India’s impetus on digitisation and other technology has started to pay off. According to UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2021, India is the greatest outperformer among developing countries to use, adopt and adapt frontier technologies than their per capita GDPs.
This means despite India being a lower-middle-income country, it has implemented new technologies faster compared to other countries.
Frontier technologies are those that take advantage of digitalisation and connectivity. These technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things IoT), big data, blockchain, 5G, 3D printing, robotics, drones, gene editing, nanotechnology and solar photovoltaic.
The report stated, “The greatest overperformer is India, whose actual index ranking was 43, while the estimated one based on per capita income was 108. Hence, India overperformed by 65 ranking positions. It is followed by the Philippines, which overperformed by 57 ranking positions.”
The overperformance of the countries is measured as the difference between the actual index rankings and the estimated index rankings based on per capita income.
“Frontier technologies are redefining our world, especially our post-pandemic future,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD's division on technology and logistics.
The report stated China (at position 25) and India perform well for R&D. “This reflects their abundant supplies of qualified and highly skilled human resources available at a comparatively low cost. They also have large local markets, which attract investment by multinational enterprises,” its stated. In China, 2 per cent of GDP is spent on R&D.
According to the index, the United States, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are best prepared for frontier technologies. “Most of the best-prepared countries are from Europe, except the Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United States. Some transition economies, such as Russia, also perform well on the index.”
The report provides a country readiness index that assesses the progress of countries in using frontier technologies, considering their national capacities related to physical investment, human capital and technological effort. The report scores countries on their readiness for frontier technologies based on five building blocks: ICT deployment, skills, research and development (R&D), industry activity and access to finance.