Mohammed Abdul Basith
Organizing Secretary, AGM 2019, NYAB and Professor, Department of Physics, BUET
Youth are the most potential driving force of any nation for social change as well as economic development and technological innovation. Any idea of national development of any country is just a myth without the active and meaningful participation of youth and utilization of their talents, dynamism, imagination, ideas and energies. A revolution can be brought in the world of science if the potential of young researchers can be exploited to the fullest. Nowadays, performing individual research projects cannot be the sole purpose of a scientist. In order to facilitate the society with the blessings of scientific inventions, there has to be more interaction and collaboration between the stakeholders, scientists, policymakers, industry leaders, NGOs and the mass people. Young scientists can stimulate this interaction by bringing in fresh ideas and introducing cutting-edge approach for solving the problems. While the established senior scientists obtain most of the resources available for scientific research, young inventors rarely attain societal recognition for their efforts.1,2
Therefore, to recognize, boost, and explore the merit of young researchers, a dynamic movement has emerged in the past decade or more to establish independent Young Academies (YAs). The first YA was the Die Junge Akademie of Germany established in 2000. Following the footsteps of this and other YAS in the Netherlands, Sudan etc. there soon emerged a global network for young researchers named the Global Young Academy (GYA).
The idea of GYA emanated from the discussions of some bright research scholars of the world, convened by the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) at the Annual Meeting of New Champions of the World Economic Forum (“Summer Davos” meetings) in 2008 and 2009. Founded in February 2010 in Berlin, Germany with the support from the IAP2, the academy received startup funding from the Volkswagen Foundation with the help of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities BBAW and the German Young Academy. The founding co-chairs of GYA were Professor Gregory Weiss, a chemist from the University of California, Irvine, USA, and Professor Nitsara Karoonuthaisiri from the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Thailand. GYA was hosted by the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW) in Berlin from 2011 to 2016. In 2017, the GYA office moved to Halle (Saale), where it is now hosted by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. In 2014, GYA reached its full capacity with 200 members and as of 2018, it counted 216 alumni in addition to its 200 members; together representing 83 countries.
The Global Young Academy gives a voice to young scientists around the world. To realise its vision, it develops, connects, and mobilises young talent from six continents. Moreover, it empowers young researchers to lead international, interdisciplinary, and inter-generational dialogue with a view to making an evidence-based decision-making global platform. GYA thus provides a rallying point for outstanding young scientists from around the world to come together to address topics of global importance. 3
In order to achieve these goals, the GYA has provided support for the development and coordination of National Young Academies (NYAs) around the world. For this purpose, the GYA has developed a NYA blueprint and provided advice and letters of support. Till now, it has assisted to establish NYAs in around 30+ countries. Several economically less indigent African countries like Ethiopia, Senegal, Sudan, Uganda have already established their NYAs and co-organized regular regional and global meetings of national young academies. In the South Asia region Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan founded : Sri Lankan Academy of Young Scientists (SLAYS), Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS) and National Academy of Young Scientists (NAYS) Pakistan. Their own NYAs are providing their youths a platform to collaborate and exchange their fruitful innovative ideas by organizing events on a regular basis.
It is a matter of great concern for us that even in early 2019 there is no such platform for our young scholars in Bangladesh although GYA has had several members from Bangladesh of whom quite a few have contributed actively to the academy. Bangladesh had four members selected in the very first cohort of GYA. However, only Professor M Manjurul Karim, Department of Microbiology, University of Dhaka remained active. He was joined in the following year by Professor Abdullah Shams Bin Tariq, Department of Physics, University of Rajshahi. Prof Karim from the very beginning was involved in NYA related movement and took a part in formulating the NYA blueprint produced by GYA. He, together with Prof Tariq took the initiative for preparing the first proposal for establishing an NYA in Bangladesh and submitted to the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences (BAS) in 2012. When Dr Monir Uddin Ahmed and Dr Nova Ahmed became GYA members, the efforts got further impetus.
Despite their wholehearted efforts it took quite a few years to convince those concerned to form such an organization in Bangladesh. BAS had been organizing Young Scientist Congresses and had a Young Affiliate programme. Eventually, BAS endorsed the idea of the formation of the National Young Academy of Bangladesh (NYAB) and the BAS council formed a committee for the formation of a young academy in Bangladesh. Professor M Shamsher Ali, Professor Naiyyum Chowdhury, Professor KM Sultanul Aziz and Professor Mesbahuddin Ahmed were members of that committee.
On 6 July 2017, an Ad-hoc committee for NYAB was formed at a joint meeting of this committee and the proponents of a young academy, all of whom being Global Young Academy (GYA) members and alumni, at the BAS office in the capital. Professor KMS Aziz, immediate past secretary of BAS, chaired the meeting (sincere gratitude to Professor Aziz). It was decided that this Ad-hoc committee will initiate the membership drive and thereafter form a full-fledged executive committee to run NYAB. Professor M Manjurul Karim was nominated as convener and Professor Abdullah Shams Bin Tariq as member secretary of the Ad-hoc committee. The two other members of the committee are Dr. Monir Uddin Ahmed, founder, Scientific Bangladesh and Dr. Nova Ahmed, North South University.
This Ad-hoc committee worked voluntarily for the formation of the NYAB and selection of its first cohort of members. Members of this Ad-hoc committee automatically became founding members of the NYAB in order to carry forward and transfer the concept and spirit behind the formation of NYAB. A group of 16 further members was selected through a highly competitive process run by the Ad-hoc committee making a total of 20 founding members of NYAB. As a founding member, I got the opportunity to design a dynamic website of NYAB along with organizing AGM 2019 as an organizing secretary. Doing this, I was delighted to see the dedication, passion and vision of the Ad-hoc committee members. I believe that under their leadership, the founding members are ready to accomplish the mission of NYAB, enabling young scientists and academics of Bangladesh to achieve their professional excellence through learning and collaboration and to inspire, promote, and champion scientific research for societal development.
- Holden, Science, vol. 319, pp. 391, 2008.
- Brück, C. Beaudry, H. Hilgenkamp, N. Karoonuthaisiri, H. Salah-Eldin Mohamed, G. A. Weiss , Science, vol. 328, pp. 17, 2010.