Seminar Report on Civic Education on Modern-State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
9-10 July 2012 in Simara and 11-12 July 2012 in Barahathawa
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal Office has organised
two day seminars on civic education and state-building in Simara
of Bara district and Barahathawa of Sarlahi district on 9-10
and 11-12 July, 2012 respectively. Local political leaders,
civil servants, teachers, members of civil society, journalists,
students, and other stakeholders of the society attended the
There were around 100 plus participants with significant numbers
of females in both the places. Ganesh Poudyal from Nepal Rastriya
Higher Secondary School, Auraha chaired the session in Simara
while Shree Narayan Bahadur Amatya and Bisheshwor Lal Karna
chaired the sessions in Barahathawa.
The whole idea of these programmes was to educate people at
the local level on the importance of civic education and its
role in modern state-building. Civic education basically is
a political education and there is a great deal of urgency to
inform people about politics that too, democratic politics.
Only a democratic politics can contribute towards modern state-building
by winning people's confidence e on it which is at its lowest
ebb at the moment.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office welcomed all the participants
and highlighted objectives of the seminars. During his inaugural
speech Dev Raj Dahal underlined the importance of civic education.
He said that the lack of civic education in our society can
result in political anarchy. He further said that citizens are
members of the state and by virtue of being the members of the
state they enjoy certain rights from the state and also have
duties towards it. That feeling seems to be lacking in our context
both at the level of political class and at the citizenry level
argued Dahal. The unaccountable politics is the product of this
phenomenon said Dahal. How can we contribute to our society
without effectively despite our different political alienation
with different groups and political parties? How can we build
up common orientation towards state and society to translate
democracy in a real sense of the term? Similarly, speaking in
the inaugural session in Barahathawa Chandra D. Bhatta said
that there is an urgent need to restore capacity of the state
in order for it to deliver it be a functional state. He further
said that people need to be protected politically, socially,
economically, and they should realise the benefits of democracy.
Democracy can only be meaningful when it tries to address substantial
issues rather than becoming mere ritualistic argued Bhatta.
Equally important is to promote the notion of active citizenship
across societal lines to mitigate conflicts.
Speaking in the inaugural session Kashi Raj Dahal, Constitutional
Expert, said that no one has taken the responsibility of dissolving
the Constituent Assembly (CA). It has, by contract, left to
the citizens at large as to decide who is to be blamed. The
main reason why constitution could not be written in time, as
per him, is that there is a real crisis of ideology among political
parties and none of the ideologies enjoy majority in the house.
As a result all agreed constitution could not be drafted.
Three papers were presented in the seminar. Dev Raj Dahal,
Head of the FES on state building in Nepal, Kashi Raj Dahal,
constitutional expert on the constitution and Chandra D Bhatta
on democracy and its elements. He also highlighted why democracy
works in some countries and not in others.
Bhivu Adhikari (News-24) wanted to know about the precise
nature of our political leaders? He also blamed that big media
houses of this country do not give space to peripheral issues
and also that of public importance.
Keshav Raj Pokhrel said that we need to move ahead by
preserving past achievements that came through series of discussions
in the CA.
Deepak Bhatta and Ramesh Kaharel were of the
view that nothing can be achieved in the absence of political
consensus among political parties and the need of the hour is
to build 'consensus' that can alone move Nepal's peace process
ahead. Deepak Bhatta also said that since Simara is an industrial
state - we also need to focus on the issues of labour who are
virtually the backbone of our economy.
Surya Nepal, Amar Nath Giri and Rishi Kafle said
that political leaders should elevate themselves from the partisan
interests to move the constitutional process ahead in the country.
Surendra Prasad Gupta also said that political leaders should
rise above partisan interests and think about the nation. Political
issues need to be settled before we go for any sort of election.
Anand Thami from GEFONT argued that Nepali citizens
have become victim of absence of rule of law in the country.
Perhaps, we should have invited police personnel in this programme
as they are the one who enact the rule of law.
Shiv Prasad Wagle said that we have forgotten our responsibilities
towards state and society when it comes to the point of building
modern state. Our intellectuals try to interpret the law as
per their suitability due to which the country is at the political
crossroad. We have to realise the fact that while exercising
rights - we should equally be careful about our duties as well.
Ganesh Prasad Sah suggested that we need to increase
participation of people in politics.
Mohan Rayamaji criticized the trend of our political
leaders who keep on signing the agreements but never implement
Ishwori Prasad Yadav (Teacher) was of the view that
the current political deadlock is the product of diverse political
ideologies of different political parties who lack national
ideology. In addition to this, the domination of key political
parties in the whole political process is another reason. This
is primarily because they always tried to sideline smaller political
Dilli Upreti (UML) said that the country is in peaceful
particularly after Jestha 14. It appears that our political
leaders have failed to understand sentiment of Nepali people.
