The average age of Nepalese citizens is 21.6 years with 57.9% of our population lying in between the group of 15-65 age bracket (Nepal Population, 2018). This shows that in the current time, youth population is highest in our country which shows we have enormous amount of opportunities lying ahead of us.
This huge youth population also shows that today our country requires active participation of young minds in every sector – in politics as well. Nepal has now become a democratic country which means that people can rule for themselves and by themselves. This means that today young minds have the full freedom and opportunity to become a part of political arena of Nepal.
To know what is the status quo of youth in politics of Nepal and how it can develop in the future, we interviewed five experts from the political science sector of Nepal who have set an example of how young minds should become a part of politics in Nepal.
A perspective of Nepal Students Union:
Nepalese youth have always played a very important role in case of politics of Nepal as said by Mr. Nainsing Mahar, the President of Nepal Students Union. He cited examples saying “Nepalese youth showed an active participation in the various political reforms of Nepal whether it be in the formation of a multiparty democracy or in the case of Maoist insurgency or while ruling out monarchy from the country by protesting against former King Gyanendra’s rule.
As explained by Mr. Mahar, “All these political transformations took place and became successful in the leadership of young politicians. Yet, we haven’t been able to take this factor into consideration today. Whether it be the State or the political parties, none of these stakeholders have given our young minds a chance to exhibit their potential in politics which is a very upsetting fact.”
As further explained by Mr. Dilliram Subedi, Vice President of Nepal Students’ Union, “It is important to develop a logical attitude and critical thinking amongst our people to see the growth of healthy politics in our nation and this thinking can be instilled by the young minds. All the young minds of our country, whether or not they are related to a political party need to be aware of the political scenario and also need to praise the good and criticize the bad happening in politics and only then will our country move ahead in the path of development.”
Usually, in case of young minds in politics of Nepal, we have seen them conducting violence, coming out in the roads and protesting, doing Nepal Bandhas etc. in the name of conducting political activities.
Clarifying this, Mr. Prem Bahadur Shahi, Central Committee Member of Nepal Students Union stated “These things are usually seen and observed in the exterior. However, the true reality of youth participation is different. Today, young leaders in politics have been able to make major transformations in the education system of the country because of their determination. These positive aspects of youth leadership in politics is overlooked and ignored very often.”
Also, he further clarified stating, “In some of the previous cases, it had become crucial for young political leaders to come out in the roads in order to get their voices heard and the issues resolved. Nevertheless, we wish to see changes in the way how political reform takes place in our country. We hope to see youth political leadership going forward in Nepal in a peaceful and creative manner avoiding all the violent activities and this is a probable case given that young minds are today becoming educated.”
Ms. Ranju Darshana – A lady who leads by example:
Ranju Darshana, the central committee leader of Bibeksheel Nepali Party, expressed her interest in politics by standing as a mayoral candidate in the local elections of Nepal which took place in May 2017.
In case of young minds of our country, the thought process that ‘Politics is a dirty game’ is a prevalent belief and this has led to exposition of languid behavior from our youth in the sector of politics.
Because Ms. Darshana, breaking all the stereotypes had herself shown an active participation in the political sector of our country, she helped us go to the root of this problem. She stated “The thought process that politics is a dirty game and hence it should be avoided is detrimental. But there is a firm reason why such a belief prevails in the hearts of people. Our young minds have never been able to witness situations where they could see young people taking the leading positions in the political sector. They have always seen that old experienced enthusiasts take an active role in politics and hence they haven’t been able to visualize themselves in that position.”
So, politics has become a dirty game for our young minds because it hasn’t been able to become their cup of tea. Hopefully, we will be able to see youth participation in Nepalese politics in the future the beginning spark of which was visible in the local elections.
Also, one humorous fact about Politics in Nepal is that people as old as sixty to seventy years of age are called young politicians. So, this creates a mayhem about defining the role of youth in politics itself.
Giving a perspective about this thought, Ms. Darshana said, “Anyone who shows their interest and participation in politics is a special person because these are the kind of people that have the capability to rationalize thoughts and ideas. And it is not wrong of a person to indulge in politics a little later in their life.”
