Civic Education: The Role of the Youth in the
Making of a Modern State
Organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced
5 March 2011, Patalekhet, Kavre
Total Number of Participants-
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 Patalekhet, Kavre district.
Eighty-five participants belonging to different fields of life
participated in the seminar. Young social scientist Mr.Shiva Raj
Dahal presented a paper titled Civic Education for the Youth
and professor of political science Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal shed
further light on various aspects of civic education and on the
fundamental principles of democracy as explained in the handbook
on democracy. Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta gave a brief introduction
of Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and spoke about the significance
of democracy and the role it has played in developing civic sense
in various countries. The discussion that followed was passionate
and was a reflection of the developing public opinion at the grass-roots
level. The participants were also provided with the booklet Handouts
Paper Presentation and Discussion
Shiva Raj Dahal- I would like to request
the Chairman of the session Mr. Ram Chandra Humagain, Prof.
Ananda P. Shrestha and Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal to take their seats.
I would also like to request Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta to take
his seat. Mr. Bhatta works for Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
. Mr. Ananda P Srestha will now shed light on the aim of this
Prof. Ananda P. Srestha-Chairman and
friends, I would like to extend my warm welcome to all the participants
of this one-day program. I think a short introduction of NEFAS
is in order. NEFAS stands for Nepal Foundation for Advanced
Studies. It was established twenty years ago in 1990. It is
an academic institution that is concerned with different national
issues and its activities are not limited to Kathmandu. In Kathmandu
seminars are held every-day. Such seminars do not help in fulfilling
the objectives of the programs. We have held seminars in thirty-five
different locations and we have been inundated with various
types of reactions. Our young colleague Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal
has prepared the paper and will present it. The paper is not
complete and it needs to further refined by incorporating suggestions
based on local problems. We do not only hold seminars, but also
publish the proceedings in a book form. So far we have published
thirty-five books. These books are used as teaching materials
for the political science and sociology courses at the ten plus
Our organization has created a distinct identity
for itself by not limiting it self to conducting seminars. Nobody
in this organization gets paid. We use the proceeds from the
sale of books to maintain our office. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
(FES) has been supporting us from the very beginning. Without
their support it would not have been possible to conduct our
program. Politics in Nepal is not moving towards the right direction,
that is towards peace and development. Even after the tenure
of the Constituent Assembly has been extended for one year after
its two year term expired we are no nearer to getting a constitution.
The possibility of promulgating a constitution within the remaining
time is slim. If the parties only jostle for power democracy
will not flourish. The youth must step forward to do their bit.
The older generation has proved itself unequal to the task.
We do not insist that the youth carry the party flag, but they
must be politically conscious. Otherwise democracy will not
be consolidated. The paper being presented will also dwell on
this and will make clear why civic education is necessary. Your
comments will help to further refine this paper. Once more I
would like to welcome you all to this program.
Shiva Raj Dahal- I would like to welcome
Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta from FES.
Chandra Dev Bhatta- from FES highlighted
the programme and also FES. Friedrich Ebert was the first elected
president of Germany and the word stiftung means academy, foundation
in German. This is a political institution and is affiliated
to the Socialist Party. Friedrich Ebert was a labor leader and
when he feel ill in 1925 people went to wish him well and as
a token of their sympathy they presented him with bouquets.
He told his well-wishers that it would have been better if the
money spent on the bouquet had been donated to a charity committed
to the education of the children of the laborers. After he died
an organization that provided children of laborers with scholarships
was established. Later this organization began to widen its
ambit and worked for freedom, peace, solidarity and social justice.
FES has offices now in eighty countries and has been working
in Nepal since 1995. It has the mandate to work in the field
of politics and social sector and is registered with the Foreign
Ministry. It has working partnership with research institutions,
NGOs and Tribhuvan University. It also publishes books.
People wage struggles for two things-freedom
and equality. The rich desire freedom the weak aspire for justice.
The problem lies in how to reconcile these different aspirations.
In our country the rich account for ten to fifteen percent of
the population while the poor make up eighty to ninety per cent
of the population. Only when the poor are able improve their
economic conditions will they consider themselves to be stakeholders
of the system and only then will democracy become strong. We
tend to talk of different kinds of rights but if we forget our
duties anarchy will prevail. Rights bodies have mushroomed,
but it equally important to be aware of our duties. There must
be a balance between these two aspects.
