Urging pursuit of technology

Addressing a summit, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain emphasised the pursuit of modern technology and its indegenisation for achieving sustained level of economic growth and prosperity of the people. Lamenting over the deliberate destruction of technological base of the country, the minster recalled that in the decade of 1960s transmitters and other radio equipments were locally manufactured and now everything is imported. He assured government’s support to technology companies for the promotion of scientific and technological education.

It is true that in the decade of 60s the technological base of Pakistan was advanced as compared with South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia. The ruling leadership of that time had a foresight of coming hundred years and their commitment was to gain a respectable place for the country in the comity of nations. To move forward in the invention and indegenisation of new technologies industrial organisations like Taxilla Hevy Mechanical Complex and Laundry Machine tools were established to achieve self reliance in the production of capital goods for balancing and modernization of consumers’ goods industries.

Nationalisation of private industries and banks by Z.A Bhutto government stopped the forward movement for the introduction, promotion and indegenisation of contemporary advanced technologies and products’ innovations by entrepreneurs. The current situation is that civilian goods industry of the country has become non-competitive because of the application of second generation technology.

The institutions of Research and Development working under the umbrella of the Ministry of Science and Technology were first made redundant and then a policy of monetary strangulation was adopted in the previous two governments by releasing budget for the salaries and other petty items of expenditure. No allocations are being made for research and development activities. No policy has been worked out to ensure coordination among the ministries of Science and Technology, Finance, Commerce, Industries and Production with a view to facilitate the efforts aimed at modernizing the technological base of the country. Pakistan is perhaps the only developing country in the region where no linkage between the industries and organisations of research and development exists. The expected outcome is that that the country is heading towards becoming a trading nation.

Educational institutions play a leading role for producing the scientists, engineers, researchers and technicians for the application of advanced technologies. But unfortunately the decisions taken in the elected governments to stop funding to the institutions of higher education caused its fast degeneration. The devolution of higher education to provinces in 2010 under 18th Amendment gave a death blow to the promotion of quality higher education. The acquisition of higher education is no longer affordable for the students who belong to middle class families. There is acute shortage of state-of-the-art equipments and chemicals in the science and engineering labs of public sector universities. The availability of these equipment and training of both teachers and students to handle them is inevitable. There is also dire need of getting subscriptions of top notch research journals and providing students with access ID.

The research environment in government universities is discouraging because the doors of science labs are closed for students well before the last working hour. In few private sector universities like Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Science and Technology and National University of Science and Technology science and engineering labs remain open till 2300 hours in the night. Induction of advanced technologies and their indegenisation is herculean task which can be performed only when the inefficiencies in higher education are removed and smooth supply of funding to the institutions of research and development and utilisation of the expertise of scientists and engineers of these institutions is ensured with actions on ground instead of empty rhetoric.