New science and technology policy in the making

Kathmandu, March 3:

The task force formed to formulate a sketch of a new science and technology (S&T) policy for the country is going to prepare its report in coming two months.

This is the third time the S&T policy is being prepared since 1990.

The six-men task force, headed by Devi Dutta Paudel, was instituted in mid-January by a conclave of National S&T Council headed by Prime Minister. Paudel is Scientific Advisor, Ministry of Environment and Science and Technology (MoEST).

Once drawn up and enforced, the new policy is expected not only “reconfigure the scientific establishment but also reorient research and development.”

“The need, of course, is emphatic. We are trying to put together a policy which not only encourages research but also excites and reorients scientists and researchers. Main concern is how to stop the talent from flying away,” said Ishwar S Thapa, a member of the task force.

Thapa also said that a time has come when those in the scientific establishment must not only seek a role for themselves but also should work hard to throw up opportunities for the professionals and masses through the medium of science.

“It is all about conducting a review of the past and making commitments to make rapid progress on the science and technological front. Issues staring in the faces are: when are we going to deliver?” Thapa said by way of throwing up the issues involved.

However, Dr Hom Nath Bhattarai, incumbent Vice Chancellor, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), was more concerned over how far the successive governments in future would contribute to the agenda in financial terms rather than reconfiguring the S&T Policy-2005.

“Of course, I am also for a timely review of the S&T Policy-2005. That should be done as a matter of rule. But more important is how far the future governments going to express commitment to the agenda,” Dr Bhattarai said while talking with The Himalayan Times.

He said this while lamenting the abysmally low budget earmarked for research work under NAST.

In fact, Nepal is known for its low budget (0.3 per cent of GDP) compared to 3 percent of GDP in neighbouring India.

“The new policy should have everything which is missing in the governing policy. For example, it should have an action plan. That is a must when it comes to implement the points mentioned in the policy. But most important of all is to have explicit word from government as to how much money will it earmark for S&T development,” Dr Bhattarai further said.