Should Bangladesh carry out space research and have a national space administration like NASA?
Space research is null in Bangladesh. Although it is true that Bangladesh has a joint research center for space under the name SPARRSO and an astronomy association known as Bangladesh Astronomy Association, the fact is either centre or association is doing no research. Nothing is being discovered or invented. Nothing new is being attempted either. Students in Bangladesh have Mathematics and Physics mandatory in school curriculum and thousands of students are graduating in Mathematics and Physics, and it is a matter of shame that Bangladesh is not being able to utilize these brains and skills into the studies of one of the most prestigious field of science.
Bangladesh requires investing for space research. Unless opportunities are built, experts are around, research materials are in hand, and Bangladesh cannot step into space research work. Investing this money would first and foremost require the Public’s permission since it is they after all on whose taxes Bangladesh will be able to investment on space research works.
Through a survey research, it was attempted to find out if the general people in Bangladesh would agree to give a portion of their income on space research and education. Whether or not they will donate the money will depend on their awareness and interest in space research, which we have tried to understand by asking questions at different angle. We also kept a comment section in the question paper where we have let them freely express their views and opinions.
Bangladesh being a third world country is suffering from a number of serious defects in terms of basic needs such as food, shelter, education and yearly natural disasters. In spite of that, Bangladesh is producing a number of remarkable potential scientists and researchers who for the lack of proper job are mostly selling their talent and skills abroad. If Bangladesh does utilize its talents and skills fully, there is a chance that the development will lead to ultimately whole development of the country. Therefore, space research can make a difference as well as can any specialized and developed field be it in terms of research, business or literature. When a country develops, it has to develop from every sector and make sure its treasures are utilized. The talents and potential students are the core treasure of this country and my research work focuses on only one sector of those talents that is space research and what and how the general people in Bangladesh are thinking about it.
Professors from Bangladesh had realized the importance of space research several years ago and had founded Bangladesh Astronomical Association in the year 1988 May 5. Bangladesh did not even have a scientific telescope then and at that time Mashhu-rul Amin and his friends formed a club to raise money for buying telescopes. Hence, from the club journey of BAA started. BAA has also been publishing since a scientific magazine called “Mahakash Barta” to grow curiosity towards space science among general Bangladeshi readers. The start was very promising but the truth is BAA is still standing where it stood in its initiation, which is to grow curiosity for observation. In this age of internet and amazon.com using which anyone can get access to any knowledge and can buy anything from any parts of the world, it is time that BAA not only grows curiosity among the youth in Bangladesh but also create opportunities for students and researchers to be able to work in this field in Bangladesh.
The government organization in Bangladesh under the name Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization has also been founded for the same reason that is to create a platform for space research in Bangladesh. This organization has also failed to come up with any actual space research work or even any attempt to produce any space researcher in Bangladesh. The reason is obvious, there is not enough fund to provide a platform to the potential youth in Bangladesh.
Even in universities in Bangladesh, be it public or private, space science, that is, and astronomy or cosmology is not taught. There are no organizations that can on its own provide any teaching or skill on the subject matter. There are however several events arranged by BAA and SPAARSO to observe celestial bodies in evening skies, which however does not fall into research category.
The following questions were asked to find out how much importance the people of Bangladesh gives to space research and if they would like to contribute.
- Do you think space research is required in Bangladesh?
- Why or why not?
- If you heard Bangladesh is to open a national space administration like NASA under the name of BASA (Bangladesh Aeronautics Space Administration) what would your reaction be like?
- Don’t care
- How much do you want that Bangladesh launch its own satellite in space?
- Dying for it
- It would be good
- Doesn’t matter
- If you had the opportunity now to study space in Bangladesh would you choose this field of education?
- How many planets are there in our solar system?
- How do you feel about space research?
- -just another branch of science
- dislike it
- Do you think Bangladesh can afford space research?
- Do you think Bangladesh should afford space research?
- If Bangladesh government does open a space research administration like NASA and charges 1% more tax on your income, how would you feel about it?
- No reaction
We have carried out survey works to obtain primary data. Our main target was the general population in Bangladesh. It was their interest and point of view based upon which we have developed this research work. In the questionnaire, we asked them simple and straightforward questions to know how they are thinking and if they are aware of space research. Students and faculties of North South University, along with journalists from national daily, national debaters, engineering students, jobholders, and businessmen have answered in the survey. Secondary data in this research work have been obtained from articles, journals from Internet and SPARRO and BAA themselves and their official websites.
Data Presentation and Analysis
Syed A Ahmed, a student from Bangladesh doing PhD in astronomy in Australia put in his words,
“I think astronomy is having a great time now. We have learned a lot about the universe and still lots to learn. Measurements are very precise now and techniques are well developed. Most of the researches are international and so Bangladesh has a prospect to join in international collaboration. But for this, we need start our own endeavor.”
