Seminar Report on Initiate for State-building
and Constitutional Dynamics
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
(15-16 June) Jhapa, (17-18 June) Ilam
Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised two day seminar in Ilam (15- 16th
June) and Jhapa district (17-19th June) on state-building and constitutional dynamics
in Nepal. There were 141 and 132 participants respectively in Ilam and Jhapa district.
In both the districts, the programme was attended by the leaders of all political
parties, members of civil society, civil servants, lawyers, lecturers, teachers,
students, journalists and other stake-holders of the society. In Ilam the programme
was also attended by Nepal Army Colonel whereas in Jhapa the Chief District Officer
(CDO), Yadav Prasad Koirala and SSP also participated in the programme. While
Chief District Judge of Jhapa Gyanendra Bahadur Karki chaired the programme. The
overarching aim of this seminar was to educate local political leaders/civil society
activists on issues pertaining to state-building and constitutional dynamics in
Nepal.Speaking in the inaugural programme CDO Yadav said that the upcoming constitution
should address problems (feelings) of civil servant as well as common people.
Speaking in the inaugural session, and setting
the scene for discussion, Chandra D Bhatta, Programme Officer of FES said that
state didn't collapse in Nepal, however, there has certainly been some sort of
erosion in its legitimacy which is primarily because state's legitimacy has been
shifted to political parties and their sister organizations, non-state armed actors
and to some extent even to the individual leaders who play prominent role in national
politics but failed to provide political stability. As a result, Nepali state's
authority has been diluted and is on the verge of losing Weberian legitimacy in
all spheres. The classic example of this crisis in legitimacy can be manifested
from the gradual withdral by Village Development Secretaries (VDCs) from their
location citing security reasons. In addition to this, he further said that, there
have intermittent political changes in the country but it was only cosmetic in
nature this is also primarily due to the fact that the agenda of change propelled
by the masses has been hijacked by the elites from the political parties and their
leader who, in turn, later co-opted with the former. So unless and until we do
not restore the legitimacy of the state (people's confidence on state institutions)
and translate people's agendas of social, political and economic transformation
into action justice cannot be ensured and under these circumstances Nepal is bound
to face another political crisis. We really need to establish democracy that is
more substantive than procedural, said Bhatta.
were three papers presented by Senior Journalist Yuba Raj Ghimire on State, Senior
Constitutional Expert Kashi Raj Dahal on Constitution and Chandra D Bhatta on
Democracy and its elements. Presenting his paper Yuba Raj Ghimire said that political
change should serve the interest of nation and its people rather than serving
the interest of few individuals. He pointed out that the popular movement of 2062/63
was waged to end all sorts of authoritarianism but with the rise of power centered
individualistic and group politics we are caught up in the same cycle. He further
said that the common purpose of the movement of 2062/2063 should have been explained,
understood and implemented collectively by all the actors but that has not been
the case due to which we have not been able to bring about the necessary change
desired by the people through movement into action.
major issues (federalism, monarchy and secularism) were decided in advance by
the few individuals without taking consent of popular voices. It showed that there
was some sort of individual vested interest behind this approach and gradually
which ultimately resulted in the loss of people's ownership on state and its institutions
said Ghimire. There has been a mere negative acceptance by the people on these
issues, which should have been decided by the upcoming constitution. How can we
guarantee that federalism will be better than unitary system asked Ghimire? There
are no bases for this. He further said that constitution is not dynamic it has
to be operated by the people and those who operate it should keep people in the
centre. The tendency to disown 'unsuccess' and claim every 'success' will lead
us nowhere. People's issues were rarely discussed in the CA over the two year
time. He said that the journalism as a profession in Nepal has become partisan
and has been blackmailed by those who are in power and also those who operate
media houses. Journalism and journalists have been used to promote the business
interests of media owners who have multiple interests with multiple stake holding.
The tenure of CA has been extended by one
year but no attempt has been made to explain how constitution will be written
within that stipulated time-frame, if at all it is going to be written. No dearth
was made why they have failed to write constitution within the given time-frame.
