‘To compete in the global arena, India has to unleash its innovation potential’

India needs to step up expenditure on research to pursue innovation in a big way, said President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday, while expressing concern that the country’s innovation bottom line was “not very encouraging.” He urged the private sector to increase their share of spending to the levels prevailing in countries such as South Korea, Japan and USA.

The President, who was speaking on the occasion of National Technology Day celebrations held here at the Vigyan Bhavan, drew attention to the patent applications filed annually in countries like United States of America and China, saying the number was nearly 12 times more than that of India.

“India spends only 0.9 per cent of GDP on research and development, which is much below that of China, UK and Israel. We should step up our expenditure on research to pursue innovation in a big way. The private sector, which contributes one-fourth of our country’s expenditure on research and development, should also increase their share of spending to levels prevalent in countries such as Japan, US and South Korea,” he said.

Globalisation, the President said, had rewritten the rules of business and only the most competitive and resilient companies could expect to survive in the fiercely global market. “If our systems are strong and robust, the world will respect us and be willing to work with us,” he said.

The President emphasised that in a globally competitive world India had to unleash its innovation potential to increase capacity, productivity, efficiency, and inclusive growth. “The spirit of innovation has to permeate all sectors of economy from universities, business and government to people at all levels.”

Future prosperity of India in the new knowledge economy, he said, would increasingly depend on its ability to generate new ideas, processes and solutions, and added that the process of innovation would convert knowledge into social good and economic wealth.

The needs and requirements of our democratic polity were different from other nations, Mr. Mukherjee said. The nation’s priorities for innovation, according to him, should be conditioned by our socio-economic realities. “The Indian innovation strategy, therefore, has to be different. It should focus on generating ideas that promote inclusive growth and benefit people at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid,” he said.

Awards presented

On the occasion, he presented the National Technology Award for 2013 to Messrs Biovet Private Limited, a firm based in Kolar, Karnataka, for the successful commercialisation of vaccines for two important diseases that afflict animals. The technology was provided by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute at Izzatnagar, Uttar Pradesh.

The National Award for best technology commercialisation by a small scale unit went to Pyrodynamics of Bangalore. The second award in the category went to Messrs Accurate Gauging and Instruments Private Limited of Pune.

In addition, the President presented awards to Kongu Engineering College, Perundurai in Tamil Nadu, K.M. Shankar of Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, Bidar, R.K. Vijh and his team from the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources Karnal, and Samir Kumar of West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences for their contribution in the development and commercialisation of various innovative biotechnology products.

Union Science and Technology Minister Jaipal Reddy launched a blood chemistry analyser, developed with the help of the Technology Development Board under the Department of Science and Technology, and a hand-held device that detects various infectious diseases developed with support from the New Millenium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative Scheme of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.