The Changing Politics, Youth and Constituent
A seminar jointly organized by the School
of Democracy (SoD) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal
23 April 2014, Banepa
Ritu Raj Subedi
The Rising Nepal
Nepal is a very young country. A third
of population is below the age of 15 and nearly 60 per cent between
the productive ages of 15 to 59. The individuals, whom we call
the ideal youth in term of age, comprise 40 per cent of the populace.
This demographic scenario offers a great opportunity to push for
economic growth. But, the country is not in the position of harnessing
the immense potentialities of its young population thanks to the
cycle of political instabilities, prolonged transition, poverty
and the lack of developmental activities and creation of enough
jobs. Speaking roughly, the country has produced two types of
youths- the first group of youths comprises those having little
skilled or barely literate and another group constitutes educated
or those who are pursuing higher education at home and the abroad.
One common element in them is that they are making a beeline to
go abroad for job and education. The nation is unable to give
job its young offspring. This has posed a big dilemma to the youths
who want to ensure their brighter future in their own mother land.
In a similar manner, a sizable chunk of youths
are involved in politics. They want to change the face of nation
through democratic reforms and changes. The common problem of
the country's young politicians and cadres is that they have
not been given a fair crack of the whip to prove their leadership
mettle. This is a reason why they were pushed into the political
wilderness during the first Constituent Assembly (CA). Consequently,
the nation did not get the much-talked about inclusive constitution
from it. Now we have second CA since November and it has already
got down to the real nitty-gritty of the constitution writing
task. Another historic moment lies before the young CA members.
Now, they have to batten down the hatches to write the new constitution.
The youths from CA and outside it should coalesce into a telling
force so that they can lead the statute-writing campaign from
the front. Against this backdrop, the School of Democracy and
the FES, Nepal office took a praiseworthy initiative to organize
a seminar 'The Changing Politics, Youth and Constituent Assembly'
in Banepa of Kavre district to motivate the youths for the timely
statute writing. The speakers at the function highlighted that
the youth should play their proactive role in writing the new
statute and taking the country on the path of stability and
prosperity. The people from different walks of life attended
the seminar that was divided into inaugural and paper presentation
Addressing the function, Minister for Urban
Development Dr Narayan Khadka said that the political scenario
was changing fast and the media were emerging as the powerful
Dr Khadka said that it was still a matter
of study as to how the much the political parties had plumbed
the essence of politics.
He noted that the youths are the agent of
change and the IT revolution had enhanced their role. "If
the youth are not brought to the political mechanism, it is
likely that the society is plunged into anarchy."
"It is high time to utilize the energy
of youth to bring about positive socio-economic changes in the
country. They need to be put at the centre of the politics.
The parties should find ways to tap the youth power," said
He admitted that the definition of youth was
coherent in his party. "The leaders continue to call themselves
as youth even after crossing 50 years age. I am still a youth
leader in the party," he quipped.
Dr Shankar Sharma, former Nepalese ambassador
to the US, said that there was no alternative to democracy but
the scope for improving and making it vibrant always existed
Democracy has now become a universally accepted
concept, he said.
Dr Sharma underscored that effective service delivery, rule
of law and property rights were some fundamental requirement
for the deepening of democracy. "It needs to be linked
with economic opportunities."
Constituent Assembly Ram Hari Subedi said
that despite having the glowing tradition of democratic movements
and unprecedented level of awareness among the people, the leaders
had not yet sloughed off feudal mindset, which had caused trouble
within the parties.
He said that 21st century was the era of Loktantra.
Subedi noted that the last CA failed to deliver the new statute
because of the extremist thinking and approach of some groups.
He expressed his confidence that the nation would get the news
statute by the Nepali month of Magh 2071 BS and with this, the
country will move on the path of development. "We will
go for process to decide the contents of the statute if consensus
bid comes to a nought. In the statute, our Loktantra will be
defined as one that contains the elements of social justice."
He said that Nepal was endowed with immense natural resources
and these needed to be tapped.
