Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
6-7 June 2015, Ranigunj, Siraha
Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office has organised a
two day seminar at Raniganj, Sarlahi of district on 6-7 June,
2015. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship
for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were around 135
participants out of whom 40 were females and it was chaired
by Uttam Raj Ghimire. 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 was organized in Ishwarpur Municipality. This is the first
programme FES has conducted after the earthquake of April/May
2015. The overarching 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 of Nepali society which has been needed
to reinforce community resilience to address both political
as well as the problems caused by the natural disaster. In addition
to this the programme had broader 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, put forward 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 well-being. Dahal also highlighted the
importance of civic education and role it can play in community
mobilization and mobilisitation of the local resources for the
post-quake rebuilding. This can also help enhancing the 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. 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.
Shanta Rijal was of the view that we should not send
women as migrant workers without building their skills and capacity.
She also said that the state should not merely aim to send people
outside of the country. We should rather focus generating job
within the country.
Sitaram Karki said that our constitution talks about
the fundamental rights but there is no opportunity available
within the country to fulfill those rights stated in the constitution.
There has been rampant corruption in our society and deep political
instability. Poor people of this country cannot avail quality
education. The ethnic politics have pushed poor people further
behind in the social radar. Dalits have little opportunity.
We need to identify the poor not jatis per se (ethnic community
Ganesh Thakur said that poor people of this country
have no or little access to the justice society. The justice
system only serves the interests of the rich capitalistic class.
He further asked are there any ways by which the poor also can
get the justice in this country.
Meen B Karki asked whether inclusionary system floated
in Nepal is in line with social justice.
Krishna Gautam, UCPN (M) also expressed his frustration
with the existing state of political affairs and said that everything
is moving towards reverse direction. The developmental approaches
are leader centric. Agriculture is not in priority. Education
is commercialized. Farmers are not getting the benefits from
the state and its agencies to enhance farming and also to enhance
their enterprising approaches. Civic education needs to be given
to the people even those who are living in the rural areas.
Kedar Ghimire said that political leaders and people
at large should move in tandem with the statebuilding process
in Nepal. He also enquired why political leaders should not
be required to have certain qualifications to become the parliamentarians.
Why fundamental rights (32 listed in the interim constitution)
but not really brought into the implementation phase.
Dhruba Gautam asked when P N Shah unified Nepal whether
staebuilding or nationbuilding approaches are accomplished or
not. What type of state should we envision now? He was of the
view that the people who are in higher echelons of state affairs
(including politics) badly need civic education. The rampant
corruption that exists at the higher level needs to be eradicated
and for that we need to adopt many methods including through
the civic education as well.
Yog Raj Pathak asked what type of modern state is this
where democracy is limited within the circle of political class
only. We are not yet clear as what type of people should join
politics. He said that there has to be license process to come
into the politics. There is no uniformity in our education system.
We say that education for all but the books for the same come
from different industries (he was hinting the sharp anomalies
that exists in our education system).
Bishnumani Ghimire asked who is running this state and
what the limitations of CIAA. What is our own responsibility
with respect to statebuilding, democracy promotion, and civic
Hem Gautam said that teachers of public school in this
country are not putting their children in the same school where
they teach. Instead they choose to send them boarding schools.
We have to reverse this process. He further asked how we can
increase the economic resources of the country.
Bharat Gautam was of the view that during the recent
earthquake we found the role of Nepal army more positive and
that of political parties and civil servant very hopeless and
this has compelled many people to increase the number of army
and reduce the civil servants. Nepal Army and other security
forces should be involved in the reconstruction f this country.
Nareandra Pakhrin advised that we should not allocate
quotas for dalits, janjatis, and madhesi. We should instead
empower them through education. As the quotas allocated for
them are hijacked by those who are already better off in society.
The resources that have come from the international community
and donors has also been usurped by the elites irrespective
of their caste, class, and ethnicity.
Shova Shrestha said that state should pay urgent attention
to the issue of women as there are increases cases of violence
against women. The tendency to protect criminals should be discouraged
in society as most of the criminals are protected by the parties
and the groups closely linked with parties.
The Prinicpal of the school said that we need to adopt the
democratic system that is suitable for our country and this
certainly could be none other than social democratic model.
Yadav P Adhikari asked what type of education can help
to build modern Nepal. While everybody (mainly the youths) are
migrating from the country, who will built the state. So there
is need to promote economy that can hold people back in the
Hridayanarayan Mahato said that the voice in favour
of federalism was raised long time back by Ram Raja Prasad Singh
, Gajendra Narayan Singh and later by the Maoists, Madhesis
and Janjati. Therefore there is an urgent need to fulfill this
demand by the state as it has been long overdue.
Amrit Chaudhary said that the provision of reservation
is not really practical in Nepal and there is a need to reflected
on the existing policies. Only those who have been historically
left behind in many ways should be given reservations not the
all. He also said that there is an urgent need to improve the
quality of community schools in Nepal.
Harinarayan Shah said we need to be clear on education
policy as its is importance to uplift people's living standard
wherever they come from and whoever they are.
Asha Karki there are ascetic and religious persons in
our society and there is need to provide religious education
in our schools as well.
Deepak Dhungel appealed that the disable persons should
be given special provision to lead their life with respect and
Prakash Mainali said that the Hulaki Rajmarga has been
built for the security point of view and the state should pay
attention to it. Likewise, we have been cheated in Tanakpur
and now in Lipulek.
Muna Dahal Upadhyay thanked the organizers for bringing
such an excellent programme even during this time of national
crisis. She said that there is an urgent need to bring about
positive changes in our political culture and it has not been
changed over the years. Everything else has changed. Therefore
there is an urgent need to change our school curriculum that
can teach civic education which ultimately will help to build
civic political culture.
Balram Polkhrel also thanked the organizer for the porgammed
and said that the experts in this country are divided. There
is an urgent need to promote economy so that we can stop our
youngsters going abroad for job. He further asked why our Bank
do not trust the labour who, at the end of the day, are the
backbone of our economy.
Hemraj Gautam also asked about the need of land use
policy in the country.
Babukaji Pradhan said that though Nepal is agricultural
country but there are no marketing provisions to do the same.
He said that there is no proper policy for agriculture in Nepal
Sansari Maya expressed her concern that as how best
we can address our problems locally.
Bishnu Prasad Timilsina said that we all have to be
morally very strong.
In the concluding seminar, speaking from the chair, Uttam Raj
Ghimire thanked participants for their valuable time in such
scorching heat. He further said that there is an urgent need
to inculcate positive thinking in our minds and also our approach
should change for the better. This is a very good programme
and should continue in the future. 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 and the situation has further changed with the
recent crisis brought about by the earthquake. Such obstacles
can be addressed with the promotion of civic education at various
layers of society as it will further enhance societal resilience.
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 to harmonise state-society relations. By conducting
seminars in different parts of the country FES has been successful
enough to in identifying the connectors of society.
Report prepared by CDB/FES