Developing Rural Pakistan | Dr Habib Gul

RURAL development is the uprising the living standard of the farmers, miners and the poor and all those living in the areas where basic amenities like high education and developed physical infrastructure are not available. There, majority of population is engaged in primary sectors rather than in the industrial or services one orunemployed due to lack of technical skill, financial resources, market constraint and non-existence of better management. Pakistan comprises of vast rural areas where about 116.52 million population against 75.19 million of urban population lives.

Rural Pakistan on the one side has not only innumerable problems having deep roots but on the other side possess great potentials to meet their own demands and that of urban sector apart from exporting the surplus agriculture produces, manufactures goods such as handicrafts, spare parts of different industrial goods and human resources. Pakistan has plain, semi hilly and hilly areas with having four seasons. One of the world best network of canals irrigate a major part of the cultivated land. Wheat, rice, cotton, millet, sugarcane and tobacco are the important crops.

The attention to this sector was given soon after emergence of Pakistan but scientific approach was given in 1970s. During this period, the existing institutions were developed and new ones were opened to accelerate the pace of development. However, the desired objectives of increasing produces, alleviating poverty, reducing rich-poor gap were not achieved according to plan target. Apart from other defined reasons, one of the causes of this dilemma were non application of Technology according to the plan.

Pakistan has about191.71 million population with meagre GDP of US $ 270 billion. The urban sector has weak potential to increase it faster as its products cannot compete with developed economies. Our market has been captured by Japan and the China by exporting inferior goods to snatch precious foreign exchange and increase burden of debt on state on every dawn of the day. Our importing discouraging and exporting encouraging policies or extending to the support of large scale industries at the tax payers cost.

Now the question arises what methodology may adapt to increase employment opportunities, mitigate poverty and raise living standard of the rural masses of Pakistan. The answer is simple, i.e., employing technology for taping the available natural and human resources. But which sort of technology, (a) the modern or latest or sophisticated technology (b) the low cost or less capital intensive or intermediate or rural, also known as appropriate technology or (c) the primitive or traditional technology. In rural Pakistan where according to an NGO report published in this esteemed Paper, in majority of cases, class 5th students cannot read 2ndclass Urdu textbook. The10th class students cannot solve class 6thmathematical questions.

More over, the literacy rate in rural Pakistan is only 49 percent, the lowest in SAARC nations. This situation manifests the rural masses knowledge, particularly for adopting and adapting fresh ideas and choice for raising living standard. Besides, there are other problems, faced by our rural population, known among which are scarcity of capital, lack of skill, disguised un-employment and small covered market. In these circumstances, the modern or sophisticated technology is not desired. The tradition technology is also not proposed in the present age of fast development. Only appropriate technology is the solution for coming out from vicious circle of economic backwardness.

Peter Reid of Intermediate Technology Development Group (now called as Practical Action) says “The concept of intermediate technology is simple. It is a technology which lies between primitive rural methods and the sophisticated capital intensive technology developed and exported by the highly industrialized nations”. For developing rural Pakistan natural resources, the technology required is low cost, suitable to local condition, simple to operate and maintain, reduce class differences, create more employment opportunities, consume less energy, suitable to ecology and environment, reduce negative activities of trade unionism and stabilize demand-supply situation. The rural technology also helps in restricting the shifting of natural resources to developed countries. Seventy to eighty years past technology can be acquired from the developed countries within a little effort.

— The writer is former deputy Director General, Rural Energy Technology Department.


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