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Report on Youth and Election

Organised by FES Nepal

By Saroj Gautam


On 13th November 2013, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nepal (FES) organised a discussion program on the topic Youth and Election. Around 22 participants from different organizations and individuals were present in the program.

Youth in the worldwide context is a leading factor for the major political and social changes. The major political changes around the world are the consequence of youth movements. Nepal is no exception to that phenomenon: from the movement against the Ranas in the 1950s, the abolition of monarchy in 2008 and to the first constitutional assembly electoral process youth played decisive role.

In a democratic system of governance, the ultimate and sovereign political power resides in the hands of the peoples of the given country. In countries where majority of the population is youth they should be given right share in the politics. Youth action is of utmost importance in the whole democratic process and system- mainly in the formulation of policies and also in the electoral process. Youth can play the most vital role in setting the direction of future in the elections, since the elections are a turning point for the democratic nations.

Youths are easily persuaded by the political parties and other political firms either financially or emotionally (by raising the cast and youth related issue) for the election campaign and other political achievements but youth should come up with a united front, irrespective of what party they support, to campaign for the trust of people in the election. Youth should go place to place and arrange small gatherings in order to make people realize the importance of vote and persuade them to vote on the day of polling, this task can be done vigorously by the politically active youths of different political parties. Youth from different political parties should collaborate in this regard for persuading more people to vote other than their own election campaigns. They should check whether the candidates are campaigning within the budget fixed by the Election Commission as per the rules, if any candidate is spending more, using illegal means for example harassing, bribing, exploiting or being offensive to a community, they should launch complaint to the Election Commission for the fair and sincere electoral process. Youth should persuade the people to cast the vote totally independent of any pressure and secretly to the candidate they personally think deserves the vote. While on the Polling booths, the youngsters should keenly monitor that polling is the fair.

In the third discussion program of FES Nepal Youth Network, Ms. Kalpana Jha presented a paper and Prof. Anand Aditya led the floor discussion.

Paper Presentation

The discussion program started with welcome speech by Samira Paudel (FES Gender Coordinator). During the inauguration speech she introduced FES and briefly described what it does and how it works and what value it stands for. She gave the information of the newly established Youth network of FES and its idea to all the participants.

Presenting her paper Ms. Kalpana Jha started with a quotation "Wars are declared by oldies whereas youths have to fight and sacrifice their life" by (Herbet Huber-31st President of USA). While talking about the history of the youth politics in Nepal she said that the significant change in political milieu in 1950s was the result of sacrifice made by the youth of the country who were later known as martyrs. Further adding she said youths have achieved and secured the country's freedom at times of threat by authoritarian regimes (During 1960s, 80s and 2006 people's movement). Despite their extraordinary sacrifice, youths in recent times have been manipulated and used for wrong purpose. She said that youths have so far not been taken into serious condition either by political parties or the entire state mechanism.

She said that youths are the major determinants of the election and the mass most apathetic and detached at the same time. She categorised youths in three category i.e. Party youth wings, youths engaged in awareness generation and motivating youth participation (through NGOs) and those who are apathetic and detached from the complete electoral process. Giving the reasons for refrainment she said fragile youth policy, fragmentation in ideology, lack of fair opportunity for youths into bureaucracy and portraying youth wings as ultimate representation and incorporation of youth issues (patriarchy) are some of the reasons persuading youth to refrain the participation.Eventually, she concluded that there are multiple-factors that determine the attitude of youths towards elections. All these factors need to be addressed if one desires a positive change in our overall political process.

Discussions

Mr. Chandra D. Bhatta Program Officer of FES Nepal said that he doesn't agree on a point that there is no representation of youth in Nepalese bureaucracy. Supporting it with some examples he further added that there is enough space for youth in bureaucracy of Nepal. But the problem is that due to the young age and lack of experience those youths have failed to negotiate and fulfill their duty. Since bureaucracy is the permanent organs of the government for which there is necessity of understanding system, society and own country but youths sometime fail to do so because they will still be in the process of career buildup and family raising whose impact is seen in the system.

Mr. Roshan Pokhrel supporting Mr. Chandra D. Bhatta said that it is not only the problem in bureaucracy but in judiciary as well. He said that it is a good trend for youth to reach in responsible post but there should have been enough maturity developed failure to do so can bring impacts in the decision making. He said that to reach to some level one must go step by step, one cannot go directly to the higher level without having relevant experience and maturity.

Mr. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal said that youth categorisation can be generalised from four spectrum i.e. pre-political spheres, political, non-political and anti-political. Shifting of youths from one spectrum to another determines the political culture. He said political culture can be subjective and participants. He further added that citizens are the member of state who is entitled to get certain rights. Rights follow the duty but unfortunately youths nowadays are demanding rights but forgot about the duty. He said that public consciousness doesn't come with voter information it only gives certain information about the polling, polling agents and security. To make democracy functioning civic education is necessary, civic education transforms people with multiple identities into a citizen having a Meta identity, which helps to identify with the state. He further added that youths are migrating because they are unable to become stakeholder. To make youth stakeholder there is necessity of incentive, so the objective incentive has to be imported. He further added that by organizing small programs and workshops acculturation of youth can be done.

Ms. Lara Klossek supporting Mr. Dev Raj Dahal who said even though youth population is major population in Nepal , youths are not realizing the power within them so to make them realize the power civic education is necessary. She said that there is fault within the youth for not participating the youth policies in party agenda by parties because they do not realize that they are the major voter population and have power in their majority to make political parties include youth policy in their agenda and even to the government while national police formulation.

Ms.Sumeera Shrestha a social worker said that instead of forming own independent network it is better to work with the political parties having ideology close enough. She said if youths start forming own network it will take very long time for them to expand their network along the whole country, which is just waste of time, ideology and energy. She also said that there are group of youths who have the civic education and know about electoral process and even have interest in politics but they have their own hypothetical ideology and not engaged in politics.

Mr. Ananda Aditya commenting on the paper presentation and the discussion said that present democracy is actually the global synthesis of the so many ideas. We are also forgetting that when we borrow something then it has to be contextualized. He said that state is in the pretty bad condition because it has become very inert and we have to get out of that frame of mind first and that can alone help us to get rid of permanent state of revolution. He gave an example of the youth involvement in the bureaucracy and told that even the youths get place in the higher level of bureaucracy but they cannot make it function in the proper manner due to lack of experience and maturity.

Conclusion

This is the third discussion program organized by FES Network Nepal. In this program the role of youth in election is discussed with the paper presentation by the Ms. Kalpana Jha and with the comments from Prof. Ananda Aditya. Many personal from different organisation of different field and some students of social science were present in the program. Mainly the discussion was focused on the youth and the election. From this program one can conclude that youth is a massive force of society which has to be included in the democratic systems and the process. Youths has to play crucial role from the public awareness to the policy formulation.

 
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