Work in Progress (No, really)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Humility and Ego

+ No comment yet
"They took me straight away to the television studios [for a] 2 1/2 hour-long interview," he recalls, "in which they said. "We have made it a national objective to win Nobel prizes. Can you give us advice?"
"I told them they were being silly," he says with a chuckle, adding that "they may or may not get Nobel prizes." But he notes with approval that "the very fact that they made it a national objective is a very important thing. That means that they will stock up their libraries, they'll get scientific literature, they'll fund a lot of fellowships, they'll do everything possible to make themselves into a scientifically advanced country."*

Can you guess the country being referred to? It's South Korea.

Another interesting tidbit:

During the 1960s, Pakistan was seen as a model of economic development around the world, and there was much praise for its economic progression. Karachi was seen as an economic role model around the world, and there was much praise for the way its economy was progressing. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy and one of them, South Korea, copied the city's second "Five-Year Plan" and World Financial Center in Seoul is designed and modeled after Karachi. Later, economic mismanagement in general, and fiscally imprudent economic policies in particular, caused a large increase in the country's public debt and led to slower growth in the 1970s and 1990s.The economy recovered during the 1980s via a policy of deregulation, as well as an increased inflow of foreign aid and remittances from expatriate workers.**

South Korea based it's economic system of Pakistan?!? Let's finish the narrative too.

My second close association with MM occurred during the same period when he was entrusted with the delicate task of getting the governments of East and West Pakistan to accept the macroeconomic framework developed by the Planning Commission for the Fourth Five-Year Plan. The plan was to run for the period between 1970 and 1975. By the time the Planning Commission revealed its approach, the citizens of East Pakistan had been convinced that the remarkable economic performance of the western wing of the country was sustained by the resources garnered from their province. They wanted this bias to be corrected during the five years of the Fourth Plan.

Two panels of economists were set up, one chaired by Dr Pervez Hasan, West Pakistan's Chief Economist, and the other by Professor Nurul Islam, a Bengali economist, to resolve the differences between the two provinces. Not surprisingly, the two panels arrived at different conclusions. Hasan's panel did not reject the view that public sector expenditure had played a role in the rapid economic growth of the western province. However, it also emphasized the decisive part played by the private sector. The Bengali economists argued that much of West Pakistan's better performance was the result of large public sector investments which had been financed by external capital flows which the central government had largely directed towards that province.

Once again, MM Ahmad stepped into the breach to resolve the dispute between the two groups of experts and the two provinces they represented. As the economic adviser to Governor Nur Khan of West Pakistan, I attended several meetings chaired by MM to develop a consensus between the two provinces of the country. He laboured hard to arrive at an agreement but did not succeed as the political temperature was constantly rising. In the fall of 1970, East Pakistan's coastal areas were hit by a devastating cyclone that left a million people dead. The tardy response of the central government to this great human tragedy further soured relations between the two provinces. The rest, as they say, is history.***
Compare the two countries today. Look at the global perception of each. Draw your own conclusions.

*Abdus Salam, by Rushworth M. Kidder, taken from Ideals and Realities 1989 edition by C.H Lai and Azim Kidwai.
***Remembering M M Ahmed (1913-2002) - a eulogy of Pakistan's economic guru by Shahid Javed Burki.


Post a Comment