Tag Archives: development

Income inequality linked to export “complexity”

The mix of products that countries export is a good predictor of income distribution, study finds.

By Larry Hardesty


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a series of papers over the past 10 years, MIT Professor César Hidalgo and his collaborators have argued that the complexity of a country’s exports — not just their diversity but the expertise and technological infrastructure required to produce them — is a better predictor of future economic growth than factors economists have historically focused on, such as capital and education.

Now, a new paper by Hidalgo and his colleagues, appearing in the journal World Development, argues that everything else being equal, the complexity of a country’s exports also correlates with its degree of economic equality: The more complex a country’s products, the greater equality it enjoys relative to similar-sized countries with similar-sized economies.

“When people talk about the role of policy in inequality, there is an implicit assumption that you can always reduce inequality using only redistributive policies,” says Hidalgo, the Asahi Broadcasting Corporation Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab. “What these new results are telling us is that the effectiveness of policy is limited because inequality lives within a range of values that are determined by your underlying industrial structure.

“So if you’re a country like Venezuela, no matter how much money Chavez or Maduro gives out, you’re not going to be able to reduce inequality, because, well, all the money is coming in from one industry, and the 30,000 people involved in that industry of course are going to have an advantage in the economy. While if you’re in a country like Germany or Switzerland, where the economy is very diversified, and there are many people who are generating money in many different industries, firms are going to be under much more pressure to be more inclusive and redistributive.”

Joining Hidalgo on the paper are first author Dominik Hartmann, who was a postdoc in Hidalgo’s group when the work was done and is now a research fellow at the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy in Leipzig, Germany; Cristian Jara-Figueroa and Manuel Aristarán, MIT graduate students in media arts and sciences; and Miguel Guevara, a professor of computer science at Playa Ancha University in Valparaíso, Chile, who earned his PhD at the MIT Media Lab.

Quantifying complexity

For Hidalgo and his colleagues, the complexity of a product is related to the breadth of knowledge required to produce it. The PhDs who operate a billion-dollar chip-fabrication facility are repositories of knowledge, and the facility of itself is the embodiment of knowledge. But complexity also factors in the infrastructure and institutions that facilitate the aggregation of knowledge, such as reliable transportation and communication systems, and a culture of trust that enables productive collaboration.

In the new study, rather than try to itemize and quantify all such factors — probably an impossible task — the researchers made a simplifying assumption: Complex products are rare products exported by countries with diverse export portfolios. For instance, both chromium ore and nonoptical microscopes are rare exports, but the Czech Republic, which is the second-leading exporter of nonoptical microscopes, has a more diverse export portfolio than South Africa, the leading exporter of chromium ore.

The researchers compared each country’s complexity measure to its Gini coefficient, the most widely used measure of income inequality. They also compared Gini coefficients to countries’ per-capita gross domestic products (GDPs) and to standard measures of institutional development and education.

Predictive power

According to the researchers’ analysis of economic data from 1996 to 2008, per-capita GDP predicts only 36 percent of the variation in Gini coefficients, but product complexity predicts 58 percent. Combining per-capita GDP, export complexity, education levels, and population predicts 69 percent of variation. However, whereas leaving out any of the other three factors lowers that figure to about 68 percent, leaving out complexity lowers it to 61 percent, indicating that the complexity measure captures something crucial that the other factors leave out.

Using trade data from 1963 to 2008, the researchers also showed that countries whose economic complexity increased, such as South Korea, saw reductions in income inequality, while countries whose economic complexity decreased, such as Norway, saw income inequality increase.

Source: MIT News Office

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Academic and research collaboration to improve people to people contacts for peace and progress

Syed Faisal ur Rahman

Muslim world especially Middle East and surrounding regions, where we live, are facing some of the worst political turmoil of our history. We are seeing wars, terrorism, refugee crisis and resulting economic. The toughest calamities are faced by common people who have very little or no control over the policies which are resulting in the current mess. Worst thing which is happening is the exploitation of sectarianism as a tool to forward foreign policy and strategic agenda. Muslims in many parts of the world are criticizing western powers for this situation but we also need to seriously do some soul searching.

