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Civic Education for Consolidating Relationships between People and Local Self Governance

Organised by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

12 October 2012, Namje, Dhankuta

Namje is hilly and tourism- friendly place of Dhankuta district, nearer to Bhedetar, a popular hill station of Eastern Nepal and located at near to Dharan. All most youths are educated and engaged in commercial farming, hotel business and other income generating activities. The locality is populated with ethnic community and is aware about the political instability and detoriating situation of the country. They are not found satisfied with the current practice of Lokatantra and failure of Constituent Assembly to make the new constitution of Nepal. More than 135 people from different sectors were participated in this Seminar. Some students of class XII and Bachelor level especially girls were actively participated. The discussions that followed reflected the intensive churning that the Nepalese society is undergoing at present. The participants were also provided with the booklet

Handouts on Democracy

Mr. Shiv Raj Dahal, young sociologist, advised the local people to be hopeful in the days to come by correcting the weakness of these days. The need of reform is needed in each and every aspect of the country, mainly, social, economic, education, politics, history and so on. The current education system is not successful to provide the enlighten and awareness regarding the social values and sense of morality to the new generation of the country.

Mr. Dahal stressed on the need of social awareness for social transformation as per the changing global scenario and the demand of time. He said there are no people's representatives at the local government level at present. This has created a difficult situation. Local governance constitutes the foundation of democracy. How can this aspect of democracy be strengthened? We have sent our representatives to make a new constitution. We have to apply pressure on them to include the issues that concern us in the new constitution. Our education system is only producing workers for foreign countries. Who is going to guarantee that our rights are upheld in such a situation? We have to stop the youth from emigrating. We would like to thank you all for accepting our invitation.

Mr.Dahal presented a working paper on ''Civic Education for Consolidating Relationship between people and local self Governance'' in the programme organized by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) recently.

Mr.Dahal said that democracy can be strengthened by the active participation of youths and women. If they remaining far from the politics, the foundation of democracy and good governance will only be limited in theory and formality not in practice.

Dahal focused on the need of civic education which can bridge the relationship between the people for knowing the common issues. Civic education makes the people sensible, disciplined and promotes good governance from the national level to the local level. He again argued on the significance of moral education in formal curriculum at school and college level to safeguard our social and cultural harmony. He said that the detoriating situation in every aspect of national life is due to the lack of civic education. It is also the root-cause of poverty and loosing the moral values.

The trend and dependency of young on foreign employment is increasing day per day. This is not the permanent solution of unemployment problem. Due to the political instability, load shading and labour problem, industrialization process is not in right track. Domestic violence and other social problems are arising as the result of foreign employment.

He again expressed that youths are the heart of nation and the pillar of tomorrow. Thus, they should be made attentive in the politics for making the nation better in the days to come. If we failed to attract them towards constructive politics, the future of the nation is in crisis and uncertain. So, it is the right time to mainstreaming them in constructive politics, having disciplined society and preparing nationalist citizen for the better tomorrow.

The politics following the wrong track could not reach in the right destination with the fruits of democracy and good governance. It may be the means to earn money and to misuse the power for their own interest. It can replace and gives bad impression for democracy. If the democracy becomes weak, than all the systems of government may be handicapped, Dahal stressed without active participation of young generation, the country can not go a head in developing process. So, youth should be aware in the politics, he said.

In the social transformation process, it is only possible when youth participate in social activities. In this context, it is necessary to be involved by youths in different aspects of the society with the help of civic education, he explained. He also aware that increasing number of youths who are going abroad for seeking employment and permanent residency is challenging situation and creates gap in national politics. So, the enough opportunity for youth should be created within the country because politics based on economy may address the reality, he added.

This is the high time to correct the politics with the help of the youths, which can show the away of many obstacles for establishing the democracy and rule of the law. At the same time, the gainful opportunity and self-employment opportunity should be created for the youths to mobilize them infavour of nation building process, he said.

The local people have remarked that large numbers of youths are going abroad in search of job and remaining others are concentrated in Kathmandu Valley. Thus, the villages are almost youthless and the supply of agricultural labourers is minimal as per its demand. They remarked that lack of moral and civic education; youths are not so aware in politics. They are not also sensitive in bearing their responsibilities, self- confidence, and maintaining social and cultural values. They are found to be indifferent from politics. If this situation continues there is a fear of making gap in national politics. As a result, it also hampers the democracy to a large extent. The local people complained the national leaders of major political parties for not being sincerely to write the constitution and not to be serious in national sovereignty and to preserve the value of democracy. The vision and action of economic development is almost neglected by the politicians. They expressed that no serious steps were taken by the leaders to solve the national issues. The participants stressed that putting aside their ideological differences; they should be concerned to settle the national issues, preserving democratic values and focus on economic development. These factors can drive the nation for a positive direction and right track.

