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Fostering positive relations among citizens and governance

Organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

10 April 2011, Hariwon, Sarlahi


Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) in co-operation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a one day seminar on “The Role of Civic Education for Strengthening the Relationship between the People and Local Self-Governance” at Hariwan, Sarlahi district. Over 98 participants belonging to different fields of life participated in the seminar. Young social scientist Shiva Raj Dahal presented a paper titled ‘Civic Education for the Youth’. Head of FES Mr. Dev Raj Dahal gave a brief introduction of Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and spoke about a wide range of issues. Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta shed further light on various aspects of civic education and on the fundamental principles of democracy as explained in the “Handouts on Democracy.” The discussion that followed was illuminating and showed that the people at the grassroots level have a sophisticated understanding of the problems faced by the country. 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- I would like to welcome you all on behalf of NEFAS and to thank you all for accepting our invitation. I would like to first request Mr. Krishna Prasad Bhattarai Head of the --- Janta School , to assume the chairmanship of this one-day seminar. Similarly I would like to request the country head of FES and senior political analyst Mr. Dev Raj Dahal, Mr. Ananda Shrestha, executive chairman of NEFAS and recently retired professor who was associated with the English department for thirty years, and Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta, from the FES to take their seats. Mr. Ananda Shrestha will now deliver the welcome speech.

Ananda Shrestha- Mr. Chairman, country head of FES and participants, I would like to first provide a short introduction of NEFAS. This is an institution solely devoted to research/educational activities and was established in 1990. It organizes seminar on issues of national interest and does not limit its activities to Kathmandu . Only the concluding seminar is held in Kathmandu . We have held seminars in around thirty-five to forty different places in Nepal providing citizens knowledge about civic affairs and distributing our books on Contemporary Nepali Society. In this course we are holding the seminar here today. The young scholar Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal has presented his paper in different localities. The shortcomings pointed out by the participants and the comments and suggestions offered by them have been very helpful in further refining the paper. We expect to receive helpful suggestions here also in order to further improve the paper. The proceedings will be published in a book form. We have published thirty-five books so far. They are used as teaching material from the ten plus two level up to the postgraduate classes of Peace and Conflict, Economics, Development Studies, Rural Development and Sociology Department of Tribhuvan University. The books are also used in foreign universities. We are proud of this fact.

Everybody is aware of the present situation in our country. Twenty years have already passed since the political changes of 1990. The country has been without a real constitution for the last two years and the Interim Constitution 2007 has not been able to stabilize political situation in Nepal . It remains uncertain whether the process will be completed in the remaining period. Different alternatives are being discussed. We have not seen the politics of development in the last twenty years. The paper will discuss these issues and the rights and duties of citizens in this circumstances. The youth seem to be the only source of hope. Change cannot take place without transferring the leadership of the political parties to the youth. No sector-health, education, administration etc. - has been an exception to the process of decay. The youth must come forward and take their place in the decision-making level. We do not insist that the youths carry the party flags but they must be aware of the state of the country. At present youth find it hard to get employment and in frustration are emigrating from the country. Your suggestions on how the youth should assume the leadership of the political parties and other sectors will be most welcome. I would like to end here. I would like to extend my warm welcome to you all once more.

Shiva Raj Dahal- Mr. Dev Raj Dahal will now provide a short introduction of FES . Mr. Dahal has written many books and fourteen, fifteen of his books are used as teaching materials. He worked for CNAS and was a research fellow at the Berkley University .

