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Seminar Report on Promoting Active Citizenship for Building Modern State

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

Bajhang (22-23 April 2011) and Tikapur, Kailali (26-27 April 2011)


Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office organised two days seminar on Promoting Active Citizenship for Building Modern State in Chainpur of Bajhang district and Tikapur of Kailali district. . There were 140 participants out of which 30 were female. The programme was attended, among others, by judges, Chief District Officers, Chief of District Police Offices, Local Development Officers and other high-ranking government officials, leaders of the political parties, academicians, teachers, media personnel, lawyers, civil society members, students and other stake-holders of society. In Tikapur there were more than 100 participants and out of which around 40 were females. Speaking in the programme in Chainpur Chief District Officer Mohan Prasad Upadhayay (who also chaired the inaugural session) said that there is not common understanding of state Nepal. He said that the challenge for us is to create a common understanding on state. In Tikapur the programme was chaired by Ms. Devi Badi - woman from Badi Community. She thanked FES for providing this opportunity to chair the session and hoped that the same will be reflected in the national politics as well. Speaking in the inaugural programe, Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal said that the level social and political consciousness has increased but state has not been able to manage these them. This is primarily because it has not been able to extend its authority into society. Therefore the biggest challenge that lies ahead of us is to strike a balance between the consciousness that generates the sense of rights among people and the inherent duties that comes with it. Equally important is to work collectively so that state can extend its authority in society. This can only be done when we inculcate the concept of active citizenship among people.


There were altogether three papers presented by Dev Raj Dahal, Lal Babu Yadav - Associate Professor of Political Science at the Tribhuvan University and C D Bhatta. Dahal presented his paper on state and its challenges, Yadav on federalism, election and other contemporary and Bhatta on democracy, civic education, and citizenship building. In both places, significant number of people took part in the seminar. In Bajghan the working session was chaired by Jai Prithvi Bahadur Campus Chief Mr Mohan Raj Upadhyay. He raised the question that their issues never got reported by the media in the centre. Sam point was raised by one L B Rawal - He said that all the important people - the civil society leaders, intellectuals, media personnel, high-ranking authorities, activist live in Kathmandu who are least bothered about the problem of the people who living int he periphery. Likewise Uma Shankar Joshi was particular concerned about civil society and its role in Nepali politics. He was of the view that civil society in Nepal is bounded by NGOs through project, hierarchal, and not free from other elements of society.

Lal Bahadur Bohara enquired that during the movement of 2005/2006 civil society played a crucial role in the regime change but after that why it is silent on number of crucial issues. Why the intellectuals of the society who claim civil society leader are mum. He was also of the view that the political parties tried to sideline civil society on number of key issues. The unholy nexus that exists between political leaders and bureaucracy has also become major obstacles for the peace process in Nepal said Mr Bohara.

Another participant Indra Poudel inquired about the civic virtues and he underlined the need of civic education in Nepali society to address the perpetual conflict in the society.

Mamata Shah was particularly concerned about the political situation after May 28, 20100. Prabha Bajal said that the discrimination against women is unabated in Bajhang and there are different opinions on this issue even at the centre which needs to be bridged for the development of an egalitarian society.

Basanta Singh asked a question as what type of democracy would be best suitable in the 21st century - whether it should be guided by the ideology or by the action. Uma Shankar Joshi - former Joint Secretary of the Government of Nepal said that there has been great deal of erosion in the theory of possibility in Nepal primarily because of the chameleon like character of the political leaders.

Dhirendra Nepali from Rastriya PRajatantra Party (RPP) said that 65 percent of poor in the country our out of state mechanism. They do not feel the presence of the state. The NGOs and INGOs operating in the name of Dalits and proletariats are merely promoting clientalism and consumerism in the country. They are genuinely not concerned about the broader problem of Nepali society. Arjun Thapa from UML inquired about the prior use rights that has very forcefully in the country. He also suggested that we really need to cut down the monopoly of political parties in each and every aspect of state affairs and promote the role of civil society and other actors of society.

Min Bahadur Shahi from Tikapur Multiple Campus was of the view that people at large in Nepal are very much conscious about their rights, they have been promised too much by the political leaders but no mechanism has been developed to fulfil their rights and promises which has resulted anti-political sentiment in society. Nepali rulers over the years have failed to design economic policies for the state. We rather promoted market oriented approached that only served the interest of those who were already in power.

Keshar Bahadur Kunwar, Vice Campus Chief of Tikapur Multiple College, opined that we have the dual economic system in the country which has not been able to serve the purpose of education. We need to strike a balance between spiritualism and materialism argued Kunwar.

Similarly Yogendra Bajgai blamed that Nepali media has failed to strengthen democratisation process in the country. Dharma Bahadur Bista said that civil society should posses the element of civility to work for the broader welfare of the society. Morality and civility should go hand in hand and the biggest challenge in the case of Nepal is to strike a right balance between these two elements. We need to promote public institutions which are in declining stage in Nepal.

Surat Bahadur Kunwar what are the basic characteristics of ideal citizens (adharsha nagrik) and rights of the citizens? There are many people in the rural areas who do not know about these things. Ekendra Timilsina said that the lack of civic political culture in the country has developed very negative image in society. Many scandals such as Red Passport are the product of this culture. Purna Bahadur Bogati blamed that we have only elected party leaders not the leaders of citizen. Federalism that is being purposed should work for the people and society. We also have to uplift women who make of 51 percent of total population. The rural women particularly need upliftment. Yogendra Bajgai said that the political in Nepali is controlled by the elites who do not like to interact with people but always use them to float their agendas in society in different names. This practice needs to be stopped. He suggested that we need to make civic education and moral education compulsory in our society so that we can address all the contradictions that exist in our society.


The seminars in these two places emphasised that there is an urgent need to introduce civic education in our society at different levels. That can alone address our problem of political instability as it will help to build up the civic culture in our society/. Another point that was raised in both the places is that the good people have not gone into Nepali politics and there is an urgent need to develop such a mechanism. Similarly, dynastic politics should be discouraged which seems to be taking root in Nepal as well. We need to find out democracy within our own tradition and culture which will be more sustainable.

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