Professor Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma threw the lights on some contemporary economic issues of public concern and added the economic aspect of civic education. He focused that more youths should be involved in productive activities as an example for other people in the society. He said state, private sector and cooperatives are the components where the national economy is based. If economics fails to support politics, it affects democracy, human dignity and values. He stressed that the economy and politics are centered in Kathmandu. Politics guides economic activities and economic activities are the base to the politics.

Prof. Dr. Sharma alarmed that if the appropriate system could not be given, the future of the country is not affect not only economic, social and political sectors but also destroyed geographically. The issue of self decisive power is more serious in Nepalese context. How does it prevail in decision making process in national context?, he asked. He again put the sign of interrogation that are the decision making in national issues are taken as per our needs and interest? At the large extent, Nepalese economy is affected by the outside. The source of money is existed in outside of the country. Mainly the source of income of the national economy is donor driven remittance. In absence of this, the national economy can not stand itself.

Prof. Dr. Sharma said that we are going to be parasite day by day. This fact is accepted by political leaders too. It is clear that in the national annual budget, the contribution of revenue is only 50 percent. In the development expenditure the revenue contributes only 30 percent. Remaining 70 percent expenditure comes from foreign aid (loan and donation). This is the achievement of our development effort of 60/65 years. Economy is the backbone of the nation. If the economy destroys the politics, society and every thing disturb. He noticed that 40 districts are in food deficit. Agricultural production is badly affected by climate change. Buffalo is brought from Punjab to make momo in Kathmandu.

Apple is brought from India whereas apple of Jumla is damaged due to the lack of proper management of supply system. Industrial sector contributes only one percent where as the precondition of the economic development is industrialisation. The saving investment gap arose to 22 percent. We have started the economic planning before 57 years. The surplus capacity is only 10 percent and the investment requirement is 32 percent. There is a massive disguised unemployment problem in rural Nepal, he said.

Prof.Dr. Sharma argued that we are moving in the global context. The tendency in each and every sector, there is situation of cross country movement. The current monetary policy permits the investment opportunity for Nepalese in any country. In comparison to India, We have high cost economy thus there is a change of capital flight to other countries.

Prof. Dr. Sharma former Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission added the New Education plan of 1972 has contributed to expand and develop the education in the country. This plan has made the education sytem sound, proper distributive and competitive.

The gone are the days where sufficient infrastructure were built, foreign investment was attracted and favourble environment was created. Many industrial units, high ways, trolley bus etc. were constructed and maintained by other countries, he said.

All these things can be managed by enlighten them the civic education. Thus, the future of the country is on the hand of youths. It is necessary to be secured from all aspects. The possibility is seemed only when the youths participate with honesty and actively, he said. The youth should safeguard the nation, society, cultural and other values. The education system should be made capable to maintain these issues, he stressed.

Prof. Dr. Sharma said greed is the motivating factor of capitalism. Thus such type of system should be developed where the coordinating between greed and service delivery is managed.

The motivation of greed has shown negative impact in the economy. Politics creates the proper economic system but polities it self is in wrong track. The economy is dependent on remittance and donation. The trade deficit is 400 billion Rs.

Export trade can bear only 20 percent of the total volume of trade, he added.

He again stressed that we are going to be more depended on foreign countries almost 300 thousand vehicles are imported every year. The consumption and demand of LP Gas is increasing day per day. If the price of these items rises, we will be badly affected. Political leaders are not honest to address these problems and make the people self dependent.
The power of self decision is much more dangerous to national harmony. It may create many problems in nationalism. There is no proper mapping for federalism. Federal countries of the world became united from divided condition; we are going to be divided from unity.

We should maintain a single Nepal, not divided. Federalism only is not the solution of all prevailing practices corruption and undisciplinary activities. The fruits of political change and economic development should be felt by the grass route people. The identity is the national property. Hence, the identity should be guaranteed by the constitution. Coordination between democracy, peace and patriotic should be needed, he said.

Prof. Dr. Sharma argued that if the economy orderly functions, than the development of the nation is possible. But we are passing our time in unproductive matter. SO, we should think in national perspective.

Large number of youths is not interested in politics, they are frustrated by the politics, and however, without active participation of youth, the politics become meaningless, claimed Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal, while talking about the need for political awareness for youths. He said that youths are the agents of change in politics and social activities. Thus, they should not be kept a side of politics, he added.

Prof. Dr. Dahal pointed out the need for generating awareness among youths to explore that politics is not a dirty game played by idiots. They should be given awareness that it is a medicine to cure the nation and make the people happy, if the honest leadership can developed, he said.

