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Democratic socialism in Nepalese perspective

Organized by Martyrs' Memorial Foundation (MMF)

13 - 14 June 2012
Bharatpur, Chitwan

Prepared by: Bikash Dahal


Martyrs' Memorial Foundation has organized a seminar on Democratic socialism in Nepalese Perspective on 13-14 June 2012 in Bharatpur, Chitawan in cooperation with FES. The seminar was divided into three parts i.e. opinenig session, paper presentation session and closing session.

Opening session

Dhundi Raj Shastri, the president of MMF said that bringing up issues of caste will lead to chaos in a country because there are always complications when talking about caste system. He also said that people take politics like a business in Nepal. Socialism according to him means ongoing necessary awareness and ongoing societal development. Chandra Dev Bhatta, FES representative gave a brief introduction to the organization and its activities in Nepal. He also talked about socialism and said that Nepal needs more of social justice than democracy. Khila Nath Dahal the General Secretary of MMF insisted that all martyrs who were against the Panchayat system in Nepal should be given equal importance and insisted that listing of Martyrs by the government is necessary. Mr Dahal also said that a class based approach rather than a caste based approach is necessary in Nepal. Radha Kanta Deo was all praises for the organizers and said that these types of programs are influential. Ram Narayan Kurmi said that marginalized castes are in the same situation since last 30 years. Ram Singh BK of the CPN UML party there is no difference in case of socialism and people's power. Tek Prshad Gurung was of the opinion that the political scenario of Nepal is very critical. Sesh Nath Adhikari showed his concern regarding the fact that anybody is considered martys these days in Nepal. He also insisted that for democracy and socialism more martyrs are needed. Devendra Pd. Upadhyay had praises for the martyrs of Nepal and also focused on fulfilling their dreams. Mr. Maheshwor Lal Shrestha raised issues on contribution of martyrs as well as situation of democratic fighters. Ms. Uma Regmi raised issues on gender participation for democracy and social justice. Ms. Anjani Shrestha raised issues on martyr' and their role on democracy. Suresh Shrestha, activist of the Janaandolan 2063 BS shared his experiences and also showed his affection towards the organizers for giving him a platform to share his thought. Tarini Prasad Wagle presented poem on martyrs' and their contribution for democracy. Babu hari acharya was the master of ceremony for the program jointly organized by MMF and FES. With this the opening session came to an end.

Day 1, Session 1

Mr. Kashi Raj Dahal presented a paper on 'Transitional Politics and challenges in the Constitution making process'. This session was chaired by Mr Baburam Puri and the commentator was Mr Prakash Adhikari.

Synopsis

Mr Kashi Raj Dahal talked about the current political situation of Nepal which has taken place due to the failure in making constitution. His paper explains about the importance of constitution to a country like Nepal since it is the base for peace and development. There are various procedures of making a constitution: constituent assembly, constitutional conference, election, etc. Constitution making process started during 2004 B.S and still our nation doesn't have a permanent constitution. According to the paper, a very important reason for the failure of constitution is it was never accepted by the people and they weren't participative either. Due to this the culture constitution hasn't developed yet.

He also talked about the challenges in the constitution making process. In our case, the main reason was that single political party did not get majority in constituent assembly. Since each and every party wanted their constitution and due to lack of trust among various political parties we could not find a common ground to move ahead. This was because all had their own political greed and thoughts. Although it is the fundamental right of people to get the constitution we are in a uncertain situation at present. He further indicated that peace does not come easily because for peace to be sustainable in society poverty, insecurity and unemployment needs to be eradicated. The problem right now isn't related to rule of law but to politics. Therefore, if political parties come to a common ground many options are available for giving way out to our country which is mentioned below:

1. Again constituent assembly election should be organized under political consensus.
2. Parliament should be reinstate for a short period and amend constitution related to election provision, constitute new government and organize new election.
3. Organise multi-sectoral golmech conference including political parties and make a draft new constitution. After that drafted constitution should be send to people for election.
4. Constitution drafting commission should be constructed including professionals under political consensus and draft constitution should be approved by the new parliament.

