On whose tutelage?
Hem Raj Kafle
Young Nepalis are leaving the country. Or rather they are disappearing. The country hasn’t substantially experienced anybody’s return so far. Neither has it visibly bothered about the number that is evaporating.
At times, the conviction about young people’s disappearance may lose ground because they show startling public presence. They emerge now and then, in fairs, fanfares and festivities. They prove productivity with visible activism. When there are political gatherings in the city, they swarm in thousands by the roofs of old vehicles. They are in the mainstream discourse by clashing with one another almost every day. They are here to padlock offices, and there to punch offenders. So, if thousands are prepared to crowd on the bus-roofs up and down native roads in order to cheer the dear leaders, what wouldn’t they do for the dear country? But, I dare not decipher Nepali sentimentalism.
Where does the crowd go on a normal day? At least five regular destinations come in sight in the first rumination: families, political parties, educational institutions, ‘study-abroad’ consultancies, and manpower agencies. There may be more, though.
Families are primary caretakers. They are affected both by deviation and devotion of the younger generation. In villages, young people shun farming, or give agriculture only a tertiary value. They have a general tendency of leaving the village either for cities or foreign countries. In cities, most young people are more prone to material pursuits than show activism towards humanitarian causes. Parents like to prevent their children from ‘messing’ in public activities, and try all the means to ensure excellence in their upbringing inside a limited circle of trainers and groomers. Common in villages and cities, young ones are spiritually detached from home looking towards a relatively more colourful future. Besides, parents either promote or cannot check individualism. They rather seem to inculcate in the youths an escapist tendency showing that the country has little to offer.
Political parties need young people in the frontline. Ironically, leaders would like to see them active and aggressive but ideologically submissive. Old leaders keep on chanting the cliché that youths are tomorrow’s pillars. Young leaders keep complaining that their elders are never letting the helm of politics come to the younger generation. Young followers, possibly unaware of this oft- mystified conflict between old and new leaders, continue to serve the interests of both.
Educational institutions naturally need young learners. Many of them claim to ensure that the youths thrive. The society judges their standard on the basis of the record of their graduates’ success in achieving foreign opportunities. This more or less gears them towards ensuring success beyond the country’s frontiers. Their claims of supporting national development sometimes appear ambiguous.
Study abroad consultancies provide ultimate destinations for the opportunities beyond the frontiers. They target ambitious young people though they seem to boost their spirits with promises of better opportunities. They are in a way facilitating the disappearances.
As industrial development is too slow or downward within the country, a large number of under-educated people do not have opportunities inside. Manpower offices and agents address the needs of such group of young people. For a person with SLC/SEE or below, the possibility of earning about twenty thousand rupees in average at a foreign employment company is a major incentive for leaving the country.
Needless to say, Nepali youths have several immediate demands, which our slow-paced development has not met. The demands range from the basic needs to the plethora of advanced amenities. As aspirations are high, small lapses look big. Failures are frustrating, and frustration is attributed to unstable political situation. In other words, politics has often taken a pessimistic move. Politics and politicians, despite being inevitable, command only little trust.
Youths are not trained to tolerate unexpected changes. Instability and economic decline have been highly disseminated everyday realities. Elders greyed with these realities and transformed resignation and pessimism onto their progeny. Hardworking parents have failed to teach their children the value of hard work. There has been more counselling towards personal growth leading to individualism.
Who can help? First, young leaders and entrepreneurs can act as role models for independent growth. Second, parents, teachers and counsellors can show that such leaders emerge from honest and committed youths. Third, policy makers grown from these role models can and must make development plans as per the needs of the new generation. Otherwise, unnoticed amidst more serious issues at present, the crowd will gradually evaporate and our dear leaders may lack cheerleaders soon.
The writer is Assistant Professor of English at Kathmandu University.
Published on 6 June 2019