FES Workshop Report on Promoting Active Citizenship
for Building Modern State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
17-18 December 2012
Devdaha, Rupendehi District
FES organized a two-day workshop at historical
site, the birthplace of Buddha's mother, Devddaha, Rupendehi District
on December 17-18, 2012 where 133 participants including 32 women
leaders, monks and priests, teachers, students, government officials,
community leaders, media persons, journalists and representatives
of local institutions took part.
Resource person of the workshop Kashi Raj Dahal, Chairman of Administrative
Court of Nepal, said that good citizens is the lynchpin of democracy.
He argued that a robust democracy requires active and enlightened
citizens and leaders who know not only rule and rights but also
duties. Intoxication by power caused the failure of leadership
to draft a new constitution. The purpose of politics is to give
choice to the people and enlarge their law-bound freedom, not
a state of lawlessness and weakening the ability of state to enforce
rules of the game. There is a nexus between payment of tax and
quality of governance to expand public sphere. He urged the need
for constitution drafting and constitutional behavior of leaders
and citizens as it is precondition to stability, democracy and
peace. Dahal expressed anxiety over the erosion of democratic
values and institutions and suggested the need to hold next CA
and local election to create the authority and legitimacy of leaders
and the state. Protracted political instability is eroding both
national identity and national capacity as politics is played
on the basis of cost-benefit calculus which is corroding the voluntary
sphere of Nepal. He observed that without resolving political
questions first by political parties it would be difficult to
draft a constitution. The exit from the current deadlock cannot
be found in the constitutional articles but from the political
wisdom of leadership to use constitution to build consensus for
next CA election. In this context President R. B. Yadav should
take initiatives in resolving contentious constitutional issues
through the use of experts and find a mutually acceptable solution
among the parties for national unity government.
Another resource person of the workshop
Lalbabu Yadav, Associate Professor of Political Science at Tribhuvan
University shed lights on federalism, governance, political
parties, political culture and civil society. He explained the
federal experience of many countries and expressed worry about
local identity dominating national identity of citizenship.
He added that political parties and civil society should imbibe
the principles of democracy in their internal life and uphold
human rights, internal party democracy and inclusion to expand
the social base of democracy. Economic policies should also
be suitable to climate change and capable of meeting the basic
needs of majority of people. He said that civic virtues begin
with home, gender socialization also beings from here. In this
context, political leaders must be sufficiently democratic to
support the realization of the rights of citizens. The success
of democracy rests on realizing not only rights but also duties.
Head of FES Nepal Dev Raj Dahal welcoming
the participants highlighted the values of FES, namely freedom,
social justice, solidarity and peace underlined its activities
in Nepal. He said that active and enlightened citizens are bulwark
of democracy building. As one of the oldest nations of the world
Nepal has gone into several metamorphoses with the change in
international system and local balance of power. Modern state
now requires a system of rule of law with the capacity to become
autonomous from the dominant interest groups of society, social
embeddedness and ability to achieve governance goals-national
security, rule of law, voice, participation, service delivery
and peaceful resolution of conflict in society. Dahal also laid
out five factors for the transformation of informal society,
economy and politics of Nepal through the synergy of education,
economy, technology, organization and leadership. Active citizenship
can build democracy from below and strengthen state-society
ties through constant renewal and reformation of both as per
the spirit of the age and needs of Nepali people. He also referred
about coping with the post-state challenges and duties of Nepali
state across the border.
Rudra Man Dhakal: suggested that
the geography and culture should be taken into account while
restructuring the state, not ethnicity. Economic viability is
central to sustain the federal states. Therefore, in Nepal's
context, we need to take into account the tax structure which
is only 13 percent of GDP. Therefore, we should just convert
five development regions into five federal provinces. He reminded
the surge of communalism forcing the eviction of Nepalese in
Assam and Meghalaya.
Prakash Aryal: observed that
in democracy agradhikar (pre-emptory rights) to dominant ethnic
group of the province is not compatible with democratic principle
of equality. Federalism likewise should be based on vertical
chains and right to self-determination does not mean stoking
the feeling of separatism like in former Soviet Union. Electoral
process must adopt 80 percent representation from direct election
and 20 per cent from proportional ones.
