Panel to review India’s innovation landscape: Nirmala Sitharaman

The Commerce and Industry Ministry has decided to set up a committee to examine the country’s innovation landscape and recommend new government interventions and specific domains where the Centre should refrain from meddling in the innovation process altogether.

The move comes even as India climbed 15 notches in the Global Innovation Index to attain the 66 rank in the world this year.

“I will form a group to reposition India’s innovation framework, which will look at the results of the Global Innovation Index, identify weaknesses and challenges that need to be addressed,” Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman said at an event to unveil the Innovation Index Report.

“The group could include senior officials as well as outside experts and the idea would be to outline how government can help innovation better and also to define areas where the government should stay away,” Ms. Sitharaman said, adding that the intention is to tap the global innovation index findings meaningfully and ensure the government’s moves are consistent with what innovators need to progress.

Optimal expenses

Terming the creation of the Niti Aayog by the NDA government as the ‘ultimate disruption’ in the country’s governance structures, Ms. Sitharaman brushed aside criticism about Indian innovation being centred only around ‘Jugaad’ or the use of frugal means to meet an end.

“I am not holding a brief for non-performance and it’s all very well for me to have big data solutions coming from the West. But to say that Indian innovation is only capable of frugal innovation doesn’t recognise that resources are scarce here and essential services don’t reach you, so people adapt,” the minister said, citing India’s successful Mars mission that was achieved with frugal expenses where the West would have spent much more.

“India has struck it right… keep your expenses optimal while changing lives.

“What we do for health tourists in India, should also be attempted for reaching healthcare to the poor in the hinterland. While Jugaad is okay, people must start documenting the process to gain credibility,” she said. Ms. Sitharaman’s remarks appeared to be in response to Cornell University dean Soumitra Dutta who said at the same event that India must work on enhancing its innovation brand and scale up investments in research and development.

Knowledge excellence

“When you look at venture capital funding as a proportion of GDP, India is doing far better than even China though their GDP base is larger,” Mr. Datta said.

“India’s innovation brand is associated with frugal innovation or what we call Jugaad, which is good, but that’s not how we should be positioned globally. We should focus on being known for knowledge excellence,” he said.

Niti Aayog Principal Advisor Ratan Watal said that innovation and technology were significant components of the 15-year country vision plan now being prepared by the Centre.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 9:58:36 PM |

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