Fourth Industrial Revolution and Nepal

(Viewpoint by Manish Uprety F.R.A.S. and Jainendra Karn)

KATHMANDU (IDN) In December 2020, Dr. Leonel Fernández Reyna, former president of the Dominican Republic and President of Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo, presented his vision about “The global and regional challenges of the 4.0 world,” where he highlighted the need to
facilitate access to technology for all citizens.

His observations are a clarion call to the international community as the
world stands on the precipice of a great tectonic shift caused by the Fourth
Industrial Revolution currently underway.

The impact of the new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and
biological worlds on the humankind will be phenomenal. It will most
certainly alter the way the people live, work, and relate to one another.

Emerging fields like artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum
computing, robotics, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, 3D printing,
autonomous vehicles etc. are at the heart of the Fourth Industrial
Revolution.

Industrializing in the digital age, UNIDO’s Industrial Development Report
2020, argues that these new technologies are at the core of successful
inclusive and sustainable industrial development. They enable the creation
of new goods and product innovations, which lead to the emergence of new
industries – and the jobs and incomes that come with them.

However, the report notices that just ten countries account for 90% of all
global patents, and 70% of all exports, directly associated with the advanced
digital production (ADP) technologies that are driving the Fourth Industrial
Revolution.

The leader is the United States, while Japan, Germany, China, Taiwan and
South Korea are in Asia, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the
Netherlands are in Europe. Strangely there is no country from Africa, Mid
East or South America, making most of the world largely excluded from
technological breakthroughs.

This shall create a significant digital divide between the Developed and
Developing Countries as most developing countries face barriers in
adopting the necessary technologies, and helping them counter these
barriers will require an international effort.

During our meeting with Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi, the ex-Deputy Prime
Minister of Nepal who apprised us that he has been keenly following the
developments in the field ever since he read about the First Seminar of the
Digital Creative Industries which was held in the City of Santo Domingo,
the Dominican Republic in 2014.

Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi mentioned that progress in evolving technologies
and the Fourth Industrial Revolution could bring transformative changes in
the economic development of the least developed countries (LDCs) if they
are able to access advanced technologies.

However, there is a very high possibility that there will be adverse impacts
on local jobs. As industries and businesses start using automation processes
and sophisticated technologies, low end jobs will be affected. The
disruptions in the labour market will cause inequality to rise.

And a situation like this create serious challenges for any developing
country whether it’s Nepal or India, and more so for its political fraternity.
Just like politics without passion and ideals is meaningless, policy without
compassion and consideration for the most vulnerable is useless.

One can posit that most people in the South Asian region are still in the
third generation industrial revolution phase, and hence to mainstream
fourth generation technologies and harness the benefits of innovation to
secure development for all shall be a Herculean task for the local
governments.

Education is the key for adapting to change. The focus of a country like
Nepal or India should be on developing necessary skills and knowledge
which shall help to utilize technologies that are beneficial for them. It would
also help in improving governance and making work easier and efficient
thereby raising productivity and quality.

This should be complemented by a strict priority of the local governments
to abridge the massive gaps that exist between physical and digital
infrastructures as it would help build capabilities necessary for absorbing,
deploying and diffusing evolving technologies.

There is also an imperative need to establish permanent mechanisms of
public private dialogue (PPD) and also functional collaborations between
international institutions. It shall help the developing countries including
Nepal to build capacities to adapt itself to the technological change.

Such mechanisms also help developing countries get an idea on the costs
involved and other implications on financial, economic, and social sectors
in the short and long-run.

It is indeed very welcoming that UNIDO is calling for immediate action
from the international community to support developing countries –
especially the least developed countries – in adopting technological
breakthroughs. Without international support, low-income countries run
the risk of lagging further behind and failing to achieve the UN Sustainable
Development Goals.

The unprecedented pace of technological change concomitant with the
Fourth Industrial Revolution also implies that our systems of governance,
agriculture, health, transportation, communication, production,
distribution and energy, among others, will experience complete
transformation.

In the medium to long run it would lead towards emergence of new kinds of
global norms, rules, standards and policies.

There is no doubt that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring in
enumerable fruits in the context of digital economy and connectivity across
the globe.

Therefore it becomes imperative for any policy maker to develop policies to
make human resources and technology work in synergy to secure
sustainable development and prosperity for the humankind.

Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi also congratulated Dr. Marcelo E. Decoud and the
Asociación Latinoamericana de Comunicación Audiovisual
Parlamentaria, ALCAP or the Latin American Parliamentary Association of
Audio-Visual Communication that on 31 March 2021 ventured into an
cooperative agreement with the Ministry of Culture of the Government of
Ukraine.

The cooperation of ALACP with the Government of Ukraine would lead
towards the documentary production ′′ Ukrainian Hearts ′′ which is about
the Ukrainian community in Paraguay and will be broadcast on the public
television and on all 22 regional TV networks of South America.

While mentioning about the SAARC Audio Visual Exchange (SAVE) which
is one of the original areas agreed at the inception of the SAARC, Mr.
Bimalendra Nidhi also expressed a hope that in the near future, a
cooperation between Nepal and ALCAP shall help Nepal spread the soft
power of its culture and traditions with the parliamentary fraternity and
peoples of the South American countries.

*** Manish Uprety F.R.A.S. is an ex-diplomat & ALCAP’s Special
Advisor for Asia & Africa and Jainendra Karn is a senior leader
of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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News Trust of India न्यूज़ ट्रस्ट ऑफ़ इंडिया

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