More youth show in­ter­est in pol­i­tics

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Chen­cho Dema from Thim­phu

Con­trary to the pop­u­lar per­cep­tion of youth’s ap­a­thetic at­ti­tude to­wards pol­i­tics, a ma­jor­ity of the young peo­ple that Busi­ness Bhutan talked to, how­ever, seems to show a grow­ing in­ter­est in pol­i­tics.

They are not only abreast of po­lit­i­cal par­ties and their can­di­dates, but also seem to be aware of who should gov­ern the coun­try, al­beit there is also a lit­tle sec­tion of young peo­ple who seems not to know even the min­is­ters who make the Cabi­net.

A 24-year-old youth based in Paro said she cares about the elec­tions since it is a re­spon­si­bil­ity be­stowed by the Fourth King.

“We can­not fail His Majesty The King by not vot­ing. We care about the elec­tions and who comes into power be­cause we care for our coun­try’s well be­ing. Our con­cerns are pri­mar­ily un­em­ploy­ment and the na­tion’s econ­omy,” she said, adding that she has reg­is­tered to vote and wants to take pride in shap­ing the na­tion’s fu­ture.

A young teacher in Thai­land, Yeshi Lhadon says Bhutanese youth care about the elec­tions as a big­ger part of their fu­ture will be af­fected by the de­ci­sions made by the elected party.

“Young peo­ple are more in­ter­ested and care about the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions than the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions. If it’s pos­si­ble for the sec­ond round, I’d like to get my postal bal­lot too,” she added.

Sim­i­larly, a trainee at the Royal In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment, Dendup Tsh­er­ing says youth have been show­ing more in­ter­est in pol­i­tics com­pared to the past.

“Our monar­chs have been al­ways re­it­er­at­ing that youth are the fu­ture lead­ers of the na­tion. That is why youth are con­cerned about po­lit­i­cal party com­ing to power and solv­ing youth re­lated is­sues, po­lit­i­cal party that can

en­hance the se­cu­rity and sovereignty of the coun­try. Youth un­em­ploy­ment, sub­stance abuse and over­whelm­ingly high pub­lic debt are some is­sues that con­cern us,” he added.

Another trainee Sonam Zangpo said youth’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in pol­i­tics in­volves not only in the vot­ing process, but also by stand­ing as mem­bers and en­gag­ing in di­a­logue with the par­ties dur­ing con­ven­tions.

He added that their con­cerns range from un­em­ploy­ment to get­ting the right and able gov­ern­ment at the helm of power. “We are con­cerned with soar­ing youth delin­quen­cies and the way youth are seen as by the gen­eral pub­lic par­tic­i­pat­ing in pol­i­tics as a means of un­em­ploy­ment is a case in point.”

A Sherubtse Col­lege grad­u­ate, Thin­ley Dorji, 22, mean­while, says that other con­cerns of the youth to­day are money power, politi­cians brib­ing vot­ers by giv­ing money or other goods, the false prom­ises by politi­cians, and doubts whether the peo­ple will chose the right po­lit­i­cal party.

“How the up­com­ing par­ties will be com­pe­tent and equipped with their strate­gies to solve na­tional con­cerns such as trade deficit and achieve self re­liance. Un­em­ploy­ment is the big­gest con­cern these days as un­em­ploy­ment rate is in­creas­ing each year. Some youth are lit­tle re­luc­tant to vote as we can see from their re­sponses,” he added.

How­ever, Thin­ley Dorji has reg­is­tered to vote for the up­com­ing elec­tions and says that it’s his fun­da­men­tal duty to choose the right party and the can­di­date.

“Young peo­ple must be aware of the is­sues, lis­ten to politi­cians, and par­tic­i­pate in the sys­tem by vot­ing. They must be con­fi­dent in their opin­ions and their abil­ity to shape their own coun­try,” he added.

And some young peo­ple have not only re­al­ized the im­por­tance of vot­ing, they are also shoul­der­ing this re­spon­si­bil­ity by avail­ing all the nec­es­sary op­tions to be able to vote in the demo­cratic process.

Dechen Wangmo Sherpa, a sec­ond year col­lege stu­dent, said she has reg­is­tered for the up­com­ing elec­tions to vote for the right can­di­date and elec­tion mat­ters to her.

“Youth un­em­ploy­ment is a big­gest con­cern. Youth want to work and be in­de­pen­dent, but it’s not hap­pen­ing be­cause of less num­ber of job va­can­cies,” she added. “There are young peo­ple who get im­pa­tient af­ter wait­ing for years to get a job. So they opt to go abroad and work whether they like or not. And there are some youth who are de­pressed and stressed be­cause af­ter grad­u­at­ing, they can­not get a job and start los­ing hope. It’s from there they start do­ing bad things.”

How­ever, there are also some young peo­ple, who have an ap­a­thetic at­ti­tude to­wards pol­i­tics.

Phuntsho Cho­den from Zhem­gang says she is least both­ered about elec­tions. “Politi­cians and par­ties en­cour­age and en­gage young peo­ple be­fore elec­tions. They are told that they would do this and that, but every­thing is for­got­ten af­ter the elec­tion,” she added.

Mean­while, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan (ECB) main­tained that they have been ad­vo­cat­ing youth in elec­toral ad­vo­cacy pro­gram through var­i­ous means and among them is the es­tab­lish­ment of Bhutan Chil­dren’s Par­lia­ment.

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