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Civic Education: The Role of the Youth in the Making of a Modern State

Seminar organised by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

15 October 2009

Sukuna, Morang


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 Sukuna, Morang district. Hundred and four 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 brought out the latent feelings of the participants and gave an idea about the current public mood at the grass-roots level. The participants were also provided with the booklet 'Handouts on Democracy'.

Paper Presentation and Discussion

Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) was founded in 1990. This is an intellectual organization which holds seminars on different issues of current interests. It has published thirty-five books, which incorporates the views of the citizens, so far. These books have been included in courses that are taught from the ten plus two level to the post-graduate level. Some of these books are included in the course 'Current Society'. The seminars are being organized with three purposes in mind. They are (a) to help institutionalize the democratic culture, (b) to highlight the importance of the constitution-making process and to see that the national agenda is not overshadowed by other issues and (c) to initiate discussions on contemporary issues.

I would now like to request Mr. Laxmi Kumar Shrestha, head of the education department, to chair the seminar. I would also like to request Mr. Ananda Shrestha, who has thirty-two years experience of teaching English, Professor Ram Kumar Dahal and Dr. Bed Raj Acharya to take their seats in the podium. Mr. Ananda Shrestha will now deliver the welcome address and shed light on some aspects of the seminar.

Mr. Ananda Shrestha-Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has already provided a short introduction. I will only add a few things to shed light on the background and make things more clear. NEFAS is a purely academic organization which was established in 1990. As of now it has organized many seminars on economic, political and social issues of national importance. This seminar will also be useful for the future as it can serve as a guideline for the policy-makers since its proceedings will be published in a book form in the near future. This organization is not aligned with any political party. It has published thirty-five books so far. We are proud that these books are prescribed for courses that are taught from the ten plus two level to the Masters level. This has further motivated us.

The topic of discussion today is civic education for the youth. We plan to hold seminars on this topic all over Nepal. We have already been to thirty-five to forty places. Youth social scientist, Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal, will present his paper. This paper is not complete. If it is further refined it can be published in book form. We have received various suggestions in different places. This will help rectify the weaknesses. We are confident that we will receive more inputs from you all.

You may wonder why this focus on the youth. Youth is not defined in terms of age group. This term denote those who can help in nation-building. That is why it is necessary to focus on the youth. The youths are disengaging themselves from the nation. Why do they not want to stay in the country? We oppose the view that the youth should only focus on education. We do not maintain that they should carry the flags of the parties but that it is necessary that they should be politically conscious. If they are not politically conscious the nation cannot move ahead. The nation has tried different leadership in the last sixteen years but the hopes of the people have been belied.

The youth do not have a voice in the decision-making process. We only get to hear news of the youth wings of the parties fighting among themselves. The sustainability of the democratic system has still not been assured. If the youth can be made conscious the leadership can be kept in check and this can give us some hope. After the paper is presented, Professor Ram Kumar Dahal and Mr. Bed Raj Acharya will make additional comments. Once they have finished making their comments please provide your suggestions, which we will publish. I would now like to take your leave and would like to request the Chairman to conduct the program.

Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-I have presented the paper in thirty to thirty-five places. I am not an expert. This paper has been prepared to initiate the discussion. It is not chronological. This topic is taught as part of 'Contemporary Society' in the Education and Arts stream. Some time back it has been decided to make this subject compulsory. In the Party Schools the cadres are taught only the perspective of the party. Civic education as such is not taught. In the past moral education was taught. When Kashi Raj Dahal had gone to Italy he noticed that it only took five people to register their dissent and the concerned authorities took them seriously. But in Nepal dhunge sanskriti (culture of violent protest) has developed. This is due to lack of civic education.

There may be many nations within a state. To protect nationalism the feelings of every group should be respected and they must be given representation. The voters must wisely utilize their rights. Fifteen lakhs people of voting age are in the Gulf. The remittance they send accounts for nineteen percent of the GDP. They however do not have any political clout. Members of a limited number of families are living in the United States, UK and other developed countries. They take a large amount of foreign exchange with them. They have access to the power centers. People who had sought refugee status in order to stay in foreign lands are occupying important posts at present. A minister needs to feel that he/she represents the whole country once he/she becomes a minister. There is a need to spell out qualifications for politicians who aspire to hold posts also.

Paper presented by Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal

Shiva Raj Dahal: 'Civic Education: The Role of the Youth in the Building of a Modern State.'

