Archive for December, 2010

Knowledge is power.

Sir Francis Bacon rightly predicted the future.

Let’s talk about economies dependent mostly on knowledge.

Knowledge based economy usually carries a definition that depends instead of old fashioned assembly/manufacturing of goods and products, to one that is based on research, knowledge, skill and wisdom.

Look at Singapore.

Once I read a book “As The Future Catches You” where the author asserts that nations wishing to prosper should depart from traditional resource-based economies and focus on developing “value-added” service industries. We have seen developing countries entering into higher value added downstream service activities and they are just growing. Why reinventing the wheel? We need to look around and understand why they have done it and customize that down to our need(s).

Perhaps, it was in 2006 where Fareed Zakaria wrote in one of the special editions of Newsweek on “Knowledge Evolution” and I still carry the copy;

If the rise of science marks the first great trend in this story, the second is its diffusion. What was happening in Britain during the Industrial Revolution was not an isolated phenomenon. A succession of visitors to Britain would go back to report to their countries on the technological and commercial innovations they saw there. Sometimes societies were able to learn extremely fast, as in the United States. Others, like Germany, benefited from starting late, leapfrogging the long-drawn-out process that Britain went through.

This diffusion of knowledge accelerated dramatically in recent decades. Over the last 30 years we have watched countries like Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and now China grow at a pace that is three times that of Britain or the United States at the peak of the Industrial Revolution. They have been able to do this because of their energies and exertions, of course, but also because they cleverly and perhaps luckily adopted certain ideas about development that had worked in the West—reasonably free markets, open trade, a focus on science and technology, among them.

We should not be taken by surprise that countries like Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and China not only outpaced US and UK, but cleverly adopted ideas that had worked there. They all saved R&D cost, leapfrogged to catch-up.

Back to basics. Some might argue that we need to change our model from a low cost assembly/manufacturing where most of our industries and businesses depend on cheap labour, to one that is based on knowledge and innovation. Changing model requires a great deal of learning and the learning curve depends upon proper knowledge transfer. And, yes! Are we ready for it? Little learning can be dangerous too.

Look at emerging economies where information or the so called knowledge economy is working as the guiding principle for poorer countries having a chance to get out of their present condition. Countries those are trying, they all have some sort of action plan. And, now we have one.

I personally had a blast when I have undergone a policy framework training under IDA, the merged Information and Communication regulator+policy maker of Singapore.

I believe it all started with the merger of ICT and Telecom in to one entity back in 1999 and a eGovernment Action Plan (eGAP) to fulfill the vision of making Singapore to one of the leading knowledge based economies in the world.

Please be advised, sticking to blue time line would give you better assimilation.

[The time line is linked here as a facebook album for enlarged view]


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