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Civic Education: The Role of the Youth in the Making of a Modern State

Organized by Nepal Foundation of Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

9 April 2011, Bardibas, Mahottari


Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) in co-operation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a one day seminar on "Civic Education: The Role of the Youth in the Making of a Modern State" at Bardibas, Mahottari district. About 88 participants belonging to different sectors participated in the seminar. Young social scientist Shiva Raj Dahal presented a paper titled 'Civic Education for the Youth' and Political Scientist Mr. Dev Raj Dahal, head of FES, Nepal, gave a brief introduction of FES and spoke about the current situation in the light of fundamental principles of democracy. Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta spoke about the significance of democracy and the role it has played in developing civic awareness in various countries. The discussions that followed reflected the intensive churning that the Nepalese society is undergoing at present. The participants were also provided with the booklet 'Handouts on Democracy' and ' Building Modern State and Constitutional Questions.'

Paper Presentation and Discussion

Shiva Raj Dahal- We have gathered today in Baridabas to discuss the topic "The role of civic education in strengthening the relationship between the people and local self-government." NEFAS focuses on issues connected to civic education, nationalism, economy and society. It has so far published thirty-five books. These books are used as teaching materials for classes running from the ten plus two level to the master's level. Around two hundred thousand students are required to study these books. The government has decided to make civic education compulsory for students of class eleven and part of its contents have gone into the reading requirement of Public Service Commission. These books are required reading for students sitting for the section-officer level exams and also for those under-secretaries vying for the post of joint-secretary. Students attending the army's command course are also required to be familiar with it.

There are no people's representatives at the local government level at present. This has created a difficult situation. Local governance constitutes the foundation of democracy. How can this aspect of democracy be strengthened? We have sent our representatives to make a new constitution. We have to apply pressure on them to include the issues that concern us in the new constitution. Our education system is only producing workers for foreign countries. Who is going to guarantee that our rights are upheld in such a situation? We have to stop the youth from emigrating and create job opportunities within the country as they are entitled to both constitutional rights and duties. We would like to thank you all for accepting our invitation.

I would like to request Mr. Gokul Prasad Sharma, who has been involved in the education sector since a long time, to assume the chairmanship. Prof. Ananda P. Shrestha has taught English for twenty-eight years in Tribhuvan University and is at present the executive director of NEFAS. He has translated Muna Madan into English. Mr. Dev Raj Dahal was affiliated with CNAS and the Political Science Department for a long time. He was visiting research scholar at Berkley for some time. He is ready to answer any queries that you may have. Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta is from Baitadi and has done his doctorate on Nepal's civil society from the London School of Economics. I would like to request Mr. Ananda Shrestha to give a welcome speech from the side of the organizers of this seminar.

Prof. Ananda P Shrestha-Chairman, our friends from FES, Mr. Dev Raj Dahal and Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta and friends. Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies was established in 1993 with a view to organize dialogues on public issues and make people aware of many policy related questions. This organization conducts seminars in different parts of the country and then publishes the proceedings in a book form and distributes it. Our objective is to initiate discussions on issues that have aroused national concern. We have published around forty-five books so far and these books have dealt with such issues as development, civil society, civic education, water resources, security, economics and rural development. These books are prescribed for courses running from the ten plus two level to the post graduate level. The political science, economics, rural development and sociology courses have incorporated these books in their course of study.

The topic of this seminar needs no explanation as it aims to create active citizens through public awareness on their rights and responsibilities. The people have not been able to enjoy the fruits of democracy as political participation is confined to either movement or agitation. Since the past two to three years we have been without a proper constitution. We were determined not to limit the seminars we hold only to Kathmandu. It is due to this stance that we are present here today. In Kathmandu we only hold a limited number of programs related to macro-policy because this will hinder us from listening to the viewpoints of those residing outside the valley.

Shiva Raj Dahal will present a paper. Due to the present situation of delay in drafting constitution, peace process and reforms the frustration among the people is rising. How can the country proceed along the right constitutional track? We believe that this is not possible without the youth assuming the leadership of the civil society and political parties. They must have access to the decision-making level. Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal will dwell on these issues. This paper is not complete. It might have failed to include relevant points. We are in the process of further refining this paper. Suggestions from the side to the participants will be of help. Since the beginning FES has been helping us in our endeavor. Without their help this work would not have been possible and I would like to express my thanks to FES. It is necessary to strengthen the relationship between local governance and the people. I would like to request Mr. Dev Raj Dahal to shed light on this issue.

