Nepali Times Asian Paints
Politically Cracked
Special treatment


In an episode of the White House presidential drama West Wing a young Republican attorney, Ainsley Hayes, denounces efforts to pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the US Constitution. "Women do not need any special constitutional protection," she says. "They are already protected by the 14th Amendment," an 1868 addition to the constitution that provides equal rights and protection to all citizens.

"Well, then I guess you just love that wage gap," replies her colleague. "We believe in the ERA. How can you have an objection?" "Because it's humiliating," Hayes replies. "I do not have to have my rights handed down to me by a bunch of old white men. The same Fourteenth Amendment that protects you protects me. And I went to law school just to make sure."

A surprising demographic in Nepal that is seeking the hand-holding that Hayes would call humiliating is the group of 'youth' whose advocates fought hard to pass a National Youth Policy in 2008. It was the first such policy paper to be promulgated in history recognising youth as a special group needing privileges, while in reality they make up a major chunk of the demographic. It also stretched the definition of youth as people from 16-40 years old, a broad spectrum if you consider that the United Nations defines youth as 16-24 years in age.

Granted, the definition of youth varies among countries worldwide because besides biology, social and cultural factors determine how someone is treated. In Nepal, youth has come to mean powerlessness. It was because of this that Sushil Koirala and Ram Chandra Poudel remained 'youth leaders' until the party gave them some authority. But have the youths themselves, the real ones, fared any better in changing this dynamic?

When formulating the National Youth Policy, the age group of 16- 40 was chosen at the insistence of the student organisations of the political parties, who remain in college way into their 30s and 40s, politicking instead of studying. The young political leaders also form a branch of Nepal's 'patronage network'. International Crisis Group observed in its September report that the state's "raison d'Ítre is not serving citizens so much as servicing the needs of patronage networks and keeping budgets flowing and corruption going."

Meanwhile, young people on the street (I am still sticking with the official age group here), see this dynamic and feel powerless. Only a few days back a few hundred 'young' people gathered in front of the BICC and walked backwards to Singha Darbar to protest the lack of progress in constitution writing and the selfish attitude of the political leaders who are impeding progress.

When one of the participants was asked why he was at the march he said the CA members were not listening to people like him. The solution, he said, was to get young people into the decision-making process. But there are 137 members in the Constituent Assembly below the age of 35. If you whack another hundred 20-year-olds in there, nothing substantial is going to change.

In fact, tokenisms like the National Youth Policy have further disadvantaged this broad demographic. Young people make up the largest chunk of the electorate. In a democracy, votes are power.Young people think they are a special group that needs special protections and privileges. But if you can vote, if you can legally marry, and if you can have children, you are an adult. Ask to be treated like one. We should abolish the word 'youth' from our political lexicon, and lobby instead for an education, health or business policy. Perhaps a few Ainsley Hayes would do the trick.

Re-generation, RUBEENA MAHATO
Plastic out, students in

1. Anonymous
Youth of our Nation organizing a protest rally to demand 'special privilege' from the state is simply absurd. How on earth one can be so dependent on the handouts given by the government!! Youth is the time to take in risk and adventure in life. Youth should be ready to take the hardest of the challenges. Youth must be ready to serve the country and society. There are democratic countries where military draft is mandatory even today. In the past, the Tribhuvan University used to organize National Development Service (NDS) as a requirement for the degree program. The 'would-be' graduates would take a one-year residency in the rural community in the periphery of Nepal. The students enriched their experience not only learning from the people and but also providing meaningful services to the common folks in need in areas such as education, health, forestry, or agriculture. Shamefully, 'leaders' of  the 'democratic' Nepal failed to institute and back up such innovative approaches even after twenty years (1990-2010)!! I wonder, who has prevented them to initiate such policies? Youth of Nepal should perhaps remember a famous quotation--"Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country" (Late JFK). Of course, we need to have real leaders who can inspire and be the 'role model' for the next generation for character is the destiny of a Nation.

2. jange
But surely everyone is entitled to special privileges??

3. Anil Pandit
I would like to start my quoting Frederick Bastiat's book " The Law"; " The state is that great fiction by which every one tries to live at expense of every one else." He also goes on to say in that book; " If government assumes the role of provider for the people, eventually they turn against it, because it can never provide enough to meet their expectations. Such a government eventually die a violent death."  This is just an example of morally corrupt, creativity inept society where people are not responsible for themselves.  They just want to get every thing for free from other hard working people. If youth  of Nepal think in this way, we  are surely headed for disaster.....


