Day 3: 25 July

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23-25 July, 2014, Hotel Shanker, Lazimpat
(organised by Social Science Baha, The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies
& Britain-Nepal Academic Council)  

Day 3: 25 July (Friday) 
10 am – 12 pm
Panel 7   
Durbar Hall
Chair: Mahendra Lawoti, Professor, Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University, USA
Harsha Man Maharjan
Researcher, Media Research Unit, Martin Chautari, Nepal
Holding Stake or Power: Stakeholder Participation in Nepal and Making of Media Policy Drafts (2012-2013)
Susan Boser
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA
Local Government Officers’ Perspectives on Their Role during the Transition to Democracy in Nepal
Pitambar Bhandari
Lecturer, Department of Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Civil Society Approach to Rise of Unionism in Nepal
Discussant: Bandita Sijapati, Research Director, Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility, Nepal 
LUNCH: 12 – 1 pm (Kailash Hall, Ground Floor)
2 – 4 pm
Keynote Address
Kailash Hall, Ground Floor
Moderator: Seira Tamang, Martin Chautari, Nepal
Rajendra Pradhan
Dean, Nepā School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Hegemonic Gender (In)egalitarianism, Multiple Patriarchies, and Exclusion: Gender Relations among Indigenous-nationalities in Nepal
Closing remarks: Michael Hutt, Chair, Britain-Nepal Academic Council
TEA: 4 pm onwards (Kailash Hall, Ground Floor)


Holding Stake or Power: Stakeholder Participation in Nepal and Making of Media Policy Drafts (2012-2013)
Harsha Man Maharjan, Researcher, Media Research Unit, Martin Chautari & Co-editor, Media Adhyayan (Media Studies) 

Abstract: This paper analyzes the notion of stakeholder participation in policy process by examining roles of various actors involved in the making of national media policy drafts. These actors include representatives of state machinery, donors and the media professionals. The standard discourse on participatory and collaborative policy process often finds no return for thinking about the complexity of policy process. To the contrary, the paper highlights the ambiguities of the notion by demonstrating how various actors control the process and the outcome of the drafts policy making.

This paper provides an account of the preparation of drafts of Media Policy 2012‐2013 by Ministry of Information and Communications under a three years (December 2010 to October 2013) project funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) called ”The project for Promoting Peace Building and Democratization through the Capacity Development of the Media Sector in Nepal”. A team of experts came up with a draft of media policy for consultation with the “government agencies media personnel, civil society law makers, and other relevant parties through stakeholder meetings and discussions on the approval process of the working draft”, in a year. The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Press Chautari, Broadcasting Association of Nepal (BAN), Press Union, Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal (ACORAB), etc disowned this draft by arguing the policy process as undemocratic, unhealthy and non participatory. News reports and articles also portrayed the draft as ‘foreign made’. The cold response by these major actors compelled the ministry to form another committee consisting of journalists affiliated to these institutions. This was not originally envisaged by the project document. The new committee handed over a revised draft of the policy to the ministry of Information and Communications on 2 October 2013 for approval.

This paper uses policy documents and interviews with the concerned actors to argue that the practice of stakeholder participation is ambiguous and the line between stake holding and shareholding has blurred. It further argues that the media policy formulation in the post‐2006 has become uncertain due to the range of stakeholders’ interests that varies from getting their voices heard to actualizing their ideas into policy by controlling the very process to claiming ownership of the policies. This paper shows that the policy making landscape in Nepal has become contentious as the state has become increasingly fragmented and many non‐state actors have become stronger.

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Local Government Officers’ Perspectives on their Role during the Transition to Democracy in Nepal
Susan Boser, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA 

Abstract: This study seeks to describe the functioning and challenges experienced by local government officials during Nepal’s efforts to transition into democracy, particularly as it relates to marginalized groups’ access to civil liberties and opportunities.

Nepal is striving to establish a democratic government in part by creating a federal structure with a three-tiered administrative system of governance (UNFPA Nepal, 2012.)  Since the end of the 30-year panchayat system of government, the multiple political parties in power have been deeply divided regarding how to draw geopolitical boundaries for representation, given the implications these decisions have regarding political and economic rights of the various groups (von Einsiedel, Malone & Pradhan, 2012.).  The rhetoric and ideals of the conflicts and the periodic steps toward democracy create hope in the people.  Yet in a context marked by a history of authoritative rule, and by economic and political privilege associated with particular caste and other groups, actualizing democracy is a difficult, incremental process.  The political process at the national level has received a great deal of attention and study, both in Nepal and abroad.  Yet the emergence of democratic practice also happens at the local level, and in Nepal, the local governmental has received much less scholarly research attention (Bhattachan, 2002.)  This study will seek to address that gap.

Despite the absence of local elections between 1999 and 2013, the local government units have continued to function, including throughout the period of the Maoist insurgency. The political and social location of state-appointed local government officials presents them with conflicts and challenges. This study explores how local officials perceive and implement their role vis à vis the central government, the national political parties, the NGOs and INGOs, and the structural and political realities in the local context.

