Seminar Report on Promoting Active Citizenship
for State-Building from Bottom-up
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
17-18 May 2013, Sharadanagar, Chitwan
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office organised a two day seminar
on 17-18 May, 2013 in Sharadanagar, Chitwan. 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 more than 150 participants and out of which 60 were
female. The seminar was chaired by Ash Bahadur Lama former Chairman
of Sharadanar Village Development 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.
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.
Speaking in the inaugural session Senior Constitutional Expert
Kashi Raj Dahal also gave welcome speech and highlighted the
various facets of the constitution and problems attached with
this. Similarly speaking in the inaugural speech Senior Journalist
Yubaraj Ghimire gave brief overview of current political situation.
Four papers were presented in the seminar. Dev Raj Dahal, Head
of the FES on the challenges and prospectus of state building
in Nepal, Kashi Raj Dahal, Senior Constitutional Expert on Constitutional
issues and Federalism, Yubaraj Ghimire, Senior Journalist on
the role of media in statebuilding, and Chandra D Bhatta on
democracy and its elements.
Presenting his paper Ghimire talked about the dharma of Journalist
towards state and society and he pointed out that many of our
journalists are not abided by that notion of dharma of journalist.
Ghimire expressed his concern about the recent political development
in the country. He said that by appointing chief justice of
the Supreme Court as Head of the government we have fluted the
concept of independent judiciary but it is not quite clear for
what reasons we have done this asked he. He said that people's
identity is connected with the identity of state and language,
religion, culture are the sources of unity. He pointed out that
those who respect their religion respect the religion of others
as well. Gautam Buddha left the royal benefits for the establishment
of dharma and there was a clear separation between religion
and the state in our part of the world unlike in the Europe.
He reminded the fact that the French revolution was carried
out against the coercive behavior of the Church in the state
affairs. But Churches are still powerful in Europe.
He also talked about the role of India in Nepal's internal
affairs. He pointed out the fact that first India tried to bring
together seven party alliance and Maoist together to fight against
Monarchy. India included Mount Batten in the post-independent
political process but the same was not allowed to happen here.
That is monarchy - which have had long history and virtually
brought this state in existence were not included in such a
process. By including the King in the post-2006 politics we
could have benefited a lot like the Indians did it by including
Batten. Equally important is we have consulted more with India
and other countries for our internal political problems like
federalism but less with our own people. He expressed his dissatisfaction
that for whatever reason Nepal is known for - we are trying
to dismantle them one by one. He said that Nepal has always
remained a secular state and there was not need to declare it
secular. The current notion of secularism is more about attacking
on our religion argued Ghimire. Political parties should include
the component of national in their discussion. They should reason
that why unification day was cancelled.
Madhav Kafle (Teacher/college) said that when we said,
in principle, the issue of federalism or state restructuring
for that reason - there has to be some sort of coordination
between centre and periphery.
Top Man Sigh Gurung said that the programme is most
relevant. He said that we should not have more than five federal
states and they should be drawn north-south. No state should
be formed on the basis of ethnicity. Similarly no to right to
self-determination, we have to be careful in all these issues.
Hem Bahadur Chhetri, Nepali Congress, said that how
can we call our leader nationalist. They do not respect people.
We have to keep an eye on our political leaders as they don't
speak the language of Nepali citizen. He also said that we should
not give right to self-determination. State should be restructured
on its economic capacity and viability. Our political leaders
have created conflict between people. The tendency to be politicians
or leader for that matter on the basis of power and money should
be discontinued. We need to hold federalism on important issues.
Bed Bahadur Gurung asked why election is not taking
place in every five year. For the last 15 year there is no election
for the local bodies asked Gurung.
Shanti Man Adhikari asked whether there will be another
election for CA ? He also asked why we are afraid of political
Dilli ram Dawadi asked who appointed Lok Man as the
Chief of CIAA - it is India ?
Balbir Pakhrin said this is very good programme. He
said that the problem of our time is what type of federalism
do we want to have - with identity-based or without identity.
Bachhu Basnet - Teacher - asked there are incidence
of violence against women, children - where is human right?
There is lack of rule of law and we have failed to distinguish
between leader and criminals.
One participant (no name) asked we are suppressed by the tradition.
We should not make prime minister or president to those who
have come through proportional election. He also asked the detail
expenditure detail of the budget that is spent through parliamentarian
development fund. No need for right to self-determination as
state already has given rights to protect those who are weak,
backward, marginalised and alike.
Bekh Bahadur Gurung said that constitution should be
written in time. Bureaucrats should admit their children in
Kumar Ale said that we have to teach both civic education
and moral education in our schools.
The seminar in Chitwan included participants from nine VDCs
of including Gunjanagar and Sharadanagar VDCs. Surya Kala Adhikar,
Bel Bahadur Gurung, and Chau En Lai Shrestha spoke during the
closing ceremony. They thanked FES for bringing such programmes
in their locality. Surya Kala Adhikari thanked for giving space
women in the statebuilding programme. She also said that we
need to work to establish the rule of law in the country. The
notion of rule of law is facing threat from mathi ko aadesh
(order from above). Similarly Bel Bahadur Gurung and Chau En
Lai Shrestha also thanked FES and others. They have also agreed,
in principle, to adopt civic education through their respective
VDCs and decided to work together to protect public properties.