R & D - AN UNDER PERFORMING SECTOR IN AN OVER-SPENDING SOCIETY
Dec 17 - 30, 2007
We are a nation with a short term vision - living our lives on day to day basis. To us, the highest scale to measure time is a year with 365 (or sometimes 366) days. We don't believe in decades, centuries and millenniums. Research and Development is essentially a long term proposition. This sufficiently explains why we lack in this all important sphere of human development. We used to dominate the world scene in scientific achievements till 1200 A.D which is proof of that we are not an under performer by birth. Perhaps we have engaged ourselves in issues of lesser import. We have chosen to remain under developed.
Quranic Verses repeatedly exhorted us to think and think deep but we hardly understood the message. Research and scientific development also demand deep thinking. Iron, in a Quranic Verse, has been described as a metal of intensity and profitability. The developed nations used this metal in industry and weaponry to gain ascendancy over infighting nations like ours.
Education is a pre requisite to R & D. The higher the literacy rate of a country, the greater would be the achievements. Our resource allocation to social sectors, especially education, has been minimal. Utilization of allocated funds has also been dismal. During 2006-07 only 33 per cent of allocation could be utilized. During the first quarter of 2007-08, only 7 per cent of funds allocated for education could be utilized. An under performing education sector can hardly boast of any worthwhile R&D achievement.
THE CURE LITERACY RATE & QUALITY EDUCATION
The literacy rate in real term, and not just the number of people with ability to read and write, shall have to be raised. Purposeful spending and full utilization of the funds allocated for education should be ensured. We need to inculcate a culture of R & D in our children at school level by introducing a full time subject. The performance of individual students should be graded on the basis of new ideas generated and devices produced to display application of these ideas.
The prevalent trends in our society are usually determined by a herd mentality. In the field of education too, this psychology plays its role. Currently, management sciences are high on the agenda of career planning. Owing to lack of innovations in the field of industry and technology and also a low salary structure, engineering career is being looked down. A balance have to be maintained while assigning our raw human resources to different fields namely technology, agriculture, medicine, management etc.
ENHANCED RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR R & D
The developed nations spend a sizeable portion of their GDP on R & D not only to remain competitive in global markets but also to assume the role of pioneers in the field of new inventions. The emerging economies like Pakistan need to develop an R & D base to cater to the future requirements of a technological progress. For this purpose sufficient resource allocation shall have to be made Effective funds utilization programs with proper monitoring will ensure the efficacy of enhanced resource allocation.
ROLE OF PRIVATE SECTOR
We are living under a misconception that public sector alone is responsible for research and development work, if any. Our private sector is basking in the sunshine of a laissez-faire economy. To them, profit maximization is the only goal of such an economy. They fail to realize that the proponents of such type of economy have survived the unremitting heat of competition through their unending efforts in the field of R & D. In our culture, the obsolescence of technology is rarely taken care of if the company is earning profits. Our private sector spends little on R & D. To foresee the future and be prepared to adjust to the swiftly changing environment and to invest in the technology of tomorrow is one thing we have ardently refused to learn. The failure of our textile sector to go with the WTO regime should be an eye opener.
It is time for the private sector to reconcile itself to the realities of laissez-faire economy and starts reinvesting its to-day's economic gains in tomorrow's technology through consistent R&D effort. The government may consider to offer tax incentives to the private sector in proportion to its spending on R & D.
GOVERNMENT SECTOR PERFORMANCE
Under its own limitations, the government of Pakistan has been doing a lot on the front of R & D. Various research institutes established under different ministries have been delivering to their capacity. The following organizations under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture & Livestock are significantly contributing to the agro economy :
i) Central Cotton Research Institute (CCIR)
ii) Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC)
iii) Soil Survey of Pakistan (SSP)
iv) Pakistan Oilseed Development Board (PODB)
v) Agricultural Policy Institute (API)
The following organizations and institutes under the Ministry of Science & Technology are doing a tremendous job to set pace to country's technological advancement :
i) National University of Science & technology (NUST)
ii) Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR)
iii) Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET)
iv) Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC)
v) Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR)
vi) Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA)
vii) National Institute of Electronics (NIE)
viii) National Institute of Oceanography (NIO)
ix) Center for Applied and Molecular Biology (CAMB)
x) Council for Works and Housing Research (CWHR).