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India and Innovation

India and Innovation

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of
their design and implementation.

India and Innovation

In news:

  • The Global Innovation Index, brought out by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, in association with Cornell University and Insead, offers an opportunity to assess how a country compares with its peers.
  • India can cheer that it has moved up four positions and is now placed 48th, within the top 50, out of 131. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Japan are ahead of India in Asia.
  • With the world’s largest cohort of young people of college-going age, who can be trained in science, engineering, technology, maths and the creative arts, India can and should be among world leaders in innovation.

GII – what it measures:

  • Switzerland is at the top of the index even though it is not a leading country in venture capital spending.
  • The US and China spend far more, per capita but are behind Swiss nation.
  • This shows that innovation is not a mechanical result of spending more.
  • The way the index is constructed is as an average of innovation inputs and innovation outputs.


  1. Institutions
  2. human capital and research
  3. infrastructure
  4. market sophistication
  5. business sophistication.
  6. Innovation outputs are:
  7. Knowledge
  8. technology outputs
  9. creative outputs.
  • Presumably many entrepreneurs in the US had access to the different technologies — basic telecom, touchscreen, LCD display panels, ability to develop applications.
  • However, it needed a Steve Jobs put together to launch the iPhone.
  • Without the technology, the fruit of sustained investment in R&D, the phone would not have been possible.
  • Hence, there is a need to focus on design, aesthetics and consumer needs.
  • Beyond R&D, the ability to think big and think bold, venture capital that backs entrepreneurial vision and a regulatory and operating ecosystem that lets people focus on business are imperative for innovation.

What India should do:

  • The government has already launched several initiatives such as Make in India, Skill India and Digital India to provide the right platform to increase manufacturing, build stronger skills, improve information infrastructure, and provide more public and private finance for R&D and its commercialisation.
  • Startup India is being fine-tuned to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • Economic and industrial progress would mean an increased effort towards R&D. R&D acts as a true measure of the capacity to innovate.
  • The country’s R&D spend has grown to 0.9 per cent of the GDP.
  • However, much more needs to be done to match the government’s target of 2 per cent in R&D expenditure.
  • This growth journey will require an increased level of public-private partnership, with a greater focus on inclusive innovation.
  • The private sector will have to invest significantly in R&D.
  • This will help develop a mind-set of value growth. Such a mind-set promotes experimental thinking and is oriented to solving customer problems in new ways.
  • Corporates should thus partner with research and educational institutions and create commercialisation paths for deserving projects.
  • Young innovators should be encouraged to go on exchange programmes and get internships or grants to help fuel research.
  • The bright spot is that India has one of the world’s largest educational systems with 1.4 million schools, 35,000 colleges and 600 universities.
  • However, there is a need to foster a culture of experimentation by updating the curriculum, revamping the examination system from a test of memory to a test of analytical skills, and improving the quality of teaching.
  • The private sector must step up its involvement in furthering STEM proficiency.
  • India invests just 0.88 per cent of GDP in science research compared with 7-8 per cent for the US and 3-4 per cent for South Korea.
  • Of that, nearly a quarter is spent on basic research that has little to do with innovation or economic growth. In comparison, China spends 5 per cent.
  • The linkages between universities and businesses need to play an important role in innovation dynamics.
  • Research-linked scholarships, paid for by both the government and the private sector, are crucial.
  • Policymakers must realise that possession of significant human resources in science and technology is both a national economic priority and a technological necessity.

Source:”Economic Times”.

Possible UPSC Mains Question:

While India has consistently improved its ranking in the Global Innovation Index, much more needs to be done to make the nation truly innovative. Discuss.