Civic Education: The Role of the Youth in the
Making of a Modern State
Seminar Organized by Nepal Foundation
for Advanced Studies (NEFAS)
16 October 2009
Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies
(NEFAS) in co-operation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
organized a one day seminar on "Civic Education: The Role
of the Youth in the Making of a Modern State" at Itahari,
Sunsari district. Ninety-two participants belonging to different
fields of life participated in the seminar. Young social scientist
Shiva Raj Dahal presented a paper titled 'Civic Education for
the Youth' and professor of political science Mr. Ram Kumar
Dahal shed further light on various aspects of civic education
and on the fundamental principles of democracy. Mr. Bed Raj
Acharya spoke about youth and the current situation. The discussion
that followed was intense and gave an inkling of the evolving
public opinion at the grass-roots level. The participants were
also provided with the booklet 'Handouts on Democracy'.
Paper Presentation and Discussion
Mr. Bed Raj Acharya-I would like to
take your permission to start the one day program. I would like
to request Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel to assume the chairmanship
of this session.
Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel-I would like
to thank NEFAS for choosing Itahari to hold this seminar on
current issues. We had invited friends from the UML, Congress,
Maoists, fraternal organization of parties and NGOs to attend
this seminar and make it interesting. We are looking forward
to the active participation from all those present.
Mr. Bed Raj Acharya- I would now like
to request the Director of NEFAS Mr. Ananda Shrestha, professor
at the Political Science department Mr. Ram Kumar Dahal and
social scientist Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal to take their seats. Mr.
Ananda Shrestha will now deliver the welcome address.
Mr. Ananda Shrestha-We are happy to
welcome you to this one day seminar. Nepal Foundation for Advanced
Studies (NEFAS) was established in 1990. Since its inception
it has been its endeavor to hold seminars on social, economic
and political issues of national interest. It does not intend
to limit itself to Kathmandu and for this reason many seminars
have been held outside Kathmandu. Today's seminar being held
here is part of this process. This paper has already been discussed
in eight/ ten places in different parts of the country. Please
feel free to point out the weaknesses of this paper and to seek
any clarifications. This paper is not complete, the suggestions
you provide and new ideas that will emerge as a result of the
discussions will help further refine this paper in order to
make it even better. The proceeding of the seminars will ultimately
be published in a book form. We have already published thirty-five
to thirty-six books which are part of the reading lists for
courses set for ten plus two level to the post-graduate level.
We are concerned about how to strengthen the
participation of the youth in the decision-making process. This
is our main aim. The youth of the country are migrating in large
numbers for the purpose of employment or for other reasons.
It is estimated that twenty-five to thirty lakhs youths are
working outside the country. We have to think about how to retain
them inside the country by providing employment. For this the
government policy might have to be changed. Our discussions
can be of some help to policy-making in this field. There is
a belief that the youth should concentrate on their studies
and avoid politics. Our view is different. Since 1990 Nepal
has been beset with political instability. The participation
of the youth in the constitution drafting process is not satisfactory.
The youth do not have access to the policy-making process. It
is necessary to involve the youth. We do not say that the youths
have to carry the flags of political parties, but they must
be politically conscious. This will help to pressurize the leaders
to stick to the right path. If this does not happen the same
situation will continue. We expect suggestion from you all and
it will later be published in a book form. Please provide us
with the contact addresses so that we can contact you when the
publication work is complete. Thank you.
Chairman Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel
-While introducing yourself please mention your professions
and the party and the institutions that you belong to. I am
the central vice-president of the Intellectuals Association.
We had invited those belonging to the Congress, Maoists, Police
force and industrialists to this program. But some of them have
not turned up.
Mr. Bed Raj Acharya- I would now like
to request Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal to present his paper.
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-NEFAS was founded
in 1990 by a group of teachers teaching in Tribhuvan University.
It organizes discussions on issues of national interest and
publishes the proceedings. It has published thirty-five books
since its establishment. These books are prescribed for different
subjects taught at the Masters level in Tribhuvan University.
The books are also included in the course 'Contemporary Nepalese
Society' taught at the ten plus two level in the Education and
the Arts stream. In order to institutionalize democracy it is
necessary to hold discussions, communicate and interact. Amartya
Sen has said that in a democracy people will not starve to death
because information about the famine will be freely disseminated.
We need to debate issues such as the encroachment of boundaries
and the problem generated by Tibetan and Bhutanese refugees.
Paper presented by Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal
Shiva Raj Dahal: 'Civic Education:
The Role of the Youth in the Building of a Modern State.' (An
outline of the paper presented).
