Iran and the New Century

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Part #1

What year is this? Of course it is 2016. But not for all of us. If you are living in Iran it is the year 1395.

The Persian calendar is one of those things that Iranian people are very proud of that and they have a very good reason to.

Persian calendar is probably most accurate calendar that currently used by a large group of people. It is actually more accurate than Christian calendar. This called the Solar Hejri Calander or Hijri Shamsi (HS) calendar. It begins on the vernal equinox as determined by astronomical calculation Each of the twelve months corresponds with a zodiac sign. The first six months have 31 days, the next five have 30 days, and the last month has 29 days in usual years but 30 days in leap years. The New Year’s Day always falls on the vernal equinox.

The origin of this calendar is the same with the Islamic calendar which used by most of Arabic –Islamic countries. The origin is the year that prophet Mohammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina but because the Arabic calendar is used lunar system they are now in the year of 1437.

But I am not going to talk about this calendar here. The main story is people in Iran and Afghanistan (The HS is their official calendar) are approaching to the new century.

In just a few years these people are going to celebrate the year 1400 and one year later the new century will begin.

It is an important date. Iranian people are hoping to start a new era in a new century. They hope they can leave decades and centuries of mustiness, war, sanctions, conflicts and underachievement behind and start a new age as renewed civilization. Become a member of the developing world and regain the status that they lost a long time ago. At least these are hopes.

But these are not baseless hopes. For more than 2 decades Iranian politicians are talking about New Iran in the new century.

Around 15 years ago a group of scientists and science policy makers in gathering in the village of Talighan and published a declaration which discussed the ideas and advices for advancement in science and technology in Iran.

The discussions are alive since then. Dr. Reza Mansoury, a well know physicist and professor at the Sharif university of technology and a member of The 3rd world Academy of Science published a series of articles and book under the title of “Iran 1400”. He was  presenting the idea of how Iranian is actually starting to realize the modern science and start to form a scientific society and the possibility of reaching to scientific advancement in the year 1400 HS. A few years later he revisited this idea and based on his experience of serving as research deputy of Ministry of science and technology, now he hopes that Iran can go in that direction, but for reaching the advanced society on science and tech he estimate that may be Iran needs another century.

The core idea of starting the new century as a developed country discussed in higher levels of policy making in Iran too. In the year 1384 HS (2005), The Expediency Discernment Council of the System, which is one of the highest policy making and also advising the office of the supreme leader, announce the “Iran’s 20-year vision plan” which has produced the first ever official long-term macro strategy of the Islamic Republic

This Is a short but very important document that forced the governments to plan to reach the goals of this document during four phases of 5 years developing plans.

All the policy making in Iran should follow these goals and this document. This widely publicized document called for:

 (a) Achievement of fast-paced and sustainable economic growth;

(b) Creation of durable employment opportunities;

(c) Enhancement of factor productivity;

(d) Active presence in regional and international markets;

(e) Development of a diverse, knowledge-based economy free of inflation and blessed by food security;

 (f) Establishment of a market environment conducive to domestic and international business entrepreneurship.[1]

And this is not the only document for the future of Iran. To promote a knowledge-based economy, Iran has announced a 20-year “comprehensive plan for science” focusing on science in higher education and industry-university research partnerships.

There are a few other high level documents – including a comprehensive plane in Space industry – too.

The promises of these documents and policies are a good reason for Iranians to have such a dream for the future and the new century.

But when it comes to measures of the advancement and how Iranian society are really in this process, there are many reasons to be worried.

I try to explain some of these concerns in this series of writings and try to find out the what we realistically  should anticipate for Iran in the new century.

The clock is ticking and the new century is just around the corner.

[۱] http://mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/irans-20-year-economic-perspective-promises-and-pitfalls

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