What is democracy? Our participation in the
system has to be effective. Only when we know the meanings of
rights, duties, states role etc. can we act as conscious
citizens. It has been sixty, seventy years since the movements
for democratic rights have been taking place, but the weak have
not benefited from it.
Movements without effective results are a
waste of our productive time. Political parties say that movements
are conducted in the interest of the poor people but once they
succeed they ignore the people. Political parties should act
as the link between the people and the state. But after the
successful conclusion of movements people find themselves alienated
from the state since they are deprived of education opportunities
and jobs. The parties have not been able to change with the
times. Internal democracy is absent within parties and the parties
utilize the youth only during times of movements. Youths in
the age group 18-35 are the most productive sector of the society.
Since opportunities are not available within the country the
majority of them go abroad in search of work. Four lakh youths
enter the job market every year. Twenty to twenty-five thousand
find work in the government sector while another forty to forty-five
thousand are given employment by the private sector. What do
the rest do? They go abroad. They gradually lose affinity with
Singapore is slightly larger than Kathmandu.
It was known as fishermans country which had problems
with its water supply. In Nepal we have four distinct seasons
with varied geography. We have many options. Singapore twenty-five
years ago was at the same level as Sri Lanka in terms of development.
Now investors from all over the world find her an attractive
destination. If the political system functions well such type
of development can take place here. We are not a small country;
we are small only in relation to India and China. Vietnam is
also a relatively small country but it managed to defeat America,
France, and China. She is just double our size and her economy
is prospering at present. The politicians there behaved as statesmen.
We must also produce statesmen.
Human rights are important but the rights
of the citizens must also be stressed. Leaders do no consider
themselves to be citizens. Our civilization had provided opportunities
for public discourse since the ancient times. Democracy was
alive then but we could not benefit from it. Nepal was established
as a country around two-hundred and forty years ago. Nepal is
the fifteenth or sixteenth oldest country in the world. But
political problems held back her development. The people must
be able to see the political changes reflected in their lives.
We need to make the youth conscious. To be in politics should
mean to work for the people. At present due to poor leadership
the state has become weak.
We need foreign aid but it should be serve
our interest and conditionality should not be imposed. Many
are providing help but it is being used for personal interest.
The same thing is happening from the grassroots level to the
highest level. Shiva Raj Dahal and Professor Ram Kumar Dahal
will further amplify these issues. Professor Dahal has been
engaged in the teaching field for the last twenty-five to thirty
years. All of you should take this opportunity to ask him to
clarify issues of interest to you.
Shiva Raj Dahal- I am affiliated to
NEFAS. I would like to provide a brief introduction of NEFAS.
This organization was established in 1990 and is not an NGO.
It seeks to collect viewpoints from far flung places and publish
it in the form of a book. Tribuvan University, Kathmandu University,
JNU and Sikkim University are using the books published by NEFAS
in their course. So far we have published thirty-five books.
The books deal with issues such as globalization, privatization,
liberalization, gender, environment, civil society, social economy
etc. We can make the books available to the library of this
We do not have local government functioning
at present. We need to find ways to make the relations between
the government and people stronger. We will include your suggestions.
Knowledge is not found in the capital, it is found in remote
villages. I have visited sixty to sixty-five districts. In the
course of my visit to Doti I met a Japanese man. He was doing
his doctorate. He told me that his teacher had told him that
his quest for knowledge will only be complete when he visits
remote villages. He was a student of Tokyo University. Buddha
did not study in a university; he went to villages to test the
validity his ideas. He now has followers in many developed countries.
In Nepal a university has been established in Lumbini.
Your suggestions are welcome. The goal of
our program is to institutionalize democracy. Debate on this
issue needs to be conducted. A campaign to make people aware
needs to be conducted. What type of constitution do we need?
A constitution needs to protect basic rights and must ensure
the territorial integrity of the country. Nationalism is under
attack at present. Five to eight lakh people apply for Diversity
Visa. Many others have gone to the Gulf countries to work. If
we only work for foreigners, how will the country develop? The
youth of the country must get involved in politics and try to
change the current situation. There are two categories of people-Janta
and Citizen. The janta keep their problems to themselves. The
citizen demands economic, political and social rights from the
state. We have not become citizens until now; our primary identity
is still our local identity. People become citizens either through
birth or lineage. In European countries people become citizens
by birth. If the child of an American citizen is born in Nepal,
he/she will not get American citizenship automatically. Only
those born in America are entitled to citizenship.