We need to see why are we in this mess?

For me one major reason is that OIC members have failed to find enough common constructive goals to bring their people together.

After the Second World War, Europe realized the importance of academic and economic cooperation for promoting peace and stability. CERN is a prime example of how formal foes can join hands for the purpose of discovery and innovation.

France and Germany have established common institutes and their universities regularly conduct joint research projects. UK and USA, despite enormous bloodshed the historical American war of independence, enjoy exemplary people to people relationships and academic collaboration is a major part of it. It is this attitude of thinking big, finding common constructive goals and strong academic collaboration, which has put them in the forefront of science and technology.

Over the last few decades, humanity has sent probes like Voyager which are challenging the limits of our solar system, countries are thinking about colonizing Mars, satellites like PLANCK and WMAP are tracking radiation from the early stages of our universe, quantum computing is now looking like a possibility and projects are being made for hyper-sonic flights. But in most of the so called Muslim world, we are stuck with centuries old and good for nothing sectarian issues.

Despite some efforts in the defense sector, OIC member countries largely lack the technology base to independently produce jets, automobiles, advanced electronics, precision instruments and many other things which are being produced by public or independent private sector companies in USA, China, Russia, Japan and Europe. Most of the things which are being indigenously produced by OIC countries rely heavily on foreign core components like engine or high precision electronics items. This is due to our lack of investment on fundamental research especially Physics.

OIC countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and some others have some basic infrastructure on which they can build upon to conduct research projects and joint ventures in areas like sending space probes, ground based optical and radio astronomy, particle physics, climate change and development of strong industrial technology base.  All we need is the will to start joint projects and promote knowledge sharing via exchange of researchers or joint academic and industrial research projects.

These joint projects will not only be helpful in enhancing people to people contacts and improving academic research standards but they will also contribute positively in the overall progress of humanity. It is a great loss for humanity as a whole that a civilization, which once led the efforts to develop astronomy, medicine and other key areas of science, is not making any or making very little contribution in advancing our understanding of the universe.

The situation is bad and if we look at Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen or Libya then it seems we have hit the rock bottom. It is “Us” who need to find the way out of this mess as no one is going to solve our problems especially the current sectarian mess which is a result of narrow mindsets taking weak decisions. To come out of this dire state, we need broad minds with big vision and a desire of moving forward through mutual respect and understanding.


Mastering the art of surviving and thriving !

Life is all about juggling different balls. The more balls you are juggling, the more challenging it becomes and the test lies in not dropping a single one. Mastering the skills require real efforts to develop synchronization between mind, body and soul. More than a billion people are living in the same world but all of them having different types of balls to juggle – these balls may be work, passion, family, education or any other thing. A lot many people just go through life with no aim and leaving no impact on the world but a very few think about changing it for the betterment of others. Depending upon the way you want to live, you would be choosing your balls to juggle.

At times circumstances try to shape us and if we are not internally strong, we will get shaped the way these circumstances want us to but only with our strong will power we can not only push the circumstances to be shaped in our way but we would come out more stronger from tough situations. Life is full of crest and troughs – at times you just have to wait for the storm to go other times you may see clear sky and a clear path ahead and can easily rush through. The key to success lies in mastering the art of making judgment and hitting the nail.

Three pillars of success !

What makes a person a champion whether he / she is a singer, an artist, a student, a teacher or a business man or any other professional you think of. Some say hard work, some say talent, some give credit to luck bla bla. Lots of things to say, we can keep on talking on this and never come precisely on what exactly is required.

Whatever you do! To become a champion only three things are required to be worked on (make your life easier) Knowledge, Skills and Attitude.

Knowledge plays its role as of foundation, basic building block and also supports the other two pillars.

Skills help in doing things effectually and plays a very visible role in dominating over others and becoming competent (like communication and presentation skills help in convincing others and taking the edge).

Attitude plays a front line role and is a major driver for converting potential energy into kinetic energy.

