Perspectives on Restructuring the State in Nepal
Posted by Sole on January 3, 2009
This opinion piece appears in Issue #20 of The Red Star.
Perspectives on New State Restructuring in Nepal
by Gopal Kirati (Minister for Culture and State Restructuring)
The institutional development of the Federal Republic is the principal task of the present government of Nepal. The Maoist-led government has put forward a concrete agenda for the restructuring of all sectors of state and society, primarily to guarantee nationality, peace and change. In order to accomplish this historical task, the government has formed the Ministry of Culture and State Restructuring. As the Nepalese society is committed to fulfil the dream of a new Nepal through an epoch making ideological, political, economic, and cultural transformation, raising the banner of mass insurrection against semi-feudal and semi-colonial conditions in the country; the government policy is to eliminate all types or forms and remnants of the prevailing feudal, comprador and bureaucratic capitalism by defeating all internal and foreign challenges. For a broad scale transformation of state power of Nepalese people, the government of Nepal and the Ministry for Culture and State Restructuring presents this concept paper for public debate.
Organizing the creative debate openly by giving priority to nationality, peace and change, the Ministry calls proletarian communists, patriots, progressive political parties, organizations or institutions and citizens for an active participation in writing a people’s constitution and state restructuring. It will not only help to write a new constitution, but it is expected that people of Nepal will share the responsibilities of world citizenry in an increasingly globalising world.
Structures of the state:
1. The Federal Democratic Republic will have three steps of state power. Firstly, Federal (central) Government or the Government of Nepal, which will coordinate the foreign, and home affairs. Thus, the role of the central government will be coordinative. Secondly, the Autonomous State Government, which will ensure political rights or exercise the class struggle. Thirdly, the Local or District Government which will be responsible for peace, security and local development.
2. Military, foreign affairs, currency and large industries will be under the Federal government and the state government will govern the issues of class, caste, regional, and gender liberation and development. If necessary, local governments will have the right to extend bilateral contacts with foreign governments for development and reconstruction purposes while remaining within the existing laws stipulated under the constitution and national laws.
3. Only a powerfully organized state adhering to the principle of power devolution can provide the expected relief to the public. In the past, the role of the People’s war and People’s movement to weaken the feudalist unitary state structure was significant. Today, however, there are activities, objectively considered to be counter-revolutionary, designed to weaken the People’s Republic. The feudalist, comprador and bureaucratic capitalists are trying for an opportunity to weaken the transitional republic. The responsibility of patriotic and pro-people sections will be to consolidate and strengthen the People’s Republic. Therefore, the essential and principal owner of land, water and natural resources will be the state. Furthermore, the citizens will have secondary ownership over the utilization of land.
This system of ownership will make it more convenient for the state in acquiring land for physical reconstruction. Otherwise, the citizen will be free to utilise their property. With the broad utilisation of advancements in science, technology, information resources, and communication in the 21st century for the development of Nepal, the Nepalese will be able to benefit from globalisation in this century.
4. Replicating the autonomous state models as in Mithila, Bhojpura, and Avadh, proposed by CPN (Maoist), an Autonomous Sherpa State will be introduced. In principle, these autonomous states will have the right to self-determination and the practice of autonomy. (The direction for progress of the Brahmin and Kshetri communities as national communities is directed towards internationalism and the direction for indigenous, Madheshi and Dalit community is necessarily a state policy of autonomy and proportional representation for them to become national castes. The development of national caste is in the end conceived as becoming an international caste). In order to facilitate development activities and to bring a Nepalese outlook and a social consciousness in the above states, an Economic Development Council will be established.
There will be Kirant, Kochila, Limbuan and Himali (Sherpa) autonomous states under the Koshi Development Council. Similarly, Tamsaling, Newa and Tamuwan autonomous state will be under the Gandaki Development Council. The autonomous states: Magarat, Khasan (Bheri-Karnali), Doti (Seti-Mahakali) and Tharuwan will be under the Karnali Development Council. Avadh autonomous state, Bhojpura and Mithila will be under the Terai/Madhesh Development Council. These councils will be recognized as the administrative bodies for the federal government and will help in the initial economic survey or investigation and development planning for the autonomous states.
In the country, at the instance of oppressed communities/regions being developed to the level of the national castes/regions, the above mentioned four economic development councils will be transformed into four states in the future of the Federal Nepal.