Now I would like to request Professor Ram
Kumar Dahal to shed light on key aspects of the handbook on
Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal- I am associated
with the Department of Political Science and Rural Development.
I have been engaged in the teaching profession since the last
thirty years. Shiva Raj has written an excellent paper on civic
education. Please make use of your spare time to read and enjoy
this paper. Every aspect of this subject has been covered in
detail. Dr. Bhatta is also a deep thinker.
This handbook has been printed by FES. Loktantra
and democracy mean the same thing in English. The political
parties are trying to confuse people by playing with words.
This word is defined in different ways by countries with different
political culture. Its essence is that power should be exercised
by the people. If a system claims to be loktantric but people
have no rights it is not a democracy. A country is judged to
be democratic on the basis of the empowerment of the people.
The pillars of social democracy are freedom, equality, peace,
solidarity and justice. In such a system there should be rule
of law, human rights, regular elections and pluralism. There
should also be separation of powers, political parties and civic
society. The civic society should not be politically divided
but must be above politics.
Golbalization- Due to globalization the world
has become a global village. The one hundred ninety-two countries
that have become members of the UN have become a sort of extended
family. The development of technology has ensured that change
in one country is bound to affect another country. The change
in Egypt has had repercussions all over Africa. Globalization
has its plus as well as negative points. In Nepal we need to
learn how to make use of the positive aspects and to minimize
the negative influences. To strengthen democracy all these points
needs to taken into account.
Human Rights- This is the age of human rights.
The UN has incorporated civil rights, political, cultural and
economic rights in its Charter. Countries are evaluated on the
basis of their adherence to these rights. Burma is not provided
aid since she does not have an elected government. This issue
is related to human rights. The up-coming constitution must
guarantee these rights. The youths must put pressure to ensure
that such rights are clearly defined and guaranteed.
Rule of Laws- The laws made by an elected
assembly are the basis by which a country is governed. We must
have our representation in the law making body. A person must
be punished not on the basis of a persons whim but on
the basis of prevalent laws. In this regard I would like to
narrate an example from New Zealand. The Prime Minister of that
country parked his vehicle in the no-parking zone and was fined
five hundred dollars by the park attendant. The Prime Minister
was offended and asked the attendant whether he knew who he
was. The park attendant gently replied that as the particular
area has not been designated as parking lot for the Prime Minister
the same law that was applicable to the general citizen would
apply to him. The Prime Minister duly paid the fine. A country
needs to be governed according to the law and all must abide
by it. However in the developing countries law-makers become
law-breakers. The constitution does not recognize two classes
of citizens. There must be equality before the law and law is
not meant for the weak only. Corruption is a big hurdle in the
implementation of the rule of the law. Political or administrative
corruption must be eradicated.
Separation of Power- Montesquieu had propounded
the theory of separation of powers in the eighteenth century.
According to this theory power should not be concentrated in
one institution but should be divided among the three organs-legislature,
judiciary and the executive. Each of these organs must not interfere
in the others sphere. The constitution should ensure that
this principle is adhered to. In Nepal we hear voices advocating
that the judiciary should be under the control of the legislature.
I personally feel that judiciary should be independent. If the
judiciary has to look over its shoulders at the legislature
before it passes judgment, it will not be able to render independent
judgments. Bishwo Kant Mainali had voiced his disagreement with
such an arrangement. Voices from other quarters have also been
raised against such a provision. Debates among the citizens
regarding this issue needs to take place.
At present we are not allowed to cast aspersion
on a judges character. The court can jail us for contempt
of court. It is the responsibility of all of us to keep the
independence of the judiciary intact. Some time back in America
Al Gore and George Bush fought a court case over the election
results. Al Gore lost the case but he graciously accepted the
verdict. In a democratic country all must accept the verdict
of the court. If our human rights is violated it is the court
which will provide us justice. We can debate about how to define
the concept of contempt of court and whether limits on this
privilege should be made. However the independence of courts
will help defend the rights of the people. The coming constitution
is likely to follow to follow this principle but debates concerning
such issues should be settled before the constitution is promulgated.
In China judges take their oath before the legislature.