She added, “However, defining and segregating young minds and experienced people in politics is of great importance. Technically, people that belong to the age category of 16 to 40 can be considered young because they have all the capability to do things and they can be termed as ‘doers’.”
Both old and young people play an equally important role in case of politics of Nepal and as Ms. Darshana expressed “Young people are the driving actors and old people are there to redirect the young drivers towards the correct path by sharing their experiences. The experienced ones should be careful about the fact that there is no invalid imposition and forcefulness towards the young because politics doesn’t work that way.”
So, though age is just a number and it doesn’t matter in people’s choices of their career, segregating young and old becomes important to distribute the responsibility and accountability accordingly.
A perspective of the expert graduates and faculty in Political Science:
Any sector can be as good as the education of and about that sector. Hence, in order to know more about the sector of ‘Political Science’, we had our share of conversation with two active enthusiasts in politics who themselves went through rigorous academic courses of political science and today share knowledge about political science as prestigious professors.
Mr. Romnath Baral, Faculty of Political Science in Tribhuvan University stated, “One major reason why our young minds are not attracted towards politics is because it is not a money making career opportunity. Choosing to become a part of politics is equivalent to doing social service where no direct income generation is possible. Thus, financial security is a major question mark in the life of people who want to enter politics and this results in politics not remaining the prioritized career option for youth.”
There is a high financial insecurity in political career which pulls our young minds away from politics. In some cases, the fear of life also pulls young minds away from politics.
Clarifying about this Mr. Nirdesh Silwal, an expert in International Relations and Faculty of Political Science in National Law College and Little Angels College of Management, stated, “Earlier, there did exist a huge risk of life for people involved in politics especially in times of Maoist insurgency where we saw the enormous sacrifice of lives and families of a large number of politically involved people. In the past times, the politicians used to proudly state about their experiences of having to go to jail and becoming a prisoner used to be an unsaid condition for people interested in politics. However, the situation has improved a lot now.”
Mr. Silwal, further explained saying, “After the Constitution of Nepal came out in 2072 B.S., the political development in Nepal is turning out to be violence free and peaceful and for young minds who really want to become a part of politics today, they need not be insecure about life. There is a certain level of uncertainty in every profession but politics has become as secure as any other career choice in Nepal after the formation of constitution.”
Political Leadership as a Student Member:
Mr. Prakash Thapa Chhetri who is also known as Mr. N Prakash Thapa has been actively participating in political leadership as a student member. He has been a free student member in R.R College.
While talking about how young minds can play a role in politics, Mr. Prakash Thapa Chhetri stated, “Our country’s current demand is healthy participation of youth in politics. Today, many young political members have become a part of the political fraternity for the sake of earning money.”
The staggering reality of youth participation in politics as stated by Mr. Chhetri is that young people who don’t have a stable economic background become a part of politics with the purpose of earning money which ultimately results in evils like corruption.
Thus, as stated by Mr. Chhetri “Our country’s politics requires active participation from youths but nevertheless this participation should be healthy and with the purpose of greater good for the country. This might, in fact, even demand that young members become a part of politics only after they are secured. The basic commitment that is required by young political leaders is to bring on transparency. If you want to become a part of politics and lead the country, you have to be able to show where the money of the State is diverging to.”
Mr. Chhetri also shared his wise words of wisdom by saying “When you have to make a choice between energy and experience, it is imperative that energy is chosen because experience is something which is developed over time.”
The sad fact, however, in case of our political environment is that young enthusiasts are not being given a chance to actively participate in politics. Majority of the political parties choose a person who is experienced over a person who has energy and this has resulted in lack of reflection of energy in our political scenario currently.
Hence, as we talked to different people about role of youth in politics of Nepal, we could establish different perspectives. The bottom line, however, is that, it is not only a value addition but a necessity that the young minds of our country show their active role in politics. This participation can be both in direct and indirect ways. Direct participation demands time commitment and enthusiasm by young people whereas indirect participation requires the desire to become aware about political scenario and the courage to have opinions on the political framework of the nation.
Article By: Mahima Poddar