If you have K and S but negative A then still a lot remains to be done for achieving success. Attitude is one thing that is very common in its application whatever form of field or application is whether it be sports, job, teaching that’s why one must have something to do to get the attitude right, that something can be sports or religion whether one is a student, teacher, sportsman, doctor, engineer, scientist; good thing about attitude is, in every field almost the same sort of attitude (positive) required to achieve success (as they rightly say “ATTITUDE DRIVES TO ALTITUDE”), so if you have been a good sportsman and right now doing a job that will certainly be a strong point for having success in your hands.

Knowledge and skills define the area of expertise, specialization and field in which you are playing. To be the champion in your field, you have to strengthen these pillars, not only by gaining knowledge and mastering skills but also by being creative, which will help in exploring new avenues and new knowledge.

Creativity and innovation has played major contribution in the lives of individuals and nations for taking edge; it has proved to be the only short cut available for success.

Knowledge not only supports vertically but also horizontally by supporting and strengthening the other two pillars. Having knowledge of your field will help you strengthening your skills and developing a positive frame of mind with attitude.

One important thing that yet remains to be discussed is VISION which interconnects all the three pillars.






Musashi proteins, stained red, appear in the cell cytoplasm, outside the nucleus. At right, the cell nucleus is stained blue.
Image Credit: Yarden Katz/MIT

Proteins drive cancer cells to change states

When RNA-binding proteins are turned on, cancer cells get locked in a proliferative state.

 By Anne Trafton


A new study from MIT implicates a family of RNA-binding proteins in the regulation of cancer, particularly in a subtype of breast cancer. These proteins, known as Musashi proteins, can force cells into a state associated with increased proliferation.

Biologists have previously found that this kind of transformation, which often occurs in cancer cells as well as during embryonic development, is controlled by transcription factors — proteins that turn genes on and off. However, the new MIT research reveals that RNA-binding proteins also play an important role. Human cells have about 500 different RNA-binding proteins, which influence gene expression by regulating messenger RNA, the molecule that carries DNA’s instructions to the rest of the cell.

“Recent discoveries show that there’s a lot of RNA-processing that happens in human cells and mammalian cells in general,” says Yarden Katz, a recent MIT PhD recipient and one of the lead authors of the new paper. “RNA is processed at several points within the cell, and this gives opportunities for RNA-binding proteins to regulate RNA at each point. We’re very interested in trying to understand this unexplored class of RNA-binding proteins and how they regulate cell-state transitions.”

Feifei Li of China Agricultural University is also a lead author of the paper, which appears in the journal eLife on Dec. 15. Senior authors of the paper are MIT biology professors Christopher Burge and Rudolf Jaenisch, and Zhengquan Yu of China Agricultural University.

Controlling cell states

Until this study, scientists knew very little about the functions of Musashi proteins. These RNA-binding proteins have traditionally been used to identify neural stem cells, in which they are very abundant. They have also been found in tumors, including in glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer.

“Normally they’re marking stem and progenitor cells, but they get turned on in cancers. That was intriguing to us because it suggested they might impose a more undifferentiated state on cancer cells,” Katz says.

To study this possibility, Katz manipulated the levels of Musashi proteins in neural stem cells and measured the effects on other genes. He found that genes affected by Musashi proteins were related to the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process by which cells lose their ability to stick together and begin invading other tissues.

EMT has been shown to be important in breast cancer, prompting the team to look into Musashi proteins in cancers of non-neural tissue. They found that Musashi proteins are most highly expressed in a type of breast tumors called luminal B tumors, which are not metastatic but are aggressive and fast-growing.

When the researchers knocked down Musashi proteins in breast cancer cells grown in the lab, the cells were forced out of the epithelial state. Also, if the proteins were artificially boosted in mesenchymal cells, the cells transitioned to an epithelial state. This suggests that Musashi proteins are responsible for maintaining cancer cells in a proliferative, epithelial state.

“These proteins seem to really be regulating this cell-state transition, which we know from other studies is very important, especially in breast cancer,” Katz says.