FES Programme officer C D Bhatta said that
freedom and equality was the cornerstone of democracy. "Freedom
is not enough. There should be economic justice to consummate
Bhatta said that where the incidence of poverty
was high, democracy simply did not fare well and social justice
needed to be put in place.
He stressed on molding democracy as per the
inherent cultural and social values of the given society. "Our
state has become weak because we could not imbue democracy with
the inherent cultural and societal knowledge."
He also urged the youth to learn history
to widen the horizon of democracy. Failure to learn from history
results in the attenuation of the society. There is should be
consensus on the modality of democracy that suits Nepal.
SoD president Nain Singh Mahar said that democracy
was a continuous process of refinement and the SoD aimed at
enriching knowledge for changes. He expressed his worry that
individualism is taking over collective thinking. "The
SoD believes in the notion that when we strive for the welfare
of ourselves, let's also help others for their progress and
Krishna Bahadur Pachahattare of Nepal Congress,
Tej Bahadur Chhetri of UCPN-M and Niraj Maharjan also expressed
their views at the seminar.
During the paper presentation session, NC
lawmaker Min Bahadur Bishwokarma, CPN-M central committee member
Lekha Nath Neupane and lecturer Chirnjivi Bhandari presented
their working papers 'the role, responsibility and challenges
of youth lawmakers in the constitution writing', 'Youth, the
nation and politics' and 'the status of the Nepali youth and
their role' respectively.
The gist of Bishwokarma's paper
In the nature of things, the young people
always stand for freedom. They are the real agent of change.
If we look at the world history minutely, it is the youths who
had presided over the big political changes, made important
scientific inventions, wrote great books and composed famous
songs and music. In Nepal's various democratic revolutions,
the youths had their pivotal role. The 2007 BS Revolution was
carried out by the leaders aged between 19 and 30 years old.
The age of most of the martyrs of the political movement is
between 14 and 30 years. But, when it comes to institutionalizing
the achievements of the revolutions, their role has been largely
overshadowed. The youth has been defined in term of age, thought
and dynamism. In our political circle, all youths are not dynamic
and those, who are dynamic, lack ideological clarity. The youths
should have their effective role at important decision-making
level to take the nation and the people on right path on the
The first CA had come as a new dimension in
the political history of Nepal. The presence of the youth was
encouraging but no rights were granted to them to take crucial
decisions. All issues were left to the senior leaders to decide.
There were extensive debates and discussions in the contents
of the statute but in vain. The people were enraged by the ways
the top leaders acted and they looked to the youth lawmakers
for the statute writing. The youths inside and outside CA were
rendered helpless. The old leaders failed to strike a deal and
consequently the statute could not be drafted. The activism
shown by some popular youth lawmakers failed to go beyond the
ruckus of the media. Even the second CA is thick with the young
lawmakers. However, it is still not clear as to how they will
play their role in the constitution writing. If we are not condemned
to repeat the past and if the statute is written, the youths
of major political parties representing the CA need to foster
a common understanding on the following issues:
1. On all theoretical matters that will impact
the nation building,
2. On the matters relating to simplifying the complications
to the statute writing,
3. On creating pressure groups within all parties expeditious
and fast decision-making process,
4. On forging a common concept on the matters of the national
welfare and social transformation,
5. On forming an ideologically dynamic youth force comprising
the youths inside and outside the CA to exert pressure on the
CA to incorporate the agreed points into the new statute.
During the run-up to the November election,
the parties promised that they would write the constitution
within a year, hold the local polls in six months, and solve
power outage, not to organize banda and strike, declare the
educational institute as the zone of peace, adopt effective
policies for the socio-economic transformation and build a discrimination-free
society. It will be big achievement if the new statute is promulgated
by incorporating the aforementioned ideas. It will be unwise
to doubt the leadership capacity of the top leaders in taking
the charge of these radical changes but there is no doubt that
the pace of change will be slow if they lead from the front.
Therefore, it is not only the youth CA members but also all
youths outside the CA need to take onus to realize their objectives.
Given the status quo mindset of senior leadership, it is not
easy for the youths to play their decisive role to accomplish
the historic task but it is not unattainable either.
