The Eight Values of Nepali Democracy
With the deadline for the Nepal’s Constitution fast approaching, civil society has been pressuring the Constituent Assembly to come up the document on time. Public figures from across Nepal recently gathered to articulate a set of core values essential to a successful constitution, a discussion largely neglected in the public discourse; and to reaffirm that a just constitution is still possible before the 28 May deadline. Their appeal follows:
The Eight Values of Nepali Democracy
29 Chaitra 2066 – 11 April 2010
The country has entered a state of deep political uncertainty. This uncertainty is undermining the achievements of the People’s Movement of 2006. Today’s need is to preserve the democratic achievements of the past in building our road to the future. In this context, all political parties must concentrate on the peace process and constitution-writing, based on combatant integration-rehabilitation as agreed in past agreements. This is the national agenda of the moment, and we request the well-informed citizenry to be alert to any diversion from this path.
A constitution is not only a political document, it defines and establishes social relationships. For this reason, the new constitution must incorporate non-violence, harmony, goodwill, equality and trust as its basis. Our socio-political system and economic growth must be based on these parameters, for which we believe there has to be unanimity on the following values. With diligent and urgent effort based on these values, we believe it is still possible to promulgate the new constitution of Nepal by 28 May 2010 (14 Jestha 2066):
- Social Justice: We strongly believe that our country’s economic, social, cultural and political transformation must be based on social justice and equity that every citizen can enjoy.
- Non-Violence: The coming constitution must be based on the value of non-violence, ahimsa. In the context of political transformation, those who have utilized violence must build trust by making an official declaration of having abandoned violence.
- Plurality and pluralism: Plurality is the communitarian character of Nepali society. Pluralism is the basis and system which supports this diversity. The new constitution must be a document that accepts and gives voice to varying ideas and aspirations. The new constitution must guarantee the ideals of pluralism and thereby institutionalize the federal democratic republic.
- Separation of powers: The very foundation of a modern political system is the separation of powers, including checks and balances between the legislature, executive and an independent judiciary.
- Freedoms: We should not contemplate a political system that does not guarantee political, economic, social freedoms as well as those of thought and expression. Under no circumstances can these freedoms be compromised. Human rights of all citizens must be guaranteed.
- Federalism: The very geography, population diversity and political history of the country demand federalism. The federal structure must be of the kind which guarantees the country’s unity and sovereignty, as well as social harmony, equality and the rights of citizens.
- Secularism: The state can have no religion. A state based on one faith is not acceptable. To say secularism is to believe in the freedom of all religions.
- Nationalism: No community, class or region alone can represent the sentiments of the entire nation. The very foundation of our nationalism is our plurality. For this reason, the first basis of our nationalism is the pluralism which emerges from the diversity of our population.
Chandra Kant Gyawali
Daman Nath Dhungana
Dr. Arjun Karki
Dr. Birendra Mishra
Dr. Gauri Shanker Lal Das
Dr. Netra Timsina
Dr. Surendra Labh
Gyani Devi Thapa Magar
Kanak Mani Dixit
Kedar Bhakta Mathema
Kul Chandra Gautam
Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa
Madan Krishna Shrestha
Mohan Singh Thebe
Padma Ratna Tuladhar
Prof. Dhruba Kumar
Prof. Kamal Krishna Joshi
Prof. Kapil Shrestha
Prof. Yogendra Yadava
Satish Chandra Agrawal
Subodh Raj Pyakurel
Tek Nath Baral