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Civic Education for Consolidating Relationships between People and Local Self Governance

Organised by Nepal Foundation for Advanced studies (NEFAS)

14 October 2012, Tankisinwari, Morang

Tankisinwari is located near to Biratnagar. It is an industrial place and lies in Sunsari- Morang industrial corridor. Due to the close neighboring to Biratnagar, majority of youths are educated and well known about the current situation of the country. Likewise, there is a good chance to work in any industry or to involve in any business. It is because the rapid growth in urbanization, the scope of business is also increased.

The number of participants is around 110 and representation from various aspects of the local community. All of them are found so serious by detoriating situation of the country in each and every aspect. They were afraid whether the democracy itself is in crisis. Many youths have devoted their life for economic and political change. But the present situation is not so hopeful to change the economy and politics in desired manner.

Presenting a working paper on ''Civic Education for Consolidating Relationships between People and Local Self Governance'' organized by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced studies (NEFAS) recently, Shivaraj Dahal, young sociologist advised local people to be hopeful in the days to come because the change in current situation is almost necessary and it happens. He said that the prevailing education system is almost failure to save our social values and sense of morality among youths. If youths will not be capable to divert the society in right track, the society may take wrong track.

Mr.Dahal said that women and youths should be made capable to establish the good governance and democracy by teaching them civic education. Without the knowledge and practice of civic education the political situation will not improve and the issues of good governance and establishing the democratic values in practice may remain as sweet dream for a long time. It is because civic education is a root-cause of sense, discipline and positive thinking towards society and nation as a whole. Thus, civic education should be included in formal course of study at school and college level, Dahal said.

Mr. Dahal stressed on the need of civic education and remarked that a large number of youths are going abroad for earning due to the lack of employment opportunity within the country and due to the social conflict. Civic education can improve this situation with establishing moral values and initating the youths to involve in productive work which helps to reduce the poverty in the country. The youths may change the dirty scenario of politics and convert into clean, discipline, people friendly and development oriented. Thus, youths should be involved in politics to drive the right track. If they become indifferent to politics, there is a fear of taking wrong direction by the nation as a whole. It may hamper the democracy too.

He advised that this is a prime time for all the citizens especially the youths to be aware of political development which is on going in the country. Social transformation is only possible when youths take part their role actively. Civic education may help to create the favourable environment. Politics based on sound economy only can solve the political problems. Thus, youths should be provided employment opportunity and self[employment opportunities within the country because the current trend of youths going abroad for employment facing by the country is not a good symptom in the days to come.

The attraction for employment opportunities is concentrated in Kathmandu Valley and gulf countries for abroad. This trend should be changed; most of the participants were agreed with Mr. Dahal.

The local people were feared that youths are not involving in active politics. The educated youths have misconception about the politics. It is not a good sign for nation building. Thus, they should be made proactive in political issues, civic education may help them.

The political leaders of major political parties are not seemed serious for political establishment and strengthening the democracy in the country. They are involving only for achieving the state power. The agenda of saving national sovereignty is in shadow. The issues of economic development and political establishment should be given priority setting a side their ideological differences by the political leaders to initate them local people should united with one voice ,participants were agreed.

Prof. Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma expressed his view on the current economic issues which are the outcomes of wrong practices of political power. The youths should be involved in production and productive activities by leaving their political ideologies for economic development and nation building. It is only possible when civic education get proper importance in nation's education system, Prof. Dr. Sharma added.

Prof. Dr. Sharma argued that economics works as a supportive factor of politics. If economics fails to support the politics, the nation become failure state because without economic development no steps toward human dignity, establishing democratic values and institutions, good governance and so on can be taken. The country may face even the problem of national sovereignty and identity. Thus, economics and politics should go together. It is because politics guides economic activities and economic activities are the base for the politics.

Prof. Dr. Sharma said economy of the nation is based on three components i.e. state, private sector and cooperative. But due to various obstacles, the country is not achieving the desired economic goals. Capital centric politics is also hampering the economic development because devolution of political power significantly contributes to devolution of economic power.

He threw lights on economic governance which is passing through unordered way. Inequality and poverty go together. Around 50 percent of the total trade is illegal. In stagnant situation, the economic growth of the nation can not be improved. It is only possible, when we follow the inclusive and broad based development model having the proper system of policy regulation.

Prof. Dr. Sharma focused that per capital income of Nepal is us$ 765 only while the per capital income of our neighbouring countries is very high (China US $7500 and India US $ 3500). It proves our economic backwardness with our neighbouring countries.

Prof. Dr. Sharma former Vice Chairman of national planning commission said that we became failed in economic development process and it is due to the visionless political actors. They should be responsible for this result. The main source of national income is remittance. We have never aware about the cost side of remittance. He said that our data base system is not reliable and the reducing percent of poverty as the government claimed (i.e. 25 percent) is not real, it is manipulated. In reality the percentage of poverty is estimated as high as the government claimed.

Even these days, the gap between rich and poor is being wide- spread. Economic governance is not seemed effective and inefficient toward equity and equality.

Prof Sharma said that the state should be aware of mobilizing youths in social development. The youths should be provided various opportunities for their economic, social, political and personality development. They should be kept in centre for our each and every developmental effort. Otherwise the country will slip in the wrong track. For some extent, civic education can solve these problems.

