--By Saloni Maheshwari
The long awaited promulgation of the new constitution has finally come though I believe that Nepal's toughest challenge was not concluding the peace process or drafting the constitution, but rather it’s in building an economic future for the young people of Nepal.
Today, when we look at Nepal where 20.8 percent of the total population falls in the age group of 16-25 years, while 40.68 percent of the population lies in the age group of 16-40. This phenomenon, where the youths account for the largest segment of the population of any country is defined as a ‘youth bulge’. This provides a unique opportunity for Nepal.
But there are questions that need to be addressed: Do they feel invested in their nation? Do they see opportunities? Do they see a bright future for themselves in their homeland?
Nepal is situated between two of the fastest growing economies in the world, India and China, seemingly an enviable location. The spillover effects from these two economies can create thousands of jobs and expand trade but investors are reluctant because of the political instability, labour problems, power shortages and other economic problems.
Against this backdrop, our young people look abroad for their future and growth. They go abroad for their higher studies and some leave the country to work in the Middle East or Malaysia. Migration is nothing new to Nepal, and the number of Nepalis working overseas is estimated to be about half a million. The reasons behind migration are: poverty, limited employment opportunities, deteriorating agricultural productivity, political unrest, economic issues. There are many villages in Nepal where labour migration has been established as a culture of a community, which means going abroad for work for awhile and returning with some money and the experience of living in a different geographical location.
The young generation has made significant contributions to all political movements and continues to make economic contributions as well. There are about three million Nepali youths currently working in the Gulf and other countries. About 55 percent of Nepali households have at least one family member outside the country. Thus, the remittance directly benefits their households and the community.
Across the nation, the recent financial and economic crisis has led to soaring youth unemployment. The ongoing situation in the country has displaced people from employment and the alternative means of employment for displacement is foreign employment. This situation has also limited development activities throughout the country and there is no sign of industry expansion. This situation has created more difficulty in securing employment within the country leading to foreign employment.
Numerous studies argue that youth unemployment and underemployment are a threat to the social, economic and political stability of a nation. There is one theory stressing the role that political repression plays in driving conflict. In this view, ethnic groups that experience discrimination would be the most likely to organise armed insurrections against the state, and conflicts should be most likely to erupt in undemocratic states and those with pronounced social divisions. This is also likely to happen in a less divided society, but where people feel marginalised because of the lack of jobs or extreme poverty. This is exactly what’s happening in our country.
The recent economic crisis and political tension has severely affected the country. The roads of Kathmandu always full of traffic, noise, pollution are, these days, unnervingly quiet. All this due to the fuel crisis.
Here are some views regarding the fuel crisis:
"I have been waiting in my car, queuing, for the last six days. The situation is very bad. What can I do? I need fuel to work," a taxi driver says in Kathmandu.
“Walking in this scorching sun for 5 kms every day to get to work is really exhausting and again thinking of going back home after work takes all my energy away,” says a 27 year old working professional.
“Waiting endless number of hours in a queue to get petrol and after this long wait what I got to hear is ‘No Petrol’, it was so frustrating to hear those two words. My time, work, and energy got ruined totally. How can one deal with this?” a 30 year old working professional says.
If this kind of situation prevails in the country the future of the young generation definitely will be at stake. Youths want a secure future and growth in their career but in this condition there cannot be growth and opportunities will be very scarce. So what’s the future of the young generation in Nepal?
Young people are facing different kinds of problems, most especially being deprived of getting opportunities. They have been left disillusioned by the country’s negative situation and are worried about their future.
The youth force is an invaluable asset for the nation. The youths are pioneers of economic, social, political and cultural transformation and are a driving force for change. This class remains an important asset when it comes to nation building.
They can bring about changes but for this to happen they need to unite themselves and be ready to work. They need to take action and work for their country instead of going abroad. The situation in the country is not that sustainable right now, but to make the country, the young generation has to take action rather than just sitting back and complaining. If Nepal becomes better our condition will get better automatically, hence we need to see things in this perspective.
The government and concerned authorities should also monitor economic opportunities for young people. Creating viable jobs for young people is a precondition for sustainable development and peace in the nation. The government should think critically and creatively about social and political alternatives for dealing with political unrest. It is important to recognise the contributions that could be made by the youths in the direction of peace making and making the country economically, politically and socially sustainable.
We need to work collectively to make a better society, a peaceful society. We need to have political will and political diplomacy to concentrate on the conflict issue. The politicians should promote youth representation within their parties and also strive to address their needs. A more coordinated and concerted approach that focuses on the needs of the youth and how it can make them part of the process will be more likely to garner their praise and increase their positive involvement.
The writer is an MBA Graduate in Marketing from Ace Institute of Management.
Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/19/growing-youth-population-fuel-political-unrest-middle-east-south-america, http://www.nepaldemocracy.org/civic_education/Youth%20&%20Politics.html