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How youth immigration is hindering Nepal’s development

With the immigration of skilled human resources to foreign countries, Nepal is expected to face a serious backlash in executing developmental activities.

2022 Sep 09, 6:45, Kathmandu

Work, education , better housing and health facilities are motivating Nepali youths to move to foreign lands. This phenomena is nowhere projected to decline despite the financial and social challenges immigrants face when abroad.

Recently, Senior Vice President of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Chandra Prasad Dhakal, highlighted the importance of youths with skills , knowledge and capital in the development of the country in his speech in the Asia Pacific Regional Conference. Non resident Nepalies were recommended to benefit their motherland, “We should not forget our motherland no matter where we are,” he said.

Household economies in Nepal are very much dependent upon international migration. With remittance money coming in the country in billions, Nepal is one of the top five countries to receive the highest proportion of remittance. However, abuse and forced labour is identified by numerous studies done on employment systems of low pay workers abroad.

Many Nepalies working abroad face harsh conditions and in many cases are not even provided the minimum salary. Previously, companies hiring Nepali employees have been found to give less of what is included as basic salary in the contract. Employees are made to work maximum hours a day, with no off days to rest and visit their families. “ I only get a chance to go visit my wife and daughters once every two years, as the working schedule here is very strict. If there were better income opportunities in Nepal I would not leave my family,” says Sujan Pariyar, employed as a construction worker in the Gulf for the past ten years. The recent COVID -19 pandemic, saw economic turmoil in the country's income sources as many previously employed people lost their jobs. This has created even more challenges for the Nepalies working abroad.
However these difficulties do not prevent Nepali youth from migrating abroad. International Labour Migration reports show that, number of migrants leaving Nepal is in an increasing trend. 520,000 labour permits were issued to Nepalies in the fiscal year 2014 alone. ILO is working with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, trade union and employers’ bodies, research institutions and civil society organisations to ensure safety and decent employment opportunities for Nepali migrant workers.

Among the countries Nepalies prefer to work in, Malaysia has become the number one destination country for Nepali migrants, with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also being one of the most popular destinations. Millions of Nepalies also seem keen to apply for foreign citizenships. The DV Lottery or the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery is popular among Nepalies. Every year the US State Department selects countries to give permanent residencies to applicants who have been chosen in the DV lottery.

A 2019 research, ‘ Brain Drain and higher education in Nepal’ revealed the main reasons for brain drain in Nepal to be lack of job opportunities, political instability and low salary system. Lack of proper working environment, poor quality education, corruption, nepotism and favouritism in the job-recruiting process were also found to be the factors causing brain drain in Nepal. Students are choosing foeign universities to pursue their undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees instead of Nepali educational institutions. “ I am hoping that I get accepted for the upcoming spring intake in colleges I have applied in the States and Canada, I do not think there are good institutions providing university education in Nepal, so it is always better to apply abroad,” says Prakriti Sharma, a highschool graduate living in the capital.

Being an agriculture oriented country and economy there is a serious crisis in Nepal's agriculture industry. Youths are increasingly moving abroad leaving fields back, uncultivated. Agriculture and Food Security, publicised ‘ Brain drain of agriculture and veterinary graduates to abroad: evidence from Nepal’ in 2018, revealed 51.9% of students pursuing bachelor degree in agriculture institutions in Nepal, intend to go abroad for further study and better job opportunities.

In the present scenario, Nepal’s economy is largely driven by remittance, which makes Nepal a consumeristic market, lacking production of organic capital.


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