At a function arranged for giving the President's Award for Industrial Development 2018 on Monday, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun has informed the audience of a laudatory move the government has taken to strengthen the industrial base of the country. Aware of the unprecedented changes the global economy is undergoing, the government is now all set to formulate the National Industrial Policy 2021 keeping an eye on SDG 2030 and Vision 2041-- two landmark goals. To that end a planned and appropriate roadmap for development of the light engineering is being prepared, he contended. More importantly, an industrial database will be prepared as part of the initiative. However, his idea of an industrial university to be set up to help expedite the process needs elaboration.
Never before have industry and economy faced challenges of this stupendous order. Let alone the fledgling industries like that of Bangladesh, even those in the highly developed countries are not spared of the shattering impacts of lockdowns and drop in the demands for an array of commodities the world over. True, there are exceptions such as pharmaceuticals, industries producing items to fight corona emergencies and the essentials for human survival. A large majority of peoples everywhere have been forced to forego luxury and non-essential goods. So, there is a need for getting the priority right, particularly when policies on the country's export basket is framed. However, the industry and commerce ministries will have to shift gear once world economy starts recovery in the post-pandemic period. An opportunity will definitely arrive, when the majority of the world population is inoculated against Covid-19. The countries that will prove their alertness to act and align themselves to economies' rebound, will reap rich dividends.
For Bangladesh to become moderately industrial, there is no alternative to developing its light engineering sector. This small geographic entity should neither be heavily industrial nor opt for heavy industries. Its future should be rosy indeed if it lays emphasis on industries involving information and technology. The young generations have already proved their technological wizardry in this area. Companies such as Walton prove that locally developed gadgets can meet export criteria of both developing and developed countries. In the task of promoting such entrepreneurship, however, there is a need for intense collaboration between academia and commerce/industries. In this context, the industries minister's reference to an industrial university needs a modest analysis. This is nothing like the garments industry and the country's universities, engineering and technological universities in particular can meet the demand for both light engineering and IT solutions. Applied science and technology at their most suitable have to be used for the purpose.
However, a digital industrial database will be a principal chart to act upon. If developed well, this will show how robust or weak business of small plants or factories is. Better it would be to set up small industrial villages in the Chinese style where factories are housed depending on their similarity and allied nature to infuse competition and at the same time reduce transport costs. Had there been such a database, the stimulus package announced for the small and medium industries would not remain partially distributed simply on the pleas like a lack of collateral. Such small industries will serve as a backward linkage and at the same time create employment along with distribution of wealth.