Seminar Report on Promoting Active Citizenship
for Building Modern State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
15-16 June 2011, Ramechhap
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office
organised a two day seminar on Promoting Active Citizenship
for Building Modern State in Ramechhap district. There were
120 participants out of which 15 were female. The programme
was attended, among others, by the government officials, leaders
of the political parties, academicians, teachers, media personnel,
lawyers, civil society members, security personnel, students
and other stake-holders of the society. The seminar was chaired
by Nar Bahadur Karki of Gauri Shankar Multiple Campus.
Speaking in the inaugural programme
C. D. Bhatta said that the biggest challenge in Nepal is to
build up common consensus among various political parties to
push the peace process ahead. Equally important is to extend
authority of the state in society which is at its lowest ebb.
This can only be done when we inculcate the concept of active
citizenship among people and make them aware about both rights
and responsibilities. One participant rightly pointed out that
we as a citizen of this state failed to respond call made by
the government to join the army/police during the crisis time
and now everybody wanted to join the service. This is not the
notion of active citizenship.
There were altogether three papers presented
by Senior Journalist Yuba Raj Ghimire, Lal Babu Yadav - Associate
Professor of Political Science at the Tribhuvan University and
C D Bhatta. Ghimire presented his paper on state and current
political situations, Yadav on federalism, election and other
contemporary and Bhatta on democracy, civic education, and citizenship
building. Ghimire argued that political leaders of Nepal have
brought Nepal into this situation. With regard to the one Madhesh
one Pradesh - Ghimire was of the view that this proposition
will create imbalance in national politics and will hijack agendas
of minorities. After the papers were presented, a good number
of people took part in the discussion and as a citizen of this
country we are equally responsible for this state of affairs.
This is so because we always approve whatever our leaders do.
The important point that was raised from the floor was that
civil society leaders, intellectuals, media personnel, high-ranking
authorities, activists all live in Kathmandu who are least bothered
about the problem of the people living in the periphery.
Devi Khadka and Bhim Bahadur Tamang
enquired about the model of federalism. Khadka was particularly
concerned as what type of federalism would best suit Nepali
state so that it can serve the interest of both the state and
society. Tamang also argued that parliamentary system of governance
has gone into astray and there is an urgent need to adopt presidential
system as we have not yet practised it in the past.
Bindeshwor Magar asked where we can
return the land that Nepal lost after the Sugauli Treaty. He
was also concerned whether federalism would disintegrate Nepali
Tika Ram Lama asked the presenter about the number of unitary
and federal state in the world.
Durga Basnet asked how we define modernity
in the context of Nepal. Should we take unification date of
P N Shah as a starting point or are there any other measures
that can be taken as a reference point to define Nepali modernity.
Chet Bahadur Khadka asked what are the
reasons behind political and constitutional stability in the
Western Europe and the USA.
Another participant Raj Basnet asked what type of nationalism
is required to build up the modern state? Is it necessary to
be a democrat to become a nationalist? Another participant enquired
what are the differences between pluralism and multiparty competitive
system of governance? is pluralism an inalienable part of democracy
Anil Shreshtha made a point whether
we can have separate states like Terai, Pahad and Himal.
Another participant expressed his concerned
about state restructuring at a time when ethnicity has dominated
the political discourse in the country by sidelining the role
of political parties per se/.
Whether right to self-determination
would cede Nepali state like Bangladesh ceded from Pakistan?
What would be the future of federalism, while there are resenting
voices coming against it from different sections of society
argued another participant?
Shankar Dahal wanted to know about the
role of media in democracy and constitutional process? He also
asked what would happen if the constitution is not written in
The seminars emphasised that if the
accountability is realised by all the people in perhaps the
need for federalism will automatically shy away. There is an
urgent need to introduce civic education in our society at different
levels to instil the sense of accountability in societal actors.
The corruption that exists in our society needs to be uprooted.
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 is that the good people have not
gone into Nepali politics and there is an urgent need to develop
such a mechanism. We need to find out democracy within our own
tradition and culture which will be more sustainable.