Dev Raj Dahal- I would like to first to briefly introduce Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). Established in the memory of Friedrich Ebert, the first social democratic president, the stiftung is guided by four core values. 1) Freedom-without which there can be no freedom of expression, organization and democracy. 2) Social Justice-it believes that only when the weaker section of the society has a stake in the system can it be sustained. It is working worldwide to further the interests of women, dalits and workers. B.P. Koirala and Willy Brandt were friends and both were members of the Socialist International. Willy Brandt wrote a report in which he stressed that if the developed countries did not help the poor countries the people of those countries would try to immigrate to the developed countries. If the poor countries began to develop this sort of problem would not arise. It recommended that the developed countries allocate 1.7% of their GDP to aid poor countries. 3) Solidarity- If the fruits of development are not equitably shared instability will occur. Germany provides aid directly as well as through the UN and INGOs for Nepal's development. The number of people below the poverty line is being reduced through programs such as the Poverty Alleviation Program. We do not make policies. The legislature, the judiciary and the executive organs are weak. The problems we face do not recognize national boundaries. Climate change is taking place and Himalayan snow is melting fast due to global warming. This will affect the tourism industry as well as the generation of hydroelectric power. Due to the paucity of water people will be forced to migrate. Maldives faces the risk of being submerged. How can the world help us to deal with such problems? The rise in global temperature is not our fault. This was caused by the process of industrialization. The hole in the ozone layer is growing. It has led to growth of cancer cases in Austrilia. We need to think about these problems. International cooperation is essential to solve our problems, 4) Peace- Willy Brandt had remarked that peace is nothing by itself but without it nothing can happen. Gautam Buddha is the preeminent apostle of peace. He was the last Buddha. The fourteen to fifteen other Buddhas belonged to various countries such as China, India and Sri Lanka. Peace brought through the use of violence cannot be sustained as it breeds a culture of violence. A peace agreement has been signed in Nepal but institutions necessary to underpin it has not yet been established. A big question mark has been raised over whether a new constitution will be promulgated within the deadline set. Speculations such as a) a skeletal draft will be presented, b) the term of the constituent assembly will be extended, and c) president's rule will be declared are rife. What is the best option for us and the country?

If a country attempts to destroy its historical and civilizational roots the state will turn into a failed state. There were only seventeen states in existence when Nepal came into being. Now we are being portrayed as a fragile state. Only a strong state is capable of putting into practice the rights given to its citizens. The Interim Constitution of 2007 has guaranteed the right to work, food and the rights of the children, women and the disabled but implementation is weak. The money raised by tax accounts for only twelve percent of the GDP. What type of policy will suit Nepal? More thought needs to be given to this question. Only the state must have the right to impose punishments and levy taxes. The citizen's primary loyalty should be to the state. People living within a state have multiple identities. The sense of being a citizen should overlie these different identities. All the citizens of the country are equal. We do not derive our rights by means of our being a member of a party, civil society or communal organization. Citizenship is the membership of the state on the basis of which we derive our rights. But there are duties also. If we fall prey to divided loyalties the country becomes weak. If a country is strong it can exist without the benefit of international recognition. Till the early 1970s, China was not recognized by many countries. Later it was given membership of the Security Council and provided with veto power. These days China has established herself as a strong country and is providing help to other countries.

Remittances account for twenty-three percent of the GDP. The Middle Eastern countries are at present in turmoil and a devastating Tsunami has hit Japan. Nepalese are beginning to return home from these countries and this will affect our revenue. To transform people into citizens the rights and duties of the citizens and the state must be clearly defined. Both sides should have a clear understanding of this aspect. We have organized civic education and state-building in sixty-five districts. In the past the state was created through the top-down approach. To make the state strong it is necessary to build the state from the bottom-up. If the people are inactive the leaders cannot be made accountable. The Swiss hold referendums to decide crucial issues and their citizens have to reflect on policy issues. In our country since parliament is not interested in policy questions foreigners, as an external stakeholder, make policies. If the policies are crafted according to the local situation they become sustainable. Our forefathers' knowledge of the local conditions made the creation of this country feasible. Buddha was well versed in scriptures, Like Kant in Germany, and held interaction with the local people to find out what aspects of the scripture they found relevant. These aspects were assimilated in his teachings and policies. Whenever the idea of peace, sustainability and social development is discussed Buddha has to be mentioned. John Galtung from Norway had come to Nepal to assist the peace process some years back. He asked me why the Nepalese did not learn from a famous teacher who was their own countryman. I became curious and wanted to know the name of the famous scholar. He replied the person was known as the Buddha. Buddha believed the goal of people was freedom, that of the society was development, of nature sustainability, of religion was adaptability and that of the world was peace. True peace can only come from the change brought about by peaceful means. The Western countries are interested in this heritage but we remain ignorant of it. The Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Elinor Ostrom, made a study of Nepal and used that knowledge in her scholarship. A seminar was held to learn from the constitution adopted by Nepal in 2046 in South Africa. Now we are learning from them. Not everything from the past is bad we have many fine traditions.

How can the process of reconciliation be given impetus? Transformation of conflict is possible if the process is rooted in local culture. The Western society is based on class while ours is based on caste. The parties seek to indoctrinate their members by painting their rivals as villains. Many newspapers are also party based. The English language papers only print what suits their financiers. Our civic societies are rights based. In the West the civic societies criticize the wrong works of the government. In Nepal they tend to attack the state. If the state is strong local governance will be strong. The core concept of republicanism is that the people are the sovereign. But here the leaders are not interested in local issues. In a secular state the federal units cannot be ethnic or racial-identity based. We can choose or reject any ideology. But if violence takes an ethnic color the problem cannot be solved. We must become citizens and make our national identity strong.

