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Aug 10, 2010

Youth and the last fragment of freedom

(published in The Himalayan Times of 17th August 2010)

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

While the International Youth Day is on the air once again, young people all over the place are eager and excited about the various programs they have on the day. However, every year as I see my contemporaries, especially during the first half of August, I am reminded of the above mentioned quote again and again.

I believe, being alive at this point of time at this place in the earth is a challenging job. With the globalization, the world is turning into a small village and we happen to be the major stakeholders of the upcoming future. However, no matter how brightly we think about the world or our future, it’s a bitter truth that we have our feet placed on the levels from which the world has risen quite above already. An average citizen of the world earns $10366 every year whereas an average Nepali citizen earns just about $1200 every year, which if not shocking is surprising and shameful for sure. An average Nepali youth, who dreams of changing the world sooner or later, finds the so called changing of the world his means of earning rather than a passion which it once was.

I find Nepalese youth truly remarkable for the way they have played a pivotal role in the fight for freedom. No matter what others would like to think, it was the youth who played the most important part in dragging down the tyranny of the King in the second people’ movement in 2006 and the fact is that it has always been the same from the first democracy movement that overthrew Rana rule to the people’s uprising in 1990 . However, youth have always been sidelined from the mainstream politics, denied from any decision making power whatsoever. As a result, change and innovation is rarely seen not only in our politics but in almost every aspect of our lives. Policies that have been defunct since long are still guiding our lives at the cost of prosperity and progress.

The most detrimental effects of bad policies are seen in the economic aspect of our lives. Isolationist policies that prevent free trade and free movement of labor are still in force. Policies essential for economic development like rule of law, property rights, contract enforcement laws are nowhere to be seen. Corruption is rampant making Nepal one of the most corrupt countries in the world (surprise for us who take such a pride in our culture). Government is creating and nurturing monopolies like Nepal Oil Corporation which is a drain on our economy, Nepal Electricity Authority who is turning our nights into nightmares, transportation cartels that provide services of the middle ages and charge luxury rates. Registering a business is tougher than committing a crime, extortion is the most lucrative business. Youth who seek better future through hard work in foreign lands are despised and discouraged instead of being supported. The concept of state is a nanny who is supposed to spoon feed us rather than make an environment for us to stand on our own with our talents and intelligence. But the worst thing about all of this is, our youth have been led to hold in high esteem the same policies and are skeptic of any changes.  The hostility that new ideas, especially those in economic spheres, face from youth is quite surprising and depressing indeed.

Our ignorance and reluctance to change is manifested in our day to day lives. Try the thought by asking yourself these questions. How many times have you thought of restricting imports or consuming our local products (even if they are inferior in quality or higher in price) is a good idea? How many of you think one of the primary responsibilities of the government is to provide jobs? How many of you think foreign investment shouldn’t be allowed in our country? How many of you think profits made by businesses are made at your cost?  How many of you think foreign employment should be discouraged or our youth shouldn’t be allowed to go abroad for work?

If you answered affirmative in most of these questions, you certainly follow the current mindset. If we were to just rise above the political propaganda and misleading mainstream economic thoughts, we will realize the aspects of our economy that are in serious need to be fixed. Upholding the same policies and trend of thinking is never going to raise us above this quagmire of poverty. Getting out of the corrupt mindset is the first step that we need to take towards the path of prosperity. We played an important role in accomplishing political and individual freedom and no one but us can bring economic freedom and hence prosperity to our country. And it’s already time for us to fight for our last remaining freedom- economic freedom.

Our politicians may find the status quo to be beneficial for them but we have observed the world progress and can never be content with it. We are youth. In other words, we dare to dream and we dare to act!