India needs a futuristic approach to trigger innovation at the base of the pyramid
Innovation in India has always been human centric. We innovate to resolve the problems of mankind, and to create a better life for the common people. Today, the scope of innovation and entrepreneurship spreads across all facets of life. Students, researchers and intellectuals are actively pursuing innovation and entrepreneurship as career options. India should move from coveted innovation to the open innovation model. Open Innovation model is a futuristic approach to instigate the innovation and entrepreneurship at the base of pyramid — at the level of society and educational institutions. The growth of new India can only be achieved by making open innovation pervasive and fuelled by the right kind of training, skill upgradation, reskilling, and apt infrastructural support at school and institutional level. As an interventional initiative, Ministry of Education has established an innovationcell at the All-India Council for Technical Education in 2018. Since then, the Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell (MIC) has taken multiple policy and program initiative to establish the world’s biggest open innovation model at global stage. The Cell works on four pillars of excellence: Policy intervention; handholding of HEIs and schools, faculty andstudents; impact assessment and facilitating national and international platforms for Indian and global students. Initiatives like the Innovation Council in higher educational institutes has been purposed to streamline the ground level ecosystem and handholding of ideas from students.
The beginning of Smart India Hackathon, Toycathon, Singapore-India Hackathon, ASEAN India Hackathon between 11 countries, SAMADHAN Challenge, Ideathon for pandemic, Drug Discovery Hackathon, and Innovation Contest has set the foundation for world’s biggest open innovation model and it is scaling at a rate where India could assimilate its new age innovative and aspirational human resource. As India is working relentlessly towards a $5 trillion economyby 2025, it must look for alternative career opportunities in term of innovation and entrepreneurship. Inculcating the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in our youth is a challenging job and it cannot be simply achieved by flooding the market with investment opportunities, subsidies and grants. It requires a keenly calibrated system of innovation management, especially championing open innovation management at school and higher education level. For impact assessment, MIC has started Atal Ranking for Institution’s on Innovation Achievements to measure the major indicators at the higher educational institute level. At industry and ecosystem level, NITI Aayog has started India Innovation Index on the line of Global Innovation Index by adapting non-traditional approaches for measuring innovation such as patents per million of population, publication in scientific journals, percentage of GDP spending on research. Empirical evidence suggests that innovation enables social welfare. . Health innovations like penicillin use, transplants, and artificial limbs have saved and improved the quality of life of millions. Satellites, television and radio technologies are being used for the welfare of farmers and in disaster management. Modern farming equipment, fertilizers, Grameen Bank, microfinance and crop insurance schemes have raised agricultural productivity, improving food security and freeing up labour which can participate in other industries.
Nothing can progress without innovation and everything of today exists because of yesterday’s innovation and invention. We need to innovate to accommodate evolving situations and needs and prepare a wonderful place to live in, not only for us but for our future generations as well.
(The writer is Director in the Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Education. The views expressed are personal.)