“You can’t bring change if you are not socially and politically aware.”

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Sandeep Gupta, a Daayitwa Innovation Leader of the ‘Pariwartan: Ek Lakshya’ campaign discusses the necessity of being aware socially and politically as a youth with Srizu Bajracharya, Communication Officer at Daayitwa.

“ I come from a small village. I am among one of those young people who come to a city dreaming of becoming a big person someday,” Sandeep Gupta illustrates to me.

“When I was a child I dreamed of being an engineer; I  wanted to be famous. I wanted to do something for my village. And I still want to. However, with time I understood that my family was not well-off,” he explains. “Miss, my story is as ordinary as I am. And, I know what it means to be poor; I know what it means to dream and what it means to struggle,” says Sandeep in a deep voice. It’s as though he can still see himself as a child dreaming of becoming a celebrated person.

During the leadership course organized by Nepal Leadership Academy, Sandeep was one of the Innovation Leader who opened up quickly with the Yuwa Aaja! team. It was evident that he loved speaking:  he would crack jokes and sometimes deep ghazals about trying to find meaning in life. To him, Yuwa Aaja! was a platform to groom his leadership skills to help him lead changes in his small village: Aichawal in Rupandehi.

Sandeep is 24 and is currently involved in ‘Pariwartan: Ek Lakshya’ a campaign under Yuwa Aaja. Their campaign aims to promote technical education to bring forward the challenges of vocational and training education to thereby emphasize job opportunities through vocational training in Butwal especially.

Sandeep ji, if I am not mistaken you are also a student right? What are you currently studying ?

I am studying Bachelors in Science at Butwal Multiple College. I had previously studied ISc for plus 2 – and so as the next step, I took BSc.  However, I think now I want to study political science. Things are starting to get clearer in my head.

Why Political Science ? I have always wanted to ask: why are you so passionate about politics? Do you think as youth we should be politically involved?

If you want to change laws; if you’re going to make a social change for issues that our communities are facing – I think these changes are only possible if we are politically involved. Plus, we are young; and I can vouch that if we keep ourselves socially, politically and economically aware, our voices can bring change – our voices will matter be it in small or large crowds.

Sandeep ji, are you politically involved then? How has this helped you bring change in Gaidahawa?

I am affiliated with Nepal Communist Party. Through this involvement, I have understood the importance of being politically and socially aware. Working with the Party has helped me lead conversations for some developmental changes in my hometown. Recently, we were successful in getting an approval to make the Baluhawaa Ghat bridge in Gaidahawaaa Gaupalika Ward no. 7. It’s tough to get to Butwal from Aaichawal – hopefully, the bridge will be made soon. These are small changes, but it makes large impacts in our lives.

But, don’t you think most youth today are not interested in politics and also social change if they are not connected directly to the problem?

True, that is how it is. But what I have also understood is – some of us are so poor that there is no time for us to think about these issues or how to be politically involved. What comes first is how to earn and survive; how to make a living. Most youths are thinking about how to do things. And when you are already busy deciding for these things the rest becomes non-existent.

With our campaign, ‘Pariwartan: Ek Lakshya’ that’s what I have been realizing. While there is a whole different problem for educated youth in Nepal regarding job opportunities for many youths who are not economically stable – they are just wondering how to sustain them and their family. Although at first, we tried to introduce the importance of technical education in Butwal after many small discussions that we organized  we have come to understand: we need programs that can provide technical education to people from poor family not for all young people – just to those who are seeking for an opportunity to redeem their lives. Because they understand and value this education.

Have you talked with these youth? What did they have to say?

For the campaign, we had talked with youths from Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Kapilvastu, Palpa, and Pyuthan – to get an overview of the overarching issues around technical education in Nepal. The reality shook us. Even though our campaign wishes to create opportunities through technical education in Nepal itself – many youths want to get training just so that they can go to foreign countries to earn money with skills.

What do you think can help solve this problem?

We have come to realize that apart from just training programs from institutions, we should also think about platforms where these youths can apply their skills because they need places where they can work; where they can start to earn money. We also need more motivational and leadership development trainings because independence requires confidence and risk-taking. It requires bravery.

What is the major challenge as a youth for you today?

People don’t want to work together. They want to receive help, but they don’t want to participate. They want their problems to be addressed, but they want others to do it for them.

It seems like you feel for the things you have discussed with me? Tell me more about the passion that drives your concerns.

I am still the boy that dreams of doing something big in my hometown. I don’t come from a well-off family, and I am a Madheshi. Moreover, I believe, that our social conditions sometimes don’t allow us to grow as a person; to think about things more rationally and holistically. And sometimes, this becomes the reason for our exploitation – because we are not socially aware. That’s I want to urge youths to be informed; to be concerned – because our growth is essential.

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