NepaChem Talk with Dr. Rabindra Dhakal

After spending successful years in Japan as PhD student and then later as a scientist Dr. Rabindra Dhakal has decided to settle in Nepal. He is also an example of successful Nepalese Chemists around the world. All developing countries are facing one common problem in terms of skilled manpowers. Such manpowers and students tend to go to developed countries and when necessary these countries suffer from Scientists, Engineers etc. Nepal is in same situation. Because of political instability no-one wants to or plans to go back to Nepal. Dr. Dhakal is one of the very few who has decided to settle and work in Nepal. We have talked to him in this circumstances and about the future of chemistry education and research in Nepal.
In an effort to recognize Nepalese Scientists around the globe NepaChem has initiated to put their experiences and thoughts by which we hope will benefit Science and science students in Nepal. This time NepaChem presents talk between NepaChem and Dr. Dhakal.

1.   NepaChem: What is your plan in Nepal after you returned from Japan?

As I have diverse experiences on different field of Chemistry, I am duly interested to disseminate the knowledge to the youngsters of this country as a university teacher. Besides this, I am planning to explore candidate biofuel crops to find out the sustainable crops in the country to mitigate the energy crisis of the country. I am sure, my single effort would not be enough and we need a group to work in this direction so that those who don’t have better exposure to the education in a par to developed countries may learn more from us and can work collectively. So, I am planning to make a platform of equal minded people from our surrounding to achieve this goal.

2.  NepaChem: Can you tell little bit about your background?

It’s like a stream coming out from mountain and still flowing somewhere in its lap. I respect every part of my life whether I do have enough hardship in my life that eventually brings me to this level. In fact, the life was and is in complete struggle to the surrounding, and I am still enjoying it. Concretely speaking, I was born in a beautiful village of Gorkha and grown up there with education in government schools upto SLC. After completion of high school, I have joined ASCOL in biological stream whereby I have completed my Intermediate and Bachelor Level study. Subsequently, I have completed my Masters Degree in Organic Chemistry and started teaching in Central Department of Chemistry, Central Campus of TU. This position offers me the best platform to be selected as an UNESCO Research Fellow in advance Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. Considering the available option at that moment, I had moved to Chemical Engineering field to do my PhD working on processing of biopolymers for waste management. I am continuously working in the same field as a Postdoc Researcher and JSPS Research fellow in Japan.

3.   NepaChem: Many people in Nepal tend to go abroad these days. But, you decided to settle in Nepal. What made you to take this decision?

I totally agree with you, our educational system is to drive our student away from the country rather than making a dam to use their potential expertise in the behest of the country. We haven’t taught our student about our resources and their application for the betterment of the country. Frankly speaking, we were taught and are still teaching mostly fundamental part of every subject in each and every discipline so that we became Jack in all but Master in non type man power. In this junction, someone should take something bold decision to take a initiative to make the reverse flow so that its resources could be understood and can be worked out for its proper utilization. When I saw some documentary of our people in foreign soil, they use to laugh on ignorance of our brothers and sisters that really touched me to do so. Living abroad always made us second tiered citizen of the country where we stayed that obviously dilute the social bond and responsibilities. By, considering this point, I have taken this bold decision.

4.  NepaChem: How difficult was to take that decision?

It was really hard when it comes to family matter. In addition, the faculty with whom I have worked for long period was surprised by hearing my decision and asked me several times are you firmed with your decision. I have exposed not only with Chemistry lab but with their aspiration, culture, development trend and working habit that was always pressing me to bring it to home in the earliest. Hence, with some degree of sacrifice, I came back home convincing my surrounding as much as possible to do something for the nation if possible.

5.  NepaChem: Situation in Nepal has not improved yet. Everyone is saying they are waiting for favorable condition to go back to our home country. What do you have to say?

As I have already said, the all rounder people cannot lead the country go ahead, its not their fault, some of them are genuinely working for the betterment but they couldn’t. In this junction there should be existence of pressure group who should be enough intelligent to take the ball in their fold and lead them. I believe that if we are waiting the platform watching from the distance may not be materialize in any near future, at least I can’t see it. So, those who are really interested to come back home, request you to do so and give solidarity of the similar minded man power and lead the nation, otherwise we would be so late in the race of development with other country. This is very high time to do so as the iron is hot now and hot hit iron can be molded in our choice, otherwise the rises aspiration of people making new Nepal would be cooled down, and finally, it will never be materialized again.

6.   NepaChem: As a chemist, how do you see the present and future of chemistry in Nepal?

We were taught by Nepal is full of resources, green forest is wealth of Nepal, and isolated from the ocean but connected by the rivers` arteries. But for sure, we haven’t made a single effort to use it for our betterment. Similarly, we are learning Debye Huckels rule, Schrodinger`s equations and many more from the chemistry book, but never tried and tested in our country whether they are useful for our country or not. Chemistry is vivid subject that could be easily reachable to commoner, had we work bit hard on it. To make the nation, we have to go ahead to apply these knowledge and experts we currently have so that our resources would properly utilized in benign and sustainable way. Obviously, Materials have a great role in nation building effort, and so the chemistry as it is obviously under the umbrella of Chemistry. But the problem is the curriculum we have developed in chemistry, as said before is more fundamental type. Now, time has come to move ahead promulgating new department such as Applied Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science that may address such problems. We need to go ahead for agro-based processing industries with recycling of agricultural wastes and pharmaceutical R&D plants to make the process sustainable and the country prosperous. If we do so, we have great future in the country.

7.  NepaChem: What do you suggest to those who are in abroad and want to go to Nepal?

As I have already said, this is very high time to come back home to hit the hot iron and build the nation, please do so. But, at the same time we still need someone to stay out and updated with outer world, but need them attached to the country so that both you and your nation will be benefitted. Frankly speaking, I am not in a position to invite all my colleagues and friends to come home quitting your job abroad, but can request you consider these options to make our needy citizens be happy and not keep them lagging far behind to the outer world. We can help the country from anywhere in the world, but we need to be physically and emotionally attached with this beautiful country.  Finally, I thank you giving me this opportunity to speak as a returnee.  

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