- Meaning of civic education-Civic education
is teachings concerned with self-governance. In addition to
promoting constitutionalism and good governance it helps create
a public consensus concerning the drafting of the new constitution.
- The importance of civic education in the
present context-As per the directive of the people's movement
of 2062/063 a constituent assembly to draft the new constitution
has been formed. This period is a transitional one. It is
necessary to ensure the widest possible participation of the
citizens and to move forward by collecting suggestions and
soliciting advice from them. But due to the unhealthy competition
among the parties for power the spirit of co-operation necessary
to implement the comprehensive peace agreement is being disturbed.
As a consequence, the suspicion that nationalism might be
endangered due to dependency created by foreign meddling is
- The state, nationalism and civic education-Only
when the citizens are ready to contribute through whatever
means for the sake of the motherland, will the state be able
to take a leap forward in the structural development. We are
the sovereign citizens of an independent and sovereign country.
That is why in order to promote the feelings of patriotism
among us it is necessary to have civic knowledge, civic skills
and civic virtue. This will help safeguard the pluralistic
society and promote nationalism.
- Loktantra and civic education- Loktantra
and civic education have a solid relationship. Loktantra is
a system that relies on consensus and co-operation for its
functioning and its permanence depends on the behavior, rationality,
co-operation and culture of individuals. Since loktantra is
a system based on facts it has acquired legitimacy at the
What is the meaning of loktantra? According to Abraham Lincoln
democracy is the government of the people, for the people
and by the people. Democracy acquires two forms-direct and
representative. In the representative form of democracy the
ordinary people and the state do not directly participate
in governance and in formulation of policies and laws but
entrust the entire responsibility for this to the people's
representative elected in a free and fair election.
Why democracy? (a) Democracy besides being a political system
has become a way of life of the citizens. (b) Democracy establishes
equality. (c) Democracy protects plurality. (d) Democracy
is an established system in which political decisions reached
on the basis of the participation of the people. (e) Democracy
ensures the legitimacy of governance process. (f) The democratic
system ensures the right of the citizen to enjoy the fundamental
rights and adheres to the directive principles provided by
the country's constitution.
- The qualities citizens must possess in
a democratic system-
(a) Civic Knowledge- Since the governing power is vested in
the sovereign people of Nepal, it is essential that the Nepalese
people have knowledge about civic education. After the peoples
movement of 2046 and 2063 many changes have already taken
place in the Nepalese society. The present education system
of Nepal is unsystematic, faulty and profit oriented. This
has lead to the weakening and destabilization of the present
social landscape and the whole democratic system itself.
(b) Civic Virtue- In a democratic system the state grants
its citizens economic, social, political and cultural rights.
The individual has to assume certain duties and responsibilities
towards the family, society and country as a free citizen.
The following are the virtues that a good citizen should possess
in a democratic system- reasoned commitment, honesty, civic
mindedness, civility, open mindedness, courage, patriotism,
and the ability to think critically.
(c) Civic Skill-A citizen needs intellectual and participatory
skills in order to correctly distinguish one's rights and
duties and to be aware and vigilant about one's rights, duties
- Democracy and democratic culture- It is
not only the constitution but constitutional behavior that
helps develop democratic way of life and culture. There is
a difference between a person who is a democrat and a one
who has internalized democratic culture.
- Democracy and political parties- Political
parties are the collective property, basis and life of democracy.
In democracy the opposition is esteemed because they serve
as the ears and eyes of the government. The following are
the tasks of the political parties in democracy-1) to make
the people politically conscious and to provide the kind of
leadership that reflects the peoples aspirations, 2) to take
part in elections and to govern, 3) to manage social and cultural
activities and to hand over the political values, mores and
system to the next generation, 4) to act as a bridge between
the people and the government, and 5) to help in the creation
of a egalitarian society.
- The youth and the present situation-The
term youth does not only denote a person of a certain age
but is also implies the possession of enthusiasm and certain
type of thinking. At present the middle class youth, who should
play an important role in our society, are becoming alienated
with nationalism and politics and are migrating and becoming
citizens of other countries. On the other hand considerable
numbers of youths from the lower and lower middle-class families,
after spending a long time underground, are living in temporary
cantonments. The implications of these developments must be
assessed. Otherwise the whole political and economic system
of the country might become crisis ridden and invite appalling
(a) The youth and politics-We tend to pay more attention to
the negative aspects of politics rather than the positive.
The political field represents the power of the people. That
is why national and constructive politics should be the common
concern of all conscious citizens.
