|Technological Independence The Asian experience (UNU, 1994, 372 pages)|
Thailand has taken considerable steps in national development since the country's first Social and Economic Development Plan in 1961. However, the country depended for this development upon imported production items and industrial technologies, which caused it to run up a high foreign- trade deficit. In agriculture, moreover, the increase in the use of modern technology did not in general compensate for the high cost of production, with the result that the country's farm population was drawn in to an economic vicious circle.
The government has consequently been criticized for this distorted development, and for its poor strategy in the use of science and technology (S&T) for national development. A call for the appropriate use of S&T has been widely made across the country.
The present study develops a concept of self-reliance in S&T for national development, adapted from the successful examples of other countries. The major objectives of the study are: (1) to formulate a desirable strategy for national S&T development, and (2) to get an indication of the country's level of self-reliance in science and technology.
On the basis of these two objectives, the scope of the present study is to define self-reliance in S&T appropriate to the country's present social and economic capacity; to develop a conceptual framework for analysing the country's status in S&T; to carry out case-studies at both macro and micro level to give confidence in the framework developed; and to formulate an appropriate strategy for the development of science and technology.
The term self-reliance means different things to different people, depending on the history of national development, and the social, economic, and cultural constraints of a country. For Thailand, self-reliance in S&T is defined as "the ability of the country to make autonomous rational decisions on science and technology in developing, selecting, implementing, managing, and operating technology and in replicating a useful technology in such a way that the country benefits. "
There are five discernible stages in the development of technology, namely operational, adaptive, replicative, innovative, and creative. The study team holds that the first three stages are achievable whilst the last two seem beyond the country's capacity, given existing constraints.
Science is the knowledge of natural phenomena. Technology, on the other hand, applies a knowledge of science to help meet human needs and solve problems. Technology has two major components, software and hardware. The former concerns knowledge, while the latter constitutes the equipment and material used in production. S&T influences societal development and its role is represented in diagrammatic form in figure 1.
The above functional component inputs are interdependent: a change in one component creates a change in others. Science and technology is only a part of the process of societal development.