This showed that Nepal political classes do not feel the need of being accountable
to the people (the sovereigns). By contrast, attempt has been made to rebuild
a state without people and history. What has been done, in contrast, is to develop
slogans tailored to meet the demand of political parties and interest group which
is inevitable and easy in a society like ours which is poverty stricken mainly
due to inability of political leaders. This has resulted in the crisis in citizenship
The cumulative effect of all these
have created constitutional as well as political vacuum in the country due to
which the external interference increased dramatically over the years. Both China
and India, followed by other international powers, showed keen interest on Nepal's
domestic politics argued Ghimire. While elaborating China-India factors, Ghimire
argued that like India China also came heavily and presented her views forcefully
with Nepali state. China now is of the view that whatever interest India has in
Nepal, we, too, have the same interests and thus wanted to treaty and agreements
signed with Nepal at par with.
The need of
the hour is to create central authority of the said Ghimire. Democracy is not
a level its behavoiur of the state towards people said Ghimire. People at large,
who are dynamic, are the elements of the state and state should realise/respect
this dynamism through the political actors.
his paper constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that the upcoming constitution
should address the issues of the people living in the rural areas and emphasis
should be given on education, science and technology, economic development so
that people at large feel ownership towards constitution. He also explained about
the different models of constitution and emphasised that we need to develop the
model that serves our interest most. Likewise Chandra D Bhatt explained about
the components of democracy, civil society and other issues.
Prasad Guragain of Ilam Campus has said that the CA has been extended for one
year without amending constitution and there was no emergency like situation At
this backdrop, the question arises where lies the accountability and constitutionalism?
This showed that there is a great deal of crisis in morality in our politics.
Bindu Parajuli of Nepal Women's Association blamed women's in Nepal are being
used for the business purposes. Kanchha Lawoti argued that when we say that people
are sovereign than the initiative for the statebuilding should bear in mind the
interest of the people . Arun Nepal of Ilam Campus asked why democracy has failed
in Nepal? Where did we fail in sixty years of our active political exercise ?
Could FES come up with some sort of publication in this line said Nepal ? He further
said that the corruption in bureaucracy, lack of internal democracy in political
parties could not contribute towards state-building initiative. We need to weed
out all these ill practices argued Nepal. He also wanted to know about the situation
of judiciary and media in Nepal, that is, whether judiciary and media are independent
or not? Whether judiciary is really delivering the justice or not? He argued that
justice can be bought with "power" in Nepal. He said that less than
15 percent people got to the court to seek justice primarily because "courts"
in Nepal do not deliver justice in a real sense of the term.
Mukhiya pointed out that we have failed to internalise constitutional practice
in Nepal since 1990 . In many times politics was dissolved into law and vice-versa.
The classic example of this phenomenon is that the interim constitution has been
amended several times without consulting sovereigns (people). Consultation was
done at the core level, periphery has always been sidelined, merely to serve the
vested interests of ruling elites and this has to be stopped if democracy is meant
for people as well argued Mukhiya.
Sukh Wantaba said that press has been misused
by the powerful people of society. He enquired on which ground we shall trust
political parties - rational or compulsion. Urmila Tamang of UCPN (Maoist) asked
about the basis of building modern state. She said that women should be given
all sorts of rights (political, social, economic and cultural) to uplift their
status. They should not be given mere reservation but should be backed up by the
special rights. She further said that the beauty pageant should stop.
Poudyal asked what would be the basis of modern state while there has been agreement
among selected political elites for the extension of CA. She further said that
the erasing the history of the state is not a good practice as we live in a history
and it indicates the present stage. We should respect the women and their contribution
Rabindra Subedi enquired as what is the purpose of education?
