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Nation-building through civic education

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

8-9 December 2016, Okhaldhunga & 10-11 December 2016, Solu


INTRODUCTION

This report is a summary of two day seminars conducted in districts of Okhaldhunga and Solukhumbu in Nepal. The title of the seminar was Resilient Nation-building through civic education in Nepal. The summary is developed in 4 tiers as the following.

  1. Summary of talking points of FES Program Officer
  2. Summary of talking points of Guest Speakers
  3. Summary of 3 Resource Experts
  4. Summary of questions raised by the participants

SUMMARY OF TALKING POINTS OF FES PROGRAM OFFICER

PRESENTER: MR. CHANDRA D. BHATTA, PROGRAM OFFICER

CONCEPT OF CIVIC EDUCATION FOR DEMOCRACY BUILDING

  • Highlight on key areas of activities of FES and stressed the need for democracy based on equanimity as the basis of freedom. Sovereignty and economy are both based on resources of the country. Freedom, equality, solidarity, peace and social justice are key element of democracy.
  • Introduced root meaning of democracy starting from the Greek time referring to the word "villain" rooted on "Villa" essentially similar to "Mukhia" in earlier Nepali context.
  • Contextualised understanding of democracy theorized from the grounded knowledge and experiential learning of society for effective and appropriate implementation and effective outcome.
  • Introduced concept of "Dan Dine" or "almsgiving" symbolic gesture to impart opportunity by a stronger section of the community to weaker section of society or an individual or for supporting family. The loss of philanthropic role model in our society--not only taking but giving as well.
  • Explained importance of place based learning required for increasing understanding and effective practice for equality based on teachings of equanimity referring to teaching of Buddha.
  • Offered insights on how presence of discordance in real need of the development and intervention is resulting into chaos.
  • Re-emphasized sustainable growth for ancient country like Nepal through its historical development of millennia in order to support and strengthen democratic values and practice through improved education based on cultural norm and historical understanding.
  • Offered examples of 80 percent food related supplies are depended externally in Nepal. This can affect sovereignty because of increasing external dependency including market as dangerous for democracy and freedom. This phenomenon is described as "Kam Padhyo garna chodyo, dherai padhyo thalo chodyo ". Need to curb on commercialization and marketisation of education and health. There is inherent danger of converting basic need into industry. Another aspect is outmigration of younger generation affecting development we desperately need. It also requires civic education that relates to state building.
  • Identity is most critical and crucial issue. There is a need of to address issues of identity and two bring all aspect of it to the mainstream of the society. Those who have been demanding identity based rights have not been able to protect their rights. For example even election outcome have been inflicted by nepotism practiced by political parties. We need to incorporate our national diversity as part of our identity. That is something has been made dysfunctional in name of identity rights. Hence the challenge is to how to maintain the cultural and historical identity on name of modernization. We must learn from the history. In order to rectify negative aspect of social change, tolerance is a must and education not only for earning money but for "Jiban ra samajko laagi" meaning for life and our own communities.

SUMMARY OF TALKING POINTS OF GUEST SPEAKERS

PRESENTER: HON. MR. KASHI R. DAHAL, CONSTITUTION EXPERT & CHAIRPERSON, ADMINISTRATIVE COURT, GOVERNMENT OFNEPAL

  • Built relationship of civic education and state building in context of promulgation of constitution and April 24 Gorkha Earthquake. Civic education requires responsibilities associated with the rights linked to land. The respect to public property requires understanding of ownership and implementation of constitution by people themselves. Foundationally, key to success is to protect what forefathers left for us not destroy them.

PRESENTER: MR. RAM P. GYAWALI, ASSISTANT LOCAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

  • All aspects of development require public awareness. It needs use of individual right with sense of responsibilities.
  • Communities' silence, waiting for government security agencies to intervene is some of prime example of neglect and lack of responsibilities.
  • The criticism of government relief operation for example cash distribution at doorsteps of the communities affected requires deeper understanding before unnecessary media responses.

PRESENTER: MR. YAGNYA B. KHATRI, ASSISTANT CHIEF DISTRICT OFFICER

  • In the time of globalization civic education is even more important. While we talk of equality we need to understand equanimity.
  • Civic education and sovereignty requires responsibilities upheld by each individuals of the society or community.
  • In context of development, need to understand and evaluate where individual role connected in the society.
  • We need identify those and who we should make aware of all of the above realties and to know who is responsible for articulating these realities.
  • If we ask what my or our responsibility then we definitely will be a healthier individually and collectively.

SPEAKER: CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE OF HIGH COURT, OKHALDHUNGA DISTRICT

  • Lack of support during growth to a child and subsequent education is a life like an animal. The education is therefore to be effective citizen not only to be educated.