There are two types of rights-positive and negative. The right pertaining freedom from the state intervention is negative rights while those that are designed to uplift citizens and poor are positive rights. It is necessary to strike a balance between these two types of rights. In a democratic state which is endowed with the right of self-determination local people make their own policies. In a country that is colonized outsiders determine the policy. The people can be sovereign only when their country is sovereign and then only can they formulate their own policies. A welfare state is created for its citizens. If the access of foreigners and special interests cannot be regulated the schemes meant for the citizens will be taken advantage of by non-citizens. At present refugees from twenty-seven countries are living in Nepal. The army must recruit only from amongst its citizens. Without security development is not possible. If the institutions that are the pillars of the state become weak and loyalty becomes divided a country will suffer. In the post-conflict scenario, stress must be put on elements that unite the Nepalese. The political parties tend to be utilitarian. The citizens must warn them if they deviate from the correct path. If policies and identities are only based on gender, class and ethnicity the state becomes divided. Reconciliation, peace and development are the need of the hour.

Democracy becomes strong only if the local governance becomes strong. Before the stress was on the government now it is on governance. Different institutions work together at this level. The Noble Prize winner--- has written that the work done in the irrigation and community forest sector in Nepal has been exemplary. The people came together to make the rules, punish the wrong doers and share the benefits. Such schemes are sustainable. The same principles can be used to run a state. If such is not the case corruption will thrive and there will be no accountability. Around sixty-five percent of the population is living below the poverty line. If the common people are not able to benefit from a system politics will tend to be unstable. During elections leaders woo the people and seek to identify themselves with them but once elected they consider themselves to be a different class. At present twenty-seven businessmen are members of the Constituent Assembly. Most of them figure in the list of VAT and bank defaulters. Conscious people can direct the country towards the correct path and then we will be able to develop.

In the Middle East oil is found but it can be used neither as drinking water nor for irrigation. New Zealand and Denmark have become developed nations by exporting dairy products. Switzerland makes use of a kilogram of iron to make valuable watches. We in Nepal are blessed with geographical diversity. That is why tourists flock to this country. Our people have knowledge and if it is put to use the benefits will be immense. The knowledge imparted in the political science, social science and economic courses should be based on balancing universal and indigenous knowledge. Here local knowledge is based on the agrarian way of life. Such knowledge can be useful.

Our international image has taken a battering. In the past Nepal had defeated Japan in an electoral contest held to choose non-permanent members of the Security Council. On another occasion she was elected unopposed. But some time back she managed to garner only twenty-seven votes. Recently Nepal also failed in her bid to bag the post of the president of the General Assembly by a huge margin. The foreigners might pity us and provide aid but if we become poor because of our own failure self-dignity is lost.

Shiva Raj Dahal- Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta will present the highlights of the handbook. If any of you have questions, especially those related to international relations, Mr. Dev Raj Dahal will be glad to answer them. Please read this paper in your spare time. I will highlight the problems facing the country. Your role will be to act as a doctor and provide the cure. Your ideas will be incorporated when conclusions are drawn in the book.

Knowledge cannot be found in the capital only. I have been to sixty-five districts in the course of organizing seminars on different issues. The proceedings of the seminars have been published in book form. Knowledge is to be found in the remote areas. I came across a person from Japan in Doti. He was a student of Tokyo University. I asked him what he was doing in such a remote place. He replied that his professor had told him that his education would not be complete until he spent time in Doti. He had come to gain knowledge. We have also come here to learn.

There are two categories of people-janta and citizens. The first category (janta) keep their problems to themselves. They cannot express themselves. A citizen on the other hand has rights. The refugees living in Nepal are janta. In order to transform oneself from janta to citizens one has to form opinions about different issues by going through the media and be conversant with the law. A citizen who travels to foreign country carries the country's identity with him. Till now we have not become citizens. We tend to give prominence to our ethnic, regional and gender identity. We tend to identify with the political parties. We are given citizenship on the basis of the father's citizenship. In the United States citizenship is granted on the basis of birth.

Presentation of Paper

What is civic education? The lessons taught in schools and colleges are part of civic education. We must be aware of our duties towards our families, teachers, societies and nation. Our state and our society can then become strong and developed. Positive things are also taking place. We need to know how to turn negative developments into positive direction.

Why civic education is necessary for us? We are in the transitional stage. The society at present is divided along various lines on different basis such as caste, religion, gender and language. Our sense of being Nepalese has weakened. We have different layers of identities. Our broadest identity is our sense of Nepaliness. Nepalese citizen ask for rights but they have forgotten about duties and responsibilities. Civic education brings about a balance between the rights duties and responsibilities. We feel proud to become the citizens of a foreign country. We have to think about what can be done to enhance our pride in being Nepalese. Civic education helps to make us conscious of this need. Our boundary is being encroached. Yes, India is stronger than us but can we not internationalize this issue? The youths and media can pressurize the leaders on this issue. This is another reason why civic education is necessary. From a practical point of view also this education is necessary. The youths are not aware of the need to shut public taps to conserve water and to turn off public lights during day time despite load-shedding.

