By Muhammad Ibrahim Ibne Towhid
Technology is science in action. Although a discipline can be twisted and misused towards destructive ends for progress, one should not blame the technology for the way it is being used. Many view this as a complex system of foreign origin; however, the author of the book Technology for Human Welfare and other Writings has broken this myth.
While travelling long distances in trucks or buses while carrying a cauldron containing water and fish fries in it, the fisherman or fish trader keeps on beating the water with his palm simply because it would provide aeration for the fish fries. From time immemorial, the common people of this country living in rural areas have been using such innovative methods in their daily lives.
The author, Late Professor Dr Syed Shah Mohammad Ashfaque Khorasani Al-Quaderi (well known as Professor Khorasani) was a renowned scientist and the founding head of the department of Applied Chemistry, the first new department to be established in the University of Dhaka by the post-liberation government. Professor Khorasani also headed the premier research organisation The Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) for quite some time.
His book provides a gist of his experience and knowledge in the fields of science, technology and industrialisation and poverty alleviation.
The short 70 page book that first came out in 1998 saw only two editions during his life time and had almost gone out of print for a long time until recently when it was reprinted by his family members in a bid to introduce the newer generations and more people with his thoughts. The essays dated nearly two decades back is still relevant today because most of the problems addressed persist even now, while the solution shared can benefit many during present time.
Dr Khorasani has classified technologies into indigenous technologies for the poor and technologies needed for the alleviation of poverty while addressing major global problems like environmental pollution, lack of safe drinking water, drug addiction and drug abuse. The book outlines a strategy for dissemination of technology for human welfare which can be profitably utilised by the existing government programmes for self-employment of jobless youths, entrepreneurs, organisations in the development sector and any other body interested.
In the book, the author also shared his own experience at setting up cottage industries for the production of a few necessities in our daily lives, which he has done along with his students. He hoped that his example will be followed by others and he sees the possibility of endless multiplications of similar work.
He believed and also explained how technology adopted, propagated and practiced, is the one available means for us to be self-reliant. This is one way to shake off dependence on donors, on foreign aid, which is never without its strings and to shape our future as a self-reliant nation.
The monograph does come with basic work plan in details along with its application for alleviation of poverty, while telling the story of how third world countries are reduced and eventually eliminated. It brings in issues of the ruthless exploitation of colonialism, and also how new masters dominate an independent country.
It also presents the disadvantage of rapid industrialisation and how it gives birth to different social problems with comparative studies of other countries along with stating the facts and figures. The detailed ideas also clarify how rural arts and crafts can be sponsored although it may not lead to a big turnover.
Much advancement in technology has occurred in the decades since the publication of this book. However it still remains a guide for alternative use of technology for the poor. The matter can be equally used to develop modules and training manuals for related fields. Furthermore, anyone can be benefitted from the composite knowledge shared including political parties looking to take initiatives of development.
Author- Late Professor Dr. Syed Shah Mohammad Ashfaque Khorasani Al-Quaderi
Publication- Jatiya Sahitya Prakash
Price- Tk 150, $ 5