Where is the voice of the poor in Sri Lanka nanotechnology initiative?

February 10th, 2009

According to The Sunday Times (Colombo), 8 February 2009, Sri Lanka is hoping to be a global player in sustainable nanotechnology with the launch of the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) in May 2009.   There is no doubt from this report that the public private partnership has established a group of leading scientists.   Ravi Fernando, CEO of SLINTECH claims that “Sri Lanka has the opportunity to differentiate itself through sustainable nanotechnology that will enhance the environment, not impact social systems negatively and contribute to economic competitiveness.”

The challenge is to grasp that opportunity and apply it for the benefit of the people of Sri Lanka as a whole, not just a relatively rich few.   The challenge is to develop products using nanotechnology that are appropriate to the needs of people in Sri Lanka not just simply wanted by the global market place.   The challenge is to include the voice of poor people in the direction and development of the research.   To fail in these challenges would be to replicate just another global centre of expertise that returns little to the people of the country that hosts it.

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