Promoting Active Citizenship for Statebuilding
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
20-21 February 2015, Khopasi, Kavre
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal office recently organised
a two day seminar at Khopasi of Kavre district on 20-21 February,
2015. The theme of the seminar was Promoting Active Citizenship
for Statebuilding in Nepal from Below. There were around 200
participants out of whom 78 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 seminar was chaired by Shree Nani Bahadur
Thapa, Resource Person, of the high schools of the surrounding
areas. There are teachers from 28 schools and two campuses.
The programme is organized in Shree Ram Higher Secondary School,
Kavre. 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.
Jagannath Giri, Farmer, federalism has been already
added in the constitution and speaking against it is unconstitutional.
I think we have to convert five developmental regions into federal
states. This is what Nepali state can sustain as well.
Basant Silwal said that rising number of municipalities
in the country is not necessarily benefiting people which were
not the case with VDCs.
Ramesh Dahal (Not real name) said civic education is
important and it can help state to bring in the right track.
We need to have constitution in time so that we can have political
stability in the country. Do we really need new political power
in the country? The biggest challenge for us is people tend
to stay in the power for the longer period of time and this
has to be reversed so that younger generation can be brought
in. The employee of municipality do not behave properly with
the service recipient and they acts like the Badahakim.
Ms. Sirjana Tamang (student) asked which one is good
between unitary system and federal system, could you please
explain in detail.
Rajan Tamang said that progrmme like this should have
come earlier so that people would have known about various components
of politics, constitution, and civic education. From my point
of view, he argued, constitution cannot merely written by four
people which have been the case here in Nepal. We should try
to include all the groups and stakeholders in the process. He
also asked a practical question as how to get citizenship certificate
of the one who doesn't know about the addresses or whereabouts
her parental house.
Prayag KC inquired as how judiciary and democracy can
function when everything is dominated or influenced by party-politics
that begins right from the appointment of the judges. How can
we minimise the influence of executive over judiciary. This
perhaps is the biggest challenge of ours.
Dwarika Das Shrestha said we have become a state without
constitution. He also said that we need to write constitution
with consensus as none of the parties enjoy absolute majority.
We should not put people in trouble. In the future, we should
not have too many CA members (601 - this number needs to be
brought down). President should be directly elected by the people
- this can also provide political stability in the country.
Rajesh Raj Maharjan, Teacher, was of the view that there
are many reasons why constitution has not been written but the
most important, among others, are the issues of federalism and
the form of government. More importantly, he said, the civil
society is also influenced by NGOs/INGOs. I am sure both political
parties and civil society groups have clearly understood this
fact that the increase influence of 'dollar' has created obstacles
to move the political process ahead.
Ms. Chandra Shrestha, Teacher, asked what type of education
system would best suit our politics that can provide stability
in the country. Why Nepal is becoming weaker day-by-day. She
further said that before the year 2043 BS the focus of Nepali
state was on agriculture and industry which has not been the
case now. How can we reverse this cycle - asked Ms. Shrestha
Bodh Bahadur Khadka asked whether state can have its official
religion or not ? He also asked what secularism is and whether
the upcoming constitution will have only space for religion
There was one more question on secularism and religious tolerance
from another participant who did not wish to disclose his name.
Dushyant Silwal, Teacher, inquired about the Puja Kumar's
case (the alleged rape of Ms Puja Bohara of Baitadi district
by two teen agers. This case has taken centre state particularly
after the decision of appellate court. The court's said that
it did not find not even a single evidence based-on which the
action could be taken against the culprit).
Rajesh Raj Mahat, Lecturer, asked the role of Rana's
in nationalism. He was of the view that Rana's did not have
any love towards the country, whatever they did was to merely
stay in the power. He also enquired about the open market economy's
role in strengthening national economy.
Ram Chandra Satyal asked about the role of Raj Vidhya,
Dev Vidhya, and Aasuri Vidhya. He was of the view that since
Asuri Vidhya has dominated our society and under such circumstances
there are no way that we can have peace in our society. He cited
examples from Mahabharata about statecraft.
Rajan Tamang, Teacher, was of the view that Nepali people
want peace and social harmony in our society. He asked whether
the upcoming constitution can provide the same.
Dev Kaji Tamrakar also asked how can judiciary provide
justice when it has been heavily dominated by those who area
in the power. The politics have negation has become influential
in the country and he cited the examples of late Ganesh Man
Singh and Krishna P. Bhattarai. How have they been deceived
by the party in their later life?
Samiksha Chapagaian, Teacher said that she is very happy
to be part of this seminar. She asked what you mean by handicapped.
How does law explains it?
Jyoti Kumar Sapkota wondered how we can have Press Freedom
when most of the newspapers have become mouth-peace of political
Lalita Acharya Koirala, Teacher, what type of education
system be most suitable for the modern state?
Pradip Tamrakar asked about the some practical (personal
problems) issues related with divorce cases.
Ram Chandra Dahal said that in many of our government
offices the concerned officials do not stay in their cabin and
this has caused nuisance for the people. He also said that please
teach our political leaders about nationalism and the importance
of civic education.
Bharat Raj Mahat, Former VDC Member, was of the view
that the elected representative has become helpless. Political
parties have become more dominant only in imposing their ideas
but not necessary providing ideas that can address the ensuing
political crisis in the country. He asked whether you have ever
advised them if yes what type of advice you have provided to
Haribol KC said that our political leaders think themselves
as the incarnation of god and this has to be changed. What is
secularism asked Mr KC?
Rajesh Mahat inquired how secularism and ethnic state
go can together as the one contradicts the other. He further
asked why we are going to have more states in hilly areas and
less in Terai.
In concluding seminar Ms. Samiksha Chapagai said that this
is very good programme and should l continue in the future.
Likewise another respondent said 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. 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. By conducting seminars in different parts of the country
FES has been successful enough to in identifying the connectors
Report prepared by CDB/FES