  1. 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.
  2. 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 being aroused.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 international level.
    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.
  5. 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 and responsibilities.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 consequences.
    8) (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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 co-operative spirit.
  12. 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.
  13. 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. Bed Raj Acharya-We at NEFAS are happy that we were able to hold this program in Sukuna Multi-purpose Campus. This is a conscious area of Morang district and we are happy that we have been given the opportunity to interact with the intellectuals of this area. The Campus is running post-graduate course in six subjects. I would like to convey my greetings to you all. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has presented his paper. It is an exhaustive paper which covers many things. When this paper was presented in other parts of the country there was one comment that was regularly heard-the paper was too harsh on the parties. The country has seen many movements (from'36 to '62-63) and twenty thousand people have died in this process and we have now become a Republic. But if we observe the political situation without any bias it is clear that the political problems have not been fully solved.

By going though the newspapers one can see that those who have been elected to the constituent assembly to draft the constitution are debating trivial issues such as who should be allowed to go the casinos. Some assert that the states and sub-states in the federal system should be given the right to self-determination without the right to secession. Comments lacking in gravity such as these are heard. There are some issues that are not put down in writing in the constitution. If things are not implemented it has no meaning. The constitution of 2046 was touted as the best in the world. Mr. Bharat Mohan Adhikary, who I believe represented your constituency, was part of the constitution drafting team.

But within ten years that constitution was discarded.

We are living in the twenty-first century and the people have become conscious. Their feelings of conscious citizens must be respected. A comment such as granting the right to self-determination without the right to secession trivializes the issue. This is my personal feeling. Some of you might think that it is right that the constitution prohibits secessionism. Time will tell. We cannot change what will happen tomorrow by holding discussions today. Whether tomorrow will be a sunny or a cloudy cannot be decided by holding discussions among us. This is a thing that will be clear to everyone only tomorrow morning. A political solution has still not been reached even after the death of twenty thousand people and we are still stuck in the political crossroads. We need an answer to the question as to whether we have gained or lost what we were looking for. This is the first question.

Those of us who are closely observing the situation in the country are getting the impression that a sadist psychology is taking hold in the country. I am a fifty year old man and am beset with anxiety that I might be insulted anytime I go out of my home in Biratnagar. In the name of empowerment two Madesh movements have taken place. Madeshsi living in Nepal have to be provided with quality education on a competitive basis. But that does not mean they are to be provided opportunities on a platter. This is the age of democracy, a competitive era. You must get something from somewhere after demonstrating ones qualifications and competence. Opportunities must be provided on a competitive basis. The Madehesi community must be provided access to health, educational facilities and opportunities for economic development. Education, health, economic opportunities and awareness program are the basis of empowerment. This is the path to empowerment.

Empowerment does not come by throwing stones at Pahadi girls and raising lathis (sticks) when others protest. We have been provided relief from one conflict but are embroiled in others. At a period when we are claiming that the nation has made a big achievement the Pahadis are not in a position to visit the fifteen southern districts of Sunsari for fear of being kidnapped. Pahadis have moved from Janakpur to Bardibas (around 30 kilometers distance) after selling their property and from Rajbiraj to Fhattepur. Twenty thousand people have died. Is this what we fought for, is this the achievement? We need to seek an answer to this question. And in accordance with the answer we have to improve our social behavior. When a adult or women feels insecure as soon as he/she leaves her home, the person will lose the feeling of being a citizen of a particular country. This is my second question.

The third point is that sometimes I attend different seminars in neighboring countries such as India and Bangladesh. This is the age of communication and in this age the internet, English language newspapers and reporters are present everywhere. There are reporters from all over the world in Kathmandu. In such a context, leaders talk frivolously to impress their cadres. The media then highlights these remarks. Friends from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India ask for clarification. I had recently traveled by train from Calcutta to Hyderabad before Dashian. In the bogey I met a number of intellectuals. They asked many questions. It made me feel that we are insensitive. They are aware of the activities and the opinions of our leaders. Near my seat there was a Central Reserve Police Force sergeant. He had passed the intermediate level and was going to Guwahati as his force was dealing with the Bodoland movement. He said that he did not know much about politics but said that the increase of anti-India activities by Pakistan in Nepal was making them apprehensive.

Different persons posed different questions. These questions were sensitive from the perspective of nationalism. The image of our nation outside is not good. Another asked me who is co-coordinating the top leader's activities now that Nepal has a minority government. They asked questions in minute details. I tried to defend the country and the nation's leaders as best as I could. I do not know how successful I was. This is the age of communications. We must not make others laugh at us. Has the time come for us to insist that such remarks not be made anymore? Is it not time we start to realize that only if the country remains intact will the parties we support continue to exist? After the establishment of the multi-party system the whole political structure of the country was changed. The Panchas were replaced by the multi-party leaders and cadres. If the parties do not change their ways they also might be displaced. The country must remain and we must be able to be proud of it. I met different persons and they asked perceptive questions. I did not have convincing answers. By their facial expressions I could see that they were not convinced by my answers. It is time to decide whether we must change or not.