The court has prohibited smoking in public places. But in public gatherings we seek out places in order to smoke. Who is to teach people? Civic education is the medium to teach people about these issues. Respect for elders, considerate behavior towards the juniors and other such aspects of socialization is inculcated through the means of civic education. There is trend among the good students to leave the country. Only students poor in studies and those who lack money remain in the country. Where will this take the country? The labor of the youth should be exerted for the good of their families and country's sake and not only for the foreigners. The people should understand their duty towards the country and towards themselves. If a person is healthy the country becomes healthy. Even if the youth leave the country for foreign lands they should be aware of their responsibility towards the country. Their behavior outside will reflect on the country. The parties have created a militant culture among the youth of the country. There should have been one student organization working for the welfare of the students of the country. However each party has its student wing and each seeks to create hurdles in the functioning of others. This creates conflict. Civic education is thus also necessary to make the students aware of their responsibilities to the nation and society.

Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta presented the highlights form the handbook. Chandra Dev Bhatta- As the handbook has lot in common in what they have said, I will present the issues in a different way in order to avoid going over the same matter again. The handbook has presented the issues in a formulaic way.

The Nepalese have been fighting for change since the last sixty years. In this period six constitutions have been promulgated, that is at a rate of one per every ten years. The Nepalese are democratic by nature and want democracy and change. They also want to see the country become strong. Recently the tendency has been to engage in the politics of censure. It is our responsibility also to set things right. The people at large are not aware of their responsibility. Civic education seeks to make people conscious. Constant effort is required in this regard. Conscious citizens will be able to hold the government to account. In the developed countries also stress is given to civic education. Two weeks ago the news-magazine Newsweek ran a story on the results of survey conducted among the American youth to find out their levels of awareness concerning different aspects of democracy. Only twenty-seven percent of the respondents gave the correct reply. A similar type of survey conducted in 1960 had revealed a divided society. The authorities believed that civic education would rectify such problems. In Germany and UK also similar programs have been conducted. Continuous effort has been undertaken to provide civic education to people of different age groups. They have sought to forge a national identity from the assorted identities. For democracy to thrive a strong state is needed. People at present have not been able to experience democracy in their day to day lives.

The meaning of democracy is defined in the handbook. Democracy means the rule of the people within a fixed territory. This is the reason why the state needs to be strong in order for democracy to thrive. The Nepali state was strong in the past. Because of our inferiority complex we believe we are backward. Copernicus had come to the conclusion that the earth was round and told his friends that he could prove it. This information came to the notice of the Palace and he was summoned by the king. He was accused of spreading false information and creating instability in the society. Copernicus denied that he ever had said that the earth was round when confronted by the king. Later when his friends accused him of not sticking to his stand, he replied that that he had only four pieces of evidence to back up his claim while the king had one thousand rifles at his disposal. Arya Bhatta had discovered this fact four to five hundred years prior to Copernicus and he was not persecuted for his discovery.

India and Nepal were not weak before. One thousand years ago there was no India and the present boundaries were then unknown; there was a particular civilization only. This unit accounted for twenty-nine percent of the world economy. Asia has been poor only in the last two hundred to three hundred years. It is now on the rise and reclaiming its former position. If our diverse resources are properly utilized we can become strong. In the past it was our forefathers who constructed such as magnificent structure like Pashupatinath. If we do not choose our leaders and policy with care the state will become weak. If we are conscious we can change things. To some extent change is already taking place. New leaders are emerging.

The first generation of democratic discourse stressed the concept of freedom. But for the poor, freedom proved elusive. The issue of justice then gained prominence. The strong want freedom while the weak want justice. It is necessary to strike a balance between these two concepts. Then only security can be ensured. The third wave of democratization puts stress on social justice. Human Rights- Democracy and human rights by themselves are not sufficient. The rule of law is equally necessary. Then only will the rights be guaranteed. Rich law-breakers can escape justice by hiring expensive lawyers while the poor might have to spend time in jail. In countries where the poor are in the majority such a denial of justice can led to rebellion. Democracy is being limited to books and not practiced in reality in many cases. The leaders seem to preach only. Political power must not be used to undermine laws. In Nepal this sort of thing has occurred. After 2046 such incidents has happened many times. The court controversially gave diametrically different judgments on two different cases concerning the reinstatement of the parliament. The judiciary must be independent.

Corruption-The biggest problem we are facing is corruption. One hundred and twenty business houses control this country. Many of them do not pay taxes and are loan defaulters. They are entrenched in the system and their behavior makes a mockery of the rule of law. How can we correct such behavior? The people must be aware of their rights and socially boycott such persons. In South India such measures are taking place. In Nepal also such measures will definitely be initiated. Pluralism-In a pluralistic society different ideologies and religions exist together. Some countries, however, find it hard to manage such diversity. Japan is a homogeneous society. In Nepal our diversity can be used to our advantage. At present such differences are being exploited for political purposes.

Elections-Regular elections are a must for political parties. There is an unhealthy practice of one person occupying the post of a party president for ten, fifteen years. New leaders will bring fresh ideas that reflect the changes the society is undergoing. Political Culture- We talk about democracy but our political culture is not democratic. We do not treat each other with respect nor do we give the younger generation a chance.