The rise of the culture of revenge and vengeance ( that has been lately witnessed
in our society) is not healthy to maintain societal harmony and we need to educate
society through civic education. Nav Raj Shankar of All Nepal National Student
Union said that the need of the hour is to have social, economic and cultural
democracy merely political democracy will not bring desired transformation in
our society. In the name of uplifting powerless and marginalised members of society
such as dalits, women and backward communities different types of politically
charged slogans have emerged but the problem remains the same. Some sort of structure
has been built up to look into these issues. Dr. Nrisingh Khatri of Ilam Campus
blamed that we have different types of laws but they are never been implemented
and as a result we failed to establish rule of law in our society.
Prasad Upreti from Nepali Congress said that federal states should not be crafted
on the basis of ethnicity. Perhaps economic viability should be taken into consideration
while crafting federal states.
Dibya Bhattarai from Chamber
of Commerce said the political parties alone cannot build the state and they alone
are not the representative of the state. Collective effort form every member of
society is required and some sort of commitment needs to be expressed for that
argued Bhattarai. Bhim Khatri, Legal Professional and Member of Limbuwan Parishad,
inquired why constitution could not be drafted in time - whether it was deliberate
or accidental. What did political change give us, overall, said Khatri? If the
ethnicity has become the basis of our identity, which is also the pillar of our
cultural identity, why can't we have states on the basis of ethnicity argued Khatri.
Kumar Bhattari enquired what type of modern state are we planning to build and
what would be the modus operandi for that. In fact democracy should also work
for those who are living at the periphery. Uttam Poudyal blamed that political
leaders are vying for cheap popularity and engaged in the politics of "space
is creating" for themselves. The space creating tendency now has shifted
to other social classes as well from the political classes. Today more and more
people wanted to have societal representation in politics than political representation
based on popular mandate.
Some of the participants blamed
NGOs/INGOs for aggravating our political ills. Perhaps the time has come in Nepal
to reflect on their roles. Chhabi Rai of YCL said that there is no way that we
can construct new ones without deconstructing the old ones so the need of the
hour is to dismantle the institutions of the old establishment and replace them
with the new ones which will have people's ownership.
Ranga Lal Rajbansi said that the greatest challenge that lies ahead of us is the
management of transitional period and protect national sovereignty and integrity.
This can only be done when political leaders come to common platform and chart
common goals that serve the interest of state and its people. Tara Nath Sapkota,
Media Personnel, said that political debate exists in every society but the need
of the hour is to manage them by using our own knowledge, own institutions in
the given context. Sambhu Dhakal of Mechi Campus said that Nepali should be made
national language and should be inserted in the constitution accordingly. And
we should also recognize the regional languages'. Jeevan Chapagain of Mechi Campus
said that political parties have floated the idea of federalism merely to gain
sympathy and cheap popularity. Tek Nath Upreti , Teacher, said that conflict also
brings change in a society and for that we have bring marginalised people/communities
into the political mainstream. He also argued that the time has as why we elected
601 CA members. What is their utility? They have failed to understand/read people's
Rajendra Dahal , Mathematician of Mechi Campus,
said that political system does not matter as long as it works for the people.
We have to identify our resources for the economic development of the society,
without it there is no way that we can address the need of the people. We also
need to promote English language to boost up the competitiveness of our people.
Dil Bahadur Limbu, legal professional, enquired whether
Nepal is really an independent state in practice. Neither laws nor decisions of
the courts are implemented in Nepal. Chitra Bahadur Sherstha of Mechi Campus said
that how can a person who has lost election form the two places can become Prime
Minister of the country. Democracy has become rule of fools in Nepal. Captain
Birang Limbu argued that we need an autonomous Limbuwan state. We need to develop
the tendency of respecting labour. Devi Ram Bhattarai of Nepali Congress said
that the issues related o federalism needs to be discussed carefully.
conclusion of these two seminars generates some important question, that is, do
we want change or more of the same. If we wanted change than it has to be realised
by the people at large and mere adopting procedural democracy will not work. In
fact both procedural and substantive democracy should go hand in hand. Likewise,
the spirit of movement, which is to empower people, of 2062/2063 should not be
deserted left at the mercy of political leaders. By and large, almost 25 percent
participants actively participated in the seminars.