by Omer Selim Sher in Ottawa
The “knowledge-based economy” became a buzz word in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In a 2003 paper, Benoit Godin said the knowledge economy is an “umbrella” concept, which allows accumulation of the existing ideas and concepts in the field of science and innovations, and indicators into one conceptual system.
The “knowledge-based economy” framework from economics and organizational science has been used with knowledge maps as a framework for understanding knowledge in complex systems such as economies, government, and industries.
Using this framework over the years UNDP and MBRF have foredawn effective tool for countries to measure knowledge as a broad concept that intricately relates to all aspects of modern human life is termed as Global Knowledge Index (GKI).
The GKI 2020 aims to alert policymakers on opportunities and risks across multiple disciplines, inspiring them to formulate forward-thinking strategies to support knowledge and promote it as a main component in establishing a strong knowledge economy.
GKI 2020 revealed that Switzerland retained its number-one rank for the fourth year, followed by the USA and Finland. Sweden and the Netherlands broke into the world’s top five countries ranking fourth and fifth, respectively.
The question is why our knowledge is less? As simple as this question is, the answer is even simpler. Because, our thirst for knowledge is less. The next question inadvertently comes up. Why is the thirst for knowledge less? There is nothing more to say.
Let me first say how little our knowledge is. According to this year’s Global Knowledge Index, Bangladesh is at the bottom of the global knowledge index. Bangladesh ranks 112th out of 137 countries. And among the South Asian countries of SAARC, Bangladesh’s position is from the bottom to the beginning. I turned around a little. Please don’t blame. Saying ‘below all’ hurts the feeling.
There is no way to blow this indicator again. In other words, there is no opportunity to blame the gravitational force of the earth for not being able to dance. Because, the United Nations is also involved in creating this index it is based on a total of seven topics, including pre-university education, technical education and training, higher education, research, development and innovation, information and communication technology, and economics.
We are almost thirsty for knowledge. Willingly or unwillingly, I drink less water at that time. I use oil to quench my thirst. Whether there is more oil at hand. Oil is one of the main sources of livelihood in Bengal. It is our pleasure to eat oil instead of water.
Well, have you ever heard of buying oil even though the price of oil is on fire? Have you ever been instructed to use water instead of oil as you would suggest eating potatoes instead of rice from the top floor? Hmmm my dear, everyone wants oil from top to bottom. Suppose you don’t get red oil in goat meat curry, do you feel bad then? Or if someone takes you to the sky with a like comment on Facebook, do you want to fly to the space with the birds?
There are many more such questions. If you hear the echo of the word ‘yes’ from the depths of your mind like a Hindi serial, you will understand that oil is another name for life in your humanity.
Excessive use of this oil in practical life causes problems. My explanation — rubbing the palms of both hands makes the oil stick to the head. And that is what caused the disaster. You know, 73% of the human brain is water. But when the oil rises to the head, it can no longer mix with the water. Water also contains oxygen, which is used by the brain. But does it contain oil? As a result, it is normal for the performance of the brain to decrease. Wisdom then begins to fall to its knees. As the amount of oil in the brain increases, the knowledge goes down from the knees. Maybe one day it may go out from toes!
This is possible only when the amount rises. Let me give you an example. A university in the capital has recently decided to take the exam. However, the residential hall will not be opened. As a result, there is a complication as to where the students from outside Dhaka will take the exam.
To address this, the head of the university’s authority recently told the media that since the students are keen to take the exam, he hopes they will be able to make arrangements for their stay in Dhaka.
I also spent my life in university as there was other place to stay. Simply put, affordability was limited. Most of the students who are still there are supposed to be in that condition. Now in COVID-19 pandemic time it is even worse. The DU Vice-Chancellors is supposed to know all these; yet he saw “hope.” Want development and do not want to feel the labour pain of development, that is not right! So, feel the pain, enjoy the development.
Whatever it is, now the question is how to increase our knowledge? Before that, the gray matter of the brain of the people of a town should be tested and researched. If the oil is sticky, but black dirt also accumulates then who knows if our grey matter has become ‘black’! And if a “Hole” sits with Black, then there is no point. The journey to eternity will begin … we will be lost in the future.
In conclusion, few lines of Tagore’s 35th poem of Gitanjali:
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection.”
Omer Selim Sher is a retired Professor of Economics at Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada, and a researcher on South Asian politics.