Committed to Social Democracy...
FES in Nepal
FES Worldwide
Media Development
Trade Union Development
Regional Cooperation
Conflict Resolution
Good Governance
Past Activities
FES in the Press
Annual Reports
Seminar/Workshop Reports
List of FES Publications
Book Reviews
FES Publications in University Curricula

Civic Education for Consolidating Relationships between People and Local Self Governance

Organised by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

11 November 2011 (Kusma, Parbat)

Why are the majority of youths gradually shying away from politics and social activities? Why are they becoming so indifferent from politics? The common citizens in this village do not have any answer. However, the local economy, local politics have been largely affected by the less participation youths in the politics and social activities.

According to some social activists, the number of youths going abroad for employment has been sharply increasing for the last couple of years. Besides, social anomalies and domestic violence are on the rise, they say.

Majority of youths in this hilly district either prefer to go Kathmandu for higher education or opt to go to the Middle East countries for employment. They are almost unaware of the country's politics, said local intellectuals and political activists.

Expressing their concern, they said that the youths in the district were in dire need of imparting moral education so that they can feel their responsibilities and respect social and cultural values.

In the absence of civic education, youths across the nation are shying away from politics. Especially college goers in urban and semi-urban areas seem to have misunderstood politics. They take politics as a dirty game.

There has been a growing trend among youths to be indifferent from politics and social activities. If this trend continues, sociologists fear that there will be an abyss in the country's politics. The abyss or the gap can debilitate democracy to a large extent.

Even though leaders of country's major political parties seem to be least bothered about democracy and the country's sovereignty; social activists, scholars and workers of different political parties here are deeply concerned about the national issues, democratic values and development. Setting aside their ideological differences, the local people here echoed their voice for development and democracy.

It is mainly due to lack of civic education, deteriorating moral values and poverty, claimed Shiva Raj Dahal, sociologist.

While presenting a working paper on "Civic Education for Consolidating Relationships between People and Local Self Governance" organised by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) recently, Dahal pointed out the underlined the need for generating massive awareness among youths.

Youths are the torch-bearers of the nation, if they become indifferent from politics; the mainstream politics fails to move towards right direction, he said.

When politics takes a wrong course, the chances of failure of democracy are higher. To be more precise, there is likelihood of dominance of regressive forces (wrong-hands) in politics which to a large extent can jeopardize democracy. And when democracy becomes weak, good governance cannot be expected, said Dahal while giving a brief outline of his working paper.

"This is high time for each and every citizen - especially youths across the nation to be aware of political development taking place in the country. If youths turn a deaf ear to the politics, that will be a disaster, he said.

Youth's participation in social activities would have a domino-impact in the social transformation. Hence, youths should be involved in different facets of society, he added.
Growing trend of going abroad for seeking employment and permanent residency (PR) shall make the national politics hollow. Hence, civic education is a must for social transformation and development.

Youths are the torch-bearers of the nation, if they become indifferent from politics; the mainstream politics fails to move towards right direction, he said.

"This is high time for each and every citizen - especially youths across the nation to be aware of political development taking place in the country. If youths turn a deaf ear to the politics, that will be a disaster, he said.

The local people here have expressed a serious concern that the number of youths going abroad for employment have been sharply increasing for the last couple of years.

However, youths should be provided with an ample opportunity for their economic uplift. Politics is based on economics, he said.

Speaking about the economic aspect of the society, Prof. Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma spoke about the economic aspect of civic education. He said more and more youths irrespective of their ideologies should be involved in productive and meaningful activities in the society. Economy of the nation is based on three components namely - state, private sector and cooperative.

If economics fails to support politics, there will be a dearth of participation that ultimately affects democracy, human dignity and values; he said adding that the country's politics has become more capital-(Kathmandu)-centric. Politics, guide economic activities and economic activities are the fundamental to the politics.
Devolution of political power, would largely contribute to devolution of economic power.

There is a big crisis in economic governance. Inequality and poverty go side by side. Of the total trade over 50 per cent is 'illegal'. As long as such situation prevails, we cannot expect economic growth of the nation.

Prof. Sharma said that development model should be inclusive and broad-based. Besides, that there should be proper system of policy regulation.

Presenting a gloomy picture of economic indicators, he said that per capita income in Nepal has just reached US$500, while neighboring countries like India and China have US$ 3500 and US$ 7500 respectively. It shows that Nepal's economic growth is far below the average growth.

This tardy growth shows that we are failing in development process. Who is responsible for the failure as of now? They are the political actors who should be held responsible for tardy economic growth. If politics fails to take right course, country's economy cannot move a head, he said.

Our economy is based on remittance, but we have not calculated the cost side, he said.
Prof. Sharma, former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission said that the data system. Our data system is not reliable. He said that he had formulated a number of plans while he was in the NPC, but could not implement owing to the dearth of time.

It seems bizarre that the poverty has come down to 25 per cent from a 32 per cent, but the reality is not different. Poor has become poorer and rich has richer. The gap has further widened in the recent years, he said. Problem in economic governance has to be resolved to attract youths, he said.

It is the responsibility of the state to attract youths for social development. If we fail to address the problem in the economic governance, I doubt the country shall plunge into an abyss of violence and lawlessness, he said.

If the state fails to provide opportunities to the youths, obviously they tend to shy away. It is the responsibility of the state to create opportunities for the people in the society. Political actors, government should act honestly.

Prof. Sharma also spoke about the impact of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) between Nepal and India. Sharma, the former vice chairman of the NPC strongly claimed that BIPPA will have more serious impact in the country's trade and economy. The BIPPA has reinforced the 1950 Treaty between Nepal and India which is in the interests of India.

