Today is a historic day as we gather here for the JDS Fellow send-off party hosted by Ambassador of Japan to Nepal Kikuta Yutaka.
It is my great pleasure, on behalf of the JDS Fellows and on my own, to convey my heartfelt gratitude and heartfelt thanks to His Excellency and the staff for this arrangement by giving us the highest priority.
On this occasion, I'd like to say a few words about the JDS scholarship and my own personal experience. We, the first batch of Masters' JDS fellows, had been invited to a send-off celebration in this venue in 2016, most likely in August, by the then His Excellency Ambassador. I am the lucky first among those JDS fellows because I have been accepted into the PhD program for the second time. I would like to express sincere gratitude to the governments of Japan and Nepal for this wonderful opportunity.
Apart from university education, I believe that there are many things for government employees like us to learn from the outside environment in Japan.
Let me share an anecdote from my trip to Japan in 2016. A community organization arranged a rice plantation program for foreign students, and we were invited. I learned through a Bangladeshi friend that the program has been running since 2001. Curiosity piqued, I inquired of a JDS fellow studying in Japan this year about the paddy plantation initiative. Yes, I got an answer.
This implies the program has now been running for 23 years. Some years may have fewer participants, while others may not have as much excitement among participants, but the program has been maintained. The reason it has lasted is that they designed and implemented the program in 2001 by performing a survey among international students, but no other survey has been completed since then, therefore they have been continuing the program and will continue until another survey is conducted.
It implies that they believe in evidence-based policy or decision making. This was my first lesson from Japan. It teaches us a valuable lesson!
Based on my previous experience, I would like to humbly request that your Excellency Ambassador facilitate and coordinate with government entities in Japan as well as universities in Japan in order to arrange more and more interaction/visit programs to government ministries, departments, and city halls, as well as interacting with officials there. The more exposure we have, the better ideas we may produce through direct observation and interaction. We, the JDS, can also discuss some of our reform proposals with the Japanese authorities who are present.
This scholarship program not only represents an important step toward enhancing the capacity of Nepalese civil service officials, but it also strengthens bilateral ties between Nepal and Japan. Our two countries have shared a great affinity and mutual respect for decades.
In recent years, the number of Nepalese students and workers in Japan has increased dramatically. This is the time to harvest mutual benefits from Nepal's demographic dividend, Japan's technological dividend, and our shared dividend, PEACE.
We JDS fellows are and will be committed and highly motivated to maximize on the opportunity since Japanese universities offer research centered on teaching. And there is a desire to contribute to the development of evidence-based policy after returning to our country. JDS fellows and past JDS fellows, on the other hand, may engage in fruitful talks, build significant contacts, and set the framework for a more robust and sustainable partnership between Nepal and Japan in the future.
We, JDS fellows, are and must be conscious that the money spent on us is tax money from the Japanese people. Similarly, we know and must be aware that the Nepalese government has high hopes for us and has made a significant investment in us.
We will do everything possible to please both governments becoming a good will ambassador and strengthening bilateral ties for Japan, whereas becoming change agents to drive reform by cultivating at least a few standards to distinguish us from non-JDS academics for Nepal. It could be in the form of evidence-based policy/decisions, sound implementation arrangements, customer-friendly behavior, punctuality, a decent work culture, or any other thing/form.
Finally, on behalf of the JDS fellows and myself, I would like to offer my heartfelt appreciation to Your Excellency Ambassador for organizing this amazing event. Together, we can build a future of shared prosperity in which our nations' links of friendship and collaboration grow stronger with each passing day.
Shreedhar Gautam is an Under Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies. Above are excerpts from his remarks at a JDS colleague send-off reception.