YOUTH MOVEMENT FOR RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION IN NEPAL’S POLITCAL AND PEACE PROCESS
To all the youth of Nepal struggling for representation and space in current
political and peace process
We, the ALLIANCE FOR PEACE: YOUTH SOLIDARITY NETWORK NEPAL, are reaching out
to ALL the youth of Nepal and would invite you all to "walk together" with
us to secure a space for ourselves in current political and peace process.
Our intent has been to pressurize the CURRENT GOVERNMENT and POLITCAL
PARTIES to acknowledge our efforts and activism in bringing political change
in Nepal and in restoring peace and democracy in Nepal.
When a country is moving through a transition to democratic setup, its
future rests on the foundation of the responsibilities taken up by the
youth. In Nepal, youth have always played an integral role in bringing
social and political change either by participating in the democratic
struggle directly, fighting against social injustice or involving themselves
in the process of community development.
In the past, when democratic principles and values were curbed and
fundamental rights restrained, YOUTH managed to come to the forefront and
fought for the democratic movement. The democratic movement of 1990 and the
recent one of April 2006 have proved it.
In most of the countries where transition to democracy takes place, the
country also witnesses the end of OLDER GENERATION rule - the political
leaders and elite gets younger. Nepal is also moving through a transition to
democracy and process has been started in establishing "New Nepal " a
"Progressive Nepal ".
But progressive Nepal and social political and economic change is not
possible without the involvement of youth - youth, who are educated,
competent, dedicated, who are receptive to progressive ideas and are willing
to work across party lines.
WE YOUTH being a prime mover of the country, a strong defender of democracy
have often been used, misguided and exploited by the political and social
elite for their temporary gains and once the objective is achieved our
actions are forgotten and our activism is sidelined. We have become
marginalized from all the political and peace processes and become
completely powerless and disconnected from the mainstream political and
THEREFORE, WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN US IN OUR EFFORTS FOR SECURING YOUTH RIGHTS
TO REPRESNTATION IN CURRENT POLITICAL AND PEACE PROCESS.
EXPRESS YOUR SOLIDARITY BY DROPPING WORDS OF SUPPORT IN
Nepalese Politics: It’s Time for Generation NextGirija Bahun Baje Dumbass
The young political leaders generally are also tolerant and open-minded regarding the democratisation process, economical reforms, and promotion of human rights - especially rights of women, children, minorities and the disabled. And, when we are talking about the young politicians we are talking about the people who are below the age of 40 unlike some political leaders of Nepal who still claim to be ‘young’ in their 50s.
By Suvechha Adhikari
The demand for change and an overarching spirit for the establishment of ‘New Nepal’ has dominated the current discourse for peace and democracy. However, the establishment of new Nepal is only possible if there is a replacement of one generation by another with new experiences and attitudes especially when it comes to social political and economic transformation. There has been a dramatic change in Nepal’s politics - signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Maoists entering the Parliament and preparation for Constituent Assembly election. But in the face of tough challenges ahead the political leaders are the same - older generation leaders who are responding attitudinally and behaviorally in a similar fashion to these new political developments.
In most countries where transition to democracy takes place, the country also witnesses the end of gerontocratic rule – and the political elite gets younger. When Kenya was passing through the transition to democracy, the only hope for the Kenyan people was the new generation of people who entered the parliament. The people were hopeful and it was the only way to root out the inept and regressive parliamentary culture. Similarly in Serbia, after it came out of the conflict and was passing through a transitional phase the country’s political elite also became young; 68% of its political elite were below 36 years of age. Likewise, in Estonian election in 2002 over 50% of the MP were selected for the first time in the parliament and the country has a Prime Minster who is just 37, Minster of Finance and Justice who are 29 years old. When the country is in a transformative process, it demands new ideas, legislative techniques and understanding on the progressive legislative bodies to deal with the complex policymaking and legislation processes. Similarly, during country’s transition to democracy, the issue of party lines also emerges, and it is substantiated that if young political leaders represented in the ruling power they have fewer ties to corruption and power struggle. The young political leaders generally are also tolerant and open-minded regarding the democratisation process, economical reforms, and promotion of human rights - especially rights of women, children, minorities and the disabled. And, when we are talking about the young politicians we are talking about the people who are below the age of 40 unlike some political leaders of Nepal who still claim to be ‘young’ in their 50s. Young political leaders with new ideas; who are dedicated and committed; who are free from the judgmental values; who hold the forward-looking and progressive perspectives. It is not only in the countries which are in transition to democracy but countries with well established democracies also, the representation of young people in different level of state structure is in practice. In India’s 14th Lok Sabha, 175 MPs were young political leaders, the largest in number and many of them were the first timers in their thirties.