While discussing with the participants Dr. Sharma said that the evaluation of right and wrong works has been taken by the conscious citizens. The aim of the political movements is making peaceful and equitable Nepal. All of us have played the role in various political and social movements for making the country. But in the present situation, we sometimes feel as hopeless. The fear is that whether we are missing our right way or not. The economy connected with politics is in crisis. The politics is managed by economy. But economy itself is sick. The economic depression has hampered even in the USA and Europe. This situation has put the question mark on capitalism.

He realised that some developmental efforts were initiated in the past. Many public enterprises were established in economic cooperation of various countries. New Education Plan of 1972 has also contributed to manage the responsibility of the government in education within the country.

While taking about the need for political awareness Prof.Dr.Ram Kumar Dahal said that youths should be involved in politics and social activities. They should not be kept aside from politics and social activities. But in reality, the youths of Nepal are misguided and misinformed. They should be encouraged in politics and it should prove that politics is not a dirty game. But to make politics clean and respectful, the honest dedicated and those youths who have a good knowledge of civic education should be encouraged.

Prof.Dahal feared that the civil society is not working as indifferently. The civil society is guided by political parties. The main aim of civil society is to alert the political parties in their wrong decision. In this situation, civil society can not do any thing even the wrong decision taken by the political parties. This will harm the nation. Political leaders should work in favour of the ordinary people and to be capable for solving the problems at state level.

He said that the most of the political leaders ignore the ordinary people after getting elected from their votes. This situation is happening due to the lack of civic education. Thus to make the political leaders responsible toward the people, youths should be made aware. By mainstreaming the youths in politics, political malpractices may be reduced and we can be hopeful for the future of the nation.

Chandra Dev Bhatta, Programme Officer of Friedrich Ebert stifting highlighted the objectives of the programme and introduced FES. HE focused on the contribution of Friedrich Ebert, first president of Germany in the area of social uplifting and institutionlising the social dialogue.

He focused on the role of civic education for nation building, strengthening the democracy, reducing the social dispute and bearing responsibility and being dutiful toward society and nation. Without expanding civic education the objective of social development, democratic values, good governance and maintaining rule of law may not be achieved. Thus civic education is necessary to make good citizen and creating social justice. Hence civil society can put pressure on the government for not taking the wrong decisions. He added that the present practice of democracy is just reversing than its motto. Political leaders have changed the objective 'for' into distance, 'from' the people is changed into off the people and 'by' the people converted into buy the people.

He remarked that to change this situation, civil society should be influential and stronger.

In the beginning of the programme, Prof. Ananda Shrestha, Chairman of the NEFAS explained the objectives of the programme with introducing the role and activities of NEFAS for awareness and providing civic education. He focused that no society goes a head without expanding civic education. In this mission, FES is supporting NEFAS.

He added that this type of civic education programme may help to create awareness and to encourage the youths in nation building process and put on pressure for correcting the detoriating politics.

He said that NEFAS has launched the seminars for civic education programme to accumulate the opinions of the people through out the country. He requested the participants to express their valuable views which may help to formulate the national policy for policy makers. The desired goal of democracy may not be achieved without the active participation of youths. So, they should be active.

From the chair, Mrs. Ramita wosti, Assistant Headmistress of Naragram Higher Secondary School stressed on the importance of civic education for the youths. Especially, she highlighted the role of women in social ordering and establishing democratic values.

Floor discussion

Bhola Kaji Rai, a local political leader, remarked that the practice of upper guided politics is hampering the politics and disturbed the Constitutional Assembly. Thus, politics began from below has an importance for political establishment. He again said that the policy of privatisation of public enterprises was initiated by the economists themselves.

Prem Chamling, a social activist, said that this type of programme certainly helps to create awareness in the society. Thus, the people should know the reality.

Kedar Aryal, a local social activist, highlighted that the agriculture is not being productive. So, commercial farming should be implemented to improve the living standard of the farmers. It also helps to solve the unemployment problem of the country.

Hareram Yadav, a local youth, has asked that what type of policy should be followed by the political parties to reduce the trend of youths for going abroad and will they follow such policies?.

Ram Bahadur Yadav, teacher of Naragram Higher Secondary School asked the role of direct and indirect tax in GDP and FDI. He advised the importance of civic education at each level as per their standard.

Kapil Sunar, a young Dalit activist, remarked that the result of poverty is the lack of practicing democracy in proper way. In this paper, the black marketing and malpractices of private education were not included. The issues of inequality and discrimination may not weak the nationalism.

Bishnu Bhatarai, a local resident, argued that the potentialities of the development side are not mentioned in the paper. What types of benefits may be achieved by our big neighbouring countries? should also be included. The present political system is creating misunderstanding and misinforming.

Prof. Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma answered that the practical implementation of liberalisation and privatisation was in wrong direction. The economy should be made self sustainable.

Thus, mobile and flexible economy can grow. The economy should be kept orderly. But we became failure in practicing the orderly guided economy.

Professor Kabi Raj Neupane said that this type of seminar would help to create awareness among the youths to correct our mistakes. But the paper highlighted the problems only, the remedies are not mentioned.

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