disadvantages) as what type of federalism would serve the interest of state and society.

Federalism, as they were told, in the beginning thought that it would resolve owes of Nepali society and unite different societal groups into a common thread. What appears with the passage of time, however, is that rather than uniting society for a greater cause of nation-building it appears that the fabric of Nepali society is deciphering day-by-day. One participant (Mahendra B Shrestha from Nepal Workers and Peasant Party) in Barahabise even wanted to know whether at all federalism could be stopped from happening. This has become so because different shades of opinions have been floated by the individual intellectuals, political groups, think-tanks but there is no common consensus among political parties on the exact model of federalism that behold this state and minimise societal problems in the long term. In contrast, many participants feared that federalism built on the basis of ethnicity (which has been widely advocated, where in neither ethnicity has been scientifically defined in Nepali context) will backfire on 'state'. Against this background, the best model would be to convert existing Five Development Regions into the federal states, suggested one participant in Sankhu. Otherwise, for a state like which is heavily dependent on external aid even for the 'political servicing' let alone developmental work; federalism would prove disastrous in terms of financial viability.

Participant(s) also debated on the issue of 'secularism'. They were of the view that declaring Nepal a secular state should not have been left solely on the shoulder of political leaders as they have been repeatedly found not respecting the wider sentiment of people at large.

Moreover, on the policy front, many participants were of the view that education and health should be free of cost and dual policy on these sectors (private, public) should be discouraged. In the same vein, a good number of participants feel that successive regimes have not done justice to the youths. Youths merely have been used and abused when necessary. Even in the current discourse on constitution 'youths' have been ignored.

One participant (Damber Bdr in Sanhku) talked about the economic development of the country. He said that bourgeoning gap between poor and rich needs to be minimised. The economy of this country has been left in the hands few individuals/entrepreneurs who control both production as well as distribution. These individuals and entrepreneurs are engaged in building-up their own economic empire. This type of economic policy has greatly impaired those who have been at the receiving end and as a result are having difficulty to meet their hand-to-mouth problems. All sorts of inequalities including economic should end so that everyone can feel ownership towards state and society. This is the only way to achieve political stability in the country. Merely, radicalising society for the interest of political leaders will not address the daunting problems that Nepalese have to confront with.


In the course of current peace-process many issues have surfaced but no attempts have been made to balance between 'hardware' (the basic foundations) and 'software' (the basic norms) of democracy. The successive political leaders are throwing political tantram merely to justify their reasons rather than reasons of the polity. The political parties are either becoming family firms or firms of individuals who command the writ. The criminalisation of both politics and political behaviour is badly tarnishing the image of the 'new regime'. To some extent, it appears that people of Nepal have realised this and they wanted to get rid of this type of dirty politics. What is true, however, is that unless we do not establish democratic political culture, people cannot feel democracy.

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