I am a student of economics. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has given the figure of migrant laborers as fifteen lakhs. Last year I had gone to the Labor Department in course of small research I was undertaking. According to the information given by the Director General of the Labor Department thirty-five to forty lakhs youth are working outside the country. Devendra Bhattarai's report from Qatar in the Kantipur daily makes clear the activities the youth are engaged in there. We hear of injuries, deaths and imprisonment of the members of the expatriate community. People leave the country for two reasons. The affluent class studies and leaves the country for better opportunities. If they can get respectable jobs it is good and the country should be proud of them. The Indians are proud of Mahendra Chaudhary. Chandrashekar Venkatarraman, an American citizen of Indian origin, recently got the Noble prize. Baroda, a town in Gujarat, held an illumination program to celebrate the occasion.

A Gurung from Jhapa has become a mayor in UK. We have to be proud. The NRNs are at present holding a national convention in Kathmandu. Mr. Shesh Ghale has expressed his willingness to invest five billion rupees in Nepal. We must be proud of such people. In this age of globalization people can go any-where and help increase Nepal's image. But when people, due to lack of capital, go abroad by selling two bighas of land to work in low status jobs in extreme heat that is different. This lowers the prestige of the country. What will be the state of the family when people who were supposed to work and pay off the debt return home in a coffin? The state of the people who go to work in the Gulf countries is not good. The then Director-General of the Labor Department told me that the hope of earning money in the Gulf countries is a mirage. The person might bring back five-six lakh rupees and he/she may use it to buy some dhur of land in the towns to build a three-room house. If a proper valuation is made of the property the amount will not be much bigger than money he got by initially selling two bighas of land. Only capital exchange has taken place. The person has not gained much. I agree with his comments because he belongs to a responsible entity.

Another thing we have to understand is that people such as Mr. Shesh Ghale has shown a willingness to invest. Everyone is giving them importance and every party is saying that they should be granted dual citizenships. They are being given the red carpet treatment. But with the coming of winter if the party workers ask for donations from MR. Ghale and students ask for contributions form the manager of Mr. Shesh Ghale to fund their picnic programs the investors will be discouraged. An investor must feel his investment is safe. This is our responsibility. It is not me as an individual or a peasant toiling in the field but the political parties and fraternal organizations which should realize this. Mr. Upendra Mahato has stated that the investment climate in the country is still not good. Must we not think over this issue?

I am a man with elementary knowledge of economics. What we should understand is that with the establishment of the Sukuna Campus thirty to forty persons with MA and MEd. degrees have been able to get work. If a primary school is established in the locality three, four persons will be able to get work. But the problem of rising unemployment will not be fundamentally solved. To do that the establishment of industries is necessary. An investment friendly environment for the NRNs must be created. Are the laborers to be exploited to create such an environment? No, they do not have to be exploited. The workers must get remunerations according to their skills and productivity but unions should not come up with unnecessary demands. If factories were established those who go to the Arab world for jobs would get work here. They can earn rupees ten-fifteen thousand in the Gulf countries which they will be able to earn here if they work for the same number of hours. If investment friendly environment is created the Nepalese would not need to work in fifty degree centigrade heat in Arab countries. Factories would be established in Kathmandu, Hetauda and the Morang-Sunsari corridor and we would be able to provide jobs in a better environment.

There is need to bring a change in mentality. How to bring this about also should be the topic of discussion. In India foreign investment is increasing and one of the major destinations for such investment is Gujarat. Ratan Tata decided to shift the production of Nano cars from West Bengal to Gujarat after he faced trouble in West Bengal. As a result CPM lost many seats in the election in West Bengal and Trimul Congress won. Another investment friendly state is Orissa. There in a single factory fifty to hundred thousand people get respectable jobs. If ten such factories were established in Nepal those people working in the Gulf would get work here without having to leave home. Must we not be sensitive to create such an environment?

Another tragedy of our country is the failure of diplomacy. Our relations with foreign countries are not good. We are not sensitive about the effects of the remarks we make. Our relations with other countries are unbalanced and are getting chillier. We are not sending experts to the diplomatic mission, we are sending party workers. Economic diplomacy has not made progress. The main conflict has been solved. The Maoists have entered the mainstream and have won the largest number of seats in the Constituent Assembly elections. But has all the other conflicts ended? We cannot go to Siraha and Saptari for fear of being kidnapped. Is this what we all were looking for?

