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Innovation

India At 75: Thriving Innovation From The Heartland

By Pawas Jain IST (Published)

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With access to capital, a mindset of research and support of government agencies and corporations together, India is set to witness a sparkling revolution beyond the Tier-II in the coming decades.

India is on the cusp of transformation. 75 years young and thriving like never before. With innovation at the core and a mammoth young population, India is set to witness the most imaginative years in the coming future. As the world order resets itself, with China not being the favorite choice for businesses across the globe and the USA’s shaky position as the world’s most powerful superpower, India has the opportunity to become a thriving new economy.

Hailing from a Tier-II city of India, what excites me the most is the sheer opportunity of innovation in the vastness of this nation. The regional diaspora, the cultural expanse, the pain points and problems of the grassroot level offer a playground for innovation.

Solving real problems and impacting people’s lives at the very ground level is the opportunity that presents itself to millions of next generation tech entrepreneurs who can manage to bring about a revolution using technology.

Entrepreneurs from Tier II, III and even beyond have been able to break the glass ceiling. They are working on technologies like Metaverse, exploring the possibilities of Virtual & Augmented Reality and solving grassroots problems using Artificial Intelligence, Predictive Analysis and Machine Learning. Sectors like AgriTech, healthcare, education, last-mile logistics are hotbeds of innovation in a country like India.
As the landscape of global innovation shifts towards India, COVID-19 has also proven to be a catalyst in speeding up this transformation. However, as India turns 75, we also need to look at some of the areas that need immediate turnaround.
While we talk about manufacturing innovation, ‘Make in India’ and technology revolution, we also need to put ample focus on research. India’s R&D (research and development) spending did grow to 0.9 percent of the country’s Gross domestic product (GDP), but still remains far from the government’s target of 2 percent. This is an area which is going to lay the groundwork for the future of innovation in the country.
Moreover, for all this to happen at an unprecedented scale, education needs to remain the absolute priority. Even with a large network of public schools across India, there is a need to foster the culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, experimentation and practical learning at the very ground level.
It needs revamping of the examination and testing system, major upgrade of the curriculum and imbibing analytical skills by improving the quality of teaching. With the New Education Policy being implemented, we can hope to see some turnaround in this regard in the years to come.
Another key to fostering this innovation and continuing further on the path of rapid growth for the next 75 years is public-private partnerships. Corporates should partner with the governments across India at both state and central level to develop a skilled workforce and solve issues at the very grassroots.

We should also acknowledge the fact that we take pride in our thriving startup ecosystem and it has been one of the highlights of India’s 75 years of Independent journey, especially in the last 20. However, these young first-time entrepreneurs need to be backed with enough funds, investment and business support to sustain all weathers of a business lifecycle.

For the longest period, Investors in India have chosen predictable and imitative businesses to invest in expecting FD-like assured returns from a startup. Unfortunately, business models that are truly innovative and untested, find no interest among the investor communities. Such research, innovation and technologies need to be supported and the government needs to step in. Real innovation will always have a high inherent risk which Indians are till date averse to.

To sum up, India at 75 looks younger than ever, with a fresh zeal and enthusiasm to change the world and emerge as the global leader on all fronts. Being a truly knowledge-driven economy, our progress will be fueled by innovation and the ability to generate value and wealth should propel India’s youth from the heartland.

With access to capital, a mindset of research and support of government agencies and corporations together, India is set to witness a sparkling revolution beyond the Tier-II in the coming decades. Here’s to 75 years of Independent India and the next 75 years of ‘Innovative India’.

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