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Resilient Nation Building through Civic Education

Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal Office

24-25 March 2016, Jumla & 26-27 March 2016, Kalikot

By Drishti Bhattarai


Civic awareness among the youths is of utmost importance. FES is, among the few organizations, which is continuously striving towards enhancing the education level of public by making them more actively engage in the knowledge-gaining process. Civic education is, a major priority, in developing nations, like ours.

The two-day program, which was held in the hills of Jumla and Kalikot district of Nepal, was focused on raising the level of awareness through civic education. It was basically focused on the provisions made in the Nepal's constitution 2072, Status of women's rights along with opportunities and challenges, and political and economic conditions of the nation. Ms. Samira Paudel, the Program Assistant of FES, was actively engaged in establishing relationship with local coordinator of Jumla and Kalikot district, which facilitated for the smooth operation and execution of the program. Local coordinator's active engagement sufficed to the ultimate success of the program. The program highlights and information was also communicated through local media houses and newspaper, both in Jumla as well as Kaliktot. This shows that public is highly interested in political stability and establishing a level of understanding in civic education.

Nepal's Constitution 2072 B.S.

Mr. Ganesh Dutta Bhatta, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at Faculty of Law, Tribhuvan University

Nepal's Constitution is the utmost law. Its significance and importance can be witnessed through the wide coverage into every sector. Nepal's Constitution 2072 was promulgated on 20th of September, 2015 which was signed by 89% i.e. 537 constituent members out of 598 members. This is the seventh constitution of the nation, specifically of Nepalese people, after 2007 B.S., 2015 B.S., 2019 B.S., 2023 B.S., 2046 B.S. and 2063 B.S. political instability. This constitution has 308 articles along with nine annexes and preamble.

In 2004 B.S., Nepal's Government First Legal Act was developed. After the end of Rana Regime, first Interim constitution was drafted in 2007 B.S., but it was brought to an end in 2015 B.S. with promulgation of New Constitution. In 2017 B.S., King Mahendra took over the government and in 2019 B.S., Panchayat System was introduced along with the promulgation of New Constitution. The long-term sustainability of Panchayat System was questionable due to its nature, which led to introduction of Multi Party Parliament System in 2046 B.S. Amendment was done in Nepal's Constitution 2019 in 2023 B.S., 2032 B.S. and 2037 B.S. Moreover, with the end of Maoist Insurgency in 2062/63 B.S., new turn in political scenario of Nepal was felt and Interim Constitution of Nepal 2062/63 B.S. was introduced. After eight long years of political tussle and second election of constituent bodies, New Constitution 2072 B.S. of Nepal was finally drafted. This constitution has incorporated the voice of people of all diverse societies and regions. It is the representation of the identity, culture, values, regions, ethnic groups, gender, equity and equality of the citizens of the nation.

The major features of the Nepal's Constitution 2072 B.S. are secularity, independent judiciary, unicameral legislative, fundamental rights, civic freedom, provision of inclusion, inclusive electoral system, multi- party democratic system, federal state, bi-cameral federal parliament, executive rights vested on council of members, citizenship provisions, provision on registration and operation of political parties etc. Nepal's Constitution 2072 B.S. was formulated with the consent of large number of constituent members which makes it very praiseworthy. It has incorporated all diverse sectors of the society. This constitution shows high determination, which is good as well as troublesome. Few challenges can held it back. All the previous constitution became a failure as they couldn't implement and execute it properly. Being too good, many constitution experts have raised their concern regarding its proper execution.

