Tuesday Sep 26, 2023
Tuesday Sep 26, 2023

Why does Nepali politics lack youth participation?

Though Nepal considers people from 16 to 40 as youths, the number of them involved in politics are very low.

2022 Oct 20, 6:37, Kathmandu

Youths have led protests, revolutions and had an important role in changing century-long governing systems, but they have often been neglected when making important decisions. Active participation of youths in decision making and policy making is necessary to incorporate youth issues while formulating law and executing it. However, There is only five percent representation of youths in the Nepali parliament which is far below than the global average of 13.5 percent.

“After I finished high school, I told my parents that I wanted to join politics. To my greatest surprise, this single thought gave multiple troubles to my parents. Politics was not a choice for us. The word ‘Us’ represents middle-class families like mine though people like us have a significant role in Nepali society,” says prominent youth activist Suyog Dhakal.

“Due to the orthodox system in politics, to evolve as a politician one must go through this system or process to be a politician. It starts with being a follower, almost a devotee towards a certain political ideology, being involved in political campaigns and revolutions, measured by acts like how many times one goes into prison, leads the crowd to demonstrate and destruct during the protest and then go through all the hierarchical timeframe and internal progression which is often unfair,” he adds.

Youth rights activists have demanded 50 percent of the positions to be allocated to youths while deciding candidacy in the upcoming federal and provincial level elections. This demand has been made by youth representatives of all the seven provinces of Nepal. People from 16 to 40 years are considered as youths in Nepal. Although majority countries, including Nepal’s neighbors limit the age of youths to below 30.

However youths generally are very less in number in the parliament globally. The 2021 report of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) reveals that people under the age of 30 make less than 3 percent of the world's MPs. It was found that 25 percent of the world’s single and lower houses of parliament have no MPs under the age of 30, while 73 percent of the world's upper houses of parliament have no MPs under the age of 30. Among the few MPs in the world who are under the age of 30 a vast majority of them are only men.

Countries like Armenia, Ukraine and Turkmenistan display a great example of youth leadership in their parliaments. Impressively, over 60 percent of the MPs in these countries are under the age of 45, and over 10 percent are under the age 30 in Norway, Armenia, San Marino, Gambia and the Belgium senate.

Legislations in Nepal, also prevent younger youths from contesting elections in Nepal. A person must be at least 21 years of age to contest in local elections, and 25 to contest in provincial and federal elections. Similarly the age bar has been set too high for a person wanting to be a part of a constitutional committee. The current legislation demands a person to be 45 years old or over to be a part of the constitutional committee.

“No political leader has ever proved themselves successful and impactful in Nepal. Politics, as a career and vision is never glamorised. Besides, no government has performed substantially to set an example for the forthcoming generation to get into the system. Politics has not just been a dirty game but also has been a tragic and pessimistic arena for a general Nepali,” says activist Dhakal.

“Now, because of Balen, Harka, Gopal and some others, politics is gradually coming into trend and I see a lot of young Nepalese being interested,” he adds. This time’s local elections saw more number of youths contesting as candidates than former times. According to the data provided by the election commission, 41 percent of candidates were below the age of 40.

When asked what he thinks should be done to increase youth participation in Nepali politics, Dhakal answered, “I believe we must work right from the beginning, from the school curriculum and teaching-learning methodology. We always taught our students to love our country but never gave them the way to do so. We must not just teach them to be civilised and wealthy but also teach them about idea creation to make the entire nation and society wealthier and add value to the social ecosystem. I think we are just creating followers who are easy to rule and who shall walk on the pre-set path, but we need people who are thinkers, hard to rule and leaders who have that zeal to transform the nation. Politics for me is a thirst, and we must give that quest to forthcoming generations. If not, every child born in Nepal will only dream to finish high school and apply for a passport to fly abroad.”


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