Seminar Report on Civic Education on Modern-State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
Ratnanagar, Chitwan 7-8 Septermber 2011
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office has organised a two
day seminar on civic education and state-building at Ratna Nagar
of Chitwan District on September 7-8, 2011. The programme was
attended by local political leaders, members of civil society,
journalists, teachers, lecturers, students, civil servants (including
security personnel) and other stake-holders of society actively
participated. There were over 100 participants of which half
of them were female. The whole idea of this programme was to
educate people's at the local level on the importance of civic
education and its role in modern state-building. Civic education
basically is a political education and there is a great deal
of urgency to inform people about politics that too, democratic
politics. Only a democratic politics can contribute towards
modern state-building by winning people's confidence on it which
is at its lowest ebb at the moment. The seminar was chaired
by Gokarna Malla of Sahid Smiriti Multiple Campus. Speaking
from the Chair Mr Malla said that citizens are master of the
nation who can guide the leaders. But the question arises what
type of citizen can do so - the right answer is only the informed
citizens. That only the informed citizens can bring politics
on the right track and we can create the pool of such citizenry
by giving them proper education including civic one.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office welcomed participants
and highlighted objectives of the seminar. During his inaugural
speech Dahal underlined the importance of civic education. He
said that the lack of civic education in our society can result
in political anarchy. He further said that citizens are members
of the state and by being the members of the state - they enjoy
certain rights from it and they, too, have duties towards it.
That feeling seems to be missing in our context both at the
level of political classes and at the citizenry argued Dahal.
The unaccountable politics is the product of this phenomenon
pointed out Dahal. At this backdrop, the biggest challenge that
lies ahead of us is how do we instill the culture of civic education
in our political system said Dahal.
Three papers were presented in both the places wherein Dev
Raj Dahal presented on Challenges of State-building in Nepal,
Senior Journalist - Yuba Raj Ghimire on contemporary political
issues in the country and highlighted on federalism, electoral
system, and form of government and finally Chandra D Bhatta
spoke about democracy and its elements. He also highlighted
why democracy works in some countries and not in others.
Birendra Subedi asked why Nepal has become recipient
of policies as well - is it because we are a poor country or
political parties are weak here. Citing Mao Tse Tung - he said
that the state should stand on two legs - agriculture and industry.
But here in Nepal we do not have either one. Under such a state
of affairs how can we have policy sovereignty argued Subedi?
Mukunda Dhakal asked how can we implement the vision
you have just explained (citing Dev Raj's presentation). He
further said we have been extending the tenure of CA in the
name of writing the constitution which is moving nowhere - how
has it been viewed by the international community particularly
its legitimacy part. What role civil society can have here?
Why did NGOs and INGOs have come to Nepal - for construction
Satya Narayan Chaudhary said that we do not need centralised
federalism - that exercises authority of the federal states.
Dambar Puri of RJM - the allocation of electoral constituency
on the basis of population, granting of citizenship certificates
on the basis of birth are the agendas solely promoted by India.
The federalism is another ploy of authoritarianism which was
floated by Indians too. We need to access our situation on our
Rupi Joshi said that in our school texts we read Shakespeare's
but not Devkota - why don't we change this.
Shibu Nepali asked what role civil society has in state-building.
How can our civil society contribute towards creating the notion
of unity in diversity and this will help to boost up our nationalism?
Political parties should not compromise on national issues.
Arjun Dhakal asked - what is your take on experts committee
on state restructuring. Sanjay Chaudhary asked how we can build-up
active citizenship so that dalits, indigenous groups, Madhesi
could be brought into the political mainstream.
Kamali Kanta Ghimire said that we all are sitting together.
This is very good and will help to build-up common national
identity at against ethnic identity which has dogged Nepali
society. He further said that none of the ethnic groups enjoy
absolute majority and the way ethnic federalism is floated is
not a forward looking approach. We call ourselves communist
but talk about ethnic state by completely forgetting the politics
of class - which should have been our agenda.
Mahendra Chaudhary Rauniyar said that its very good
programme and there has been very good attendance since very
beginning. He said that we need to modernize agriculture which
will create more jobs for our youths. He reminded that we used
to export food some thirty years ago but today we import everything
including food items.
Indra Poudyal, Rajendra Puri, Damber Puri,
and Gokarna Adhikari also expressed their views during
the seminar. They said that the programme is very good but they
didn't have enough time to learn all. They said that two days
time is not enough. They also expressed that we are slowly losing
group on our values and we really need to restore them.
The programme in Ratnagar, Chitwan went very well. Participants
got to know about important issues such as state, state building,
inclusive democracy, federalism, forms of government, electoral
process and many more. The conclusion of this seminar is that
transformation requires at the multiple levels and a sustainable
transformation can take place when it is backed up by proper