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

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

10-11 May 2013, Golbazar, Siraha


Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office organised a two day seminar on 10-11 May, 2013 at the Rampratap Ramprasad Tamang Janata Multiple Campus in Golbazar of Siraha district. 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. Former CA member of CPN(Maoist) Shree Jagat Yadav also attended and put his opinion in the seminar. There were more than 120 participants and out of which 40 were female. The seminar was chaired by Campus Chief Ram Ishwor Yadav. 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 towards state and society to translate democracy in a real sense of the term. Welcoming on behalf of Campus - Ram Udgar Sah asked - why CA was dissolved and why our political parties have failed to work as per the spirit of 2006's political movement.

Speaking in the inaugural session Lal Babu Yadav argued that we cannot have federal staes on the basis of ethnicity and system of governance should be developed so that it could provide political stability in the country. The main reason why constitution could not be written in time, as per him, is that there is a real crisis of ideology among political parties and none of the ideologies enjoy majority in the house. As a result, all agreed constitution could not be drafted. Four papers were presented in the seminar. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of the FES on state building in Nepal, Kashi Raj Dahal on Constitution, Lalbabu Yadav, Associate Professor of Political Science at the Tribhuvan University on Federalism and Local Government, and Chandra D Bhatta on democracy and its elements.

Discussion

Vijaya Kumar Sah (student) asked what is the difference between the federalism-based on identity and without identity. He also asked why CA was dissolved. He also raised a question that is it worthwhile to hold CA election again.

Ram Udgar Sah (teacher) asked whether Nepal needs federalism or not - if yes what type of federalism would serve our interest best if not, why ?

Dipendra Yadav (studne BA 3rd year) - Do we really need federalism or not ?

Shiv Kumar Mahara asked how can we put an end to different types of discrimination (such as regionalism-based, ethnicity-based, gender-based, religion-based) that exists in our society. He was of the view that we should craft federal state on the basis of population.

Manoj Kumar Jha asked we cannot have unitary state any more the message of 2062/063 movement was clear that Nepal should departure from such a state structure. He also asked the presentations are mostly against federalism, why is that ? He said that there is federalism in India as well and it is working well. He further said that Madhesi;s are protecting the border of Nepali state.

Manav Lama expressed his happiness for organizing a seminar that focuses more on nationalism and promoting the notion of civic nationalism rather than federalism and issues like that. He said that our nationalism lacks truth.

Ram Ishwor Yadav asked how we could put an end to the discrimination that exists in unitary system of governance. He also asked how we could end class struggle. He questioned can we not promote nationalism when there is still discrimination in our society?

One participant (who did not disclose his identity) suggested that we need to bring educated people into politics. He also asked a question under what circumstances civic education truly works. He also suggested that why you don't give education like this to our leaders who are occupying the seat in the national politics.

Ramji Yadav asked what the difference between modern state and scientific state is. Which 'ism' capitalism or socialism can truly uplift poor out of poverty? Democracy provides freedom but the question here is how can people realise democracy? Marxism, Nationalism, and Liberalism, which 'ism' is best suitable for democracy?

Ms. Khatum asked what type of education system would uplift people from poverty ? What is the asset of our country ?

Sirish Thakur said that education is everything and we need to build up confidence among our youths . More focus needed on science.

Pradip Sah asked what type of modern state FES wants similarly the civic education.

Rina Kumar Sharma asked how can we strike a balance between rights and duties. Rights are only generating conflict in our society and duty is needed for their resolution.

Sanjiv Mahato was of the view that politics is like profession in our country. We have to punish 601 members.

Santosh Kumar Yadav said that our political parties are divided both for federalism and against federalism and under such a state of affairs we are discussing about building a modern state and how beneficial would civic education be.

Sanjay Singh said that programmes like this are urban-centric we need to take such programmes to the villages where every can have access to what you have said here. Could you please highlight on the status of current government that is, its legitimacy asked Sanjay .

Navaraj Lama said that we are increasingly becoming dependent on international community for multiple purpose and we need to cut it down. Today we have more educated people and there is skyrocketing corruption in our society. This indicates that there must be some problem with our education system.

Shailendra Kumar Singh asked what is the difference between federalism and decentralization?

Manoj Jha opined that we need to increase the level of morality and awareness of our people. We have to be honest in our area of work. Our political leaders are not honest and the need of the hour is to have such leaders in politics.

Raj Mandal said that there is no women's picture in the cover of your booklet Handsout on Democracy.

Arun Kumar Sah said that while we are demanding human rights for ourselves we should be mindful for others as well.

Vijay Kumar Sah said that we have democracy from 2046 movement, lokatantra/ganatantra from 2062/63 movement, inclusive democracy from interim constitution, federalism from Madhes movement but all these things are only for leaders not for the people.

Jagat Prasad Yadav (former MP from CPN-M) said that programmes like this are good where we learn from each other and thanked team on behalf of his party. But he argued that more problems are being created by the educated people. He argued that honesty and accountability is most important for statebuilding and it is equally important for family building as well. Nepal could not write constitution not because of absence of knowledge but because we have too many such people who really did not help political parties toward this end. He expressed his disenchantment that the head of the judiciary has been made head of the government and we should fight against such practices. He argued that there should be one Madhes one Pradesh for the political stability of this country. He said that we talk about Indian imperialism but raised the question about the imperialism of one community that people of Nepal are faced with for such long period of time. We need to get rid of it.

Concluding remark

Head Teacher of the campus Ramhit Yadav thanked all the participants and organizing committee (including FES) on behalf of the campus for bringing such a programme in their place. They have also agreed to introduce the components of civic educaito in their school curriculum and well work to protect natural resources of their area. By and large , the programme in Golbazar went well. The team also had an interaction with members of the school management committee for future collaboration.

 
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