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Seminar Report on Promoting Active Citizenship for State-Building from Bottom-up

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

24-25 May 2013, Ranipauwa, Nuwakot


Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office organised a two day seminar on 24-25 May, 2013 in Ranipauwa of Nuwakot. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship for State-Building from Bottom-up. The two day seminar was attended by local political leaders, civil society members, civil servants, teachers, journalists, security personnel, students, and other stakeholders of the society. There were altogether 120 participants with significant participants. The programme was organised in Bhawanit Higher Secondary School and was chaired by Man Bahadur Lama of Chairman of the School Management Committee. FES has been organizing such seminars in various parts of the country for the last couple of years and from the last year it has shifted its focus towards sub-urban and rural areas so that people living in these communities could also benefit from such seminars.

The primary objective of such seminar was to generate civic sense so that it can contribute in building up the notion of civic nationalism and common identity among people. Such an approach can contribute towards statebuilding as well as democracy building in the long-run. Another objective of this seminar was to educate people on various principles of democracy, constitution, federalism, and other issues that have dominated Nepali politics over the years.

The proceedings

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office welcomed all the participants and highlighted objectives of the seminars. During his inaugural speech Dev Raj Dahal underlined the importance of civic education. He said that the lack of civic education in our society can result in political anarchy. He further said that citizens are members of the state and by virtue of being the members of the state they enjoy certain rights from the state and also have duties towards it. That feeling seems to be lacking in our context both at the level of political class and at the citizenry level argued Dahal. The unaccountable politics is the product of this phenomenon said Dahal. The biggest challenge that beset country today is how we build up common orientation of people towardrs state and society to translate democracy in a real sense of the term. Similarly, he argued that there are various types rights but there is no fine balance between rights and duties in our country. Dahal also talked about the historical evolution of Nepal state and its values. Likewise, he also highlighted on the genealogy of knowledge in our society. He talked about three different types of dharma (statecrafts). He also talked about different types of conflict (geopolitical, political, social) that existed in our society.

Speaking in the inaugural session Lalbabu Yadav, Associate Professor of Political Science at the Tribhuvan University said that we cannot have federal states on the basis of ethnicity as such states would pose national security threat in the long term. Also, given Nepal's economic conditions we cannot have more than seven states argued Yadav. Three papers were presented in the seminar. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of the FES on the challenges and prospectus of state building in Nepal, Lalbabu Yadav on Federalism, Constitution and Local Government and, Chandra D Bhatta on democracy and its elements.

Discussion

R. P.Thapliya please explain more about federalism ? Do you think leaders will go away with one Madhes-one-Pradesh

Shiv Kumar Lama asked what type of constitution should Nepal need to have ?

Tanka Lama also asked why type of constitution would political party together on various agendas such as foreign policy, poverty eradication and issues like this. He asked, whereas political leaders help each other for their mutual benefit but not the people at large. He also expressed about the declining developmental stage of the country. Every new political change have not benefited Nepali - it's the political leaders or those who wage such movements for change are benefitted.

Suresh Khatiwada asked Prithvi Naryan Shah's foreign policy and economic policies were best suited for the country and we should learned from him. But in contrast, he has been projected as major villain of Nepal today.

Shiv Kumar Lama also said that P.N. Shah did not appoint Tamangs' in his army but King Mahendra did it.

Purna Lama (an employee of British Embassy) asked there has been great deal of threat no our nationalism and attempts are being made to wipe out the name Nepal.

Badri Raj Thapaliya asked if the election is not held in November what should we do and what would be the role of civil society members in such a state of affairs.

Chitra Neupane asked why you have not discussed about the economy that is required to build a modern state. We could have initiated capital formation by mobilizing saving.

Prem Tamang said that though today Prithvi Naryan Shah and his policy has been seen as imperialistic but he did name his new state as Gurkha from where he hailed. There are many obstacles created by the India per se factors and we have to work together to get out of this dilemma.

Sashi Kumar Thapaliya / Ram Prasad Dahal both of them wanted to know what factors forced us to be trained on civic education ? We really need to find out the root causes of this situation. Which political party is responsible for not letting constitution drafted through CA as ked Thapaliya. Which ideology can bring political balance in our political parties. He also asked whether the new constitution would be written or not. The tendency to define civil security, pluralism, and multipary system on the basis of comfortability has resulted great deal of problems in our society in understanding and implementing many political ideas.

Krishna Silwal asked if we draft constitution after having federal state - will this be beneficial for us or not ? He also asked what is one China policy ? if the constitution is to be drafted by the expert why do we have election for the CA. Silwal also asked what are the benefits of federalism ? Many people today say that federalism would disintegrate this state and will invite the process of Sikkimization - how can w control this ? Can we go for decentralization? What should be our priority ?

Shiv Kumar Lama also asked what is the difference between human rights and right to self-determination ?

Man B. Tamang asked what type of federalism we need - federalism with right to self-determination or the one with multiple identities.

Man Bahadur Lama asked what are the factors that can reflect Nepaliness while crafting federal states?

Prakash Thapa asked the merits and demerits of federalism

Samir Lama asked how can we bring more young people into politics and second, what is that Nepaliness we can have in politics in future. He also asked the principle of separation of power and the provision of federalism - where do they meet?

Krishna Bahadur Ghale - CPN-UML- asked whether we have political leaders in our country or not

Uttar Lama said that we have spent huge amount of money on constitution under various pretext but and again we are going to hold another CA election and we will be spending huge bill on it. Do you think we can have constitution from this second round of election - how can you guarantee us this ?

Shankar Lohani - Teacher - asked how can we present as a Nepali citizen both inside and outside. Since we are Nepali citizen, we do not need separate identity.

Ram Prasad Dahal said that federalism has become abstract for us. There are high chances that we have to regret in less than one year time of its implementation.

Conclusion

Speaking from the chair Man Bahadur Lama thanked all the participants including the FES team for organizing such an excellent programme. He invited to come train more people on various themes. He emphasized that we should work together unitedly and by doing that we can have a strong state. He also requested if we could spare some extra books and look for financial support for the school. By and large, the programme went very well and appreciated by the people at large. Such a programme in the rural areas can really contribute towards statebuilding in a real sense of the term.

 
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