Seminar Report on
Civic Education on Modern-State Building
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
6-7 November 2012, Beltar, Udayapur
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office
has organised two day seminar on civic education and state-building
at Beltar of Udayapur District on 6-7 November, 2012. The programme
was attended by local political leaders, members of civil society,
journalists, teachers, lecturers, students, civil servants (including
security personnel) and other stake-holders of society actively
participated. There were over 125 participants of which half
of them were female. The whole idea of this programme 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 on it which
is at its lowest ebb at the moment. The seminar was attended
by Dinesh Bhattari CDO of Udayapur district; police inspector
Chandra Bahadur Thapa, Inspector of Armed Police Force, Sudip
Khatiwada and other civic servants based on the district also
attended the two days programme.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office
welcomed participants and highlighted objectives of the seminar.
During his inaugural speech Dahal underlined the importance
of civic education. He said that the lack of civic education
have resulted in democratic deficit in political culture. He
further said that citizens are members of the state and by being
the members of the state - they enjoy certain rights from it
and they, too, have duties towards it. This kind of social contract
between the state and its citizens need to be upheld for the
political stability. But it appears that this feeling seems
to be missing in our context both at the level of political
classes and at the citizenry argued Dahal. The unaccountable
politics is the product of this phenomenon pointed out Dahal.
At this backdrop, the biggest challenge that lies ahead of us
is how do we instill the culture of civic education in our political
system said Dahal.
Speaking in programme, CDO of the district
Mr Bhattarai stressed that we need to strike a right balance
between rights and duties then only can we have society that
can upheld the democratic political culture in society. What
has been noticed here has that we enjoy rights but do not pursue
our duties and this attitude has brought further problems in
the transitional politics of the country argued Bhattarai. In
the same vein, we claimed that the amorphous mass has hijacked
the concept of the rule of law and unless we restore it - there
is very little that we can expect from the change. Under such
a state of affairs - programmes like this would contribute a
lot in generating that sense of civic-ness among people.
Three papers were presented in both the places
wherein Dev Raj Dahal presented on Challenges of State-building
in Nepal, COnstittuional Expert - Kashi Raj Dahal spoke about
legal and constitutional issues. He also highlighted on federalism,
electoral system, and form of government and finally Chandra
D Bhatta spoke about democracy and its elements. He also highlighted
why democracy works in some countries and not in others.
Janak Karki, Teacher, said that we
should have on three states, Koshi, Karnali, and Gandaki.
Dhruba Raj Rai, Campus Chief, was of
the view that state restructuring should be done by integrating
all three reasons (Mountain, Hill, and Plain). He also floated
the idea of converting the existing five development regions
into five federal states. We cannot have ethnic state, since
the society is mixed argued Rai. National renowned symbols should
be used to name the federal states. He also said no to prior-use
right and right to self-determination.
Kailash Kafle said that we should combine
ethnicity with nationality. He also questioned on the very objective
of 19 days movement of April, 2006 as it has failed to work
as per its original spirit. Kalfe argued that we should have
14 federal states as recommended by the State Restructuring
Committee. He, however, said no to political prior-use rights
and right to self-determination.
Kishore Tamrakar, Teacher, said that
we should not look-back. The sentiments brought about by different
societal groups have to be respected. We should have either
14 or 10 federal states. While naming the federal states, we
should respect the local values. He also said not to political
Ratna Thapa, Women's Activist, said
that we should go for federal states but multiple identity should
be respected. We should adopt integrative approach while crafting
raised few points as follows:
- What type of constitutions should Nepal
need to have ?
- Why nationalism becomes weak in Loktantra
- What are the defects of the 1990 Constitution?
- Why Mallik Commission was not implemented?
- What is impact of armed insurgency on politics
- What would happened under current state
of affairs (while there is no constitution) ?
- And why Interim Constitution failed to
project about the current political deadlock? Was there any
Ambar B. Khadka, Teacher, suggested
that why don't you provide such trainings to political leaders
as they are the part of the problem not citizens like us. He
also said that everyone should respect rule of law.
Dandi Raj, UCPN (Maoist) said that
we should not have more than four federal states but within
those four states we should have 15 sub-states. Federal states
should be named after the symbols of national importance.
Mahendra P. Rauniyar warned that we
should ensure that Nepali state should not be put in danger
in the name of federalism.
Kumar Khadka, Teacher, said that while
naming federal states, we should respect our symbols of national
Tek Bahadur Pokhrel said that if we
really wanted to work for Nepali people then we should think
about nationalism not about political parties. The movement
were carried out for peace and prosperity of all Nepali not
for political parties and political agendas such as federalism
that challenges the very existence of Nepali state.
Jeet Bahadur Karki said that we do
not have statesman, we have political leaders who just work
for their own interests.
Kumar Singh Karki, Teacher, said that
we have to translate decentralization into action and people
at large should be engaged/consulted in the policy making process.
We need to generated jobs within our country rather than being
too much dependent on remittance.
Sita Rai expressed her dissatisfaction
that all these 'tantras' (Prajatantra, Loktantra). They are
merely serving the interest of few elites/leaders
Freedom within the framework of rule of law
can contribute toward political stability, enhance constitutional
behavior and promote democratic political culture. To achieve
these objectives, the broader focus should lay on education,
that too, civic education. The programme in Beltar went very
well. Participants got to know about important issues such as
state, state building, inclusive democracy, federalism, forms
of government, electoral process and many more. The conclusion
of this seminar is that transformation requires at the multiple
levels and a sustainable transformation can take place when
it is backed up by proper mechanism.