Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
2-3 March 2014, Kanchanpur
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised
a two day seminar in Belauri of Kanchanpur district on 02-03
March, 2014. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship
for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were around 150
participants out of whom 46 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 the Chairman of the
College Operation Committee, Mr Dhaneshwor Pant. Mr Deepak Dhungana,
Campus Chief of Mahakali Multiple Campus, Jai Singh Bista of
Nepal Police, and Mr. Y R Bhattarai of Nepal Armed Police Force
also participated in the two-day seminar. 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. In the past, Nepal never had constitutional
stability. 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 and federalism in Nepal. 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. Another presenter Yubaraj
Ghimire, Senior Journalist also spoke about the role of media
in satebuilding. He also talked about the duty of journalist
- which is objectively informing people. Mr Ghimire also highlighted
the current impasse in Nepal and reminded that democracy needs
participation of people on the key issues which seems not to
be the case here. Under such a state of affairs, we can state
that there is a great deal of mismatch between what we teach
and what we practice.
Govinda Singh Thapa - Principal / West Point School
said that there has been a great deal of tension between rights
and duties in our society in recent times. There are more institutions
who talk about rights but not necessarily about duties. Such
a state of affairs has created multiple problems in Nepali society.
Ram Chandra Nepal said that this initiative of statebuilding
carried over by FES Nepal has to be taken in other parts of
the country as well. He raised couple of questions and was of
the view that we need to create a situation so that our youths
can stay in the country. He said that community schools manpower
is merely used for the Gulf whereas the manpower from the private
schools goes to the West. He also expressed his concern about
border encroachment from the Indian side in more than 90 places.
He further said that we have to discontinue the politics of
negation is it is leading us nowhere. Federalism should be used
to manage diversity in our society.
Pallav Raj Bhatta - CPN- UML - was of the view that
education policy of Nepali state should be held responsible
for countries backwardness and I wonder why our political leaders
have failed to change it. We need to promote vocational education
so that more and more people can get employment. He also expressed
his concern about secularism.
Yadav Shamra - Principal - said that our education is
information oriented; education in the past was more comprehensive.
This education has not been able to fulfill the demand of society.
We have experienced many changes even during the last two decades
but nothing substantial has been achieved - both in politics
and education. There is a problem of recruitment of teachers
in the schools. And after 2062/03 it appears that we have adopted
the policy of divide and rule. We are confused as what type
of policy would serve our interest best in areas like health,
education, and agriculture.
Dhanpati Bista also expressed his concern about education
system of the country and said that the current education cannot
solve our problems and our policy makers are confused. Our administration
system is merely procedural and does not take initiatives to
address the challenges that beset Nepali society. Given the
current state of affairs - there is an urgent to revamp it.
Hridayaram Bajgai - Trade Unionist - asked whether we
can move back from the current process of constitution writing
or not since it has created more problems in the country. He
said that religion is most important and we should protect it.
Sami Pokharel - said that there is an urgent need to
introduce change in the existing chain of command of Nepali
politics. He strongly suggested that conferences like his should
be conducted in the centre as well. He also asked the future
of journalism in Nepal and enquired how journalists are promoting
the notion of justice in our society. He said that FM radios
have destroyed our values. They are also not helping to promote
Bhawani Shekhar Regmi said that we need to introduce
education system that teaches about nationalism and patriotism.
He said that the current education system has to be changed.
He also wanted to know the relationship between dharma and politics.
Jayalal Bista was of the view that in order to build
a good state we need to have education that teaches about nationalism.
He was of the view that civic education should be included in
the higher secondary level course.
Ganesh Bhandari said why most of the people in Nepal
are becoming political leader oriented. I think the need-based
education can cut-down this too much dependency of common people
on political leaders and this will also minimise corruption
from our society.
Ram Bahadur Bohara complained that the education sector
has been spoiled by the teachers themselves. There is tendency
that permanent teachers most of the time hire people who can
replace them temporarily while they themselves work in other
places. This is the highest level of dishonesty from the part
of teacher. He was of the view that Nepal cannot sustain federalism
from the economic point of view.
Bishnu Bhakta Poudyal raised various issues concerning
morality and he expressed his concern that it is in the declining
phase. He said that Nepal is a devabhumi but the current lots
of political leaders have made it rakshabhumi. The classic example,
he cited, was that even the doctors are engaged in kidney business.
Therefore to come out of such a pathetic state of affairs -
we need to introduce education system that can promote morality
and upheld nationalism. He also expressed his concerned about
federalism and said that the current debate will develop communal
feeling in our society which, in a real sense of the term, is
antithetical to the very idea of democracy.
Taramani Neupane asked where on earth the idea of federalism
has come to Nepal. He also asked how many federal states Nepal
can sustain. He further asked the success and failure of Prime
Ministerial system and what type of system would serve the best
interest of Nepali state.
Lal Bahadur Rawat was of the view that parliamentary
system should be given continuity though there are different
opinions from various segments of society. I think that we have
not been able to practice it fairly in the post. That said,
we need to adopt a system that provides political stability
Narmada Rijal asked for how long our society will remain
Jai Singh Bista, Police Inspector - said that we should
translate in action what we preach to the people.
Y. R. Bhattarai , Inspector - Armed Police Force - expressed
his concern about the continuous border encroachment from the
Indian side and said that we need to have common voice on it.
Finally, the organising committee in Belauri expressed their
gratitude for bringing such a programme in their part which
is normally neglected form the centre. Dhanpati Bista, in his
concluding remarks, said that programmes like this would help
to generate the sense of civicness in our society. 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 major concern here was
on religion and the provisions of secularism be scrapped. 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