Raj Kumar Sah completed his Bachelors’ degree in agriculture a year ago. But he is still unemployed. The resident of Jahda Rural Municipality-3 has been sending applications to various employers, but none has been accepted. Every time he receives an offer, it is turned down for one reason: he doesn’t have a citizenship certificate.
“There’s no option for me other than to stay home and imagine what it would be like to land a job opening advertised in the newspaper,” says Sah, one of the many people across Nepal who are victims of the state’s policy to ask for citizenship certificate from its own people when they want to work in the formal sector.
“I chose to study agriculture as I thought the sector is full of opportunities,” says Sah. “If I knew that I wouldn’t get citizenship, I would have abandoned formal studies and learnt some other skills to help me earn a living,” he adds.
Amar Verma of Dharan Municipality-9, Sunsari is also troubled by the same problem. As Verma was good in studies, his parents wanted him to become a doctor. They even sent him to India to complete his high school. After that, he was preparing for the medical entrance exam when he found out that he can’t apply for a scholarship without his citizenship certificate. “The two years I spent preparing for the exam went to waste. I wasn’t even eligible to fill the application form,” he says.
Krishna Mandal from Biratnagar-1 dropped out of school in the ninth grade to learn driving as he realized it would be difficult for him to get his citizenship certificate. Although he has been driving around for the past four years, he can’t apply for a license because he doesn’t have a citizenship certificate. “Our father got his citizenship based on birth and mother based on lineage,” he adds.
Thousands of youngsters such as Sah, Verma, and Mandal have been deprived of numerous opportunities as they can’t apply for citizenship. They can’t even go abroad for work.
According to prevailing laws, children of citizens who got their citizenship under special and time-bound campaigns in the past based on their birth in Nepal, can’t get citizenship. They have been lobbying with the government at all levels to make changes to the law.
Ajay Paudhar, president of the struggle committee for citizenship, says they have no option but to launch an agitation demanding citizenship.
Although the erstwhile Oli government passed an ordinance to allow children of those who got their citizenship based on their birth in Nepal to also get citizenship, it was struck down by the Supreme Court. The Citizenship Bill under consideration in the legislature has also been stuck as parties fail to reach a consensus on its provisions.