Friday, August 21, 2015

Universal Connectivity in Nepal: A Policy Review

[This text has been extracted from the Policy Brief published by Martin Chautari under the Universal Connectivity research. The brief can be  downloaded from Martin Chautari's website [Link to Policy Brief].]

 Nepal’s UC-related policies envisage both general and specific roles for the technologies related to IBTs in realizing the country as a well-connected, knowledge based society. The policy phraseology has enabled both the state and the private sector to mobilize huge resources to create new institutions, burgeoning market spaces, and influential discourses in the last two decades. The UC-related policies in Nepal are yet to be consolidated with grounded knowledge and empirical content. Available literature on existing policy practice is generally ambivalent with proponents preferring anecdotes and critics falling short of employing verifiable large-scale reviews of evidence. Instead, those looking at ICT4D as a form of foreign-aid driven technological dependency in developing countries merely wish to preserve the credibility of the campaign. Others calling e-governance a myth attribute it a power to “inspire people to strive for realization of issues that matter, whatever the cost.”

Nevertheless, the policies have provided a rationality for mobilizing public resources, for erecting new institutions and facilitating the sustaining of certain business interests, particularly that of the IT elite in Nepal. This review calls for going beyond the promotion of vague and shaky phraseology as they may well turn into opportunities misspent. Specifically, the fate of some non-operational slogans in recent Nepali history, such as ‘Let Us Splash the Source of Development’ and ‘The Asian Measures’ show that empty policy phrases make citizens disillusioned about program intentions rather quickly. The solution does not lie in ever inventing new catch-phrases, but in formulating evidence based UC policies while openly acknowledging the limitations of the technologies in mainstreaming the marginalized and vulnerable section of the population.

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