Pluralism-Pluralism reflects the reality of
Nepal and must be accepted. In such a society one group might
come into conflict with another. Experts on conflict stress
that one must not be afraid of conflict must learn how to manage
it. Conflict is not a bad thing as it helps bring about positive
changes. Conflict takes place within every type of society.
The government has an important role in managing conflict and
relevant mechanisms needs to be developed.
Local Government-Grassroots democracy is a
strong pillar of the democratic system. The centralization of
power by the center is not a healthy practice. Financial and
economic powers must be decentralized. The local units must
be strengthened and must be provided with the power to make
their own decisions.. The local government will act to balance
the central government. Interference by the centre in local
affairs will have a negative effect. Bridges built by he locals
have proved to be better than those built by the center. In
Rautahat the local authorities were able to build three bridges
at a cost of three cores rupees while it took the centre eight
cores rupees to build a similar bridge that proved to be of
inferior quality. Sustainable development is only possible when
people actively participate in developmental activities. In
the past the centre monopolized power; it our right to oversee
Election-Elections must be held regularly
at an interval of four to five years. The people provide the
mandate for a specific duration. In France the President is
elected for a term of seven years. Voting should be free, fair
and confidential. Elections should be supervised by an independent
election commission. The police and the administration should
be neutral. Electoral systems are of two types- majority and
proportional system. In the first past the post system the party
with more than half of the seats (fifty-one percent) governs
the country. In such a system one can win by one point or in
case of a dead heat the contestants draw lots. In France, on
the other hand, elections will continue until one party gets
fifty-one percent of the votes. This system works against those
in the minority. Such a system will be expensive for us.
Under the Proportional system, people vote
for political parties. On the basis of the votes garnered, the
parties are allocated seats. We at present have a mixed system.
In the majority system the government becomes powerful since
one party can win the election. In a proportional system even
small parties get the chance to be represented but the chances
of political stability diminishes. In the elections held in
1959 and 1990 the winning party got thirty-eight to forty-two
percent of the votes cast. We were ruled by minority governments.
The proponents of the proportional system maintain that this
is unjust. The small parties are not represented. The Scandinavian
countries are making good use of the proportional system. Representation
is determined in terms of the percentage of the votes polled.
Even the smallest party gets the opportunity to be represented.
Even a small party like Chure Bhabhar has managed to get itself
represented in the Assembly. This increases the sense of ownership.
Its negative point is that parties find it hard to form a government
since no single party is likely to have a majority. Coalition
governments then become the rule. Since the coalition partners
usually subscribe to divergent ideologies such governments tend
to be unstable.
Both systems have negative as well as positive
points. There is a big debate in Nepal on which model to adopt
but the big three parties have reached consensus on the need
to adopt the mixed system. As citizens we can influence this
Political Parties-Democratic system is synonymous
with a multi-party system. Only when parties are permitted to
function can a system be characterized as democratic. Countries
with party-less system also used to call themselves basic or
guided democracy. However, parties are mandatory for a democratic
system. The role of political parties is very important. They
act as a bridge between the people and the state and help make
the state aware of the grievances of the people. They also keep
the people informed of the policies of the state. In Nepal there
are parties with different ideologies. The parties are not without
weaknesses. The civic society and pressure groups should not
function as affiliates of political parties. The parties should
have internal democracy. The parties should get rid of impurities.
If this is not done we will not have democracy in the true sense.
The leaders of the political parties act as role models.
Public Sector- We need to make the public
sector more effective. There is a need for debate on the issue
of making the service delivery institutions more responsive.
These institutions are run on tax-payers money; therefore they
have to serve the people. The role of youth is important in
Political Culture-We must not limit democracy
to speeches but make it a way of life. The state of democracy
is weak at present. The central political leadership has not
been able to exhibit the correct political culture. The countrys
future is not bright. The ordinary people pay their taxes and
obey the law. Without democratic culture democracy will not
grow strong. When I was in Denmark, I and my Danish colleague
happened to reach a traffic intersection. No traffic was visible
within a radius of two kilometers but he did not cross the road
as the traffic light had turned red. In Nepal we would not have
thought twice about ignoring the red light. The notion that
rules has to be observed have to be inculcated since childhood.
The UK has an unwritten constitution but it seems to work perfectly
well and is known as the mother of democracy. The key issue
is culture. A driver at the road crossing stopped his taxi at
the road crossing and gave me the right of way. He respected
the right of the pedestrian. For democracy to be strong we need
to bring changes in our behavior.
