Francesca El-Attrash March 3, Writing a cover letter is already tricky business.
These advances have been driven by an ever-growing volume of exciting discoveries, largely emanating from science laboratories in the West, and by their transformation into new products or processes that have flooded world markets.
These floods in turn shower vast economic rewards on those nations that have the will and vision to make science and technology the cornerstone of their development programmes. The world is today sharply divided by a technology boundary that separates the technologically advanced countries from the technologically backward ones.
The former have been able to use their scientists and engineers for rapid economic growth, whereas the so-called developing countries which in reality are not developing at all are relegated to the role of consumers of technological products. They become almost totally dependent on the advanced countries for most of their needs, be they chemicals, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, transportation equipment, or defence equipment.
In the process, more and more funds from developing countries are being transferred to developed countries, raising the level of poverty in the developing countries. It needs to be understood that development is a multifaceted process, and a number of factors must dovetail together before economic growth and progress can occur.
In my opinion, five key components must come together. First, the development process must be built on a foundation of high degrees of literacy and quality education at all levels.
The Afro-Asian countries have vast populations at their disposal, and the challenge is to transform this resource into wealth. In order to unleash their creativity, the Third World countries must expose their youth to a challenging educational environment that teaches them to think and find novel solutions to difficult problems.
The second important facet for development is a high level of expertise in the sciences. Third World countries need to upgrade their universities and research centres to an internationally compatible level of excellence through development and retention of world-class researchers and provision of appropriate research facilities.
They must become focal points for creation of new knowledge. Only when we have high-quality basic research in various fields and can work at the cutting edge of knowledge will we have the capacity to absorb frontier technologies and adapt them for our use.
The third important facet of the development process concerns applied research and technology development. We must identify and launch focused projects directed at a enhancing exports, b fostering import substitutions, c improving the quality and productivity of existing manufactured products, and d bringing to market new and better products through supporting the creative talents of our technologists and engineers.
This is a complex issue involving the interaction between technologists and economists to develop and optimise the production process on a reasonably large scale so that financial feasibilities can be properly worked out.
The fourth facet of development involves government policies and mechanisms to encourage investment of entrepreneurs in indigenously developed products and processes.
These measures include tax incentives, provision of risk capital by venture capital companies, protection of intellectual property rights, rationalisation of import duty structures, banning of smuggling to protect local industry, and creation of investor confidence through stable and long-term policies.
The fifth and most important factor for success is involving the most creative people at all levels, which requires introducing measures that will persuade our brightest students to opt for science and technology when they are deciding on their careers. Research grants must also be provided so that they can contribute meaningfully.
In other words, the operation of a merit-based system in which only the brightest people are allowed to go up the ladder must be incorporated with a suitable reward and punishment system as an integral component of a highly transparent but demanding accountability system.
In Pakistan, due to negligence and faulty vision of planners in successive governments, the science and technology sector was never given the status required to effectively use it as a contributor to national and economic growth. Lack of proper facilities and environment for research in the universities and research institutes led to deterioration in the standard of higher education to the extent that today our universities have been relegated to the status of low-level colleges in which valuable university-economy links are totally missing.
The present government places science and technology, including information technology ITamongst its highest priorities. A comprehensive programme has been worked out and launched for building a knowledge-based economy by integrating science and technology with economic development programmes.
The government has raised the financial commitment to the ministry I head to more than Rs. In turn, the ministry, taking a holistic view of the dismal scenario in Pakistan, has launched a vast number of projects that fall under other ministries but that involve the effective use of science and technology for economic growth.
Since June the government has launched over development projects worth a total of about Rs. Pakistan faces another problem: Higher education has also been neglected, and the quality and quantity of Ph.
As a result of four Ph. Under the Indigenous Ph. Programme, grants are being given to both young scholars and their supervisors. Each supervisor gets Rs. This provides much-needed infrastructural support to our universities.
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