By Saurav Rajbhandari

Technology has always been a driver of change. When the first televisions came to Nepal, people gathered round in groups to watch the daily news. Even before that, transistor radios existed. Then, too, people would gather around in groups to listen to the news and hear the latest songs. Televisions and radios changed the way people received their information. Even prior to that time, newspapers were responsible for providing information. When new technology arrives, it brings with it change and convenience.

Presently in Nepal, access to smartphones and the Internet has changed people’s lives. Nowadays, one can buy a smartphone for as little as $50. Smartphones are the easiest and cheapest way to access the Internet. The reach of Internet to rural villages has made it easier to disseminate information. The rise in Internet users has also created opportunities for the entertainment industry. Artists and filmmakers now have the opportunity to reach a larger audience. Internet service providers here are also rapidly expanding their services. ISP’s are one of the most active companies in terms of marketing and business development. They come up with new schemes for every season.

Development of communications has enabled young people like myself to discover new interests. Today, a video on YouTube can teach anything from playing a guitar to putting on makeup. These videos also can be watched repeatedly to learn the new skill. A post on Facebook can act as a source of news. Even though social media has its disadvantages, it can be beneficial if used for good.

In Nepal, during the earthquake of 2015, when telecommunications were down, the Internet enabled people to communicate with each other. The most impacted areas were identified, and people formed groups to gather resources and send them to people in those areas. We also were able to know the statuses of friends and loved ones during that time. After the earthquake, the fuel crisis hit Nepal. It was then that people started forming groups on social media. A carpool group was formed where vehicle owners and people looking for lifts could connect. This became popular and encouraged people to give lifts to strangers in an effort to overcome the crisis.

Further Planning and Development

The government had established an IT Park just outside of Kathmandu in a town called Dhulikhel about a decade ago but nothing significant has come out of it. Nepal Telecom Limited, which is one of the main telecommunication and Internet providers in the country, is controlled by the government. The company, however, lacks updated services. The Internet service is outdated, and there are much better options in the market provided by private companies.

The city area does not need much development effort as compared to rural areas. What planners should focus on now is the access of reliable and inexpensive communications to villages. Internet has the ability to educate people. Spreading easily accessible Internet throughout the country will help the government manage educational programs.

Like many Nepali people, I am thankful for the technological growth that is happening right now. Information technology brings with it knowledge which is important for development. Technology can make a big impact on people’s lives, and it can especially help the younger generation find out their interests and inspire them to work passionately.