He also asked to furnish examples where the federal states-based
on single identity have succeeded? He also enquired what would
be good for Nepal - Federalism or Decentralisation.
Apurba Narayan Mahato (Teacher) advised that political
leaders should work for the state rather than working for themselves.
In the same vein, political activists and members of civil society
should be honest towards state and society
Kumar Thin (UCPN-Maoist) was of the view that political
leaders at large should understand as we launched movement in
Devendra Mahato (Teacher) Political honesty is at the
lowest ebb among political leaders due to which country is passing
through multiple crisis.
Hira Lal Thin expressed his dissatisfaction primarily
because the political parties and the key leaders have gone
out of track.
Ram Bachchan Roy (Teacher) said that we need to work
to reinstall the notion of rule of law in our society. We should
immediately stop paying development fund to the parliamentarians
as the same has been misused.
Dev Narayan Mahato (Teacher) blamed that there has been
no place for independent persons in our society. One has to
be affiliated with party for the upward mobility in society.
Vijaya Kanta Lal Karna/Ram Babu Mahato and Ram Bilas Roy said
that in our country political leaders are super rich but whereas
the 'country' itself is very poor. We need to promote the notion
of nationalism in our society to come out of this dilemma.
Naresh Kumar Shrestha (Teacher) highlighted the importance
of civic education in our society. Lack of civic education can
result in undemocratic political culture. Perhaps this could
be the reason among others why we have not been able to change
our political culture despite repeated regime changes to reinstall
democracy. He was of the view that if the CA is revived, the
CA members should work without allowances (pay).
Raj Narayan Prasad Singh (Teacher) blamed that there
is an increased tendency to form 'organisations' primarily to
secure their own position in society.
Min Bahadur Shrestha (Teacher) advised that all of us
should start loving our country.
Ram Babu Yadav (TMLP) said that there is no system in
the country. Political parties merely have promoted networks
to serve their own interests. There has been increased demand
for ethnic state in Pahad (hilly region) however the same is
not in Terai.
Mahesh Baral wanted the difference between unitary state
and ethnic state. He also enquired why Nepali communists are
promoting 'ethnicity' whereas their objective in principle was
to promote internationalism.
Devendra Mahato said that we have to be careful while
naming federal states. The particular focus should be paid on
the fact that the purposed state should not generate conflict
Shree, Shree, Shree 1008 Laxmi Maharaj Giri said that
our political system should protect our culture. The main purpose
of any constitution and model of governance should be to protect
our ancestral heritage.
Kamal Nepal and Mohan Prasad Sharma enquired
it is not clear whether our political leaders are fighting for
nationalism or for their partisan interests? Due to this it
is difficult to distinguish whether they are leaders of the
political parties or that of the nation?
Shiv Kumar Sharma said that we need to promote the concept
of nationalism and partisan politics should not make state hostage.
Thaneshwor Pahadi said that political issues should
be taken to the people for discussion.
Ek Nath Subedi said that our leaders should be trained
on statecraft so that they can become responsible towards state
Narayani Rajayamjhi said that this is a very good programme
and we need to expand it to the grassroots level.
Narayan Bahadur Ale Magar said that Federalism should
be crafted with due recognition to ethnic states.
Rajendra Jammerkattel and Shishila Acharya said
that our policies should promote equality in society.
Ishwor Khatri said that our political leaders do not
think about people. They are more concerned about their own
Shrimati Kumari Chaudhary and Laxmi Dahal said
that Nepali Children should not be denied from the opportunities
of free education but the state if education in our country
is deteriorating day-by-day. The good education has become expensive
and is only available to elites. We need to break away from
this trend argued Shrimati Chaudhary.
In the concluding remarks Kalpana Katwal and Madan Bahadur
Khadka said that this is very good programme and it should be
taken to each and every VDCs of Nepal so that people at large
can benefit from it. The same remarks were given in Simara as
The programmes at the both places received good response. In
fact the importance of civic education and its inclusion in
school/college curriculum is must. Civic education can create
the sense of spiritualism in society and which can alone unite
Nepali state in a single thread. The discontents that are seen
in different domains of politics need timely address by the
political class. Failing to do so will create further fissures
in our society. There is no way that we can have equal society
but what we can do is create equal opportunity for all. That
said democracy should work for all equally. The most important
point that has to be borne in mind is that there is a great
deal of aversion towards political leaders in Nepal. This has
to be changed sooner the better.