- Leadership and civic education-Honest and
competent politicians are the treasure of the nation. But
on examining the record of selection of leaders until the
present, it is clear that the criteria for selection are the
ability to carry the party's baggage, time spent in jails
and the ability rebel. Such people are given tickets in election
and are given representation in the policy making level.
- Social justice and civic education-Social
justice is the main essence of a democratic system. But in
our society the state discriminates in the provision of medical
treatment education facilities.
- Civil society and civic education-Civil
society engages in communicating, interacting, mediating and
jointly acting on issues of common interest. But civil society
is not an alternative to the state and it must not concern
itself with personal profit. Usually civil society is based
on three values. These values are independence, equality and
- Civic education and other subjects-An intense
debate is taking place in the country on whether technical
education is the key necessity of the country. This supposition
is true but not the whole truth. The knowledge of civic education
along with that of other subjects makes the democratic lifestyle
productive and effective.
- Conclusion-Nepal is passing through the
transitional stage. On the one hand since Nepal is a land-locked
country, she has to bear with foreign economic, political
and religious influence and on the other hand because of globalization
and the conditionality imposed by the WTO the principles of
democracy and social justice are being restricted. A constitution
drafted to reflect the aspirations of the people will ensure
the participation and identity of all and will generate a
sense of ownership. The task of restructuring a country is
a multi-dimensional, sensitive and difficult subject. To accomplish
this task it is necessary to rise above party, ethnic or narrow
communal thinking and bring about a transformation in culture,
tradition and mentality. The competition, alliances and political
polarization taking place among the political parties for
the sake of power only is deepening differences among them.
The responsibility not to let the national concerns be eclipsed
and to sensitively carry forward the task of civic empowerment
has now fallen on the shoulders of the youth
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal- Mr. Bed Raj Acharya
will now shed light on youth and the current society.
Mr. Bed Raj Acharya- I would like to
extend my greetings to the local intellectuals on behalf of
NEFAS. We are happy to share our views with you. Young social
scientist Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has covered many issues in his
paper. I will shed light on the current situation. There are
a lot of issues to discuss. The current political situation
is disappointing. The youth played a big role in the political
changes. From the period of referendum in 2036 to the movement
in 2063 twenty thousand people lost their lives. Despite such
sacrifices the country's political direction is still not clear.
We are mired in irresponsible debates such as whether the country's
national bird should be a chicken or whether a pig should be
the national animal. Is this what we fought for?
Itahari is secure. Itahari has benefited from
the fallout of the Madhesh movement of 2064 Magh and 2065 Falgun
and Biratnagar has been overshadowed by it. After the long political
journey what did we get? One cannot go alone on a motorcycle
to Dewagunj. Ten, twelve villages in the south have become no-go
areas. Is this the day we waited for? No. An employee of Nepal
Telecom was kidnapped from Inarwa and only freed after paying
a ransom. Only if the country is secure we will be secure. Only
some towns being secure is not enough, the country has to be
secure. You can contradict me. I can say whatever I want but
the crucial test is whether the current reality validates my
assessment or not.
Another issue has to do with the national
prestige. The press is very powerful. Party leaders speak irresponsibly
to impress their cadres and their speech is carried all around
the world by the media. This gives a negative image of the country.
I do not want to mention the name of the leaders. Later the
leaders deny they said such a thing. This is not a good thing.
We have to be sensitive to what we say and how others understand
it. Once one says something and it is covered by the media it
will not be possible to clarify things to each individual. The
people's understanding of the message will become the authoritative
version. How can we control such expressions so as to save us
from the ridicule of others? The choice of aligning with a particular
party is a personal thing but blindly supporting a party on
every issue is a different matter. The country is going downhill.
The people of other countries are proud of their countries.
We, as citizens of the twenty-first century, must also get the
opportunity to be proud of our country. The state has to provide
Individuals, whether rich or poor, should
be assured of the rule of law. The rule of law is under threat
and the rule of goons is on the ascendant.
I had gone to Hyderabad on Fulpati. I took a train from Calcutta
to Hyderabad. In the bogey I had the chance to interact with
politicians, administrators, corporate people etc. When they
would come to know that I was from Nepal they would be curious
to know about Nepal. They wanted to know about the statements
of particular leaders and the stand of different political parties.