Comment from Prachanda Man Pradhan, Vice-chairman
of the Law Commission:
The politicization of every sector will put a crimp on the state
mechanism. The youth have become a handy tool for the parties'
rallies and sloganeering. The thoughts of youths are better
understood by the youths themselves. The periodic elections
bring a change to the politics, parties and policies. Democracy
is a way of life. It should ensure self-dignity and justice.
There must be functional rule of law in place. We should go
for the kind of democracy that would accommodate all. It is
natural in democracy to have winners and losers. The youths
should not be subservient to the leaders and the parties. The
attention should be given to quality education so that skilled
manpower is produced and employed in the country.
The gist of Neupane's paper
The people are becoming disenchanted with
the politicians, who have made politics as a means of earning
fast buck. Even the UCPN-M's leaders have beaten the parliamentary
parties in amassing money through the political chicanery. This
has created a disgusting situation in which the cadres show
their gall to slap their own leaders in public. No matter how
much the people have developed their anathema to the politicians;
it is after all the political parties and the leaders who take
up the leadership mantle. The youths need to learn a lesson
from this and strive to restore the notion that the politics
a service, a sacrifice and a commitment. At the moment, the
youths have following tasks to do:
- In order to ensure peace and prosperity
through the new constitution, those forces outside the CA
need to be brought to the statute writing process by striking
consensus on the process and contents of the constitution.
We, youths, have to play an active role in this regard,
- A proportionate and inclusive representation
of youths in the leadership rung of the parties and the government
is a must. Promoting democratic culture should be the primary
concern for all youths. For this, the youths should forge
an alliance, prove their mettle by developing greater expertise
on the related subjects and pay special attention to putting
methods in place so that they will be accountable to the people
and the country. The fact that the youths could do nothing
if they lack unity and competence was vindicated by the failure
of the first CA that had the presence of 40 per cent of youths,
- The current situation can be well addressed
if there is synthesis between the historical contribution,
experiences and patience of previous generation and the dexterity,
consciousness and speed of the youth. The youths need to develop
consciousness of self-criticism and we cannot justify our
ability by just chiding the senior leaders. We should learn,
learn and again learn. The learning process requires serious,
difficult and great amount of work that will ultimately convert
us into an army of labour to build the nation.
- The youths should create a structure or
a platform wherein the youths of all stripes and from all
areas- political and non-political, villages and cities- come
together so that they would play their intervening role in
both the parties and the government. The youths' role should
not be only confined to the movement and sacrifices; there
should be one-thirds of representation of youths in all decision-making
- When it comes to synthesizing the gains
of the political movements, the parties have often faltered.
As a result, the character of power never changed and the
youths' hopes were shattered. Now it is time to formulate
a vision of 10, 20 and 30 years of development and all the
youths should be mobilized for this grand task.
- Although the youths are divided ideologically
and organizationally, they are in the same place when it comes
to their marginalisation and exploitation. The narrow boundary
of organization should not obstruct their desire to liberate
themselves from oppression, discrimination and inequality.
- The youths of all hues- uneducated, educated
and unemployed- should stand together to fight against the
discriminatory education policy to ensure their brighter future.
Bhatta's comments on Neupane's paper:
I agree with most of the views of Neupane
that he has pointed up in the working paper. Nepal's dependency
has grown at an alarming rate. In 2046 BS, the country's dependency
on foreign nations stood at 29 per cent and now it is around
75 per cent and has posed a threat to the country's sovereignty
and weakened democracy. Democracy and economic development need
to be contextualized. For democracy to flourish, it needs democratic
culture and discipline that emanates from religion. Those involved
in the political field should plumb the society. As the politicians
have used the politics as a means of career ladder, the sector
has confronted many problems. The entire education system was
thrown into disarray following the 2062/63 BS political change.
There is no direction as to what kind of education the country
is imparting to the students. It is sad that many of the plus
2 students have very poor understanding of history and culture
of the country. In order to build a strong state, the politicians
must gain knowledge of history. Universal tenets of democracy
and human rights should be compatible with the tradition, culture
and indigenous knowledge of the given society.
