Science encompasses knowledge through observation and experiment while technology improves the societal life employing practical applications of systematic scientific study. Modern civilization finds unprecedented development of industries through technological applications of scientific inferences. Nations with advanced technologies boost their societal lives, economies and security by investing further in scientific research. Developing countries have limited resources to support science so should define the priority areas to spend precious wealth. Evidence based stable policies for Science and technology can prepare Pakistan for emerging challenges of industrialization in future.
Pakistan’s real wealth lies in our youth…but this demographic advantage will become a huge burden if we don’t wake up now…To benefit from these exciting innovations, we need a government…who understand where the world stands today after the 4th Industrial Revolution… Dr Atta-ur-Rahman
Economic Status of Pakistan
Pakistan is facing a fall in industrial growth
Pakistan is in economic crisis with -5.83% trade growth relating to increase in exports compared to imports.
In year 2021, Pakistan imported pharmaceuticals costing 3.78 billion dollars. More distressed is the fact that almost 50% of our pharmaceutical purchase is from India. We import even paracetamol from China, United States, and India .
Impact of Research on economy
Developed nations have stable or growing economies for more and better innovations and inventions. Developing nations can also improve economic standards by utilizing resources wisely and properly. Better economy consequents into a healthy nation, enjoying goods and acquiring services for improvement in productivity and national development. Science and technology are cornerstones of economic growth and development of society but gained least importance in Pakistan as obvious from the fact that during seventy-six years, only three national policies have been formulated. The latest Science and Technology Innovation policy, 2021 (STI) affirms significance of research for the growth and developmental challenges.
Factors Affecting financial Growth
Ground realities don’t match the claims of governing authorities and Pakistan is facing serious crisis of innovations and inventions. Lets explore the factors affecting productivity of the research sector.
Politicians are at the leading positions in National system of governance of science and technology. They are responsible for implementation of the policies, allocation of budgets, and academic hiring. Representation of researchers in parliament is rare so as in ministry of science and technology. Governing bodies and the policies are changed with governments and 45 ministers/advisors for science and technology have been changed yet. There is a need to re-establish governance scheme for sustainable development.
According to economists, both small and large scale industries in Pakistan are facing crisis. Entrepreneurs remain reluctant to invest due to high manufacturing costs, taxes, changes in the demand patterns and policies hence profitability. Large-scale industries face troubles in exports and high rates of raw materials which are generally imported. Lack of innovation relates to low quality of products compared to global competitors, lack of standardization and high protection rates. Poor governance fails to restrict the imports of products available in local market and poor law and order can’t protect intellectual property rights. Needs and capacity of industries is not linked to the research in institutes.
Research and Development in Pakistan
HEC gauges its focus on R&D through number of articles and impact factor while nations are striving for inventions, and innovations. Incentives for publications are awarded in the form of cash prizes, grants, foreign trips, and national titles.
“The HEC’s focus on R&D can be gauged by the fact that there has been over six times increase in the research articles published in impact factor journals.”
Statistics by Thomson-Reuters show four times better research productivity in the last decade in Pakistan. According to Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, this hyper-productivity is bogus and owes to paper-kings who cook results for incentives. Despite financial constraints, HEC managed to get more than seventy billion rupees during 2020-21, for various projects. HEC, utilizes its budget in scholarships for producing more graduates or in the form of research grants. Highly educated workforce can only thrive in conductive atmosphere otherwise brain drain or disappointed personnel will increase burden on the nation. Multiple diverse research projects fail to produce inventions and innovations due to budget and project restrictions.
“Besides, the HEC initiatives covered in a diverse set of research opportunities launched through the Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project presented considerable progress in the year.”
Even Pakistan based industries don’t trust the research standards of local universities. Patents not only protect inventions and innovations locally but can also be sold abroad. Its our dilemma that IPO Pakistan receives more patents from abroad than from Pakistan.
How to Upgrade Research and Technology
A focused coherent approach in research and technology is required to set priorities and improve the situation step by step to stabilize economy. Most importantly, we need the same spirit as for making atomic bomb, mentioned by Feroz Khan in his book, Eating grass: The making of Pakistani bomb.
“The history of Pakistan’s nuclear program is the history of Pakistan. Fascinated with the new nuclear science, the young nation’s leaders launched a nuclear energy program in 1956 and consciously interwove nuclear developments into the broader narrative of Pakistani nationalism… Pakistani senior officials tapped into the country’s pool of young nuclear scientists and engineers and molded them into a motivated cadre committed to building the ‘ultimate weapon’ … it unveils and unravels the fascinating and turbulent interplay of personalities and organizations that took place and reveals how international opposition to the program only made it an even more significant issue of national resolve.”