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Youth on the Move

by Mritunjay Jha

On August 12, the whole world celebrated International Youth Day under the theme ‘Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward’. Youths form about 30 per cent of international migrants. Yet very little is known about the livelihood struggles and opportunities that migration presents for young migrants. During their transit and at their final destinations, many young migrants face problems, including racism, discrimination and human rights violations. Young women often face the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse.

International migration has undoubtedly become a pressing development issue in recent times. Over the past few decades, political, economic, social and demographic changes in many parts of the world have stimulated migration of people to cities within and across countries. On the one hand, people migrate seeking higher education, employment and business prospects, while on the other hand, they are escaping economic hardship, natural disaster, or absconding persecution. The entire world is eyeing Nepali youth as a source of technical manpower. They’re looking at us as ‘talent at low costs’ for their future super profits. According to the Civil Aviation Authority Department (CAAD), more than 1,500 Nepali youths fly abroad every day. Today’s youth have access to relatively cheap and easy means of transport, information about opportunities beyond their borders, and are more likely than ever to migrate for reasons ranging from family reunification to the desire for better education and employment opportunities to the need to escape war or conflicts.

However, it’s also important to look at the positive contribution that young migrants make to the societies of origin, transit and destination – economically as well as by enriching the social and cultural fabric. The remittance they send to support families in their home countries is a major contributor to the economy of there. When they return home, young migrants often enhance development by applying skills and ideas acquired abroad. In many cases, women are empowered through migration as they gain financial and social independence.

But, despite the positive impacts migration has, flying abroad is neither the solution nor an easy process. But who cares? We need a leader who understands this, and inspires us to do better here. We need jobs. We need good schools and colleges. We need a good, clean home with power and water. We need a decent standard of living. We want security. And we’re all willing to work hard.

The bitter truth is, everyone seems to care for youths, but no one actually wants to listen to us, particularly the politicians. I keep hearing political leaders promising to ‘uplift’ us. I don’t know how they plan to uplift us without uplifting the nation.

Most of youths are frustrated. If I’m a youth who’s ambitious, and believes in scientific way of thinking, entrepreneurship, empowerment, progress and personal freedom, which party will back that? Is there a leader who represents my aspirations?

Youth migration, job opportunity, peace and development are but optional issues for our leaders. And none of the true progressive Nepali youths are satisfied with this. They’re in a state of limbo, and hence, they opt to migrate. We know that the politicians neither care for the nation, nor for our future.

Politicians have an ‘indifferent’ attitude. Their new cool formula of ‘Let the things be’ is really fatal to all of us. Lack of unity amongst parties is a major setback. It’s about time that we youths realized our power, roles and duties, and stand up for our rights. Instead of brain-drain, we should start something here, and maybe attract the world to Nepal.

If we make up our mind and work in close unity with working class people, we can hold the political power in our hands. We have the power to transform Nepal from a developing country to a developed nation.

The writer is a Coordinator at Asia Pacific Young Greens Network (APYGN), a sister organization of Asia Pacific Greens Network – an umbrella organization of Green Parties in the Asia and Pacific

08/26/2013 – 17:56


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