From the floor

Satya Bahadur Shahi raised the concern that did you educate people of Kathmandu Valley especially 601 parliamentarians? Instead of teaching us about civic education, why don't you orient the valley? Dharma Raj Shahi said that this civic education is very useful as we got to know about many things. Is it possible to promote a nation in international platform if we have these reseources? Nanda Raj Dhaman requested to focus on overall development of Karnali region. How were the Constitutiona l experts involved during the constitution writing process? Khem Bahadur Singh asked on which political roots are we standing, present or future? Constitution development process is a drama. How will you address the problem of citizenship collection, passport collection, etc? Your presentation emphasized more on judiciary, why so? Prem Raj Shimkhada elaborated that this workshop regarding civic education is very useful and helpful as we got to know lots of things. It is useful to educate cadres of party rather than us as they have wide reach. Tara Keshar Dahal suggested that if all development sectors are self-educated, country will develop automatically. Criminals realized their mistakes and became politicians whereas politicians are going towards being criminals, why? Daya Chandra Adhikari suggested that we need to know what type of youth to produce. Is there agricultural school to educate youths about agriculture process? Ajay Giri said that Karnali is very under-developed region, why hasn't anything been done for it's development? Previously, we used to export heavily now we have to import heavily. Why haven't any policies develop? Maiya Malla asked why hasn't any organization dedicated to women issue development?

Teknath Shahi gave an important analysis that foreign labor migration is high which has kept many lands barren. Loan is given to people who built houses rather than to those who does agriculture. Where is the policy? Political involvement is high, landscape is another problem - major technical difficulties. Daman Shahi has given an important suggestion we, Nepalese, have high patience, resilience power. We are hopeful that you will bring these issues in the limelight of nation.

Ganesh Bhatta elaborated that even the central is worried about Karnali region. Until and unless work culture is developed, even if 100 constitutions are brought nothing will happen. It is important to teach root level people than people at the top level.

State building through political and economic development

Mr. Prakash Giri, News Chief of Sagarmatha Television and Media Expert

Is the model of development brought by Western philosopher a failed approach in the context of developing countries? After being free from the Rana regime in 2007 B.S, the concept of development was brought into democratic Nepal. But even after 65 years, the nation hasn't made a significant and radical improvement in the path of development. A country's overall development is determined by the political and economic stability. There are three reasons behind the political instability in Nepal: Clash of Political Ideologies, Ethnicity-based and Regional challenges and Foreign intervention.

Without a leader, a country won't have long-term vision to be self-sufficient and prosperous. Why don't we have a proper leader? External forces and foreign bodies mostly influence our leaders. John Seaman Garns, "Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination". The political journey in Nepal has taken many turns from the dictatorship rule of Rana regime for 100 years, then the birth of democracy to seizure of power during Panchayat System and with the introduction of multiparty system. These political turnovers have affected the overall development process of the nation. In t he dusk of democracy, highly motivated leaders were born. But the political politics couldn't sustain the high- achiever leaders.

In 2071/72 B.S., 1 billion agro-products were imported. In 1960/61 AD, around 40 million worth food- items and animals were imported while in this year only 150 million worth was imported. Previously, Nepal used to export large quantities to India, Singapore, Britain, France, Japan and South Africa. In 2051 B.S., rice used to be exported to Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, South Korea and Singapore. However, at present we have been import-oriented nation. In Nepal 78%, people are dependent upon agriculture. Nevertheless, huge amount of agricultural products are imported from other nations. Our economy has been remittance-based where 13% of the total budget depends on remittance. In 2071/72 B.S., 0.5 million people went to foreign labor. Out of this 0.2 million went to Malaysia only. Earthquake and Blockade has disrupted the overall economy of the nation. For the reconstruction of the nation, youths are of high priority. But, how to develop in the shortage of youths? 23.8% people are below poverty line in Nepal. This data has increased after the earthquake and blockade.

Citizens are the power of any nation. There are four things that nation must priorities: proper utilization of power, collection of taxes, accountability to the government and gaining support of foreign power. In the absence of leader, failure is seen in series of initiatives that must have been taken by the government. Thus, the importance of civic education prevails. When citizens are educated and aware, they can raise their voice to the government.

Women's rights in Nepal's Constitution: Challenges and Opportunities

Ms. Pabitra Raut, Advocate and Law teacher of Nepal Law Campus

Is securing position of women in various sectors of government organizations justified as they are treated equal? Nepal's Constitution 2072 has given privilege to women involvement in different areas. However, is that enough or justified?

