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 humankind will be phenomenal. It will most certainly alter the way 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 creates 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 themselves 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 a complete transformation.
In the medium, to long run, it would lead towards the 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 policymaker to develop policies to make human resources and technology work in synergy to secure sustainable development and prosperity for humankind.
Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi also congratulated Dr. Marcelo E. Deocud 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 a 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, 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 Janta Party (BJP). [IDN-InDepthNews – 08 April 2021]
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Image: Ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Source: UNCTAD.
Photo in the text (From Left to Right) Manish Uprety F.R.A.S. Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi, Ex-Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal and Jainendra Karn.
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