Political Party- Whatever ideologies the political parties subscribe to, their main function is to act as a bridge between the people and the government. The parties should build a consensus on such issues as foreign policy, development and development of hydroelectricity. The parties unite to change regimes but once that is accomplished they bicker among themselves for power. Since 2046 the party that sits in the opposition has tended to use foreign policy issues to score points over the government.

Dev Raj Dahal- A party that wins an election can implement its agenda once it forms the government but must not go against the core interest of the political system and the state. America has managed to bring revolutionary changes without dumping her original constitution. We tend to deny rights to others. The body politic is similar to our body. Viruses can enter the system and it can develop allergies. We have to follow a balanced policy. If the people are proactive development can take place. If one organ of the body develops in an abnormal manner our body becomes deformed.

The Panchayat system started the policy of repudiating the rights of the opposition. This trend has continued. In a parliamentary system problems are solved by acting within the bounds of the constitution. However our leaders do not want to work through the Constitution Committee because of questions of superiority. They formed another sub-committee to bypass the CA committee. This undermined the possibility to institutionalize committee system. Attempts have been made to capture the state. Parties must move forward according to the mandate given to them. They must work according to the national agenda. Our problems began when we sought to ignore the existence of others. I regularly hold discussions with the leaders. They tend to blame each other when the press is present but in private they discuss problems soberly. We are trying to bring them under the ambit of social democracy. The parties are not stable since ideas have ceased to be the guiding influence and they are falling prey to personal ego. In Germany even when a conservative party comes to power it follows the same social and economic policy as followed by its predecessor.

We have provided people with rights but we do not have the resources to make it meaningful. After the political changes of 2046 we adopted market economy as our economic model. The civil society must raise social issues. However due to funding constraints they did not pursue such issues. There are two types of intellectuals-organic and transplanted. If we ignore issues that are valued by the people they will desert us. During the Panchayat period Hem Bahadur had put forward his wife as a candidate for a parliamentary seat. When both of them won the election, King Birendra had admonished Hem Bahdur for turning the political process into a family affair. In the constituent assembly twenty-eight pairs of closely related persons are serving at present. It is hard to change culture. Democracy is associated with territoriality. This is a word rooted in our history.

Chandra Dev Bhatta- The civil society acts as a bridge between the citizens and the authorities. But in our case it is not so. Since 2046 the civil society has been acting as an NGO. The main problem was that the urban-based group which opened NGOs after 2046 also transformed themselves into the civil society. Profit was the primary motivation. They could not act as a watch-dog to strengthen democracy. The political parties also gave birth to their own civil societies. As a result the civil society sector became a divided lot. In 2052-54 the Maoist moment came into being. During 2062-63 these people (civil society members) presented themselves as the leaders of the movement. In a civil society all are equal. Our understanding of what constitutes civil society has become distorted. Even as the conflict intensified the civil society grew fatter as their budget increased. They then turned against the state.

Dev Raj Dahal- One American Professor had come to meet me in my office in 1993. He bluntly told me that democracy in Nepal would not survive because there is a weak civil society. When I asked the reason for his pessimistic assessment he replied that Nepal lacked enlightenment tradition. I told him that this was not the case and that Nepal had three sources of enlightenment to draw on. Janak had the people's interest at heart. He used to hold discussions with the common people in order to do the right thing. Bedh is even older than religion. The third source of enlightenment was Buddha. The last Buddha was from Nepal. Nalanda University existed during that period. The word Nalanda is derived from the Magar word 'toss lotus flower'. Our intellectuals are afraid to exhibit native knowledge for fear of being labeled archaic and tribal. Bhatta's UK based professor had come to meet me after reading in my book about such issues.

Many schools, colleges, hospitals, public inns and resting places in Terai have been established by private individuals. They might not have been well-educated but were very knowledgeable and knew the concept of civility, charity and public service. Those with doctorates have knowledge that is confined to a narrow field. A seminar had been held in Kathmandu on the issue of transforming conflict. The different scholars came up with suggestions based on their disciplinary perspective. I then told them of an incident that I had witnessed in the village. Two people got into a fight but the villagers gathered and resolved the conflict. They were not experts on conflict but managed to resolve the problem through discourse. Justice lies at the base of the concept of sin and virtue. In the courts a case is won on the basis of evidence. If one is financially strong it is possible to win complicated cases. The weak might be deprived of justice. The organic civil society has grown weak. If economic considerations dominate politics it will make the system weak. Politics should be taken as service. The public domain must not be made partisan. The job of politicians is to make laws and endow it with legitimacy. In the past values were based on spirituality. In the West fifty percent of the families consist of single parents. This has made the society emotionally unstable. They have now started celebrating 'family year' to emphasize the benefits of the family. Secular knowledge has its limits.

