Seminar Report on Promoting Active Citizenship
for State-Building from Bottom-up
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
25-26 June 2013, Gajuri, Dhading
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office
organised a two day seminar on 25-26 June, 2013 in Gajuri, Dhading
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. There were more than 125 participants
and out of which 60 were female. The seminar was chaired by Tara
Bhandari, Chairman of the Adarsha Higher Secondary School.. 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.
Ram Krishna Adhhikari - Teacher
-said that the Chairman of the School Management Committee's
qualification has to be mentioned. Only those who are well-educated
should be made chairman of such committee. Those parents who
do not send their children to the school with adequate preparation
should be called by the Principal and advised accordingly. Schools
should declared zone of peace. All teachers should be provided
with enough training well in advance.
Dasharath Tiwari - Teacher asked
should we consider rule by bureaucracy as democracy. You should
have invited more people suggested Tiwari. Moral and civic education
should be given priority and it should also be used to minimize
Som Lal Shrestha - Teacher -
asked why Dev Raj sir said that political leaders do not need
security. Even the common people need it. If there was a enough
security Madan Bhandari would not have died. He also said that
the country has changed a lot today - who did it - it's the
Ishwar Raj Giri - Teacher - what
is the objective of this meeting ? Those who are present here
know everything . You should bring in those who don't know about
such things said Giri.
Kopila Kharel - NGO activists
- there is still gender discrimination in our society and Dhading
district is no exception to this phenomenon therefore we need
programme that can help to curtail such discrimination. Also,
we also need to focus on income generating programme so that
women can really realize their rights.
Binod Rupakheti - Teacher- How
can we improve the situation where there is no basic physicial
infrastructure therefore we need to focus more on developing
Dhan Narayan Shrestha - Teacher
- wanted to know how far we have gone in terms of making moral
and civic education compulsory in our schools/colleges. The
gaps and discrimination between community and private schools
should be minimized.
Raj Kumar Thapa - Teacher - Moral
education, pre-vocational education and others should be made
compulsory in our schools
Brahmakumar - said that we have
become too much materialistic and there has to be some content
of moral and civic education in our society. These alone can
bring peace and prosperity in our society. These will help us
to maintain our tradition with rationality.
Ishwor Raj Giri - Teacher - asked
from where human rights activists get money ? can they have
political party or affiliate with party for that reason. More
importantly - how do you define rights activists? There are
many such activists in the country who are working under the
garb of human rights.
Tirtha Dawadi - VDC Secretary
- said that election to the CA is putting this country in a
Kopila Kharel - Teacher - raised
some question about the distribution of resources in the VDCs.
She complained that the found that has come for the benefits
of women, children and senior citizen is mobilized in other
areas by the political parties. She also said that many children
are not in condition to go to the school and working in other
areas for their livelihood. We are trying to help them out but
sadly there is no concrete mechanism from the part of state
and its agencies to resolve this problem.
Ram Krishna Adhikari - Teacher
- asked in federalism how we distribute natural resources. He
also talked about education policy, foreign policy and agriculture
policy. There is a great deal of mismatch in this area argued
Ram Krishna Pandey - Teacher
- enquired everybody is blamable in this country - political
party, human rights activist, journalists and etc. In such a
state of affairs where should common people go to express their
grievances ? Civil society in this country is also controlled
by political parties.
Ishwar Raj Giri - Teacher - said
that most of the professionals in this country are politicized
along partisan lines and there is very little that we can get
Brahama Kumari Sister Jamuna
said that by changing self positively - we can even change the
world. We should not backtrack from morality.
Purusottam Lal Shrestha said
that we have learned a lot from this seminar and we could judge
ourselves from this.
Omnath Timilsina said that each
and every governmental and non-governmental organization in
this country said that they are independent and free from both
internal and external forces but they still get from money from
outsiders and try to influence our society in one way or the
other. How can we get rid of such a state of affairs? He further
asked whom should we call citizen? How do we measure it and
when such measurement started? Why state put a price on the
head of people? Who were they - citizens or somebody else asked
Timilsina. He further asked whether Nepal has states man or
There was a great deal of enthusiasm
from the participants in the programme . From the discussion
above, we can also conclude that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction
towards politics and political leaders and we need to correct
it. What one can see in the rural Nepal is that there is a high
level of feeling towards state and society whereas the same
is missing in urban centres. The teachers can really become
multiplier of such programmes as they in principle , like in
other places, agreed to include civic education in their curriculum.