02/09/2009, 00.00
NEPAL
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Young Catholics want to influence the new Nepalese constitution

by Kalpit Parajuli
They are also calling for the creation of an interreligious forum. Almost 50% of the population, more than 14 million people, are under the age of 30.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepalese Catholic young people are demanding to have a voice in the chapter for drafting a new constitution, and are calling on institutions to create an interreligious forum.

The proposals for the government of Kathmandu have been signed by the Nepalese branch of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS), and addressed to the ministry for education, young people, and sports. Prakash Khadka, IMCS president for Nepal, explains: "We demand proper reflection of all youth voices and their needs." Of the more than 26 million inhabitants in the country, about 40% are adolescents, more than 4 million are between the ages of 15 and 30, and projections for the immediate future show an increase in the youngest segment of the population.

Khadka says, "as now the country has become a secular state, the constitution should make clear provisions for an interreligious youth body which can handle any related issues."

Mina Lama, also involved in the movement's initiative, explains: "We lived long in the minority. but now the country is secular, so Catholic youth must be addressed just as the other young people. If the government doesn’t make proper arrangements to address Catholic young people, we will take some initiatives."

With the end of the monarchy, Nepal began a process for the drafting of its first constitution by a democratic process. The fundamental principles of the state, dictated until 2008 by the Hindu elite and by the members of the ruling family, are now the object of a revision that seeks to include the population as well. The process should be concluded by 2010, the date set by the new Maoist government in power since April of 2008.

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