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Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding in Nepal

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

14-15 February 2014, Dhanusha Dham

CDB/FES


Introduction

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised a two day seminar in Dhanusha Dham of Dhanusa district on 14-15 February, 2014. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were around 134 participants out of whom 14 were females. Among others, participants of the seminar came from various walks of like such as teachers, lecturers, political leaders, students, members of civil society, security personnel, local civil servants, other stake holders of the society. The seminar was chaired by Shree Jai Krishna Yadav of Dhanusha People's Higher Secondary School and the programme was organised in their premises. The overarching of aim of this seminar was to revitalize the sense of civic-ness in our society and also educate local political leaders/civil society activists and teachers/students on issues pertaining to state-building and constitutional process in Nepal.

Proceedings

Speaking in the inaugural session Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal, highlighted the importance civic education and the role it can play in building democratic political culture in society. He said that we are in the new political juncture and there are issues which needs broader discussion at the various levels of society. Nepal's transition is still problematic even after the election to the CA-2. He also underlined the need of people's understanding of various political issues that have recently stole political limelight in the country with direct link with current state of Nepali politics. It is against this background that FES has chosen to organise seminars in the peripheral areas so that people living in such areas also get acquainted with them. Mr Dahal also said that active participation of people and inclusion of their voices, visions and views increase legitimacy of politics with increased, people's ownership towards. Such an approach provides constitutional stability in the country and builds active citizenship rather than citizenship based on consumerism. Dahal also said that political leaders are also the carriers of cultural values as well. He pointed out that Nepal is a diverse society and our politics should be able to manage this diversity which can also address various types of conflict that exists in our society. In the seminars, three different papers were presented.

Among three papers Mr. Dahal also talked about the state-society interface in Nepal. He said that Nepali society has expanded beyond its physical boundary. He also said that material well-being alone is not enough for development - spiritual development is also necessary as the latter can instill the sense of morality - the basis of civic education. He also highlighted the changing notion of democracy. Kashi Raj Dahal, as usual, presented his paper on constitutional dynamics in Nepal. Associate Prof. of Tribhuvan University Shree Lal Babu Yadav presented his paper on federalism, and local governance. Chandra D. Bhatta presenting spoke on building modern state and necessary components of democracy which needs to be incorporated in polity and upheld by all. He said that democracy in Nepal has been misunderstood and it has not been defined or practiced as per people's aspirations. Absence of all these factors has led to the manifold crisis in our society.

Discussion

Aman Sah asked how can we reduce corruption from our society.

Shyam Sundar Sah also expressed his concern about the increasing level of corruption in our society.

Madan Kumar Adhikari - Teacher - said that here has been a great deal of confusion between political leaders and intellectuals. For example - intellectuals talks about theory but failed to translate it into action whereas political leaders merely to get people into their folder. Also, Nepali intellectuals are partisan and their main objective is to serve the interest of political leaders who do not know anything. He asked we need to come out of this dilemma.

Laxmi Sah said that one can find very different model of federalism in Nepal where the relationship between the centre and federal state is not unique. It differs from the state to state. She asked under what circumstances such situation arise and what would be the suitable model for Nepal.

One anonymous participant said that let the Madhesi leaders draft the constitution and also allow them the cave out one federal state in the entire Madhes. If need be - later we can have more states in the Madhes.

Parikshan Yadav wanted to how many federals states we need to have in Nepal - 5, 6, or 7. Can these states represent all Napoli people? He also said that many states in India are carved on the basis of ethnicity what if we adopted the same model here as well.

Ushmi Pashwan asked what percentages of women are represented in the political parties of Nepal. She also asked why the budge allocated for women is not utilized to uplift women.

Hare Ram Neupane said that the value of each and every vote is equal - if that is the case why there is discrimination in rights

Indu Nayak Mahato was of the view that unless corruption is not uprooted from our society, there is no way that we can talk about statebuilding. I wonder whether federalism will minimise or maximize the degree of corruption. I personally feel that we do not need federalism. Let Nepal be Nepal said Mahato.

Yog Kumar Yadav was of the view that the politics of sharing benefits within the political circles has stalled the constitutional process in the country. Each political party have their own agenda of statebuilding and constitution writing process because of all these reason the constitution process in the country has not moved ahead. If the political parties cannot work in democracy how can we say that it is the best system of governance argued Yadav.

Suraj Yadav said that we have witnessed many political movements right after 2007 BS but I am surprised democracy has produced more corrupt people than the Panchayat System.

Madan Adhikari said that India has been practicing democracy since 1947. Still, there is a great deal of frustration at the people's level. Under such a state of affairs we cannot jump on to the conclusion that India is good and Nepal is bad. In the case of Nepal - the level of awareness at the people's level is slightly low and we have political parties of various ideologies. Nepal's main problem is perpetual political instability.

Ajaya Thakur expressed his concern why Nepal has been declared a secular state instead of Hindu where more than 85 percent people believe in Hinduism.

Sataya Narayan Yadav why do we bring people into politics who have lost the election? Why there is no provision of qualification in politics like in the other areas.

Goma Acharya asked can Nepal sustain federalism.

Bhuneshree Mahara wanted to know what type of rights does exist in our society. Why women's are not given equal share in property rights.

Ganu Sah argued that this is a bourgeoisie politics as it has failed to bring honest people in the politics. He was of the view that we need to nationalize all the properties. He asked we can clean the city but how can we clean the mind - this is the real problem of Nepal.

Lattardas Maharaj-ji and Lachhi Yadav asked why teachers don't admit their students in the school where they teach.

Govinda Jha (Inspector) appealed all the people of Dhanusha Dham to be engaged in cleaning the city. He said that we should no relay on others to clean or place. Many other participants joined in his appeal and there as some sort of commitment to keep public places clean.

Jayakrishna Yadav - Principle - of the School took the responsibility of taking this task of cleaning ahead.

Conclusion

This has been a great programme in Southern Nepal. People's commitment towards democracy and feeling of nationalism among Madhesio was found amazing. For example one Indu Nayak Mahato said "let Nepal be Nepal" - don't' destroy it for the interest of political leaders. They also have very deep understanding of democracy per se factors. With regard to the statebuilding process in Nepal, in recent times, it has met many obstacles. Such obstacles can be addressed with the promotion of civic education at various layers of society. This also helps to build civic political culture in society. Civic education cultivates knowledge and traits that sustain democratic self-governance. In recent times, many aspects of our civic life have become dysfunctional and there is an urgent need to revive them. This can also strengthen democracy and contribute harmonise state-society relations. The discussion here focuses on the corruption and nationalism and there is a great deal of frustration against politics. This needs to be fixed-up for the better, prosperous and shared future. By conducting seminars in different parts of the country FES has been successful enough to in identifying the connectors of society.

 
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