A Roundtable was held on the theme of “Institutional Basis for Augmenting Efficiency of Social Partnership: Experiences of Uzbekistan and Korea” at Hanyang University in Seoul on Oct. 20, 2015 hosted by the Asia-Pacific Research Center (APRC) of Hangyang University and sponsored by the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Korea.
The Roundtable was attended, from the Uzbek side, by Deputy Chairperson Svetlana Artikova of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis (parliament), Ambassador Botirjon Asadov of Uzbekistan in Seoul, Section Chief Olim Soliev at the Office of the President of Uzbekistan, Chairman Javdat Inagamov of Mahalla Fund, Project Manager Abdurasul Rakhamanov at the Independent Institute on Monitoring of Formationof Civil Society, Chief Editor Bakhodir Ergashev of Civil Society magazine of Uzbekistan and several other persons.
From the Korean side came Director Eom Gu-ho of ARPC, Senior Research Fellow Kang Miong-Sei of Sejong Institute, Professor Kim Jong-gul of Graduate School of Hanyang University, Professor Ko Jae-Nam of Korea National Diplomatic Academy and 10 other experts in the field.
Opening remarks were made by Director Eom Gu-Ho of ARPC and congratulatory speeches by Ambassador Botirjon Asadov of Uzbekistan in Seoul and Chairman Choi Jae-Keun of the Silk Road Foundation of Korea.
Eom said, “Mahalla in the Republic of Uzbekistan enhances the role of social partnership and efforts have been made in the country under the leadership of the government for the promotion of contribution to the society since its independence.” Then he said that Mahalla is the basic cell of the social autonomy and forms the mental and spiritual basis of the Uzbek people.
“I would say,” said Director Eom, “that Mahalla in Uzbekistan is a social movement which compares to the Saemaeul Undong (New Community Movement) in Korea in the 1970s.” Then he expressed hopes that sociological studies and discussions on Mahalla through the Korean-Uzbek Roundtable will contribute to the promotion of overall social collaboration between the two countries beyond the range of the governmental cooperation.
Korea had been one of the poorest countries in the world with abject poverty gripping the peninsular for the past five millennia. President Park Chung-hee, the architect of Saemaeul Undong (New Community Movement), changed the lot of the Korean people from one of the poorest to one of the richest in the world. He began with the per-capital GNI of mere US$60 in 1960 increasing it to a whopping US$1,747 within less than 20 years through the Saemaeul Undong Movement.
Session 1 of the Round Table dealt with “Social Partnership and Mahalla in Uzbekistan,” where Deputy Chairperson Artikova of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan spoke on the topic of “Uzbekistan’s Experience in Developing Civil Society: Strengthening the Institute of Family ? Important Direction of Mahalla’s Activity.”
The next speaker, Section Chief Soliev of the Office of the President of Uzbekistan, expressed his view on the subject of “Mahalla’s Role in Young Generation’sEducation.”
Then came Chairman Inagamov of Mahalla Fund, who gave his opinion on the topic of “Mahalla: EffectiveMechanism of Targeted Social Support, Important Participation of Public Control.”
Discussions followed with the participation of Professor Ko, President Park Sang-Nam of Korean Association of Eurasian Studies, Vice President Lee Jae-young of Korea institute for International Economic Policy and Professor Lee Sang-joon of Kookmin University.
Mahalla in the Republic of Uzbekistan appears to bear a great significance in view of the statement of President Islam Karimov on Mahalla. He said: “In our endeavour to protect our spiritual life, national mentality and values, beliefs and thinking, customs and traditions, enrich our spiritual world, we fully realise that it is directly related to granting the Mahalla institution even greater opportunities, extending its legal and practical powers. By doing this we will certainly make a huge step forward towards building a free civil society.”
Here is a brief introduction of Mahalla as an important element of civil society:
A traditional self-government body known as Mahalla is the most important civil institution in modern Uzbekistan. Based on centuries-old traditions of the Uzbek people, during the years of independence Mahalla's activities have been officially formalized, it's role increased dramatically, and it was given broad authority by the state to solve effectively many socially significant tasks.
Uzbeks live for thousands of years collectively in the communities. This is a unique mechanism of self-governing, which is rooted into people's values and historically established community relations.
Today, Mahalla has become a popular social association adapted to modern realities, enriched with new content. It addresses important issues related to the maintaining high spiritual and moral values, education of the younger generation, the strengthening of the institution of family and social support for entrepreneurship. During the past 24 years it has grown into one of the standard for the international community examples of modern democracy.
The interaction of government, business and citizens' self-regulation institution contributes to the realization of one of the principles of the Uzbek model of reforms - conducting a strong social policy and achieving effective results.
Announcement of this year as a Year of attention and care for the older generation, initiated by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the adoption of a respective State program have tasked Mahallawith more important missions. In accordance with the State Program, representatives of citizens' assemblies and other public organizations, together with young people pay special attention to the elderly, who enjoy full support in effective settling social and other kinds of issues. Thus, at every gathering of citizens the program provides the setting up of permanent health groups for the elderly, disabled and other categories of the population on the basis of the nearby sports facilities, gyms, medical and physical education classrooms.
