Nepal is in the primitive phase of development in science, technology, and innovation. While huge achievements have been made in the field of science and technology globally, Nepal is still making efforts to comprehend and realize the global hype. However, one cannot deny the expanding horizons of science and technology in the country.
Usage of science and technology
Science and Technology is seeing increased application throughout the country. From industries to agriculture, and from organizations to individuals are using various new technologies. Industries have been using technologies since earlier than any other sector in the country. Various machines in the industries are the product of technology. Technologies have modernized agriculture these days. People are gradually giving up traditional ways of farming. Tractors are used to plough fields instead of traditional use of oxen. Information Technology (IT) has aided the service sector a lot. Government offices as well as private offices make use of computer for their daily activities. Recently, government has decided to make use of IT in keeping records from local to national level. People of almost all the sectors are using the products of science and technology in the country in one or the other way.
Nepal got to experience modern science for the first time in 1919 when intermediate science education was introduced in Tri Chandra College. Number of public universities established across the country have adopted science education ever since then. Now we have a curriculum in from the basic level to the university level that is dedicated to the teaching and learning of science and technology.
National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) has been working as an autonomous body in promoting science and technology, preservation and further modernization of indigenous technologies and promotion of research in science and technology in the country.
There is also a ministry dedicated to science and technology in the country—the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST). The MoEST has been formulating plans and policies concerning science and technology and implementing them across the country through its various institutions.
The latest genre of science and technology to enter the country is Information Technology (IT). The Department of Information Technology (DoIT), under Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT), is the policymaker for the IT sector. Other government agencies have also been working in the sector of science, technology and innovation in Nepal.
Various private and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been working since long in the sector of science and technology in the recent time.
National strategies and policies in the sector of science and technology
Sixth Five-year Plan of Nepal (1980-1985) designed by the National Planning Commission (NPC) was the first periodical plan to link science and technology with economic development of Nepal. Current and the Fourteenth Three-Year plan has also recognized science and technology as a charger of Nepali economy. The plan has set the aim of developing and promoting the sector of science and technology and linking it with social, economic, physical and environmental development. Based on the aim the plan has pointed out strategies like development of infrastructures for increasing scientific research, innovation and technological advancement, development of technological skills in youth in the country with their utilization in the country, and effective use of technology obtained from scientific and technological resources in the overall development of the country.
The Constitution of Nepal 2015 has also assured science and technology along with the information technology to be integral parts of the policies of the state. Enhancing investments in scientific study, research works and in invention, progress and development of science and technology, and also protecting scientists, technologists, intellectual and eminent talents has been envisioned as a long term policy of the state.
Regarding IT sector, the constitution has ensured easy and simple access of the general public to information technology by developing and expanding information technology to the tune of national needs, and has also mentioned that the state will be committed in making optimum utilization of information technology in the national development.
There are other various policies dedicated to science, technology and innovation like Science and Technology Policy, 2005 and Information Technology Policy, 2010. All of such policies have mentioned their strategies, most of which have not had noticeable outcomes.
Despite efforts from government, private and non-government sectors, science and technology has not been able to stand as a flourished sector in Nepal.
There has rarely been a sector for which policies have not been formed in Nepal. Most of the policies regarding science and technologies formed by Government of Nepal and its various bodies have not been implemented. They have just remained as mere declarations in papers
While the use of products of science of technology has been increasing in the recent years, they are all imported. Mechanical equipment, electrical appliances, vehicles, and IT goods like phones and computers, which are the major products of science and technology, are among the largest imports of Nepal. Culture of innovation does not seem to be well developed in the country. We have been using technologies developed by others since long.
134 billion rupees has been allocated under the category of education, science and technology in this fiscal year. Such large chunk of budget is allocated every fiscal year for science and technology. However, we do not have outcomes.
Challenges exist, but the possibilities do not hide themselves. Possibilities are the factors that encourage us to fight the challenges. The sector of science and technology, being in the early age of its development, has multitude of possibilities.
We have the geopolitical advantage. India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bhutan, and even China can be the first markets for our technological products. We just need to amplify our efforts.
The culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is budding in Nepal. Number of innovative young minds seeking for a platform has been increasing day by day. IT sector is growing more rapidly than any other sector in the country.
What is to be done?
Everybody has their own role in meeting these possibilities. Government should focus on implementing the policies so far made. Private sector has equal role in this. It needs to realize the possibility of success of science and technology in the country. Increased investments from private and public sectors with effective utilization are necessary for the growth of science and technology in the country.
Education system also needs improvement from the root level. Curriculum related to science and technology should be more practical than theoretical.
However, the main role lies in every individual in the country. People with innovative ideas should not step back fearing investments. Rather they should look for opportunities to foster their ideas. We need to develop the entrepreneurial mindset.
Nepal went through various revolutions in the past 70 years. Most of these revolutions were political ones. People fought for their rights once and again. We have political outcomes now. After all these changes, Nepal is yet to see a tech revolution. It is better we start preparing now.