December 30, 2004

OPINIONS: Youth, Media & Peace (NEPAL)

Youth, Media and Peace

Dev Raj Dahal

Why educated youths are increasingly alienating themselves from the society of their origin and leaving the rural society virtually on the edge of sterility and stagnation? Why, in an information age, media is unevenly distributed in society like per capita income and majority of Nepalese youths are less informed about the Spirit of the Age and the needs of our nation? Can media mediate between the modern aspiration of Nepalese youth for peace and justice and style of power politics that is gerentocratic, demagogic and clientalistic?

Problem: It is difficult to generalize problems of youth in Nepal due to their differentiated statuses, diverse mode of socialization and transformation from childhood to adulthood. A general mood of disappointment is, however, afflicting Nepali youth due to growing anomie, fear and uncertainty about public life and a loss of a sense of balance between structural conditions of society and the polity.

The crisis socialization of youth by media on a daily basis has induced Nepali youth to succumb to either desperation, or alienation emigration abroad, rebellion or escaping into a kind of media consumerism that tell them nothing of the meanings attributed to what is read. Because of this, a large number of youths have become just apatheticÂ?sitting on the sidelines of national affairs as spectator. The value of alienation and emigration of youth abroad has more to do with personal and family interest than with social and national responsibility The inclination of youth towards consumerism also tends to leave them indifferent to society but more inclined to join the search for more personal identity, wealth and power, able to satisfy all their personal inquisitiveness.

Deprivation of rural youth belonging to the lower economic strata from an equal access to rights, opportunities and outcome for a dignified life contributed, to their withdrawal from creative social participation. It pushed them to leave their place of social origin. The current political crisis has reinforced this tendency, deprived them of recognition, dignity and rights and forced them to move towards unknown destinations. A breakdown of balance in the emotional social and political life has thus pulled bulk of Nepalese youth into agitation, revolt and, at times, irrepressible feelings separating one sets of youths from the other and disabling their collective capacity for national action. Youth can regain the capacity for feeling, towards national life if they are properly informed by the media.

I think Nepalese youths are craving for modernity and contesting the basic values of society that landed them to a phase of national predicament. In this sense- their struggle is emancipatory in nature. It is emancipation from the crude version of power struggle that shuts the youth out and sets a course against their will against their well-being and against their ideals.

Communicative Space: A responsible media can define the national communicative space and create compliance of its youths to civic nationhood. Media frames youthÂ?s perception of belonging and a shared future. A responsible media can re-socialize youth for a culture of peace and reshape the development of a civic political culture that is rational, tolerant and humane- But it can also instill false consciousness and instrumentalize them for narrow partisan purpose. Instrumental rationality tends to drown the voice of reason, public opinion and democratic will-formation.

The stimulation of private interest in education continues to generate an intense process of de-politicization of youth distancing them from national obligations. Especially, costly private education has deprived the lower strata of rural youth from their access to quality education and reduced the job prospect of those trained in public schools, colleges and universities. Similarly, bureaucratization of curriculum and the contents of education have hardly assisted youth to address the context of life-world and link their knowledge to practice. Media continues to debunk this gap and contributes to a sort of cynicism and distrust among youth about the legitimacy of political order When youths relate their knowledge to the working context they find a lack of intergenerational justice. Without social justice in all spheres of life, the culture of durable peace cannot be established. Media has a special responsibility to help youths to restore this justice in the private world, civil society, political parties and the state. It can seek to find ways to engage them in the nationÂ?s social, economic and political construction as a deliberative public.

The fundamental objective of media is to provide youthÂ?both male and femaleÂ?a comprehensive knowledge of what they are expected to know about positive national values, about politics arid their role as sovereign citizens. Understanding of constitutional principles and skills is important for the practice of good citizenship and instill their trust in the polity. In this sense, media is expected to inculcate in Nepali youth the duty to exercise their basic rights and underline the importance of political action. A good polity rests on the virtues of its citizens. Genuine democratic virtues foster a political action that is non-violent, accommodative, respectful and sensitive towards the voice and visibility of the weak and powerless 13y respecting peaceful dissent, it can prevent the dehumanization of opposition and nurture a project of common good beneficial to all Nepali citizens. In a situation of violent conflict, media can revive the medium of societyÂ?s conversation and regenerate Nepali youthÂ?s self-confidence

Discourse. What would be the political response to the structural condition of the Nepalese society? How to open the possibilities for youths to fulfill duties towards the nation as citizens and as human beings? How media can promote skill and will power among Nepali youths to fulfill their obligations? What are the incentives for Nepali youth to be integrated into the boundaries of national culture and inspire them to be committed to the ideal of cosmopolitanism?

I think the discourse today will help furnish critical insights to engage youth in positive and productive business of communities, schools and political process. A genuinely articulated civic praxis for youth, media and peace can reconnect all to societal development, prevent the disease of national pessimism and deadlock and build their confidence to enter into a successful path of character building for good citizenship.

I believe, youth requires continuous nourishment and education so that they can become a part of civil peace work and contribute to the building of modern Nepal. A responsible media can help to liquidate the primitive pre-political instincts and transform the identity of Nepali youths into a deliberative Nepali public. A responsible media dedicated to peace is a powerful tool to empower the lives of youth. (Telegraph/FES)

Chris Schuepp
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
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