To examine this issue, I conducted interviews with Chief Development Officers (CDOs) and Local Development Officers (LDOs) in 17 districts in fall of 2012. With a research question focusing on local government officers’ perspectives regarding conflicting interests among multiple stakeholders, I deliberately selected a sample of districts that reflects such conflicts.  Further, the sample also reflected the three geographic regions: the Terai, the Hilly Districts, and the High Mountain districts, as well as the five Development District Zones.Working with an interpreter, I conducted a total of 25 semi-structured qualitative interviews with officials in these districts (Patton, 2001).  Using inductive content analysis, the research surfaced themes related to how local government officers perceive the following: tensions between local and state agendas; the voice of marginalized groups in local decision-making processes; the role of political parties locally; the impact of INGOs; and the role of corruption.  This paper presents the findings of this study.

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Civil Society Approach to Rise of Unionism in Nepal
Pitambar Bhandari, Lecturer, Department of Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, Tribhuvan University, Nepal 

Abstract: After 1950’s, Nepal experienced tripartite agendas in the history of state-building– democracy as a political regime, economic liberalization and diplomatic interdependence in the post-colonial world. Industrialization and the associated labour issues emerged as political instruments and social movement agenda. The trade union activities which were prohibited during the panchayat regime, however, resumed after the reinstatement of parliamentary democracy in 1990.

In the context of low scale industrial economy compared to agro- based activities, unionism has grown as a new trend of movement including wider range of labor forces from industrial sector, civil service, teachers and other business entrepreneurs. The functioning of trade unions is not merely limited to the wage and welfare relationship between the employer and employee. It is also extended to Union formation which includes political party lineage. In each political movement of national level since 1950’s, unions have become the driving agents in terms of resource mobilization and issue regulation. After signing the Comprehensive Peace Accord between the Government of Nepal and CPN (Maoist) in 2006, rise of unionism has been equated with frequent strikes demanding the power sharing mechanism even in the recruitment of staff. National level development projects are often encountered with the obstruction of workers’ union affiliated to certain political parties. Mostly, those projects are of bilateral concern among neighboring countries. During the time of ten years long armed conflict and April uprising of 2005, unions acted as a part of civil society movement. The central argument of this paper is that rise of unionism in Nepal is not isolated form of industrial economic structure but has linkage with party building and intra-union struggle. This paper further examines the efficacy of the unions as watchdogs for economic welfare and the rights of the workers.

The first part of the paper tries to trace the history of unionism in Nepal and the current status of trade unions in Nepal. The second part will compare and contrast the global trend of unionism with respect to social movements in Nepal. In the third part, formation, objectives and activities of the trade unions and their legacy with political parties along with intra-union conflict will be analyzed based on the primary and secondary sources. For the purpose of data, literatures on labor issues, political party manifestos and policy paper related to labor act and regulations will be reviewed.

Keywords: Civil society, Unionism, Social movement, Political Instrument

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Keynote address

Hegemonic Gender (In) egalitarianism, Multiple Patriarchies, and Exclusion: Gender Relations among Indigenous-nationalities in Nepal
Rajendra Pradhan, Dean, Nepā School of Social Sciences and Humanities 

Abstract: It is widely believed by many Nepalis as well as Nepali and foreign scholars, e.g. Joanna Watkins (1996) and Kathryn March (2002),that the indigenous-nationalities (adivasi-janajatis) are more egalitarian, including in their gender relations, than other communities, especially the notoriously hierarchical and inegalitarian Hindus.  It is thus possible to speak of hegemonic inegalitarianism and hegemonic egalitarianism among these different communities. At the same time, however, anthropologists have demonstrated a wide variety of gender relations and patriarchy among the indigenous-nationalities and that these relations have changed over the past two centuries due to international, national as well as local causes.  Following Seira Tamang, it is therefore more accurate to characterize these diverse communities not in terms of single patriarchy but multiple and changing patriarchies. From a different register, it could be argued that there are different forms of inclusion and exclusion of women in these communities.

In this paper, I explore the nature of gender relations among some selected indigenous-nationalities, based on published sources and on-going research, to question the common perception of gender egalitarianism among adivasi-janajatis. By way of contrast, I will also discuss gender relations among Brahmins. More specifically, I will attempt to address the issue of hegemonic gender egalitarianism and inegalitarianism by examining gender relations in different domains or spheres such as politics, economy and religion on the one hand and marriage, love, sex and control over the body on the other. I will also discuss the different forms of gender exclusion and inclusion and the degree of agency and autonomy of women in these different domains or spheres. Finally, I will locate gender relations among these communities within the wider local, national and international as well as historical context.

I will argue that while in general it could be said that most indigenous-nationalities are more egalitarian than Hindus, especially in their gender relations, and that women do have more agency and autonomy, we can nevertheless discern different forms of gender inequality and exclusions of women among these communities. This is especially so when we examine gender relations in the spheres of politics, religion and to some extent, economy. I will also argue that we need to pay attention to the intersection of gender with ethnicity/caste as well as class and other vectors such geographical location and generation while discussing gender relations. I will emphasize that we must not assume that gender relations among the adivasi-janajatis as well as Hindus have remained the same throughout history but that they have changed over time in response to local, national and international forces.

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