Policy Discussion Held amongst Representatives of Research Institutions at the Non-Governmental Sector

December 9, 2021

Date: 9 December 2021

Venue: Conference Hall, Policy Research Institute, Sano Gaucharan, Kathmandu

Objective of the Event

  • Discuss ways to promote collaboration between PRI and the research institutions at the non-government sector
  • Explore and map research institutions’ expectation of PRI
  • Collect feedback on ways to enhance the ownership of ‘National Research Policy’ drafted by the National Planning Commission

Relevance and Operating Procedure of the Event

In line with PRI’s mandate and strategic priority to synthesise the findings of research studies conducted by different institutions and draw recommendations for policy change, the event was organised to explore areas of collaborations with the research institutions and exchange learnings and findings from their research. In addition to the representatives from various research institutions in the non-government sector, present in the event were Professor Dr Surendra Labh, a Member of the National Planning Commission.

Opening the discussion, PRI Executive Chairperson Dr Bishnu Raj Upreti welcomed all the participants to the event and took them through the objective of the event and expectations of it. PRI’s Senior Research Fellow Dr Hari Sharma introduced PRI’s scope or work, its priorities and the achievements to-date to the participants.

Opinion of the Speakers

Tula Narayan Sah of Nepal Madhes Foundation said that PRI should be more inclusive than it is now. Bishwas Gauchan of the Institute for integrated Development Studies suggested that PRI should mobilise youths in research and work towards addressing the dearth of national data. Sangita Shakya of Nepal Development Institute suggested that the national research policy should enable the non-government sector to receive government resources and that the procedure and modus operandi of the Social Welfare Council should be research-friendly. Policy research Institute should work towards this end. Tulasi Acharya of Nexus Institute of Research and Innovation advised PRI to create an enabling environment for foreign-trained human resources to return home and engage in research and innovation. Nepal should also have a policy, he added, to facilitate and subsidize the import of research equipment.

Paras Kharel of South Asia Watch on Trade, Economist and Environment suggested that there should be permanent fund dedicated to research and PRI should focus more on quality than quantity in its work. Uttam Babu Shreshtha of the Global Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies opined that PRI should, instead of depending on consultants, undertake research through its in-house researchers in collaboration with government institutions. Dr Ramjee Bogati of Resources Himalaya insisted that the young generation should be mobilised in research. PRI’s research should also look at effectiveness of existing policies and be able to project the timeline when a particular policy should be reviewed or formulated. Dr Bhojaraj Ghimire of Nepal Open University did not see it a problem to receive foreign fund for policy research. Whether the funds are used to benefit the country should, he insisted, be of concern to us all. Quality research is the need of the day, he added, and the involvement of the non-governmental sector in the process will be helpful to that end. He also suggested that PRI prepare a database of all research studies undertaken to-date. Pranaw Karki of Nepal Development Research Institute also underlined that the lack of data is a major problem for research.

Tarka Raj Bhatta of National Institute for Development and Research suggested that the national research policy under review should be able to promote research in a real sense. He also underlined the need for a mechanism to link the research conducted by the non-government sector to the concerned government agency. Amrit Acharya of Miron Laboratory and Research Centre lamented that the industrial policies are not encouraging to internal and domestic industries. Dr Mahesh Puri of the Centre for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities suggested that PRI should stand as the bridge between the research sector and the policy community concentrating on the quality of research. He also suggested that the policies and procedures of the Social Welfare Council should be reformed to support the research institutions in the non-government sector. Sanot Adhikari of the Youth Alliance Environment concurred that the provisions and procedures of the Social Welfare Council are discouraging to non-government research institutions.

Kalpana Jha of Nepal Policy Institute said that research practices in Nepal are affected by irregularity and the lack of data. Hemu Kafle of the Kathmandu Institute of Allied Sciences added that the absence of a research fund, the Social Welfare Council procedures not being friendly to the mobilization of foreign funds, the lack of data and the gap of coordination among research institutions have been a hindrance to quality research.

Touching on the issues raised in the dialogue, PRI Executive Chairperson Dr. Bishnu Raj Upreti said that PRI will not accept foreign funds for its policy research. PRI will be more inclusive in the days to come, he added, and PRI will continue to work as the bridge between the research sector and the government. Dialogue and collaboration will be at the heart of PRI’s modus operandi, he stressed.

Honourable Dr Surendra Labh Karn, Member of the National Planning Commission (NPC) and also former Executive Committee Member of the PRI Board expressed satisfaction at where PRI has arrived now comparing PRI’s progress with the difficulties it faced in its founding days and weeks. He reinforced the suggestions by participating speakers that there should be a dedicated research fund and a policy on research subsidies, that Social Welfare Council should work towards creating enabling environment for research and that the national research policy (being developed) should be enabling to the returnee foreign graduates. He also insisted that research institutions, whether government-, non-government- or university-associated, should collaborate. He also supported the suggestion that research studies undertaken by institutions of all sectors should be collated and documented and that the government should invest more in research, which is the foundation of national development, and that PRI and NPC should support one another.

Common/Synthesized Points from the Discussion

  • The lack of data at the national level continues to remain a challenge to transformative research
  • The national research policy under preparation should have provisions to encourage the non-government sector
  • The procedures and modus operandi of the Social Welfare Council are not research-friendly.
  • Foreign graduates wishing to engage in research back home should be provided with an enabling environment
  • PRI should work as the bridge between researchers and concerned government institutions
  • There is a lack of the culture of knowledge sharing among research institutions. This should end. Research institutions should collaborate and co-work.

Invited Participants

S. N.NameInstitution/Office/Organization
1Honourable Professor Dr. Surendra Labh KarnaNational Planning Commission
2Mr. Tula Narayan ShahNepal Madhes Foundation
3Mr. Bishwas GauchanInstitute for Integrated Development Studies
4Mr Dil KhatriSouth Asia Institute of Advanced Studies
5Ms Sangita ShakyaNepal Development Research Institute
6Mr. Tulasi AcharyaNexus Institute of Research and Innovation
7Mr. Paras KharelSouth Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment
8Mr. Uttam Babu ShreshtaGlobal Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies
9Dr. Ramji BogatiResources Himalaya
10Dr. Bhoj Raj GhimireNepal Open University/Science Hub
11Mr Pranaw KarkiNepal Development Research Institute
12Mr Tarka Raj BhattaNational Institute for Development and Research
13Mr Amrit AcharyaMiron Laboratory and Research Centre
14Dr. Mahesh PuriCentre for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities
15Mr. Sanot AdhikariYouth Alliance Environment
16Ms Kalpana JhaNepali Policy Institute
17Mr Hemu KafleKathmandu Institute of Applied Sciences
18Mr Badri BaralNepal Environmental Research Institute
19Mr Rajendra GautamSambridhi Agriculture
20Prof. Dr. Sunil Kumar JoshiKathmandu Medical College
21Mr. Mahesh BhattaCentre for South Asian Studies
22Ms Sashisu NayakNational Planning Commission