Dev Raj Dahal- I would like to welcome you all on behalf of FES . Stiftung means Foundation in German and Friedrich Ebert was a social democrat and a labor leader. He became the chairman of the constituent assembly and also the president of Germany . He fell ill in 1925 and he told his well-wishers that he would not live long and that instead of paying respects to him with bouquets and gifts they should use the money to set up a scholarship scheme for the children of poor families and workers. As present this foundation has offices in over 100 countries. The guiding principles of this foundation are 1) Freedom, 2) Social Justice, 3) Solidarity, and 4) peace. Without social justice the poor will have no stake in the political system. Therefore there is a need to provide special privileges for the weak. The world is getting smaller. If there are desperately poor people in one part of the world it will ultimately affect the welfare of the developed world. International solidarity has thus become important. If the snow starts melting in the Himalayas due to global warming tourists will cease coming to Nepal and it will not be possible to produce hydro-electricity. This scenario might unfold not because of our fault. The industrialized countries are responsible for the rise in global temperatures. To increase the water source tree plantation is necessary. World-wide co-operative effort is necessary because the context of development has expanded at a global space and, therefore, we have to be system-sensitive while formulating public policies.

Tax has correlation with the accountable governance and state building. In Nepal , tax contributes over 20 percent to the GDP of Nepal while remittances contribute twenty-three percent. Foreign aid contributes only five percent to the GDP. Our home-grown knowledge is not being utilized in formulating public policies. Policies fail because they lack local ownership. When people become actively engaged in the affairs of the state the internal political process can assume the responsibility for making policies. A citizen is a constituent of a particular country and must be loyal to that country. They can pressurize the parties and the government for accountable and transparent governance. When a citizen votes during elections and then goes into hibernation for five years, citizenship loses its meaning and the state becomes weak. We are all citizens but we are failing to utilize our rights and duties. Therefore, this program is designed to make active citizenship aware of their public and private responsibilities.

Only the members of parties have benefited from the changes. Our state is fragile and it is being sustained by our strong societal ties. We need to hold discussions on the relationship between the janta and the state in order to strengthen the state. A person has many layers of identities such as gender, religion and regional. The overarching identity should be that of a citizen. The other identities can easily change in cases such as when organizations split. The organization culture is not well developed. An organization becomes strong when it embodies a certain way of thinking. If the members are imbued with money-making culture they will join whichever organization offers them the most benefit. Politics should be the imbued with the spirit of voluntarism but if politics is run like a business activity it will become weak.

There are three sources of knowledge. 1) The path of knowledge or shastra. In the ancient times people used to debate the rights and wrongs of different courses of action. The conclusions reached in such forums would form the basis of policy. In this country we do not know where the policy is formulated. Policies must be rooted in the local environment. The political sector is responsible for policy-making but at present this sector is weak. 2) The path of socialization and action. 3) The path of liberation through enlightenment. It is a worth pondering how a country as diverse as Nepal became united. This country was unified not on the basis of physical force alone. Only seventeen countries were in existence when Nepal came in being. However our country is getting weaker. We are laying stress on things that divide us. We must concentrate on factors that unite us.

Enlightenment ideals are vital ingredients for the success of democracy consolidation. Kant was one of the power source of enlightenment for the West while we had three different sources of enlightenment representing three different traditions—pre-religious, spiritual and rational epitomized by Janak who stressed that knowledge is separate from power and that power must be wielded without self-interest, the Veda-it does not represent a religion; it shows different paths to enlightenment, and Buddha. Buddha studied the different scriptures and went to the villages to solicit the opinion of the common people about the different facets of the scriptures and sought to abolish structural injustices of then societies. Buddha has stated that the goal of an individual should be enlightenment, that of a society development, of nature sustainability, culture adequacy and world peace. Karl Marx had also said that each person should be provided according to his needs and that greed should not be the operative principle. This is essential for sustainable development. We must change according to the times. If we do not do so we will fall behind and the status quo will not be acceptable to the younger generation. It is important that new blood enters the body politic through regular elections in order for it to retain its dynamism had said that without peace nothing can be achieved. In every book concerned with peace Gautam Buddha is mentioned. Lumbini University has been established but it has not yet made scientific knowledge the basis its courses.

The people must be transformed into citizens. Civic education must take a holistic approach. A form of civic education was imparted during the Panchayat era, but the aim was to sustain the system. Rights and duties must move forward hand in hand. In 1994 we had held a gathering of four leaders of major parties. The aim was to forge a consensus among them about the contents of civic education to be included in the party and school curricula. We dissected the election manifestos of the different parties. Each of the documents lavishly praised on their own party and painted the others as villains. We told them this would only help create militants and stressed the need to make people tolerant of others. They asked us to write a book in their regard and promised to use it to train their cadres.