Nepal has politically astute and disciplined young political leaders in political parties and their sister organisations. Young leaders who have always played an integral role in bringing social and political change in the country either by participating in the democratic struggle directly, fighting against social injustice or involving themselves in the process of community development. In the past, despite unfavorable circumstances when democratic principles and values were curtailed and fundamental rights restrained, youth political leaders have always managed to come to the forefront and become explicitly political which vitalised their tactics of dissent. From 1951, with the start of Jayatu Sansritam movement to end the 104 years of Rana oligarchy, and the struggle for democracy to the struggle of 2006, young political leaders have always played an important role. However, after each struggle and with the restoration of democracy, the efforts of these young political leaders are neither legitimised nor recognised. During the struggle, their presence as strong defenders of democracy is celebrated, but after the restoration of the democracy, their active contribution is shaded out by history and by subsequent political developments. Senior party leaders mobilise these young political leaders as their auxiliary troops to fight for their benefit and once the objective is achieved the senior honchos disown the responsibility of organising and thus distance from themselves. In April 2006, the young political leaders backed up the movement of eight political parties to fight for the democracy and regressive regime but now with the reinstatement of democracy and transitional structure in place, these young political leaders have found themselves less and less central to the processes of transformation. They are indiscernible in all the critical transitional structures and have found very few political opportunities existing for them to play a meaningful role. The major political parties of Nepal are still bogged down by hierarchical tendency and are shaped with the principle of a single leader and family politics, appointing officials of their choice and distributing public roles not on the basis of actual capabilities and virtues of those chosen. In this context where the senior and old party leaders holding authoritarian principle and conservative views have an immense leverage in the political party the young political leaders who differ from their line of thinking find it difficult to get a meaningful space in the party and show their presence at the national and local level political scenario.
The 11 years of violent conflict has completely diminished the very fabric of Nepali society and coexistence but even after the end of conflict the situation hasn’t changed qualitatively. The gap between the eight political parties, civil society and the citizens of Nepal is widening, and the gap can only be bridged with a major switch in the generations in politics. Considering the current political environment and the decaying public spirit, attention has to be paid in engaging young political leaders in the ruling power – at the national and local level government - since they are more open and more willing than their older colleagues to cooperate with the civil society of the country - they understand the necessity of building strong civil society and are ready for a fair discourse. These young political leaders will also have a shared identity that is defined by political competence, receptive to progressive ideas and a willingness to work across party lines. They also have a shared aspiration for progress and they innately know that gender, religion, ethnicity and geographic boundaries should not stand in their way.
To reinforce the three final points underlying this whole argument, firstly there is a growing demand for change. Secondly leaders should be capable of providing this change and, thirdly, it seems necessary that for the said change to take place, more young leaders need to be encouraged to come to the forefront. It can be felt that with the emerging socio-political issues such as rights of women, Madhesis and even gays and lesbians in this post conflict situation, the leaders who are at the helm now cannot bring about the desired and required change since their socio-cultural orientation prohibits them from coming up with the creative and bold ideas and plans for an inclusive and democratic New Nepal. In any emerging democracy youth participation in a political and process is imperative since these emerging democracies often have a very large young population. Excluding them from political process would mean disregarding a larger part of the population, which would result in the misrepresentation of the population in general. And to re-emphasise this final point in context to Nepal, even though people have often spoken in favour of giving chance to second generation leaders in the current political process, but the defining factor here should be that we need more leaders who are at the least below 40 years of age.
(Ms. Adhikari is working as a Researcher in a Kathmandu-based organisation working for Nepal's transition process. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)