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Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding in Nepal

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

21-22 March 2015, Kabilash, Chitwan


Introduction

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised a two day seminar at Kabilash of Chitwan district on 21-22 February, 2015. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding in Nepal from below. There were around 160 participants out of whom 66 were females. Among others, participants of the seminar came from various walks of life 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 held in the Hall of Kabilash Village Development Committee which is located in the premises of Shree Kabilash Higher Secondary School. Kabilash Higher Secondary School serves as the Resource Centre for the 26 schools of two VDCs of Chitwan and Tanhu District. The inaugural session of was chaired by the Chief District Education Officer Shree Damodhar Acharya. During his inaugural speech thanked FES for organising seminars of this kind in schools. He said that civic education needs to be included in our curriculum as compulsory subject as of new it is just optional subject. He further said that civic education helps people to achieve holistic knowledge and it helps fosters then notion of civic nationalism. The knowledge, skills, and prosperity are three domains which should be included in our education system along with civic education. The tendency to close public schools and replace them with private ones should be discouraged said Mr Acharya. Mr Acharya also promised to provide civic education trainings through Resource Persons of the school 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, political impasse and constitutional process in Nepal.

Proceedings

Speaking in the inaugural session Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal, highlighted the importance of civic education and the role it can play in building democratic political culture in society.

Quoting German Philosopher Immanuel Kant he said that civic enlightenment requires the liberation of citizen and leader from family, civic and pious tutelages with the ability to think and reflect and exercise freedom in personal and public lives. 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. This area is largely populated by the tribal ethnic group called 'Chepang' and is one of the backward region of Chitwan district. 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 in Nepal. He underlined the importance of civic education and its role in building prosperous society. In addition to this Kashi Raj Dahal also provided various examples of civic education and requested all the participants to be honest towards their duty.

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

Dev Bahadur Gurng asked how much hydroelectricity Nepali state can generate in a year. He further said there differing information regarding the same.

Buddhiman KC, Teacher, commented on the water policy between India and Nepal. He said that Nepali land is getting inundated as India diverts waters toward Nepal during the rainy season.

Navaraj Pokhrel asked the differences between nation and state.

Rishiram Dhakal enquired about Nepal's total boundary in the context of border dispute between Nepal and India.

Saraswati Mulmi asked questions about land registration, that is, whether the land with proper map provided by the government can be registered in the individuals name or not.

Dhanmaya Lama, Teacher, put a question to Kashiraj Dahal as how best settle cases related with divorce.

Radhika Bhattarai, Teacher, asked why there has been no arrest of security personnel who was found to have been in the cases related to rape. She further said that the particular individual has been protected by the security personnel themselves.

Kedaranath Poudyal asked why a state is not providing jobs to the youths within the country alone. He further asked your programme is focusing more on engaging youths in the employment with the country but it looks otherwise in practice. He urged state to come up with alternative employment policy for that investment in agriculture would be best.

Takaram Poudyal was particularly concerned about the increased rape cases in the country and appealed government to come up with concrete policies.

Bishnu Maya Gurung was of the view that we need to have a prosperous Nepal and education is most important for that. She further argued that everybody should have equal access to it.

Padam Pani Poudyal said that we need to convert five development regions into federal states rather than crafting separately.

Ram Kumari Gurung said that we need to speed up the process of decentralization and which has not been the case. People are facing a lot of problems because they have to go to Kathmandu even merely to get a permission to do some business in most of the cases and one such example is if anybody would like to put a shot near wild-life sanctuary - he or she has to go to Kathmandu for to get the permission for the same.

Rishiram Dhakal stressed that we need to have quality education for all.

Prem Baral - Teacher- said that teachers are performing various roles in society but their job is not recognized by the state.

Dhan Maya Gurung - Teacher - raised the problem associated with temporary and contract teachers of the schools. This has to be resolved.

Pradyumna Khadka , VDC Secy - pointed a very important question related to budget allocation by the government. He was of the view that there has been great deal of discrepancy - but it has been allocated on the basis of 'population' not on the basis of 'land-mass'. He argued that while the latter requires more budget for the development compared to the former. This dichotomy needs to be addressed.

Eknath Gurung asked the need to protect forest and appealed that the Presidential decree that has been applied in the Chure hills needs to be expanded to other parts of the country as well.

Ek Narayan Poudyal, Head Teacher, thanked FES for organising the seminar in the schools and informed that there are teachers participating in the seminar from 26 schools from two districts.

Conclusion

In concluding seminar Ms. Laxmi Gurung, Teacher, from Kabilash Higher Secondary School gave an evaluation speech on behalf of participants. She said that she liked the programme and is most successful. Likewise, the VDC Secretary Mr Pradyumna Khadka promised to disseminate 10 points resolution adopted by the seminar in all the schools of the region. He further said that he will put a calendar explaining resolutions through 42 groups that exists in the region. He also asked to organize another seminar on the other side of the district which is relatively remote. Finally, Chairman of the seminar thanked FES for bringing such a wonderful programme in their region. He has, in principle, also expressed his commitment to be abided by the resolutions that was adopted at the end of the seminar. By and large, when it comes to the point of civic education and statebuilding process - programmes like these appears to have been contributing and making a great deal of impact enhance peace and stability in society. This also helps to build civic political culture in society. 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 reveals that there is a great deal of frustration towards the current political issues and federalism and inclusion have become the major bone of contention. Sudden arrival of these issues for mere political benefit has radicalised Nepali society. This needs to be fixed-up for the better, prosperous and shared future.

Report prepared by CDB/FES

 
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