They were more well-informed than us. I had to give unconvincing
answers. I had to give the same answer while going as well as
returning from Hyderabad. Frivolous comments affect the prestige
of the country. The foreigners are dissatisfied with us. In
this age of globalization our children have gone to UK, USA,
Australia and Japan. People in those countries form their impression
about Nepal by interacting with these Nepalese. When I meet
colleagues from countries such as Bangladesh, India and Sri
Lanka I have answer their queries concerning Nepal. They have
deep interest and they ask politically sensitive questions about
the statements of the party leaders. Can anyone say categorically
that we will have political stability and that the nation will
enter a golden period? If we go to Delhi and Vellore we will
have a hard time hiding our weaknesses. I would like our leaders
to create such an environment in which we will have an easy
time answering the question of foreigners.
One cannot go to Kapatangunj for security
reasons even though one might have one's investment and fields
there. Because of threatening leaflets people had to abandon
such places. We have a sadist mentality because we are happy
with others meet with misfortune. What does empowerment mean?
I believe it means increased access to education, opportunity
to become competitive, employment opportunities and economic
opportunities. The object of Madesh movement should not be the
humiliation of Pahades girls. This is not empowerment.
Mr. Shesh Ghale, a NRN from Australia,
has expressed an interest to invest five billion rupees in Nepal.
There are many others like him. But Mr. Upendra Mahato has recently
said that situation has still not become investment friendly.
With the onset of winter groups go to factories and ask the
management to fund their picnic programs. This sort of behavior
will scare off the investors. If factories are established with
foreign investment thousands will get employment. Every sector
will benefit. The establishment of schools and the opening of
shops will not increase employment opportunities substantially.
Four hundred thousand individuals enter the labor market each
year. In Bihar, India Mr. Nitesh Kumar has changed the situation
for the better. One has to show commitment. If people are irresponsible
things will not improve. Notorious areas in Bihar have seen
an improvement. We have to be more scared in areas within Nepal.
The youth have to think about how to improve the situation.
What is true will always be true.
Chairman Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel
- I would like to request Professor Ram Kumar Dahal to say something
on issues of current interest.
Mr. Ram Kumar Dahal- The chairman is
an old friend of mine. As political science is my area of specialization
I will say something about issues related to this field. The
present task before the nation is to institutionalize loktantra
(democracy) and to the draft the constitution. What should be
the youth's role during the constitution drafting process? How
can loktantra be institutionalized? I will try to highlight
the main points regarding these issues. The road ahead is difficult
and a visionary approach is necessary.
a) Rule of Law- If the concept of rule of
law is not applied in practice it will be difficult to stabilize
democracy. I would like to recall one incident to highlight
this point. The Prime Minister of New Zealand had once parked
his car in a no-parking zone. The parking attendant fined him
seventy dollars. The Prime Minister was furious and asked the
attendant if he did not know the car owner's identity. The attendant
politely replied that since free parking space was not allocated
for the Prime Minister's car he would have to respect the rules.
The Prime Minister obeyed the rules and paid up. The law is
not concerned with the status of a person but only if a crime/infringement
has been has been committed or not. The rule of law has to be
supreme. This is one of the fundamental values of the democratic
b) Separation of Power- This is an old theory
propounded by Montesquieu. According to this theory the three
branches of the state should have the autonomy to work in their
own fields and should not infringe on the independence of others.
At present in Nepal there is ongoing debate about which is the
appropriate body to swear in the judges. There is fear that
the judiciary's independence might be encroached. The question
of who will appoint the Chief Justice and before whom the person
appointed will take the oath of office has not been settled.
According to the concepts derived from the West, the judiciary
should be independent. The other branches cannot interfere with
its autonomy. If the Chief Justice has to take his oath before
the legislature this will imply that the judiciary is under
the legislature. The Nepal Bar Association has opposed such
proposals. If such issues are not settled before the promulgation
of the new constitution more problems might arise in the future.
c) Political Parties- The multi-party system
is a competitive political system. Many movements have taken
place to establish it. The belief that 'only I know what is
best' is not compatible with this system. To make this system
a success a consensus must be developed among the parties. The
notion that only the important parties are correct will be hard
to sustain. We are now entering into a new mode of governing.
It is unlikely that only one party will be able to form the
government. We need to develop the culture of coalition politics.
d) Civil Society-The civil society in Nepal
is aligned to some party or the other. They are not independent.
