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India’s Tryst with Innovation

July 12, 2011

The dream of a future constructed on the principles of science and technology and an economy based on Innovations was ignited by the President of India, addressing the parliament on 4th June 2009 and, declaring the next ten years to be the Decade of Innovation.

The Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh reiterated the intent of India leading the innovation arena across the globe in the 97th Session of Indian Science Congress held on 3rd January, 2010 at Thiruvananthapuram and declared the decade 2010 – 2020 the “Decade of Innovations”.

 

So, what really has driven the Indian leaders to stress on Innovation? Why is there a sudden urge to drive innovations in India?

The answer to all questions is the simple fact that Innovation as a phenomenon has had a huge impact on the global economy; it is now certain that the alchemies which will convert the resources of a country into tangible outputs will be innovation centers.

According to the Global competitiveness Index, India ranks as the 49th  most competitive nation of the world and that after it is the 10th largest in terms of nominal GDP, 4th largest in terms of PPP and it is one of the world’s fastest growing economies.  If all of the above is true why is India lagging behind the western world.

As we understand, India lacks competitiveness in terms of basic requirements (Institutions, Infrastructure and Primary Education etc) more than it lacks competitiveness in efficiency enhancers (Higher Education, Market Size etc) or Innovation. Though these parameters put a question mark on the government’s intention to put innovation as the highest priority goal for the country for the decade, but drilling deeper one will understand that innovation as a parameter has had a great impact in enhancing the basic requirements of a country.

How countries like the United States have focused on Innovation and have been able to reap benefits in long term is not a story that is hidden from anyone. Making an apple to apple comparison of the United States and India we would realize that the most important factors where the US scores over India will be Innovation and Business Sophistication.

The reason behind US leading the globe is because innovation centers like Silicon Valley have boosted the economy to a magnanimous extent and has been able to create the pillars of basic requirements for the USA.

What it means for India is that it has to focus on Innovation and create an ecosystem in the country to stimulate innovations and to produce solutions for the societal needs in terms of healthcare, energy, urban infrastructure, water and transportation.

The Government of India is now up to speed on creating this ecosystem and hence has marked the beginning of a beautiful “Tryst with Innovation”

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2011 9:24 pm

    hi,
    innovation is inevitable in time to come.
    but what i feel is that the social sector is far more important at this stage.To reap the demographic dividend we need to provide a healthy social sectors(health ,education,etc) to have troops of skilled labor,along with that comes another hurdle of “job creation”…where comes in entrepreneurship and innovation…

    a)innovations=>solution of societal problem
    or
    b)innovation+primary focus on social sector=>solution of societal problems and a higher growth trajectory
    or
    c)focus on social sector=>higher growth

    If we dont have the kind of workforce required to take us to higher growth then the innovation wont have the “widespread effects” as was the case with other western nations.
    so i guess its got to be (b) for me…

  2. Jasmine Luthra permalink
    July 12, 2011 10:59 pm

    Hi,

    I agree that India lacks competitiveness in primary requirements rather than in Innovation and secondary factors. But I feel the basic problem with India is the weak administrative and executive structure and the corruption. And innovation alone is not the solution.

    It might have worked wonders for other nations but unless the administrative flaws of our system are not rectified we cannot aim at competing with these superpowers. We might reach at par with them in terms of numbers (GDP, productivity ratios, etc) but we cant even get close to them as far as the standard of living and basic facilities are concerned.

    The most general example I can think of, to describe India’s problem is that we used all kind of R&D, developed technologies, came up with brilliant products like fertilizers, pesticides, magical seeds to solve the food shortage problems we faced. All this was part of innovation. And today we’ve succeed! India faces a food management crises in June 2011 and the surplus had to be stored in schools in Andhra Pradesh leaving students stranded. And a major chunk of this surplus rotted. This was unbelievable thing half a century ago.

    And despite this achievement in food production, India is ranked 2nd in the world of the number of children suffering from malnutrition (World Bank) and every minute four children (below the age of 5) die in India due to illnesses such as diarrhea (UN).

    Also the Indian growth so far, has not been quite inclusive. This too is due to our administrative shortcomings.

    Innovation is definitely the guiding light to the road of development but we need to set our priorities right. Because if we don’t work on these loopholes in our system now, we’ll just end up with development on paper.

  3. July 13, 2011 5:18 am

    Jasmine/Vidhan,

    I agree to you guys when you say that innovation is the second rung need of the country if looked upon as a mutually exclusive phenomenon of R&D.

    If you scan through some of my previous posts you will realize that innovations are more comprehensive than the R&D and technology improvements. They range from MFI innovations, to UID and also development of the 35 dollar tablet PC.

    The intent of the article is not to say that the government should start investing in R&D leaving basic responsibilities on the back seat, rather, it is to understand that with the current mindset where bright people as you and me waste their education to be earning money for uncle sam, the Government of India has now started to make an infrastructure for you and me to be able to utilize our skills to innovate and steer India into a newer space.

    Hope that makes sense, its a sensitive topic and I understand that there will be different views, looking forward to understand more of your views.

    Abhinav

  4. July 24, 2011 11:49 am

    true… not sure who said this, but it still rings true: All institutions are prone to corruption and to the vices of their members.

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