Women are still discriminated on the basis of their gender. No wonder why we don't have women participation in the higher level policies-making process. Nepal's new Constitution has brought new hopes and aspirations for the people, especially for women. In state building, three things should be considered regarding women's involvement: their reach in public forum, their participation during policies formulation process and women's involvement from local level. Women involvement must be addressed, but prior to that these areas must be considered: citizenship issuance, women's rights, participation of women in executive, judiciary and legislative and women involvement in local level.

Issuance of citizenship through mother is one of the highly debatable issues. Our constitution doesn't clearly specify this provision due to various complexities. Although our constitution talks about gender equality, reality doesn't state so. Hundreds of cases have been filed, where youths are restricted from obtaining citizenship through their mother. This has left the young population empty-handed. When Nepali men marry a foreigner, the child born from her receives Nepali Citizenship whereas when a Nepali woman marries a foreigner, the child born from her receives Naturalized Citizenship. Clause 38 of the constitution talks about various rights that are utilized by women. Some of them are: Safe and secure maternity, equal treatment to women on any grounds, no discrimination on gender-basis, equal rights to both gender in family matters, opportunities to women in every sector, etc. These are few among the vast array of rights given to women, but it is yet to see how much effective will it be?

Legislative, Executive and Judiciary are the three important bodies of the government. Nepal's Constitution 2072 talks about various provisions and opportunities given to women in these three bodies of the government. However, when we talk about local level participation of women, they are mostly ignored. Does giving opportunity and including various provisions related to women in higher-level justifies equality, when their voice is ignored at the local level?

Place: Jumla, Nepal

From the floor

Bishnu Maya Buda raised the concern that supposes the woman is pregnant with baby but the woman dies after giving birth, and the father runs away. Isn't that baby the responsibility of that man? Women is killed, but where is justice given to her? 'Chaupada Pratha' is still prevalent in our society, where is justice? Harsa Bahadur Thapa questioned why we worship west in Nepal? Constitution is only written in paper, why? Women in Jumla aren't constitutionally privileged, how can we override this? There must be a women lawyer in Jumla.

Pabitra Raut said that more women lawyer or representatives are needed in Jumla. People needs to understand the importance of education to be aware in order the concern of 'Chaupada Pratha', regarding justice providing mechanisms.

Place: Kalikot, Nepal

From the floor

Nawaraj Sharma asked why death penalty isn't in the provision of the constitution, despite large voice heard from the women in the case of rape? Lekhnath Kharel compared the education system of Sri Lanka and Nepal based on merit. Our education system doesn't focus on making people smart, skill-oriented, etc. If we could focus on those aspects, it would have been better. He also informed that women and men are treated equally in SriLanka. Krishna Shahi suggested that moral education should be included in the curriculum. What provision are there in the constitution? What shall be done with women who are pregnant with other's child? How can you help women, who are lawyer, in Kalikot? Naresh Dutta Raut said that women are more focused on back-bitting. Aren't those factors pulling them back? Women be it mother or grandmother, themselves give property to their sons, why so? Why don't men and women walk together in the road and hide themselves? Women aren't ambitious. Is that the reasons for their drawback? Sabita Rana replied to question regarding back-bitting saying that men should understand why women does back-bitting. It is not the interest of women to talk bad about others, but due to lack of opportunities given to women, we are compelled to do so. Citizenship through mother might led to problem du e to foreign father. If citizens are educated, awareness level will obviously increase. Daman Raj Bhamhari asked that why government administration also ignore to include mother's name while issuing citizenship? Padma Karki suggested that women are less involved in policies level due to more involvement in household activities. That's also a reason for them to be pulled backward. Even VDC doesn't include mother's name during the issuance of citizenship. Bhan Mukti Samgal asked what are the provisions for abortion? Is there any law until when we are allowed to have baby or to be pregnant?

