International think-tank starts operation for public policies affecting Nepal

KATHMANDU: An international think-tank Nepal Policy Institute (NPI) -- which  has become operational for the social and economic development of Nepal -- today announced that it would unveil its Strategic Plan (2019-2021) amidst a plenary session at the first Global Knowledge Conference scheduled to be held in Kathmandu from October 12-14.

NPI, a global initiative of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), would be presenting a number of speakers who will speak on the diaspora role for the development policies of Nepal, NPI Chair Khagendra Dhakal said.

“After 10 months of internal preparation, NPI is all set to unveil its Strategic Plan for 2019-2021 and this will be NPI’s first public presence while the team was working internally for several months,” he added.

When THT asked what would NPI's niche be when there already were many think-tanks in Nepal, Dhakal explained, “NPI is not to take other’s space in Nepal but to strengthen think-tank and public policy research, analysis and advocacy ecosystem in Nepal through collaboration, partnership and exchanges."

According to Dhakal, NPI’s comparative advantage was that it could provide swift, relevant wide-ranging and multi-angled perspectives and recommendations towards determining, adapting or implementing suitable public policy in Nepal. "What makes NPI unique is that it will bring the world resources to Nepal and bring Nepali experience to the world by promoting Nepal in the global arena."

Dhakal elaborated that NPI will be a forum of Nepali-origin public policy scholars, researchers, practitioners, experts and consultants across the globe, holding collaboration and partnership with people and institutions anywhere and everywhere working in the interest of Nepal and Nepali people, including Nepali diaspora. This will be a border-less organisation working and connecting people in the cloud, land, and the space in between.

While talking about the areas of NPI’s focus and priorities, Dhakal said they would discuss with the National Planning Commission and other policy making agencies of Nepal to identify the national needs and priorities and based on that take the final decision. However, NPI's current list of core activities include labour migration, use of remittance, social protection, revenue and expenditure management at the provincial and local levels, international investment, trade and tourism.

Similarly, research and development for economic diversification, value addition in health, environment, agriculture and natural resources, and SDGs 2030 would be their core areas of focus.

According to the programme showcased on the website of the first Global Knowledge Conference, at the fourth plenary of the conference, NPI Executive Member Sharad Neupane will be presenting NPI’s proposal where National Planning Commission's Vice Chair Pushpa Kadel, NRNA Founder and International Coordinator Bhim Udash, Foreign Secretary Shanker Bairagi and Krishna Adhikari from Oxford University will speaking on the diaspora role for the development policies of Nepal.

Likewise, in the panel discussion of the same session, NRNA President Bhaban Bhatta, Economist Madan Kumar Dahal and Nepal based social leader and NPI executive committee member Sharu Joshi Shrestha will discuss on NPI’s proposal. Former Foreign and Finance Minister Bhekh Bahadur Thapa will be chairing the session and NPI Chair Dhakal will moderate the session. With the inputs of the session, NPI aims to finalise its strategic plan, Dhakal further said.

The NPI was conceived as a result of the global expansion of NRNA network into different knowledge crops globally in its 15-year journey. When NRNA reviewed its past to chart out its future direction, the need of policy institute was identified as a major component of NRNA Vision 2020 and Beyond.

Former president Shesh Ghale, who led the International Coordination Council (ICC) of NRNA, had tabled the concept of policy institute at the NRNA Convention 2017 along with the vision document which was overwhelmingly approved by the global diaspora representatives.

Accordingly, it was integrated in its constitution and the current president Bhaban Bhatta appointed Bangkok based academic Dhakal as the Chair of the Policy Institute to further develop it as an institution. In 10 months’ time, NPI developed its ToR, expanded its steering committee and research committees and developed its medium-term Founding Strategic Plan.

From Early 2019, NPI will enter project stage, according to Dhakal.

The structure and team of NPI comprises Khagendra Dhakal (Bangkok) as chair; Chandra Laksamba (Oxford, UK), Rajendra Shrestha (Bangkok), Rudra Aryal (New Hampshire, USA), Sharad Neupane (Bangkok), Sita Ram Ghimire (Canberra, Australia), Sharu Joshi Shrestha (Kathmandu), Bijaya Rajbhandari (Kathmandu), and Ramesh Singh (New York) as members; and Anil Sigdel (Washington DC) as the member secretary.