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Seminar Report on Initiate for State-building and Constitutional Dynamics

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

(18-19 December 2010) Nepalgunj and (20-21 December 2010) Dang


Introduction

Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised two day seminar in Nepalganj (18-19 December, 2010) and Tulasipur, Dang (20-21 December, 2010) on state-building and constitutional dynamics in Nepal. There were over hundred participants in Nepalganj and around 105 in Dang of which more than 30 percent were female participants in both the places. 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, bureaucrats, security officials and other stake-holders of the society. In Nepalganj the programme was chaired by the district judge Mohan Bhattarai and Chief District Officer (CDO) of Nepalganj also attended the programme. CDO spoke in the seminar and was of the view that every Nepali should get citizenship certificate and no one should be denied of this facility.

The whole objective of these programmes is to educate local political leaders, civil society activists and, other stakeholders of the society on issues such as constitutional process, peacebuilding, civil society, civic education, values of democracy, challenges of state-building in and alike. This is importance because the Constituent Assembly has given opportunities to every Nepali to be equally participative in the institutional life of the state as we are standing in the historic juncture and writing new rules, developing new regulations that might affects many coming generations.

Speaking in the inaugural session, and setting the scene for discussion and highlighting the objective of the organisation, Chandra D. Bhatta, Programme Officer of FES - Nepal Office, highlighted the need of strengthening capacity of the state is important to ensure all sorts of rights. In fact state didn't collapse in Nepal, however, it has failed to expand its authority as the same has been shifted toward political parties and their sister organizations, non-state armed actors and to some extent even 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. Bhatta further said that there have been intermittent regime changes in every ten year since maize farming (Makaiko kheti) till today but they were only cosmetic in nature and failed to bring tangible changes into the life of people. The agenda for the change floated by the masses has been hijacked by the elites from the political parties and their leader who, in turn, later compelled to co-opt with the former primarily because political parties lack the desired power/knowledge/ for the change whereas elites do not want to change. This tendency has not brought any positive change in a society and people at large lost their confidence both on state and system. So unless and until we restore confidence of the people on the state and its institutions, the agenda of social, political, and economic transformation cannot be ensured. Moreover, under these circumstances, Nepal is bound to face further political crisis. Finally, we really need to establish democracy that is more substantive and change oriented than procedural, said Bhatta. He further pointed out that social change in Nepal has been postponed primarily because of the non-implementation of the laws and by- laws. Equally important is that we have to differentiate whether democracy is system or process. Democratisation is never ending process and all the countries, even those who claim democratic, are also in the process of further democratisations. Therefore democracy is a process which ensures people's accessibility in the activities of the state.

Proceedings

Bishnu Pokhrel complained about the seminar hall. Chitra Bahadur Shahi thanked FES for bringing this programme to Nepalganj. He was of the view that the same person should not be the Prime Ministers more than one time and it should be applicable with the case of President as well. Student Unions should not be allowed until class twelve. He further said that federal state should respect people's dignity and it should be taken as the basis as well. Ushman Ali was of the view national anthem should be attached with nationalism. Nitin Kumar Aggrawal was of the view that inclusive policies should serve the interest of all the communities equally. There should not be discrimination in the name of inclusion. Likewise Narayan Rupakheti from Nepali Congress opined that the number of parliamentarians should be less. The best idea, for him, would to convert current five development regions into five federal states. Women's rights should be included in the fundamental rights. There has to be an end to polygamy. Those who are found guilty in the cases of corruption be they are men or women should get severe punishment. Basu Jung Thapa said special educational provision should be made for the handicapped people and public places should be made friendly to them. Advocate Ananda Prasad Shrestha said that sex business has to be regulated under the law./In the same vein, Shyam Shrestha said that all the past governments have paid mere leap service to the sports and upcoming constitution should have special arrangement to improve sports in the country. Sports persons should be given pension. We need to have clear scientific land policy. State restructuring has to be done without jeopardizing the social harmony. He was also of the view that our politicians should work to maintain national integrity of the country. By and large, his worry was much on whether these political leaders can save this state or not.
Megh Raj KC and Bhupal Bhudathoki of Dang said that blamed that partisan interest, lack nationalistic feeling and humanistic approach while conducting duties, on the part of political leaders is main problem of the country. We can only put Nepali politics on track if substantial improvement is done all societal actors on these areas. Nepal cannot afford to have more than three states given the current state of economy and all this states should be carved north to south to maintain social harmony. We cannot escapee from multiparty system with pluralism. There is an urgent need to abolish caste system and those who are historically fallen behind need to be uplifted. We need to adopt mixed economic system. Ideology does not die its biology that dies.

Dhruba Raj Puri enquired why multiparty democracy fails in Nepal? Perhaps, it is due to lack of democratic political culture, lack of civic education, inequality, commercialization of education. All these are reflected by our political parties. We should not give right to self-determination as it will push Nepali state towards cessation. Poverty, illiteracy, caste system and personality-oriented politics should come to an end for the consolidation of democracy.

Mahesh Prasad Acharya was of the view that we not develop a mechanism where prosperity comes to all not few bunches of people. Likewise, we cannot afford to have more than 5-7 federal state. Political parties have to be democratized and one personal should not be allowed to lead the political party for the long time. We need to have realistic policy while dealing with India.

Ishwari Bhandari our political culture still parochial and political parties lack self-confidence. Our problem, as per him, is that we want democracy but not prepared to have the culture; likewise, we could not develop ourselves but we have too many rights. It has hoped that federalism should work toward this end.

Thaneshwor Gautam said that none of the political parties have patience to stay in the opposition. Every political party would like to go into the government for the power as soon as people. Political parties see power in the government but not in the people.\If we develop civic political culture than there will not be problem as such whatever the system we adopt.

Chitra Malla said that laws and by-laws should be written in a way that women can also have access to them. Deba Basnet from Nepali Congress blamed that we have not realised women's human rights though the activists do talk about them.

Top Bahadur Puri enquired what is New Nepal. He blamed that since 1990s we have been working on the basis of force and we have removed monarchy on the basis. We cannot do whatever we like in the name of change. All the past constitutions were buried and how can we assure that the upcoming constitution will have the samae fate. There is severe lack of civic education in our society.

Megh Raj Panday was of the view that experts are fighting among themselves on different issues but they don't know what is right for Nepal. They only know what is right for them. We need to properly manage our education system. There is a great deal of crisis in the management of public mandate.

Karna Bahadur KC blamed that political parties are on the way to making Nepal like Sikkim. We was of the view that there are prajatantrabadi (democrat), samyabadi (communist) but not rastrabadi (nationalist) hence the constitution will not be written in time.

Radhika Pairyar advised that we need to have syndicate system on the important system between man and woman. She also enquired what would be the position of dalits in the federal system?

Gopinath Yogi said that marginalised groups should be included in the institutional life of the state.

Narayan Prasad Sharm said no to federalism.

Radhika Pairyar said that we should not abolish caste system but we have to abolish the discrimination that comes in the name of caste.
The right to self-determination that is being floated in Nepal is linked with the state and it is one step ahead of what Lenin said and there are ample evidences that it is also connected with cessation. For example - the demand for one Madesh, one Pradesh with right to self-determination, Limbuwan state with right to self-determination generates some fear that Nepali will turn into pieces.

Conclusion

The seminars in these two places indicate that there is high-level of nationalistic feeling, people are not in favour of federalism, they don't want any sort of discrimination in society but they would like to protect their culture, religion and caste. They have lost hope on political leaders but they are hopeful that democracy would sweep away all these indiscrimination that exists in our society, we only have to wait for some honest political leaders to emerge.

 
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