Accountability-The leaders have to be accountable
to the people. Only eighty, eighty-five days remain before the
tenure of the Constituent Assembly expires. They should work
to finish the work in time.
Transparency- The work of the government should
not be hidden from the people. Exceptions are made for sectors
such as security and foreign affairs even in democratic countries.
Inclusive- We keep adding adjectives to the
word democracy. Democracy by its nature is inclusive; it does
not need additional qualifications. We are not honest with the
Rule of Law, consensus, participatory development
are universal values. After 2046 the World Bank and UNDP expounded
a lot on these values. But at the practical level we headed
towards bad governance. We could not change our character. The
economic aspects of globalization gained prominence. The advent
of computers has led to free flow of ideas. At the click of
a mouse one can see everything. While living in Jumla a person
can apply for a job in the UN. The revolution in communications
has positive as well as negative points. The criminal elements
have also benefited from it. The South American drug cartels
run a global network through the medium of computers. It is
not easy to catch them. We must work on reducing the negative
Foreign interference is increasing in Nepal.
The notion of conflict management sounds benign but foreign
meddling on such pretexts has increased by leaps and bounds.
India, China and the United States have become active. This
is a major challenge facing the people with nationalist sentiments.
Where will such activities lead the country to? Outside forces
are influencing the formation and size of governments. Governments
become legitimate after foreign blessings and our votes count
for nothing. The remote control is in the hand of foreigners
and blatant interference is taking place in the internal affairs
of an independent country. To what extent are we going to tolerate
such interference? This issue needs to be debated. Limitations
are imposed on an ambassadors activities according to
the 1961 Vienna Convention. They are not allowed to interfere
in internal political affairs of a country to which they are
posted. Can an exception be made in the case of weak countries?
The youths need to ponder on how to defend the countrys
interest. The competition between India and China is intensifying.
This will create more problems. The country might become politically
divided. We have to think of ways to preserve our independent
We have an image problem in foreign countries.
In international airports Nepalese passport holders are subjected
to minute enquiries. Lok Raj Baral was held up in an airport
in China for eight hours without any valid reason. Foreigners
have the impression that Nepalese tend not to return to their
country. Many players have disappeared while taking part in
sport competitions. We must give serious thought to reviving
our image. There was a time when people with Nepalese passports
would be waved through the immigration without any hassle.
Peace and Reconciliation-I will not add more
to this topic as it has already been covered.
Models of democracy- There are two models
of democracy-social democracy and liberal democracy. Each has
its own characteristic. Social democracy is practiced in Europe.
It stresses collective responsibility and positive freedom.
This model works to reduce income gap and aims at creating a
welfare state. Liberal democracy puts stress on the citizens
political rights but leads to the creation of a wide gap between
different classes. It gives birth to people like Bill Gates.
Social democracy on the other hand puts equal emphasis on other
rights as well.
Ram Chandra Humagain- Can we give out
point of view?
Basudev Upadahay- What will happen
if pluralism is adopted and what are the consequences of not
implementing such a policy?
Kancha Lama- I am a teacher. The paper
is supposed to discuss issues of local governance but it is
unclear to some extent. Is a centralized state possible? What
are the positive and negative aspects of such a state? The paper
is not clear on this issue despite the paper consisting of many
pages. In my view democracy is anarchy. It is based on the number
of people one can bring out on the streets. The people are confused
by terminology such as loktantra. Please clarify what this term
means. We must be able to decide whether we are for democracy
or republic. If we are for loktantra it should be clearly defined.
Under the republic system what kind of self-rule will be guaranteed?
It is said that hundred and twenty-five languages are spoken
in Nepal. We are a multi-lingual society. What kind of self-rule
is envisaged in such a context? We must be clear on the type
and form of self-rule. Movements in 2007 and 2046 took place
for a multi-party system. The movement in 2063 was for a federal
and republican system. By stressing on a democratic system are
we not going back to 2007? This has not been made clear.
Our primary identity is Nepali. The home ministry
is not the point of contention. I oppose making the Devnagari
script the national script. The state could not move forward
in the past. It is now necessary to move forward in new direction.
