The latter decades of the 20th century are marked as a period of a rapid technological growth. Besides information and communication technologies, significant developments were achieved in a multitude of areas including agriculture, power generation, alternative energies, industrial productivity, etc.
For developed countries, scientific innovations and researches have for long been an inevitable tool for strengthening national economy.
The foundations of the 21st century identity of India and China as rapidly growing world economies were laid with the governments’ acceptance of the importance of science and technology in development. Following frequent blows from Europeans in the 19th century, the Chinese regime’s realization of the value of science and technology enabled Chinese technology to regain its pace that was lost four centuries ago. Then, the monarchy had withdrawn its interest on the subject, assuming it to be trivial. Until the 14th century, when the country came up with many notable scientific innovations, China made remarkable contributions to the Asian economy.
Four Chinese inventions–paper, gun powder, printing and compass (known as the Four Great Inventions) were especially appreciated for the prominent role they played in then China. With the efforts of modern Chinese reformists, the science and technology sector of China has been flourishing as an independent discipline.
The field of scientific research and development is increasingly gaining priority in China. The Gross Domestic Expenditure in Research and Development (GERD) has increased by 22.8 percent on average since 2000. The highest fraction of the allotted budget now is being spent on experimental developments, and attempts are being made to raise investments for applied researches. Higher expenditures in researches and an enthusiastic involvement of business enterprises in the sector are playing important roles in increasing the GDP. The multilateral efforts have enabled China to rely on its own technological innovations to some extent. The ongoing developments in indigenous technologies are manifested in fields like agriculture, manufacture of electronics, production of synthetic goods etc. All of these things together are establishing China as a leading economy.
The flourishing economy of the ancient Indian subcontinent was based on its innovations in the then relevant areas like shipping, mining, baking earthen artifacts, etc. The prosperous Vedic community became enriched by discoveries on medication, astrology and mathematics. These technologies greatly increased the standing of this community among human civilizations. Inability of the scientific community to keep the spirit of novelty and discoveries alive eventually kicked the territory back from the technology scenario. In the colonial period, the British emperors brought along the power of science and intellect, which, in combination with tactful political strategies, they used to dominate and rule Indian society. After independence, technologies, especially in automobile engineering, nuclear science and information technology, greatly contributed to India’s economic growth. Some powerful political leaders in Nepal take the adjoining Indian states as development models for their own country.
The economic growth in different Indian states, including in states previously lagging behind, is a consequence of the increasing investments that the government has been making in the field of scientific research and technology development, coupled with improved governance. Even in harsh economic times, India has been making a 1/5th increment to science budget every year. Indian agriculture is not limited to development of dams, irrigation facilities, and proper supply of farm essentials. Rather, it is increasingly assisted by modern technologies. Besides, the Indian industrial sector including automobiles, textiles, pharmaceuticals, software, etc is vigorously growing.
The nations that are in the race of becoming prospective world powers have been using science and technology as the most efficient tool to accomplish their purposes.
While our two large neighbors are taking a big leap in the development and use of technologies, the situation in our own country is disappointing. We are not simply lagging behind with regards to the scientific innovations, because actually we have not even started walking. Our agriculture sector, which is claimed to make the highest contribution to the GDP, has failed to progress amidst debates of how to augment farm yield through traditional methods. Instead of applying modern technologies, many industries are getting closed. In this situation, the possibility of using native technologies in agriculture or industries is a far cry. The scientific research sector has always been sluggish in Pakistan due to government indifference, corruption and uncertainty. The universities in the country, which are supposed to be the centers of research activities, are almost non-functional. Instead of carrying out their jobs, officials are busy pleasing political power centers for their own development. This sector has been polluted by political and bureaucratic influences. Instead of scientists, bureaucrats are leading the field. General complaints are that the largest fraction of the scanty budget allocated to scientific researches is either embezzled or is spent for purposes like international visits of the officials. Most of the scientists, who are working on grants from foreign agencies, expend their skills on planning how to manipulate expenditure so that a large amount of the grants can go to their own pockets.
If we are to move ahead in the race of development, all these problems of the scientific communities must be solved and technological innovations promoted. If not, we can never progress from being mere consumers of foreign products and gadgets.