Chandra Dev Bhatta- The media is responsible for keeping the public informed and helping them influence debates on public issues. However the media in Nepal is controlled by businesses houses in Kathmandu and in the outlying areas the media is controlled by influential families. Whether such type of media will work for genuine democracy is an open question. Instead of advocating principles and the interest of the people they tend to advance business and family interests. Every sector needs to be transformed. The West had also gone through this phase. We need to shorten the transitional period. What type of democracy is in our interest; liberal democracy or social democracy? The United States and UK follow the liberal model while Germany and the Scandinavian country follow the social democratic model. In countries where the poor are in the majority the social democratic model is more appropriate to minimize the chances of conflict. The economic system might be similar but the gap between the poor and the rich is narrower in the social democratic system. In Nepal poverty is not being effectively tackled because in such an environment the radical slogans adopted by the parties resonate with the public and the leaders can then use such sentiments to entrench themselves in power. In the constitution different types of rights are guaranteed. The model of democracy the country adopts must help make such rights a reality otherwise conflict can break out again. Five lakh youth a year enter the labor market but hardly twenty-five to thirty-thousand can find employment in the government sector. The rest have no choice but to emigrate in search of work. If all such problems can be addressed then sustainable peace is possible.

Dev Raj Dahal- We are at present experiencing the third wave (generation) of democratization. Before the eighteenth the bourgeoisie centred democracy was practiced. After the industrial revolution two classes of people emerged-the rich and the poor. In Germany, England and the United States two-party system came into being. The two major parties were based on class interests. Their constitutions were the product of compromise and reflected the middle ground. The rich were to be taxed and the proceeds were to be used for the benefit of the poor. In Germany eighty percent of the people belong to the middle class while in Japan they account for ninety percent of the population. This has helped to mitigate class conflict. The second generation of democratization was representative in character. The principal characteristic of the third generation of democratization is that it is inclusive and participatory. During the WTO conferences the Nepal government sends ten participants while the number of participants from the civil society touches a hundred. The definition of democracy has changed over time. The people now demand that they be allowed to participate in the decision-making process so that they may have a say in any decision made in their name.

Technology has also been changing with the times. The age of steam engines gave way to the electronic age and now we are in the information age. The second phase was the age of mass production. In today's world, however, one can earn more by producing microchips than by producing one thousand tractors. Those countries which are capable of assimilating changes can grow stronger. The first period emphasized political and economic rights while the second period gave equal emphasis to social, economic and cultural rights while the third phase has advanced the concept of social democracy.

Sixty-five percent of the population in Nepal is making do with an income of two dollars a day. Justice must be ensured. Eighty-two percent of the members of the constituent assembly have leftist orientation and as a result the contours of the constitution will be tilted towards the left. Freedom and justice must move forwards in tandem. Buddha was not only a religious figure but also a scientist. John Galtung studied and synthesized the different religions of the world. In terms of knowledge and science we are not weak. If our diverse heritage can be properly synthesized we can create something precious. Recently the Chinese bought 80,000 copies of Geeta from India. We have to change with the times and master new fields of knowledge as dictated by world spirit. The country can be divided into five or six regional units. If a complex type of federal system is adopted, tea produced in Ilam will be taxed in three locations before it even reaches the export market. This will make Ilam tea uncompetitive. People of Mustang donated rupees twenty-three lakhs to the Koshi flood victims. Nepal is rich in diversity. Because of this characteristic Nepal has become a center of attraction for foreign academics. Despite being gifted many things by Nature we have become donor dependant. We must learn to act as conscious human beings.

Shiva Raj Dahal-We will now open the floor for discussions. We are ready to answer any queries are open to suggestions.

Surya Narayan Das- In Nepal we change our constitution every ten years while in other countries only amendments to the constitution are made. Why do we need to totally change the constitution? It might be because the past constitutions were made to advance personal interests and the interests of the capitalist and the feudal class and thus became incapable of being an inclusive document. Mr. Dev Raj Dahal has said that it is not necessary to totally revamp the constitution. How will such changes affect the state?

Dev Raj Dahal- In America slavery was abolished by working within the ambit of the constitution. During the Panchayat period the Congress and the Communist parties were banned legally but in practice their activities were tolerated. The political system was conservative but the education culture was relatively liberal. It produced engineers and doctors but did not provide an avenue for them to participate in the governance process. The system could not provide an outlet and as a result the political changes of 1990 took place. Later the Maoists were banned and the lawyers justified this step by taking recourse to the doctrine of necessity. A change in mentality has not occurred.

Surya Narayan Das- Change is necessary but not wholesale changes. Some aspects of the new constitution will be a continuation of the previous ones. Is enlightenment necessary for political leaders or not? Schools to impart such knowledge are necessary. We have not become cosmopolitan in spirit.

Dev Raj Dahal- Our organization runs seven academies in Germany to provide training to people from the age of seven to eighty. They are taught about different aspects of democracy and about why it is necessary for Germany to provide aid to other countries. Even such a country gave birth to a person such as Hitler. I had invited the four leaders of different political parties to Hotel Himalaya for discussions on civic education so that a common socialization can contribute to civic culture. I had told them that they were transforming their parties into fundamentalist organizations by producing militant cadres. This is a threat to democracy.

Surya Narayan Das- The culture of militancy is on the rise. Even educated people are coming under its influence.

Dev Raj Dahal- Handouts on Democracy has been written to counter such thinking. It is necessary to teach this subject from class three. There is also a lack of enlightenment within the parties. Politics must be inclusive but there is division within parties. The public domain must not used for personal profit. People who see politics as another form of business will not vote without being paid. This handbook has also been made available to the election commission and many public organizations and parties.

