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.

1 comment:

Ala Uddin ,PhD Student, SUT said...

Dear Monir Vhae,

I think this point is not related only with the biotechnologists in Bangladesh.

All over the world governments are less willing to invest more money for research if they don't foresee any immediate benefit from the research. The only exceptional case is USA.

The blame not only goes behind the governments only. It is a matter of mutual understanding between researchers and governments. They (government) always recruit advisors for their planning. Here lies the origin of all problems. These are:

Who is the advisor?: A politically reputed scientist/academic. If you see their CV most of them don’t even 10 publications in internationally reputed journals. Only few of them (around 1%-2%) have regular publications. Nee evidence please try to read some of their CV’s. What will that advisor advice to the government?

Who is the researcher?: Do you know how many of them submit yearly expenditure report correctly? What they have published from their study? In a Journal of Bangladesh so on so OR ….Journal of ….University. Is this is the right approach of doing research?

What are the types and tools of research? : Is there any road map available for future research direction in Bangladesh? I think no. Who will create it? Government will do it by the help of advisors (both national and international).
Who will take the initiatives? You and I, all of us. But where is the problem? Just blaming the politics and governments. We always forget our responsibilities.
What have I done?: Well, I have presented a report to the UNESCO with a model how to implement ICT in education with self organized budget. I have also published a work on e-Governance model initiative in Bangladesh.

5. Future Plan: Coming soon! It may help all researchers.

Politics free Universities, UGC, research organization. As long as I will think about my future, my benefits, my promotions, my fame, it will never be going to happen.
Sacrifice …..and….only sacrifice.