Science & tech fodder for growth

Posted by Admin on January 19, 2016

By Chokan Laumulin
Research Fellow, Central Asian Forum, Jesus College, University of Cambridge

India and other countries, including many Asian ones, are facing challenges of development. However, not all traditional economic approaches provide a credible solution to it as the current phase of development is unprecedented in technological, demographical and social terms. Meanwhile, the current stage is viewed as the third global industrial revolution. History shows that the challenges of this kind could be addressed only through development of education, science and culture. What might be helpful for India, particularly in terms of its speed and mass scale, is the example of the erstwhile Soviet development. The status of the USSR superpower after WWII became a reality due to its scientific and technological achievements.

Connecting the dots

Two fundamentally different approaches are identified to evaluate the relationship between science, engineering, technology and innovation, as well as their role in economic development.

The following relationship is of importance for understanding:

Science (grasping principles of nature) --- > Engineering (application of Science) -- > Technology and Innovation (making Engineering useful for public good and/or commercial gain).

The conventional economic thought insists on priority of economy in development of innovations, which are progressed by “unseen hand of market”. However, the Soviet Union was not driven by market economy at all. This, as well as a more thorough study of science and technology in general indicate the opposite. It is not the economy that drives innovation, but abstract thought in the form of science and culture that determines technological reality, which, in turn, creates a new economy.

Thus, education is a key factor of economic development through science and technology. Moreover, an economy depends more on indigenous social and cultural policies than on mechanical transfer of technology from developed countries.

The author is a research fellow at Cambridge Central Asia Forum, Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge. These views are personal.)