Comments

This paper talks about positive outcomes and incidents in brief. The focus is also on being cautious about tilting to one side or another. Since the paper also consists of reasons behind the failure in the making of constitution it is well presented. According to Mr Adhikari constitution should be long lasting however it should be flexible so as to make changes when necessary.

From the floor

Suresh Poudel emphasized that the nation should be and is of more importance then Politics. He also was curious about how can democracy be importance in the Nepalese context. Megh Nath Pokhrel shared his thoughts on the ongoing issues on federalism in Nepal. Nilkantha Dhungana showed his frustration because according to him the politicians cannot make the constitution. He also said that people working with a motive of making profits can never come to a common ground. Shyamji Athiti said the the politicians are doing nothing except blaming each other. Devki Gautam wanted to know what was more important for Nepal: constitution or peace. She also emphasized that there are only two castes, i.e. male and female. Can we assure ourselves that constitution will be made the next time, Ram Narayan Kurmi asked the role and responsibility of different political parties to dissolve constituent assembly.

At the end of the Q & A session Mr Kashi Raj Dahal said that although all the political parties had said we will work cooperatively in writing practically all the political parties were playing in numbers. Moreover, before the making of constitution in South Africa 34 directives were agreed upon and 9 directives in case of India. However in case of Nepal there were no directives so no constitution. He also showed us the flaws in case of our constitution making process by giving examples of CA members going to visit Switzerland to learn about the constitution making process instead of going to countries like Nigeria and Ethiopia which are in some way or the other related to ours. According to Dahal, peace can be classified in two, i.e. positive and negative and in our country's case we have negative peace currently. He also urged the participants to be informed about politics since that can only help make politics strong.

Day 2, Session 1

Ms Amuda Shrestha presented a paper on 'Democracy for Gender Justice'. This session was chaired by Ms. Thakur Kumari Poudel and the commentator was Ms. Surya Badana Hamal.

Synopsis

Ms Shrestha said that gender justice is achievable when a government run under democratic values can maintain unity between state and society and balance among various classes, castes and genders, i.e. loktantrik system. She said that gender justice is instrumental to do away with the discriminations and injustices created on the basis of gender biases.

"The term 'gender justice' has come into use after the words like 'gender mainstreaming' or 'gender equality' failed to address the gender disparities," she said, adding that the new wording sought to change the societal attitudes and cultures, and link people's nature, capacity and rights with economic and political systems in order to address the discriminations faced by the women folks. "Gender justice demands accountability. It enhances women access to resources, means and mechanisms, finally enabling them with opportunity to control over them."

Disparity between women and men is high mainly in the field of education and unemployment. In South Asia, the number of educated male adults stands at around 73.8 per cent and their women counterpart around 52.1 per cent. There is uneven participation males and females in the field of lucrative labour force. The males stand around 82.1 per cent but the number of women is only a meager 35.7 per cent. According to a global survey, out of 20 billionaires, there are only two women among them. Women make up about two thirds of total poor people in the world. This women's plight resulted from their little access to education and properties compared to their male counterpart. They are deprived of equal treatment and equal opportunity.

She said that democracy for equality and strongly upholds a moral value for safeguarding fundamentals equality of both sexes. Stating that the Interim Constitution contained several provisions in favour of women rights including their heath and reproductive ones, Shrestha said that women participation in the local bodies and national legislature grew by 20 per cent following the advent of multiparty democracy in 1990. Currently, the women lawmakers constitute over 32 per cent in the 601-member historic constituent assembly. In her concluding statements, Shrestha stood by social democracy citing that it does not deprive women of education and properties merely on the ground that they are women. "Its main objective is to end all types of exploitations, and deliver freedom and justice to the citizens. Therefore, social democracy is prerequisite to ensure women's rights, freedom and gender justice."

Comments

This paper is presented in a clear and concise manner according to the commentator. However Ms. Surya Bandana was skeptic since effectiveness could have been shown by giving options. Although Democracy does talk about equality even in today's world men and women are not equal. She expressed her curiosity by asking what can be done to create equality among both gender. According to her democracy is just a means but not end. Action without vision means stagnant rajya satta. She showed the importance of males in fighting for the rights of female and as her last thought said that until and unless principles are not made into laws democracy can't be democracy.