Musashi proteins, stained red, appear in the cell cytoplasm, outside the nucleus. At right, the cell nucleus is stained blue. Image Credit: Yarden Katz/MIT
Musashi proteins, stained red, appear in the cell cytoplasm, outside the nucleus. At right, the cell nucleus is stained blue.
Image Credit: Yarden Katz , MIT


The researchers found that Musashi proteins repress a gene called Jagged1, which in turn regulates the Notch signaling pathway. Notch signaling promotes cell division in neurons during embryonic development and also plays a major role in cancer.

When Jagged1 is repressed, cells are locked in an epithelial state and are much less motile. The researchers found that Musashi proteins also repress Jagged1 during normal mammary-gland development, not just in cancer. When these proteins were overexpressed in normal mammary glands, cells were less able to undergo the type of healthy EMT required for mammary tissue development.

Brenton Graveley, a professor of genetics and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut, says he was surprised to see how much influence Musashi proteins can have by controlling a relatively small number of genes in a cell. “Musashi proteins have been known to be interesting for many years, but until now nobody has really figured out exactly what they’re doing, especially on a genome-wide scale,” he says.

The researchers are now trying to figure out how Musashi proteins, which are normally turned off after embryonic development, get turned back on in cancer cells. “We’ve studied what this protein does, but we know very little about how it’s regulated,” Katz says.

He says it is too early to know if the Musashi proteins might make good targets for cancer drugs, but they could make a good diagnostic marker for what state a cancer cell is in. “It’s more about understanding the cell states of cancer at this stage, and diagnosing them, rather than treating them,” he says.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Source : MIT News Office

KAUST team synthesizes novel metal-organic framework for efficient CO2 removal

By Caitlin Clark

“In Professor Mohamed Eddaoudi’s research group, we are always on the quest to find novel nanostructured functionalized materialsfor specific applications,” explained KAUST Research Scientist Dr. Youssef Belmabkhout, a member of Prof. Eddaoudi’s Functional Materials Design, Discovery, and Development (FMD3) group, part of KAUST’s Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials (AMPM) research center.

Dr. Osama Shekhah, Senior Research Scientist in the FMD3 group added that the group searches “for materials that will be highly suitable for trace and low CO2 concentration removal using purely physical adsorption. These will help in energy saving and in the reduction of the cost of the production, purification, and enrichment of highly valuable commodities such as CH4, H2, O2, N2, and others.”

Drs. Shekhah and Belmabkhout and a team of researchers from Prof. Eddaoudi’s group recently discovered and synthesized a new porous, moisture-resistant, inexpensive and reusable copper-based metal-organic framework (MOF) called SIFSIX-3-Cu that can selectively adsorb and remove trace CO2 from mixtures of various gases. Their findings were published in the June 25 edition of Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5228).

MOFs are a promising new class of hybrid solid-state materials for CO2 removal. “Their uniqueness,” explained Prof. Eddaoudi, “resides in the ability to control their assembly and introduce functionality on demand. This feature is not readily available in other solid-state materials.”

The researchers showed for the first time that MOF crystal chemistry permits the assembly of a new isostructural hexafluorosilicate MOF (SIFSIX-3-Cu) based on copper instead of zinc.

“This technology is anticipated to outperform the existing mature technologies for CO2 physical adsorption in terms of energy efficiency,” says Dr. Shekhah. “The key factors for this finding are the combination of suitable pore size and high, uniform charge density in the pores of the MOF.”

Using their newly synthesized MOF, the researchers examined the conditions relevant to direct air capture (DAC), a mechanism to remove CO2 from air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions uniformly around the world.

DAC is more challenging than post-combustion capture, but it may be practical if alternative “suitable adsorbent combining optimum uptake, kinetics, energetics and CO2 selectivity is available at trace CO2 concentration,” the researchers stated.

The team discovered that contracting SIFSIX-3-Cu’s pore system to 3.5 Å enhanced the material’s efficiency, making it able to adsorb relatively large CO2 amounts 10-15 times higher than zinc-based metal-organic adsorbents, such as SIFSIX-3-Zn. In SIFSIX-3-Zn, the pore size is 3.84 Å.

“We attribute this property to enhanced physical sorption through the favorable electrostatic interactions between CO2 molecules and fluorine atoms present on the surface of the adsorbent,” explained Zhijie Chen, a Ph.D. student in the FMD3 group and a co-author of the paper.

