Contributions to the Development of Science & Technology in Pakistan and the RegionProf. Atta-ur-Rahman has made major contributions to the development of science & technology in Pakistan and in other regional countries as given below:
Contributions to Development of H. E. J. Research Institute of Chemistry, University of KarachiProf. Atta-ur-Rahman has contributed to the development of a world class center in natural product chemistry The H. E. J. Research Institute of Chemistry in Pakistan. He won grants of 1 million pounds from Overseas Development Authority (UK), 9 million dollars from JICA (Japan), 3.5 million DM from GTZ (Germany), 7 million US dollars from Office of Naval Research (USA) and 15 million US dollars from Pakistan with which the Center has been transformed to one of the best facilities for research on natural product chemistry anywhere. The facilities include 12 superconducting NMR spectrometers (600 MHz- 300 MHz), seven mass spectrometers, X-ray diffractometers, FT-IR, elemental microanalysers, gas phase amino acid sequencer, gas chronographs, HPLC systems, b-counter, g-counters, polygraphs and a considerable amount of pharmacology and pilot plant equipment etc. The instrumentation services are being made available to other chemistry institutions in the country, thus fulfilling a vital need. The Centre now serves as an international centre for training scientists from Third World countries. Several hundred scientists have been trained in the centre (including 80 German students) and over 60 joint research publications have resulted from these collaborations of his research group with scientists in Afro-Asia-countries and technologically advanced countries. The Centre was awarded the Islamic Development Bank Prize for “The Best Science Research Institute in the Islamic Word” in 2004.
Contributions to the Promotion of Science and Technology in PakistanIn March 2000 Atta-ur-Rahman was appointed as the Federal Minister for Science and Technology in the Government of Pakistan while continuing to be the Director of HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi. He managed to convince the government to make science and technology a priority area of national focus and the budget for science and technology in Pakistan was increased by 6000% from 2001 to 2003. In October 2002 he was appointed as the Chairman, Higher Education Commission. The budget for higher education was similarly increased by 1200% from 2002 to 2004. He has launched over three hundred and fifty national projects including:
(1). Launching a digital library which now provides free nation-wide access to 20,000 journals (full text and abstracts) free of charge to all colleges, universities and other academic and research institutions in Pakistan.
(2). Initiating a revolutionary new program of performance-based tenure-track appointments under which salaries of teachers have been increased so that they are 3 to 4 times those of Federal Ministers in the Government.
(3). Providing free access (nation-wide) to scientists/engineers anywhere in the country to sophisticated instruments installed in any institute in Pakistan.
(4). Establishing over a dozen new Universities and degree awarding institutions during the last three years.
(5). Placing a satellite in space (Paksat-1) which is now used for distance learning: two new digital television channels have been launched under the Virtual University and two more will start functioning within the next eight to ten months exclusively for higher education on this satellite.
(6). Launching US 300 million dollars annual support program for up-gradation of Universities and R & D Institutes.
(7). Establishing National Commissions on Biotechnology and Nanotechnology and funding 58 projects worth over US dollars 20 million in these fields
(8). Making major funds available for research grants
(9). National Ph.D. output increased from the present 150 per year to 300 per year and now being further increased 1500 per year over the next five years through award of 1000 postgraduate scholarships annually.
(10). Linked 56 universities with fiber and initiating a nation-wide lectureship program, allowing lectures to be given in one part of the country and inter-actively attended to in other parts of the country.
Till 1979, Pakistan had no national chemistry journal. In his capacity as the founding Honorary Editor, Professor Atta-ur-Rahman began publishing Pakistan’s first international chemistry journal, “Journal of the Chemical Society of Pakistan” which has provided a medium in which national and regional research efforts in various disciplines of chemistry can be reflected. As President of the Chemical Society and later its Patron he has taken many steps to promote chemistry in Pakistan including the organization of Pakistan’s first IUPAC Conference on Natural Products in 1994.
The contributions of Atta-ur-Rahman have been recognised by numerous national & international honorary degrees, awards & prizes including the degree of Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) by the University of Cambridge in 1987 and the UNESCO Science Prize (1999).
Promotion of Science and Technology in the RegionIn his capacity as the head (Coordinator General) of COMSTECH which is a Committee of 57 Ministers of Science and Technology of OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) member countries Atta-ur-Rahman has initiated a large number of projects in the region which include:
(1). Research grants given to young scientists (87 grants in 26 countries presently been given): countries benefiting are Algeria, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkinafaso, Cameroon, Egypt, Gobon, Gambia, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.
(2). A free scientific literature search has been initiated under which searches are made in abstracts of 6000 scientific journals and data provided within 48 hours by email to any individual requesting for literature search from 57 OIC member countries.
(3). A database of active scientists of OIC member countries has been edited by him (and Dr. Ahsana Dar) which presents their recent research publications. Seven volumes have so far been published covering all countries with names beginning with alphabet “A” to alphabet “N”. This database is also accessible through the internet (website address: www.comstech.org.pk).
(4). Atta-ur-Rahman has established a Network of 45 libraries in 15 countries containing 28,000 journals and copies of complete articles are available to the countries participating in this Network.
(5). Atta-ur-Rahman has initiated a programme under which students belonging to 18 least developed OIC member countries (Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Chad, Ugenda and Yemen) are awarded M.Sc. scholarships in various fields of Science and Technology for study in relatively more advanced OIC member countries.