The citizens must become enlightened. In Japan the people do not quarrel in public places. They stay in compact communities. Communities which are quarrelsome have dispersed settlements. When people become civilized then democracy, peace and development becomes possible. States existed even when there were no constitutions. Democracy seeks to eliminate the use of violence in public life and empowers the people and this enables us to devise our own policy. Such a system is superior but it can be effective only when the state is strong to implement all civic rights and creates order in society which is just and legitimate. Many rights might be granted by the constitution but its implementation is the responsibility of the state. Secular state and ethnically based federal units cannot exist together. We have become a republic but the essence of such a system, local governance, has not been given due importance. The political culture has not changed. Democracy consolidation requires civic political culture.

The constitution is being changed every ten years. The American constitution has been in place for over two hundred years and it has been able to incorporate revolutionary changes such as the abolition of slavery. If one relies only on revolutionary methods constitutional stability cannot be attained. Change requires constant effort. It is important to take note of how the world views us. We need to strike a balance between individual, communal and human rights.

The state in the past used to be constructed on a top-down basis. The people remained passive. Now the state must be re-constructed from the bottom-up as sovereignty belongs to them. The people and the army are the pillars of the state. The state must have a monopoly over the use of force, ability to raise tax, inspire the loyalty of people and garner international legitimacy. If the state monopolizes these activities then it can provide security by abolishing Hobbesian state of nature. If this is not possible then democracy will not survive. Providing security to citizens is the foremost duty of the state.

According to new data published by the Oxford University sixty percent of the people are living below the poverty line. Politically, poverty means powerlessness. The poor people must have a stake in the system. The basic needs of such people must be met. We have to move in the direction of social democracy. America has adopted the liberal form of democracy while the Europeans have adopted the social democratic model. We have included aspects of both these systems in our model. The parliament is not in a position to reverse this trend and the road ahead is clear in this respect. The economic foundation has to be strong. In developed countries taxes are utilized to provide excellent facilities. The distributive system is also good. During the Panchayat era there was no disparity in the education, health and communication system.

Thirty-five lakh people are working abroad. Many are returning due to political turmoil in the Arab world. How can we provide them with jobs? We must build a production based economy. Emphasis needs to be placed on the agricultural sector. Productivity in this sector is decreasing by 1-2%. We must think about ways to make the education system productive. Many foreign organizations are trying to influence the constitution drafting process. The members of the constituent assembly have gone on visits to various. Where-ever they have gone they have found the system to their liking. They have given no thought to the sustainability of a federal system. While Ilam tea would have to pay taxes in three locations before it even enters the export market in such a system. This would price it out of the international market.

The problem with our leaders is that they tailor their speeches in accordance with the type of the audience they face. But once they join the government they do not fulfill their promises. Civic education must provide holistic knowledge so that citizens can make leaders accountable to their speeches. It is not necessary to divide people. There are two types of rights-positive and negative. Rights against the state as well as rights designed to help the people are provided for. There is no local government at present but governance continues to function. In order to create the state from below we have to be pro-active. We have to think about the issues, reflect on the problems and express our views. There are hundred and three jatis in Nepal . We have to synthesize the different view and come up with a national agenda to be incorporated into the constitution to be drafted by CA. BP Koirala had laid stress on three principles-nationalism, democracy and socialism. But the stress on socialism was diluted later on. The parties have become catch-all parties. If people who have joined parties for opportunistic reasons rise to the top of a particular party they will ruin the party. Political conviction is necessary.

Politics belongs to the public domain and it must not be privatized. Institutional autonomy of the parties is important to make political parties public, not to be dominated by super individuals. In the constituent assembly twenty-eight husband-wife teams are represented. Family-friendly polity does not serve the public. If the citizens become pro-active, changes can slowly take root. If localized loyalties are transferred to the state the nation will become strong.

