Student politicsThe youth of today are the vehicles of change for a better tomorrow
The presence of student organisations in colleges, universities and schools as student unions, governments or associations is to facilitate various activities and act as a support mechanism. Young people are characterised by great activism, which is the engine to influence change in society and the country. Youth activism, for me, is a revolution of goodwill and a continuation of a struggle for justice and prosperity for all.
Many young people equate activism with rebelling against the norm. This is a misunderstanding. It is not a fight between the young and the senior leaders. It is rather a noble cause where young people take the torch of struggle forward with a sense of purpose and a full understanding that their country is their heritage.
The influence of student groups is immeasurable. The structure of unions can vary from location to location. The European Student Union is an umbrella organisation consisting of 45 national student unions from 36 countries. Student unions often play the role of changing the educational system in the United States.
A right step
The Nepali Congress Party holds Nepal Student Union (NSU) elections with the aim of developing leadership skills among youth. There is no doubt that the political situation of the country has changed to a great extent following the promulgation of the constitution. However, we have not been able to institutionalise the achievements. The NC has to be appreciated for introducing some measures to make the NSU more inclusive. Following student agitation, the party has introduced a mixed election system to make the NSU body more accommodative to students representing all ethnic communities.
An intrinsic motivation drives young people to exhaust their energy in pursuit of their dreams through organised effort. History tells us that every significant change has come about as a result of young people. They generally do not accept the status quo. The future of any country rests heavily on the shoulders of the youth. It is very important for the youth not to associate youth activism with violent acts, disrespect or destruction.
From time immemorial, the youth in the political structures of any party have been known to be the leaders. But I must emphasise: quality leaders, not populists who lack credibility. Youth political activism can often go unnoticed due to its restriction within the campus grounds. Yet, world history has shown that the success of major revolutions can be attributed to the active participation of the youth. In Nepal, students played an active role in the overthrow of monarchy and the people’s movement of 1990. However, institutionalising democracy is still a far-fetched dream.
The youth structure of political parties should produce leaders who do more than just identify problems and apportion blame. They should provide solutions to every challenge they see. We know that true leaders are not focused on succession debates but on the needs of the people they serve.
Power, prestige and privilege
The political landscape of today demands such young leaders who are energetic, visionary and responsible. Leaders of substance are known and respected not only by the regular members of their party but also by people outside their party and the wider communities where they come from.
Our country cannot afford to have young leaders who are weak and irrelevant and yet hope to have strong political parties. If we have weak political parties, we will have a weak system of government. Youth formations should produce leaders who are self-motivated, determined and committed to stay the course.
Young leaders should understand that to serve is to be elected into offices of responsibility and not into positions of power, prestige and privilege. They should understand that by protecting their heritage, they ensure an inheritance for the next generation. Strong youth leadership is like insurance—a hope that the future may still attain peace, stability, development and the prosperity of our people. Many countries are facing various economic and political crises; in the midst of this, it is the youth who act as the agents of change for the better.
Verma is a youth leader in the Nepali Congress