In America the political parties have to take very seriously
the issues raised by the civil society because of their standing
in the society. If we are to institutionalize loktantra in Nepal
the emergence of a vibrant civil society that is capable of
judging issues solely on their merit is a must. During the Vietnam
War the civil society had protested against it in front of the
White House. They were not concerned with whether the government
agreed with their views or not but wanted to be true to their
conscience. The civil society thus needs to rise above personal
e) Political Culture- Democracy must not remain
an ideal only; it must be reflected in practice. If it is not
reflected in the behavior of the leaders and people democracy
will not be strong.
f) Good Governance-The World Bank, UNDP, various
other donors and the tenth five year plan all advocate good
governance. If aid is not utilized properly due to bad governance
more aid will not be forthcoming. Aid is not being provided
to Burma because it is ruled by the military. If there is absence
of good governance, transparency and accountability donors will
be hesitant to provide aid. As we rely on foreign aid to run
the country we have to pursue the policy of good governance.
Denmark had stopped providing aid when the King had assumed
g) National Reconciliation and Peace- If the
aftermath of conflicts cannot be properly managed it can take
new forms. The nation can then become a failed state. Issues
such as regionalism, federalism and identity politics are coming
into the fore. The neighboring countries and the world at large
are watching to see if loktantra will be institutionalized or
Chairman Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel
- Thank you. Please provide your introduction before speaking.
Please make your suggestions and comments short.
Mr. Ganesh Khatri-Many things have been included
in the paper. The key issue is how to make the youth aware.
We are passing through a transitional stage. I want to raise
issues that were not included in the paper. First I would like
to extend my greetings for the Tihar festival. Himal, Pahad
and Terai are all one. The main issue is how to defend human
rights in the face of torture, incidents of kidnapping, murder,
criminal cases and mental torture. The southern parts of the
district have become anarchic. All the youth should be conversant
with the 1948 declaration on human rights. The youth should
know what the declaration incorporates and its stand against
discrimination. The youths are frustrated. The youths are instigated
by the political organizations and ethnic groups for their purpose
and this leads to misuse of the dynamism of the youth. They
are empowered in name only. This is pushing the nation towards
conflict and the question is how to stop this trend. The current
trend is to equip youth with arms. This is not a big deal anymore.
The ethnic fronts of parties are also engaged in this. Weapons,
whether big or small, are harmful.
We need education and an extensive movement
must be lunched with this purpose in mind. The youths are depressed
as there are no jobs. The youth are not interested in education
anymore; their main objective is to go abroad. The attraction
of trainings that increase the prospects of getting a job abroad
is increasing. Students are not interested in science. Their
only goal is to get to the foreign soil. Escapist mentality
is taking hold. The guardians also feel that as the country
is mired in conflict it would be preferable if their wards get
jobs abroad. When the people see the well-off Non-Resident-Nepalese
the lure of foreign land increases. Ministers, members of parliament
and government secretaries have opted to remain in foreign countries.
A movement must be launched.
The arts, culture and literature of the country
must be promoted. But unfortunately the statues of Devkota and
Bhanubhakta have been damaged. Those who indulged in vandalism
did not understand the Poet. How can we make such ignorant people
enlightened? The Nepali language and culture is not a small
thing. The neighbors before were living as one social unit.
But if Limbuwan is created the rest will feel threatened. Similar
is the case with Khumbuwan, the concept of Madesh as one region
and Tharuhut. What will be our future? One year back twenty
to twenty-five Pahadis families were displaced from Sirpur and
Haripur. They are living in the river beds and eking out a living
by breaking stones. The Tigers beat them. This has become a
serious problem. Dacoits are getting bolder and hooliganism
has become common. The custom offices are only for show. The
smugglers freely move through the open border. How are we to
manage the transitional stage? How can the rule of law be enforced?
How is the constitution going to be drafted on time? How are
we to move forward?
Chairman Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel
-Please limit your comments to what is in the paper. Please
do not take more than one minute while making your comment.
Mr. Ram Chandra Adihikari- The paper
is complete. Only scholars will be able to add more to it. I
have one question. The Supreme Court had passed a verdict on
Bhadra 12, 2052. The verdict was totally wrong. It created an
anarchical situation. It was against the constitution. When
the President intervened (Katwal incident) the leaders cheered.
The President's office has created another distortion. This
is totally wrong. This is a political decision which has to
be changed. This decision is against the interim constitution.
The President said he acted on the request of eighteen parties.
Because of such cases the judiciary is under a cloud. The parliament
has to assert itself against the judiciary. Only the seven parties
are having a good time. The same people and the same parties
(UML, Congress) are in the driving seat. Feudalism has not ended,
feudal mentality is still alive.
