Nepali Youth And Tomorrows'
By C. D. Bhatta
In December 2006, I had a
chance to attend two seminars organised by Friedrich-Ebert
Stiftung (FES), a German think tank based in Kathmandu,
on the role of the youth in the democratisation and social
transformation process in Nepal. Both seminars placed important
emphasis on the role of the youth in driving the nation
ahead by shelving the recurrent political instability and
deconstructing the existing social bias in the country or
by straightening the political as well as social health
of the country for that matter. The seminars were attended
by a good number of youths and would-be politicians.
What was observed from the interaction
with the youngsters is that the Nepali state can certainly
bank on this generation for the overall upliftment of the
country provided an opportunity is given to them to serve
the nation. In the words of Dev Raj Dahal, a noted political
scientist and head of the FES in Nepal, the young generation
has a better sense of belonging, patriotism and is more
learned compared to the generation that has been at the
helm of governance for generations and has staged multiple
political movements in the country.
This generation can meet the demand generated
by modernity factors such as globalisation and its undercurrent
effects that are noticed in every sector of human governance.
But the problem in Nepal, as Dahal pointed out, is that
there is no proper acumen - policies and programmes - to
tap the potential of this generation in the national mainstream.
Neither is there an established culture to introduce youths
in the politics ?that makes decisions for the nation? instead
of engaging them in ?street politics? to consolidate the
vested interests of the political elite.
The contribution of the Nepali youth in
the democratisation process is immense. In fact, all the
yesteryear political movements - anti-Rana movement of 2007
B.S., student movement of 2036 B.S. against the Panchayat
regime which ultimately pushed for a referendum in the country,
the people?s movement of 2046 B.S. and the April uprising
of 2063 - are classic examples in this regard. In contrast,
successive generations of Nepali youngsters have been used
and abused by the politicians and ruling elite to fulfil
their own mundane objectives right from the time of its
unification some 240 years ago.
As a result, to our dismay, all the past
political movements remained only in ?movement? to be recalled
in political history as they have failed to bring about
necessary changes in the political culture of the nation.
In Nepal, all national policies and programmes are influenced
by politics not by national demand. And the state and society
both have only understood the language of nepotism, favouritism
rather than civility. This practice has instilled a feeling
of being more fatalistic than pragmatist in nature among
the Nepali youth. But this is bound to change in the days
Nepal is going through various highs and
lows - be it in political, economic or social issues. Every
comfort, discomfort, approval, disapproval or breach of
law either by a governmental or non-governmental sector
is being challenged through severe street protests. The
protests are largely participated or led by youngsters and
show the major concern of the nation dwellers about the
state?s affairs. It clearly reflects their anger against
the ?oldies? polices? and exhibits the youngsters? ability
to judge between right and wrong.
In fact, the level of consciousness in
the new generation has increased by leaps and bound, and
it appears that the existing practice of ruling the nation
by sidelining the youths will change and will have to change
for the better in a new Nepal. There have been many occasions,
in addition to the protests for the cause of democracy per
se, in which the youth have been showing their disapproval
by actively participating in the rallies and demonstrations.
They?ve been in the streets to protest price hikes of basic
commodities like petroleum products, electricity tariff
and consumable commodities. It is good to show concern about
day to day affairs, otherwise the state would turn anarchic.
Having said this, however, the biggest
challenge that lies ahead for the Nepali youth is to change
the existing form of governance that does not allow them
to take active part in the institutional life of the nation
(decision making process). Perhaps, the barrier that comes
on the way in this regard is the ?partisan student wings?
that have been patronised heavily by the central party leadership
of the political parties for ages.
The party leadership has created ranks
and files in the student wings deliberately to consolidate
their political future. This practice, in contrast, has
vertically divided the Nepali youth and has produced twin
repercussions in them. First the ?politicisation of youths?
and second the ?political youths? - who bred on party patrimony
- have failed to assimilate non-political youths (secular
youths) in the mainstream.
Hence, the simple analysis of the situation
is that as long as this vertical division remains in place,
the youth organisations can neither claim their writ on
governance nor can they make vibrant organisation(s) of
their own which can bail this country out from the intermittent
Note: This article was published
in The Rising Nepal dated 12 January 2007