The bulk of urban civic society is not organic product. If a transplanted organ is rejected by the body it will affect the whole system. We have to omit the negative points and adopt the positive points. China and India were colonized but Nepal fought a war with England and survived. We lost territory but managed to keep our independence. If we can consolidate the legacy of our forefathers the future generation will be proud of us.

Chairman Krishna P. Bhattarai- All the participants please introduce yourselves.

Shiva Raj Dahal- Please let me provide a short introduction of NEFAS. Twenty professors of Tribhuvan University were its founding members and its purpose was to initiate discussions on various issues. It has published thirty-five books so far and the books are used as teaching materials for courses conducted from the ten plus two to the post-graduate level. The books are also used in Kathmandu University , Sikkim University, Belford and JNU. It is also on the book list prescribed for the section-officer level examination as well as the examinations taken by under-secretaries for promotion to joint secretary level. The government has already decided to make civic education compulsory for class eleven students.

Knowledge is not found in the cities. I had met a doctorate student from Japan in Doti. His professor had told him that his knowledge of social sciences would be complete only when he spent time in a remote village. In the past seminars used to be held only in the capital. Hariwan is known for its strong stand on issues of national interest. We have come here to learn from you and share our views. In Europe doctors only diagnose diseases; prescription of medicines is the responsibility of the pharmacist. It is the responsibility of the political parties to provide medicine. We have to draw their attention to the problems. I will highlight the salient points of this paper.

Paper presentation follows.

Shiva Raj Dahal- Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta will now provide a brief overview of the handbook.

Chandra Dev Bhatta- I will not take too much of your time and will finish my presentation in around half an hour. Many issues have already been covered by the previous speakers and I do not want to cover the same ground. Please read the handbook in your free time as we need to allocate more time to mutual interaction.

Why has no fundamental changes occurred despite the fact that the people have consistently supported change and democracy? The Nepali state is weak. We are all part of the state. The state guarantees the citizen’s rights. Democracy is the best system to ensure this. But in our country it is not working for the benefit of the people. Every ten years we come up with a new constitution. Each of the constitution has been drafted in the name of janta and social justice. But what the term janta connotes has not been defined. The elites block meaningful changes and set the agenda. People expected much from the political changes of 2062-63. After the movement elections were held and the elites again managed to influence the agenda. The system must be run according to our desires. Every five years a movement takes place. The people are only used but are not being provided with economic opportunities. For people entering politics it has become a risk free business. The benefits have been garnered only by a few while the ordinary people have no stake in the system. Such a system cannot last for long.

Countries such as the United States and United Kingdom had faced similar problems but their transition period had not lasted for long. The eastern civilization is older than the western one. Copernicus had told his friends that the earth was round. The Palace found out and summoned him. The authorities asked him why he was spreading such baseless rumors. Copernicus denied that he had said such a thing. When his friends rebuked him for contradicting himself, he replied that while he had four pieces of evidence to back his claim the king had one thousand guns to back him up. Arya Bhatta had made a similar claim but he was not persecuted for it. Hinduism, Islam and Christianity all originated from Asia .

Our political culture is not in a good state. We also have to bear responsibility for this state of affairs. We believe that our duty is done once we cast our vote, but we must constantly monitor the working of the system. There must be internal democracy within the parties. Many youths have now found a place in the constituent assembly but the major issues are still decided only by the three leaders of the largest parties. There are one hundred and ninety-eight women representatives, but their participation in the decision making process is not effective. How can we empower them? Economically empowering them is one possible way.

The state has guaranteed different types of rights but the state is itself weak. If one is not economically empowered political power is meaningless. A system lasts until it has the confidence of the people. In Nepal there are a lot of poor people. They can be brought into the mainstream by opening industries. Since the last twenty years no new jobs have been created. We consume but do not produce products. The youth of the country are being used as export commodities. One must generate economic activities within the country. The current situation is not sustainable.

