Civic Education for Consolidating Relationships
between People and Local Self Governance
Organised by Nepal Foundation for Advanced
10 November 2011, Baglung
In the absence of civic education, youths
across the nation are shying away from politics. Especially college
goers in urban and semi-urban areas seem to have misunderstood
politics. They take politics as a dirty game. There has been a
growing trend among youths to be indifferent from politics and
social activities. If this trend continues, sociologists fear
that there will be an abyss in the country's politics. The abyss
or the gap can debilitate democracy to a large extent.
Even though leaders of country's major political
parties seem to be least bothered about democracy and the country's
sovereignty; social activists, scholars and workers of different
political parties here are deeply concerned about the national
issues, democratic values and development. Setting aside their
ideological differences, the local people here echoed their
voice for development and democracy.
While presenting a working paper on "Civic
Education for Consolidating Relationships between People and
Local Self Governance" organised by the Nepal Foundation
for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) recently, Shiv Raj Dahal underlined
the need for generating massive awareness among youths.
Youths are the torch-bearers of the nation,
if they become indifferent from politics; the mainstream politics
fails to move towards right direction, he said.
When politics takes a wrong course, the chances
of failure of democracy are higher. To be more precise, there
is likelihood of dominance of regressive forces (wrong-hands)
in politics which to a large extent can jeopardize democracy.
And when democracy becomes weak, good governance cannot be expected,
said Dahal while giving a brief outline of his working paper.
"This is high time for each and every
citizen - especially youths across the nation to be aware of
political development taking place in the country. If youths
turn a deaf ear to the politics, that will be a disaster, he
Youth's participation in social activities
would have a domino-impact in the social transformation. Hence,
youths should be involved in different facets of society, he
Growing trend of going abroad for seeking employment and permanent
residency (PR) shall make the national politics hollow. Hence,
civic education is a must for social transformation and development.
However, youths should be provided with an
ample opportunity for their economic uplift. Politics is based
on economics. He said
Following Shiva Raj Dahal's presentation,
Prof. Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma spoke about the economic aspect of
civic education. He said more and more youths irrespective of
their ideologies should be involved in productive and meaningful
activities in the society. Economy of the nation is based on
three components namely - state, private sector and cooperative.
If economics fails to support politics, there
will be a dearth of participation, democracy, human dignity;
he said adding that the country's politics has become more capital-(Kathmandu)-centric.
Politics, guide economic activities and economic activities
are the fundamental to the politics.
Presenting a gloomy picture of economic indicators,
he said that per capita income in Nepal has just reached US$500,
while neighboring countries like India and China have US$ 3500
and US$ 7500 respectively.
This tardy growth shows that we are failing
in development process. Who is responsible for the failure as
of now? They are the political actors who should be held responsible
for tardy economic growth. If politics fails to take right course,
country's economy cannot move a head, he said.
Our economy is based on remittance, but we
have not calculated the cost side, he said.
Prof. Sharma, former vice chairman of the National Planning
Commission said that the data system. Our data system is not
The poverty has come down to 25 per cent from
a 32 per cent, but the reality is not different. Poor has become
poorer and rich has richer. The gap has further widened in the
recent years, he said.
Problem in economic governance has to be resolved to attract
youths, he said.
It is the responsibility of the state to attract
youths for social development. If we fail to address the problem
in the economic governance, I doubt the country shall plunge
into an abyss of violence and lawlessness, he said.
If the state fails to provide opportunities
to the youths, obviously they tend to shy away. It is the responsibility
of the state to create opportunities for the people in the society.
Political actors, government should act honestly.
Prof. Sharma also spoke about the impact of
Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA)
between Nepal and India. Sharma, the former vice chairman of
the NPC strongly claimed that BIPPA will have more serious impact
in the country's economy. The BIPPA has reinforced the 1950
Treaty between Nepal and India which is in the interests of
Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal, while talking
about the need for political awareness said that youths should
not be kept aside of politics. They should be a part of politics
and social activities.
Prof. Dahal stressed the need for generating
awareness among youths. They should be informed that politics
is not a dirty game. They should be encouraged to do politics
for the right cause. Young generation presume politics as a
dirty game played idiots. This is totally a wrong concept. They
should be given a message that politics is not a dirty game,
but it should be guided by the right persons who are honest
and integrity towards society, he said.
Prof. Dahal claimed that the civil society
in our context is guided by political parties. If this trend
continues, the problem will arise in making the parties alert
and ultimately the political parties cannot take a right course.
Leaders of political parties should go along with the people.
They should embrace the feelings of people in true sense. Prof.
Dahal further said that political leaders should act in such
a way that they should be able to solve their problems at state
But it is a great irony that our leaders who
get elected by the votes of these people completely ignore them.
This is the main reason as why youths are shying away from politics.
