Significant advances in various fields of science and technology have profoundly affected our lives in almost every area of our activities, such as communications, health, transportation, agriculture, and defence. This development is driven by the growing volume of exciting discoveries, mostly coming from science labs in the West and through changes in their new products or processes that have flooded global markets.
These floods shower great economic rewards on nations that have the determination and vision to make science and technology the cornerstone of their development programs. The world today is increasingly divided by the technology that separates technologically advanced nations from technologically backward ones. The former have managed to use their engineers and scientists for fast economic and technological growth, while the so-called developing countries (which are not really developing at all) have given up the role of consumers of technology products.
So-called developing countries rely almost entirely on developed countries for most of their needs, be they pharmaceuticals, defence equipment, transportation equipment, engineering equipment, or chemicals. In the process, more and more funds are being transferred from developing countries to developed countries, increasing the level of poverty in developing countries.
Due to the negligence and poor vision of the planners in successive governments in Pakistan, the science and technology sector has never been given the status to be used as an aid to national and economic development. Due to the meagre funding provided by the government, our R&D agencies have not been able to offer any valuable research. The lack of proper facilities and environment for research in universities and research institutes has led to such a decline in the quality of higher education that today our universities have become inferior colleges with valuable links between universities and economics.
Role of technology in the development of Pakistan
Technological improvements provide the basis for economic growth, infrastructure development, and the health system. The development of science and technology in developing countries plays an important role in reducing the level of poverty, and technological development can be considered as the engine of economic and infrastructure development. Technology is a great tool for tackling poverty and boosting the economic growth of developing countries.
Basically, the fields of research in Pakistan’s science and technology revolve around nuclear ballistic technology, anti-aircraft guns, weapons, and other scientific knowledge related to defence. The time has come to reduce the martial approach to the use of science and technology and to devote more efforts to promote socio-economic development and peace.
Technology plays a vital role in increasing the productivity of productive factors. Modern technology helps to increase the efficiency of labour which in turn increases the quality of production and equipment. The annual production value of labour in Pakistan is USD 100.
- Agricultural Growth
For a long time traditional techniques, old seeds, plow and waste, and garbage, etc. were used in agriculture. Therefore, the quality and quantity of production were very low. But with the use of modern production techniques, high yielding varieties of seeds, tractors, fertilizers, harvesters, tube wells, threshers, water pumps, herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides have been invented. These inventions lead to growth and development. The growth rate of the agricultural sector is 2.0%.
- Industrial Development
Life was limited to a limited population a few decades ago. The use of industrial products was very rare in simple life. But now in modern times, the use of industrial products is increasing day by day. The rapidly growing population is also demanding industrial products. In this situation, industrial development and growth are necessary, which is possible through the use of technology. The growth rate of the industrial sector in Pakistan is 4.9%.
- Employment Opportunities
The use of technology can improve the quality and quantity of different products. This will increase the demand for wages and ultimately increase the demand for labour. Increasing demand for labour will reduce unemployment. Due to the relatively slow development of technology, the unemployment rate in Pakistan is 5.5% which is very high. This rate is expected to decrease gradually in the coming years.
Efforts of Pakistan’s government for technology development
The current government makes science and technology, including information technology (IT), one of its top priorities. A comprehensive program for building a knowledge-based economy by integrating science and technology with economic development programs has been developed and launched. The government has increased its financial commitment to the ministry to more than Rs. 7 billion (USD 120 million ؛ 6000% increase).
In return, the ministry, with a holistic view of Pakistan’s bleak scenario, has launched a number of projects that fall under other ministries but include the effective use of science and technology for economic growth. Since June 2000, the government has launched more than 260 development projects with a total value of approximately 18 billion PKR (USD 300 million) in various fields of information technology, science, telecommunications, and technology.
In the field of science and technology, our government aims primarily to use science and technology for economic growth, R&D activities, industrialization, strengthening Pakistan technology development, and human resource development. One of the most exciting initiatives from the government of Pakistan that should have a long-lasting impact on Pakistan’s economic development is a program entitled Science and Technology for Economic Development (STED).
Under this program, joint ventures are being launched between public sector entities and private sector industries to manufacture high value-added products based on technology. This partnership between the academy and the industry represents an exciting new approach to achieving a certain level of technological advancement.
These are not just research projects but include the application of existing technologies for agricultural or industrial development. So far, 28 projects in various sectors including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, IT, energy, and health have been launched under public-private partnership. The STED program is expected to strengthen the country’s industrial and technological base and establish a trend towards commercially viable high-value-added products and processes.
Rising IT exports in Pakistan
According to the latest data from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Pakistan’s information technology (IT) exports grew by 47% to 2.1 billion in the fiscal year ended June 30. In the fiscal year 2021, IT exports increased by 50% to USD 214 million in June. Exports were USD 143 million in the same month last fiscal.
Now is the time to equip our young generation with the latest facilities for their research and to attract our youth towards science and technology because they are the future of the nation and they can lead the nation. Informing students about the ongoing problems of society can motivate some of them to find solutions to the problems. As the saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”