There are other things such as the civil society. It should be able to treat the whole society without bias. But all the parties have their own civil societies. Will such groups look after the interests of people who are not attached to any party? At present while making appointments political affiliation not competence has been made the basis. In Mahendra Morang Campus people are interested in finding out whether their ethic group or party has been represented or not while recruiting new teachers. If posts are allocated on the basis of party affiliation and ethnicity, will this increase or defuse the conflict? Are we to further fuel the conflict or seeks ways to defuse it. This also has to be a part of today's topic of discussion. There are other things such as the mentality of not taking defeat gracefully is also increasing in the parties. There is also the tendency to seek victory at any cost. And if this does not seem possible people are willing to even go to the extent of breaking up the party. This will become a problem for the country. We are also seeing the tendency of accepting an individual's rule. This will not benefit anybody. The rule of law has to take roots. Not enough voice has been raised in this regard at the national level. Thank you

Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-Professor Ram Kumar Dahal will now highlight important points form the booklet 'Handbook of Democracy'.

Mr. Ram Kumar Dahal-I want to add a few things to what Mr. Acharya said about foreign relations. Since the advent of the multi-party system the conduct of foreign relations has been weak. Both are two neighbors are not happy with us. One of the factors contributing to this is the weak law and order situation in the country. The Indians complain that anti-Indian activities are taking place in Nepal fuelled by persons who travel to Nepal through the Karakoram highway and enter Nepal through the Kodari highway. They also grumble that industries with Indian investment are being targeted. The Chinese on the other hand complain that Indian country nationals come to Nepal unhindered and some Indian political leaders even entered China by wearing Nepali caps. Nepal is becoming the abode of criminals. For Nepalese money has become the most important thing. If payments are made to them they are not concerned about the activities of foreigners in Nepal. Pakistani criminals were caught on the basis of information provided by the Indians.

Our security system is weak and our image in the international arena is not good. I have had personal experience of this. When the immigration department at the airport in Paris saw my Nepalese passport they did not let me proceed with the other passengers. I could not communicate with them because of the language barrier. I was afraid that I would miss the connecting flight to Copenhagen. The only reason for my detention was because Nepal has an image problem. One of my friends was body searched. This is due to weaknesses in foreign policy. Untrained Nepalese manpower is being sent abroad. Our parties do not have a common stand on foreign policy issues. They support the agendas of different parties. Indian political parties have difference of opinion on almost all domestic issues but on matters concerning foreign policy they present a united front.

The hand-book explains what principles need to be upheld to institutionalize democracy.

