The real development
Development is generally conceived as a phenomenon through which untapped resource potential of any country is harnessed and tapped to increase the overall wealth and economic health of any nation.
Whereas turning the economy around has remained the hallmark of any developmental scheme, an empirical evidences underpinned by statistical analysis and comparative studies of eminent economists and political thinkers suggest that effects associated with any such development do not last longer-after a short bout of economic take-off it goes back to square one-when its sole purpose serves only to reverse economic downturn and address immediate macro-economic concerns.
This is due to the fact that an undue obsession with only economic issues to the exclusion or neglect of accompanying sociopolitical concerns lead to shrink the development scope thereby undermining public social interest at large. Hence development should be inclusive and sustainable fostering people lives in all respects aside from resolution of economic pitfalls.
Any such developmental initiative if realizes in this way will have a far-reaching, much broader and multi-dimensional effects bringing up socio-economic progress to the nation and country at large.
The attainment of macroeconomic stability is the first and the foremost goal of any country which intends to put itself in the tricky and long path of economic consolidation.
Meeting the budgetary benchmarks, reducing the debt burden, increasing the government revenue, attracting and mobilizing foreign direct and national investment, retrenching the public expenditures, expanding the GDP, and optimizing the current account deficit through prudent management of incoming imports and outgoing exports are amongst the other fundamental objectives critical enough to bring any meaningful improvement in the country’s economic statistics.
While there exist some cosmetic and knee-jerk developmental arrangements to achieve these herculean goals considered as determinants of economic consolidation, yet they should be deliberately avoided given their proven fleeting character and hence would rather be accomplished through people-centric developmental approaches that bolster the financial standing of the country in the ways whose trickle down benefits create favorable conditions of upward social mobility for the people and country at large.
According to one estimate-widely appeared in numerous reports and research of institutions of national and international stature such as IMF (International Monetary Fund) and PBC (Pak Business Council) – every year approximately one million youth is attaining the status of job seekers which necessitates the case of creating one million jobs for these new entrants.
Hence every prodigious plan of economic evolution should be channelized through this dimension taking in to account the urgent need of employment generation. In this regard the introduction of developmental initiatives that aimed to upgrade, modernize, enlarge and regulate Agriculture and Livestock industry and labour intensive Industrial sectors (SME’s) -which although are grossly under-utilized yet hold the largest proportion of labour and significant share in country’s exports- would further unlock these sectors growth immense potential leading to boost GDP growth and generating employment opportunities. Such developmental approach of raising capacity and efficiency would eventually yield greater and lasting economic dividends.
Real development should transform people lives not just economic statistics.
Nevertheless Pakistan internationally acclaimed geo-strategic positional edge in the face of changing geo-political dynamics and an unrelenting Chinese attempt to challenge and neutralize US economic hegemony around the globe has prompted massive flow of Chinese investment into many sectors of Pakistan under the landmark initiative of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, however its overall record of attracting and maintaining steady flow of foreign direct investment from China and elsewhere (national and international) has remained broadly abysmal. Pakistan vast but grossly neglected and untapped human resource potential is supposed to be one of the reasons behind it.
The lack or inadequate quality of technical, managerial and vocational skills and our failure to equip manpower with the necessary scientific and technological savvy as required by many markets, businesses and industries have hindered investment and productivity on one side and devaluated and downsized our exports on another front.
This lax, below par and sub-standard state of our human resource reserve is the direct consequence of crippled, outmoded and badly fractured educational system which has largely failed to deliver for it was meant to be.
While Pakistan un-match nuclear privilege, dominant international standing and large economic size create an impression that it may have wielded the similar distinguished status in its education sector among international community, paradoxically such has not been the case as statistics unveil rather its grim picture. Alif Elan, renowned NGO, estimates depict that more than 2.5 million Pakistani children remain out of school; those who have managed to enroll themselves mostly ends up in despair as indicated by high dropout rates citing reasons of either dilapidated school infrastructure or scarcity of educational facilities.
Entrenched Inequality and gender disparity as reflected by three-tier, class-based parallel schooling system and lesser girl schools coupled with their low educational attainment ratio further substantiate the educational sector woes. Therefore whatever developmental roadmap be taken, it must encompass these issues as their redress promises much wider and durable benefits to the economy.
Chinese, Malaysian and Srilankan ingenious development models serve a good example to follow that have improved their economic performance through introduction of sweeping reforms in their Human Resource and Education sector.
Increased budgetary allocation and their efficient utilization through adoption of pragmatic and effective administrative and managerial arrangements followed by putting in place strident accountability mechanisms are some of the robust measures advanced by their visionary leadership.
Such developmental route accomplished the goal of steady economic take-off by tapping and raising their Human Resource potential that was subsequently harnessed to fix economic shortcomings.
More literate, trained and tech savvy people have started to contribute their economies in a more productive and contemporary ways : producing high-value exports, increasing overall output, generating greater profits thus fostering an investment spurring climate.
It is evident that the basic idea and plank behind any Nation attempt to spearhead a plethora of diverse and mega development initiatives stems from the need to mobilize indigenous resources for import substitution and to retain foreign exchange earnings.
Notwithstanding following effectively pursued, prospects of significant improvement in economic indicators augur well for the nation immediate future given an upsurge in foreign exchange reserve and a reduction in debt burden and budget and current account deficit spurred by it, however this does not guarantee and justify the elimination of societal issues insidiously plaguing the country for so long. Hence wealth accrued from development would spark indignation, breed inequality, and trigger infighting among inter-ethnic and inter-provincial social groups if it is not utilized to improve their social well-being.
The standard of life that citizens of our country possess can be inferred from those state institutions engaged in the provision and delivery of healthcare, justice, food, water, housing and public transport services.
Their present weakness or unresponsiveness are manifested from the facts-reported by World bank, Asian Development bank, UNDP, FAO and Pak bureau of statistics-that infant mortality and birth rate in Pakistan are very high; it has not been able to eliminate polio from its frontiers; its government hospitals lack basic health facilities; its rural areas have recorded high incidence of malnutrition and stunted growth-despite being a food surplus country; justice has become an expensive commodity-besides a logjam of cases pending before its higher and lower courts ; half of its population particularly lower income class lacks access to clean and drinking water; its urban localities is swarming with slums; its public transport system has almost crumbled and sewage disposal system has virtually become ineffective.
Therefore embarking upon any development journey without entailing these issues of sheer public importance in to it would be counterproductive and inimical allowing only few-the privileged ones- to reap its dividends while neglecting or depriving the marginalized ones from its fruits thus perpetuating the scourge of economic disparity and social segregation.
So it is imperative that economic progression should coincide with social progression. Significant improvement in capacity and quality of those social institutions must form the integral component of any developmental framework. The overhaul and reformation of such institutions of public interest and social services hence merit its immediate incorporation in the development strategy.
It can be deduced from the above discussion that methodologies devised for development should be inclusive, employ a comprehensive approach that accomplishes a goal of economic building through nation building.
I have eventually raised their populace academic standing making them more literate, skilled and tech savvy people, which have started to contribute their economy in terms of producing value-added exports, increased productivity and foreign direct investment leading to import substitution and significant saving in foreign exchange payments would promisingly transform our economy to a knowledge based economy.