The world is growing faster with the advancement of science and technology. Every year, new and newer inventions are taking place in every field, ranging from artificial intelligence to space technology, biotechnology and agricultural science. Many countries are striving to achieve remarkable success in medical science while others are dreaming of dominating the whole world by means of their power of innovation and scientific knowledge. For example, the USA is one of the leading countries of such kind. Internet, Google, Facebook, spacecrafts and many latest versions of computers that dominate the world market are some of the incredible achievements of this country. Recently-published ‘Global Invention Index 2018’ shows that even a few Asian countries have made their places into the list of the top innovative countries of the world. According to the index, China has been ranked as one of the twenty most innovative countries of the world, while Singapore as the most innovative country of Asia. The stories of success of these innovative countries really mesmerize us. Right then one may wonder what position Bangladesh holds in such a ranking of innovative countries. However, the saddest news is that Bangladesh has been considered as the least innovative country of Asia. Well, what the statistics tells about Bangladesh may not surprise people at all, because in reality people hardly see any instance of innovation in the country.
It is not that our people do not believe in the blessings of modern science and technology. Nor is it true that Bangladesh is not making progress technologically at all. In fact, here people have started availing many facilities of advanced technology and modern science. Of late, our government is even attempting to digitalize the country, by introducing the use of internet and computer among the common people and providing them with such facilities. In the recent years, some beautiful flyovers have been built in the capital whereas some mega projects like Padma bridge, rapid transit metro rail etc. are underway in the country. Despite doing all these works based on science and technology, why then should we be considered as the least innovative country in Asia?
Perhaps the reason is that none of these are our own inventions. Nothing is strange in common grievance that people as well as the government of our country scarcely think that we need innovativeness in order to develop our country. What is usually done is that we merely hire experts from different countries, buy their technological support and services, and arrange money to implement all these developmental works. Well, there is no doubt that we are blessed to have the advantages of modern science and technology, but at the same time we cannot help acknowledging that when we buy all these services from the foreign countries, it costs us dearly.
It is mentionable that if a country can manufacture a product, e.g., a motor bike using its own capacity, then its citizens can buy a bike at a much cheaper rate. But if the country has to import it from another country, then the citizens have to buy it perhaps at a double cost or more. Thus, devoid of innovativeness and dependant on other countries, our country has to spend extra money in every case. Not only that, when we are largely dependent on the talents of the people of other nations, we cease to be self-dependant as a nation.
Meanwhile, we are a nation of around 160 million people. And there are hundreds of public and private institutions that impart higher education to our students. Our people are doing great research works in many foreign countries. Bangladeshi architects and civil engineers are planning and building beautiful structures in the Western countries and some scientists are even working in NASA. Then why should this nation be so barren and fruitless in respect of its innovativeness? Though Bangladesh lags behind in innovation, it is not that this nation does not produce talented and skilled people. But the problem is that the country is clearly failing to utilize the talents to reap the benefits while many industrial and developed countries are sipping of our talents through brain drain process.A big reason why Bangladesh lacks innovativeness is that it loses a considerable number of its talented people every year who prefer to work and live abroad after completing their graduations. Statistics show that 65% of the newly graduated doctors attempt to get jobs abroad and the country loses 200 doctors from the government sector each year. In Bangladesh Dhaka University faces the largest faculty crisis because of brain drain. According to a source, every year many engineers who complete their graduations leave the country for training and higher study purposes, but a considerable number of them do not return to the homeland afterwards. In the recent years, the number of scientists who have left the agriculture institutes such as BRRI and BARI has been reported to be around 400. Many of these scientists including breeders, entomologists and soil experts went abroad for higher studies but did not return from countries such as Canada, Australia and the USA. But why do the most talented citizens of the country tend to leave the country and prefer to work for other country instead of serving their own nation?
Well, a first reason why ambitious graduates prefer to go abroad for research instead of staying in the country is that our public as well as private universities can hardly provide the graduate students with adequate funds for a first-rate research. A neighbour of mine namely Abdur Razzak is doing his Ph.D in South Korea. He left the country after completing his under-grad in Bio Technology from Islamic University, Kushtia. When I asked him why he did not pursue his career in the country, he explained that the opportunity of research in his subject is meager in the country. The job opportunity for a graduate in this subject is also insufficient. Besides, the salary is poor here while many countries pay an attractive amount of salary and provide better opportunities to work. So he preferred to pursue his career abroad.
A second major reason is the poor living condition of the country. Frequent political unrest, extreme traffic jam on the roads, overpopulation, pollutions, insecurity, corruption etc. make life unpleasant and unbearable here. In contrast, people of the developed countries enjoy better facilities and scarcely undergo such problems. So, as they have the opportunity to choose a better one, the talented graduates (who are attracted by the developed countries through scholarships of famous universities) leave the country without any delay.
It takes years to train a scientist. Our country spends its precious resources to educate and train the students. When they go to serve other countries instead of serving their own country where people are in extreme need of them, it means an irreparable loss for the country. To lose them is to lose the country’s strength. And as long as we will not be able to utilize the talents of our own people, we have to lag behind as a nation. This is why this situation must be reversed if real development is expected to take place. Government should make good plans to invest in the country’s research sector. Universities should be instructed to put emphasis on research works and at the same time government should patronize it. If we really want to prove that we are not the least innovative nation in the world, then the government and other stakeholders should chalk out proper plans to encourage research-based works in our country.