Making commitments count
The definition of youth, the constituents of various declared age brackets by various institutions across the globe and through time, would always be greatly deficient as the myriad characteristics that constitute a youth are diverse, abstract, general, too individually specific, enumerable, and biased. The Nepali government has been forced to realise that youth are part of the solution and a partner in solving problems.
International efforts: Emerging realisations
One of the early institutionalised and coordinated formal initiatives in mainstreaming youths was undertaken by the UN. Initiatives like celebration of International Youth Year in 1985, adoption of international strategy — the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (WPAY) or Millennium Declaration made significant contributions in shaping youth voices. It is on these lines that the Youth Employment Network (YEN) or the Youth Employment Summit (YES) or Oxfam’s International Youth Parliament have sought to develop
‘imaginative approaches’ to the issues of youth development. The year 2005 holds the greatest significance till date because UN General Assembly will be devoting two plenary meetings at its sixtieth session, to review the situation of youth and achievements attained in the implementation of the WPYA, ten years after its adoption.
National scenario: A long way to go
In the national context, the story starts with the inception of Democracy in 2007 BS, which was attained by the sacrifice and the struggle largely by the youth. The road onwards has been topsy-turvy, disjointed and incoherent during the Panchayati system starting from the ‘Khelkud Parishad’, established in 2015 BS. However, various areas such as scouting, sports and social service did gain some momentum. Although, some institutions for youth were established mostly to facilitate sports activities, they were maltreated by the government
to suppress feared activities against the government. Nepal’s participation in the International Youth Year was also deemed very poor, devoid of any bright plans, policies or activities.
However, the best youth programme was the ‘National Development Service (NDS), which was made mandatory for post graduate students of Tribhuvan University to undertake social service activities for 10 months. Unfortunately, this programme terminated for fear that it may fuel students’ movement. From the Eight Five year plan onwards, the role of youth was given some recognition. The Ninth Plan devoted a separate section on Youth development. The ninth plan had laid out as targets the establishment of rural community development centres, mobilisation of 20,000 youth for community development etc. The ministry of youth, sports and culture which was established in the year 2052 was dissolved in 2057. It is of further regret that the 10th Plan has totally omitted the youth section.
The way forward: Making commitments ‘really’ matter
Although the situation seems dismal, it is young people who believe that there are ways to go forward. What is essential for the decision makers is to realise is that in such adverse times, it is essential to involve youth in the process of decision making. Youth participation in the decision-making is one of the key priority agenda for youth. It goes without saying that youth issues must be mainstreamed as cutting across every sector. Equally important would be
the establishment of all pervasive institutional setup capable of catering to the diverse needs of the youth of today. The establishment of such a National Youth Council to act as an umbrella organisation for the youth. As the situation of the country worsens, hope lies on the young population of this country. The forces that shape and influence today’s youth will be forces that dominate our country tomorrow. —Rajendra Mulmi, Sudyumna Dahal, Prashiddha Pokhrel