Mr. Nawa Raj Nepal- I am happy at being provided
the opportunity to give my comments in front of people from
diverse fields. I would like to thank Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal for
presenting his paper. He has been successful to some extent
in giving an overview of civic education. New Nepal is not possible
without the participation of the youth. It cannot be conceptualized
without a youth movement. The energy of the youth has to be
utilized for New Nepal. But in reality the youth are divided
on issues of nationality, ethnicity and regionalism. Youths
are falling prey to distorted thinking. Different groups are
using the youth for their own purposes. This is unfortunate.
The question of human rights must be debated.
Civic education should be accessible to the youth. Even the
educated youth are deprived of civic education. Only a limited
number of youth understand what should be their role in the
state and what their responsibilities should be. Sixty percent
of the youth do not understand what civic education is. If the
citizens are not educated the nation can become weak. I am also
aligned with a political party but I will not support the wrong
deeds dome in its name. If responsible people could differentiate
right from wrong without bias many criminal activities would
not take place. Teachers and the youth should be utilized to
teach about civic education and human rights. The issues concerning
youth has been overshadowed. More light should be shed on why
escapist tendencies are taking hold among the youth. How can
we stop the brain drain? The why's and how's of this issue should
have been included point by point.
Mr. Tej Kumar Ale-From a cursory reading
of this paper it appears that in totality the paper has highlighted
the negative aspects more. According to Chinese philosopher
Lao Tse the deeper we go the higher we will move up. The unparalleled
changes have not been stressed enough. I am confused about the
definition of nationality. The definition of nation and nationality
given here is different. It is defined in Panchayati terms.
It should be defined in terms of multi-nations. Gurungs, Magars,
Chetris etc. constitute different nations. People say that if
it is defined in these terms the nation will break up. The notion
of Nepalese nationalism should incorporate all these different
nations; otherwise the nation will break up. The paper is too
Dr. Acharya made some irresponsible comments.
He said that irrespective of the speaker's intentions what matters
is the version of his statements as understood by the people
at large. What we comprehend from his comments is that we must
copy everything from the past. The debate about whether a particular
bird should be the national animal is a useless debate. What
difference does it make if we do or do not have a national bird?
It is not only in Nepal that things are going
wrong. India broke up in 1947. Things are no better in Sri Lanka
and Bangladesh. Why only stress on problems in Nepal. This is
a negative mentality. People say there will be ethnic problems
in Nepal. From what I understand, it is the groups that have
been given double helpings that have grown fat. Every-body must
be given an equal portion. The state must not discriminate;
all must be given the opportunity to participate on an equal
basis. If this is not done ethnic tensions will increase. Competition
will not ensure empowerment. The persons who have been provided
two helpings of food will be stronger. There are contradictions
in Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal's paper. But I would like to offer my
critical appreciation of the paper.
Ms. Meena Shrestha- I would like to
thank Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal for his paper. I had expected it to
concentrate on the youth. In page eight the heading of a paragraph
is 'The Youth and the Current Situation'. But is not clear who
are the youth. It is not clear people of which age group are
to be included in the category youth? People aged fifty also
claim to be youths. It should be clearly specified that people
in the age group 16-40 constitute the youth.
It is not clear under the peace process what
will happen to the combatants in the cantonments. They are also
our sons and daughters. The paper is also not clear what steps
have been taken to ensure youth empowerment. Employment has
become a big problem. The paper should have offered ideas on
how to solve this problem. Youths all over the country are facing
this problem, It is frequently said that the youth are pillars
of tomorrow but what we need is a share today's power-structure.
This message should be conveyed to the policy-makers.
Ms. Radha Bhattari- I agree with Meera.
The political parties are encouraging violence. They should,
as an institution, make clear their stand. Otherwise the only
alternative will be growth of distortions in the society. They
should clearly state their stand without being afraid. The youths
are only concerned with finding jobs outside the country. The
females are also taking the wrong path. In many big hotels prostitutes
are available. There is need for proper education. The paper
addresses these issues only partially.
Ms. Mithila Pokharel- People's movements
have taken place in 2007, 2036 and 2046. Many became martyrs.
The movement of '62-'63 led to the abolishment of the monarchy.
The youths and the females sacrificed themselves for the sake
of the movement. We are now at the transitional stage and are
engaged in making the constitution. It is in this context the
seminar on civic education is being conducted. Intellectuals
who know about the different forms of the state system at the
national and international level can write papers concerning
these issues. The paper should stress what sort of role should
be given to the youth and females in the upcoming constitution.
It should seek to energize the youth.