SPEAKER: JUDGE OF DISTRICT COURT

  • Civic education offers an opportunity for better policy formulation and can address issues of future generation and continuous improvement by the government.
  • Demand for "Adhikar" or rights at local level require higher level of responsibilities because it immediately affects them first and easily visible. For the exercises of rights social understanding is important. Therefore key to all of the above is "Bibek"

SUMMARY OF 3 RESOURCE EXPERTS

PRESENTER: MS. AARATI CHATAUT, GENDER ANALYST & SENIOR PROGRAM PRODUCER, NEPAL TELEVISION

GENDER AND YOUTH FOR STATE-BUILDING

  • Women of Nepal contribute highest in the world to social economic growth. Economic and financial role is directly attributed to men hence the role of women has been unnoticed for many years. This needs to be incorporated in civic education.
  • Men are also responsible for women underdevelopment and empowerment of women for women is important aspect for women development intervention. Feministic approach will not solve this discrepancy on women and men role in society.
  • The change need to start not only at the institutional level but fundamentally from household level.
  • Power relationship also dictates the central role and importance of women in development both economically and socially. Powerful always exert power to the powerless.
  • Women spend most of their time on reproductive and household work than professional and personal growth.

PRESENTER: MR. NARESH RIMAL

SOCIAL INCLUSIVENESS FOR STATE-BUILDING IN NEPAL

  • State building is like taking care of ourselves and our community in a much wider and deeper level. How to make state resilient, prosperous and characteristically distinct requires civic education.
  • The term "inclusiveness" need to be locally contextualised in order create ambience for worthwhile debates that is less contradictory. Nepal is rich socio-culturally and geographically, representing differences requires deeper understanding of our national identity for the future in the era globalisation.
  • Popular "inclusiveness" related rhetoric requires contextualization and social approvals before blindly embedding it in Nepal socio-eco-political realm resulting into non-compliance and ineffective policy outcomes and in a broader context losing grip on stability and social relationship that bind Nepali virtues.
  • Inclusive democracy or inclusive society key concept driving these arguments is also important whether country become inclusive based on market materialistic or dialectic materialistic model.
  • There will clearly are losers and gainers while we address grievances - example is the present derailments in implementation of the constitution itself.
  • Identity based inclusive be construct appeals to development workers and academicians but not to the real people who are the pedestal of our identity socially, culturally, environmentally etc. -food security concern health and human well-being capabilities.
  • Sexuality, fear, hunger, and sleep are universal in nature that it happens everywhere. But not many things are universal they are place bound. Universalization of values loose "pahichan and pratinidhittwa" meaning identity and representation.
  • What is our realization of our identity, who determines it and how do we do it and do we integrate in our firm affirmation for robust functioning society. Political correctness will not answer our problem, it merely is looking good to others, being inclusive is about being good. Political correctness is externally driven; being inclusive is internally driven. Being "politically correct" generates conflict.
  • Inclusiveness based on grounded understanding is never conflict oriented with the local values because being inclusive is a value. It is about refining and developing values of empathy and concern for the other for example through practice of Samata, Prem and Apanatwa, Bhaichara (equanimity, love, togetherness and brother and sisterhood).
  • "Samajik sampati" meaning social capital is "samuhik sampati" meaning collective property and vulnerable for a free ride "je garepani huncha". Tolerance and acceptance of otherness is only way for communication through mutual trust and respect a key to civic education that offers value addition to the identity and stronger country.

PRESENTER: MR. PRAKASH GIRI, POLITICAL JOURNALIST, SAGARMATHA TELEVISION

POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR RE-BUILDING IN NEPAL

  • Foundational problem of lack of development which is degrading moral conscious which is very important for democracy and development to stay.
  • We expect others to do our work, this being dependent on others, example of and case of this is political instability. We imagined fictions constitutional rights.
  • Our government changes because of financial issues on who gets how much from the national coffers.
  • Nepal's fledgling democracy is mainly due to ideologically fragmented, entrenched identity discourse, international intervention and political ambition not the national ambition.
  • Forced developed is not sustainable. Leader requires commitment, honesty, vision, and development dictated by moral consciousness not mass movements.
  • Our value is based on the eastern philosophy; contrarily we accept anything foreign too soon. Knowledge is on our society
  • In a heavily agricultural countries, a after the earthquake loss of agricultural products including seed too showing season and livestock loss were not internalised.
  • Instead of mobilizing security forces in reconstruction and rehabilitation project, we are investing large number of security personnel in the security of political leaders.