The parties need internal democracy. They need new blood. People are interacting now through the medium of face-book and other social networks. But a large part of the population is shut out of this medium. How can we mainstream the majority of the people? We must inculcate a democratic culture. The parties unite to seek power but once they attain it infighting begins. They do not have a common stance regarding foreign policy, economic policy and development issues. If consensus is forged on these issues change can be sustainable.

We expected a lot from the civil society. They were responsible for ushering in the third wave of democracy in 1989. But where are activists who hogged the limelight during the movement now? The civil society must rise above partisan and personal interests. There can be no leaders in a civil society. Only then can it be effective. The traditional civil society established in the past has now become eroded. Transformation is needed in many sectors.

We must be clear about what sort of democracy and economic policy we want. These two spheres are directly related. The political movements have not yet addressed our needs. The manifestos of the political parties stress on the need to provide social justice. Liberal democracy is concerned only with freedom. A model that incorporates freedom, equality and social justice is more sustainable. Four to five lakh youths enter the job market every year but only twenty to thirty thousand are able to obtain jobs in the government sector. The private sector can employ only a limited amount. In order to make democracy strong it is necessary to make the economy strong.

Peace is nothing but without peace nothing is possible. If we can abandon the culture of violence progress is possible. We have come here not to lecture but to share our views. Every age group needs civic education. Civic education in the Western countries seeks to make their citizens stakeholders. Two weeks back, Newsweek had published the results of survey conducted to find out the levels of awareness of Americans about democracy. Only twenty-seven percent answered the questions correctly. Democracy in such a context will not be strong. In our society the party is the basis of change. But the process has not started yet.

Shiva Raj Dahal- The floor is now open for discussions. If you have any queries and suggestions it will be most welcome.

Mohammed Kamaruddin- The leaders have not been able to work for the citizens. The country is surviving on the basis of remittances sent by the youths. Civic education must help end discrimination. In the paper it is mentioned that the great religions of the world came into existence in Asia but the Muslim religon is not mentioned in one section of the paper. This is not right. Chairs were thrown out of the window in Kathmandu because of such an attitude. If rights are given to all sections of the population then there will not be any problems. The leaders are misusing their position and this will have bad effect. If inclusive policies are implemented problems such as chakkajams will come to an end.

Krishna Prasad Bhattarai- The eastern civilization first came into existence. The scholars only give examples from the West. Will this benefit us? The scholars of Tribhuvan University must be like Chanakya and not be the followers of people like Girija and Madhave Kumar Nepal . They should be able to make such people their disciples. The scholars have not been able to play such a role.

Who is to be called a citizen? There are no slaves at present. Since the 1950s citizens have been provided with educational opportunities and people became literate. Was our definition of economics wrong? The Nepali people have not yet become citizens. They have neither been able to adhere to the values of the past nor to conform to the thinking of the present. According to the Hindu scriptures people are required to provide ten percent of their income as dan. There would not have been any poor people if this edict had been followed.

The word Terai has been repeatedly mentioned in the paper. Mahesh Chandra Regmi has dealt with this issue in his book. Problems concerning citizenship similar to the Terai exist in the north also. We might want to regulate the open border. Solutions can be found if the scholars can guide politics. But in Nepal scholars run after leaders when it should be the other round. The people are concentrating on primary sources of income such as farming. What role has the university played to develop secondary sources? If this is done there will no unemployment problem. We import everything and claim that we are an agricultural country.

Unless the leaders enrich themselves how will they look after the people?

Binod Khanal- I would like to thank Mr. Dev Raj Dahal and Mr. Ananda Shrestha for coming to Sarlahi and sharing their views with us. I have read your book. There was instability in Germany after the revolution and this resulted in the rise of Hitler. Is our situation similar to that of Germany ?

Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah had together fought for India ’s independence. But after independence was achieved in 1947 India was divided into three parts. Are we also moving towards that direction? A report has stated that if no steps are taken to protect the Churia it will be transformed into a desert in the next fifty, fifty-years. The President has also voiced his concern regarding this. The mafia is working to destroy the Churia. What can be done about this problem?