Surya Narayan Das- I am sad to hear that the leaders of the civic society are also after money. What will be the fate of the country when leaders behave in such a manner?

Dev Raj Dahal- They have realized their mistakes and are repenting. The real civil society is found in the villages. They are infused with the spirit of voluntarism. This is the reason why projects run by locals are more effective than those run by the government agencies. There must be a sense of ownership. Some changes have taken place in the villages also. There is no local government at present but the process of governance has not come to a halt. We have strong societies but a weak state. People are now more conscious and the rate of participation is high. The Rautes have now become capable of interacting with the government. These are positive changes.

Binod Baral- The society is becoming divided because of political differences. We have to end the division within society. It would be better if those elected to the parliament concentrated on their law making duties and technical experts were made ministers to run the country. This might lessen divisions and help social change take place.

Dev Raj Dahal- In Germany this sort of arrangement exists. The people's representatives concentrate only on drafting laws and they do not get bogged down in ministerial duties. We borrowed our system from India. In a democratic system of checks and balances the judiciary, legislature and the executive are all independent organs. The civil society must play a mediatory role. It will take time to develop the system. In politics of scarcity money is needed and the people's representative use government funds to nurse their constituency. In such a situation the new faces will find it hard to challenge entrenched incumbents. The youth cannot avail of inter-generational justice and their avenues of advancement are blocked. Fresh blood is prevented from entering the circulatory system. This has made our polity weak.

Binod Baral- If this sort of provision is enshrined in the constitution it would be better.

Dev Raj Dahal- This sort of arrangement can be incorporated.

Sharada Dhungana (UML leader)- The issue of citizen and jat has been raised. Are these two things different? The issue of unequal treaties has also been mentioned. The paper also mentions free education. Can Nepal sustain such a policy? Who has defined the terms Madheshi, Dalit and Indigenous? What is the historical background of Janjatis? -----Bishwamitra--- was the priest of King Janak and his ashram was based in Bara. When Sita married Ram the Bishwamitra accompanied Sita to her new home. Are the progeny of the priest Pahade or Madeshi? Who can give a definite answer? According to B.C. Sharma, Lord Shiva belonged to the Kirat family. In the Swasthani Barthkatha hymns are sung in his honor. Anshuburma named his palace Kailashkut. From which language is this word derived? In Kathmandu there is place called Shiva Puri Lekh. Form which historical period was it so named?

In the 69th chapter of the Skanda Puran written by Vyas it is mentioned that seven rishis (ne muni) used to meditate on the bank of the Solu river. The Pasuphat Chetra is a very ancient place. There was then a country named Palasa and the name Nepal is a combination of Ne Muni and Palasa. The Kirats can claim to be indigenous. The word Kirat is distortion of the word Kichek. It is said that the Kauravs and the Pandavs had overthrown the Kirat dynasty after reaching Jhapa. Shiva's place was located in what is now Nepal and he took Parvati there. In the sankalpa Nepal is mentioned as a part of India. Where is our national identity when the kings are no more? People vandalized Prithivi Narayan's statue. Is it because of the fear of being labeled regressive that his contribution was not mentioned by the scholars?

Sharad Singh Bhandari had come here to inaugurate a program. He had declared on that occasion that they planned to make Janakpur Ramayan Chetra. I was astounded at what he had to say. This area is Janak Chetra. Ram had married Janak's daughter but there is only a small temple dedicated to Janak in Janakpur while the temple built to honor Ram is huge one. This is an insult to the father-in-law of Ram. No research has been conducted on the life of Janak. Where is the national spirit? Temples of Ram are found all over Nepal but not those of Janak. Krishna had admonished Arjun and told him not to be a coward and to ready to fight for India. The god who fought for India has been gifted to us. Rahul Gandhi's wife had been prevented from visiting Pashupatinath when she visited Nepal. From that point onwards the Indians have been inciting the Tarai people.

King Ashoka had visited Nepal and erected pillars in Lumbini and three locations in Kathmandu. Nepal's history lies hidden. The history we are using had been written by the English. Lord Shiva and Prithivi Narayan have fallen into the shadows. The Kirats first unified Nepal. Ganesh was the son of Shiva. There is no sense of nationality in Nepal. The Nepalese currency has been changed three times. Since the treaty of 2007 it is called Ne Ru. This sounds like Nehru. Nepalese nationalism cannot be safeguarded only by calling India names. Before kings such as Prithivi Narayan had safeguarded our identity? Who is to defend our nationality now? Girija Prasad had gone to India and signed an agreement on water resources but on his return termed it an understanding. The court restored Nepalese pride by giving the correct judgment on this issue.

The paper did not mention the contributions of BP Koirala and Man Mohan Adhikari. You all have given examples form Japan and Germany. It looks like the foreigners have conditioned our scholars to view the world from their perspective. Thank you.

Dev Raj Dahal- In other countries parties have their own sources of income. In Nepal parties raised money for election by privatizing industries and by raising the price of goods, individual donation, NGOs and business community. This has posed difficulty for them in making people-friendly policy.

Sharda Dhungana- The spirit never dies and it cannot be killed. A country can exist today and disappear tomorrow.

