Migration for foreign employment appears to be a serious problem in Nepal these days. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the number of migrants leaving Nepal for work is increasing every year. For example, a total number of 527,814 people left the country in 2014 alone. Most of these people were youths. As we know, this group is the most energetic and productive when it comes to building the nation. When they are still young and can contribute a lot for their country, they leave in search of employment to fulfill their mere basic needs. Again, a majority of them are unskilled or semi-skilled, so they land in manual labour which may not be their intention while leaving their motherland.
On the surface, this kind of migration may look good as it brings in a lot of remittance to the country. According to a report made public by Nepal Rastra Bank, Nepal received 5.5 billion US dollars as remittance in 2014. It was a significant increase from 4.3 billion US dollars in 2013. However, at a deeper level, this may not be of much favour to our nation.
For instance, such migration is inviting a lot of problems in families as they are rapidly breaking down. The divorce rate has increased. Children are being deprived of parental care. Parents are dying to see their children. Trust between husbands and wives is being weakened. Villages are full of old people and children.
It is equally important to consider that life in a foreign land is also not easy. Manual workers need to work very hard, but they get paid meagrely. As a result, it takes them years just to pay their debt which they had taken while leaving the country. The worst case scenario is sometimes they even lose their lives for unknown reasons; leave the accidents in the workplace aside. Every now and then we read news stories about workers who went to sleep fine, but then never woke up.
Gradually, the lack of youths in our country has started to reflect its adverse effect in the labour market as well. Recently, I read a news story about there being a massive lack of human resources in the leather shoe industry. A similar story stated that in the lack of sufficient human resources, modern agricultural systems have also been affected.
Therefore, it is high time we rethought about youth migration. They should remain in the country; in the absence of the most energetic and productive segment of the population Nepal cannot prosper to the fullest. There have been several instances where migrants have returned to the country after being fed up with foreign employment. These people have found success in self-employment; but self-motivation alone is not enough.
The government must take actions to create job opportunities for them so that they do not have to think about leaving the nation simply in search of bread and butter. Migrant youths should be integrated into the mainstream development process. The country needs them for sustainable economic growth. In the lack of this force, Nepal has already started to experience difficulties. This situation should not be lengthened more.
(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, March 10, 2017)
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