WHILE GLOBAL expenditure on research and development has been rising consistently, two of the ten countries – China and India – which contribute about 78 per cent of the total are now emerging economies. Most recently, India has announced to double its RandD allocations with the main focus on science and technology as well as information technology. South Asias contribution to the global RandD expenditures is estimated at a pitiful four cent of the total and even this expenditure mostly comes from public development budgets and is utilized primarily to fund public universities and research bodies. India now is trying to catch up China as its Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has recently called for spending Rs 5,000 crores (about $940 million) on domestic supercomputing to try to keep pace with China. The initiative was part of a broader strategy to push for much higher funding of science RandD in the country. In fact, more spending on RandD activities in China has forced the Indian authorities to give serious thinking to give stir to RandD projects especially in the fields of science and technology in their own country. Experts view that this approach would go a long way in enhancing supercomputing capacity and capability in India. Presently, China has 1.4 per cent investment and American investment is 2.7 per cent while Japan has 3.3 per cent of GDP investment. But since all of those economies are larger than that of India’s, the country’s absolute RandD spending would still trail its competitors. Unfortunately, the situation in Pakistan on this front speaks about the reverse or pathetic side. Pakistan had seen its growth rates dropped from 6.8 per cent in 2007 to 2.7 per cent in 2009. The Universal Support Fund (USF) in Pakistan unreasonably could not perform upto the mark particularly during the last fiscal year. The USF is funded mainly by the telecom operators to initiate RandD projects in remote and un-served areas, however, the relevant progress remained dim. The Fund is headed by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani but ironically he could hardly summon a meeting of the Fund as he had no time for this important sector. This bad state of affairs critically delayed the RandD projects or caused non-initiation of new activities in the country. This wide difference of approach between the authorities in India and Pakistan speaks about the level of seriousness towards this sector which provides a strong basis for the future progress. What needed at this critical stage is the authorities should revisit their policy towards RandD sector in addition to increasing budgetary allocations as Pakistan has great human resources especially in IT and science and technology sectors.
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