Krishna Dhakal: argued that we
must preserve the rationalistic tradition of the East and use
this knowledge to resolve problems. Leaders also need to learn
the sacredness of our tradition and values. The federal provinces
must uphold identity of group. But it does not mean that we
can guarantee 103 identity-based states. Raute demanded forests.
Our main concern is how we are going to balance identity with
minority rights and create justice based new Nepal.
Shayam Neupane: argued that economy
is the pillar of the nation. But, without political commitment
an economy cannot grow. Political will is therefore necessary
for all round development.
Durga B. Chhetri: observed that
FES program came here at a time when national discipline was
lost. We have learned now that education is the prime goal than
comes karma (good conduct). Democratic regime needs to satisfy
the legitimate aspiration of people and election must be organized
as soon as possible.
Khem Raj Adhikary: said that
education must be able to change the attitude and behavior of
people enabling them to see the connection human world with
nature and encroachment of forests, public land and public property
must be stopped by the collective action of people and reforestation
and cleaning of our surroundings must begin by us.
Prakash Pokhrel: believed that
we should commit in certain areas-switch off light during day
time, stop careless use of drinking water, send children to
schools in time, and stop public smoking. The deadlock of current
politics, however, is high drama. We need to exert pressure
on politicians to solve it. State restructuring issues should
be taken to referendum.
Hemraj Tiwari: said that deforestation
arising out of poverty can be solved but those for commercial
profit is connected to power centers. Similarly, we should not
make education and health dichotomized between the public and
private which create two types of citizens where the loser will
not have stake in democracy. Civic education is essential for
self-governance. Foreign aid should be diverted to preserving
the natural resources of the country.
Rajesh P. Panday: observed that
state restructuring should be sensibly designed so that it does
not generate conflict but optimally satisfy all sides.
Dinanath Aryal: argued that vulgarity
has also eroded our culture. We need to develop a culture to
save and invest in productive sectors. Civic education has to
include this aspect of ethics.
Ganesh Prasad Panday: said that
we should not go beyond five federal provinces based on identity
and capability. On election 60 percent seats should be allocated
to direct and 40 percent to proportional ones. Education should
be function, not of Macule type to produce bureaucrats.
Ms. Sharada Panday: asserted
that over partisanization of education damaged its quality exposing
the students more to party politics than to education. Since
civic education is praxis oriented there is a need to promote
professionalism so that needed nationally sensitive experts
are created. Teachers should not be recruited on partisan basis
as it compromises the quality of education. In this same way,
while drafting constitution only actionable rights should be
included. Border control is needed to control foreign intervention.
Kamal Bahadur Thapa: argued that
federalism is connected with ethnic groups' culture, identity
and language. Ethnic federalism if properly managed cannot break
the nation like Punjab, Bengal, Bihar, etc. If rights are denied
then conflict is inevitable. Even the rights of Bahuns and Chhetris
should be preserved in the federal structure to make it viable.
Peace requires social justice.
Yam Lal Tiwari: Forestation should
be encouraged in private sectors and forests should be classified
into various categories. Forest Protect Act must be strengthened.
Ram P. Gyawali: observed that
citizens should be strengthened with democratic and patriotic
values while leaders should have the concept of statesmanship
capable of standing the partisan interests and uphold wisdom.
No more than seven provinces carved on vertical north-south
axis should be accepted. Name should be based on multiple identity.
Poor should be given scholarship for their upliftment.
Ganesh Prasad Panday: stated
that civic consciousness is essential to awaken citizens and
leaders from their deep snooze and enthuse with a sense of public
Chandra Prakash Thapa: provided
observations in a number of areas. He referred the need for
seven provinces, multi-cultural names, 14 zones, upliftment
of marginalized two chamber house-240 ower house and 48 member
upper house and 14 member national court, etc.
Chairman Gurung: said that the
program was very useful to know what democracy is all about
and how to consolidate it.
Conclusion and Commitment
Two speakers one from male and one from
female made final evaluation and demanded the multiplication
of program in every village. Ms. Rama Devi Neupane stressed
on the need to go beyond the word democracy to make it meaningful
in human life while Prakash Aryal believed that participants
became enlightened on many concepts and issues. Participants
pledged to plant trees, keep the roads and water clean, while
school teachers promised to offer civic education course and
practice to their students. They also agreed to public hearing
of VDC secretaries while newspapers and FM stations promised
to relay the information regarding civic affairs.
Prepared by DRD.