Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
8-9 June 2015, Patu, Mahottari
Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office has organized a
two day seminar at Patu, Mahottari district on 8-9 June, 2015.
The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship for
Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were around 133 participants
out of whom 26 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, local
civil servants, other stake holders of the society. The programme
was organized in Janjajagriti Higher Secondary School and was
chaired by Shree Arjun Pokhrel, Principle of the School. This
is the second programme FES has organized after the earthquake
of April/May 2015. The overarching of aim of this seminar was
to promote the confidence building measures among peoples of
various strata as well as to revitalize the sense of civic solidarity
across various societal groups which has been needed to reinforce
community resiliency to address both political as well the problems
caused by the natural disaster. Likewise, programme have had
an objective to 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, at the outset, provided detailed information in relation
to the earthquake and emphasized the need to rebuild more resilient
and prosperous Nepal. Dahal said that the huge surge of goodwill
and compassion of local communities provided strong inclination
for national solidarity and unthinkable magnitude of forgiveness
of past prejudice. He further said that volunteerism of many
minority communities, such as Kamlaris, Sheikhs, Tharus and
Teli society, just to name a few, helped Nepali society to heal
and remove their social and geographical distance for the attainment
of shared goal of human wellbeing. Dahal also highlighted the
importance civic education can play in community mobilization
and mobilizitation of the local resources for the post-quake
reconstruction. This can also help enhancing the democratic
political culture in society which is deficit in Nepali 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. The necessity of programmes
of this nature has also increased primarily because there has
been strong demand for the effective role of the state by the
people during the time of crisis such as earthquake in rescue,
relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction while media highlighted
the not so positive role of political parties and other non-state
agencies. 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 in the light of great
earthquake. He also provided the current state of affairs of
relief and reconstruction in various earthquake hit area.
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.
Purnahari Subedi said that the upcoming constitution
should incorporate duties of the citizens in addition to the
rights in order to strike a right balance in society.
Kurmahari Subedi highlighted local problems (problems
relating to the bridge that is to be built over Ratukhola).
He pointed out that the Nepali civil servants neither tries
to understand the problems nor do they take issues seriously.
Their main job, over the years, has been to blame people, in
one way or other, whereas they are the one who have been promoting
corruption in Nepal society. He pointed out that civil servants
(specially the high-ranking officers) are found to have been
distributing citizenship certificate illegally (mostly in Terai)
and there are many evidences to prove this claim. He also said
that political leaders always prefer to stay in power and also
think they know everything. Like political leaders, they do
have a tendency to blame others and impose everything over the
Kurmahari also expressed his frustration that exists in our
legal system and underlined the need to carry out overhauling
of such a system for the swift delivery of justice for all.
Uddhav Bhattarai, UML, argued that the land use policy
should be brought. In the absence of land use policy there has
been haphazard urbanization process in Nepal. He also asked
what provision are there in the upcoming constitution with regard
to women's rights, that is, particularly the rights relating
over the body of women which appears to have been misunderstood.
Kumar Dahal, NC, was of the view that, in recent times,
there are women's who are found to have been performing multiple
marriages merely for the property as they keep on divorcing
one after another. How can we stop this asked Mr Dahal as it
has created many social problems in our society.
Ganesh Basnet also highlighted the problem relating
to the bridge over Ratukhola. He pointed out that why policy
has not been constructed as yet despite commitments made by
Ambika Bhujel, NGO Personnel, was of the view that there
is great deal of necessity to change our existing education
system which does not necessarily provide education that can
help society to function peacefully. She has also argued that
the role of women needs to be further expanded. She also asked
as what civic education truly play to uphold the society together?
What benefit can it offer to the people to the society? She
also asked as which state can be stated modern and which not.
Sani Bhandari, Rastriya Sanskrit Vidalaya was also of
the view that there is a great deal of importance to increase
the quality of our education. She also said that if the society
is educated the violence against women certainly will subside.
Adak B Baniya was of the view that we should fix certain
educational qualification to become parliamentarians. He was
also of the view that political leaders speak one thing and
do another. For example they talk about equality with the people
but they do not really try to make policies that promote equality
when they got to power.
Sharada Thapa said that those who are found guilty of
raping should be given maximum punishment and such cases should
be dealt through fast-track.
Jaya Narayan Sharma said that in this programme we talked
about so many issues but not really covered the role of the
state. He also said that we need to bring necessary changes
in our existing education system and there is an urgent need
to include the component of civic education therein.
Doma Shahi Bista asked a question relating to citizenship
certificate particularly in a situation when Nepali women marries
the foreigner and children's born thereof.
Saraswati Chaudhary said that in the upcoming constitution
should have a provision of have women candidates in each and
every election as this ensure their participation on the politics.
In concluding seminar Shree Arjun Pokhrel thanked FES for organising
this seminar. This is a very good programme and should continue
in the future as well. 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 recent
times, many obstacles have come up particularly after the earthquake.
Such obstacles can be addressed with the enhanced community
resiliency at various layers of society. This also helps to
build civic political culture in the days to come. Civic education,
the main theme of these seminars, also help 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 in harmonising state-society relations.
By conducting seminars in different parts of the country FES
has been successful enough in identifying the connectors of
Report prepared by CDB/FES