Thus spake the President
f late, President Ram Baran Yadav has been quoted and appreciated by many. This is because he chooses the right word at the right place on the right occasion. It might seem like a coincidence and a formality on the part of the Head of the State of the country. Or, worse even, it might look like the good wit of his speech writer as it happens in the case of personalities of his stature and responsibility.
But the president has, time and again, proved that this is not the case. On several occasions, one could very well see that he would finish reading from the written pages, fold them carefully or just ignore what follows next and go ex-tempo to express his feelings springing out of his own mind, thought, conscience and experience as a seasoned politician of the yester years.
Remember what President Yadav said about the pathetic condition of the Nepali youths after observing their working condition in the Gulf countries on his return to Nepal? This scribe had used the statement as a good mantra to dwell on the issue of unemployment and need of a workable plan to prepare the manpower for better earning - at home or abroad. For any child, there is nothing warmer and comfortable than home, the sweet home. Forcing oneself out of this sweet place due to any reason under the sun is equal to ‘displacement.’
The president was meeting with these ‘displaced’ Nepali youths and coming home with a heavy mind and words of warning to our leaders when he demanded to know (and the scribe repeats one more time here) how they felt being in a dinner party where their sons were cleaning the plates or were employed as menial workers in their host family.
The president’s concern was a pinching remark to those who could read his feelings and draw the real meaning lying between the words he had expressed. The underlying meaning was that the leaders must shoulder the responsibility of creating jobs in the country so that our youths do not have to work in substandard and humiliating working conditions far away from home. The truth is: there is a compulsion to do so at least till today.
Skill and its importance
Tens of thousands of Nepali youths thus leave home to seek their fortune in foreign lands. A cursory glance at the crowd and queues on the Foreign Ministry premise on weekdays can give some clue to understanding the dimension of unemployment facing the country. Only in more recent years, manpower agencies have given some thought to this need, but there is very little they are actually doing in the name of training.
It has been found that they accept fake papers in the name of experience and qualification in the field of skill training. This need has given rise to training agencies that have mushroomed in cities like Kathmandu, Biratnagar, Dharan, Itahari, Pokhara, Butwal, Chitwan, Dhangadi, among several others. The growing demand of skilled manpower at the destination has led to the emergence of such agencies.
This is fine and good. But the main issue here is the quality of the training provided and sincerity on the part of the agencies supplying manpower abroad. Because of the lack of sincerity and the booming fake certification industry, many Nepali youths have ended up in menial jobs. President Yadav himself observed what these boys were doing in the Gulf nations and had to lament upon his arrival here.
If these Nepalis had left home with adequate technical training in different trades, they would not have been forced to take up jobs that do not take them any further financially. And yet, their number is so big, their remittance is said to be creating a sizable financial chunk of the nation. One can just imagine the change compulsory and quality skill training would make in the life of these youths.
A new scenario…
In more recent times, a streak of light is visible in the dark employment tunnel. The government has made efforts to convince foreign agencies that Nepal needs financial support, even loans to provide skill training for the youths. The Asian Development Bank has been supporting this new venture and facilitating young and energetic youths to have skill training in different traits. As of now, it appears that trainees have only taken this training as a spring board to jumping to a foreign land, mostly in the Gulf region. The fact is, you can have this training in any trade useful for the enhancement of your family’s and the country’s economy.
The statistics of the training package is attractive on the surface, to say the least. It seeks at least 50 per cent women, 25 per cent dalits and the rest must come from marginalised groups. Overall, it is a strategy to address the poverty situation in a country where a large number of people live below the absolute poverty level. For this ever increasing population living mostly in the remote, marginalised lands, the never ending debate on the new constitution, the fat and the affluent leaders, the splits in the political parties, the restructuring of the ‘Federal Republic of Nepal,’ the phenomenal raise in the private school and the private clinic fees, the Nepse index and the fluctuating bank interest rates does not mean a thing. What this population urgently needs and what the government must do here and right now is to let them feel that, God willing, they will be gradually pulled out of the vicious circle of poverty. And, the ADB- supported basic level skill training is one small but effective project working towards this end.
(To be continued…)