Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Role Of Research

A couple of weeks ago I read two news stories related to medical sciences – one was about Guru Prasad Khanal’s, the newly appointed Rector at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS), determination to heavily prioritise research work and the other was about five KU doctors being blacklisted internationally for plagiarising research findings. While the first one gives the general public hope -- BPKIHS conducts research on more than 300 diseases and treatment systems every year -- the second one is shameful and no proud citizen can take it just like that.
Doesn’t a professional as prestigious and responsible as a doctor realise the importance of research work? How can they cheat others’ work and proudly claim it as theirs? Other people may do it due to their ignorance but this should not be the case with doctors.
In the context of Nepali people not having a strong presence in the international platform, this blacklist pushes us further backwards. One should not forget that we have got all this worldly knowledge because of the efforts of different researchers who devoted their time to create knowledge. Research is only a weapon to satisfy people’s curiosities and questions.
For instance, if our ancestors had not been curious to learn about the vast and dark sky, we would not have been able to gain the knowledge of “space” that we have now. According to Cali Simboli, without research, we would not go forward. We would be a bunch of curious humans who would leave this world without knowing the things we wanted to know. When it comes to constructing knowledge, research is equally important in all fields.
Since it is related to people’s health, life and wellbeing, medical research can be considered to be the most important field of knowledge. Its importance can be summarided in the words of the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation as, “The high quality of medical care we enjoy today is built upon years of effort by physicians, physician-scientists, PhDs, and other medical professionals investigating the causes of and potential treatments for disease. The tireless effort of these professionals has made many once life-threatening diseases and conditions just a memory.” It is obvious that such research work must be purely original to contribute in the already available mass of knowledge.

In contrast, research is taken just as a formality in most of the cases in Nepal. Otherwise, those blacklisted doctors would not dare to plagiarise other people’s findings. In other cases, a substantial number of university students can also been seen to copy other students’ thesis and defend it as theirs. What is more ridiculous is that the supervisors or examiners also do not pay attention to this plagiarism practice. What can we say about the quality of education of that university where the Vice Chancellor himself has been accused of being a plagiarist?  
It is high time for intellectuals like doctors, university teachers and students to consider research as an entirely original study which deserves to be held in high regard. They should always remember that their hard work to find new knowledge can bring forth findings that are not only revolutionary for their respective fields, but for humanity as a whole.
(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 

[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

Friday, 27 October 2017

Appointment In Samarra

Whenever I hear about someone’s death, particularly when it is ‘untimely’, I remember a Middle Eastern folk story “Appointment in Samarra” which was retold by the famous British playwright, novelist and short story writer W. Somerset Maugham. The story was further taken as a reference by an American writer John O’ Hara while using the same name as the title of his novel itself. “Appointment in Samarra” is a very powerful story that exemplifies the inevitability of death.   

Once there was a rich merchant in Baghdad who one day sent his servant to the marketplace to buy some household supplies. It was not long before the servant ran back, pale, gasping and trembling. He took some time to collect his breath and said, “My dear Master, when I just entered the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd. I found it quite strange and looked at her closely. At that moment I saw Death in that woman’s disguise who looked at me and made a threatening gesture. I was scared as hell and started rushing back without buying anything. Will you please lend me your horse so that I can ride away to Samarra where that nasty Death will not find me?” The merchant felt pity over his servant and lent him his horse happily.
Without looking back, the servant galloped away and disappeared within no time. The merchant was furious, so he decided to go to the marketplace and confront Death himself. Soon he saw Death standing in the crowd. The merchant approached her and asked angrily, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant who was here to buy the things for me?” Death looked at the merchant surprised and said, “That was not a threatening gesture at all; it was only a start of shock. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”
The poor servant was clueless about this arrangement and continued to think that he would be safe if he went away to the far land of Samarra. Like him, we all have that set appointment at an exact time and place which cannot be escaped. Unfortunately, we forget this and engage in so many worldly affairs as if we are here to stay forever.
During this process, we may even lose sight of ourselves and deviate from our true human nature which includes love, peace, kindness, patience and care for each other; instead, we turn towards selfishness and focus only on feeding our individual desires. Soon, the time comes for everyone to face that important appointment without our notice. When we hear about such appointments we go, “Oh, no! This wasn’t expected. It is too early.”
Is it really too early? No, not at all. As for the servant above, these appointments are predestined; they are never early nor late. So, why don’t we keep this in mind? If we are able to do so we would not be so worried about things which do not really need to be worried about. Instead, we would be able to enjoy life in full swing without having to forget our true nature.  
(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 

[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Crazy Queries

Career counselling is not an integral part of the current school curriculum in Nepal. I have found a lot of youths have a tendency either to study the subjects of their parents’ choice or to succumb to peer pressure without considering their interests. As a result, most of them may not do well in the subjects they are studying because they feel they ‘have to’ as their interests are not involved.

After all, an American self-help book author Oliver Napoleon Hill was right when he said, “No man can succeed in a line of endeavour which he does not like.”  There are mainly three exit points during general stream schooling years in Nepal – at the end of grade 8, 10 and 12 respectively because students need to choose optional subjects in grades 9, 11 and after grade 12. At these points, they need career counselling at an extensive level which helps them to get an opportunity to study the subjects of their choice and excel in them.
As a career counsellor, I particularly encourage such students to identify their interests and abilities so that they can develop those interests into a career later. In the process of counselling, while some students ask really genuine questions and at the same time I have come across the strange queries which make me wonder if the students actually know what exactly is involved in career counselling. Let me describe some of their queries which do not fit within the scope of career counselling.
The most frequently asked question is, “I don’t want to study, what should I do?” Another, “I always think about girls, so I cannot concentrate on my studies, what should I do?” The third question comes, “What is the answer of this question (related to their course content)?” Similarly, “I always want to watch movies, what should I do?” The list of such questions goes on and on and it feels like the questioners misunderstand a career counsellor as a panacea who solves all sorts of problems just like that.
Available literature suggests that the main role of a career counsellor is to help students identify their interests, skills, talents and abilities and inform them about the career options presented to them. This helps students make informed decisions while choosing their areas of study which will eventually lead them to their future career.  
In this way, the career counsellor guides students towards enhancing their self-understanding instead of offering instant answers. Furthermore, career counselling revolves around students’ strengths and their ability to take advantage of such strengths. As I mentioned, my focus is also on such things.
The questions posed above reflect negative mindset of a typical bunch of students which they may harbor from our cultural practice which focuses more on negative aspects than positive ones. Their queries also indicate the importance of career counselling at our schools. If the students knew about the essence of career counselling, they would never come up with such irrelevant questions in the first place.
(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017 

[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]