PRESENTER: MR. KASHI RAJ DAHAL, CONSTITUTION EXPERT & CHAIRPERSON, ADMINISTRATIVE COURT, NEPAL

PRESENTATION AND DEBATE ON CONSTITUTION OF NEPAL 2015

  • Some of the key issues at present in Nepali context are right embedded in the constitution and whether country can actually implement it. Prior to demanding rights we need to know role citizens need to play and while it's already embedded in our cultural practice we need resurrect that for nation building. The fiscalisation of decision making needs to be multidisciplinary. National identity comes from language and tradition. Responsibility and accountability comes from our moral decision making process. Education does not come from degrees but from our ability to transform ourselves and healthy competition, respect of elders and children and women. All of these need positive attitude for good change.
  • The economy of the country should be strong. Independent economy helps implementation. The economy should be driven by ethical business practices, culturally grounded and driven by moral obligation. Natural resources conservation starting from land to forest conservation are key context when we know there are threat of climate change. In context of economic development we need identify best alternative resources
  • Technology should be used as a vehicle for development and appropriate technology can only be the good agent of change.
  • United among ourselves with honest leadership, we can learn from examples within and universal example like one of Nelsen Mandela.
  • Leadership requires deeper national vision drawn from the inner feeling of responsibility, not from rhetoric but from simplicity and singleness of purpose.
  • All action requires openness and transparency. If we change our mindset physical change will automatically follow. We need to set the examples by ourselves and among ourselves.
  • The present concern of our constitution is on its wider acceptance and challenges inherent in the implementation because of unending debate on inclusiveness.
  • Politics driven by petty interest and ideological stiffness will not answer the need of the society at large.
  • For effective constitutional development and practices require peace, governance and solidarity.

SUMMARY OF QUESTIONS RAISED BY THE PARTICIPANTS

QUESTION 1: MR. MILAN KHATRI

What kind of role can youth play in order to enhance the role men and women play for future development?

QUESTION 2: MR. BIKAS KARKI

How have you addresses women issues practicably?

QUESTION 3: MR. NARESH KATWAL

Civic education is key to modern nation/state building. Appropriate use of public property is key to development. We should have this kind of program to school children hence such program can be successful.

QUESTION 4: MS. SITA D. BISWOKARMA

How can we address issues of identity and rights? We need to stress on the knowledge imparted by mother for children to be successful. We have not taught fathers and mothers about rights and responsibilities. We need to interlink women contribution in other social factors like health care and education.

QUESTION 5: MR. HARKA BAHADUR

What is the effective intervention for crime by women? How to handle abuse of remittance money by wife? How to handle increasing divorce because of absence of men who are serving in overseas countries? We need to link other issues relevant to women such as healthcare and education and many other.

QUESTION 6: MR. MILAN RAI

The present constitution is backward in context of secular state. It only incorporated views by 4 syndicate parties (parties of influences).

QUESTION 7: ANJU THAPA

Even when elders go to government offices for some services, it's elders who need to.bow down to the officers, shouldn't it be otherwise around? There are lots of things difficult to achieve but not impossible.

QUESTION 8: PENGWANG SHERPA

By 2058 there was a law already in place for daughters' rights to the parental property. But when I went to Malpot Office (Local office for land deeds) they indicated there are no such laws in place. There are cases against women rights to parental properties. And what about the grand-mothering legal suits in the court.

QUESTION 9: MR. YUBARAJ DAHAL

Commodification of gender relationship will not answer the problems we have in our country. What we need is household level socialization of issues relevant to our society and culture. Gender mainstreaming can bring dangerous outcome in the society. Inequality issues can be best understood by knowing socialization process and home teaching. Inclusiveness has only benefitted elite Dalit and women not the needy ones.

QUESTION 10: SURYA B. SHRESTHA

Such program should be run by the government. Where are the political leaders when they need to hear this discussion, now they have already left the venue? While most of our young generation has out migrated in search of employment and maintain livelihood at home, when they are needed the most for building the nation. How can politicians talk about inclusiveness as prime concern in our constitution while they are not concerned for millions of youth leaving the country where is inclusiveness here? Literally hundreds of political parties can't address national interest. They have their own ideologies, personal and private interest. This is much polluted practice. Do we general public always need to be political lackey even when we simply do not want to run after them and their slogans.

QUESTION 11: LOCAL POLITICAL LEADER (NAME MISSING)

How inclusiveness is linked agriculture? Isn't agriculture just the economic part? National identity issue has superseded and undermined the ethnic identity. The linking tolerant behavior is not the answer to inclusiveness.

CONCLUSION

The self transformation is the key to civic education and the changes within the system and internally managed is the key to state building through civic education and sustainable development. Anything that is bigger than the universe is the discontent and lust for things that you do not actually need for happiness. Need for reflection on our desire for "development" is basis to solving problems. It requires tolerance, principal component of civic education. Only healthy societies build healthy country. In order for it to function "Bidhi ra Bibek ko sasan" meaning rule of law based on moral consciousness is central to our understanding. By understanding "Itihas" or cultural meaning and social history of civilization can lead to meaningful success. Inclusiveness based on grounded understanding is never conflict oriented with the local values because being inclusive is a value. It is about refining and developing values of empathy and concern for the other for example through practice of Samata, Prem and Apanatwa, Bhaichara (equanimity, love, togetherness and brother and sisterhood).

 
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