Future challenges of ICT4D of SDGs in Nepal Nirman – Content issue and social cost of digital conflict in Digital Nepal

Panel discussion on ICT for sustainable development at Soaltee Crown Plaza Hotel, LIVE on Himalayan Television.

KATHMANDU, 25 June 2016 – We are living in future and most of the imaginations came to reality nowadays since we are enabled with technology, especially digital technology. Rapid growing digital technology, not only in developed countries but also in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like in Nepal, is unstoppable to claim making headlines soon. And it is call of modern world too.

Implementing technology for foster development of a nation and infrastructure development is very necessary with core mission of sustainable development in which appropriate technology and affordable technology are manifolds to be considered while implementing ICT for development, especially in rural areas in LDCs. Creating new ideas is not small job. However, every ideas do not work in ground realities because the idea does not make sense aligning context of ground, human values, norms and culture.

Implementing ICT projects in LDCs, especially in Nepal, is not easy. Exact model of other countries, like of developed countries, cannot be implemented here in Nepal. Those ideas and innovation should be modified according to need of geo-culture, values, and norms so that we could implement modern tools saving our culture and values in core mission of “Machine for Human”.

Appropriate and affordable technology are keys of sustainable technological development approach for foster development and resilient infrastructure development in a nation. A quest of technological implications during implementation of ICT for digital Nepal is one of the immense issues that we have not focused yet in ICT for development. Those are 1. Content and 2. Cost of digital conflict.

Machine without any human readable stuffs or without purpose is nothing to do and the machine is to provide appropriate content in right time. Just donating computers, implementing electronics gadgets to government, laptops to schools or providing the Internet to schools are though set of examples of implementation of ICT for development, we are leaving some especial things, like content, especially namely called – appropriate content for the end users like students, public, government and other stake holders who need to use ICT. Content can be defined like the way of usefulness and readiness for productivity, like academic course curriculum in computer for school students, government web services in computers of department for government officials, and appropriate tools for professionals. For more clarity, for example; only providing or donating computers with the Internet to schools is though implementation of ICT for development, we left behind sometime import, like appropriate and systematic content for those students. Surfing the Internet, like Facebook, YouTube and other sites, is not appropriate to students. However, e-library or academic course curriculum or other educational materials other than destructive materials against education in computer may be appropriate for those students in a way.

No areas are nowadays immune from ICT and it is more raising consensus of growing responsibility to think about implementation of technology in appropriate ways within core mission of sustainable development and also preventive approach being proactive for latent future digital conflict in digital Nepal later on.

It would be earlier to portrait social cost of latent future digital conflicts in digital Nepal and sometimes it does not sound realistic in present context. However, we cannot ignore consequences of social media conflict and there are also many chances of other type of digital conflicts in future. There is not though clear tool to calculate social cost of digital conflict, it is significant and one of the major issues that should be considered during implementation of ICT and policies in LDCs, especially in Nepal. In my own research, like in Okhaldhunga, in the social cost of digital conflict is more than economic cost of digital conflict in rural areas of Nepal. A woman had two SIMs, one as bonus in scheme, registered in her name and extra SIMs was not being used. One of her relatives used the extra SIM to threat someone. As consequences later on, she bore economic as well as social cost as harassment by local people and police in her village though she had done nothing in that case. It was example of many cases that I found in those rural in Nepal. Is it that prominent area that we have to re-think while implementing ICT for development, especially in LDCs like in Nepal? It is to address those latent future conflict in present as preventive measures for sustainable development.

Above views and context are not negative against technology but it is preventive approach of implementation of technology saving future and peace since development is not possible without peace and peace is not sustainable without development.

De-constructivism shows future ways and context to address in present so that the scrutiny resolves those issues that might be occurred in future. Sometimes it seems negative to present but the scrutiny with microscopic lens is necessary to save future for humanity asking question of “Is this appropriate technology for me now?” That’s why I am trying to figure out social cost of latent future digital conflict and content issues in implementation of ICT for development because I love technology respecting humanity and machine for human.

(Note: This is a note taken from speaking out in a programme – Nepal Nirman – of Himalaya Television in Soaltee Crown Plaza Hotel, Kathmandu in which I am talking about ICT implementation for digital Nepal with careful implementation of tools for sustainable development. I am thankful getting wonderful platform provided by Himalaya Television in association with MIC Nepal letting me to put my few words for immense issue of development of Nepal – Nepal Nirman, especially, I am thankful to Mr. Allen Bailochan Tuladhar for linking me to such novel platform for good cause. I would seek such collaboration in future again.)

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