Mr. Rewati Prasad Ghimire- The paper
presenter has worked hard. Many documents have been quoted and
the paper incorporates a lot of things. We are discussing the
issue of civic education for the youth. The youth should be
provided civic education at the basic stage that is at the middle
school level. How this can be done should be discussed. The
type of education that could help produce model youths should
have been clearly described. The government is handing over
the responsibility for basic education to the citizens. The
state is shedding its responsibilities. The government is helpless
for if it does not stick to these policies the funds from donors
such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank will dry
up. The responsibility is being handed over to the incompetent
citizens. What kind of education will they provide? The paper
could have served as a guideline if some improvements had been
made to it. There is discrimination on the basis of gender.
When discussions are held about youth power this issue is considered
only from the male perspective. This sort of outlook is discriminatory.
Compared to the males the females are falling behind. If the
paper had dwelled on this problem and had offered solutions
it would have been better.
Mr. Dharma Raj- The paper is good and
is related to education. But it is incomplete. Many plus two
campuses have been opened. But the Dalits do not have access
to the good campuses. To study at the ten plus two level a student
has to spend rupees fifty-four thousand. Where will the Dalits
get that amount of money from? In such a context how can model
citizens be created? If the paper had stressed this point it
would have been better. The paper presenter might have forgotten
the point that the parents cannot afford to pay the fees because
of economic difficulties. In such cases the parents encourage
their children to go abroad to earn. No-one pays any attention
to the plight of the Dalits. In this paper also I did not see
this aspect covered. Overall the paper is good. If the missing
points are added it would be better.
Mr. Keshav Basnet-Due to lack of political
consciousness the youths believe whatever the ethnic and political
organizations say. They cannot discriminate between right and
wrong. There is debate at present about whether the then Prime
Minister or the President was correct. The constitution is not
clear about what a prime minister who has lost the majority
can or cannot do. The constitution should be clear about the
powers of the president. This lack of clarity has led to the
conflict between parties.
Mr. Birendra Prasad Gautam- The participants
have commented on the paper, but the shortcoming was that sixty
percent of the comments were on issues other than youth and
civic education. One person said that Itahari is safe. But the
fact is we are most insecure. We might be beaten up at any moment.
It is not wrong for people to go abroad. Here drug-taking and
criminal activities are increasing. How can we show the people
the right path? How can we teach them about civic education?
Can we make such programs youth centered? There was talk of
separation of power. It is said that if the judiciary is not
independent the rule of law will not prevail. There is a saying
that accounts, urine and judgments have to be clear. In Kathmandu
if guests come at meal-time people are reluctant to offer them
food. They tell their guests that since the guests must have
already eaten they would like to proceed with their meal. In
different contexts the amount of helpings a host provides to
the guest differs. We must become conscious about civic education
and work towards realizing its aims.
Ms. Tripta Thapa Magar-The paper has
discussed many issues in depth. We are in the transitional stage.
The country will progress only if all sectors are treated equally.
The handicapped belong to the oppressed class. Cannot the handicapped
work for the country? Can a country develop on the basis of
raw physical strength only? We have to move forward in an inclusive
way. The intellectuals and other groups must move ahead hand
in hand. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has worked hard. We have to create
an egalitarian society.
Ms. Kamala Dulal- Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal
deserves thanks for presenting the paper. Only politics will
not develop the country. The social, economic and cultural aspects
also have an important role to play and these aspects must be
included in the paper. Civic education must include topics relevant
to the children, women and the aged. The action that must be
taken to make the youth conscious about their duties has not
been explained in the paper. Civic education imparted by the
state will not be enough. The family, society and the education
system also have a role to play. Only then can the youth be
guided to the right path. The guardian has the most important
role to play. Education has to begin from the home and the children
have to be taught to differentiate between what is right from
what is wrong. Whose fault is that the use of drugs is increasing?
Are the state and the government to blame? It is not only the
youth who are taking the wrong path, the aged and the middle-aged
people are also no better. After this seminar is finished we
will find many of the participants in the taverns in the evening.
The children will follow in our footsteps. We have to set practical
Mr. Suresh Wagle-This paper has included
many aspects. It is said that if a person has a healthy body
he/she will have a healthy mind. If the health sector had been
included within the ambit of the paper it would have been better.
Chairman Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel -
Mr Bijay Sapkota, who is handicapped, has a talent for writing
poems. It will now be read out.
Chairman Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel-
Shiva Raj Dahal will now provide short answers to the queries
that had been raised.
Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-I would first like
to thank the participants for making relevant comments and for
providing suggestions. When the proceeding of this seminar is
published in a book your names and the questions you raised
will be included. This report will also be sent to other countries.
