Youths yearn for change of leadership


We complain and we argue that there’s nothing much youths can do until and unless they join mainstream politics. But even if we decide to join politics, reaching a position of influence isn´t easy as the older generation is not yet ready to cede the power. It’s a catch-22 situation for the younger generation and most of us have learnt to live with it.

A host of issues concerning younger generation in Nepal have not been addressed by the government. Unemployment, among all other problems, tops the list. Every single day, Nepal is losing its “working age” population to Gulf and other countries. Nothing is being done to tap the youthful energies without which development of a country is impossible. 

Implementation of the youth policy, introduced in 2010, has failed to remedy the situation and the youth today are seeking change of the leadership.

On democracy

“We can voice ourselves more openly now compared to the past and I think Maoists are to be credited for this change,” says Dipendra KC, 23, president of YUWA, a youth organization based in Kathmandu. 

He added that people are more aware of their rights now and do not keep mum if they feel deprived of their rights. He is of the view that policy makers understand the role young people can play in the development of the country but are still hesitant to let them take the helms. 

“If I want to start a business, nobody will finance me. The Yuva Swarojgar Yojana (Youth Self-employment Fund), which was set up to provide loans to young people who want to start a business, is being used for the benefit of cadres of political parties,” KC opines.

On the other hand, Pukar Bam, 25, co-founder of Bibekshil Nepali, a political party founded by the youth, agrees with KC and adds that democracy has been fruitful only for some political leaders and party workers. Bam adds that in the recent five to six years, he has seen youth coming back from abroad seeking opportunities to do things at home. “They are very much willing to step out of their comfort zone to bring about change,” he says. “I think that’s the only good thing this whole political instability has brought us,” he says, summing that the youths know if they don’t do something, everything will remain the same. 

Change doesn’t come easy and it takes time. In Nepal, however, change is not something that’s welcomed with open arms. You take a step forward and there will be scores of people trying to pull you back. That’s the point Pushpa Gurung, 23, field coordinator at Nepal Mahila Ekata Samaj, wants to make. “Unity has definitely risen since the restoration of democracy but moving forward is still difficult because there is always someone pulling you back. It does not matter even if what you are doing is for the good of the country,” she says. 

Prasun Rai, 25, an intern at Actionaid Nepal, also raises the issue of youth in the rural areas not being updated with the whole scenario. “Privileged youths are aware about a lot of things but those in the remote areas are unaware of it.”

Disagreeing with Rai’s statement, Aman Lama, 21, a member of Activista, a youth platform, says, “They are aware about the happenings. What they lack is the opportunity to express themselves. Since they are far from the capital city, they don’t have much exposure in the media and, hence, we assume that they are unaware.” Lama thinks that youth outside the Valley should also get equal space in media so that they are encouraged to do more.

On federalism

The erstwhile kingdom of Nepal was renamed Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal on May 28, 2008 when the Constituent Assembly overwhelmingly favored the abolishment of the monarchy. However, the federal system has yet to be given a complete shape as the political parties cannot decide how to go about it and how the separate states should function. 

The Constituent Assembly served its term for four years but was not able to produce the much anticipated “Constitution of Nepal” due to the inability of the parties to resolve some issues.

Rai, who thinks federalism is not suitable for Nepal, shares, “Nepal’s geography is such that federalism doesn’t make sense. People might get services faster and that need not have to travel to Kathmandu to get passports, but the cost of running the country would rise too. And if it’s the development we are talking about, it can still be done without dividing Nepal if we come up with proper plans.” 

Lama, however, pointed out another problem. “It would be difficult to put in place a proper taxation system. If one state increases the price of basic commodities, what will happen?” questions Lama. He also expressed that some states might be richer than another and that might invite instability.

Bam, too, thinks that the overall cost would rise and so would corruption. Also, he says, “We need to ask whether federalism is actually wanted by the people or the leaders. I don’t see any problems with the five development zones. It’s just that it’s not functioning very well due to the inability of the government.”

Bam is certain that the elections will take place for a new Constituent Assembly. “We should vote for people only after going through their Curriculum Vitae,” he says. “We need to vote for someone who can lead us and not disappoint us and for that to happen, we need to make sure that we vote for the right person.”