4. Thinley, France
A saying goes amongst travellers: "Go any where in Nepal, you will find an abundance of tourists, go anywhere in the world, you will find Nepalis." Some may contest that it is true for any country. But the fact remains that in the Nepali case, it is very a particular phenomenon.
I've seen marches with banderoles saying: Nepali Youth: stay in Nepal!
Truly, how can we talk about Nepali Youth as one? There is no such entity in the actual state of matters. Their are Rais, Limbus and Gurungs going off to join the Gurkha Rifles in England. The Sherpas and high mountain people favorites of the tourist business who head off to France and Germany for specialized training in this domain, their are the high castes, Thapa, Rana, Shah, Sakya who head to the prestigious universities of the occidental world, and all the rest head off to the Arab world, Malaysia, etc in search of jobs they hold for gold, but who are truly diminishing at the personal human level. 
Surely, a satisfied son doesn't go so easily away from home. but the Nepali knows that his home holds no hope for him.

How did we arrive to this √Į¬Ņ¬Ĺtat-d'etre? Simply because their is only an illusion of Nepal, no such entity. Their is no global economy, no single and common Education, no structure can be defined as possessing the Nepali quality.
what is Nepal? One mountain range, a lot of water and even more rocks,forests and hills. What is Nepali culture? Is it the culture of one of the Many tribes or a global acceptance of them all?
But Nepal is also a vision, and we are its children. This vision is great in essence because it exists with the principle that all men can live in harmony with one another, it is a vision of peace it is.
We all have a home, a valley where our story began, a riverside where we came to existence, a pipal bot where we spent our childhood. we all have a family, which initself is the offshoot of a bigger ethnical family, with its stories, its legends, its traditions, completly different from the one in the next valley.  We call ourselves Rais, Tamangs, Bhotes, Newars, Kirats, Ranas, Thapas and so on, because those are our traditions, our way of existence.  
Nepal is a Vision, and it is up to us to build it. the first stone was planted when the idea cropped. But the edifice is still unbuilt. 

A saying goes amongst those who favor Intelligence to the Intellect: Build hospitals and schools and roads, without Reason they are nothing. Give man a Reason, and you will have thousands coming to build hospitals, schools and roads.
Nepal is the dozens of tribes and ethnies that inhabit the highest himalayan region, not the ruling few. It is the mountains, forests, rivers who can give us everything we need, not the micro economy concentrated only in katmandu. But it is most importantly the faith we have in our peers and ourselves to make this place a better one, not the egoism and sellfishness of the few.
 i do not call myself a nepali because in my mind it is an inexistant illusion. but i participate in every way to make this dream come true. 
Let us keep aside expressions like "it's been done forever","our fathers did it","in memory of our ancestors" and start asking ourselves questions like "will this soothe our children", "won't it destroy the environment in 50 years?", "what will our sons see in us when they find about this?". Only with a reflection of this kind will we overcome our past mistakes and build for the future. we inherited this world from our fathers, considering what we feel about it, do we really want to give it in such a state to our children?

5. Shristi

Well let's say if a person was married at 18 , and had a child at 19 and the child was married at 18 and had a child at 19. Techically a grandad/mom can be a youth in Nepal. Considering the fact that, most youth leader of all the political parties are 25-40 and have not demostrated any level of maturity, I would say they are youth (even that is an exaggeration as they demonstarate tantrums like toddlers when they chant slogans and break not toys but infrastructure). Well our political parties could have simply included a condition, 25-40 are youth only if they are politicallly acitve (otheriwise non-productive). 

6. jange
I wonder why the authour has not mentioned the special treatment and privileges that journalists have fought for and received for themselves.

7. gole
 You say ,UN defines youth between 16 -24 years age.and stretched to 40.
Forget  the political leaders, in our country they are Sanat Kumars, the Eternal Youths of the Puranic Mythology.
What do you think of the Lekh Nath Neupanes and the student leaders who are there to lead the students eternally?
What should be the age limit to be a student leader , let us first of all decide this issue to create and restore peace and harmony in the campuses,
Let  campuses be centre of excellence.first and foremost for the progress of the nation. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)