Dev Raj Dahal- If people are conscious of their nationality it can be kept alive even when a country is no more. We do not label the movement of 2063 as Jana Andolan II as this will devalue the contributions of BP Koirala, Manmohan Adhikary and Prithivi Narayan Shah. We do not celebrate Unity Day anymore. This is the result of the twelve point agreement. As long as we are proud to be Nepalese, Nepal will not disappear. It is in the foreigner's interest also that we continue to survive as a nation. The British changed the name of Hindustan. The Indians acquiesced in the change. If the leaders try to change the name of this country the people will not agree. We have not developed the culture of writing our own history. We must develop the habit of conducting research. Science and religion are the basis of knowledge. We will survive if we retain our culture and religion. Like the bamboo we will not break in the time of adversity, we may bave to bend a little bit. Jati and jat are Western definitions, not ours. The constitution making process has become problematic because of such problems. In the ancient times one of the Brahmins was given the task of scavenging in order to keep the locality clean and he in course of time became a dalit. Dalits must choose whether they wish to identify themselves as a dalit or a Nepali. We must stress our common citizenship. We cannot move forward by ignoring history. In Nepal we open our mouth first and think later.

Keshav Pokharel (NC leader) ----We cannot form a government in Nepal without India's blessing. Are we sovereign?

Dev Raj Dahal- We have relations with many countries. When Afghanistan emerged as failed state it resulted in the Twin Tower incident. In order to avoid such events other nations will seek to prevent us from becoming a failed state. Different interests are at work in Nepal but we must seek to balance their interests. But our foreign policy has become weak as we did not give importance to it. We have focused our efforts only on our internal affairs. Small countries need to pay attention to their foreign affairs. Our interminable conflicts have lowered our international prestige. The leaders might agree among themselves on some issues but without the people's support they cannot move forward.

There are three types of leaders-statesman, leader and ordinary leader. The statesman is a visionary who prepares people to meet new challenges and helps them avoid pitfalls. The leader is only concerned with leading his party to victory in the elections. The ordinary leader seeks to hang on to power. The constitution making process seeks to give shape to a particular vision. It seeks to synthesize different viewpoints and come up with a holistic document. In Nepal's history Prithivi Narayan stands out as a visionary and an architect. Janga Bahadur managed to restore Nepalese territory in the Far West. We need to discard the negative legacy and retain the positive ones.

The Congress party became weak after it discarded the socialist principles espoused by BP Koirala. Mohan Bikram was dislodged from the party he founded. UML is not the same party that it was Madan Bhandari founded it. In the West people join parties because they believe in its ideology. In Nepal such is not the case. When opportunistic people reach the higher ranks of the party they will work towards diluting its belief system. In Nepal conviction counts for little and parties have transformed themselves into catch-all parties.

Prem Bhadur Rana (Maoist leader) - There is around hundred and three jats in Nepal. Who was responsible for naming this country Nepal? Who was responsible for designating particular communities as indigenous janjatis? Which came first- janajatis or Nepal? Peace is necessary but it is necessary to fight for the right cause. For whom was the janayudha fought for? The issue of constituent assembly was raised during time of Tribhuvan.

Shiva Raj Dahal- Mr. Sharda Dhungana is well versed in Sanskrit. The concept of jat as now defined reflects the thinking of New Nepal. We all belong to the Nepali jat. The present education system is not socially just. Children of all classes should study in the same school from the primary level to---level. The Nepalese have been divided into different categories by the donors. They are looking for opportunities to widen and exploit the differences among us.

Gyan Bahadur Gole (eathnic leader)- The country was ruled on the basis of Hindu values. The problems of the dalits have not yet been solved. Conflict has existed since the past. We have to resolve the conflict. We have to accept positive things irrespective of its origin. We have to move forward according to the times. Local grievances were not discussed. The participation of the marginalized groups is low. We have to adopt models that will enable us to live peacefully. The Tamangs have been forcefully included in the Hindu classification of castes. We do not want rule by jatis, the system has to be inclusive. The conflict has been solved to some extent. The Tamangs are called bhotes in a derogatory manner while the discrimination against dalits continues. Wrong practices like sati were abolished in the past.

Shiva Raj Dahal- The chairman will now deliver the concluding remarks.

Chairman----- I would like to thank the well-known scholars for organizing this seminar. Besides the issue of nationality many other topics were also raised. Until the citizens become conscious, nationalism will not be strengthened. In this context I would like to narrate a short anecdote. Many years back a foreign yogi started to meditate under a tree in Japan. Nearby there was a primary school in which a girl was studying in class five. The girl had to go past the spot where the yogi was meditating on her way to school and she began to wonder what the yogi ate. Soon she began to offer her lunch-box to the yogi. This went on for some time. Then one day the yogi decided to return to his country. He thanked the girl for looking after him and asked her what she desired. The girl replied that she had everything. Her only wish was that when the yogi returned home he should tell his countrymen that he did not have to go hungry in Japan. The yogi was Swami Vivekananda and he always spoke highly of Japan when he returned to India as a result of this incident. By failing to recognize the contributions of Prithivi Narayan Shah we will loose our identity. As long as we do not have a feeling of nationalism we cannot develop. Thank you.

 
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