9th Constitution Day: Progresses and challenges so far
Eight years ago today, Nepal officially charted a new course by promulgating a constitution that embraced federalism, republicanism and secularism. The centuries-old monarchy was condemned to history.
The Nepali people were the new sovereign. The Constitution of 2015 also ensured rights and inclusion of marginalized and disadvantaged communities. But this historic document was by no means perfect. It had many rough edges, so to speak, that needed smoothening. And naturally, it wasn’t universally accepted; out of 598 Constituent Assembly members, 538 voted in favor of the constitution while 60 people voted against it.
Political parties and people from the historically backward Tarai region in the southern plains outright denounced the constitution, demanding for greater rights and autonomy. There were protests in many Tarai districts and on the streets of Kathmandu. Nevertheless, the Constitution was passed by the assembly, by the hands of the country's first President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, who happened to be of Tarai origin.
As this year marks the ninth anniversary of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, ApEx spoke with various experts, professionals and commoners to know about their take on the Constitution, about its positives and negatives.
Neer Bikram Shah, Filmmaker
We often hear critiques of the new constitution, highlighting its perceived shortcomings. However, when we delve into its impact on the film industry, the changes might not be immediately tangible, but there's a profound positive shift on a psychological level. Picture this: the new constitution has breathed life into filmmakers, assuring them of their creative independence and liberating their artistic spirit. It's as if the constraints have been lifted, opening up a world of possibilities in film production. Mentally, everyone involved in the film industry feels the encouragement in the air. But that's not all. The new constitution has also laid out a red carpet of fresh content opportunities, especially catering to the intellectual minds among us. Now, the real magic will happen when we translate these psychological boosts into concrete actions, making the constitution a living, breathing reality in our creative endeavors.
Indra Adhikari, Political Analyst
Since the enactment of the 2015 Constitution, the subsequent governments have gained legal legitimacy, signifying a government of, by and for the people. This constitution has played a crucial role in implementing a federal structure. Although the provincial governments are yet to operate optimally, the local administrations are functioning efficiently, a feat made possible by this new constitution. This constitution embodies inclusivity and employs proportional representation, granting significant opportunities and respect to women, Dalits and other minority groups. Public involvement stands as a pivotal aspect, fostering empowerment and enhanced political awareness. The appreciation of all religions is held in equal regard. These key aspects brought about by this Constitution serve as vital elements in bolstering democracy.
SC Suman, Artist
Nepal has been shaped by several political movements over the last decades. Despite the shifts, political instability still looms. There are glimmers of hope: Identity gains prominence, education flourishes. But factories are idle, farms are withering and brain drain continues. Fertilizer shortages and irrigation woes plague us, spawning unemployment. There is a notable absence of robust economic policies. None can forget the governments that couldn't last their tenure. Political instability, meddling, and corruption scar our land. I hope the better days will surely come if our political leaders show integrity, live up to people’s expectations and govern competently.
Bharat Acharya, Sociologist
The 2015 Constitution has given Nepalis everything, at least on paper. For most, little has changed. This charter has given us a castle of dreams, that’s all. I see no difference between the constitutions of 1990 and that of 2015. Farmers struggle for seeds and fertilizers. Nepalis flee daily to foreign lands in search of better jobs. Freedom of expression exists, yet who listens? We need an accountable government and a society that balances rights with duties. It's time to breathe life into the constitution by focusing on its implementation.
Anjila Shrestha Pradhananga, Tour Executive, Temple Tiger Group of Companies
The 2015 Constitution was a transformative moment in Nepal's history, turning it into a federal democratic republic. It granted essential rights—equality, free speech, and social justice—laying the foundation for a more inclusive society. This constitution's gift of religious tolerance fosters harmony among diverse communities. Inclusivity reigns supreme, with minorities well-represented. It champions natural resource conservation and ecological preservation. No exclusion based on gender or ethnicity. As a guide for the nation’s political and social growth, the constitution has ultimately been crucial in establishing peace and stability in Nepal after years of strife. But we have to remember that this Constitution is a work in progress. Our work of making Nepal just, equitable, and prosperous for all isn’t done yet.
Sajani Rijal, Founder/Principal, Pahilo Pathshala
A republic is power for the people, but in Nepal, it feels like a dream. Our dependence on others grows. Violence simmers. Youth flee due to instability and lack of opportunities. We're forced to think twice about food and shelter. The constitution has given us nothing but a terrible life. Subsequent governments after 2015 have failed to give proper platforms to youths, innovators and business owners.
Diwash Ghimire, Student, St Xavier’s College
Only the private sector has been involved in development while the government is sitting idle. Promised rights like healthcare and employment remain elusive. Education quality is also questionable. The government struggles to create a liveable society. Policies must change. The government should create jobs and improve the environment. The constitution must benefit all, not just the connected few.
Bishwas Poudel, Entrepreneur
The 2015 Constitution brought a few positive changes and a lot of negative situations.
Businesses are suffering, instability is rising, and people are migrating to foreign countries. Corruption also continues to thrive. Promised dreams remain unfulfilled. The only positive thing the constitution has given is better life for the politicians and those close to them. The common people meanwhile are facing difficulties because of the poor economic conditions. Nepal needs a brighter path. The constitution must deliver on its promises, ensuring basic rights and needs.
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