Atul Koirala is a man possessed. An MTech in Computer Science and Engineering from Russia, he is, as the corporate speak goes, “professionally, technically sound and business savvy with a 25+ years pioneering career reflecting strong leadership qualities, who is known for playing strategic roles in developing and implementing cutting-edge solutions for growth of the organisation and enhancing overall process efficiency”. He is, as is acknowledged in the corner rooms, “a highly motivated individual with a team-based management style and excellent interpersonal and communication skills, focused on achieving bottom-line results while formulating and implementing advanced methodology / technology to meet a wide range of needs”. But that is not why we are featuring him here in the Inked Happiness.
Atul Koirala is also the Member Secretary – the moving spirit behind the think tank Sushil Koirala Memorial Foundation (SKMF) in Nepal and is selflessly working to inculcate the art of handwriting among the young in the country as a means towards furthering education, which in turn is a part of the bigger goal of fast-tracking the socio-economic development of Nepal.
In a free-flowing chat Atul Koirala talks about Nepal, handwriting and the SKMF. Excerpts:
Inked Happiness: Why are you stressing on handwriting and calligraphy as a focus area?
Atul Koirala, Sushil Koirala Memorial Foundation (SKMF): Handwriting is so absolutely fundamental and without the alphabet, everything falls apart, everything. All culture depends on the alphabet like: the first sound of the baby अ- आमा in Nepali, म – माँ in Hindi. At this age of time, there is a computer but the computer itself depends on the alphabet. Imagine Computers without alphabets or the Universe. If the alphabet disappears, the computer would not be the computer, there would not be a flow chart, there would not be any science and there would not be any signature in the documents. Using the alphabet, we can find all kinds of intelligence of the child or person, which helps to open the new doorways for them.
Inked Happiness: What are you doing to aid the search for excellence in this field?
Atul Koirala, Sushil Koirala Memorial Foundation (SKMF): Handwriting is unique to each individual writer, unlike typewriting. One’s handwriting style, and especially one’s signature, is a public and permanent statement, like a fingerprint. Learning to write well can help make that statement strong and beautiful.
We have already organised a major programme with the globally acknowledged domain expert Prof K C Janardhan, which was attended by students, parents and teachers and was very well received. Plans are afoot to take the initiative forward to touch and transform more lives in Nepal.
Inked Happiness: What are your plans for the immediate future?
Atul Koirala, Sushil Koirala Memorial Foundation (SKMF): We have observed, from the last program held in, November 2018, in Kathmandu, that students, teachers and parents are generally not aware of the importance of handwriting and they are therefore, least concerned about its importance in the overall scheme of knowledge dissemination. We are trying to convince school managements to conduct this kind of classes as an extra-curricular activity up to 7-8 classes.
Handwriting is so important because of one very specific reason, studies are continuously / increasingly showing that when something is written out by hand it is more easily remembered than the typed one. Once my Russian professor told me whatever you can write in the lecture class, just write it down, if we write something by hand it’s like something we are carving in our mind with the tip of the pencil or pen, which is a lot easier to recall and remember. That’s why even in today’s digital age, many professionals keep a small notebook and pen so that they can note down the points thereon and refer back to them later as comfortable.
Inked Happiness: What have been the major areas in which the SKMF has focused in the past? What have been your achievements?
Atul Koirala, Sushil Koirala Memorial Foundation (SKMF):
Let me make two things absolutely clear right up front. First and foremost, the SKMF is a think tank or a policy institute – a research institute that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, technology and culture. And secondly, much of what we have achieved, or the contribution that we are making as change agents, is due to the vision and single-minded devotion of Dr Shashank Koirala, the Chairman of SKMF, who has been the real game changer so far as the organisation and its activities go. SKMF has always tried to take a holistic view and has focused its attention on a number of socio-economic areas that it felt called for its devoted participation. One area of interest is the development of entrepreneurship in Nepal. While the people of Nepal are globally regarded for their entrepreneurial spirit, we feel the need for a bridge that will connect the man on the street with the Society’s concerns and the Government’s responsibility. SKMF has been working towards bringing this holy trinity together for the greater good of the people and a number of workshops, seminars, aimed at both creating awareness and the preparing of the ground have been already been conducted with more in the pipeline.
Another area that the SKMF has identified is that of sexual violence, exploitation and human trafficking where too, we have been working with single minded devotion and are trying to bring together all concerned – from the policy makers to the law enforcers, the voluntary organisations working on the ground and the media – for a concerted crusade against the menace.
The preservation of Nepali culture, especially its literature is a focus area for the SKMF and we are also chipping in with our limited resources to work towards the achievement of the logical goal. One highly successful endeavour in the field has been the SKMF initiative titled “Me and Literature”.
At the SKMF, in keeping with our philosophy of aiding the all-round development of Nepal and her people, the stress has also been on the development of sports and games. The SKMF was instrumental in organising the First International Wheelchair Cricket Tournament in Nepal as well as the ACC U-16 Eastern Regional Tournament. Other sporting activities are organised, and sports persons encouraged regularly.
About the Sushil Koirala Memorial Foundation (SKMF):
The SKMF was set up primarily to realise the vision of former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala who dreamt of a modern, secular, and progressive Nepal. Koirala imagined a prosperous and equitable Nation free of prejudice, where all citizens regardless of their demographic variation can participate as equals; a country that provides a chance for its citizens to realise their rights. To empower the people SKMF works towards strengthening the democratic governance of the country and restore the faith in democratic principles. The Foundation also aims to empower economically vulnerable groups to realise their rights. Similarly, it aims to conduct research and advocate public policy, acting as a bridge between knowledge and power under democratic principles.
To fulfil its mission, the Foundation works to bring together the country’s best knowledge and expertise to develop and test innovative solutions, address adaptive social problems and create a long-lasting impact. SKMF lives by its values of inclusiveness, innovation, integrity, accountability, relationship and professionalism.
For More information: http://www.sushilkoiralamemorialfoundation.org