  • Rule of Law-We all know law must be supreme. The law is concerned only with whether a crime has been committed or not and not with the rank of a person. If democracy is to be institutionalized the law has to be supreme, everyone has to adhere to it and its autonomy must not be encroached. I will provide a small example. The Prime Minister of New Zealand had once parked his car in a prohibited area. He was fined seventy dollars by the parking attendant. The prime minister was furious and disclosed his identity. The attendant politely replied that they do not have a separate park for the Prime Minister and unless such space is provided for he would have to respect the law. The Prime Minister paid the fine. The Prime Minister has to obey the law. If this principle is not adhered to it will not be possible to institutionalize democracy.
  • Separation of Power-Every student of political science knows that there are three organs of the state and each has to function within its own sphere. When Montesquieu had first laid down this principle he has stated that the judiciary, executive and the legislature, the three branches of the state, must have their own autonomous sphere of activity and not interfere in the work of the others. In Nepal however the question to whom the judiciary should be accountable and from whom the judges should take their oaths is being raised. The Nepal Bar Association has objected to proposals to restrict the autonomy of the judiciary. An independent judiciary can establish the rule of law. If the judiciary is not independent other problems might arise in the future. Any sort of action that raises suspicion about the independence of the judiciary must not be raised. We must think about how this principle can be established in the new constitution.
  • Political Culture-The mere establishment of a democratic system is not enough. The practice and behavior of the politicians, right from the top to the lower rungs, has to conform to its value. If this does not happen the country will not develop. In a seminar held in Kathmandu the former head of the public service commission had given an interesting example. Three or four boys had entered his compound to steal fruits from his garden. When he asked them if they were not ashamed to commit such a deed they replied that when the members of the constituent assembly indulge in vandalism and in wrong practices and are not ashamed why they should be ashamed. What we should worry about is not a particular theft has occurred but that culture conducive to wrong-doing is taking roots. In our country people are clamoring for their rights but none is willing to do his duty to the state. A democratic system is not enough the culture of the people and the leaders must be democratic
    c) Public Service-Public service must be provided by those working in public bodies to all on a timely basis. Service delivery must be provided on time and if this does not take place the democratic system cannot be consolidated.
  • Good Governance- The elements that lead to good governance must be strengthened. The new constitution must ensure good governance in the country. This concept must be incorporated in the constitution and concrete plans to promote this concept must be put forward.
  • Economic-The previous speaker, who is scholar of economics, has already spoken about the economy. He raised a good issue. Even though this is not my field I would like to add a few things. The kind of trends presently being seen in the country will not strengthen democracy. I had recently gone to attend a seminar in Birgunj. Compared to my previous visit the number of functioning industries had gone down. There were many reasons for this state of affairs but one of the main reasons was the fund raising activities of the trade unions. Without a strong economy democracy cannot be strengthened. Many industries in the Birgunj have been closed. Many factories have to bear the brunt of the fund raising activities of trade union and other groups. Until industries are established there can be no strong economy and without such an economy democracy will not prosper.
    The government has to come up with concrete plans to rectify the situation. The businessmen and industrialists have time and again have stated that the law and order situation is deteriorating and the economic condition is going from bad to worse. The Marwaris only have retained their houses in Nepal; they have transferred their capital outside because of lack of investor friendly environment. Democracy might fail because of the economy. This has happened in many third world countries. In South East democracy is being strengthened because of their strong economy. Whether we can succeed in this task depends on the leaders. Nelson Mandela, once he came to power, downplayed the political agenda and laid stress on the economic agenda. But in Nepal we tend to talk only about political issues. That is why the possibility of success is smaller.
  • Globalization-For the small countries globalization is a curse. We are already a member of WTO. For the rich countries this is a boon but for us the picture is mixed. We have gained because the remittance from the workers abroad is sustaining the economy. This was one factor that sustained us during the conflict. People who are capable have taken benefits from globalization. But poor countries that do not have competitive export products are at a disadvantage. In this competitive age we cannot remain aloof from the global trends. We must identify our competitive capabilities. Then we can make inroads in the world market. But overall the process of globalization has not benefited us. We need to minimize the negative fallout of globalization. We cannot remain aloof. Thank you.

Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal-The organizers of this seminar have expected a lot from you all. If you have some questions the learned scholars are ready to provide answers. I would now like the participants to provide their suggestions and seek clarifications.

Mr. Amrit Prasad Acharya- I teach in this campus. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal in his lengthy paper has dwelt on the main issues. The presentation was good as it focused on the major issues in a bid to save time. I am not conscious of time constraints when I start to speak. Even if I exceed the time limit I am hopeful that you will forgive me. Issues have been raised in the paper. It is necessary to consolidate some of the points raised and the paper presenter has missed some points. Civilized behavior and morality can be gained either through books or by experience. Concerning civilized behavior I would like to relate my experience. To become civilized the citizens and especially the intellectuals will have to make a big effort. Without oneself being civilized one cannot make others civilized. Let us assume we intellectuals are civilized. In this context I want to talk about how a limited number of persons can work towards making the youth and students civilized all over the country.

One day while coming here from Biratnagar I got into a bus going towards Dharan. Near me were seated a couple with their two sons. The elder one, who was around eight years old, was sitting with his father and the other one was smaller and was sitting on the mother's lap. In the course of the journey we struck up a conversation. Once the bus started the mother took out oranges form the bag and gave it to her sons. The younger boy peeled off the oranges and ate it but kept the skin of the oranges with himself. I intently watched them to see if he would throw the skin out of the window. But the boy did not throw the skin out of the bus window. Near Itahari the boy asked where the container was. I came to know that the elder son was born while the father was in Japan. The younger one was born abroad. They had come home after a gap of four, five years. What can we learn about civilized behavior from that child? The child ultimately deposited the skin in the bag carried by his mother.

