Youths Stage a Mock Parliament in Jhapa

December 12, 2023

The bell echoed through the halls as the marshal entered the House pronouncing, "Honorable Members of Parliament (MPs) and Right Honorable Speaker." Immediately, the marshal went back to the entrance, the Speaker and the Secretary of youth parliament along with the marshal entered the hall. This lively scene unfolded within the mock youth parliament session in Jhapa.  "Hon. MPs, the proceeding of the youth parliament commences," said, Nabin Tiwari who played the role of Speaker of the House.     
The House started with Emergency Hour.  Manoj Puri as Youth MP asked, "Each day many people are losing their lives in road accidents. The government should take necessary steps to control the accidents." Samita Pokhrel as Youth MP asked, "The incidents of child sex abuses have been occurring in public places including schools, I want to draw the attention of the government on this."  

In the zero hour, Samikshya Limbu as Youth MP drew the  government's attention on the terror of wild elephants in terai districts including Jhapa urging the government to take necessary steps to save people's lives. Youth MP Salina Paudel urged the government to prioritize vocational and technical education to impart skill-oriented training to youths. Youth MP Sandesh Jha urged the government to introduce a special programme to prevent exodus of youths to the foreign countries in search for jobs. 

In the special hour, the youths who played the role of MPs, ruling and opposition parties raised their concern over the misuse of social media, problems of betel nut farmers, adulteration of food, management of garbage, increasing use of illegal drugs, problem of land squatters. Following queries from MPs of the ruling side and the opposition, Junu Paudel,  designated as 'Prime Minister' of the Youth Government responded them. While she was responding, MPs in the row of ruling side were tapping tables to express their support.

Like the real federal parliament, separate seating provision was made for the ruling side and the opposition side. The mock youth parliament that was conducted in the presence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, chief whips, and whips of political parties was not different from the real parliament. 

Mock youth parliament: a good learning to MPs

Youths not only learned parliamentary practices through the mock youth parliament, but it also offered a good avenue to members of the federal parliament and Provincial Assemblies to observe the practice of mock youth parliament. . Ramesh Lekhak, chief whip of Nepali Congress said the mock youth parliament has taught incumbent MPs various things including putting their views on time, being topic-centric, not to disrupt the House and stay full time in the House meeting.

"The youths have presented the possibility that a woman can be the Prime Minister. Having most of women MPs in the parliament has given a good message," said Deputy Speaker Indira Rana Magar, "When the women youth MPs were raising their queries, I was feeling proud of them. Within three days, they have learnt many aspects of parliament and able to convey a significant message to the incumbent MPs. The young MPs have taught us the decorum and culture because they have presented their issues on time in excellent way." "The new generation of youths have effectively presented an ideal aspect of parliament which is a beautiful aspect of the mock parliament," she added.

Speaker Dev Raj Ghimire said that issues raised in the mock youth parliament reflected the real issues of the country. The event has given a positive message to youths on parliament, parliamentary system, and politics.

Enthusiasm and ambition of participating youths

The mock youth parliament organized by secretariat of federal parliament in collaboration with UNDP's Parliament Support Project (PSP) and Sahara Nepal was conducted for four days from October 31 to November 3. On the fourth day, a total of 60 students (36 woman) from 20 different higher secondary schools of Jhapa had their active and enthusiastic participation. Students, who played the roles of the Prime Minister, the Speaker, Ministers and MPs shared they felt as if they were performing the real roles. "We practiced the mock parliament, but we realized that we are in real roles of the MPs and ministers. It has aroused the interest of being MPs in the future," they shared their collective experience.

"I used to stay away from politics and had no understanding of the parliament earlier. After participating in the mock parliament, I am now aware of parliament and its procedures. The program has aroused my interest in politics. I won't miss such programmes in the days to come," Neha Kharel, a participant of the mock youth parliament said. While Nabin Tiwari shared, "People are being taking the politics a bit negatively and such conception has gradually been transferred to young generation as well. But after participating in the mock parliament, I understand that if we understand politics, we can contribute to promoting democratic practices in the country. I will pass the same message to the others."

PSP's team leader Dila Datt Pant said, "The young students have got information about parliamentary practices, lawmaking process and role of the parliament through the mock youth parliament. The incumbent MPs have also learned the importance of time, topic-centric discussion and having uniform voices in the issues of public importance in the parliament."

Youths' participation in politics

People from 16 to 40 years of age are considered as youths in Nepal. The population of youths is 42.56 percent according to the national census 2021. Youth participation in local level government is 42 percent while the figure of youth MPs in Provincial Assemblies stands 12.36 percent, and it is 25.66 percent in the House of Representatives.  

About Parliament Support Project (PSP)
PSP has been providing technical assistance to the federal parliament and all seven Provincial Assemblies and their secretariats to strengthen parliamentary functions. It focuses on research-oriented and evidence-based lawmaking and oversight functions, parliamentary openness and outreach, cross learning among parliamentary leadership and MPs, use of digital tools for public engagement, among others. The project also emphasizes on promotion of gender equality and social inclusion in parliamentary works including building the networks and knowledge sharing opportunities amongst women MPs and MPs from marginalized groups to further strengthen their role. This apart, the project also facilitates engagement of CSOs in lawmaking and oversight functions.  The project is being funded by the Norwegian Government and UNDP.