Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Government of Nepal

Nepal is a parliamentary democracy in transition. Under the 1990 constitution, Nepal is a pluralist, parliamentary democracy headed by a constitutional monarch. It has a two-chamber legislature, comprising a house of representatives, with 205 members directly elected for five-year terms, and a national council with 60 members, comprising ten appointees of the king, 35 members elected by the lower house, and 15 selected from the country's five development zones. Until 2006, executive power was vested jointly in the king and a council of ministers, headed by a prime minister drawn from the House of Representatives' majority party grouping. However, in 2006, the king was forced to give up executive power and became a ceremonial head of state. The constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of expression, press, peaceful assembly, association, and movement. From one of a group of small principalities, the Gurkha people emerged to unite Nepal under King Prithivi Narayan Shah in 1768. In 1816, after the year-long Anglo-Nepali ‘Gurkha War’, a British resident (government representative) was stationed in Kathmandu and the kingdom became a British-dependent buffer state. The country was recognized as fully independent by Britain in 1923 although it remained bound by treaty obligations until 1947, the year of India's independence. Between 1846 and 1951 Nepal was ruled by a hereditary prime minister of the Rana family. The Ranas were overthrown in a revolution led by the Nepali congress, and the monarchy, in the person of King Tribhuvan, was restored to power.

Citizenship certificate a must

One barrier that KIDC and the villagers had to overcome was the need for citizenship certificates. Without this certificate a person cannot get his or her land registered and in rural Nepal especially women often lack this important document. The certificate can be obtained from the age of 16 and women, who do not register before they marry, need their husband’s signature to obtain the certificate. “In our village 5-7 women did not have a citizenship certificate, but we got it for them and now they are also registered and ready to receive land”, says Jaya Ram and adds that in his own case only his wife is signed up for the family’s land certificate “If something happens to me my wife will have no problems”, he smiles. In this way the need for village block land certificates has become the opportunity for women to gain equal rights to property. This right may increase the status of females in the family, both before and after marriage. Premlatta Bhatta expresses her hopes for this in the following way: “When a daughter is born, the community treats you very badly. When you get married, your families need to give dowry. If not, you get beaten or even killed. This is why we believe both the son and the daughter should have equal right to their father’s property”. Ten villages is a start and as such a victory for KIDC and the entire land rights movement, but time has not come for KIDC to sit back and enjoy their achievements: “We were promised four survey teams and got only one, so we need to pressure the government again to make them implement their promises”, says Nirajan Lamsal, programme coordinator of KIDC.

River of Nepal

In Nepal you are seriously spoiled for choice when it comes to whitewater, so choosing which river to raft or kayak can sometimes prove a bit tricky! The trips offer everything from heart racing rapids, snow capped mountains, isolated villages and unspoiled surroundings (not forgetting the singing and dancing in the evenings from the river guides!). So how do you choose the perfect river? Below I have listed a short summary of many of Nepal's rivers, short and long trip for beginners or experienced paddlers, there's definitely a river for everyone in Nepal.Trisuli- This river originates from the Langtang mountain and is the most popular rafting trip in Nepal (although this does mean you are likely to run into other trips on your way down). Easily accessible from Kathmandu or Pokhara the river winds its way through stunning gorges and exhilarating rapids a great trip for anyone. With rapids such as Ladies Delight, Landslide and Good Morning you're bound to have a great time. This river can be enjoyed all year round, although it can really pack a punch during the monsoon...not for the faint hearted! It is perfect for anyone, first timers or more experienced wanting to practice their skills, a good 1-2 day trip with up to Class IV Rapids. Bhote Kosi-100% Adrenaline Rush. Rapids are a good class IV-V just after monsoon and a III at lower water. After a three hour scenic bus ride from Kathmandu you'll be greeted by pristine glacial whitewater. This river is continuous and action packed . If you have limited time (1-2 days) but what a full adrenaline rush then this is the river for you. Rapids such as A Ferret in Your Pants and Frog in The Blender give you an idea of what's in store! Located very close to the Borderlands Resort, this trip can be tied in with a quick bungy jump from one of the tallest in the world, or a spot of canyonning or even a quick bike trip to the Tibetan Border. I would highly recommend this trip for those short of time. etc.

Ensuring women’s participation – how?

