Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
19-20 June 2015, Manigram, Rupandehi
Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office has organized a
two day seminar at Manigram in Rupendehi district on 19-20 June,
2015. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship
for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were around 120
participants out of whom 22 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, security personnel, other stake holders
of the society. The programme was jointly organized with Rammani
Multiple Campus and was chaired by its Chairperson Shree Gopal
Bhattarai. 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 has 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 need to rebuild more
resilient and prosperous Nepal. Dahal said that the helping
hand extended to the earthquake victims by various communities'
shows who resilient Nepali society is. He further said that
the spirit of solidarity shown by the communities such as Kamlaris,
Sheikhs, Tharus, Teli, and others is no less. Dahal also highlighted
the importance civic education the role it can play in building
resilient society for the post-quake reconstruction. He further
said that this can also help in enhancing civic political culture
in society which can alone contribute in shaping the democratic
political culture. He said that we have landed in a situation
where many issues need broader discussion and wider societal
participation to move the nationbuilding process ahead. Necessity
of programmes of this nature have also increased primarily because
there has been strong demand from the part of the people that
the state should play more effective role during the time of
crisis such as earthquake in rescue, relief, rehabilitation,
and reconstruction at a time when media highlighted 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.
Welcoming the participants as well as the organizers Campus
Chief Mohan Raj Sharma said that there is an urgent need
to include civic education in our schools and colleges. He said
that the intellectual environment in our country is declining
and needs to be given a serious thought. He thanked FES for
brining all the academics available in the district in the common
platform and this will surely force to rethink our scholars
and political leaders to reinvigorate the academic environment
in our campuses. This will also generate the sense of civic
solidarity among people said Sharma.
Speaking in the inaugural session Chief Education Development
Officer (CEDO) Tek Bahadur Thapa said that we should
all be responsible from our level and realise the fact that
civic acts should begin from our own end rather than expecting
it to happen from others.
Among three papers, Dev Raj 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. Mr. Dahal also expressed his
concern that the regime oriented natures of our political parties
have undermined the very idea of nation-state. Mr. 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 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.
Shiv Prasad Poudyal expressed his concern that why we
have failed to take action against those who have misappropriated
materials that has been given to the conflict victims. He also
enquired difference between civic education and civic consciousness.
For him, while the former comes from the formal education the
latter, for its part, can be achieved without going for the
formal education. He further said that we have everything except
the leaders to move this country ahead.
Lekhnath Pandey was of the view that civic education
should be utilised for the transformation of self rather than
making effort to transform others.
Yagya Gaire, Head Teacher, said that there is an urgent
need to include civic education in the school/college curriculum.
Reshami Raj Gaire was particularly concern that the
fragmentation of land should be stopped at any cost. He further
said that in order to consolidate nationalism - we need to promote
civic education in our schools. Civic education also contributes
in addressing the problem that exists in our society. He made
this point that many countries in the world have progressed
with the help of their own culture. So he made the point that
culture and religion has nothing to do with our backwardness.
Shree Gautam said that it is important to translate
theories into action. Failing to do so will become like a story
of bringing water from Melamchi to Kathmandu.
Kajiman Shrestha, NTUC, was of the view that it is important
to provide civic education to those who are not in this room.
More or less, those who are attending this seminar are aware
of about civic education and have shown some sort of sensitivity
towards society. But it is important that those who are sitting
in the upper echelons of power should know about it. It is also
important to provide such education to our children.
Chakra B Magar asked while building modern state - is
it that we can provide states to each and every ethnic groups
? While it is important that we should include each and every
group in the governance mechanism but despite having two-third
majority, constitution has not been promulgated yet. There is
a debate about religion - should Nepal returned to Hindu state
or continue consolidating secularism. We have been struggling
to establish the identity of Buddha with Nepal but we are not
ready to accept Buddhism as state religion. This would have
sorted out the dilemma of Buddha whether he was born in India
or in Nepal.
Ganga Shahi , NC, was of the view that we should provide
civic education to our children through schools/colleges. She
asked what would be the role of workers in New Nepal. She further
said that we should not bring those people into parliament through
proportional representation system that has lost the election.
Tek Raj Aryal was of the view that political leaders
have important role to play in building modern Nepal and for
that they also need to be aware of civic sense.
Kul P Lamichhane said that it's not only about the people
but it is also important that the institutions of the state
have to be equally responsible towards their duty. Nepali state
has not been doing justice particularly to the teachers. It
signs various agreement(s) with the leadership of the teacher
but such agreements never get implemented. Further, he also
said that we need to be very careful about this.
Suresh Pariyar said that it should not be an issue that
states has become poor, what really troubles us is that when
intellectuals become pauper. Programmes on civic education (like
this) should have been implemented by us rather than having
it from outside.
Chandra Kunwar, School Inspector, apprised various issues
related to school administration. He also expressed his concerned
that civic education should be included in the school curriculum.
Meghraj Acharya, Head Teacher, said that there is a
need to bring about changes in our education system and also
to include the element of civic education in the curriculum.
One Participant (no name given) expressed his concern about
the mismanagement that has taken in the distribution of relief
materials. He also raised role of the donors. There is a huge
gap between the pledge and the real delivery.
Shankar Acharya asked what steps are being taken for
the civic education from the part of the government.
Gahnga Shahi raised the point as how can we reduce the
gap in our education system. The private and the public dilemma
is huge. The discriminatory policies that exist in our education
system should be abolished. She also raised the issue of C K
Raut - who has been openly using indecent languages against
the women of Nepal (mainly the hill origin). She also wanted
to know about the sixteen point agreement(s) and fall out it
would have on our political process.
Gopal Panthi said that the reservation policy adopted
by the state is against the law of the land primarily because
there is a provision equality. But reservation does not necessarily
promote the same.
Tek Nath Aryal wanted to know about secularism vs. Hindu
state. The debate between the two has raged the country.
Tikananda Gautam said that our electoral system is not
transparent and in order to avoid such discrepancies we need
to have certain solid provisions in the constitution.
Ramchandra Shrestha has asked about the philosophy of
Hobbes, Marx and other and their impact in our society. He also
asked why there are only two parties in the developed countries
and many parties in our part of the world.
Usha Lama said that we need to provide civic education
to our children as well.
Surendra S Bishwakarma has raises serious concern about
untouchability and underlined the need to completely abolish
it from our society. The certification of dalits is creating
more problems in society and such provisions should be discouraged.
Bhanubhakta Bhusal asked who we can become a developed
nation when there is huge under spent on capital expenditure.
Chakra B Magar has advocated for the ethnic states.
In concluding seminar Shree Gopal Prasad Bhattarai thanked
FES for organising this seminar. This is a very good programme
and should continue in the future as well. Likewise Shree Guru
Datta Gyanwali also should that we need bring real change n
our society and for that civic education is important. He further
said that organization of such programme itself is a success
as they would help to promote common national identity which
is essential for statebuildingl. 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 society.
Report prepared by CDB/FES