I will talk briefly about morality. This is something I had read. This is an episode described by Shiva Khare in the book 'Living with Honor'. A man went with his two sons to watch a newly released film in the local cinema hall. One son was around ten years old while the other was six. Inside the gate of the cinema hall there was a sign-board with the notice that children below the age of six would be provided free entrance. At the counter the father asked for two tickets. The clerk at the ticket counter looked at the younger son and asked how old the boy was. The father had beforehand instructed his younger son to tell anyone who asked his age that he was five years old. The boy replied accordingly and they managed to watch the movie at the cost of two tickets. Next day another father came with his two sons of similar age group but asked for three tickets. The ticket clerk asked the age of the younger son and was told he was six years old. The clerk told the father that if he had asked for two tickets the clerk would have provided it without fuss. The father replied that was it right to make his son immoral since an early age in order to save two dollars. He declared that he would do no such thing. What sort of moral lessons should we learn from this story?

Another issue that has come up is about the sister organizations of parties. The sister organizations and the political parties need to consolidate themselves. The sister organizations, as the very word sister implies, are not the ward of the political parties. It members consist of educated people also. They should be able to direct the parties towards the correct path. But in our case the sister organizations tow the party line blindly. We have not seen the sister organizations pointing out the mistakes of their mother organization. They are only being used as a tool. This will bring problems in the future.

The constitution is in the process of being drafted. As there is still time left we have to be optimistic and believe that it will be drafted. As we are living in a distant part of the country we do not know what is really happening. If the government is studying minutely the constitutions of other democratic constitutions we welcome it. But if that is not the case NEFAS and other similar organizations should conduct an in-depth study of different constitutions in the remaining time period and come up with a model suited to the local condition. This will ensure the longevity of the up-coming constitution. Has this been done? I am curious about this.

The conduct of foreign policy is one among the many failures that we are at present confronted with. India, because she is a close neighbor, and America, due to her status as the sole superpower, show interest in Nepalese affairs. In India, whichever party or coalition comes to power, their policy remains constant. In this context I would like to emphasize the need to make our foreign policy constant through discussions among the different parties. I liked the idea of internationalization of the border issue. Without internationalization of the issue we will continue to be bullied and the boundary will continue to be encroached.

In the context of civic education it should be taught in some form from the basic to the university level. If possible it should be taught as a different subject and if that is not possible in some form or other. Civic education becomes automatically intertwined with moral education and knowledge of this needed for every field. At present there is the wrong perception that moral education is linked with religion. We need to transform moral education into a form of civic education. Moral education has to be integrated in this manner and the course designed accordingly. I would like to especially request NEFAS to provide civic education to the youth from its side and to put pressure on the political parties to provide civic education to their youth. The parties are using the members only to carry their agenda and for electoral purposes only. Even those at the leadership level at the districts are not versed even in the basic concepts of the ideology they profess. Let the party provide civic education to their sister wings. If the parties do not agree organizations with a national outlook must provide civic education both inside the classrooms and outside it.

I feel this point can be a new thing. I will not dwell on elections before '48 because they are Panchayati elections. From '48 to '56 there were regular elections-by-elections, local and parliamentary elections. Youths from Mechi to Mahakali must ask one question with those who ask for votes. They must be questioned whether there will be consensus on issues that the state must raise and act upon once their candidate is elected. The party's own agenda and the national agenda must be differentiated. The nation should come first and then only the others. How many among the six hundred and one constituent assembly members can tell the difference between national agenda and the personal political program? At the most a hundred members can point out the difference.

The issue that needs to be added is impunity. There are no two opinions on the fact that the impunity has increased. A criminal is a criminal, in the eyes of the law all are equal. In New Zealand the Prime Minister had to pay the fine. In our country we have to strongly demand that the political parties not give protection to those who break the law. A criminal is a criminal no matter what. Binod Luitel was kidnapped and murdered on the eve of Dashain. Many younger brothers are being murdered and younger sisters raped. If we can end this state of impunity the country will take a leap forward. This has to be emphasized. I am sorry for taking such a long time.

Mr. Laxmi Kumar Shrestha (Chairman)-If some one has anything to say please express it briefly, otherwise we will move towards concluding the seminar.

Mr. Mohan Lal Majhi Khaswas- I would first like to thank NEFAS for holding the program and providing me the opportunity to participate in it. We Nepalese have conducted large movements in 2007, 2046 and 2062-63. But despite these events and in spite of living in the twenty-first century we are in a Kumbakarna like state. Kumbakarna used to go sleep for six months and remain awake for the rest of the year. The Nepalese have become conscious but the problem is that there are as many parties as there are individuals. All of us here are affiliated to one or the other party. Once a person had asked Yudhisthir what one should do to become rich? He had replied that one must be able to be self-less. But we cannot sacrifice our self-interest. We tend to teach in ten schools and engage in multiple professions.