800 Local Govt. of New Nepal:
The New Nepal with 800 districts is a conception based on local bodies of governance. In Nepal, there are about 4000 village development committees (VDCs), five dozen municipalities, and 75 districts with 927 administrative area. While dissolving the old structures, a concept of 800 districts is presented on the basis of separating 127 areas for reduction during demarcation of the new areas. If necessary, the number of the areas could increase or decrease. To build the autonomous states for the oppressed communities and regions in accordance with the fifth amendment of the interim constitution, a debate about the basic local structures of the autonomous states will be initiated by the Ministry. The Constituent Assembly has the right to name the local bodies. Nevertheless, the term ‘district’ has been used instead of VDC or municipalities for the debate on local bodies.
A district will be formed by bringing together the areas of three to fifteen village development committees or municipalities. The basic layer at local level, the district, will have a ‘ward’ as the form of its extended body (the number of the wards will be determined according to the requirements). The demarcation of borders and naming of districts will be done with active participation of the masses, and with the help of experts (a majority of any communities or ethnic community will be maintained while demarcating the borders of local districts and wards similar to the determination of regions in the autonomous regions). The district headquarters will be selected in appropriate places in the new areas (the headquarters should have the capacity for settlement of five thousand to one hundred thousand people in coming five hundred years). Attention will be give to the natural resources, possibilities for industries, and facilities for the modern market, the selected district head-quarters will be centralised for mass settlement, urbanized and industrialised. Thus, the 800 districts of Nepal means that it will be based on the concept of 800 markets or industrial cities, 800 modern hospitals, 800 universities and 800 grand communes. Introduction of 800 global markets or information centres will establish firm connections with global society.
Making eight hundred districts is not to increase administrative expenditure, because it is not necessary to depute a Chief District Officer (CDO) at the level of joint or under secretary for each district. Rather, if possible, the section officer or the senior clerk would be delegated with the authority of CDO; on the other hand, an Inspector or sub-inspector can be deputed with the authority of Superintendent of Police or Deputy Superintendent of Police in District Headquarters. We will institutionalize a required system of direct democracy completely ending this unworkable formal or parliamentary democracy that discriminates against majority of the people who are outside urban areas. A provision for making an elected representative directly a department head for administration and the bureaucracy under him comprising of employees including technicians, experts, and office staff, will be institutionalized. A provision for the people’s court will be institutionalized and the corrupted exploiters/feudalists, criminals and terrorists will be punished by the people.
The concept of eight hundred districts is necessary for the management of different ethnic and linguistic communities. It will be systematized at sub-autonomous level and some caste units will be established even at the ward level. Therefore, the concept of eight hundred districts as a concept of unifying the country, strengthening the internal nationality of Nepal, unifying the local community on a scientific basis, will be approved automatically.
The culture, in essence with people’s democracy and in form anti-imperialist and anti-expansionist with national character, is the basis for Nepali scientific culture. Culture is the second nature of human beings. The internal aspect of the culture is considered as the point of view or the thinking system of human being and the external expressions like customs, communication, life styles, feasts and festivals are guided by culture. Human beings are similar to animals in first nature, but humans create a second nature or culture due to the specific characteristics of human species. Human becomes a civilized animal due to the creation of the second nature, and he develops in culture quite differently from animals. Therefore, if anyone is not ready to build a new nature, through the active thinking process, he may be considered as an animal.
Nepal is a country with many nationalities, languages and cultures. However, these relations are not primeval or eternal; rather they are the second nature created by our ancestors. People of the new Nepal are building a new nature. New Nepal will create a new culture for the development of the scientific aspects of the culture created by our ancestors. In this new culture, there will be Nepalese Sovereignty with its general specialties. By abandoning the renegade definition of Nepal as a ‘yam between two rocks’, the People of the Republic of Nepal will establish a strong definition of nationality. This definition will be a ‘dynamite’ between the two rocks in 21st century rather than a yam. A dynamic thinking process on nationality is the progressive direction for building a Nepalese culture; it is the present-day responsibility of the Nepalese revolution to safeguard intra-nationality. The transformation of the dialectical relationship of the external and internal nationality into unity-struggle and transformation, mainly towards proletarian internationalism is the formula for Nepalese sovereignty, territorial integrity and cohesive progress.
The government of Nepal, Ministry of Culture and State Restructuring expects to write a people’s constitution on the basis of the presented conception to maintain a new state power and state system. For this, the Ministry specially calls for a systematic and institutional debate to the national and the international communities for their positive contribution.