Peter F. Drucker holds that we are living in a post-capitalist society, which is essentially a ‘knowledge-based society’. He says that there is a shift in reliance from conventional factors of production i.e., land, labor and capital, to knowledge-led mechanisms of carrying economic activity. Which seems quite true considering the phenomenal success the creators of ‘Google’ or ‘YouTube’ have achieved in recent years.
Economists in Japan also realized the promise of knowledge-led commercial activity when they compared the business models of automobile giant ‘Toyota’ with a computer game manufacturing small company ‘FamiCom’ (short for Family Computer – further shortened as ‘FC’ – ‘Super FamiCom’ is the name given to Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan) which operates from a small establishment and mainly employs knowledge workers, whereas almost the entire city of Nagoya is involved in manufacturing of Toyota motors.
Now if ‘FamiCom’ can earn as much profits as ‘Toyota’ does, that too with only a fraction of conventional economic factors deployed comparatively, so it makes the case stronger for the idea of ‘Knowledge-led Economy’.
Another proof of the ‘knowledge-based society’ notion is the extent of information an individual absorbs now a days through cable TV, newspapers, internet and telecommunication. There was a time when a person was able to make a living by reading only a handful of books but now watching an hour of National Geographic TV channel is almost equal to reading several pages of a book in terms of grasping information. There is even a lot of information given on the pack of toothpaste or a can of energy drink. Even after assuming a job, after completion of several years of academic education, we have to go through rigorous training and learning in order to maintain our jobs and to excel in career. Drucker says that ‘techne’ means skill and ‘logy’ means knowledge – both have merged in the shape of technology.
Trends are changing in Pakistan too where people now have access to many high quality national and international TV channels; it is so convenient to make long-distance international calls through mobile phones on cheap rates and people in even the remotest areas have access to internet. There was a time one had to think a lot in order to make an international call as it used to be pretty expensive but now people do not think twice to make an international call. There is an increasing trend among people of buying books; academic resource materials and other things online.
There are institutions which can play an instrumental role in making the Pakistani society face the challenges of a knowledge-based society – in other words it should become future-ready or future-wise. These organizations are Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority – PEMRA (comes under Federal Ministry of Information & Broadcasting – Johannes Gutenberg started the printing revolution which is regarded as the most important event of the modern period to highlight the importance of media), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority – PTA (which regulates the telecommunication sector under the auspices of Federal Ministry of Information Technology – IT & Telecomm Division to be precise – mobile telephone companies have to follow what PTA tells them) & Higher Education Commission of Pakistan – HEC (Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman the founder of the Higher Education Commission has reiterated his resolve to turn Pakistan’s economy into a knowledge-led economy several times when he was at the helm of affairs and even now the Commission is following his vision – HEC was established as an autonomous body but now operates under the Ministry of Education – introduction of new degree programs in cutting-edge technologies to promote transfer of technology and creation of a nexus for linkages between academia and industry are the things HEC intends to actualize).
This brings us to the main issue – there are so many institutions which are the product of the recent phenomenon of ‘knowledge-drive’ but have overlapping roles because they have clearly been created to adjust political allies of the present Government rather than to perform well thought after or clearly defined roles. These institutions should come under one umbrella and work as a team as this will result in saving of public tax money and this way duplication of roles can also be avoided. For instance consider the following ministries:
- Ministry of Science & Technology (why can’t we merge it into the Ministry of Education or for that matter HEC has the capacity to absorb it without problem);
- Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (why do we have a separate Ministry of Information Technology? Why can’t we merge the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting into Ministry of Information Technology?);
- PEMRA (why can’t we make PEMRA a department of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting? Why to have independent regulatory bodies? Is this to take responsibility away from Ministry of Information & Broadcasting?);
- Ministry of Post (Funny we have turned Post Office into a Ministry!);
- Ministry of Railways (Why on earth do we need a Ministry of Railways – we should establish a Ministry of Transportation and put Railways under it as a department along with aviation, shipping & road transport);
- Ministry of Ports & Shipping (Silly – it should be a department under the Ministry of Commerce) etc., etc.
The web gateway to the federal government of Pakistan i.e., http://184.108.40.206/wps/portal shows how the present Government is plundering the public tax money in a synthetic manner to please its allies by establishing too many unnecessary ministries – someone has referred to it in Urdu as ‘Choroun Ki Baraat’ which means a wedding procession of thieves.
Our concern here is just to have only one Ministry which should steer the country into knowledge-led age. Our present response is reactive rather than pro-active to the changing times, repercussions of which we will realize when things will become difficult to control. The way things are moving right now, it seems, we will miss the train by miles!