I started studying civic education from class nine and at the masters level I studied political science which is another type of civic education. The leaders struggled for democracy in '46 and for loktantra in '60-'63. Both the terms mean the same thing. Political science and civic education teach the same thing. Political science talks of political and social rights. We are in the transitional stage. Because we are living in the twenty-first century it is necessary modify concepts and incorporate them in the new constitution in order to move forward. You have come here at a time when we are engaged in this process. You all must have given your suggestions when the members of the constituent assembly had come here to gather suggestions. The draft constitution will again be sent to the villages for discussion. Then also you can give your suggestions. Our generation cannot make drastic improvements but we can show the way. The mistakes of the past cannot be rectified at once. Thank you.

Mr. Guru Prasad Adhikari-The paper is good and has treated the issues in depth. It has given a realistic picture of the present political situation. But I am curious about one thing. The main heading of the paper states the theme of the seminar as 'Civic Education: The Role of the Youth in the Making of the State' while just below the topic of the seminar is given as 'Civic Education for the Youth'. Which of these titles expresses the theme of this seminar? Or are both of the titles complementary to each other. This paper has analyzed the present political scenario well but the main focus of the paper, the role of the youth, could have been addressed better. If data about the percentage of youth, who fall in the age group 15-35, who are involved in criminal activities had been provided it would have been better. We heard that fifteen lakhs youths are working outside the country. Data about how many youths are employed within the country and how many of them remain unemployed should have been provided. If such a breakdown of the data had been provided it would have provided a clear picture of the situation of the youth in the country. In context of giving civic education what issues should be included within it should have been specified and the agencies (such as teachers, political parties, family, NGOs and clubs) that should be responsible for providing this education should have been specified. The paper has highlighted the present political situation and has not put enough stress on the youth and the civil education.

Mr. Prem Prasad Bhattarai-I work in this campus and I would like to thank NEFAS for deciding to hold this interesting seminar here. This is a good issue. Although the topic is a bit vague this is important and challenging issue. This effort to raise awareness among the Nepalese people and make them conscious of their environment is praiseworthy. We are more concerned with the personal lives of others and not enough with question about which direction the country is heading. At present the question of civil supremacy has become a challenging one. What is civil supremacy? If things do not go according to ones preference there is tendency to oppose it. We do not have a statesman capable of looking after the interests of the whole country. The country does not have a guardian at present. This is a good point raised in the paper. The country is like an orphan, we do not know where to go if there is injustice. If one is a member of a party one might receive help. The goons are receiving political protection. There is a reason for this. If the goons are not provided protection the politicians will lose the election. We have elected only leaders, not statesmen. A women and her paramour had killed the woman's husband in a nearby village. The human rights workers went to the detention centre and demanded to know why she was kept in a damp room and why she had not been provided with a mobile-phone. These activists work to protect criminals. These activists also need to be provided civic education.
The task of building the nation is not easy. We have to have knowledge of our past. We tend to read books about Marx and Gandhi. Have we read our own books that are rooted in our soil? Of what help will be the principles of Gandhi and Marx be? We are getting this sort of education. We thrive by putting the blame on others. The Panchas blamed the Ranas and the proponents of the multi-party system put the blame on the Panchas. We talk of the Madhesis committing atrocities against the Pahadis. We however have not behaved well in past as our treatment of the former Panchas shows. Many of them had to leave their homes and they were not allowed to canvass during the election.
We have not made a proper study of our soil and geography. I have studied up-to to the Masters level but I was not taught about the local perspective. We say people have become sovereign but the reality is that the people are starving. What sort of sovereignty are we talking about? In the past some people had to enter the jungle or go to India because of the pain they felt. These people have been elected as our representatives. They have big hearts but are ignorant of the methods. What did they learn in the jungle? They seem to have learnt how to create obstructions. Those who cannot get things done indulge in the politics of opposition. Many people at present cannot survive without alms. We talk about the problems of the proletariat but a growing amount of cultivable land is being developed as housing plots and sold. Many parents are not able to feed their children. We are producing criminals. This paper did not touch on these aspects. Our basic mentality is that we have a propensity to proffer advice but not to work. My basic point is that we need education that reflects the actual condition of the country. Our district level leaders are not present here today. They are comfortable doing what they know.

Mr. Uma Nath Bhattarai-It is not necessary to teach the conscious youth about civic education. One needs to go to the grassroots level. Things are not working properly because of this defect.

Mr. Ganesh Lal-There is many good things in this paper. This education should be imparted at the central, grassroots and party level. This institution must work as a pressure group. This subject must be taught not only to those who join the humanities stream but in engineering and medical courses. It is necessary to have knowledge of this subject to work in any field. This concept is similar to the idea of compulsory military training.

