The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal office organized a two-day long seminar on “Building Modern State Through Civic Education” which inspired over 150 participants of all walks of life—politicians, teachers, community leaders, civil society members, NGOs, students and attentive citizens.
Presenting his paper on constitutional process of Nepal, the noted Constitutional Expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that the verdict of Supreme Court does not leave any option other than to draft a new constitution by the Constituent Assembly by May 27. It is possible to do so if there is sufficient political will of leaders, demonstrate their ability to stand above partisan interests and enter into a compromise formula on many unsettled issues—federalism, form of governance, election system, autonomy of judiciary, etc. Otherwise, fresh mandate is needed which can carry the work left by the CA and settle issues. Failure in either case can trigger constitutional and political crisis and push the nation into uncertainty.
Another Speaker Prof. Lal Babu Yadav asserted that the purpose of the constitution is to unite all Nepalese, not dividing them. This means the concept of nation building requires the leaders to stand above class, ethnic and regional preoccupations and think as national citizens with equal rights and equal duties.
Federalism devoid of any sense of nationalism is conflict-generating. The constituency-oriented tendency of leaders blurred their larger national vision, reduced their perspective to parochial ends and weakened the base of Nepali nation-state. Civic initiatives should be generated for path correction, continued Professor Yadav.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal office discussed about the concept of “active citizenship” to build constitutional state which is capable of making governance efficient, responsive and transparent. He argued that a transition from post-conflict phase to durable peace, stability and progress requires enlightened action on the part of both leaders and citizens and fulfillment of legitimate interest of all sides. As one of the oldest nation of the world it has rich civility which needs to be shored up to foster comprehensive reconciliation in society. But, it needs to transform people into citizen and alter pre-modern politics of divide and rule into modern politics of cooperative action. In time of national stress sustained by protracted political transition, Nepalese leaders too should be governed by national goals than remain dictated by crowd psychology, populism and post-modern turmoil. Creation of mindful societal needs and virtuous action and enlargement of the enlightenment education at multi-stakeholders of society.
Chairperson of the seminar Radha K. Shrestha stressed the need for taking constitutional discussion to building civic competence of citizens. Many other participants such as Rajendra P. Shrestha, Ganesh Bikram Silwal, Siddi Narayan Shrestha, Kedar Nepal, Prakash Shrestha, Bal Krishna Deuja, Shambhu Panday, Yadav Dulal C. P. Dulala, Ms. Indra Maya Gurung, Laxman Dulal, Balchandra Sapkota, Narayan Subedi, and other took active part in the discussion and furnished suggestions to strengthen state-citizenship relationship for Nepal’s peaceful and stable future.