The multi-party system has become a failure. The republican
system is on the ascendant. The policy of stressing one language
is a feature of the centralized system in which the peoples
right is curtailed. The people must be given the right to use
their own language. The mother tongue should be the first language.
This should be guaranteed in the new constitution and the federal
system. The second language should be the link language and
an international language for communications with others should
be given recognition as the third language. These three languages
should be used for all types of work. Some people say this will
lead to the disintegration of the country. If the people are
given power it will further unify the country and make the state
strong. The danger of disintegration arises if the people are
not given power. Please clarify this issue.
Some say the constitution of 2047 is the best.
I do not agree with this view. That constitution was burned
when it was promulgated. The new constitution might also provoke
the people to protest in the street. We are in need of jana-neta
not raj-neta. The issue of culture and language has not been
covered by this paper.
Ram Prasad Humagain- Badri Prasad Dhital
did his schooling here but has now settled in the urban area.
People form this locality who have made it big should contribute
twenty-five percent of their earning to their birth place. Dr.
Ram Prasad Timilsinha, Shiva Sapkota and Narayan Dhital also
have become successful. They should donate some amount of the
money they have earned to the locality where they were born.
Binda Lal Shah- Can the concept of
balance of power and separation of power exist in the same place?
Yogendra Baral- I cam late and might
have missed the discussions on some issues. Is democracy possible
only in the multi-party system? What are the negative and positive
points of a proportional and majority-based system? How can
we influence the centre in such systems? Human rights are closely
linked to democracy. But at present it seems human rights exist
only for the influential people. How can the human rights of
common people be ensured? What sort of education system is best
suited for our country? Is it necessary to change the system?
People are appreciative of people with doctorates such as Dr.
Baburam Bhattarai. But what is one to make of doctorates being
awarded to such persons as Nir Shah, Hari Bansha and Madan Krishna?
Shiva Ra Dahal- They have already returned
Yogendra Baral- The education policy
is in shambles. During SLC and plus two exams answers are being
provided through messages sent on mobiles. The students do not
study but put pressure on teachers to pass them. What is the
credibility of such certificates? Such students then become
teachers. Where will this lead the country to? If the principle
of self-determination is adopted, four or five wards covering
an area of 0.26 kilometer might declare independence. In our
village four, five independent states might come into being.
What will happen then? If the political situation in Terai deteriorates
will we be able to eat? This issues needs to be discussed.
---Rajneta can only arise from the ranks of
king? Rajneta can come from among the people.
Prof. Ananda Shrestha- By rajneta we
mean a statesman. Statesman can arise from the common people.
Yogendra Baral- There are a hundred
and one different languages and different castes in Nepal. Which
language will be the common language? Democracy and republic
are two different things. One is a process and the other is
Kancha Lama- The handbook has clarified
many things but in several places the language used is not clear.
It is said that the UN charter is the basis of many policies.
I am happy to know that. Nepal is a signatory to many documents
and has also ratified them but they are rarely implemented.
They have to provide periodic reports. Nepal has agreed to implement
different laws of ILO but does no do so in practice. What is
the objective of this seminar? Publishing books is not enough.
Even when the wishes of the people have been communicated to
the members of the constituent assembly it is not acted upon.
How can policies be implemented? The members are bound to follow
the party whip. We have worked for months to provide suggestions
to the members. How can we make policies effective?
Shiva Raj Dahal- I will share my views
Kancha Lama-What from of federalism
are we going to adopt? If changes are required they must be
made. What is the process? To what extent are our rights going
to be ensured?
Badri Dhital- Nepal television should
telecast interactions between ordinary citizens and constituent
Shiva Raj Dahal- We are here not to
lecture. We have come here to learn from you. In our next publication
these ideas will find a place. We have our definition of pluralism.
Social science defines pluralistic society as a society with
different languages and religions. Our country has ninety-two
languages. These are our common property. More than ten religions
are practiced in this country. In the political arena also we
have all sorts of beliefs such as socialist, Marxist and Maoists.
This is pluralism. If we resolve our differences through discussions
democracy will become strong. In a democracy the opposition
serves as the eyes and the voice of the people. We cannot move
forward if we try to suppress pluralism. If we disagree on this
issue we will end up fighting among ourselves. Kancha Lamas
query will be answered by Ram Kumar Dahal.
