By MRITUNJAY JHA
How are youth transforming the political landscape? Recently it has become increasingly clear that Nepali youth is doing just that. In no other time in the history of Nepal had the younger generation become such a crucial voting block with the power to swing the election results.
From being perceived as irresponsible and reckless to being called the strength of the nation, the youth of this country have come a very long way. Not many today make the mistake of undermining the power that the youth possesses. In fact, so much has been said about how the youths are going to change the face of our country that any more discussion on this would be redundant. With the increased participation of younger generation, new issues have already come to the fore. It should be noted that these issues were not considered essential or relevant in the past, and it’s obvious that the youths have brought these issues forward.
Even the political parties and the entire country have developed faith in the sagacity of today’s youth. Before the second Constitution Assembly election, there was tremendous campaigning on the importance of voting, especially directed toward the young voters. It most certainly was the best time to come of age. Never before had the young voters been encouraged so earnestly to cast his vote in the upcoming elections and explained so meticulously the difference their vote can make in the larger scheme of things. Young boys and girls were seen contemplating the rigmarole of the elections and debating over whether a candidate was just jingoistic or essentially considerate.
The laidback attitude and apathy associated with the young voters had gone for a toss. Earlier, appeals for young voters to understand the value of their votes in elections were not only few and far but also poorly strategized. However this time, media houses were awash for highlighting the importance of voting. If you would have tuned into any FM radio or television station for even a few minutes, you must have heard a witty, well executed campaign urging people to vote, come what may.
However, despite the heartening and extensive campaigning, a lot of people didn’t vote, contradicting the comforting opinion that voters are not apathetic. It was not too surprising which makes it all the more tragic. People have always been skeptical about politics and are usually very suspicious or cynical of politicians. A lot of us are only concerned about how something is going to affect us on an individual level, clearly forgetting, out of credulity or absurdity that’s hard to say, that we’ll never be able to progress unless the country progresses. Our progress clearly depends on how much we’re doing for the country; the basic contribution being electing the right candidate.
Election is one of the most democratic ways where people could directly participate in the government. Through voting, people can express their right to choose who will govern them. Young people specially catch an opportunity to absorb democratic beliefs and practices while growing up by both, with and without the direct observation.
To change the system, you have to be in the system – it’s an oft repeated line but true to the core. The idea of living in a country of utopian standards is entirely preposterous if nothing substantial is done by every citizen and not just by the government or the politicians. It shouldn’t be too hard to comprehend that if we take responsibility for the tiniest of decisions taken for our country, we wouldn’t have to be appalled at the earth shattering decisions some government takes after we have lost all say in the matter. Like they say, casting our vote for the right candidate is not only our prerogative but also a colossal responsibility that must be fulfilled by all means. A government that is of the people, for the people and by the people is hollow if the people shirk away from their duties.
Notwithstanding all this, the election happened and the results have been declared, but where does youth stand in politics?
An unanswered question for the past few years is still a million dollar question to be answered. Some serious steps should be taken to bring youth out on the floor of mainstream politics. For now, one can only hope that during the next elections, more youth will vote, more will got elected and less will say, “How does it even matter? It’s not going to make a difference to me.”
Because it does, it really does.
The writer is a coordinator at Asia-Pacific Young Greens Network (APYGN), which is a sister organization of Asia-Pacific Greens Network – an umbrella organization of Green Parties in the Asia and Pacific.
01/09/2014 – 16:48