Dr. Vincent Guillerm, a post-doctoral fellow in the FMD3 group and a co-author of the paper also noted that, “the pore contraction gives CO2 uptake and selectivity at very low partial pressures. This is relevant to DAC and trace carbon dioxide removal.”

“SIFSIX-3-Cu gives enhanced CO2 physical adsorption properties, uptake, and selectivity in highly diluted gas streams, and this performance is unachievable with other classes of porous materials,” added Dr. Karim Adil, a co-author of the paper and Research Scientist in the FMD3 group.

The researchers are excited about their finding as it offers the potential to be used not only for DAC but also for other applications related to energy, the environment, and the healthcare field. For example, SIFSIX-3-Cu could be used to remove and recycle CO2 in confined spaces, such as in submarines or space shuttles, and could also be used in anesthesia machines, which require efficient CO2 sorbents.

“Our work paves the way for scientists to develop new separation agents suitable for challenging endeavor pertaining to CO2 ultra-purification processing,” said Dr. Shekhah. “Our study is also part of a greater critical effort to develop economical and practical pathways to reduce cumulative CO2 emissions provoking the undesirable greenhouse gas effect.”

Prof. Eddaoudi reiterated that “MOFs offer remarkable CO2 physical adsorption attributes in highly diluted gas streams thanks to their ability for rational pore size modification and inorganic-organics moieties substitution. Other classes of plain materials are unable to attain this.”

In the future, Prof. Eddaoudi’s FMD3 group will continue to develop topologically and chemically different MOFs. “We aim to target novel MOFs with suitable pore size and high charge density,” explained Prof. Eddaoudi. “We will then use these for the important task of removing trace and low and high concentration CO2.”

Source: KAUST



Science, Economy and Peace: A study focusing Pakistan

Syed Faisal ur Rahman


 Abstract: A key difference between the first world and the third world is their progress in the fields of science and technology. Pakistan is mainly known as an agricultural economy but agriculture sector does not contribute much in shaping the modern global economy. We will analyze how science and technology helped in improving the lives of people but also will see its role in the economic development of countries. In the age of conflicts, war and economic rivalry, it is often hard to find common grounds for humanity to proceed for common goals. Fortunately, some big science projects have proved to be a beacon of hope for humanity in pursuing a better peaceful and prosperous future for this world.We will give an overview of some of the projects pursued by countries who are normally rivals at military and economic fronts, but for pursuing science goals they have to join hands, giving a better hope for peace and economic development. We will also see how Pakistan can learn from the experiences of other countries and regions to build a better future for it’s people.




Last century saw enormous developments in the field of science and technology, which also helped countries to rapidly develop their potential in industry, medical sciences, defense, space and many other sectors. Countries which made science and technology research and education as priority areas emerged as stronger nations as compared to those who merely relied on agriculture and the abundance of natural resources.

We can also see that big science projects, involving one or more than one country, have served our society through spin-off technologies, human resource development, boosting up economic activity and cooperation. Also, we will study the role of some big science projects in promoting peace and stability in the world.

Global Economy and Pakistan

According to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) world factbook public data [14], global economy has a size of 71.3 trillion dollars if we look at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) based on official exchange rate and 83.12 trillion dollars based on GDP purchasing power parity (PPP).

The contribution of different sectors based on CIA world fact book 2012 estimates, is as:

Agriculture- 5.9%

Industry -30.2%

Services- 63.9%

Pakistan which comprises of ~2.5-2.7 (2011 World Bank Data) percent of world population, only has 230.5 billion dollars GDP (official exchange rate) and 514.6 billion dollars GDP (PPP) which makes it around 0.32 % of the world economy based on GDP (official exchange rate) and 0.62% based on GDP(PPP). This shows a serious gap in income scales of some of the developed countries of the world and a relatively poor economy like Pakistan. This high population and low GDP mean less money available to individuals living in the country. GDP per capita (PPP) of the world is 12,400 dollars based on CIA world factbook 2012 estimates and for Pakistan the figure is 2,900 dollars.

