Dr. Chandra Mani Adhikari
Chairman, Citizen Investment trust of Nepal / NAREC Nepal
The principal bases of federalism, as seen in federal systems, are socio-economic, political, historical and psychological. Theoretically, it always tries to accommodate various diversities and promote national unity and integration. However, it has both pros and cons and we can find the ideas in favor or against. In Nepal same thing is happening and both types of opinions are floating in the market; but the magnitude is different. Initially, in globe, the concept of federalism was advocated for different purposes. For instance in the decade of 1970s, former Soviet Union and China and others communist countries created ideological threats to the Western nations. The Western countries also intended to weaken the communist world and the class-based politics raising the issues of human rights, self determination, ethno-language and regional politics, secularism and federalism. Under this roadmap, the Western countries mobilized massive funds to check the influence of communism. Some of other democracies in other parts of the globe also advocated federalism for their own specific purposes, such as integration of the country (in case of India and USA), division of powers between centre and states, administrative efficiency and promotion of economic development. By principle, the federalism not only limited on political issue, by prosperity point of view, it is acceptable as the basic mission of the federalism is to establish an equitable system for allocation of financial resources from the consolidated fund to local governments and promote local revenue mobilization.
In this regard, Nepal is also in the process of formulating the new constitution as a Federal Republican country; however the process has been blocked being harder. Transitional period is getting longer and country is facing serious challenges; controversial issues are lying in political slots. No any law making body is in existence. Misunderstanding between the President and Prime Minister has been created and a sort of a fear of constitutional conflict and hammering on the head of democracy looms large. Relatively in few forums, voice for both ethnic recognition and protesting the single ethnic federalism are becoming louder. The issue of restructuring of the state has been still left unresolved. Thus making of new constitution has been clouded as an uncertain dream. Until the present PM Dr. Bhattarai smashed the CA before few minutes of natural termination to make secure the chair of his Premiership, there was some hope to find a common way to precede the constitution making process. The termination of CA pushed the situation into uncertainty, misunderstanding and political and constitutional blockade that followed. In this background, we know, the Interim Constitution, 2006 declared Nepal as “federal democratic republic” and this issue has become a common concern to all the Nepali citizens. The theoretical aspects include so many characteristics of federalism as types, models, advantages and disadvantages in world practice. But in Nepal, the general people are not communicated properly in the light of the spirit, wishes and aspirations of the people on federalism. In the background of the politics played inside the CA, the federal goal in constitution in Nepal does not seem so easy to the framers, due to a number of factors, including the unrests in various parts of the country taking place in different names. Another reality is the political parties remained less sensitive in constitution making and are sharply divided on ideological grounds on issues and models of federalism regarding, for example, the number of units, boundaries, division of power between the centre and the states/units, sharing of rights and resources, right to secede and self determination and the issue eventually became more complicated. Except, from the very beginning, the smaller political parties like Jana Morcha, led by Chitra B. K.C remained against federalism system of governance; none of other political parties have ever made claims against the federal order. But they are unable to make national consensus on restructuring issues. Many people have concluded that this is the result of quick but immature decision for incorporating the issue of federalism in the interim constitution; since this issue was raised and introduced suddenly without serious home work. This time people are divided in pro-federal and anti federal camps; moreover among federalist too, they are in confusion regarding the model and structure, ethnic and non-ethnic, single racism based and multi ethnic group? But the issue of sustainability and prosperity has been mostly ignored. Another astonishing fact is that even the intellectuals also could not find solution and seemingly divided in extreme either in favor or against; possess deviated understanding about the federalism and missing about that this is only the instrument. Some of them explain as next alternative of democracy; forgetting the fact that federalism is only the way of administration and management of political rights, not a miracle. On the other hand, some started to oppose and explain as the big enemy of political democracy; without analyzing about the basics of federalism in the Nepalese context. Some are advocating for decentralization and others are expressing the view of federalism by ignoring the very essence of federalism. Some people are providing the examples of USA, Switzerland, Germany and India but it needs to understand about the model and source of federalism in the USA. It requires pragmatic thinking and it should be accepted that the federalism in USA was initiated to gain through making the union between the independent countries; when the federalism was initiated, there was idea and philosophy between the federalists and the republicans. Finally the federalist initiated a strong centre. When the constitution was finalized; there was less space for the local government; power was balanced between states and centre only. The evidence of such provision can be seen in the national budget structure of USA. First of all, in 1902 the economic right was shared to local government and out of total national budget US$1660 millions, US$959 million was allocated for the spending by local governments; for 2011 out of total budget US$6.1 trillion, 1.4 trillion is allocated for States and 1.6 for local governments. Under this historical scenario any readymade model of federalism is not perfectly suitable for Nepal. It should be developed and moderated under the socio-political and economic as well as geographical and cultural setting of Nepal; since at present, socio, economic and political scenario of Nepal looks to be in a vulnerable position. For the rescue of such vulnerability, a scientific and acceptable model of federalism should be developed and incorporated in the new constitution. So our primary need this time is to make a democratic constitution. For finalizing the constitution, national consensus is inevitable. To have national consensus, give and take and compromising approach should be accepted and adapted; since the constitution is itself a document that can be amended and corrected in future as per the demand of the people. Therefore, at any cost and condition, the law of land should be produced.
Exclusive for telegraphnepal.com
Thanks the author: Ed.