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There is hope


Last week on Gandhi Jayanti, this Beed was judging an inter-school debate competition at Kendriya Vidyalaya, the Indian embassy school. The quality of the debate was as good as that in any school in the world. The quality of language and delivery was great, and the majority of the participants were girls. Further, it was clear the participants had done their research using international sources, indicating the extent to which the internet has penetrated their lives.

The students cited US presidents and global business leaders, which made one wonder how our political leaders can connect with such globally oriented minds. When some mentioned Warren Buffet, it reminded me of a political leader who once asked whether he was the man after whom buffet lunches and dinners had been named. The gap between digitally savvy youth and those who don't even have an email ID is sure to widen in years to come.

The debate competition also raised another question. Why is it that we have just one such competition for every 10 fashion shows, and why do schools that work so hard to get their kids into the glamour world not think debates, quizzes and elocution skills are important? Indeed, it seemed that those children at the debate who had the fanciest school uniforms and the best hairdos performed the worst. Why is it that for us aping global fashion, so easy to do, does not go hand-in-hand with improving other soft skills like public speaking or communication?

When we get used to being negative and talk about how the country, including we ourselves, are going to the dogs, sometimes you need an outsider to provide a different perspective. Barry O' Brien, the popular Kolkata-based Southasian quizzer, visits Nepal each year to conduct a corporate quiz organised by Boss magazine. He notes how the quality of quizzes has improved over the years, and how Nepali participants are approaching the competencies of their Southasian contemporaries. You can hear this from other people who regularly visit Nepal and talk about the improving quality of writing in our papers and the food in our restaurants. A visit to Lalitpur's Jhamel can confirm the latter, as young restaurateurs there are producing food comparable to that of the food capitals of Europe.

The interests of Nepali youth are also expanding, and many are ready to pay Rs 350 for the very well written and produced novel by Buddhisagar, Karnali Blues. It is such interests that spur Nepalis to attend readings, screenings and concerts; the hunger for knowledge, information and networking is immense.

Skeptics may say these are Kathmandu-centric traits. I strongly urge people to chat with youth in the smaller towns and villages. They'll tell you all about how to prepare for the TOEFL or feed you the latest Hollywood gossip, just like their Kathmandu counterparts. In their quest to become global citizens, their horizons are expanding in something of a silent movement.

The biggest challenge will of course lie in our own definition of youth, especially in the political sphere, where every walking leader is referred to as a youth leader and only graduates once confined to a wheelchair. For all leaders Ė business, political and civil society Ė the challenge is to understand this transition and figure out how to accommodate the voices, hopes and aspirations of Nepali youth.

Wishing all readers sacrifice-free festivities.

1. Dr B
Let me assure the beed that there will be no sacrifices in this beed's house and wish him a happy Vijay Dashami.
More learned comments to follow!

2. who cares
i would like to thank ARTHA BEED for the light of hope. And also students should work on creativity, solving problems on their own rather than memorising. 

regarding sacrifice-free festivities (keep in mind that i do not kill, and never intended to do so in future too):  there was a tripartite treaty between god, lion and human. in which, lion promised to keep in check vegetarians in the wild and human agreed to control vegetarians in outside wild. and you are asking to break the agreement. 

do you know what we call to such individuals in nepal? prachanda. 

and can you guess what would happen when vegetarian are let free? they will eat all trees and the earth will be doomed. 

so MOMO is our way of saving the earth.

3. jange
The Beed would do well to analyse the importance of eating meat during Dasain in the national economy of Nepal- especially that of the goat.

4. nirajbs
The kind of writing that Arthabeed has been doing of late is called the 'USA Today' variety. Always focus at the silver lining while ignoring the cloud. Reminds one of a Reader's Digest joke -'A man jumping from 20th story building says 'So far So good' to someone standing on the 10th story'. 

You know where it is heading don't you ?  Just how much more should Nepal sink - if it is still possible - before you give up this 'feel good' journalism ?

5. gagglegal
Lets hear wat the intelligent analyst Jange has to say about the meat eating economics of Nepal !!! does he know that more and more goats are now "imported" and probably do nothing for the nepali economy as such but just benefit a few middlemen?

6. Dr B
An interesting article which highlights some important issues for Nepal especially in the field of education. 
The children the beed observed have clearly been given an education which emphasises thinking skills, creativity, critical awareness, and probably a whole range of values from global curiosity to achievement orientation. Also interesting that an outsider (Barry OBrien) notices an increase in such skills as also indicated by visitors reading newspapers and eating food in better restaurants.
Unfortunately this is not the norm in the education and development of Nepali youth, firstly as he clearly indicates in his book "Unleashing Nepal" (and I am thinking here of the tale of the archaeology graduate with no drive, creativity or interest in anything other than perpetuating the dusty artifacts in the National Museum) or from my own experience of working in support of seven community junior schools in Kathmandu. The whole system at junior level virtually suppresses everything the beed mentions via a curriculum which emphasises memorising and a teaching style which encourages obedience and repetition. There is just no getting away from it that the Government's School Sector Reform Plan is about as useful as flame in a firework factory when it comes to developing Nepali youth in a direction which will add value to the nation in a global economy. Most of it's focus at the important early stages of education is on improving the hardware of the school (Buildings, classroom furniture) rather than the software of the school (teaching styles, curriculum etc) which would open up the child's mind.
So, from a positive viewpoint the beed has seen a glass which is half full, but in the circles of Nepali youth in which I operate, sadly the glass is half empty.

7. jange
That is precisely why the Beed needs to write about it- because I know nothing about it.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)