September 29, 2019, Chicago
On Sunday, September 29, 2019, Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali expressed happiness over the prospect of leveraging the diasporic resources towards achieving economic prosperity in Nepal. In a workshop organized by the Brain Gain Initiative (BGI) America at the Hilton Chicago, Gyawali highlighted that with the promulgation of the new constitution in September 2015 and the successful completion of the three tiers of elections (local, state, and federal governments) in 2017, the Himalayan nation is now focusing on the single agenda of economic progress.
Five dozen Nepali diaspora experts from different fields participated in the Chicago event. Honorable Minister Gyawali was the chief guest and His Excellency Dr. Arjun K. Karki, the Nepali ambassador to the United States was the special guest of the program. The participants consisted of university professors, federal government researchers, computer scientists, engineers, medical doctors, other professionals entrepreneurs, and community leaders from various walks of life. Dr. Keshav Bhattarai, a STAR Fellow, chaired the high profile meeting of scholars and government officials. Two other STAR Fellows Dr. Alok Bohara, and Dr. Ambika Adhikari shared the stage with the dignitaries on the platform and provided critical inputs. The program was facilitated by Mr. Madhukar Pandey, yet another prominent STAR Scholar, who traveled all the way from Nepal to facilitate this powerful initiative.
“Growth is required for prosperity as well as to eradicate poverty and to establish a strong social security system in the country. These steps, however, need prudent policies,” said Dr. Satis Devkota, the policy chair of BGI America. According to Devkota, the objective of BGI is to help form such policies for the Government of Nepal (GoN) as a policy think tank group of Nepalese professionals in the US. Devkota emphasized that the general objective of BGI is to formulate the experiment-based development policies for Nepal. Explaining the first stage of BGI’s focus, Devkota said that the BGI team wishes to develop policy frameworks for education, agriculture, and tourism sector reforms and development. Another goal is to establish a publicly available database at the rural and urban municipalities level. “We are equally interested to explore the innovative ideas and thoughts with potential implementation plans from the participating experts in the additional areas such as environmental protection, solid waste management, green energy production (solar and wind), health and safety, nutrition, urban and land use planning, etc.,” said Dr. Devkota. Program Chair, Dr. Bhattarai acknowledged the contributions of Dr. Uttam Gaulee, President of STAR Scholars Network. “Dr. Uttam Gaulee provided many references including his own research on Nepal’s brain drain and his publications in the preparation of this meeting,” said Dr. Bhattarai in his concluding speech.
Several other speakers spoke on how diaspora groups are already contributing towards development in Nepal. They also assessed the capacity of the diaspora in different fields, and provided many recommendations on creating innovative platforms for the diaspora members to come together and collaborate with the Nepali counterparts in creating and implementing academic and sectoral programs in Nepal. Some speakers expressed that with the availability of digital technology, diaspora members living in the US and elsewhere can easily connect to the events in Nepal. For example, teaching and supporting medical practices in Nepal in real time from a distant land is easy these days.
The five dozen participants were divided into six different groups created to focus on specific areas such as agriculture, education and the environment, and each group deliberated on the topic and provided recommendations on the next steps.
BGC is an intellectual forum of the Nepali diaspora and it is established as a unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal. BGC was inaugurated on May 31, 2019, by Minister Gyawali who urged Nepali diaspora professionals to connect to their roots. Capitalizing on the inputs of Nepali diaspora from around the world collected through Nepal’s Brain Drain and Higher Education Study consisting of an online global survey followed by nearly 100 interviews and focus groups with key informants in the higher education and training sectors of Nepal during April-May, 2016. The resulting concept of BGC was proposed by the Honorable Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal. BGC creates the roster of all Nepali diaspora professionals who are interested in contributing towards Nepal’s development process and provides a platform for collaboration. A few key individuals contributing to the final set up of BGC were recognized by Mr. Puspa Raj Bhattarai, the Consulate General of Nepal at New York.
According to Minister Gyawali, BGC is an umbrella institution that supports the foreign-based development initiatives (individual as well as institutional). To support the BGC efforts, Nepali diaspora scholars and professionals are urged to create a profile in the Brain Gain Center. Here are a few clips from the workshop and the speech delivered by Minister Gyawali, the chief guest at the program.
Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world. The country is planning to upgrade its status to a developing country in 2022 and aimed to upgrade to a middle-income country status by 2030. Even though the upgrade of the status to a middle-income country by 2030 is not impossible it is an arduous task set by the government. To reach this target on time, Nepal has to achieve a high rate of economic growth that needs a substantial amount of human and financial capital. One way to fulfill the human capital need is to utilize the spillover time of the interested Nepali professionals abroad. The concept of Brain Gain Center (BGC) is a result of this aspiration.