From the floor

Suresh Poudel wanted to know what is more important for women, conservation or education. He also stressed on the fact that feminists and masculinity defines the gender. Nilkantha Dhungana insisted that programs like this should be organized in rural areas where these kinds of issues are sensitive. Dhungana also said that women are fighting for opportunities rather than conservation. Male and female have their own special qualities so they are two sides of a coin. Debaki Gautam said that equality between men and women is essential in family too. Sabiri Bogati raised issues on women representation in each sector. Radhakanta Deo raised issues on working women.

Ms Shrestha was overwhelmed by the presence of youth during the program. She focused on capacity building and learning necessary for women since conservation and education cannot be compared. She also insisted that there is a huge difference between Prabhutwa and power.

Day 2, Session 2

Mr Keshab Pd. Bhattarai presented a paper on 'Modernization and Nepali Society and management of Youth energy, anger and dissatisfaction'. This session was chaired by Mr. Radha Kanta Deo and the commentator was Mr Bharat Dawadi. According to Bhattarai, politicians do not have a sense of self respect.

Synopsis

"The majority of Nepalese are youths. Half of the population is between the age group 16 - 40 years. This population is the back bone of our society. Moreover, investing on this group of population means our country can develop. The achievements of developed countries are because of the hard working and educated youths. Even the role of youths is very important in all the political transitions that have taken place all over the world" Mr. Shrestha said.

The youths of Nepal are frustrated. Due to unemployment, destructive thoughts and violence the youths have not been able to show their creative side. Even the political parties demand youth participation during conflict situation only. However when a creative discussion is necessary youths are looked down upon. Until and unless dissatisfied youths are not managed properly peace cannot prevail in society. This can also be the major reason for war and conflict.

Change is not hard to come by; the hardest part is self determination. If only we start analyzing various activities and differentiated right with wrong truthfully majority will start supporting the good side. Due to this good people will be motivated since they will have a strong foothold in the society. The most important thing for youths is education and employment. This means if youths have various opportunities they will be responsible and confident in themselves. This will further increase patriotism for their country. To begin with positive thinking is necessary.

Comments

Mr Bharat Dawadi stressed on the fact that when youth's energy is not satisfied it turns into destructive activities. He also said that the currents youths of Nepal do not want to stay in villages are impatient and their wants and demands have not been fulfilled. He also was curious whether the process of learning was not effective in case of our country. According to him change in attitude, skills and knowledge is necessary. In the end doing SWOT analysis of Nepalese youths is important according to him.

From the floor

Suresh Poudel was concerned as to developing positive attitude in today's context and also said that youth are angry because they are not being given opportunities. Rajesh Bushal wanted to know the options for youths in our country and if the country is taking youths towards crisis situation or creative thinking. Prakash Adhikari said that thought revolution comes first in other countries before political revolution. However in case of Nepal revolutions are taking place without any thoughts. He also said that political parties discard youths when thoughtful conversation is necessary. Since many youths are unemployed in our country the energy of youths is being used for destruction. Devendra Prasad Upadhyay wanted to know how to manage youths. He also motivated youths to bring out their power by themselves. Ms Sabitri Bogati wanted to know the way to manage educated unemployed youths of Nepal. According to her people in our country are more patriotic to political parties rather than the country itself. Ramnarayan kurmi raised issues on youth and employment. Ms. Devaki Gautam raised issues on women youth and improves their capacity.

Mr. Bhattarai said that youth's policy means education policy. He also said that constitutionalism is of more priority then constitution itself. That means the culture of following law and order. In the current scenario it is the responsibility of youths and intellectuals to analyze and pressure the political parties to act accordingly. He also emphasized on providing saleable education and skills for development. At the end he said that political parties can never be bigger and powerful then nation, democracy and people.

Closing Ceremony

With this the program came to end with a formal closing ceremony. Ananta Dhungana and Shobha Rijal expressed their views on behalf of the participants. They were very happy to be a part of the program and thanked the organizers. Biswo Banstola also expressed his views on behalf of the local organizers. At the very end, Khila Nath Dahal, general secretary of MMF thanked all the paper presenters, commentators, chairpersons of various sessions, participants and local organizers. He also took this opportunity to thank FES Nepal who has supported MMF in organizing such kinds of programs since a long time.

 
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