'Lack of skilled population major dilemma of S Asia'

ISLAMABAD - While use of technology in South Asian (SA) countries has brought silent revolution in their economies and societies, the lack of educated and skilled population as well as inadequate infrastructure, particularly in rural areas were the major challenges they are confronting. Speakers gave these remarks at the launch of a report entitled Technology and Human Development in South Asia on Thursday. The limited adoption and diffusion of technology has to be addressed seriously to enhance productivity of the economy, to improve human development through adequate public service delivery and overall governance in South Asia, the region that remains the most populous yet most malnourished, and poorly-governed in the world. The launching ceremony was chaired by Sartaj Aziz, former Finance Minister, and Vice Chancellor of Beaconhouse National University (BNU). Khadija Haq, President of Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre (MHHDC) was also present on the occasion. Sartaj Aziz, terming the report a landmark contribution and citing Dr Mahbub ul Haqs famous observation about policy makers dilemma of how to balance the budget without unbalancing the lives of people, maintained that the technology had fed the entire development process while the future development would be mainly possible through technology and knowledge. Referring to report case studies, he urged replication of those experiences and suggested technical manpower and information system, computer-based literacy, e-governance system involving computerization of revenue records and service delivery, declaration of middle and high schools as technical schools, alternative and renewable sources of energy especially in rural areas, and monitoring of urban population to reap the benefits of technological advancements for marginalized and poor South Asians. Dr Hafiz Pahsa, Dean of the Department of Economics, Beaconhouse National University (BNU) and former UN Assistant Secretary General, and Dr Ishrat Husain, Director, Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and former Governor State Bank of Pakistan gave keynote addresses. Khadija Haq said that technology offered unique opportunity to accelerate human development in areas such as provision of education and skills, enhancing agricultural productivity, delivering low-cost healthcare, in accessible areas, improving governance and increasing global competitiveness in trade and commerce. Yet despite great strides that the countries of the region have made in harnessing technology, the vast majority of people in South Asia still remain bypassed by the promise of better life. She urged strengthening the link between technology and human development underlining that priority must be given to the adoption and development of technologies that are oriented towards human development. Dr Ishrat Husain, lauding MHHDC for its continuous valuable research work on diverse subjects in South Asian context, was of the view that the report had rightly focused on direct channel of technology-poverty reduction relationship by analyzing role of technology in better health care, education water supply, agriculture, and good governance.

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