Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If at least one Bangladeshi Newspaper Had Science Page

One of my friend, who is an high official of law ministry, was angry seeing my question “Do our newspapers have science page?”. He said that as a Bangladeshi I should know that almost every Bangladeshi newspaper has science page. Yes, I know well that almost every newspaper in Bangladesh has page in the name of science or technology. But tome the page is “extension of literature page” as they mostly publish popular article on science, translated article, popular science news (recent invention and discovery of science in other countries), and news of science fair etc. Now and Then publish interview of successful NRB scientists but not regularly. The page named as science page is extension of literature page because person in charge of the page is mostly graduate of literature and in charge of literature page .Overseeing the science page is his/her additional charge . Or the person is a part time contributor who is still a university student, have some skill in popular article writing and translation.

If any of our dailies had science page, they would focus on the status of Bangladesh in science and technology. (Do the In- charge of science pages of our dailies know that Bangladesh is a scientifically lagging country, not even developing country? what about officials of science ministry and minister himself? ) We could read the exclusive interview of science minister, know about mission, vision and work plan of new science ministers every time. We could remember at least once a week that we have a science ministry, could read news on what is going on in science ministry and what should go on in science ministry but not going on.

If we had science page, then we could read critical review why most of our research organizations are not performing satisfactorily, what should be done to improve their performance. We could read articles how fund for research can be increased and how the available fund can be best utilized.

Shouldn't we, who are crying for scientific development of Bangladesh and have good link with editors of the dailies, try to convert “extension of literature page” into science page in at least one daily? If we can make one, then will not other be converted of their own? Will not it make our fight for science much easier?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scientifically Advanced Bangladesh by 2050

We feel the necessity of a online magazine named simply " Bangladesh 2050" or Scientifically advanced Bangladesh, 2050 with the following vision :

Vision Ultimate : Making Bangladesh a scientifically advanced country by 2050.

Vision intermediate : Making Bangladesh a scientifically developing country by 2025

Vision immediate: Making science and technology an issue in election 2013.

Vision right now: To put pressure on and help govt. to make deliberate decision on scientific research for meeting immediate needs of the nation.

The magazine Should have the following sections:

1. School section: focus on science at school level

2. College and university : focus on science at college and university level

3. Research organisation : focus on issues for making our research organisations world class.

4. Professional organisations: focus on activities and performances of professional organisations of scientists.

5. National and International: Focus on What should we do at national and international level for scientific advancement of Bangladesh .

World wide Bangladeshi scientists can share their views , thought and initiatives via this Magazine .

Is it impossible to have such a magazine?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cabinet minister or “visionary and efficient minister”: What we need in the Science ministry?

The present fourteen party alliance govt. has come to power raising hope with slogan of change and digital Bangladesh. Though digital Bangladesh indicates that the govt. will emphasize on information technology and it was also clear from the interview of the state minister for MOSICT Yeafes Usman with the daily Jaijaidin, scientists expected that science and technology as a whole will get priority for full fulfillment of the pledges of the govt. But Scientists’ community was shocked and disappointed a state minister for the science ministry. They think that appointing a state minister for science ministry is sign of negligence to science and technology. So they have raised voice for a cabinet minister for the science ministry. Not doubt this is a just demand. But question is , will a cabinet minister satisfy our need or bring change that scientific organizations of Bangladesh need? Did’t we have cabinet minister for science ministry? A very brilliant scientist who never became second in his academic life, who had working experience in research organization like Bell institute was cabinet minister for science ministry of Bangladesh. Question is, were Bangladesh scientist’s community happy with his performance? Did he bring any significant change in the research culture and performance of the country? Answer is a big NO. He could not satisfy the scientists’ community by bringing necessary changes in the science ministry. Why? Because he, firstly he had no vision regarding science and technology. Hence he did’t take the charge of science ministry when he was transferred from information ministry to science ministry. He regarded this transfer as a demotion of him .Later he borrowed some vision regarding Information and communication technology and joined science ministry on the condition that science ministry be named as “ministry of science and Information and communication technology”.

But did he succeed in bring his vision in reality? Big NO. Why? Lack of efficiency. He could not get voice heard, vision shared with his cabinet colleagues. So didn’t get enough funding for ICT. ICT was not given enough importance PRSP (poverty removal). So he thrown the PRSP paper in a conference in presence of World Bank representative as a trash paper as it did not include ICT for poverty elevation tool. Who does show such anger? Any efficient person? No, only inefficient person who can not get his voice heard, vision shared express anger in such a way in such a place.

Before that we had state minister for science ministry. Though he had no vision, as evident from his activity, he had more efficiency being an ex-bureaucrat, than the scientist cabinet minister. So the ministry run well during his tenure. But due to lack of vision , there was no significant change, no significant progress of Bangladesh in science and technology research.

What will happen if the present state minister is promoted to cabinet minister of the same ministry? Will there have significant change? Will it increase his ability or performance or give him any vision? Many people don’t think so. Moreover, due to his position in the party, there is no chance for him to be a cabinet minister. Then to fulfill the demand of cabinet minister in the science ministry some one needs to be transferred in this ministry or some one new to be appointed.

What will happen if the generally regarded as honest and efficient minister s credited for making Bangladesh self sufficient in food is transferred in science ministry? The ministry may run more efficiently and honestly. Corruption may be reduced; day to day activity may be little bit faster. But will it bring significant change that is needed for lifting Bangladesh from a “scientifically lagging” country to “scientifically developing “ country by 2021with the vision of making Bangladesh a scientifically advanced country 2030 or 2050? No, analyzing her attitude, work style and speeches we find nothing such that can make us hopeful for big change even if she is in the science ministry.

What about one adviser who is chemist and was VC of a university? If he is appointed science minister, will he be able make the scientists’ community happy by bringing necessary changes? His track record as VC and other positions don’t make us hopeful.

We can think of another ex- VC who is active in present govt. party politics and pharmaceutical scientist. Can we be hopeful with him as science minister? No, personally I am not. During his tenure as VC of my university, there had significant construction work due to his easy access to the high command of the party. But he could not bring any change in the quality of environment, teaching and research of the university.

The common lacking of the persons discussed above is lack of vision. Some might have efficiency but due to lack of vision, they could not and will not meet our expectation as science minister.

Then whom do we want as science Minister? Can we name any one from the present government party on whom we have confidence that as science minister, he can bring expected changes?

I can not. Can they name who are raising voice for a cabinet minister for science ministry? If can, then they should specify the person on whom they have confidence and clearly demand that we want him as science minister.

If we can not specify any person, then we should not waste time on such demand. Rather we should focus on the changes that are necessary for scientific advancement and engage our time, effort and money to get those changes brought by the present state minister. We should remember that when there is a state minister for a ministry, then prime minister herself is directly in charge of that ministry. So if we can make due pressure, the chance is better to get our demand fulfilled with the state minister than a cabinet minister.

Let's be specific as much as possible on what need to be done for scientific progress of Bangladesh.