Pakistan back-paddling on nano-technology sector
STAFF REPORT IBD: The sitting government though apparently claims to be serious towards achieving progress in science and technology and claims to have allocated or spent billions of rupees on a number of projects in this vital field which can guarantee the countrys very survival, however, certain projects of the same nature have been shelved eating up a huge chunk of budgetary allocations mainly due to the negligence of government authorities or the project executives that had lacked ability to sustain these projects for a longer time.
The National Commission for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) in this regard has emerged as the worst example as realizing the importance of nano-technology, Pakistan in 2003 had launched this Commission to encourage university laboratories and other research centres to work in the area of nano-technology relevant to their expertise. However, later the authorities shelved this Rs. 3.2 billion initiative for no reason given to the public letting the huge public money go down the drain.
Nanotechnology is the technology of tools and techniques that allow the atoms and molecules of all the matter to be understood, imaged and manipulated. It represents the beginning of a revolutionary new age in our ability to manipulate materials for the good of humanity and has been growing explosively in the past few years, since the realization that creating new materials and devices from nanostructure could access new and improved properties and functionalities.
The developed states are fully cognizant of the potential lies in the field of nanotechnology and regularly allocate huge amounts of their national budgets for the research projects involving nanotechnology.
It has been noted that other developing countries minus Pakistan being conscious of the economic aspects of nanotechnology, covering industries of all kinds such as biotechnology products, auto industry, pharmaceuticals and drugs, agriculture and energy sector, feel the necessity of benefiting from this technology in the best possible way.
Experts are of the strong view that investments in nanotechnology triggers multiplied investment impacts. For instance, they argue that in 2006 USA had invested 7 million and achieved an investment impact of $1.1 billion. They argue that nanotechnology can help boost the GDP, revolutionize technologies and multiply production ratios.
However, regrettably at a time when all countries the world over, particularly the industrially advanced countries, are trying to reap benefits from nano-technology, Pakistanyears back had started back-paddling by shelving the NCNST along with many other research projects.
Most recently a National Symposium on Frontiers in Nanotechnology’ was held at the NUST with the support of the Pakistan Science Foundation in order to provide the students body with an improved insight into the exponentially expanding field of nano-technology.
Ironically, Dr. Noor M. Butt, who had headed NCNST from 2003 till its closure in 2008, spoke in detail highlighting the importance of nano-technolgy. During this period, the Commission could not take any initiative to ensure sustainability of the projects launched during this period.
Pakistan being a developing state should desperately make serious efforts to relaunch programme for nano-technology as without this the very survival of the country would certainly be at risk, the experts argue.