The gist of Chirnjivi Bhandari's paper
As per the census of 2068 BS, the population
of youths is 40 per cent. Nepal is a pluralistic society and
the problems of the youth are also multidimensional. They have
distinct status, identity and problems. For example, the problems
of youths of village differ from that of the town. The Nepalese
youths are in dilemma owing to the prolonged transition, scanty
economic opportunities, declining social goodwill and individualistic
thinking. The prevalent problems of all youths, who are in the
parties and outside them, include the lack of identity, job
opportunities, recognition of their contribution and role. Their
problems can be identified in following way:
1. Unemployment, semi-employment and unmanaged
2. The flight of skilled and unskilled youths towards foreign
3. Their repulsion towards agriculture labour and profession,
4. HIV/AIDS, criminal activities,
5. Lack of leadership capacity and self-confidence,
6. Lack of technical and practical education,
7. Economic insecurity,
8. Social disintegration,
9. Social-economic anomalies
10. Lack of regular sports and cultural programmes
There is no dearth of policies and programmes
on part of the state and the political parties but the implementation
side is very weak. In order to solve the problems of the youths,
the democratic constitution, rule of law, decentralization of
powers, youths' participation in the decision-making level,
restructuring of education, the guarantee of the right to education,
health and food sovereignty, job opportunities, equality in
the economic opportunities, unemployment benefits and eradication
of social crimes are necessary. The youths have following role
- They should be active to create an environment
to frame a youth-friendly constitution,
- The political instability and the lack
of periodic election have negative effects on the development
of youth leadership. Therefore, the elections in the campuses
and youth organizations should be held to break the pessimism
of the youths,
- There are many youths, who have joined
politics as their profession. They need training on the leadership
development and administrative issues. The state and the political
parties should play their effective role to ensure the role
and participation of the youth in every organ of the state,
- To end the problem of unemployment, the
water resources, tourism and agriculture should be developed
and foreign investment should be brought in so that the decreasing
the number of youth going abroad for job. To increase the
entrepreneurship of the youths, technical and vocational education
should be made compulsory,
- It is necessary to bring the youths to
the mainstream. Their loyalty to the nation, nationality and
the people must be increased. They need to be conscientized
about the principle of equal and equitable distribution, constitutional
supremacy, individual freedom, universal principle of human
rights, loktantrik values and norms, protection of ethnicity,
language and environment and co-existence. The government
should introduce the result-oriented programmes by forming
Youth Commission and Youth National Council,
- Moral and civic education is necessary
to make them loyal to the state and socially responsible citizens.
Comment by NC central committee member Jiwana
Bade: It is necessary to implement the conclusions of the paper.
The Nepalese youths have been playing their vital role in the
political movements since 2007 BS. Now they should engage in
institutionalizing the gains of the past revolutions. However,
the prolonged transition has given rise to many anomalies. In
the field of law and governance, entropy rules. There is virtually
no rule of law with impunity remaining high. This situation
has resulted owing the inter-party bickering. Money and muscle
powers are in the ascendency. The parties in their manifestos
made tall promises to lure the youths into casting votes for
them during the polls. The country has its brighter future should
the youths move ahead keeping the nation and Loktantra at the
centre. They should unite for this collective goal.
Youths are comparatively more progressive
then the old generation leaders,
The entry of many youths into the politics
rekindles a ray of hope for the positive changes,
Over-dependency on the foreign assistance
poses a threat to national sovereignty.
Parties have written rosy words in manifestos
to lure the youths into voting the former,
Youths inside/outside the CA need to coalesce
together to frame a youth friendly statute,
Moral/civic education necessary to make them
loyal to the state and responsible citizens.
They need to be conscientized about the fundamentals
Necessary to discourage individualistic thinking,
Universal tenets of democracy should be compatible
with the local tradition and culture,
The water resources, tourism and agriculture
should be developed to increase jobs,
The youths have been marginalized in every
Politics a service, a sacrifice and a commitment,
not a means to earn money illegally,