Since 2062-63 confusion has arisen on the
meaning of the term democracy and loktantra. Politicians are
adept at playing with words while addressing the people. There
is no common definition of this term. Loktantra is a way of
life. When the quality of milk is pure there is no need to advertise
the fact. Amartya Sen has said that it is only in democracies
that people do not starve. The free press and the intellectuals
will ensure that the issue is not swept under the rug. The donors
will then help out. It is not necessary quibble over the term
rajmarg and lokmarga. The dictionary defines democracy as prajatantra.
In India the term loktantra is used for democracy. Its essence
is the rule of the people. Republic and Peoples Republic
are systems in which the child of a common man rules. Devnagari
should be the national script. The ninety-two other languages
in use in Nepal are also national languages. English is the
Kancha Lama- What is the criteria for
deciding which is the national language? The language of the
people should be the national language. An intangible thing
has no nationality.
Shiva Raj Dahal- I have borrowed this
definition from a book written by Harka Gurung. He has stated
that within one nationality many nations can exist.
Kancha Lama- Your argument is contradictory.
All languages have to be given the status of national language.
Chandra Dev Bhatta- The main purpose
of language is to facilitate communication. The controversy
about this issue has been created by the politicians. All languages
must be given state protection. In Nepal there are more than
100 languages. Leaders, who in public are vociferous advocates
of different languages, send their children to study in English
medium schools. Their ultimate goal is to empower their children
so that they get prestigious and high-paying jobs. We need to
learn English because it is beneficial. We can afford to ignore
it if we become developed like Japan, France and Germany. We
need not then become dependent on the English language. The
global impact of the English language can be seen in the case
of Princess Diana, her Egyptian boy-friend and the driver involved
in the car crash. The English language united them. Local languages
can be taught up-to the primary level,
Kancha Lama- It seems you all have
a preference for one particular language. How will the people
react to this? In the Newa Rajya, Newari, Nepali and English
will be given recognition.
Chandra Dev Bhatta- To what extent
is such a policy feasible?
Shiva Raj Dahal- Kancha Lama is right
to some extent. Devnagiri has not yet been fully developed.
It has to borrow words from other languages. Krishna Bahadur
Bhattachan is an advocate of ethnic languages but he is sending
his children to Malpi and Rato Bangala.
Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal-In Switzerland
four languages are recognized as national languages. Each of
these languages can be used for communication. In Nepal how
many languages are to be recognized for official work? If a
litigant wants to use Newari translators will have to be provided
Kancha Lama- In the Newa state the
residents will have to learn that language.
Ram Kumar Dahal- It is possible to
apply the principle of separation of power and balance of power
in the same system. In America both these principles are in
operation. This adjustment is done through a system of checks
and balances. This stops one particular institution from becoming
dictatorial. The Congress can check the president from becoming
a dictator. If one organ tries to encroach on the sphere of
another it is told that the matter does not fall under its jurisdiction.
This principle is operative in many democratic countries.
Democracy is possible only in a Multi-party
system. In China there is a one-party system. There are democratic
countries with monarchies and other democracies without monarchy.
England, the mother of democracy, is a monarchy. Democracies
with elected head of state are republics. The language issue
is game politicians are playing to confuse us. While teaching
about federalism, we dwell on both its positive and negative
aspects. Countries have provided for the right to secede. Quebec
wanted to secede from Canada. A referendum was held to decide
the issue and the majority voted against it. Alaska can decide
it no longer wants to be a part of America and can become a
member of the UN. India hesitated to declare herself a federal
state because some leaders feared that within no time many states
would declare themselves independent. In Nepal leaders are not
talking about secession but about the right to self-determination.
The leaders have not explicitly expressed themselves on whether
such rights should be guaranteed. When we adopt the federal
system we must clearly state whether or not such a step is permissible
in the constitution. We must close the door to such debates.
A federal system has become a necessity. We can go back only
if the system fails. What will happen in Terai? The Supreme
Court can be approached to officially define the various aspects
of this issue.
Shiva Raj Dahal- Civic education is
important. Those who have migrated cannot be forced to donate.
They left the country because of the lack of civic education.
They have so sense of accountability.
Sabina Pyakurel- During the movement
of 2062-63 the civil society was strong. Why have they become
weak at present?
