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Monday July 04, 2022

Inclusiveness for the future

May 25, 2022

Vision, team, efficiency, and responsible attitude – all were glaringly lacking during the tenure of the previous government. But what about the current one?

More than a month has passed, but the new prime minister has completely failed to come up with a comprehensive plan for efficient governance based on the latest technology tools, transparency, accountability, and a viable and doable plan for an inclusive economy where all working-age people, particularly women, should be made active partners in the economy.

Time is of the essence when it comes to performance and credibility. If the first 24 hours, the first week, and the first month of incumbency fail to have a palpable impact, then the expectation of a miracle must not be expected in the coming months and years.

The current prime minister is known for developing pockets of development and for the inauguration of projects with great potential for publicity but inherently lacks a vision for economic inclusiveness – which first of all requires the understanding that all working-age persons, particularly women, are an asset and a fundamental force to revive, sustain, and flourish all sectors and sub-sectors of the economy to achieve growth and prosperity.

Disruption nowadays is an astounding feature of everyday life, cultural ethos, science, technology, business models, economies, and international relations. Hence, not only should disruption take the driving seat in establishing effective and transparent governance, it should also manifest in the minds of all leaders of the country as well.

Though in this age of science, technology, globalization, and brain-power development, the use of state-of-the-art technology takes precedence over all other tools and attributes, the efficiency of leaders at the helm of affairs is also of paramount importance.

The concepts of employment and unemployment in our ‘Pakistan Economic Survey’ and the obsolete economics books being studied and taught in our schools are no more relevant in the post-internet period. These concepts and policies were to a certain extent relevant when economies revolved around commodity production and their exchange and the so-called services sector.

Richard Baldwin in his famous book, ‘The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization’ published in 2016 has painstakingly elaborated on the paradigmatic shift in the pattern of globalization. There was a major shift from the goods economy to the knowledge economy during the 1990s. He has demonstrated with the help of documented facts and figures that the world manufacturing share of the G7 countries plummeted after 1993 and reached the level of the year 1900 by 2014 due to their de-industrialization whereas the share of manufacturing of developing countries like China, Korea, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, and Poland increased substantially thanks to their rapid industrialization.

Yet the most important finding by Baldwin was that new globalization represented a major shift from the globalization of goods to the globalization of ideas and knowledge. Undeniably, this new phase of globalization was triggered by the development of the worldwide web in 1990 and the commercialization of the internet by 1995. The first Industrial Revolution unfolded with the standardization of the steam engine during the 1860s paved the way not only for new factory systems, for large-scale production but also gave birth to a social machine – the train and the railway. The new machine was socialist in nature, for it did not discriminate against anyone to climb aboard it and to immediately globalize.

Mercifully, the internet proved to be the best-ever friend of marginalized people across the world who were as per the designed policy of the capitalist and other dominant classes and groups deprived of the fruits of the first, second, and even third industrial revolutions. The brain is the king of the body. Nevertheless, the brain requires a conducive environment, exposure to and accessibility to information, knowledge, training, experience, and the requisite tools to grow to think and to produce.

Richard Baldwin in his other book, ‘Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future Work’ published in 2019 has talked about remote intelligence, remote working, and telemigration. He has narrated an anecdote on the first page of his book that a California-based Company Hathersage Technologies signed a contract with the US Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association for hang gliding and Francis Potter the president of the Hathersage could only find engineers from Lahore Pakistan through Upwork to run the show remotely.

The above illustrations clearly show that in this new era of the globalized world, whose pace and potential are being determined objectively by the four forces ruling the roost – science, technology, globalization, and brain-power development – the only option left to our leaders and policymakers is to immediately present and practise an inclusive model of the economy and also that of the governance. Our trade account and our current account can only be balanced in our favour and our foreign exchange earnings and our exports can only be significantly increased when we focus, inter alia, on IT-enabled service exports instead of the obsolete model of exports.

The incumbent prime minister and his team should come out of the 1990s and start living in the third decade of the 21st-century, failing which they will not only fail themselves but the whole country.

The writer is an advocate of the high court and a former civil servant.

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