Deepak Ranabhat- The janta has still not become a citizen. The civil society is also another type of political party. Krishna Pahadi, Damnanath Dhungana and Padma Ratna Tuladhar all have political affiliations. We are animals not janta. We do not have tolerance for others. All the parties are divided into different factions. Who represents UML? Is civil society a party?

Biswanath Rijal- The leaders who had spent time in jail are now in charge of the country. As a result problems have arisen. The scholars do not respect the leaders. The society is also beginning to despise them. The leaders, from the grassroots level to the top, must be people with expertise. The scholars have a big role to play in this respect.

Indra Pathak- Our society has developed the habit of lecturing others. Blaming others will achieve nothing. No sector is behaving in accordance to its guiding philosophy but is engaged in the blame game. Those who blame others have themselves not contributed anything. The scholars and the politicians are not acting according to principles. This sort of culture has taken root.

Commitments have to be made. The paper is non-committal. There is no mention of the need to adopt scientific practices in agriculture. Our cultural heritage is rich but there is no mention of this fact. Possibilities have not been explored. You must act according to the principles of social sciences. It is not right to only promote American values and highlight only problems. This is negativism. The people had participated in the movement at the call of the political parties. If the scholars help solve the problems no foreign money will be needed. Ram Prasad Shrestha has shown that corruption can be controlled if the justice system is strong.

Nobody is concentrating on his/her work. Mr. Panthi has set an example by setting up a diary in a scientific manner on his own initiative. A leader of peasants must have experience of peasant life. Many NGOs and political parties have come into existence in Sarlahi. We do not have the habit of discriminating between good and bad parties. Change has to start within each of us. All ideas are good but some are better. We have to be honest with our selves.

Laxman Rayamajhi- Different kinds of organization dedicated to moving the society forward have come here and sought to educate the people. The distance between the civil society and the government is huge and suggestions from below do not reach the top. The people at the apex are suspicious of suggestions emanating from people who are not party members. They will become irritated if they read this paper. All the organizations have party links. If we go to meet a certain human rights group they try to bring us under the influence of their particular political party. People then become confused. Their documents are akin to party manifestos. The civil society should act as a link between the people and the government.

Manoj Thapa- Only blaming the parties is not the answer. Who is responsible for this state of affairs? Is our education system to blame? We do not have self-motivation. We read about corruption cases. But why has Nepal not been able to produce an Anna Hazare?

Basudev Niraula- One interesting aspect of this paper is that national level intellectuals have takes up issues related to nationalism. We have lost territory amounting to 60-65 thousand hectares. Where was our boundary in the past? Why are the scholars not putting pressure on the government in this regard? Blaming India only is not the solution. Intellectuals must know what diplomatic moves we can initiate. Even when building our houses we initiate the process only after the boundary has been settled. Before there was no democracy but we have loktantra now. Intellectuals must help in solving the boundary problem. Billons of rupees have been spent on programs targeting the Churia region. It would have been better if the money had been used to resettle the poor in another location. Why has the problem is Churia not been brought under control?

Hemlal Devkota- The hill people living near the border have moved to Hetauda and Kathmandu . Because of communal terrorism people settled there are moving northwards. How can such problems be communicated in a sober manner to the people at the top?

Sahadev Thapa- I would like to welcome you all to my district. Many things have been made clear in the course of the discussion. If politics is unsoiled major changes can take place. All sectors of the society have a role to play. If we blame each other we cannot move forward. Society needs development. But at present we oppose even the beneficial activities. We want to be rich overnight. Forests have almost been fully depleted. Such development is not sustainable. The intellectuals are a divided lot. We have to be honest. All the sectors are in turmoil. The internal condition of both the leftist and democratic parties is the same. Will we get a democratic constitution? The parties define loktantra from their own perspectives. We have not been able to come up with a definition acceptable to all. Prachanda has said that only those who agree with them are citizens. Conscious people are worried. We need to unite and not quarrel among ourselves.

