Karnali Provincial Assembly engages with youth to open up parliamentary practices

February 14, 2022

Jyoti Devkota presenting duirng elocution competition

Surkhet/February 4

We wouldn’t have to end up in musings of daydreams

Nor would we fear anything if we stood by the truth

If I were a member of the Provincial Assembly

I'd ensure youth don't have to drag themselves to gulfs for subsistence

I'd ensure people don't have to wallow in despair for lack of development. 

Building on her poetic opening, twelfth-grader Jyoti Devkota drew an analogy between the Provincial Assembly (PA) as the primary platform for politics and basecamp for a mountain climber. In her five-minute speech, Devkota raised difficult questions, painting a grim picture of politics due to the inaction of the youth. She pleaded with everyone to wake up to creative changes and shared her dreams, dedication, and vision for development, all with a note of hope.

Devkota’s speech left the audience spellbound. She was speaking at an elocution competition organised by the Karnali Provincial Assembly on February 3. The assembly had invited 15 schools to participate in a competition wherein students had to deliver five-minute speeches under the prompt, ‘If I were a PA member…’. The objective was to inspire the youth to engage in parliamentary practices, as most either remain indifferent or harbour negative perceptions of politics.

The audience, composed of PA members, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, chairs of Parliamentary Committees, and secretaries, listened keenly to the young students’ socio-political vision for Nepal.

Jeeb Raj Budhathoki, Secretary of the Karnali PA

“The contest was an innovative vehicle to stir the interest of youth in parliamentary affairs. Their presentations showed that they had already engaged closely with important issues,” said Jeeb Raj Budhathoki, Secretary of the Karnali PA. “Such initiatives only contribute to strengthening democracy."

Karnali Province has, in recent times, been pursuing a deeper engagement with its youth. In addition to the elocution contest, the Karnali PA also held an interaction program with youth on February 2. At least 70 youth, present both in-person and virtually from all 10 districts of Karnali Province, engaged in a question-and-answer session with the PA on core parliamentary functions and practices.

Shreya Subedi, one of the youth who asked queries to MPs during the interaction with PA

The youth presented numerous pertinent questions regarding the drafting of laws.

"Does the PA collect expert opinions and people's feedback on bills?" asked Shreya Subedi, one of the students.

Dan Singh Pariyar, chair of the Legislative and State Affairs Committee

In response, Dan Singh Pariyar, chair of the Legislative and State Affairs Committee, said that the PA does indeed solicit expert and public opinion and added that the Karnali PA worked to draft laws that addressed the issues of the youth, women, children, and marginalized populations.

In response to a query about public participation and transparency, Secretary Budhathoki informed that the PA was open to the public in person and also via live broadcasts on Youtube. The PA also provides regular updates on its website and through various social media handles, he said.

"In the interest of openness, the public will be able to visit the PA on two days, the 15th and 29th, of each Nepali month," said Secretary Budhathoki.

Raj Bahadur Shahi, Speaker, Karnali PA

Speaker Raj Bahadur Shahi affirmed that the Karnali PA was dedicated to open parliamentary practice, of which the ongoing engagement with the youth was one component; opening parliament up to the public was another.

UNDP's Parliament Support Project (PSP) provided technical support to the Karnali PA for its youth-focused activities. Over the years, the PSP has provided technical support for various initiatives, including the installation and operation of video conferencing facilities, YouTube live broadcasts, expert reviews and public consultations on bills, parliamentary oversight programs, capacity building of MPs and secretariat staff, and innovative parliamentary outreach initiatives like ‘Meet the Speaker’ and ‘Meet the MPs’.