Youth In Politics – Being Political IS Sexy!

December 26, 2013 , by Shreya Paudel, Leave your thoughts
Youth In Politics – Being Political IS Sexy! » My Dreams Mag

In this election, the youth overthrew extremist ideologies, displaced ethnic identity based federalism, and gave power to the political centre left and centre right. The next time I hear that Nepali youth are “not interested” in politics, I am going to fire these statistics! 


Some quarters of commentators were jubilating well before the election that this one was going to be youth dominated, while others did not even bother to spare a few words on youth. We now have an advantageous vantage point of discussing it, as we have observed the whole election process, and the results are out in the open. What will the young, political generation do after this election?


Social networking sites, news media, and even international media seemed to be interested in the voting patterns and political views of the urban youth. Huffington Post published an article claiming that a party of “wise” (bibeksheel) urban youth, that had contested the election only from four different constituencies in Kathmandu, was the “new force” in Nepali politics. However, we need to keep in mind that though many young people in Nepal use twitter and facebook, currently only a small percentage (between 3 and 24 percent according to various estimates) of Nepal’s population uses internet. Many of us did not talk about the many youth voters in far-flung places like Taplejung or Mahendranagar, or those who could not vote as they are working in Qatar and Malaysia, because we were more focused on urban youth.


It is true that in this election, the youth voter group was substantially large. Of the eligible voters, 41.63% were between the age of 18-35, which is a massive figure. But to the surprise of Kathmandu’s sexy socialite circles, they were not apolitical. “Youth don’t care about ideologies,” “Young people do not have political vision,” “They do not know the difference between political freedom and freedom to drink,” etc are some common patronizing descriptions used for the youth. Well, this election established clearly that this was not the case.

Youth In Politics 

Being ignorant of the system that governs almost every aspect of one’s life is, at best, being aloof, and at worst, being stupid. Being political is not boring, it is sexy. And the youth of Nepal demonstrated this by being absolutely political. If we agree that eligible young 41.63% of votes decided the election result, then we have to believe that they overthrew extremist ideologies, displaced ethnic identity based federalism, and gave power to the political centre left (UML) and centre right (Congress). Wasn’t this far from being apolitical? The next time I hear that Nepali youth are “not interested” in politics, I am just going to fire these statistics at the casual doubter.


Youth are not an element plucked out of thin air, they do not live in a socio-political vacuum. So when the youth voted, they did not vote in random either. Of course, young people looked for vision. I would go as far as to claim that only young voters are thirsty for vision-oriented politics, as the elder generation is already “convinced” of their own politics. But our youth are still in a curious and experimental phase. When the media says that youth needs to come together for a “new Nepal”, it all looks sweet. But it has to occur within the framework of Nepali politics, not in a “vacuum of youth”. Gagan Thapa cannot espouse socialism, and Yogesh Bhattarai cannot walk under the banner of free market policy banner.


When people say that they are “tired of politics”, it should be noted that they are tired of the present kind of politics. They are not asking for the dismantling of everything political. What they need is a “different” kind of politics to gain their faith back in the system. When rural kids fall into Trishuli river while crossing it on a tuin, we need to build a bridge there and not quarrel about questions of who / how / when / where. That bridge is a literal and metaphorical representation of “leave the politics,” or rather, do a “different kind of politics” in Nepal. We need to move ahead, instead of lingering over issues that are inconsequential in the big picture. Let’s hope our curious, experimental and highly political young generation will try a fresh road of political vision, which they will create themselves.


Text by: Shreya Paudel
Photographer: Mohan Duwal
Banner Image: Sujen Man – sujenman.wordpress.com


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