Seminar Report on Civic Education on Modern-State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
17- 18 September (Katari, Udayaypur) and 19-20 September 2011
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office has organised two day
seminars on civic education and state-building at Katari of
Udayapur district and Mirchaya of Siraha district on 17 and
18 and 19 and 20 September, 2011 respectively. 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 the two-day seminar in both the places. There were
over 130 participants in Katari and more than 125 in Mirchaya
with significant number of women participants. The whole idea
of this programme was to educate political leaders and people
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 and component required for the
democratic politics which can, no doubt, contribute towards
modern state-building by winning people's confidence on it which
seems to be waning day-by-day. In Katari, the seminar was chaired
by Rajendra Prasad Niraula and in Mirchaya Dr. Sri Krishna Yadav,
former Commissioner of public Service Commission of Nepal. Gyanendra
Bahadur Raut, Secretary of the Nepali COngressParty also actively
participated in the programme.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office welcomed all the participants
and highlighted objectives of the seminar. During his inaugural
speech Dahal said 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 the state and have duties towards
it. That feeling seems to be lacking in our context both at
the level of political class and at the citizenry level argued
Dahal. The unaccountable politics is the product of this phenomenon
said Dahal. Hence the biggest challenge that lies ahead of us
is how do we inculcate the culture of civic education in our
political system and create common national identity. That said,
how we can build up common orientation towards state and society
to translate democracy in a real sense of the term to minimise
inequality that exist in society. As long as inequality exists
in society, conflicts are bound to take place. Hence minimization
of social inequality can help us to build-up a modern state
Speaking from the Chair Rajendra Prasad Niraula said that education
is all about learning and changing human behavior. In the same
vein, Dr Yadav opined that it has always been difficult to define
freedom. Perhaps the best way to define freedom is to exercise
one's right without impinging on other's right. He further said
that materialism alone cannot unite society - there has to be
some element of spiritualism or dharma in our education system.
He also said that by making others unhappy - one cannot stay
happy for a long time. This is what exactly we have to realise
and take into consideration in a post-conflict society like
Three papers were presented in both the places wherein Dev
Raj Dahal presented on challenges of state-building in Nepal,
Lal Babu Yadav - Associate Professor of Political Science at
the Tribhuvan University spoke about Constitutional crisis 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. He stressed that
what matters in democracy is process not the leaders.
Kumar Singh Rai asked why Nepal is not developed and
how we can bring youths into politics. Rajendra Niraula asked
whether federalism is needed or not. Another participant Sumi
Rai asked can federalism bring development /prosperity in society?
What type of federalism would best suitable for Nepal? Another
participant asked why parliamentary system has failed in Nepal
- is it because of the system itself or nature of the political
Bhanu Bhakta Gautam (Principle) of Fulkumari Mahato
Higher Secondary School asked what is the difference between
federalism with full-autonomy and federalism without autonomy?
Pabitra Narayan Yadav asked how can we have a federal
state that can address demands of different ethnic and regional
groups in Nepal? Jeevachha Sah said this is an important topic
but the challenge for us is how we can have a state that can
look into the voices raised by different societal groups and
win people's loyalty towards it. He further said that political
parties have made mistakes by giving both roles to the CA -
that is, constitution writing and day-to-day administration
of the state. Due to this provision political parties are more
involved in government forming than writing the constitution.
Vijay Sah was of the view that constitution comes from
the society but our political classes seem to have failed to
realise this fact?
Jitendra Kumar Yadav asked what type of nationalism
do we want - liberal, nationalistic or socialistic? He further
said that how can we develop the culture of nationalism? What
type of democracy would best serve our interest social or liberal
asked Yadav further.
Ajay Kumar Yadav asked why don't we talk about democratization
of political parties
Chandra Dev Yadav enquired what is autonomous Madhes
and one-Madhes -one Pradesh?
Trikoland Thakur (Vice-Principle) asked what type language
policy should be adopted by the federals states?
Jitendra Kumar asked what type federal system should
Nepal adopt and what are its basis ? He further asked what are
the views of different political parties on federalism ?
Another participant Poonam Ghimire Shah asked what would
happen if we do not adopt federalism ? She further enquired
how do we benefit more by going into federalism or without it.
She personally feels that federalismis not suitable for Nepal.
Ajay Kumar Yadav asked what type of rights federal states
enjoy in federalism with right to self-determination. What type
of federalism would unite all Nepalese into a single thread
asked Chandeshor Paswan.
Bharat Mahato and Jagdish Mahato asked what is
civil society and its role in political process ? What is public
information system and how does it empower people and transform
them into citizen? What are the views of different political
parties on federalism ?
Ram Udgar Shah asked in the context of Nepal, there
is a great deal of fear that federalism with right to self-determination
will disintegrate Nepal. I am personally of the view that we
should not entire Madhes one Pradesh as there is no guarantee
that people from Madhes would become Chief Minister even if
the entire Madhes become one state. Is federalism a scientific
Dhanpati Sah what type of federalism would be best suitable
for Nepal. Bedananda Jha raised the issue of federalism
before Gajendra Naryan but why the issue was subsided
In a democracy rules are followed without referee - how is
Asha Bhujel asked how can we improve the situation of
women in Nepal? Women work more than men but their work is not
respected or valued why?
Kaplieshwor Thakur wanted to know different between
prajatantra, loktantra and ganatantra?
Until now the democracy has been realised by few people in
Nepal - can federalism bring democracy for all asked Pashupati
Badri Sah asked what is the main barrier of democracy
if it is rule of law not that of person?
What is clear from the above discussion is that many people
are unaware of about federalism, electoral procedure, right-to-self
determination and other political issues that are floated by
the political parties. There is an urgent need to extend programmes
like this in different parts of the country at the grass-root
level as well so that people at large can participate effectively
in the political process. Overall an effective democracy can
only function when it is backed up by the effective citizenry.