Bhagwan Mainali- The intellectuals present has raised various issues. The idea to conserve the Churia is praiseworthy. The President has also expressed his concern. The people have to be resettled in other locations and tree plantation initiated. The Churia and Inner Terai runs through thirty-two districts of the Terai. Sustainable programs that are competently managed must be run. Fruit trees should be planted and animal husbandry programs focused on small animals (not cows) must be initiated.

Dev Raj Dahal- There is a saying that a question well asked is half answered. The President and the policy makers have all expressed concern about the Churia problem but the implementation part remains weak. If the people become united it can be implemented. The organizational capacity of the people has to be developed. The leaders have a utilitarian mentality, if enough pressure is put on them by a large group of people they will act.

Our intellectual sector is weak. Not many Nepali books are taught in universities outside Nepal . At Berkeley Mahesh Chandra’s book was used. This shows that we are capable of producing and exporting knowledge. Prof. Ostrom used Nepal ’s success in community forest management as an example to highlight her thesis in her lectures. We are engaged in the politics of negativism. This sort of attitude will make us weak. We need to change.

Processing of nature is essential to make an economy but it should be done on a sustainable basis. We have tremendous hydro-power but we suffer form darkness because we have not utilized it. The Middle-East has oil which can neither be used for drinking nor for irrigation. Similarly New Zealand has made the most of its dairy products. Although nature has richly endowed us, we have not made use of the resources. When one asks the economists why Nepal has not developed they give different answers. Tomorrow’s economy has to be holistic. I had maintained that the local and national conflicts are similar and raised the question why we are successful at solving local conflicts and not the national one. Inter-disciplinary study is required. We do not have think-tanks. How can we reduce the communal conflict? If one tries to move forward by taking along only one segment of the society it will not work. We have to optimize the role of all segments of the society in the system. The conflict also has an external element. The foreigners have their own definition of what constitutes a proper system. The donors want the constitution to reflect their wishes. The constitution will be sustainable if it reflects our needs. The country will remain unstable if the poor remain marginalized. But why has the money given by the donors not reached the target group? This is because of the various conditions imposed by the donors. The consultants take back a large chunk of the aid money. The leaders at the centre and the local level are also not effective. Not more than three percent of allocated funds reach the local level. Our style of thinking has not changed.

The donors are funding us through the medium of three programs- Millennium Development Goals, Poverty Reduction Programs and Post-Conflict Programs. Many leaders are not aware of this fact. They have abdicated their policy making responsibilities to others. We are dependent on others for everything. That is why we are being dictated to. The country is in a fluid state.

In China a debate had taken place whether to give the responsibility for running the state to technocrats or to the ideologically committed. They decided in favor of the experts. Deng Xiao Ping was responsible for the shift in policy. The Chinese are exporting Confucian values not the thoughts of Mao today. They want to show the strength of their civilization. They put stress on national sovereignty and want Nepal to stand on her own feet. That is why their aid was focused on providing import-substitution industries. Three industries set up by China were disposed off during the privatization process.

During the movement the foreign governments provided help. This was not a cost-free assistance. If we give in to all the demands of the foreigners, the system will not last for long. How can we avoid these conditions? The President might take over the reins of power but the question is can such a move be sustained? Our society is deeply divided. Other options such as fresh elections and the extension of the tenure of the constituent assembly are also being discussed. The size of the political class has increased but the economy has not expanded. There is no subsidy for the agriculture sector. Leftists make up eighty-two percent of the assembly. Our political direction in this sense is clear. The top leaders do not want to sit in the Constitution Committee chaired by Nilambar Acharya. How can the assembly gain strength? Problems have to be solved from within the institution.