Pakistan is also relatively more dependent on the agricultural sector. Pakistan’s labor composition is estimated in 2012 CIA world fact book as:

Agriculture- 20.1%

Industry- 25.5%

Services- 54.4%

If we look at the labor distribution, then according to 2007 estimates, Pakistan’s ~45% population is involved in the agricultural sector, which is more than industry (~21%) and services (~34%).

 Science, Technology and Global Economy

Below is plot of World Bank 2011 data [13] for countries with highest Gross National Income (GNI) per capita:


Fig. 1: GNI per capita for 2011 based on World Bank Data

If we look at figure 1 then we can clearly see that most countries in top 20 GNI are knowledge based economies and some represent natural resource or energy based economies. In comparison with these economies, Pakistan’s GNI is 1,120 dollars based on the same criteria.

A more direct comparison can be given between GDP and science output is the table below showing top scientific and technical journal producers and their GDP rankings:

Rank(based on column 3) Country Scientific and Technical Journal Articles (2009, World Bank Data)[13] GDP Ranking ( based on 2011, World Bank Data) Human Development Index(HDI, based on 2012 UNDP Data) [11] Category
1 United States 208,601 1 Very High
2 China 74,019 2 Medium
3 Japan 49,627 3 Very High
4 United Kingdom 45,649 7 Very High
5 Germany 45,003 4 Very High
6 France 31,748 5 Very High
7 Canada 29,017 10 Very High
8 Italy 26,755 7 Very High
9 South Korea 22,271 14 Very High
10 Spain 21,543 11 Very High
11 India 19,917 8 Medium
12 Australia 18,923 12 Very High
13 Netherlands 14,866 16 Very High
14 Russia 14,016 9 High
15 Brazil 12,306 6 High
16 Sweden 9,478 20 Very High
17 Switzerland 9,469 18 Very High
18 Turkey 8,301 17 High
19 Poland 7,355 21 Very High
20 Belgium 7,218 22 Very High
46 Pakistan 1,043 45 Low

Table 1: Pakistan and the top 20 Sci-tech journal articles producing countries and their GDP rankings (based on the World Bank data). Also we have presented the Human Development Index (HDI) categories of these countries based on the 2012 United Nations Development Program’s HDI data.

Figures in table 1, clearly shows some relation between scientific output and the size of the overall economy. There are few exceptions like Saudi Arabia, which makes regularly into the top 20 economies and is not one of the top producers of scientific and technical journal articles. We can find such inconsistencies as there is more than one factor which contributes to the size of the economy like exploitation of energy resources, minerals, large size of populations and various other factors.

Also we can see that most sci-tech journal articles producing countries are in very high HDI countries with 3 in high and 2 in medium categories. We can see two medium category countries are two of the largest populations on earth i.e. China and India. HDI of a country depends on the access to health, income, access to education and living standard of the citizens of that country. This indicator provides a more realistic picture as compared to GDP for measuring quality of life as countries with large populations like China and India can have high GDP despite lower average income or can have a higher number of sci-tech publications or output despite not doing well in per person averages. In comparison to these countries, Pakistan is in the low HDI category which shows the low quality of life for the citizens of Pakistan.

Pakistan and comparison with India and China

We further narrow our comparison with countries having similar regional and economic history. For this we select India and China. India and China reside in the same region as Pakistan and got independence in the same time period of the late 40s. China has the largest population in the world and India has the second largest population having relatively high population density.

If we look at the historical comparisons after the separation of the East Pakistan from the federation, we can see we were well ahead of both China and India, in terms of GNI per capita and the economic freedom, for a good part of our history. Apart, from being relatively free market economy, Pakistan also did well in the development of techno-industry. Almost all major scientific organizations related to heavy industries, space, nuclear, agricultural and other areas developed in earlier decades of Pakistan. In later years, Pakistan was left behind in development by the two countries. One of the main reasons behind this is Pakistan’s lack of interest in the science and technology sectors and the inability to keep up with the pace of science and technology development in India and China. We can see historical GNI comparisons between Pakistan, China and India.

