Sunday, 1 November, 2020

Wanted: Investments, Talented Youths In STI


Roshan Pandey


The actual revolution in the science, technology and innovation (STI) sector gained pace in the early 21st century with the concept of foreign investments. From the 1980s to 1990s, the foreign direct investment in the IT sector including telecom in both neighboring countries is proof of this fact and the impact of this phenomenon has been witnessed in the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) as well as national innovation indices of those countries from then.
Though we have come across the investment concept and the concept of seeking loans from many international partners, we have never come up with proper plans for direct investment in the STI sector.

Priority-based Research
Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), as an apex body for Science and Technology in the country with nearly four decades of its establishment, has the determination and courage to make the scientific revolution in the country for which youths are the assets and scientists and technologists are the capitals.
In the present context, necessity and priority-based researches are the prime requirements of the country. If NAST would give opportunities to our youths then our talented youths would leave no stone unturned in their endeavours to make progress in the scientific sector.
Being a witness to the youth participation in making scientific progress as an engineer-cum-researcher, I have been involved in many kinds of research and development activities as an expert and have been overseeing the country's STI sector for years. I have been pondering over numerous possibilities for future opportunities in the STI sector which seem to be necessary for the current context.
NAST has always been a pioneer in Nepal's STI sector and it has been engaged in the activities related to the start of the Internet to the dissemination of renewable energy technologies at the time of energy crises. Of late, it has been engaged in space research with the deployment of Nepal's first-ever nano-satellite. Now again, NAST is active in innovating solutions for the COVID-19 combat technologies with the local to high-tech and knowledge dissemination at the time of the pandemic.
We cannot ignore the fact that every decade of NAST has been a golden period in the country's science and technology history. Yes, of course, it seems quite slow in gaining progress but we also need not forget our capacity, strength, and investment. With less than 1% of GDP penetration, we have gained such progress. One can only imagine what progress NAST would have achieved, had it received only 5 % of GDP penetration.
Being a Ph. D scholar and representing the youth, I do not doubt saying that the future of STI of Nepal solely rests on the STI development by NAST as the apex institute of science and technology. The youths of today need to have patience, determination, courage, and a so-called attitude for turning their dreams on the future dimensions of STI into a reality.

We have to base our researches by putting on priority the country and its people, not the interest of foreign institutes or international agencies or any other issues. Yes, the nation’s interest in research with a soft loan could be more feasible than the existing one. The STI in Nepal could gain ground in the medical science, space technology, natural science, bio-genetic engineering, robotic animation, and nano-science sectors. Whatever the fields are, the main concept should be prioritising the basic as well as the advanced high-techs in the above-mentioned sectors.
So, the right initiation with proper investments along with proper youth's involvement could change the scenario and we can gain better outcomes within half of a decade, not only for NAST but also for Nepal.
The future activities should be research-based on priority including social transformation with scientific industrialisation and innovative benchmarking. This could be achieved through the continued involvement in the STI improvement and STI implementation from the ground level of school education.
The research that we see here nowadays is mainly based on makeshift science, the concept of reverse engineering, technology promotion, and dissemination of modern cover in primitive works. But the research we dream is much more advanced and high techs such as the concept of automation and robotic based, with data acquisition through Artificial Intelligence (AI).
We hope to get the high-tech laboratory and concept of long-distance data acquisition with global referencing on every research works. Now is the time we should move towards the fully automatic and numeric controlled 3D visualisation display starting from the entrance to the laboratories of research institutes to ensure that our future generation research with a new dimension is realised in time.
I am sure it could not be that easy for Nepal to increase its STI implementation level and to come within the top 50 in the Global Innovation Index. But it could be the right time for moving towards this direction. The education level and knowledge penetration in the people are at a peak at the moment to hit the summit.
With the two big countries as our neighbours, who have been developing their STI sector with the pace of a rocket, it cannot be that easy to compete with them. But with the strong determination and hard work, the youths today could change the paradigm of the STI sector to a new height which no one has thought of and help achieve the progress within half a decade.

Investment, Committed Youths
The progress in the STI could be achieved through the development and discoveries of ideas and new products every day. The double-digit rate growth in the flow of international communities in the institute like NAST for the commercialisation of their products and can lead to an increase in the country's revenues by more than 50 % through royalty of such innovations and patents we sell. For this, the establishment of research-based institute financing by industries to transfer the technology in every aspect of STI need to be initiated.
Last but not the least, Nepal could be a prosperous country having its scientists and technologists and could lead the future of STI in the world by adhering to the 'mantra' revolutionary changes could be realised through the high prioritisation of the STI sector, huge investment on STI, strong recognition of and commitment to STI, and ultimately, opportunities to and faith on the youths like us for a certain time.
The dream of making stupendous progress in the country's STI sector can be realised through investments and involvement of committed and talented youths.

(Pandey is an engineer at NAST and a Ph. D scholar) 

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