Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
17-18 April 2015, Dharapani, Dhanusha
Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office has organised a
two day seminar at Dharapani of Dhanusha district on 17-18 April,
2015. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship
for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were around 132
participants out of whom 17 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 programme was jointly organised with Mulabari
Higher Secondary School, Dharapani. 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.
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 in Nepal. Senior Journalist
Shree Yubaraj Ghimire talked about role of media in statebulding.
He said that for democracy to function, state needs to be free.
He further said that democracy, nationalisms, and sovereignty
are dependent on each other. Accountability plays major role
in democracy but, in our case, Nepalese political leaders are
not accountable to the people. In contrast, they appear to more
accountable towards the internal community or foreign powers
for that reason. Political leaders who have promised to deliver
constitution have failed to do so and should have said sorry
to the people but that has not been the case. Many of them chose
to provide clarification to the outside world but not to their
own fellow citizens. This has drastically reduced the trust
between people and political leaders at large.
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.
Similarly in the seminar, District Education Officer (DEO)
Shree Shankar Kumar Karki also expressed his opinion about the
need of the civic education. He said, since the start of the
Maoist insurgency in 1996 - there has been sharp erosion on
our moral values. The exclusion of moral education and Sanskrit
in the school and college curriculum has resulted in a moral
decay in our society. He emphasised that state should take initiatives
to this end as only civic education built on cosmopolitian values
can enhance statebuilding process and enrich our outlook in
the world. He opined that materialism is not everything as has
been championed by many political parties of post-1990s era.
He also highlighted problems that existed in our education sector.
He also said that teachers should not engage in profession other
than teaching as has been the extant cases here.
Surya Narayan Yadav was of the view that federalism
has been a major problem of this country but many of us still
don't what is it all about, how can it be good and bad. We also
yet don't know why federalism is required in the country - is
it for development or for any other purposes. We don't see federalism
in your banner as well. He also said that we should create equal
conditions for all - be it in education, health or in other
areas. Migrant workers are contributing heavily to the national
economy but there is nothing for their children. They are not
getting opportunity even to study in good schools. There is
no problem between our two communities - hill and Tarai. It
has been merely flared up by the political leaders for their
own benefit. Corruption has been legalised in the country and
political leaders are vying to the foreign embassies to become
minister in their own country. This is the reality of our post
Mahesh Thakur, Teacher said that the biggest challenge
here in Nepal is to implement the agreements that were made
in the past. It appears that if these agreements are not respected
or implemented - this certainly will create a problem in the
country. Most of the agreements are contradictory in nature
as one contradicts with the other in many cases. He further
said that having too many political parties signifies the culture
of feudalism. When Communists parties were in power, in fact,
they have been in power on rotation basis since 2006, but they
have failed to work for the poor and powerless which the claim
to work for.
Palsang Yonzon argued that P N Shah, the unifier of
Nepal, has said that Nepal is a common garden that comprises
'chhar jaat 36 varna' but in reality only certain groups have
flourished and it has created great deal of problem. Therefore
there is an urgent need to change this practice.
Shradha Lama said that women's are behind in every respect
all over the world and there is an urgent need to bring women
out of the kitchen and for that we need to increase opportunities
in the education and employment sector. This will also minimise
domestic violence against women. State should play active role
to this end and more awareness programmes need to be brought
Shyam Yadav asked the role of international agencies
and foreign powers in the constitution writing process of Nepal.
He also argued that the debate on human rights is pushing us
behind. There are not human rights in China but the country
is far ahead economically.
Shatrughan Shah said that political parties should have
played a crucial role in drafting constitution but that didn't
happen and we should collective boycott them. We have already
had CA election twice and it should not happen third time.
Palsang Yonzon also criticised the role of political
leaders. He was of the view that constitution should be written
One anonymous participant said that why judiciary is not transparent
in Nepal whereas everything else has to be transparent. Similarly,
CA also needs to be transparent.
Shradha Lama said why there is no rule of law in our
country and why rules and regulations are not implemented in
the country. She further said that we need to have separate
economic and social policy. Likewise, women should have fifty
percent right in the property. There are widespread cases of
rape in the country and there is an urgent need to change attitude
Tej Narayan Yadav asked what the indictors to major
poverty are. Voters need to be educated in Nepal. Only enlightened
voters can elect good candidates which in turn will bring changes
in our society. Why there is no discussion about economic democracy
asked Yadav? Why agriculture is not priority in our country
? He further said that unless agriculture is not given priority
- we cannot develop. Why the issue of secularism has been floated
in Nepal as there was no demand for the same ?
Mahendra Yadav, Teacher, asked why there is a separate
bus for women but not for the men.
Jogeshwor was of the view that we need to introduce age bar
for political leaders as it will provide opportunity to the
younger people in the politics. Equally important is introducing
the provision of minimum qualification in politics.
Chakra Bahadur Biswokarma asked whether human rights
are peace loving or prefer revolution?
Mahesh Thakur said that we need to introduce moral education
in our schools as this will create an environment where materialism
and spiritualism can converge. Therefore the challenge that
lies ahead of us is how to boost up morality in our society.
Teachers should be selected on the basis of meritocracy which
has not been the case until know. He further said that there
are too many 'organisations' in education sector but what we
need is professional associations not the associations/organisations
aligned with political parties which cannot necessarily contribute
positively as they often advocate on behalf their party lines.
Ram Sagar Thakur said that we need to introduce some
fresh methods in the education sector that can bring about positive
change in our society.
Mohan Baral asked why government has not fixed rates
for the sugarcane. This is badly affecting farmers.
Laxmi Narayan Mandal also expressed his concern that
government is not serious on the demands of farmers - be it
fixing the price of sugarcane or any other stuffs. He further
lamented that political leaders are dividing our society which
is, as of now, is in intact conditions even in the Madhes. He
further said that there is an urgent need to have programmes
like this in our villages which can alone change the society.
Jyoti Karna, Teacher, pointed out that many guardians
are not sending their kids to the government run schools. They
prefer private schools and private schools are located just
close by the government schools.
Dil Bahadur, Farmer, suggested that meetings like this
should be organised even in the rural areas as people can benefit
a lot from it. He blamed that the farmers don't own agriculture
land. It has been hijacked by land mafias. Rich people are exploiting
everything (including nature) to make more money and this will
have serious consequences in our society.
In concluding remarks Shree Mahesh Thakur said that there is
an urgent need to inculcate positive thinking in our minds.
This is a very good programme and should be continued in the
future. Likewise another respondent also appreciated the programme.
He further said that such activities would help to promote common
national identity which is essential for statebuilding in Nepal.
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. By conducting
seminars in different parts of the country FES has been successful
enough in identifying the connectors of society.
Report prepared by CDB/FES