India is trying to borrow one trillion dollars from China to build roads. This project needs stones from Nepal . In such a context should we not think of striking a hard bargain for our resource? We can gain if we engage in collective bargaining. The inability of the present government to complete the process of filling the cabinet posts is due also to foreign interests. Nepal will not break up. She has been fulfilling the role of a buffer zone and if she becomes a failed state she will pose a threat to the world. Nepal lies between the Indo-Gangetic Plain and China ’s Tibet . These two countries are engaged in a relationship that has elements of both conflict, competition and co-operation.

Yes, we are species beings. If we are animals we will not destroy nature. All animals have to work to live. Work is done by conscious beings. Countries without strategic interests such as Finland and Switzerland are helping us. Germany does not have any commercial interests in Nepal . Internal politics has now become globalized. All sectors such as the society and economy have developed links with the outside world. These sectors must also take responsibility for promoting the national interest.

To implement insights provided by knowledge power is needed. Different types of people need to co-operate to bring this about. Prof. Kedar Bhakta Mathema had recently done a study of the public education system. He has warned about the danger of the public education system breaking down. This will endanger loktantra. The intellectuals are the guide of nations. In other countries every party has its own think-tank and interaction among them helps to create national consensus on policies. There was consensus among Indian political parties regarding the blockade imposed on Nepal by India . The parties in Nepal need to interact amongst each other and practice internal democracy. We are trying to bring all the parties under the platform of social democracy. We plan to take the youth leaders of the three major parties to different districts and organize all party meetings of youth.

Discussions concerning the regulation of the border have been held along the border districts. If we do not regulate our borders we will not be able to differentiate our nationals from the foreigners. Development programs are meant only for the citizens; if the border remains open we cannot develop. It is necessary to raise this issue in talks with India but the concerned authorities are fearful of antagonizing India .

The church is an influential actor in the social sector of Western countries. Many people donate ten percent of their income to charity. Our religious organizations need good organization to be effective. Kant had stressed the importance of spirituality. Einstein had said the importance of religion. But intellectuals now have ignored the spiritual aspect. Society and intellectuals now belong to two different worlds and there is no bond between them.

When any of you come to Kathmandu feel free to visit us and we will be pleased to provide you with books. This is the beginning of our interactions and not the end. We work in different sectors. Democracy is not being consolidated due to polarization. Thank you.

Prof. Ananda P Shrestha- I would like to make certain clarifications regarding NEFAS. We publish the proceedings of the seminar in a book form and then distribute it for free. Whether or not the policy-makers read it, and are influenced by it is another matter. There are weaknesses in the paper and we would like to thank you for highlighting it. This paper has been presented in forty places and the suggestions received have been incorporated in the paper. Since 1990 FES has been helping us as our partner organization. None of us gets paid. We have employed one helper who is paid three thousand five hundred rupees a month. We pay the rent of our office through the money we make by selling our publications.

Shiva Raj Dahal- Along with twelve other papers, this paper and the conclusions arrived at will be printed in a book form. We seek to find out what the problems are. The disease will be diagnosed but the job of providing the appropriate medicine is that of the leaders. Around two lakh students read the books we have published. These books play an important role. I have read the Nepali version of the Bedh. I have learnt a lot from the dialogues portrayed in the book. I will include some of them in the forthcoming book.

In Europe national flags are displayed in private houses. In Nepal the national flag is being burned. The party flags are replacing the national flags which are hard to find. There is a saying the god made men while the teachers made citizens. Teachers help to produce good leaders. Sierra Leone , while rich in diamonds, is steeped in crisis. Japan , on the other hand, does not have natural resources, but has become a rich country. In terms of resources we are amongst the ten leading countries of the world but neither do we work hard nor do we tolerate the gains made by those who do. I would like to thank Mr. Sabin Khanal for helping to make this event a success. I would also like to thank all the participants. I would also like to thank Mr. KP Bhattarai for presiding over this seminar.

Chairman Krishna P Bhattarai- I would like to convey my greetings to the honorable scholars and friends gathered here. Questions raised from the floor have been answered. Those not satisfied with the answers can continue their discussions informally while having lunch. Everybody has become hungry and it would be presumptuous of me to lecture you when such scholars are present.

 
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