Personal tools
You are here: Home News Analysis and Views State Restructuring For Federalism
Log in

Forgot your password?

State Restructuring For Federalism

Issue 50, December 11, 2011

Siddhi B Ranjitkar

Discussions about the names of states or provinces and a number of states have been going on among the people, political parties and the newly set-up State Restructuring Commission. However, none of them has been concerned with the power the states or provinces would have to run the state administration. If these states would have power just as the current municipalities have then the states would not make any different from the current municipalities. So, the discussions about the power to be delegated to the states would be more appropriate than the names and number of states. Once the delegation of power is agreed upon then it does not make much difference what names the states would have and the number of the states the federation would have.

First of all the federal constitution should guarantee all Nepalis the fundamental rights to earn his/her living and then make savings, to settle any part of the country no matter which state it belongs to, and to participate in any event without discrimination based on ethnicity, caste (even though the laws don’t recognize caste but it still prevails in the society), and religion. In other words, any state should treat its citizens without any discrimination. Each state should protect lives and properties of its citizens.

The second most important part of the federal constitution should be none of citizens residing any where in Nepal should talk of breaking away from the federation. Such talks should be made criminal acts and subject to punishment. Every state should be an integral and unbreakable part of the federation.

The citizenship of any Nepali residing any part of the country no matter which part of a state s/he resides should be universally accepted across the country. Each state should be able to grant a citizenship certificate and a passport based on the birth certificate of any citizens, and other sorts of citizenships following the federal law.

Having said these two important parts of the federal constitution, then we need to talk about the states or provinces. Every state should be independent of each other. Each state should have its constitution based on the federal constitution. Each state needs to elect a constituent assembly (CA) to formulate a new constitution. This state CA would formulate a new constitution not contradicting to the federal constitution.

Each state would have a state legislature, state court, state government and certainly the independent media. Each state would have these four pillars of good governance.

Each state should have rights to develop its economy independently. The federal government should not interfere in the socio-economic development of any state except for the case of the common resources such as hydropower, irrigation water, drinking water, and probably sharing in common forest. Each state should be able to harness its natural resources without causing any problems to the adjoining states.

Each state should have education and language policy not diverging from the federal policy. Each state could have schools run in any language but any state should not enforce one language policy or impose any language on its citizens. Freedom of educating anybody in any language should be universally accepted rights of the people.

Each state could run its administration in any language its legislature has decided. However, each state should keep the record of its administration in the lingua franca: in our case it is Nepali language. None of us should dispute it. Corresponding with the federal government and other state governments, each state should invariably use Nepali language and use the international calendar rather than local calendar and the prevailing Vikram calendar. We need to forget about the Vikram calendar and other local calendars. However, any state should be able to use any calendar for the religious and social purposes.

Each state should have its police and security apparatus. The police and security forces should limit their activities in the state. In case of the need for crossing the border they need to receive permission from the state they want to enter as the police and security officers. In other words maintaining the law and order should be entirely the state business. Only when the state could not manage the security situation then it could ask the federal government for assistance. Then, the federal government needs to take up the security of such a state and then put the law and order in place in the state.

No matter by what name you call a state, each state should not discriminate any citizen based on the ethnicity, caste, and religion. None of the citizen should be denied to participate in the state politics, administration and in other activities. For example, if the Kathmandu and surrounding areas are declared a Nevah State, it does not mean that only Nevahs could be the government or state legislature. All the people residing within its territory should be able to participate in any elections as candidates for any official positions or as electorate. As a result, anybody Brahimn, Khetri, Madheshi, Tharus, Rai, Limbu, Tamang and so on could be the elected governor or members of the legislature of the Nevah state. It makes no difference of calling any state in any name because it makes each person in a stare a sovereign citizen.

If a state has dispute with another state over natural resources or any other things, the federal government should act has a referee. Each state should abide by the decision of the federal government.

Each state should not have a direct contact with the outside world. The foreign policy and the defense of the country should be under the judiciary of the federal government. Each state could have foreign assistance but not directly. Such assistance should come through the federal government.

The federal government would take up inter-state development activities. For example, the highways and irrigation systems often cross a number of states. So, the federal government should take up such projects but the states could be made responsible for operation and maintenance of the portions that lie within their territories.

Having said all about the duties and responsibilities of the states, we can now discuss about the number of states and the names of the states. I am sure that none of the residence of any part of the country would seriously disagree with the territory and name of any state if each state would have all the responsibilities and duties as mentioned earlier. So, it might be even better to leave the number of states and their names to the experts.

If the states don’t have the rights and duties to develop each state as its legislatures want then such states would not be much different from the current municipalities. Our municipalities have the duties to clean up the streets, collect and dispose the trash. They can certify the residence of anybody residing within its territory. They are not for other service delivery.

Therefore, all Nepalis need to discuss about the rights and duties of states rather than their names and number. Let the state media such as Radio Nepal, Nepal TV, state newspapers such as ‘gorkhapatra’ and ‘The Rising Nepal’ takes such messages to the people, then the private media would follow suit.

December 6, 2011

Document Actions