Innovation is the key to progress. According to Prof Bhushan, improving the quality of research will pave the way for new patents.
Innovation can be interpreted in various ways. Whether it is our own ‘jugaad’ or the making of something new, it is innovation. In the education world, however, innovation is a key to many locks. It paves the way for further research, and improving the quality of research. However, it is still a vicious circle, since to innovate, one needs to indulge in research. In modern times, all over the world, conducting research over the internet has become commonplace, but that too faces problems in India (See A Tech-Savvy Dream above).
Therefore, capabilities to take advantage of international conventions such as converting product and process knowledge into patents and intellectual property rights must be developed in India. Commoditisation of traditional knowledge by more resourceful countries needs to be addressed through cooperation among developing countries, which have similar interests.
An open approach to innovation is popular in many countries, even in the Asian region, with joint ventures and partnerships thriving. However, in India, there are problems from the word go. There are concerns over the protection of intellectual property and legal enforcement of rights. By the time these are sorted out, companies from the West are happily benefitting from bringing development operations to India to benefit from low costs.
What can be demonstrated by this example is the extent to which globalisation has changed priorities. Whereas companies operating in the Indian region are capable of innovation on their own, they are hesitant, and those from the west are happily benefitting from Indian expertise. Despite India being a vast and growing market for its own products and services, it is still viewed as a spot for cheap labour and services.
It is not that we have not seen innovation in the last century, but it is negligible as compared to the intelligence of the citizens, and insignificant in terms of contribution to the world.
Innovation can happen in Indian labs, if scientist are considered at par with business generators, not merely dubbed as the ‘geeks’. If there are sufficient grants to go around, to be used for effective research.
What our country needs to learn is that the interwoven strands of open innovation, outward-looking attitudes, collaborative working practices and the desire to cater to new, international markets can create a new way of looking at of mutual reliance.