Prof.Dr. Dahal focused that the priority should be given to youths in politics to change the society with dedication, honesty and coordination. Civic education provides guidelines for politics. In these days, civil society is guided by political parties. It is not a good sign of democracy. Because civil society should work unbiassly, it represents the voice of voiceless people and those who are neglected by the political parties. If this type of trend develops, there will lack of any pressure group which can point out the wrong aspect of the political parties. The political leaders will be irresponsible towards the people. They should know the spirit and feeling of the ordinary people, he said.

The responsibility to make democracy good and bad ultimately goes to the political leaders. The political leaders should have dedication and honesty. If the leader of one generation maintains honesty and dedication than other generation can learn and get encouragement to do better in favour of nation and society. So, the political leaders should be honest, he said.

Prof. Dahal argued that the democracy of Nepal should be strengthened by Nepali themselves, not by others. Academically, we are far behind in comparison to Bangladeshi. He focused on the need for practice of the rule of the law. No body is above the law. If the foundation of democracy (local self governance) can be made strong, than only the democracy could be strong.

Prof. Dahal argued that Nepalese peoples are feeling about the crisis in political leadership. Political parties and politics both are being detoriated and weaker.

He again added that the civil society which has played a key role in the democratic movement of 2005 is almost forgotten in these days. Civil society can play a strong role in burning issues as pressure group against the wrong step of the government. He remembered the days when USA had attacked Vietnam, the US civil society opposed strongly. If the civil society is not strong, the situation of monopoly practices of the politician affect for a large extent. The speak and behaviour of the politician should be matched. The character of the politicians is not seemed as democratic as they claimed themselves. Political parties should maintain the economic transparency and democratic practices within the party. He concluded that the concept of globalization is good but we are not in condition to produce more. Thus, we have not got the benefit of globalization.

Chandra Dev Bhatta, Programme Officer of Friedrich Ebert Stifting (FES) high lighting objectives of the programme said about the objectives of FES. He threw the light in the contribution of Friedrich Ebert, first president of Germany in the process of institutionalising social dialogue for uplifting the society, equity and equality.

Mr.Bhatta argued civic education can coordinate making the solidarity of the people in the society. It can create the environment of social justice, making the people sovereign and build up the capacity for utilising the values of democracy.

Mr. Bhatta said that civic education is useful for the society and living pattern itself. In absence of this, many problems are facing by the society in these days. He added that diversity of castesim is a burning issue of current situation for national identity and feeling of collective spirit for safeguarding the social fraction.

He stressed that there is a need of making responsible for leader towards the state. Civic education can play the role of class coordination, self-direction, self enlighten which can change the society as developed and civilized.

Floor discussion

Lok Katuwal (teacher) asked the importance of remittance in Nepalese economy. Prof. Dr. Sharma answered that the present agriculture is not income generating properly and the industrialisation process is not developed. Thus, it is almost compulsory to go foreign employment. Anil Rana asked about the corruption in the commercial and development banks. Prof.Dr. Sharma answered that it is the outcomes of globalisation and liberaliwsation.

Narayan P. Bhattarai (teacher) argued that the specialists should be nominated or elected in constitutional assembly for making the constitution on time. Prof. Dr. Dahal replied that the policy of inclusion has created this situation.

Purushottam Niroula (teacher) expressed his view that this politically detoriated situation is created by politicians themselves. Gokul kafle (teacher) asked about the failure of Constitutional Assembly and responsibility of government and the need of federalism.

Prof. Dr. Dahal answered that it is due to the lack of civic education and federalism is the need of the day.

Bishnu Acharaya (local resident) said that politicians became incapable to settle the dispute.

Dev Narayan Lawati (local resident) pointed out that due to the ineffective education policy, the situation of foreign employment and brain-drain are increased.

Pavitra Timisina (teacher) argued that state itself has discriminated among the teachers.

Bhim karna Dahal (local resident) complained the leaders for creating this bad situation.

Answering the questions raised by the participants Mr. Shiva Raj Dahal said that our education policy is only capable for producing the manpower to foreign employment. No education policy is guided towards peace, human values and democratic dedication. The education system is seemed to be carrying the weight of the books and unproductive theories

Gunjaman Magar, Chairman of the school Management committee concluded the seminar as a chairperson saying the importance and role of civic education for nation building and strengthening the local self governance preserving the democratic values, creative thinking and coordinative society.

Earlier, Prof. Ananda Shrestha, Chairman of NEFAS explained the objectives of the seminar that it is a campaign to aware the people by expanding civic education. NEFAS is conducting the seminars through out the country with the support of FES.

This seminar helps to create an environment in favour of positive thinking in the society especially for the youths.

Prof. Shrestha requested the participants to express their views to put pressure on policy making level.

Good governance and democratic culture may not be established with out the active participation of youths. Thus, youths can be mobilized by providing the civic education. Civic education can make them active and devoted towards country and society. Hence developmental goals may be achieved, Prof. Shrestha said.

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