Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
14-15 February 2014, Dhanusha Dham
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.
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.
Aman Sah asked how can we reduce corruption from our
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
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.
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.