Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
26-27 April 2014, Makwanpur
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised
a two day seminar in Bastipur of Makanwanpur district on 26-27
April, 2014. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship
for Statebuilding in Nepal from the below. The seminar was attended
by 92 persons out of whom 45 were females. The participants
of the seminar came from various backgrounds such as teachers,
lecturers, political leaders, members of civil society, security
personnel, local civil servants, other stake holders of the
society, among others. There were head teachers from 35 schools
of the surrounding area. The seminar was organised in Nirmal
Multiple Campus and was chaired by Prabat Bidari, Campus Chief.
The overarching aim of this seminar was to educate local political
leaders/civil society activists on issues pertaining to state-building
and constitutional process in Nepal.
Shree Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal welcomed participants.
During his welcome speech he spoke about the organisational
goals of FES and emphasised that the whole objectives of these
types of seminar is to generate the sense of awareness in society
about the issues of national importance. He said that we are
in the new political juncture and there are issues national
importance which needs broader understanding and careful attention
from all strata of society. Nepal's political process has been
stalled and number of issues could be cited for such a state
of affairs. However, what is also important though is that,
people at large, need to know about certain political terminologies
that have recently floated and the current state of affairs
of Nepali state which are also creating some sort of confusion
to move the political process ahead. It is against this background
that FES has chosen this topic where four different papers will
be presented. Mr Dahal also said that active participation of
people and inclusion of their voices, visions and views increase
legitimacy, people's ownership towards it and provide constitutional
stability thereby constructing active citizenship rather than
citizenship based on consumerism. In the past, Nepal never had
Among four 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 for the material
wellbeing alone is not enough for development - spiritual development
is also necessary as the later can instill the sense of morality
- the basis of civic education. Kashi Raj Dahal, as usual, presented
his paper on constitutional dynamics in Nepal, Prof Lal Babu
Yadav on models of governance and federalism. 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 on the current impasse in
Nepali politics and emphasised that democracy needs participation
of people on the key issues which seems not be the case here.
For these reasons there is a great deal of mismatch what we
teach and what we practice.
Navraj Dotel (Teacher) asked whether the new political
dynamics can address the fluid political situation of the country.
We need to have the provision of death penalty in our constitution
on serious cases such as rape and murder said Mr. Dotel. With
regard to federalism - it has to be done on the basis of geography
and Prime Minister should be directly elected by the people.
Harisharan Upreti enquired where does state sovereignty
lie in Nepal and how does it change in federalism. What power
people will have?
Shyam Sundar Aryal (Teacher) was of the view that we
should not have more federal states in Nepal and federal states
should be drawn on the basis of geography. We can also convert
current five development regions into five federal states, said
Mr. Aryal. There is also urgent need to get rid of this proportional
electoral system as this system has not been delivering properly.
It was more leader-centric than people-centric. It does not
necessarily uphold the idea of really representing those who
cannot represent on their own. In terms of form of government
- we need of parliamentary system of governance in place.
Jayaram Adhikari (Teacher) opined that both the current
electoral systems are ok as they are meant for the CA election
but in the future this process has to be discontinued. He preferred
having Prime Minister directly elected by the people. What is
the minimum educational qualification to become the Prime Minister
of Nepal? Asked Mr. Adhikari. He also wanted to know about the
consequences of 'reservation quota' in the future.
Abhadesh Kumar Chaudhary (Teacher) said that we need
to have stable system of governance and federalism should be
decided on the basis of territory (geography). We need to fix
qualifications for the political leaders and there should not
be too many political parties in the country. We should not
have proportional electoral system and in a country like too
many federal states are not required. What we really need is
powerful President and Prime Minister in the centre. What would
be the role of religion in our society will it create problem
in the days to come given the importance people have given on
Pampha Dhakal asked why more women's were not included
in the election process. Women should be respected both at home
and outside argued Mrs. Dhakal.
Meena Sigdel (Teacher) said that there are some problems
with the current model of inclusion. She was of the view that
it has to be more scientific in practice which can only do justice
to the women.
Radha Bastakoti (Teacher) wanted to know how the word
'dalit' came into being in our society as none of our literature
on dharmasastra talk about this word.
Uma Sigdel (Teacher) asked why citizenship certificate
is not given from mother's name.
Udaya Pathak - RPP-N - wanted to know about right to
self-determination. He also wonwered does it mean (right to
self-determination) the formation of independent state as well.
Bhola Thapa (Teacher) asked why democracy has not become
stable in Nepal. He also asked a question on secularism.
Ram Mani Bartola (Teacher) asked is it good to have
foreign investment in media. If the answer is 'yes' - to what
extent we can go.
Meen Bahadur Adhikari, Chair - School Conducting Committee
- asked what differences secularism and federalism on the basis
of ethnicity will make in our society in the future.
Bishnu Hari Pidari (Teacher) asked how we can make our
political parties transparent.
Uddhab Bidari (Teacher) asked what are the minimum qualifications
to become the Chairman of the School Conducting Committee. We
need to have something on this, said Mr Bdari.
Krishna Prasad Poudel (Teacher) wanted to know whether
constitution will be written on time or not?
Geeta Adhikari (Teacher) said that during the breast
feeding period - women should be given off from the duty.
Ram Hari Bista, Farmer, said that he came to know many
new things from this seminar. He also came to know from the
discussion here that Nepal is mobilised from outside. He also
said that programmes like this should be conducted in other
areas of the country where people would know about rights and
duties in a democracy and particularly in a post-conflict situation.
Nirmala Bista (Teacher) - Nirmal Multiple Campus - she
said that she came to know about many things that are required
for statebuilding. This programme is too short.
Finally, the Chairman of the seminar thanked FES for brining
such an important programme in their college. Democracy can
only grow if the civic political culture is expanded and actors
rise above the partisan interests and engage in collective works
for the collective welfare. 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 towards state building process from
below. As it is evidenced from the discussion herein, we can
observe that there has been great deal of disenchantment against
the current state of political affairs. 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 identify various pitfalls of Nepali democracy and
politics. The issue ranges from foreign policy, democracy, development,
and many more.