IT IS unfortunate that that the multidisciplinary public research institute Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has continued to perform well below expectations since its inception in 1955. It has only a few original researches to its credit. Moreover, of the 960 technologies it has introduced, more than a half have not been commercially launched while a small number of its products are available. Besides, no reputed company took lease of the technologies. It has 11 institutes with modern laboratories, but having no international recognition. The standard of the BCSIR-developed technologies and products is not even acceptable to the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution and the Drug Administration. The BSTI objected, according to official documents, to 231 products produced using BCSIR technologies. There are, therefore, reasons to worry about the underperformance of the institute as it essentially leads to the waste of public money allocated for it every year. More worrying is that the science and technology minister seems to be indifferent to all this as he sought only to blame a lack of investor for this dismal picture of BCSIR technologies.
The way the minister sought to explain the BCSIR problem, in fact, is a poignant pointer to how poorly the incumbents, like their predecessors, feel the importance of research, especially in science and technology as far as the national development and progress is concerned. If it were otherwise, they would at least chalk up by now a proper plan to help the institute come out of the sorry state prevalent for long. Meanwhile, there has reportedly been anything but effective research in any public universities — including the University of Dhaka which once earned international recognition for its performance in research, the contribution of Professor SN Bose to statistical mechanics being an example — for long largely because of adequate fund and incentives, in particular. There are reasons to believe that the BCSIR underperformance in research may have links to the lack of adequate fund as well. It is important to say that there are many Bangladeshi scientists and researchers — who have left home mostly because of inadequate facilities, financial, infrastructural and otherwise — performing greatly in different developed countries.
The government needs to realise that the BCSIR came into being with an aim, among others, to boost industrialisation, which is key to development, economic and social, of any country. In other words, there is no room for it to gloss over the problems of the BCSIR. The government immediately needs to review the policies, which govern the institution, alongside its performance to make it effectively play the role it is supposed to do in science and technology.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial