Where’s Knowledge?

Great nations are built on the back of ideas—not force.

This is the concluding line of an article by Indian thinker Sundeep Waslekar. The article is a thought-provoking one and I recommend all for a read. Although it’s more on India, it is applicable to any society.

After completing the article and reading the concluding line, I was attracted to idea of ‘ideas’. Of course, ideas lead to innovation and innovations to prosperity but where does the ideas come from. The sources of ideas are not only great heads but heads with knowledge.

Any idea needs to be backed up by knowledge for it to become an useful innovation as Plato put it: A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.

Why am I raising issue of knowledge? Because we desperately lack the knowledge that could lead to ideas, innovations and prosperity – especially on the front where theoretical knowledge needs to be tested with practical knowledge gained from experiences.

The issue of federalism is an example. Those in favor of ethnic federalism believe it will greatly benefit the community. Those against it believe it would disintegrate the Nepali society. And, most of them including all of ordinary citizens, do not know what exactly is the case because those opinions are not based on knowledge-based ideas but rather based on biased hypothesis.

Am I talking politics? No. I want to talk something on journalism – a field of social sciences that lacks knowledge more than any other field in Nepal.

Last night, I was asked how Nepalis are using social media. I don’t know. What I can tell is what I have witnessed myself personally but I have nothing to back up that. I was also asked my thoughts on use and misuse of social media specially on the wake of censorship of social media in India. I told my thoughts but I have no knowledge on that simply because there were no knowledge – no researches, no studies or no deliberations on it.

Two years ago, a group of my friends who wants to ponder over issues of journalism in Nepal felt the serious lack of researches on media in Nepal. Whenever we want to write anything, we need to quote foreign experiences. Nepal’s history of journalism after 1980 AD is not authentically recorded because Grishma Bahadur Devkota wrote his book in 1980. Then after, there are scattered things and remembrances but nothing concrete.

I am not saying there is not anything. There are many, especially on media development. Why media development? Because it’s where INGOs fund. Independent and critical researches is a lacking, and when the lack is there, how can we thing of ideas and innovations.

Isn’t it a sad fact that Nepal’s media do not know their audience. Newspapers know how many they print but they don’t know demographics of their audience. Radio and TVs don’t probably even know if they are even listened or watched. This is simply because they do not fund researches, and if they don’t know the audience how can they know the needs and improve!

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

– Benjamin Franklin

This is the case across all fields of social sciences in Nepal. The country has no knowledge of need of investment in knowledge building.

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