As we know, annually the Parliament of Uzbekistan adopts programs on creating jobs and providing employment. According to them, the Mahalla is involved in recording and monitoring jobs, temporary employment of unemployed population, especially youth. Cooperation with enterprises and organizations is being set to bring the information about vacancies to the public. At the same time, regularly held local job fairs are acquiring greater importance. Particular attention is paid to the employment of graduates from professional colleges (in accordance with the received specialization), their involvement in the field of entrepreneurship.
In accordance with recent changes in national legislation, so-called counseling centers to promote entrepreneurship are formed in the communities. They attract competent professionals who provide methodological and practical assistance in establishing businesses. As a result, big cities are rapidly developing consumer products, trade, and services. The art of handicrafts gained momentum at the centers of the historical sites. Livestock, beekeeping, and agriculture sectors were positively affected in mountainous and irrigated areas.
Businessmen in Mahalla, effectively using conditions and opportunities created in the country, have been improving their living conditions, educating their children and providing them with housing. Currently, more new jobs were created for the population, especially for young people, through the development of businesses.
It is known that in any society there are at least three criteria for the level of democracy. These are the awareness of the law-making processes, the participation of citizens in state governing, and control by the people. Independent Uzbekistan has established a complete system to ensure public control, where an important place belongs to the Civil Society.
Effectively implemented bodies of self-government public control contributes to the creation of necessary conditions for active participation of citizens in the life of Mahalla. The Constitution of Uzbekistan and other legal acts provide the right to Mahalla to exercise social control in areas such as the environment, education, health, consumer protection, the protection of social and economic rights of citizens and others.
Particular importance in the spiritual and moral education and effective training of the younger generation in Uzbekistan is given to the implementation of the mechanism of interaction "Family - Mahalla - educational institution".
This mechanism includes the establishment of a permanent relationship between the parents, Mahallas and secondary schools, academic lyceums and professional colleges aimed at prevention, early detection and resolution of issues that negatively affect the education and the learning process of children.
Together with the components of the mechanism, the quality of teaching in educational institutions, the level of involvement of children in the learning process, the atmosphere in the family are monitored in order to timely response to life situations affecting the comprehensive development of children. High sense of responsibility of parents, Mahallas and educational institutions for the future of the younger generation is being implemented through various forms of leisure facilities organization taking into account the interests of young people.
Ongoing educational institutions meetings, discussions, and conversations provide significant results as they attract highly qualified professors, teachers, talented students and representatives of model families, thereby increasing their effectiveness.
Moreover Mahalla has not just set up and operate the tools of social control, but also is developing new and more effective ones. The process of improving the forms and methods of such control is continuous and consistent in line with best global trends.
The thematic cycle "Healthy mother - healthy child" in Mahallas is doing a large and effective educational work to improve the medical culture of the population, educate young people to healthy lifestyles and reproductive health.
According to the 2015 new edition of the Law "On Physical Culture and Sports", the organization of promotion of physical culture and sports is carried out jointly with the government, public authorities on the ground, local authorities, sports organizations, and media. A separate article of the Law is devoted to the role of Mahalla in participation of the implementation of government and other programs in the field of physical culture and sports. National sports and folk games of Uzbekistan are declared as an integral part of the cultural heritage. Mahalla is greatly involved in the implementation of this Legislative Act. In general, there are 6.5 thousand sports sections covering more than 1.6 million participants in order to promote healthy lifestyles in schools and Mahallas. The total number of children involved in sports increased by 12.3% since the last year.
"Mahalla - your father and mother". It should be mentioned that each year Mahallas are actively involved in activities dedicated to the International Family Day. Particular marathons including members of youth clubs, the competition "The most exemplary family", contests of drawings of students of secondary schools, educational meetings and events with students of colleges and high schools, and "round tables" for students are organized. In all regions of the country, competitions among sports families are broadcasted by leading television and radio channels to all citizens.
Representatives of all nations in Uzbekistan and nationalities live together and in harmony. The significance of citizens' assemblies is increasing in ensuring the unity and cohesion of the people living on its territory, promoting the ideas of inter-ethnic harmony and religious tolerance, education of the young generation in the spirit of national and universal values. To this end, there are exhibitions of photographs, articles of folk crafts, cooking, folklore-ethnographic concerts, modern songs and dances performed by artistic groups, young talents, etc. Self-government institutions work closely with the Republican International Cultural Centre, and numerous national cultural centers regarding above mentioned events.
Mass housing construction in Uzbekistan on the basis of model projects now turned into an entire industry. Currently, new Mahalla guzars (offices), items of trade and consumer services, sports facilities and others are being built. People live in more comfort and prosperity in the newly formed communities. The most important thing - the inhabitants of the modern Uzbek Mahallas are changing world horizon becoming more broadminded, targeting the happy life with no inferior conditions.
Self-government bodies - Mahalla in Uzbekistan is really unique, distinctive, specific and representing an enormous practical importance for the further development of civil society.