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Seminar on Building Modern State through Constitutional Process

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

2-3 November 2010, Kaski


Introduction

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal Office, organised a two- day seminar on the challenges of state-building and constitutional process in Lekthnath Municipality of Kaski District on 2nd-3rd November, 2010. There were altogether 95 participants which included 25 female participants. The programme was attended, among others, by leaders of the political parties, academicians, teachers, media personnel, lawyers, civil society members, students and other stake-holders of society. The overarching aim of this seminar was to educate local political leaders/civil society activists on issues pertaining to state-building and constitutional process in Nepal.

The Proceedings

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal welcomed participants. During his welcome speech he spoke about the organisational goal of FES and emphasised on the fact that the whole idea of such types of programme is to generate sense of awareness in society about the issues of national importance. He said that we are in the process of writing a new constitution and restructuring the state, at this juncture, there are serious issues attached with this process which need careful attention from all strata of society. In particular, future model of governance, the model of federalism, and judiciary needs special attention. Active participation of people and inclusion of their voices, visions and views increase legitimacy, people's ownership towards it and provide constitutional stability thereby constructing active citizenship rather than passive citizenship is important.

Mr Kashi Raj Dahal, spoke about the constitutional issues, process including models of governance, federalism and judiciary. While Chandra D. Bhatta spoke about components of democracy that are necessary to be incorporated into the future constitution. He said that the clientalism that has been seen in every sphere of governances needs to discourage. The clientele politics has disassociated citizens from the state and the need of the hour is to bring citizens closer to the polity.

Floor Discussion

Participating in the discussion Mr Kul Prasad Adhikari was of the view that economy is the main element for the nation-building and underlined the need of formulating economic policies to uplift poor out of poverty. He further inquired about the countries where constitutions have been written through Constituent Assembly. He was strongly against the idea of ethnic state. Mr Pushpa Raj Dhungel asked where the recommendations have submitted by people gone. Ms Bishnu Tiwari said that political leaders have promised constitution after the election of CA but where is it. Rather than settling political issues, our political leaders are busy in travelling abroad said Ms Tiwari. She also enquired what happened to the self-employment programme floated by the political parties in the past. Why our political leaders have failed to create employment without our own country? She further said that we have to root out the causes of conflict in from our society and said no to federalism. Similarly Balraj Poudyal enquired about the indicators of the modern state. Why we have failed to put right man in the right place? We have to focus only on two classes - rich and poor and design our policies accordingly. Poor should not be denied of state facilities merely because comes from Bahun-Chhetri family as it will create further complications in our society.

Another participant Lekhnath Sapkota blamed that same people are getting opportunities again and again. There is an urgent need to fix qualification to participate in the electoral process said Mr Sapkota. Federal states should be demarcated north-south and we should eliminate contractual system that exists in our society be it politics or business. Ramjee Lamichhane (teacher) enquired about the constitutional process and issues at stake. How do you define modern state and how does it being in Nepali context, asked Mr Lamicchane. Mr Dhruba Adhikar also asked the differences between ancient state, modern state and the constitutional state. What type of state is Nepal where lawmakers slap the CDO ? Where is the rule of law, asked Mr Adhikari. Why interim constitution has been amended so many times, was it for the benefit of the society or that of political leaders?

Dhanapati Dhungana was of the view that federal states should not be drawn on the basis of ethnicity. The best way would be to convert existing five development regions into five federal states opined Mr Dhungana. He also blamed that our civil society is highly politicized and we are heavily relying on exported politics/policy. Ramjee Thapa also enquired about the foundations of the modern Nepali state? Prem Kaji Gurng was of the view that we need to have strong anti-corruption law in the country to end the rampant corruption in the country. Mr Rishi Budhathoki of Public Administration Campus argued that civil society should not be included in the politics as they are highly partisan. Kul Prasad Adhikari said that we have had so many movements in the name of democracy but where the economic movement for the prosperity of the people at large lies. In the absence of economic movement, there is no way that we can achieve political rights fully argued Mr. Adhikari. Mrs Uma Pairyar said that this is good opportunity for us to express our views on politics, economy, constitution and alike and underlined the need of culture of compromise among political leaders. She said that those who are backward, economically deprived needs to be empowered as it will bridge the class-gap that exists in our society.

Mr Daya Ram Tiwari raised the question that why we have failed to create employment within our own country? Why our political leaders have failed civic movements. Rudra Mani Bhattarai was of the view that like single-women, single-men who are affected by the conflict should also get benefit (allowance) from the state. Mr Giri Raj Gautam, Social Worker, argued that while our political leaders are not in constitution and election - what is the need of talking about presidential and parliamentarian system.

Ms. Geeta Subedi said that who is dalit - we have to clearly define it. Prem Raj Gurung said that every citizen should get all sorts of rights without any discrimination. All the youths below 22 years of age should be given vocational training.

Conclusion

In Pokhara a lot of participants asked about as what exactly is the modern state and how does it differ it from the ancient and constitutional state. They also blamed our political leaders for providing political stability in the country, uplifting people's economic conditions. It appears that day-by-day people at large are getting frustrated with the extended political instability in the country. Hence the need of the hour is to restore people's confidence on politics, system and the state.

 
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