What are the challenges in creating a culture of innovation in the Indian industries?
Over the last decade, the government has been encouraging domestic firms to come up with innovations in product manufacturing and services. Government’s programmes like ‘Make in India’ is not only on manufacturing in India but also producing goods that are indigenously designed. With over 700 million Internet users, India is the fastest growing country in terms of Internet usage, with a predicted increase to 974 million by 2025. There are 404 million Jan Dhan bank accounts, 1.2 billion Aadhaar, and 1.2 billion mobile users under the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) trinity. Artificial intelligence has the potential to add more than $957 billion to India’s GDP by 2035.
- India’s expenditure is now significantly below 2 per cent of GDP, which is the benchmark value that most innovating countries spend on R&D.
- In terms of customer demographics and income disparities, the Indian innovation system is quite diverse.
- In India, innovation is organised on the triangle of collaboration, facilitation, and responsible regulation. It is advanced by multidisciplinary collaboration.
- The ‘Amara law,’ named after Roy Amara, a Stanford computer scientist, who stated that “people tend to overestimate the impact of a new technology in the short run, but underestimate it in the long run,” reflects the realistic potential of technology for India.
- While India ranked only 46th in the latest Global Innovation report, it has climbed two spots over the previous year’s standing. And, the performance is labelled ‘above expectations’ against the yardstick of the level of development. However, Asian countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and even some of the East European countries like Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovenia and Hungary, scored above India. Thus the notion that Indian entrepreneurs lack innovation culture continues to hold good.
- At a micro level though, Indian entrepreneurs function effectively in implementing quick fixes, commonly called “jugaad”, which serve as low-cost, innovative workarounds or solutions to problems.
- In the Indian context, innovations are carried out primarily by public sector or government R&D centres. Elsewhere in the world, the private sector, particularly MNCs, plays a significant role in ushering innovation.
- As fDi Markets database indicates, of the three heads of R&D — Design, Development and Testing (DDT), Education and Training (E&T), and Core R&D — support for Core R&D, one that focusses on making real innovations, is limited in India. Thus, one cannot depend much on private FDI to help India have a significant presence on the innovation map.
- The R&D in public sector or government labs is governed by standard rules (audit, Right to Information Act, etc), even though, at best, only 5 per cent of the attempted innovations results in success. This is probably true in other countries as well. Thus, one needs to understand that experimenting with innovative ventures can be a total failure.
- Typically, the committee members responsible for allocating funds for innovation are government employees. So, there is always a chance of them being questioned by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) if there is recurrent failure of innovative ventures.
- The chances of failures are low/limited in incremental innovation and so most of the funding of public R&D centres goes for same. As Indian Space Research Organisation is not governed by mundane rules, the progress of Indian space research has been amazing and on a par with those of developed countries.
- Future Skills PRIME (Programme for Reskilling/Upskilling of IT Manpower for Employability) is a platform for capacity building.
- The Scheme for Transformational and Advanced Research in Sciences (STARS), the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC), and the Impactful Policy Research in Social Science (IMPRESS) triad: The common goal is to promote India-specific research in the social and natural sciences.
- National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems: Aims to catalyse translational research in Al, IoT (Internet of Things), Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Big Data Analytics, Robotics, Quantum Computing, and Data Science.
- Vaishvik Bharatiya Vaigyanik (VAIBHAV) summit: Hundreds of abroad Indian-origin academicians and Indians gathered to brainstorm novel solutions to a variety of problems.
- Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) scheme: Providing possibilities for capacity building for women scientists and technicians.
- Smart India Hackathons (SIH): To offer students with a forum to tackle some of society’s most urgent concerns.
- The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship throughout India.
- The Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE) 2020 summit provides a roadmap for effectively using AI for social empowerment, inclusion, and change in critical areas such as health care, agriculture, finance, education, and smart transportation.
- Scholarships for Innovation in Science Pursuit of Inspired Research (INSPIRE):
- Attract young talent to science studies at a young age, and thereby create the vital human resource pool for the Science & Technology system.
- Ramanujan Fellowship: It is intended for exceptional Indian scientists from outside India to take up posts in scientific research in India.
- The Reserve Bank of India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India all have regulatory sandboxes where innovative ideas can be channelled.
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued suggestions for regulating cloud services in India, recommending light-touch regulation in conjunction with industry while balancing commercial freedom and principle adherence.
- The Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) initiative is India’s largest early-stage biotech financing programme. Aims to encourage researchers to bring biotechnology closer to market by establishing a start-up.
- Global innovation partnerships should be strengthened by improving public-private partnership mechanisms, and more public funds should be set aside for joint industrial R&D projects.
- R&D spending should be increased: The government should develop a policy with the goal of increasing total GERD (Gross domestic expenditure on R&D) to 2% of India’s GDP.
- Idea-to-market challenge: The government should establish a specific fund to assist Indian innovators in advancing their start-ups through challenging times.
- To imbibe a culture of innovation, the rules need to be amended and failures need to taken in their stride.
- Korea and Taiwan, adopt a strategic plan based on Technological Forecasting exercise to direct their R&D expenditure.
Innovation has the potential to create a future in which AI will improve education and health care, renewable energy will drive the economy, gene-editing will allow us to resurrect extinct species, and virtual reality will redefine how we interact with the physical world. India must implement appropriate institutional, industrial, and policy changes.
How to structure:
- Give an intro about India’s industries
- Briefly mention what culture of innovation means and why it’s necessary
- Explain the challenges in creating that culture
- Suggest way forward and mention related laws