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The issues with specialists/technocrats

 Pakistan is once again in the throes of chaos. In public service I thrived on chaos. When there is no one in charge or when everyone is under uncertainty one can take derived pleasure and be one’s own master and not feel thwarted at every stage.

Governance has become very difficult. Governance and its manifestations are not understood by the ordinary civil servant for if that had been the case there could have not been all these scandals that we see. Is this the fault of capitalism or is it an inherent fault in our makeup as individuals and as a collective group?

Hard to say but one aspect that is very noticeable is that the technocrat is not keen on the involvement of any other member of society even when the stakes of these others is significantly important to them. Is that the fault of capitalism or is it the fault of those that drive this capitalism and that have taken its concepts to the graveyard? The vertically oriented technocrat is at a loss when it comes to governance.

They may be well versed in their own ways but they are at a loss when they are asked about the other concepts-of those that are critical for the economy. I have a considerable amount of argument with my Wapda engineer friends who see everything as an engineering concern. I have seldom been concerned about technology for the requirement of any advanced technology and its success is also dependent on the acquisition of special skills to manage that technology. It does not follow automatically.

Take any issue that is central to the country at the moment. Did the engineers not know that there would be an energy crisis in the country? Are they not aware that what is required is the accelerated pathway to getting the crisis removed? But then that is to be further considered in the light of human sadistic behaviour in which as Shahbaz Sharif himself stated the federation is responsible for this debacle. They keep on shouting at the top of their voices that devolution has taken place under the 18th amendment. I am not so sure that there has been that kind of amendment for I see that the 102 amendments that were made in the constitutional amendment all of them were of a political nature. Yes what was done under the Council of Common Interest (CCI) was what has been stated as the 18th amendment. That sir is not the case. The sanctity of the constitutional amendment is totally different from the CCI’s decision. For one there was no consensus on the amendments and therefore the CCI could not be asked to take a decision. So it is wrong to blame the provincial governments for the energy issues. There is a certain amount of sadistic behaviour that is visible in the powerful personalities against Punjab that probably emanates from their own visible lack of perception as to what is good for the country. Intentional mistakes made by the power structure will leave the country in ruins. If there is no energy how the hell can you work your sums so that there are foreign exchange earnings?

Whose loss is it any way? It is everyone’s? The order manifestations emanate from the technocrat and the specialist. Pakistan is to take aim at a different set of managers and decision makers if this country has to survive all kinds of vagaries. One has always had a lively debate with my technocrat friends and their self justifying ways. They will put the fear of God in you and tell you what to do and what not to do. If you disobey then purgatory is waiting for you.

There has always been a lot of debate about the dams in this country and I have maintained that the dams have not delivered and that the prodigal in us must be interned with the falsehoods that have been perpetuated. Some myths need to be exploded. The small dams that we have had since the times of Ayub Khan have not delivered. The reason is that when dams were built in Barani areas (32 of them) they stood alone with no policies on how to use that water. The use was dependent on how to make water outlets where the topography is as it is in the Pothwar area-undulating. As a result the water stayed in these small dams. A new institution was created (Small dams’ organisation) and based near Rawal lake. It did not perform. Water storage creation is one thing but its use is another matter. This water is expensive. As against the small dams another option exercised at that moment was the storage of mini-dams at farmers’ fields. The water use efficiency at these fields was 67% (study conducted by the Planning Department, Punjab). Water in the dams remains unused. Other works were not performed for the small dams and this could lead to accumulation of silt in these dams. Also the effect of water on the hydrological cycle was not examined. There being no environmental assessment.

Our great friend China has done the needful. They have exploded all and every myth that was foisted on them by the Western world. The Three Gorges dam is a case in point and that is when one decided that China must be taken seriously rather than accept all the propaganda that was being done about it. Dr Borlaug in one of his many statements (which I found in my archives) was of the opinion that China will have rampant famine. Well China has not had rampant famine and in fact they proudly display their productive efforts in all and every field. Let me deal with agriculture. The productivity of rice has gone up to 30 tons per hectare and their efforts in wheat and cotton are laudable. Every research station that one was fortunate enough to visit some innovation had been developed contrary to what the West would have us believe. Their current inflation rate is 2.14% and the economy despite adverse weather this year is booming. Lament does not seem to be their way of doing things. They have systematically acted on variables that they have to take as these variables come. Weather is not something to moan and groan about.

So how did China do this with its specialists/technocrats in charge? The paradox of specialist-generalist is a settled issue simply because the responsibility levels have to be delivered and there are no excuses on the way. The wherewithal is provided and they are expected to do the work entrusted to them.

Our issues have been time and space delayed. Examine the cost lay out of any mega project and the tricks of the trade will be visible. That is another story and its economic impact will be up for analysis later.

Dr. Zafar Altaf, "The issues with specialists/technocrats," Business recorder. 2013-04-13.
Keywords: Social issues , Social problems , National issues , Political issues , Political system , Energy crisis , 18th amendment , Foreign exchange , International relations , China , Pakistan , CCI