Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
12-13 April 2014, Khurkot, Sindhuli
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
(FES) Nepal office recently organised a two day seminar in Khurkot
of Sindhuli district on 12-13 April, 2014. The theme of the
seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding in
Nepal from below. The seminar was attended by 118 persons out
of which 43 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.
The seminar was organised in Bhimjyoti Higher Secondary School
and was chaired by Yagya Rai of Bhim Jyoti Campus. 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 stated
that the programmes like this can contribute in generating the
sense of awareness in society about the issues of national importance.
They can also contribute in knowledge building from the local
context. With regard to the politics, he said that Nepal is
the difficult political juncture and there are issues that need
broader understanding and careful attention from all strata
of society. He said that issues like model of governance, economy,
foreign policy, social policy, federalism needs rigorous deliberations.
Democracy needs not only participation but the active participation
of people which can glean their voices, visions and views and
thereby include them into the future polity. Such an exercise
increases legitimacy of politics in society as it enhances people's
ownership in the decision making process. Consideration of these
factors can generate constitutional stability in the country
and also construct the notion of active citizenship in contrast
to the citizenship merely based on consumerism. In addition
to the welcome speech, Mr Dahal also talked about the state-society
interface in Nepal during this presentation. He said that Nepali
society has expanded beyond its concurrent 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
Kashi Raj Dahal, as
usual, presented various issues related to constitution, models
of governance, and models of federalism and highlighted on other
legal issues. Likewise 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 speaker Yubaraj Ghimire, Senior Journalist
also spoke about the role of media in satebuilding. He also
talked about the duty of journalist - which is objectively inform
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.
Dinesh K Bhattarai
asked differences between democracy, loktantra (folk democracy),
and ganatantra (republicanism).
inquired whether the decisions taken by the judges are always
true in their spirit. Do they follow the concept of 'brahama
naya' or provide their verdict on the basis of evidences for
that matter. I am confident of the fact that the latter method
does not necessarily provide justice acceptable to all. I have
a feeling that the current model of delivering justice is entirely
based on 'law'. If the laws are not correct or acceptable by
all - how can one provide justice asked Devkota?
Dil Bahadur Basnet
asked about the justice system of Jung Bahadur Rana
One anonymous participant
asked what type of justice is 'abortion' - can it be justifiable?
Deepak Bohara (Teacher)
asked what is Nepali nationalism? There are different approaches
of understanding nationalism in Nepal - every political party
has their own interpretation of nationalism. Are there any provisions
in the international law to acquire the land (territory) that
Nepal lost in the Saugauli Treaty asked Bohara. He also enquired
why political leaders of Nepal are not serious on this issue.
He said there must be some provisions in the UN Charter for
Prakash Devkota (Teacher)
enquired, in the context of Nepal, who are the state bearing
Dhan Bahadur Thapa
said that the developmental works are not moving ahead in the
country and suggested mobilising consumers committee to speed
up the same.
Padam Lal Devkota
has expressed his concern that we are destroying jungle, land,
and water - how can we be happy under such a state of affairs.
(Teacher) asked why Nepal has not been able to write a constitution
despite the successful election of 2064 BS. This programme of
statebuilding should have been brought then.
D. B. Rana wanted
to know about civil code and orderly society - the interface
between the two.
One participant asked
why Rautes are not allowed to enter villages.
Rukmini Koirala (Teacher)
asked who Nepal can sustain these 601 CA members. She also said
that we are discussing about building modern state but at the
same time we are engaged in sending our youths to abroad. Under
such a state of affairs, how can we build our state? She also
asked in our country women's are higher in number but they are
less represented in the state mechanism including politics.
said that we had very little knowledge of politics but by participating
in this seminar we came to know about many things about politics.
This is my first participation in a programmes like this and
I have feeling that these types of programmes are important
for society as they help us to understand many things.
Finally Yagya Rai,
Chair of the two-day programme, thanked the organisers on behalf
of the participants. He said that programmes like this can help
a lot to generate civic sense in our society and he wholeheartedly
requires the organisers to come again.
Democracy can only grow
if the civic political culture is expanded and actors rise above
the partisan interests and engage in collective work 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 successful
enough to identify various pitfalls of Nepali democracy and
politics. The issue ranges from foreign policy, democracy, development,
and many more. By and large, these pitfalls need to be addressed
by the state only then we can think of building a functional
state that stand for the people.