Mr. Shyam Narayan Shah-We are a country without any statesman. The politicians are drafting the new constitution. Six committees only have finished their work. The day the constitution is promulgated it will be burnt in the districts because of the type of ideas they have incorporated in the constitution. If the politicians had been properly taught in party schools we would have gotten a better constitution. We might get a new constitution but only with foreign help.

Mr. Ananda Shrestha-I believe we do not even have leaders (netas). Leaders have some vision. We only have politicians in this country.

Ms. Kamala Maskey-NEFAS has held a good program on youth and civic education. Suggestions have also been provided. What is the role of youth in national development? This aspect should have been incorporated. It is necessary to increase the participation of youth in this field. It would have helped the constitution making process if the netas (leaders) had also been socialized in this field. The citizens have already provided their suggestions.

Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal- We have come to the end of the program. Weighty suggestions have been provided. The deliberation will be published in book form. Earlier books have been quoted in the course Contemporary Nepalese Society. We have organized seminars in thirty-five to forty places. Three years ago we had organized a seminar in Biratnagar.
A man on a cycle used to pass though the border point between Nepal and India everyday with bag full of sand. The ASI of the post and cyclist developed a friendship over the course of time. Two years later the officer was transferred. In their last meeting the officer asked the cyclist what he did with the sand since he had not built a house. After much coaxing, the cyclist replied that it not sand that he was transporting. He confessed that he was smuggling bicycles and the bags of sands were used to divert attention of the security officials.

Many suggestions have been provided and we will incorporate it. We are passing through the transitional phase. In Europe every country has a national flag and it hung with pride. Here we are burning our national flags. If religion and tradition are encroached upon the state will not survive. If history is denied than Nepal might not survive.

Professor Ram Kumar Dahal-I have often been asked to define what civil supremacy is. The basic principle of civil supremacy is that those who are elected should rule. .Democratization of army means that elected representatives should be responsible for laying down policies.

Mr. Amrit Prasad Acharya-When I spoke before I did not raise the issue of language. This paper should have conformed to the norms of contemporary Nepalese grammar. If I did not point out the shortcomings in this field I would have failed in my duty. I read English books and I understand enough of it. I do not find grammatical errors in them. The present paper must pay attention to the contemporary standards of Nepalese grammar and spelling. One has to be careful to ensure that because of the language shortcomings a wrong impression is not created.

Professor Ram Kumar Dahal- We would like to thank you all for the suggestions. We will follow your suggestions.

Mr. Laxmi Kumar Shrestha (Chairman)-Thank you all for participating in the program. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal and Mr. Bed Raj Acharya had requested us to help hold this program. We had sent out invitations to around seventy-five to eighty people. Because a holiday has been declared in the campus the number of participants has been affected. Party intellectuals had also been invited. NEFAS had left this matter up-to us. Today's speakers have come from Kathmandu and we were looking forward to listen to what they had to say. The participation today is encouraging. Many friends take part in programs organized by their respective parties only. This is somewhat different program, it is an intellectual program. It has provided an opportunity to express their innermost feelings. These views will be published and the books are prescribed in the course Contemporary Nepalese Society and are taught from the ten plus two level to the Masters level. We need to know what our needs and interests are and about the past and present trends. In this paper the focus is on youth. While in college we were fond of singing revolutionary songs. These had depicted social reality of that particular time. The trend then was to become a lahure and the songs of that period depicted the life of Malaya Lahures. When the Nepalese in Assam were persecuted songs were written about it. Fifty lakhs youth are said to be working outside the country at present. Different songs reflect this reality.

Our ministers and secretaries proudly announce that they have been able to secure quota for five hundred workers from Korea. What is the implication of this type of thinking? In the villages poverty stricken people go the well-off people and request them to raise their children in return for the service they will render. What is the difference between such people and our government? Politically conscious citizens are needed. Every youth must understand this. The political parties are the key. The youths of '36-'46 are in leading positions. But where are the products of '45-'56? A gap is being seen and a vacuum has emerged. This has created a leadership vacuum. Participants have said that there is no statesman at present but history also creates leaders. BP and Puspa Lal were ideological leaders while Madan Bhandari was an ideological as well as a charismatic leader. The present generation of leaders is known as rebel leaders. Big changes have been made but we have not been able to institutionalize it. We must hope and not indulge in negative thinking only. Time will show the results. We have solved a major problem and reached this stage. We can take South Africa as an example. We have to analyze things positively.

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