Interview with Dr. Kamal K. Joshi (Ex-vice Chancellor of Tribhuvan Univ. of Nepal

1. You had faced several challenges during your student life as President of Trichandra College Students' Union (1960-61), General Secretary of Tribhuvan University Students' Union (1966-67), Convenor of Nepal University Teachers' Association (1989-90) and then as a Vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University (1994-98) of Nepal. What is the secret behind all your success?
I realize they were really the challenges. But merely facing challenges is not always a question of success or failure. If you take them as success, the secret behind the success is nothing other than the lack of so-called "politics" within me. This secret often posed a reason of my success especially in the academic fields, but sometimes it was obviously the reason of my failure too and that was in politics itself.
2. You are known for your sincerity and for being fair man of principle. What sacrifices have you made to keep these qualities?
I don't see any reason why one should sacrifice anything to keep sincerity or become a man of principle. However, of course, many occasions may come in our life when one can have substantial material gains at the cost of his/her ethics or morality. They were there in my way too. But this is the one I can never think of. When they are not mine there is no question of making sacrifice from me.
Sometimes, however, I had to remain in jail, many times in police custody and sometimes in gherao and bear mental and physical tortures. During that time I felt the violation of my human rights from the part of the government and the gherao organizers. These were perhaps the sacrifices I had to make quite often of my rights of working for my profession, mixing with my family members and friends and moving freely within and outside my country.
3. Being an outstanding Scientist (Botanist) and a well-respected and progressive scholar. What do you think about the present political crisis?
As a botanist I really felt difficulty in carrying out my research works smoothly. Most of my works are concentrated in Nepal Himalayas, which remained inaccessible since long due to security problem. Present cease-fire between Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) and His Majesty's Government of Nepal is a great relief to the people and all concerned. But the progress in the preparation for the commencement of peace talk is too slow especially from the part of the government. Let this cease-fire may not prove a conspiracy as some of the political leaders use to say and let it not abort before anything could achieve through the peace-talk. I am very optimist to think that the talk will take place and end with success, but yet I am also not very sure about it.
4. Would you please tell us about yourself, your experiences and your thoughts about the Nepalese education system and the way it should be?
Education is for the society and the country. It is also for the benefit of mankind. But our education system is not being able to address these necessities to the desired extent. Education at various levels including basic education, primary and secondary education and higher and technical education is not accessible for the people of low income. There is a sort of anarchy in the field of education in Nepal. Many private schools, campuses and newly founded universities are more business organization than institutional organizations. Government always tries to escape from its responsibilities. In the name of privatization, education in Nepal is commercialized. Practically, government is being found to encourage commercialization education at all levels. However, there are some public schools and campuses which are so neglected from the side of the government that they are not being able to give proper education to the students; they are rather gradually degrading.
A revolutionary change in education is required in Nepal to keep pace with the progress made in education in other countries both developed and many developing countries. For this sake: - attitude of related authorities of the government has to be changed, a progressive policy has to be formulated, and international commitments on rights of education for all have to be respected well in principle and practice.

- Increase in literacy rate to 100 per cent, free and compulsory primary and secondary education, easy access to higher and technical education are the primary requirements for the economic development of the country and modernization of the society.

- Stress must be laid to the continuous association of research with the university education.

- Updating of curriculum should be a continuous process so that the students will be equipped with knowledge developed as the output of research carried out in different laboratories and research centers of the world.

- Special attention should be given to subjects of social demand. - Preference should be given to the subjects of specialty of the related country. For example, hydropower and other alternate energy, Himalayan biodiversity and genetic resources, tourism, traditional technology etc. may be the specialties of Nepal.
I must admit that there are many more important issues of education system, policies, strategies and programs we should discuss on while discussing problems and prospects of education in Nepal. At present, we are designing a vision and strategic plans, policies and programs of education in Nepal for coming 20 years. Similar exercise we are doing for science and technology as well. They are about to complete. We can discuss them in detail separately sometime in future.
5. You are mentor to several people and many people have learned from you and look up to you as their role model. Some people say that if you were to be involved in politics you would be successful, do you agree with this statement?
No, absolutely not. There must be some special qualities in "successful politicians". Evidently it is not possible to develop those qualities within me or rather I would say, I don't like to have them. I am happier for lacking them in me. Anyway, I am extremely grateful to all of them who trust on my abilities and me.
6. Behind every strong man is a strong woman. Do you believe that in this case it was your wife Dr. Sanu Devi Joshi?
I don't know I am a strong man. Should I admit it? If I am really strong, I must agree with you that my wife has made lot of contributions to make me strong. The wavelength of thinking of both of us in many cases did not differ. She has a great sense of responsibilities towards professional and social commitments and continuously encouraged me to fulfill aspirations of my friends. I am very lucky to have her in my life as my wife and equally very fortunate to have a large number of friends of whom I could earn absolute trust even before I met my wife for the first time.
7. Would you please tell us about your last book and what influenced you to write it?
I was teaching economic botany to M. Sc. (botany) students of Tribhuvan University for last 22 years. I felt that a book on medicinal and aromatic plants of Nepal Himalayas would be of great help to the students and teacher for reading and research purposes. Besides, such books are also needed for the trekkers from abroad interested in Himalayan herbs. So we (my wife Prof. Dr. Sanu Devi Joshi and myself) decided to bring out a book entitled "Genetic Heritage of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Nepal Himalayas."
In near future, I am bringing another part of economic botany viz., "The Food Plants of Nepal" into publication.

Thanks for giving us an interview !

You can contact Dr. Kamal K Joshi at