Clubbing For Concordia: Youth in Nepali Society

May 5, 2014 , by Bhoj Raj Poudel, Leave your thoughts
Clubbing For Concordia: Youth in Nepali Society » My Dreams Mag

The youth should be taken as a next generation of political leadership. Today's problems are not the result of the youth's mistakes, so there is no reason to label them unsuccessful. However, the youth do not have the luxury to stay out of social debates, political campaigns and economic activities. The evolution is underway and the youth have to take the chance to shape it as they want to see the future!

Fear not for the future, weep not for the past…


These are the lines from romantic poet P B Shelley, who died when he was young enough to claim himself a youth (at the age of twenty nine). His romantic lines may not always explain the political framework, economic situation and social changes of our time. But they explain, at any time, the sentiment of youth.

The youth that bridges the future and past neither fears the future and failures, nor weeps about the past and its pains. Political, economic and social transformations take place in each generation and they are most of the time led by the youth. Historically, Nepali society has always received that force from the youth.

Social transformation is not something that happens in vacuum. There are actors who make decisions, take actions and speak up their minds during that process. A growing mind of a young person not only questions the legitimacy of himself/herself but of the entire social framework where he/she lives. For example, youth thronged to the streets against the government’s decision to let enter Monsanto seeds the domestic market. Recent initiations such as boulaun.org (a forum for discussion on various issues and social problems) and young people starting small business ventures are examples of action too.

If the players in the society are young people, then the chances of social and political transformation are higher and deeper. At the same time, there is a high risk of uncertainty and chaos.


History, Context and Contemporary Society

National Youth Policy 2010 has acknowledged that youth are the most important division of the society. Now the question is, whether the youth have been able to play that role in every respect.

The youth have been divided in different classes, which partly they inherit and partly they build by themselves. Today, the question is whether the youth of Nepal can apply their energy to achieve their ideals. Can they overcome the divisions laid out for them by the discriminatory social, political and economic practices currently in place? Or will they follow the path of their predecessors?

The political participation of young people in different periods has been impressive. The four major movements in political history of Nepal (anti-Rana movement 1950; referendum movement 1979; restoration of democracy 1990, and anti-monarchy movement 2006) all found young people, especially students, at the forefront. These historic twists have given a single narration of the young people in Nepali society as social and political transformers.




Young people played a crucial role during the Panchayat regime while political activities were banned. Student protests during the Panchyat were directed against the Panchayat system, even when they were largely concentrated within the educational institutions. For instance, in 1970 students at Durbar School refused to take an exam set by Tribhuvan University on the pretext that the questions were too difficult.

Slowly, students started to streamline their protest to value-oriented issues such as national-level politics. In August 1972 students initiated nation-wide protests, demanding reforms throughout educational and political systems. Interestingly, student protests during that period were mainly against educational exams, price hikes and interest rate hike in local banks, which are the same things that students today protest.

When we try to go back and see the movements that were started by youth, The Jayatu Sanskritm (Victory to Sanskrit) that aimed at including subjects other than Sanskrit in educational curriculum led to a level of confidence in society. That movement was primarily a social one.


Youth and political involvement today

A certain section of youth seems to be indifferent to the political issues in the country, especially due to ever-prolonging transitional politics. Their frustration and disappointment is evident in social media. But on the other hand, social media also is another means of social movement. The organized and un-organized movement of young people, from Clean Bagmati Campaign to anti-government policy sentiment, is not new in itself. However, today they are taking place in different platforms such as social media. Social media has become a tool to observe how closely young people watch the political, social and economic activities of society.

The overall picture of youth participation in political, social and economic activities of society is prosaic. Nepal’s political system has been changing constantly in the last two hundred years. During all these political frameworks, youth have come out against the system aiming for better political structure. This is fascinating not because it was unique but because it has always been fierce. However, the youth never claimed their share after institutionalizing the changes. This has led to their role being questioned. For instance, the youth have been criticized for not playing a constructive role in making the leadership accountable after revolutions.


Social shifts and the role of youth

Social changes happen slowly and cannot just be attributed to young people, but also to globalization, flow of information, changing means of communication, pace of technological advancement, and migration.

Young people’s mobility from one place to another place in search of dreams and opportunities has been a constant in Nepali society. This mobility has been one of the most definitive factors of social changes. Nepali youth have been leaders of social changes like literature, fashion, family norms, and social rules.

Young people around the world think of changing almost everything around them. The desire to leave home, change jobs, relationships and social associations occur mainly among the young. The role of young people during political movements is very visible, but their role in terms of social changes can be hard to recognize without micro-level study. We have to look at the changes in culture, improving social status of women in the society, perception about education for all, and health issues, which can be attributed to the activism of the young.

Social movements for different purposes start mainly from the dissatisfaction of youth with the existing situation. Their frustration and anger comes out when social problems seem mere fronts for exploitation. The most recent case is the “Occupy Baluwatar Movement” which was begun after a rape case in Kathmandu. Movements like this show how much the youth care about an equal and just society.



We have to ask if the youth of our time have been able to carry out the responsibilities of their time! Are the youth engaging in attaining skills and knowledge required to deal with complex and changing local and global realities? The evidence might seem sometimes pleasant and sometimes disappointing, because while a section of our youth are active, another section seems quite indifferent.

We can easily think of a society in which youth do not care about anything, and the society stagnates. This can be a curse for both the generations, younger and older. This leads us to connect with the scholarly thinking that the development of youth development and the future of the country depends on conscious collaboration between the older and younger generations.

The youth should be taken as a next generation of political leadership. Today’s problems are not the result of the youth’s mistakes, so there is no reason to label them unsuccessful. However, the youth do not have the luxury to stay out of social debates, political campaigns and economic activities. The evolution is underway and the youth have to take the chance to shape it as they want to see the future!


Text by: Bhoj Raj Paudel
Images: Bikkil Sthapit

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