From the chair

Death penalty is not in the constitution. Diverse views exist regarding death penalty. Regarding abortion, it is illegal to do at any time. Several provisions exist under which one can go for abortion. When we talk about citizenship issuance from mother, many things needs to be considered as per the government rule. Few things that are included in the citizenship are useless. When we take citizenship from mother, status of father needs to be elaborated, which is completely privacy issues and insensitive. This gives long-term torture to women. Open border doesn't mean citizenship problem is created. Education system are more focused on central region, it needs to come to regional level. Involvement of women in various sectors is a positive sign. Regarding child birth, both men and women should talk with one another. There is certain age for marriage and a recommendable age to have babies. Later than that it creates complexities on the life of both mother and child.

Politics and Economy

Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta, Programme Officer at FES Nepal

Civic Education plays an important role in enhancing the level of awareness among people. Education has two parts: one it is for life another for knowledge. From 2046 to until present, the level of education has been continuously rising but democracy and civic education is weakening. Why hasn't the level of education changed the overall structure of the nation? Abraham Lincoln quote, "Democracy is for the people, by the people and of the people" but this notion has changed in context to Nepal where democracy being far from the people, buy the people and off the people. With weakening democracy, civic education among people has decreased.

Nepal's history dates back to thousands years. We are self-sufficient (rich) in resources, culture, nature, geography, language, ethnicity, etc. but why haven't we been able to utilize it properly? After 2007 B.S. when Rana regime ended and democracy was brought, people had high aspiration regarding the development of the nation. However, constant political tussle between various parties created an unfavorable situation for development. Thus, the nation building process was hurdled constantly.

Generally, four types of leaders are found in the society: post-turtle, shooting star, buzzing bees and mud- lotus. Post-turtle are those types of leaders who when reaches the position becomes a leader. Shooting star means these leaders shine like stars, but they don't have any relation with citizens or nation. Buzzing bees are those types of leaders who move around with citizens, but don't try to understand. Finally, Mud lotus are those types of leaders who are well-versed in their leadership skills, who works for the citizens and their betterment. What type of leaders do we have? In Nepal, 78% of people rely on agriculture for their livelihood whereas 30% of GDP is covered by remittance, which shows we are being remittance-based economy along with import-oriented nations. The culture of copying is slowly developing and can be felt through this example, when a lady gets pregnant in village, the family brings 'chau chau (noodles)' for her instead of those items that are available locally like milk, curd, ghee, etc. Does having noodles signifies we are developing?

We need to think differently and dream differently, and only the nation will develop. All sectors of the society needs to be included in the policy making process. This will clarify the existing situation of the diverse groups in the society. This is what civic education is all about, mking people more aware and responsible to deal with the ongoing changes in the society.

From the floor

Devi Prasad Sija raised the concern over why democracy in Nepal became weak? Hari Sharan Acharya asked what type of education are we providing to the youths? We are more focusing on English language and less on our own native language. Is this the need of time or western grip over the nation? Ramananda Acharya raised a general concern regarding the secularism. Despite 92% asking the nation to be declared as Hindu Kingdom, why government want it to be a secular nation? Dhaulasri Upadhayay enquired that only providing civic education in the headquarter is not enough, one needs to go to villages to address this concern. People in headquarter are bit learned than those in villages. Laxmi Buda asked why we say

'Loktantra' and 'Ganatantra', despite 'Prajatantra'? Is FES, Religion oriented? Durga Prasad Pandey had very interesting inputs. He talked about the 'Cries of Jumleli.' Civic education is very important in our daily life to make us aware of the surroundings. Why don't you provide this education to 601 parliamentarians rather than us?

From the chair

Chandra Bhatta said that democracy will only sustain when a nation goes into state-building process. Regarding the quality of education (being more English-oriented), he said that with the increasing globalization it has been the need of time. Our education is very bookish, less practical. We only teach the students how to pass the examinations but not implement whatever he or she has learned into reality. We have misunderstood the meaning of secularism. With the introduction of multi-party parliament system, the pressure for creating secular nation slowly established. 'Ganatantra' is totally different like what is experienced in India but 'Loktantra' and 'Prajatantra' are similar. No, FES is not religion oriented. Yes, there are problems in Jumla, that's why civic education will help them to uplift from their situation. Water is always provided to the roots of the trees rather than the leaves. Until and unless you don't change yourself, no politicians or political party will work.

 
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