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Seminar on Building Modern State through Constitutional Process

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

11-12 October 2010, Bandipur


Introduction

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office organised a two-day seminar on State-Building and Constitutional Dynamics in Bandipur of Tanahu District on 11-12 October, 2010. The programme was attended by local political leaders, lecturers, teachers, local intellectuals, members of civil society, media personnel, civil servants, security personnel based in Bandipur and other stake holders of society. There were 98 participants which included 15 women participants. The whole idea of this seminar was to disseminate knowledge on democracy, constitution, civil society, state and other issues that are currently under discussion in Nepal. The two days seminar was chaired by Bikram Piya, Campus Chief of Bandipur Campus.

Inaugural Session

Speaking in the inaugural session, head of FES Nepal, Dev Raj Dahal highlighted the objectives of FES Nepal and said that we have to strike a balance between rights and responsibilities. He further said that democracy and development needs to be taken together to minimize the class- conflict. He also said that political parties need to be internally democratized with the democratization of state and society and underlined that the membership of the state is bigger than that of the political party of class-based organisations. Nepal is in the constitution writing process, it should make endeavour to minimise class conflict by developing new social contract. That we really have to be very clear about social, economic and other issues related to the public policies that can miminse gaps in rich and poor and result in class co-ordination.

Likewise Kashi Raj Dahal talked about eighteen different contentious issues including the issue of federalism in the constituent Assembly which are yet to be resolved. Chandra Dev Bhatta talked about the principles of democracy. Speaking from the Chair, Bikram Piya hailed the importance of the programme and suggested that programmes like this can be useful to establish social harmony.

The Proceedings

Gobardhan Bhattarai (teacher) said the Nepal cannot sustain 14 states given our economic condition, therefore, we should not have more than 3-5 states and the ensuing federal states needs to be named on the basis of geography. Likewise, we need to have Executive Prime Minister and ceremonial President (with right to exercise power if there is an emergency). Right to self-determination should not be given and granting of citizenship certificates needs to be carefully watched. He further said that Nepali identity should be based on Hinduism and not on the basis of secularism and Nepali should be treated as national language. We need to have one education system for all the citizens. Another participant Ram Chandra Bhattarai said no to federalism and suggested that we should convert existing five development regions into federal states. He also emphasised the need of having independent judiciary and said that we only need to have two layers of court - district and supreme. In the same vein, he said that we should nave have more than two political parties as the mushrooming number of political parties are creating perpetual political instability in the country. Likewise, another participant Mani Kumar Pradhan also supported the idea of not having more than two-three political parties. He further said that our education system should promote nationalism. With regard to the proportional electoral system, he said that, it should be give only to those who cannot get elected but their service is felt necessary for the state.

Shiv Lal Pradhan raised the point that the qualification of the CA member needs to be ascertained and said that it is not clear who are the senior citizens - this also needs to be defined. He said that the biggest challenge is to minimise the culture of impunity in the country. Mr Laxman Sharma Bhattarai argued that we should not have more than five-federal states and they should be drawn north-south as it will integrate society, geography, and economy simultaneously\.\\There is an urgent need to introduce 'recall' system in the country. Krishna Kumar Pradhan (former teacher) said that we need to compulsorily introduce vocational education for all the students when they are in the high-school as increasing number of carpenters, plumbers, electricians are coming from outside to work here.

Manish Thapa and Bhadra Bhattarai were of the view that youths are not represented in polity. He also said that we need to give importance to vocational education/training. He complained about our education system and that there is no proper evaluation system as the mere evaluation through exam is not sufficient. NRN should not be given citizenship certificates said Mr Thapa.

Laxmi Devi Bhattarai was of the view that we have too many CA members which is not good for the economic health of the state. Ram Chandra Bhattari said that we should discourage strikes and bandas as they are having negative impact on our economy. Tek Bahadur Gurung was of the view that children should also get monetary allowance from the state. Arbindra Bhattarai was of the view that we need to develop democratic culture which also can address our problems.

Phulmati Thapa was of the view that the tendency to describe democracy, nationalism and development on the basis of profit and loss should be discouraged. Parsuram Pariayar (teacher) said that reservation is required to uplift the states of Dalits, women and alike. Meena Prajapati came heavily on the recent introduction of widow marriage, she said that it is creating problem in society. Om Raj Bagale was of the view that there is lack of sense of accountability and nationalism among our political leaders. The issue of federalism was merely raised by the political leaders not by the citizens at large to serve their own personal interests. If democracy is rule of majority where is that, said Mr Bagale citing the case of Nepal where more than 85 percent people practice Hindu religion but the state has been declared secular. Isn't it contradictory?

Conclusion

The common observation of the seminar in Bandipur was that political leaders are not accountable to the citizens. We are simply treating "politics" as a competitive industry which has not worked in favour of people. The real industry that could have given relief to the people has taken a backtrack in the country. Hence, unless and until, we transfer political into service and revive the real industry, change is not going to be progressive.

 
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