In Nepal, the whole idea of creating a new electoral system for an upcoming election for a constituent assembly is to create a mechanism for representation which reflects the voting pattern and set various criteria of the way society want different groups to be represented. Say one criterion is to ensure and enhance women’s participation in politics then what do you do to fulfill it?According to Professor Joergen Elklit you could choose to do nothing within the electoral system rules because you trust the parties to ensure women’s participation. On the other hand you could chose to have quotas or you could try reserving say, every third name on the ballot for female candidates. Currently, political parties in Nepal need to have at least five percent female candidates in order to be eligible. As it is there has been a practice where parties chooses to put female candidates in districts where they are sure to loose out. They fulfill the quotas but it’s ridiculing the system and underlines the need for new rules.”In South Africa such a rule does not exist but interestingly, the governing ANC party has managed – through the use of internal member’s ballot on the composition of the list – to ensure participation of women and people with disabilities.“Reserving every third position for women will work, but of course it would be even better if you did not need the rule and if parties voluntarily would ensure and nurture female participation,” the Professor reflects. Many new and emerging democracies have a much higher representation of women in parliament compared to older Western democracies, because of this principle being enshrined in the electoral system.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Post Conflict Education for Peace

“All children should have this subject, even older ones. Everybody can learn from this!” says grade two student Ujeli Damai, 12 years old, with conviction in her evaluation of the MS Nepal supported conflict resolution initiative. She is complemented by class mate Fatima Kathun, 10 years old, “Also adults! They should also learn all that we have learnt”.We are in the heartland of the Terai district of Kapilvastu in Magarghatta village with a mere population of approximately 300. The flat agricultural landscape is scattered with scorched houses that stand as poignant reminders of the communal violence that took place in September 2007, the fourth time in recent history.The physical wounds are slowly being healed through rebuilding of houses. But as in all communal conflicts, the psychological torment and distrust linger on. However, on the educational front, a movement is under way to invest in a more peaceful future. The local NGO Siddhartha Social Development Centre (SSDC), MS Nepal, Save the Children US, the District Education Office and 12 local schools have collaborated for introducing an internationally recognized peace education programmer in Kapilvastu, shortly after the conflict had subdued. 12 years old second grader Saddam Hussein is one of the participants of the Peace Education class. He says, “I liked the class. We learnt about the different festivals, Dashain, Tihar and Eid and what the different groups do and believe. I think that is good; we live together; we should know about each other's festivals”.

Active participation of WWA women representatives

The Chairperson of Women Welfare Association, Kashika Gaire, who is a member of the network of Madanpokhara VDC Palpa, is positive: "Through this type of network, women from all levels can get access to the decision-making process. The budgets allocated for empowerment and development of women should not be spent in other sectors, but exactly for empowerment, capacity development and leadership development for and by women," she says.WWA has so far played a role in the process by advocating and directly supporting the actual formation of the networks, most actively so in the 12 working VDCs of WWA. So far, VDC women networks have been formed in 48 out of 65 VDCs, and the reports from the many experienced women groups, covered by the WWA partnership with MS Nepal, have been enthusiastic. The local government bodies are also positive and would like to draw on the capacity of WWA for activities such as proposal writing, leadership development and advocacy and awareness building on gender, in order to teach women even in the more remote wards that they have to demand development in their area.Jamuna Jargha, a member of Sayari Women Welfare Group, Palpa, says, "I thought after joining the Women Welfare Association, that it would be helpful to support women with the women network. I have received the opportunity now. Through the network, we need to move forward to raise women's rights, awareness, and capacity building." Teacher Sabitra Adhikari feels a bit more cautious: "I hope that through this network, new programs will flourish and the women get opportunity to present their views and participate in the decision making, at least at the VDC level," she says.

Tip of the iceberg

Nobody in Kapilvastu knows for sure who killed Moid Khan. Some think the Maoists killed him. Others argue one of the armed groups could have killed him. Some even think it could be a family feud. Whoever killed Moid Khan and for whatever reasons, the unrest that ensued after his murder is perhaps only one manifestation of the multi-faced and deep-rooted conflict in Kapilvastu. The conflict between the landlords, mostly madhesi and landless pahadis is a major one. The conflict between the Khans and landless pahadis residing in Birpur, Shivapur and Bisunpur is one specific case. Long before the Maoists came to the scene, the Khans and the Chaudharis, two landlord families in the district, were intolerant of the latter who settled or rather was made to settle in open lands around their locality. Politics, vendetta, crime and ethnic conflict mingle here, at time so complexly that when an incident occurs it is difficult to find out what caused which. “It is very easy in Kapilvastu”, says a local in Taulihawa. 'If you don't like someone, take a gun and shoot him. And politicise the killing. You don't have to stand trial once you politicise it.' People here also talk about the rampant smuggling and other underworld activities that take place along the border areas. The Hindu-Muslim dimension also exists to some extent. In 1990 when Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya, it had its repercussions here.