China adopted a focused techno-industrial development approach. According to Campbell, 2013 [3] paper, China developed its industrial base on Soviet lines till 1959 focusing on heavy industries. After that, till 1976 ideological domination of economic projects and economy didn’t progress much.  Then China adopted a more independent technology research policy with a relatively liberal economic agenda and in 2001 with further Chinese shift towards a market economy from a controlled economy, these policies started to give results as the involvement of private sector in such projects ensured the translation of technology research into commercial success.

Similarly, India focused strongly on science and technology from its early days and also started to initially focus on heavy industries on Soviet lines. Later, especially in early 1990s, with the liberalization of the economy and the policy shift towards more market economy, India started to promote small technology based industries. A good focus of India was on software industry which not only helped India in bringing more export revenues, but also helped improve corporate governance in India (Arora et al, 2002)[1]. This led to more productivity in many industries of India and with gradual shifts towards a market economy India also saw rapid economic growth.

Fig. 2: GNI comparison between Pakistan, China and India (World Bank 2013 Data)

Collaboration in Science and World Peace

Apart from economic development, science projects have also contributed in promoting peace and collaboration among many countries including many rival countries. The lead in promoting scientific collaboration for peace was taken by Europe. After the World War II, Europe learned to promote economic cooperation instead of unnecessary rivalry. This cooperation in economic areas grew further and expanded in other areas like science and technology. Launch of The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN[4] in 1954 was a huge step in promoting scientific collaboration among European countries in post-World War II scenario. This spirit continued even in Cold War days (Gillies, 2011) [6] as the idea of exploring the nature of matter and energy proved to be bigger than the prejudices and blind nationalism.

This spirit continued further in other big sciences and we now see countries like USA, China, Russia, UK and others doing collaborations in space sciences, particle physics, astronomy, medicine and many other areas. Some of the examples in this regard are Square Kilometer Array (SKA), Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME), Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), International Space Station (ISS) and other projects are forwarding such spirit.

Apart from this many countries are involved in other collaborative projects as well. These projects are always welcomed in civil society and the scientific community as a way to promote peace.

Pakistan is also involved in some of these projects like CERN and SESAME. Pakistan’s collaboration with CERN formally started in past two decades. Pakistan’s connection with CERN is even older than Pakistan’s formal entry in this collaboration. This connection was established through Pakistan’s Nobel Laureate, Dr. Abdus Salam. Still a lot is needed to be done by Pakistan to get the best out of these collaborations with CERN.

In SESAME, Pakistan played a key role by becoming a founding member. The idea is a brain child of Dr. Abdus Salam and Middle East based MESC (Middle East Scientific Cooperation) group headed by Sergio Fubini, a theoretician at CERN, who aspired for a synchrotron radiation source in the Middle East (Historical highlights, SESAME website) [10]. SESAME shares the same spirit of science for peace with CERN as it is helping to bridge the gap between historically rival nations and in improving people to people relations between countries like Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Turkey and others who are often involved in heated conflicts in the region. The project was shown full support by 45 Nobel Laureates in a joint declaration which also demanded friends of science and peace to support the project (Declaration, PETRA VI meeting, June 2008) [5].

Pakistan is still behind many countries of the world in space sciences despite being among the first few countries to launch a space rocket in the 1960s. Similarly, Pakistan has not played a significant role in any significant collaboration related to the promotion of astronomy. Our neighboring countries are playing key roles in projects like SKA (skatelescope.org, participating countries) [8] and are also expected to join ISS in the future (Spacenews, 2010) [9].

Big Science and Economic Development

Big science projects have not only played a crucial role in bringing peace or satisfying human curiosity to know more about the nature and origin of matter, energy and the universe, but the path to achieve such scale of science has led to many spin-off technology developments.

Development of World Wide Web (WWW) is a result of data sharing architecture designed for CERN (webfoundation.org, history of the web) [7], Wi-Fi is a result of CSIRO’s efforts to develop better techniques for radio astronomy (csiro.au, outcomes)[12], research in radio astronomy has also played a key role in developing techniques for locating cellular telephones, location for faulty transmitters (Bout, 1999)[2] and various other technologies.

