Youth is a period of life when a person has energy, zeal, enthusiasm and spirit that shape his/her future. Youthood is a time that sees physical, intellectual and professional evolution in an individual. This is prime phase of life does not only help put one’s career on solid footing but also gives impetus to the nation’s progress. This is why the youths are called agents of change and future of nation. Every country counts on their knowledge, skill, diligence and hard work to push for social, political, economic, technological and educational transformation. The world’s famous scientists, revolutionaries, reformers and philosophers were youths. They have been driving force behind the scientific inventions and technical breakthroughs. For instance, 23-year-old Isaac Newton invented the principles of motion and gravitation, leading to the discovery of the steam engine, which eventually ushered into the first industrial revolution. At the age of 21, Michael Faraday invented electricity that paved the way for the second industrial revolution. These are just a few examples showing the feat and contributions of youths.
Educated and skilled human resources are the asset of nation. The countries can do an economic miracle if they have educated workforce. South Korea is an inspiring example in this regard. It did not have natural resources and capital for industrial development when it was struggling to come out of the shadow of war in early 1950s. Like a phoenix, it quickly rose from the ashes, thanks to its educated and talented youths who helped develop cross-cutting technology, competitive and export-oriented industries. Nepal can take a lesson from South Korea and other nations to promote and invest in youths for innovation, entrepreneurship and employment generation. Nepal now possesses immense natural resources such as water, forest, herbal plants and biodiversity. Similarly, it has a large number of active population. According to population census 2078, the number of youths (16-40 years) stands at 12.4 million that is about 42.56 per cent of the total population.
But the country is unable to benefit from demographic dividend. Our energetic youths are leaving the country in droves in search of better job prospects in the international labour markets. Weak manufacturing base has forced them to go abroad to eke out a promising living. Even the educated youths are departing en masse to pursue higher studies in foreign universities in the absence of quality education and supporting academic environment here. This trend has negatively affected the country’s overall development. In this context, the other day, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda called for the holistic development of youth to exploit the demographic dividend. He made this remark while addressing the Nepal Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2023 in the capital.
Nepal government should introduce appropriate strategy and policy to unlock the potential of youths. In order to utilise the knowledge and experience of the retuning migrant workers, there should be conducive atmosphere and incentives to engage them at home. It is an appreciative step on part of the government to bring about 2.5 million Nepali youths living abroad into the Social Security Fund (SSF). Similarly, the efforts are underway to make informal sector workers participate in the SSF. The current Fiscal Year 2023/24 has been declared as 'Youth Entrepreneurship Year'. The government should provide concessional loans, promote youth-friendly investment climate and invest in start-up ventures and promote entrepreneurship.