May 24, 2024, Friday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

We need to establish a Science Park: Ganesh Shah, former minister

The Nepal Weekly
September 21, 2021

(Former Minister and senior politician Er. Ganesh Shah is a Mechanical Engineer by profession, who has received his M-Tech (Technical Engineering) from Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University in 1973. Shah, who was also the former minister for Environment, Science and Technology, is a big advocate of the climate change issues in Nepal and has been quoted in various media outlets on different occasions. Renewable energy, WASH, IT, science, technology and innovation are the subjects he bears greater knowledge and share the knowledge and experience to all walks of life as his daily routine. Er. Ganesh Shah has been much referred in the STI fronts for his contributions. Shah, born on 12 December 1949, has been in political leadership since 1970.He was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (United). With the changes in the political scenario in the country he has been serving in the CPN – Maoist Centre as a high ranked leader. On the occasion of 9th National Science Day, Shah shared his views and experiences on promotion and development of STI to all stakeholders. )

Here is an article that was prepared on the basis of a conversation by The Nepal Weekly with Shah in the present context

National Science Day has been observed nationwide on the first day of Ashwin every year. This time we are celebrating the ninth anniversary. Different but effective and catchy slogans are floated so as attract mind of the professionals as well as commoners. The decision to observe the National Science Day was made when Dr. Baburam Bhattarai was the Prime Minister and the first Science Day was observed in the very next year some eight years back.

Observing Science Day has been an instrument to aware policymakers, planners and professionals for the importance of science, technology and innovation for upgrading the living conditions of the people as whole. This has been successful in achieving concrete results in policy and education fields.

Science Day gives different meanings to different countries as per their national science and technology status. For instance for developed countries like USA, Russia and China consider science means development of rocket, space science and artificial intelligence. They are currently in the fourth stage of industrial revolution. That is one reason why they attained advanced production systems.

Science has also produced destructive results. Nuclear weapons, atom bomb and some other arms and ammunitions had devastated the human society and civilization. That is why science should be utilized as means for global peace. The UNESCO has stressed on Peace Culture along with the development of science technology and innovations.

While observing the World Science Day 12 years ago, observing National Science Day in Nepal was conceptualized. But it took some time to choose an appropriate day for the purpose. A committee was formed to make a decision in this regard.

The committee after doing workouts, recommended Ashwin 01, the day Public Science College (Amrit Science College named after Prof. Amrit Prasad Pradhan a well-known science teacher and founder of the college) was established. Similarly, the working community observes the Ashwin 01 as the day to worship Vishwaokarma, the God of craft and workmanship.

The first National Science Day was observed at Nepal Academy hall in Kamaladi, Kathmandu. The chairperson of Council of Minister Khil Raj Regmi was the chief guest on the occasion. After that event each year National Science Day is being observed with different slogans. This time we are observing the 9th National Science Day with different programmes organized by NAST, STAN, RECON and others.

For better participation, wider engagement and publicity, in 2019, a main celebration committee was formed under the convene ship of then Minister for Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel.  Science, Technology and Innovation: Socio-economic transformation was the theme chosen for on occasion. National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2026 was revealed during the time.

Until and unless commoners develop awareness about science and technology orthodox thinking and superstitions cannot be removed from the society. Therefore it is necessary to initiate science studies from elementary levels in the school. That is why young scientists and researchers should be brought in the frontline for the development of STI sector.

Focus should be given to innovations while formulating new policy for science and technology. In the absence of innovative development of science applied science cannot be developed. Therefore, we must focus our attention towards the development of innovative mind.

As we started celebrating the National Science Day, the government has also started focusing on the development of science and technology. The government should allocate adequate budget in the fields of STI. We are currently allocating less than 1% of our GDP to the science and technology sector. However, developed countries are investing around 3 to 4 % of their GDP in STI. For instance, China has been in the forefront due to higher investment in STI. However, for the past few years we have been advocating for science diplomacy as well. We expect that this will help Nepal to receive cooperation from developed countries in the field of STI.

The world scenario in diplomacy demands science based data. The dialogues and discussions must be based on evidences so research and studies must be well carried to make them effective and influential.     

Science community in Nepal is increasing day by day. Presently, there are 90,000 or 95,000 professionals connected to science educations and practices. But, investment in science field need to be further expanded. This has been concern for all professionals and campaigners. The popular slogan “Prosper Nepal : Happy Nepali” can be realized only through ensuring adequate investment in science sector. This has our demand with the government to take it seriously.

Science community should get proper encouragement and incentives. Science education should be started from elementary classes in the schools. In the developed countries class room education weighs 40% and 60% weight are given for practical aspects.

Science fairs and Science parks may be new products for Nepal but these may help for gaining knowledge about science. Our country lacks such facilities. The science related creativity of young people should be showcased in such platforms. Provincial governments and local levels should play proactive roles in promotion of science based education and awareness movements.

In our country, a thought for development of science has lately emerged but it is still elusive in life, behaviour and reality. We must ask the president of this country to take part in the events related to science like any other sector. President’s involvement in Science Day programmes will definitely help in spreading awareness among the general public. Hope, this will happen in future.

The science ministry has yet become attractive for political parties. The ministry is assigned to small parties of coalition partners. Therefore it is needed to give high importance to STI sector so that people working in the sector should feel dignified.

The slogan of 9th National Science Day is Science and Technology for Mitigation of Epidemic and Disaster. On this occasion thousands of youth participate in knowledge sharing online events where they discuss and throw views and opinions, I myself as a party assigned coordinator for science, technology and innovation field, will be engaged in various programmes in presence of party chairperson, The party insiders will also be participating in various science related activities.

Science now should be in the minds of commoners which may help to evolve science mind and scientific socialism. That is why government, people and parties are considering the day as an important occasion. Nepal is a country with abundant biodiversity. We are losing the natural assets gradually. Mainly, the country is very rich in water resources. It is richest among Asian countries. As such, Nepal should take lead on water conservation. Likewise, focus should be given on biological science and climate science.

To conduct research and studies on climate science in Nepal, the country should be able to bring resources from other countries. Himalayan Climate Change Research Centre should be stationed in Nepal too. This centre should be able to study water resources, its preservation, distribution in need also should be taken into consideration.

If the Third World War, happens its main cause might be ‘water’. Water is that much valuable. Nepal should host a water science centre for metrology, hydrology or any other applied science for preserving water quality, conservation and utilisation of ground water. Thus, Nepal should not miss to take lead and initiate such futuristic important scopes.