Ale sir has made some suggestions. You probably came late. One
cannot include all the things in the paper. Harka Gurung, in
his book "Samabeshikaran Dekhe Baiskaran Samma", has
defined what nationality is. Within a state there are many nations
(different cultures). Nationality is the synthesis of all the
Mr. Nava Raj Nepal has asked why brain drain
occurs. During the first and the second world wars many Nepalese
participated in the war. Many lives were lost which were of
no value to the rulers. The number of Nepalese migrant workers
has increased after 2046. Industries that were running at a
profit were sold off cheaply as part of the privatization process.
The number of unemployed people grew and contributed to the
conflict. There was progress in the education sector and the
number of students grew but number of job openings did not grow
proportionately. The surge in outward migration is the outcome
of search for opportunities.
In the process of modernization many traditional
technologies were replaced by machines. In the hill areas many
water-mills were closed. The local technology was displaced.
Highly educated people with post graduate degrees are without
jobs. Experienced people are teaching at the ten plus two level
and depriving the new graduates of jobs. There is lack of social
justice. Prior experience is required for jobs but how are the
fresh graduates to gain experience when they have never been
given the chance to acquire experience. The youth can apply
intense pressure. In any change youths have played a big role.
In Nepal no skill training is provided. For the same job a Nepalese
labor is paid five to six hundred rial while his Sri Lankan
counterpart is paid seven hundred rial. The state benefits from
the remittances but avoids fulfilling its responsibilities.
This is a sensitive time in terms of nationality.
The national flag is being burnt while the party flags are mushrooming.
Language, religion and culture are being subject to controversy.
History is under attack. If we are not careful today we might
become another Sikkim. We have elected eighty illiterates as
members of the constituent assembly in order to make it representative.
We have to keep monitoring their work.
Japan does not have any natural resources
but it ranks among the most prosperous countries of the world.
Nepal is rich in natural resources but her citizens have to
do with rotten foodstuff. We are proud that the site of Gautam
Buddha's birthplace is in Nepal. But this is not due to our
contribution. It is our historical legacy. We have tendency
to let bulls into other people's sown fields. We can change
this mentality through civic education. The politicians are
engaged in games the objective of which is to become a minister.
Chairman Mr. Badri Bishal Pokharel
-Today's program is an important one. We are coming to the end
of it. It came as a pleasant surprise to me to find that one
of the speakers of today's program was Mr. Ram Kumar Dahal,
an old friend of mine. I am glad to be of help to NEFAS. Some
invitees could not make it to the program. Maoists and Congress
friends have not come. Lecturers who were invited have not showed
up. We have invited them once but will not do so again. I am
also one of the organizers.
This is an important paper. There are positive
aspects as well as weaknesses. A banner should have been hung
up in the hall. This is the age of communication. The photo
of the banner could have been publicized. I did not receive
the paper beforehand. There are errors in the usage of language.
The paper writer has said that the parties provide barrack-type
education to their cadres. This is not true of all parties.
The parties which indulge in such practices should be clearly
mentioned without any hesitation. The blameless parties should
not be lumped with the guilty ones.
There are also positive aspects. We should
not forget those students who participated in the struggle for
establishing a republic. In the paper it is also mentioned that
a militant outlook is developing in the parties. The paper should
have clearly stated where this sort of thinking originated.
Then only will the paper prove to be useful. The parties have
been the main agent of political change in 2007, 2046 and 2062-63.
There have been weaknesses but the party responsible for it
should be clearly named.
There are problems related to ethnicity. Traditionally
some people have a sense of inferiority. In the hill areas one
has to walk for four hours to reach the school. In the Terai
schools are situated right in front of one's house but some
people have still not become conscious. It has to do with mental
attitude. Not all traditions are bad. Concerning party schools,
if the source of the water becomes polluted it is bound to affect
the quality of water lower down the stream.
The Dalits will fall behind if they depend
on the state for all things. People feel a sense of ownership
when structures are built with local resources. Black-topped
roads are well maintained in places were they are constructed
with local contribution. There are well-off people in Dalit
organizations also. They can save some money and help the less
well-off students. We must not rely solely on the state. The
ethnic based parties will not last long. Parties have to be
ideologically based otherwise there will be ethnic conflict.
Civic education has to start from home. The
children have to be told about the significance of festivals,
national problems and of the need to love one's country. I celebrate
Sahid Diwas and Loktantra Diwas at home. We also discuss the
important issues that are carried by the newspapers in our house.
The home is the foremost school. This needs to be realized all
over Nepal. This seminar, to some extent, has helped in giving
a distinct identity to Itahari.