Professors, mathematicians, astronomy students from Bangladesh working and studying abroad are well aware of the need of space research and education in Bangladesh. However, this is not helping. All the people in Bangladesh need to agree on this point for some renaissance to happen in space science in Bangladesh. In this research paper, we have focused on these random general people and how they are thinking about the matter.
In the questionnaire, the first question was whether the surveyee thought space research was required in Bangladesh and why or why not. About 66.67% of them have answered yes while 33.33% have answered no. Majority of the people does think Bangladesh does need space research after all, although not 100%.
Coming to second part of the question where we had asked why the surveyee thought it was required or not, we have gathered a number of interesting insights.
A number of valuable insights have been obtained from people that supported both the extremes. As for example one student has written, “As an engineering student I feel space research is an interesting area to study and work on”, which clearly indicated a skillful and educated youth’s drive and enthusiasm to apply his potential on space research if given the opportunity. At the same time another surveyee have commented against space research, “Bangladesh’s resources and efforts are more needed in many necessities and building its basic infrastructure”. Another surveyee have answered it simply, “because it is research”, which indicates the surveyee feels Bangladesh should step forward in any kind of researching field to educate its people. Each of the answers have been a very interesting, however, it is seen many of the surveyee have instantly said yes to requirement in space research in Bangladesh but have commented quite the opposite when asked for explanation. Does this show many of the people are confused of what they actually want for the country or that they are not enlightened on the importance for a nation to have its active space research centre yet.
The above confusion is again evident in the next question where it was asked how would the survey feel if they were informed that Bangladesh was about to have its own national space administration. Maximum of them, that is 53.3% have answered they would be proud while 33.33% more people have answered it would make them happy.
About 87% have answered that they are eager to hear Bangladesh is launching its own satellite in space. This again shows that most of the people in Bangladesh (as represented by the 30 surveyee) do want Bangladesh to develop in space research.
When asked to the surveyee if they had time and opportunity to choose space science as their field of education whether they would choose or not, most of the surveyee that is 66.66% of them has again answered on the affirmative.
This clearly represents that maximum of the population would love to choose a career path in the field of space science which gives Bangladesh a very good reason to create a platform for space research.
The next question that I have asked my surveyee is a tricky one. I had asked them how many planets they thought existed in our solar system only to find out how much are they really aware or updated of space knowledge. Their general knowledge in space have proved they are not answering blindly, and when they said they would like to pursue space research as a field of education they had really meant it.
About 80% of the survey was close to the correct answer while rest 20% lacked general knowledge in space science.
When asked how they felt about research, the surveyors, most of them have answered affirmative, either they found it too interesting or moderately interesting, while only 13% of them were neutral or not interested.
However, in the next two questions the surveyees have given quite contradictory answers again to their own point of view. When asked if they thought Bangladesh could afford space research, most of them have answered no, while on the next question in which they were asked if Bangladesh should afford space research, most have answered yes.
This again shows a very self-contradicting position of the surveyees themselves.
In the last question and the most important question which was asked to find out how far would the surveyee personally go to make space research possible in Bangladesh by asking them if they would contribute 2% of their income if Government charged them for space research and development in Bangladesh, about 80% have answered positive.
This is clear evidence that in spite of obstacle or interest, the surveyee would still like to contribute from their own income if Bangladesh could afford its own space research.
Summary of Research Findings
From a number of questions asked from various angles and a number of self-contradicting answers of the surveyee, two things are evident.
- People are not fully aware of the importance of space research for which they are giving contradictory answers
- Despite differences in interests or opinion, most of the people in Bangladesh would love their country to conduct its own space research, even if that means contributing from their own income
The data results from the survey puts this clearly that people in Bangladesh does possess general knowledge in space science and they do want to have their own space research centre and satellites launched in space. But the economy and other problems are making them confused if Bangladesh can afford it. It does not need saying, if only the instabilities existing in society of Bangladesh could be resolved, 100% of Bangladeshi would, without a doubt, contribute to space research.
Bangladesh being a third world country has many and every battle to fight. Yet, education and science advancements cannot be overlooked in Bangladesh. In the field of space research, the people of Bangladesh although enthusiast are yet confused. They would love to contribute for space research advancements in Bangladesh, are however, afraid or confused of the current circumstances in Bangladesh. However, this should be also kept in mind meanwhile that my survey report represents only around 30 people from diverse occupations. This is not the whole picture of Bangladesh, but rather a generalized picture from a number of people living in Dhaka city in Bangladesh.
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