However, we cannot remain tightlipped. Someone has to initiate
the process of educating youngsters. Hence, we should play a
proactive role to bring youths into the mainstream of politics,
Chandra Dev Bhatta, programme officer of Friedrich
Ebert Stiftung (FES) highlighting objectives of the programme
spoke about the prime objectives of the FES. He explained how
first President of Germany Friedrich Ebert initiated the process
of institutionalising social dialogue for the uplift the society.
Without civic education, people cannot realize the essence of
democracy. Civic education teaches people to be responsible
and dutiful. Civic education teaches citizens to be good citizen.
Political dialogue, social dialogues among
youths should be encouraged for social justice. If youths shy
away who is going to take part in the politics for social change?
Bhatta, an expert in political economy, noted
that politics has been distorted. Instead of becoming for the
people, politicians have created distance from the people. By
the people means it has been 'buy' the people and for of the
people it has become 'off the people', he said.
Bhatta said that youths should be aware of
all types of anomalies taking place in the society. Whatever
the political ideologies they have, they should not lag behind
for common cause.
Earlier Prof. Ananda Shretha, Chairman of
the NEFAS highlighted the objectives of the NEFAS's campaign
on civic education. No society can make progress without civic
education, hence NEFAS, with the support of FES has been organising
civic education programme across the nation. We expect that
this type of civic education programme would be helpful in generating
awareness among youths.
Besides, our programme would help accumulate
opinions across the nation. This ultimately, helps us to put
pressure on policy makers at the national level.
Urging participants to float their opinions,
he said "Your opinion bears a lot of sense to formulate
policy". We are organising this programme to collect your
views; this in totality helps policy makers as what policy should
From the chair, Mana Bahadur Khattri, lecturer
of Dhaulagiri Multiple College (DMC) expressed view that such
interaction programme would largely help to build opinion and
galvanize relations between youths in the society.
Such programme would generate awareness among
the youths. Hence, such civic education programme should be
encouraged for youths.
Hrishi Ram Sharma, a local intellectual
and political activist said that political parties and their
leaders should be cautioned with regard to development and democracy.
Today's youths need proper guideline for that
they are in dire need of civic education. At a time when the
values of civic education are dying down, such programme organised
by the NEFAS would greatly contribute to generate awareness
Each year, an awful lot of youths are going
abroad, if we fail to educate youths about the value of democracy,
country's future will be in jeopardy.
Hence, we should make youths more aware about
their rights and the values. If the current trend of going abroad
continues, democracy cannot take a right course. The youths
who are torch-bearers in the society cannot give anything to
the society; Sharma said adding that "Dahal's working paper
should be more specific about the role of youths' in capitalist
model and socialist society.
Tek Bahadur K.C, district secretary
of the UCPN- Maoists, said that local youths were very much
aware of their rights. He cautioned not to misinterpret youths'
role in national building process and social changes.
K.C said that left parties across the nation
need real education in true sense. However, he raised an objection
that the decision making process in the left parties is not
governed by the centre alone. The left parties often make decision
on the basis of opinion at the grassroots level.
Kazi Gaunle, a local social activist said that different
people have different understanding. People in other countries
have their own model of democracy. In the same way, we should
have own model. Hence the paper should clarify as how youths
could be mobilised for common cause in the society.
Prakash Poudel, Chairman of District
Committee Nepali Congress said that the election should not
be based on the caste, religion. This creates a sharp division
among youths. Developmental activities should take place on
the basis of reciprocity, he said.
This type of interaction on civic education would largely help
in uniting youths in the society for development.
Bal Bahadur Lamichhane, Chairman of
District Red Cross Baglung expressed grudges over the politicians
and political parties. None of the political leaders are bothered
about the deteriorating situation of law and order. The entire
nation is on the verge of disintegration as the political parties
and their leaders are squabbling over the political power. The
true nationalism should be defined.
Mana Kumari K.C, a school teacher underlined
the need to make common efforts to overcome social anomalies.
The atmosphere of trust should be built among youths, she said.
Responding the queries of participants, Shiva
Raj Dahal, the resource person of the workshop vowed to incorporate
all sorts of opinions at the interaction programme.
Nepal is rich in resources. What we need is
organisation capacity. To strengthen organisation capacity,
civic consciousness must improve. Leaders should have skill,
honesty and capacity.
Hence, everybody in the society should have
an adequate sense of shouldering responsibility with a greater
degree of honesty.
Prof. Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma, while responding
the queries about the impact the BIPPA said that it was more
regressive than that of the Mahakali Treaty. It would have greater
impact in the country's trade and economy.
Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal, further said that political
awareness among youths should be encouraged for that social
dialogue is a must.
Finally Chairman of the programme Mana Bahadur
Khatri, also underlined the need for social dialogue. Such programme
would act a catalyst to bring the youths into a common forum.