A Youth Leader of Nepal

Interview with the YT active member Kabindra Burlakoti about his social activities.

Kabindra joined YT in 2011. One year later at the Rhodes Youth Forum his project “’Youth Contribution for Sustainable Peace – Nepal Youth Forum” won in the category “The Best Suggested Project,” which led to its implementation in Nepal. Kabindra has been working with youth initiatives for a few years now. In his CV are visits to such conferences as World Youth Conference 2010, UNESCO Asian Youth Forum 2007 & 2008, and the 6th UNESCO Youth Forum. In an exclusive interview with YT, Kabindra shares his story, views, and hopes for the future of Nepal and the world in general.

Tell me about yourself and your background: educational and professional.

I am originally from a remote village in Nepal, which is out of the transportation network, so I saw buses/cars only when I was 13 years old. I finished school in the village school and graduated from Tribhuwan University majoring in Financial Analysis and Management. I have been working in “Youth Issues” for more than a decade, being involved in coordinating alliances, conducting surveys, consulting youth organizations, and moderating various educational workshops. I also got a chance to work with the Youth Time Team during the India Youth Forum 2012 as a member of the organizing team. Now, I am serving as the President of “National Youth Federation of Nepal “(NYFN) and I do monitoring the productive execution of its programs.

What does the “National Youth Federation” project stand for and what are its goals?

NYFN is an umbrella organization of Nepalese youth organizations and groups. NYFN stands for participation of young people at every level of decision making and policy formulation of the state, effective implementation of National Youth Policy, and empower building of the youth groups from a very local level. We care about Human Rights, principles of democracy, governance ways, and try to maintain sustainable development and civilizations. The federation also advocates the free and fair elections as only then we can promote young and genuine leaders.

What are some of the major challenges that young people face in Nepal?

Let me first give you a picture of modern Nepal. It is a country, which has passed through a decade long armed conflict, throughout which the poverty and political instability flourished. We need fresh minds and ideas of solving the existing problems. The youth are the best innovators in this field, but you need to involve them in policy and government planning. Young people need to be empowered and engage in public life, and play a vital role in the institutionalization of the recently established federal republic in Nepal. However, so far this is an uncharted path. The government has no vision or plan for the young people. There are 10 million plus young people in Nepal but government plans a program for only a few thousand. Educated and qualified young people also don’t want to stay in Nepal. They go, study abroad, and settle down permanently in the destination country. Quality education in Nepal, in this case, is not a universal solution to the problem. Universities today are, unfortunately, kind of industries to produce unemployed. It’s all happening because of a lack of vision of development and effective plan of action. The government never cares about people’s agendas.

What, in this case, are the practical benefits of your initiatives and actions?

I have a dream of a “prosperous society” and it is only possible when young people are part of the planning and decision making. I am working to achieve my dream, and I am satisfied in the results of my work. I am recognized as an active youth leader, so young people share their problems, opportunities with me/us. As I am affiliated with a wider network of youth organizations, I can help to implement ideas. I have expertise in the field of youth because of my involvement and I can use that expertise as well. I am recognized as a part of the solution in Nepalese society, and that’s a big achievement for me.

Tell me more about your project, which won at the Rhodes Youth Forum. What was the Nepal Youth Forum 2013?

Nepal Youth Forum (NYF) was an open forum to discuss the current situation and problems in our country. We tried to generate ideas to overcome the challenges that young people in Nepalese society face today. I wanted to encourage young people to come into action, to form model youth leaders in the society out of energetic and active youth. As a result, NYF announced the action plan for governmental, non-governmental, civil society, and youth groups with the aim to improve our society and quality of life of people. Now we have plans to continue the annual youth events in Nepal and would like to see YT cooperation continue. In 2014, we are planning the “Nepal Youth Forum 2014” on the topic “Youth Dialogue of Inter-cultural and Civilization” in coming February. I want to believe that this event would become a mile-stone for empowering young people in Nepal.

Are there any other plans and projects pending?

I would like to organize even more regional and district level forums regularly in Nepal. I think this direction of work with the youth is very promising. Next year, we would like to bring youth together from the south Asian countries. I personally want to work for the pro-poor community and schools. I would like to work on water supply and toilet building in remote schools where they don’t have these kinds of facilities. But my main goal is to work on the untouchability problem in Nepal, which needs to be eliminated.

What advice would you give young people who want to start their own thing and benefit the world and the youth movement?

Every man and woman is a human, because we have wisdom. Egoism: I, me, and my – are not everything. That’s why we should try to do something for the world with passion. I salute those who are doing something for the world and encourage others to do little things for the world, community, and people. If you don’t want to get involved too much yourself, then you should choose the right representative on your behalf, so that they help you to fulfill your wishes. If you are new and want to start your own thing, assess the need and importance before you start, so that you can do better. Categorize what you want to do out of several sectors like service, advocacy, construction, awareness, knowledge generation, invention, and so on. That makes your work perfect. The last thing is: never forget to bring others on board, take advice, form alliances, and build cooperation and collaborations.

Photo: From the Archive of Kabindra Burlakoti

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