Majority of youths across the nation are misguided and misinformed, claimed Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal, while talking about the need for political awareness said that youths should not be kept aside of politics. They should be a part of politics and social activities.

Prof. Dahal stressed the need for generating awareness among youths. They should be informed that politics is not a dirty game. They should be encouraged to do politics for the right cause.

Young generation presume politics as a dirty game played idiots. This is totally a wrong concept. They should be given a message that politics is not a dirty game, but it should be guided by the right persons who are honest and integrity towards society, he said.

Prof. Dahal noted that the civil society in our context is guided by political parties. If this trend continues, the problem will arise in making the parties alert and ultimately the political parties cannot take a right course. Leaders of political parties should go along with the people.

They should embrace the feelings of people in true sense. Prof. Dahal further said that political leaders should act in such a way that they should be able to solve their problems at state level.

But it is a great irony that our leaders who get elected by the votes of these people completely ignore them. This is the main reason as why youths are shying away from politics. However, we cannot remain tightlipped. Someone has to initiate the process of educating youngsters. Hence, we should play a proactive role to bring youths into the mainstream of politics, he added.

Chandra Dev Bhatta, programme officer of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) highlighting objectives of the programme spoke about the prime objectives of the FES. He explained how first President of Germany Friedrich Ebert initiated the process of institutionalising social dialogue for the uplift the society. Without civic education, people cannot realize the essence of democracy. Civic education teaches people to be responsible and dutiful. Civic education teaches citizens to be good citizen.

Political dialogue, social dialogues among youths should be encouraged for social justice. If youths shy away who is going to take part in the politics for social change?

Bhatta, an expert in political economy, noted that politics has been distorted. Instead of becoming for the people, politicians have created distance from the people. By the people means it has been 'buy' the people and for of the people it has become 'off the people', he said.

Bhatta said that youths should be aware of all types of anomalies taking place in the society. Whatever the political ideologies they have, they should not lag behind for common cause.

Earlier Prof. Ananda Shretha, Chairman of the NEFAS spoke about the objectives of the interaction programme. He explained as why NEFAS had been gearing up campaign on civic education. No society can make progress without civic education, hence NEFAS, with the support of FES has been organising civic education programme across the nation. We expect that this type of civic education programme would be helpful in generating awareness among youths.

Besides, our programme would help accumulate opinions across the nation. This ultimately, helps us to put pressure on policy makers at the national level.

Urging participants to float their opinions, he said "Your opinion bears a lot of sense to formulate policy". We are organising this programme to collect your views; this in totality helps policy makers as what policy should be formulated.

Consolidation of democracy is not possible without active participation of youths. Hence youths should play proactive role for democracy and development, they said. Participation of youths in social and political activities is a must to make the society dynamic and forward looking for that youths need to be made aware of their individual rights and responsibilities, they added.

Floor Discussion

Navaraj Gurung, leader of Nepali Congress, Parbat district committee expressed serious concern as why the process of writing constitution is getting delayed. Political parties and their leaders have turned deaf ear to the genuine demands of people. They have undermined the aspirations of people who stood against monarchy in 2062 BS. He also pointed out that the gap between rich and poor are ever widening.

Bikash Lamsal - college lecturer and representative of the CPN- UML district committee said that the country's political leaders were largely responsible to discourage youths from politics and social activities.
Those youths who have potentials never tend to take part in the politics. If such trend continues, country's politics cannot take the right course.

Devendra Pandey - social activist asked resource persons to take initiatives convey the reality taking place in the society. Nobody in the policy-making level listens to us. Hence, you guys should take initiative, he urged the NEFAS resource persons like Prof. Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma, Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal, Shiva Raj Dahal, Prof. Ananda Shrestha and C.D Bhatta.

Meghnath Subedi - leader of the CPN- UML of Parbat District Committee blamed the civil societies of trumpeting the voice of political parties. Nobody is honest for social cause. But we should make some efforts to echo the voice for common cause.
He said that the civil society should monitor the role of political parties.

Subash Pant - school teacher said that such discussion would be helpful to bring youths together. There is no dearth of resources, but we need consensus to build the society.

Udaya Subedi, a social activist urged all to be responsible. It is the responsibility of all to be conscious about the common cause of the society.

Rajendra Pahadi, a student of sociology grossly blamed political leadership for the deterioration of social values among people in the society. Our education system is not tied up with moral values. The education institutions are just issuing 'dead certificates.' Somebody has to take initiatives to break the ice.

Yubaraj K.C, a social activist, said that moral education should be a part of our education system from the very beginning of school levels. He pointed out the cause of erosion of social values.

Man Kumar Pun, a local in Kusma Bazar said that political parties should be very cautious about the society and social impact.

Hira Lal Regmi- spoke about the need for mobilizing youths in the society.

Kul Prasad Sharma, Upadhyay, Chairman of the Teachers Association Parbat district urged all to find hidden potentials in youths. They should be encouraged to something in their own soil.

Bikash Lamsal, representative of the UML district Committee Parbat said that leadership should be based on the people's aspirations.

Responding queries of the participants, Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma blamed political parties including the UCPN- Maoists for working at the interests of India.

Shiva Raj Dahal, who presented the paper assured the participants that he would incorporate the suggestions of the participants when it is published.

He said that the impact the BIPPA said that it was more regressive than that of the Mahakali Treaty. It would have greater impact in the country's trade and economy.

Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal, further said that political awareness among youths should be encouraged for social dialogue.

Finally Chairman of the programme Basanta Kumar CK said that such interaction programme would at least help youths to join their hands for common social cause. He also underlined the need for social dialogue. Such programme would act a catalyst to bring the youths into a common forum.

Copyright©2001. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Nepal Office
The information on this site is subject to a
disclaimer and copyright notice.