The key here is to understand the importance of basic and fundamental sciences, and understanding the importance of adopting the right strategy for using the resulting science and technologies for economic and social development.

 Pakistan and Suggestions to Develop Science and Technology for Economic Development

The purpose of presenting various examples, data and figures is to show the necessity of developing a solid foundation for science and technology in Pakistan. We are a country with significant potential in minerals, energy and agricultural resources. Also, we have developed some advanced technology base in the defense sector. We also have a small but energetic Information Technology industry, which is growing well despite difficulties due to law and order situation, and electricity crisis in the country.

Below are some of the steps we can take to promote science and technology in Pakistan and then use it for developing Pakistan’s economy.

a) We need to improve basic science education in the country. The school level curriculum is way behind as compared to other parts of the world. We need to produce students who can think big and even if they do not pursue science as their career, they should be at least educated enough to appreciate the importance of fundamental research. Even if students end up pursuing management studies or end up as key decision makers in government or private sector offices then they will be better equipped to realize the importance of science and technology research in the progress of our country or to come up with business idea which will exploit scientific knowledge.

b) We need to promote research and development in the universities by encouraging industry-academia linkages by providing tax incentives for industries involved in promoting research and development in the universities of Pakistan.

c) We need to share the technology base developed in defense sector with the private sector so that it can be used for peaceful commercialization of technology.

d) We need to give tax and reward incentives to the private sector for contributing in fundamental sciences.

e) We need to promote collaboration between universities and strategic national organizations like SUPARCO and NESCOM.

f) The most important thing which is needed to be done is to give the leading role in policy making to the civilian scientists with sound academic and research background. Currently, institutions like SUPARCO, NESCOM and other institutions are under the direct or indirect control of military personnel who usually do not have enough academic and research background to make the right decisions and set the right priorities in the key areas of science and technology.

g) Another thing lacking in Pakistan is active inter-university and intra-university collaboration for science projects related to interdisciplinary sciences.

h) We also need to give priority to the science and technology collaboration in academic and fundamental research areas when planning our foreign policy. Currently, our foreign policy is security focused with no serious efforts to strengthen academic ties with other countries. Our embassies are needed to be run by people who understand how important it is to interact with the academia of the country they are serving in and how important it is to help our universities in making right relationships in foreign countries for scientific research. This will again be dependent on how good we will do in producing non-science graduates who understand the importance of science and technologies as most foreign office employees come from the arts departments, the business schools etc.

i) We finally need to start playing an active role in major areas of science and technology like particle   physics, astronomy, high performance computing, quantum computing, nano-technology and other areas where we have a potential to go ahead but lacking any serious progress due to lack of proper policy making and interest.

We also need to identify our strengths and weaknesses in various areas of technology and divide our science and technology base in:

a)      Commercial

In this category we can place technologies like information & communication, agricultural, pharmaceutical etc.

b)      Defense

Pakistan has done a significant investment over the past few decades in the development of nuclear, missile, fighter jets and other technologies. We can use these technologies for commercial purposes like producing energy or developing civil aeronautical industry.

c)       Strategic

Not all science and technology research produces immediate results but, their long term impact can be seen in other developed countries and some of them are mentioned above. In this category we can place big sciences like space, radio astronomy and high energy physics or even areas like quantum computing, geophysics etc.

d)      Fundamental or Basic

Fundamental or basic sciences help in creating the grounds for developments in other area mentioned previously. Physics is considered as the most fundamental science and in relative broader terms special sciences like chemistry and biology are also often made part of this category. In more liberal definitions, people also include mathematics, statistics and economics in this area as well. We need to improve research in this area and also we need to improve the teaching quality of these subjects in primary, secondary, higher secondary and tertiary level education systems.

This categorization will help Pakistan in better prioritizing the areas based on need and capacity.


We discussed the importance of science and technology in the economic development. We also presented a comparison between Pakistan and other countries, including neighboring China and India. We also discussed the role of science and technology in promoting peace and collaboration. We also discussed how big sciences can contribute to the economy through spin-off technologies. In the end, we also discussed some  suggestions for developing science and technology in Pakistan.


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