Shiva Raj Dahal- Civil Society must
be above party politics. They can be a member of a party but
not a party activist. The movement was not the work of five
or six civil society leaders but was made possible due to the
uneducated unemployed. Teachers of masters level courses
are teaching at the ten plus two level. They teach in four or
five places. Where will the fresh graduates teach? The movement
gathered momentum because the people felt that the king was
responsible for this state of affairs. The civic society is
after money. Navin Raj Joshi refused to take the money for participating
in a program in west Nepal. He said that he is being paid to
do his job and had not come to the program for the sake of extra
remuneration. Civil society has become a dollar generating venture.
The people do not believe them. This can be seen by the number
of votes obtained by their leaders.
Biwanath Dahal- Will the new constitution
be promulgated on Jestha fourteen? I want a definite answer
from Ram Kumar Dahal.
Ram Kumar Dahal- I will give my personal
opinion. Our sources of information are the newspapers. We all
have seen how the big parties are fighting among themselves.
There is no consensus yet on the major issues. Nepal is heading
towards being a failed state. But if the three big leaders are
determined the issues can be resolved in half an hour. They
can come up with astonishing decisions.
Shiva Raj Dahal- One of the characteristic
of the leaders is that they want to keep people in the dark.
Ajay Tamang-Is it proper for the head
of state and minister of a secular state to attend religious
ceremony of a particular religion in Pashupati? Is this right
or wrong? Is the Nepalese state a secular one? What powers the
local government are going to get from the centre under the
concept of self-governance is not clear.
Shiva Raj Dahal- The state has been
declared a secular one during the transitional period. But the
crowds thronging the Pashupati temple reflects the peoples
sentiments. The people must be allowed to vote on this issue.
Not all INGOs working here since the advent of loktantra
is engaged in noble pursuits. Some are engaged in religious
conversions, others are engaged in collecting valuable herbs
while still others are looking fro opportunities to exploit
our natural resources at bargain basement price. Aid is increasing
dependency. The spare-parts have to be bought from the donor
nations companies. This is a form of exploitation. People
even in remote areas hanker after Coca Cola and look down on
local milk. Chowmein has displaced local food. Baidhays are
becoming extinct. Leaders are going on trips to Korea that is
sponsored by missionaries. They return as peace ambassadors.
Those standing for office also must meet minimum criteria. There
is no need for those aspiring to be prime ministers to meet
certain standards at present. There is no age limit and there
is no limit on the number of times they can run for office.
Ram Kumar Dahal- There is no need to
object if a king/president wants to visit Pashupati temple in
a secular state. There might have been a problem if he/she refused
to accept an invitation proffered by the Muslim community. The
President also has the freedom of worship.
Kancha Lama- Are the books that are
published distributed to the people?
Shiva Raj Dahal- Yes, they are. We
are Nepalese but we do not have freedom of movement within the
country. People have become internal refugees in the Terai.
The leaders are witness to this situation but prefer not to
speak about it. The goal of politics should be to further the
national interest. But here a countrys interest is not
given prominence. In Europe people proudly display their national
flag. Here only party flags have pride of place. In Kathmandu
the countrys constitution is publicly burnt. Samuel Huntington
has stated that if a nations culture comes under attack
it collapses. Loktantra can again be reclaimed but if a nation
loses its independence it is very to regain it. The land lost
after the Sugauli Treaty has not been returned.
Sierra Leone is rich in diamonds but Japan
has no natural resources. Switzerland converts a kilogram of
iron into valuable watches. New Zealand makes the most of its
wool. We are among the rich countries in terms of natural resources.
But people in remote areas are being supplied with rotten rice
and people are dying because they cannot afford cetamol. Does
loktantra have any meaning in such a situation? We Nepalese
need to first start improving ourselves.
I would like to extend my thanks to Mr. Ram
Chandra Humagain and others who helped organize this seminar.
I would also like to thank all the participants of this program.
I would like the chairman, Mr. Ram Chandra Humagain to make
the concluding remarks.
Chairman, Ram Chandra Humagain- Chairman of
NEFAS, friend from FES, Professor Ram Kumar Dahal and friends.
This program has now come to a successful conclusion. I would
like to thank the organizers for conducting the program in this
place. Civic education is necessary so that we can develop the
ability to judge issues according to their merit. If this quality
is developed we can correct the aberrations developing in every
sector of society. One needs to be aware of our duties as citizens.
This seminar has helped in this regard. It has also furthered
the peoples right to information.