(6). A Network of Academies of Sciences in the Countries of Organization of Islamic Conference (NASIC) has been established. Atta-ur-Rahman, who is the President of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences, has been elected as its President. A large number of collaborative programmes have been initiated under this Network.
Atta-ur-Rahman’s efforts to establish a research institute of international caliber in a developing country and his research contributions have been praised by 5 Nobel Laureates (J.-M. Lehn, R.R. Ernst, Sir D.H.R. Barton, H.C. Brown and R. Noyori) in their nominations for various prizes.
Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman’s contributions to promote Science & Technology have attracted praise in an editorial in “Nature” [(427, 379 (29 January 2004)].
Quote: “Rahman has convinced Musharraf and a deluge of money and new initiatives has poured out. Consider the following: the ministry of science and technology’s annual budgets increased 60-fold compared with 1999; researchers have an opportunity to more than double their earnings if they publish more in peer-reviewed journals; funds have been released for many more Ph.Ds. to be trained at home and abroad; plans are well under way for a free digital library for all educational institutions; there is a new scheme to attract researchers from overseas to work in Pakistan; and the cabinet recently approved a plan to use science and technology to catalyse a doubling in the country’s rate of growth of gross domestic product before 2020.”Unquote.
LEJ Knowledge HubLatif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Center (LEJNSIC) has been serving as a hub of information dissemination and focal center of the Virtual Education Project Pakistan (VEPP) since 2008, led and supervised by Professor Atta-ur-Rahman, FRS and Prof. M. Iqbal Choudhary. Thousands of full courses (about 0.5 million lecture hours), skill development modules, research based lectures, and on-line mentoring sessions at school, college and university levels have been arranged from the following sources:
- MIT Open courseware (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
- Udacity (Harvard University)
- Open Yale Courses (Yale University)
- Stanford Engineering Everywhere (Stanford University)
- Khan Academy
- Virtual University
- HEC courses
- LEJ Courses and Lecture Series
These learning materials are available through a web based portal, for all levels and in various languages. A variety of technical and vocational courses will be made available, preferably dubbed in Urdu, for the underprivileged population with the aim of providing them with excellent means of learning. The increasing population of the world is going to pose huge challenges for the next generation in terms of access to water, food and education. Tens of thousands of new colleges and universities will be needed to cope with the needs of the growing number of young seeking opportunities for education in various fields. Technology has however opened up new opportunities in the last decade. This wonderful website of knowledge (lej4learning.com.pk) was inaugurated by His Excellency, Mamnoon Hussain , The President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan on December 12, 2013. The program is led by our most celebrated scientist and global leader in education, Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman FRS as a monumental service to the nation and the world at large.
Online learning is growing in popularity and effectiveness. Current estimates indicate that as many as four million students in North America are taking online courses because online courses are convenient, offer flexibility, bring education right to your home, offer more individual attention, promote life-long learning and of course provides financial benefits too. The challenge is to have knowledge of what is available where, and then to have rapid access to them without being lost in the wilderness of information that we encounter when carrying out a search in Google for the desired materials. The answer has been provided by integrating all such resources on one platform and providing them to students across the country. Pakistan is now among the first in the world to initiate a massive learning platform which includes integrated courses from various major world sources for ready accessibility, structured mentoring and assessment system and at the end credit recognition, issuance of certificate, and degrees wherever possible.
Basic Chinese Language Program
Under the global leadership in education of Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman virtual education project Pakistan has launched two on-line courses through video conferencing under “Basic Chinese Language Program” which is being implemented in collaboration with the Confucius Institute of Chinese Language, University of Karachi and the Confucius Institute of Chinese Language, Islamabad.
These courses have been designed to help undergraduate, graduate and post graduate students in Life Sciences, Engineering Sciences and Social Sciences to develop their language skills which will be beneficial in their future lives particularly in view of the key role that China is now playing in the world economy and in science and engineering. Two parallel training programmes of identical levels (1A and 1B) have been initiated from February 17, 2014 and February 18, 2014 for a term of four months. These courses will cover CHINESE Basic Language, Chinese listening and Speaking and Chinese culture. The courses are transmitted on-line through Video Conferencing facility at L.E.J. National Science Information Center, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi.
Wondrous World of Science:The exciting developments in science and technology are transforming the world that we live in. The only constant is change—nations that can ride this change rather than get buried under it are surging forward, leaving others behind. This change is being driven by new scientific discoveries. These are then transformed into technologies, and then through innovation and entrepreneurship they become products of daily use. This is apparent in almost every sphere of our lives. Engineering goods, household appliances, communication tools, electronics, pharmaceuticals and many other fields are evolving with increasing rapidity.
This volume represents a compilation of a series of about 600 articles that have been written in Pakistan’s daily newspaper, Dawn, under the title “The Wondrous World of Science” every Sunday during the last four years. These articles have been widely read and generally greatly appreciated. Due to repeated requests from a number of readers all articles are compiled into a book in a comprehensive manner and is therefore available for general public.
Its interesting articles have gained so popular that Bureau of Planning & StrategyChinese Academy of Sciences has translated it into Chinese Language and soon it will be marketed for general public. With the increasing demand its now been translated into Urdu and will soon be published. As the articles / columns are being continuousely published in Pakistan’s daily newspaper, Dawn, another volume of it is also expected this year (2014).