Team to improve India’s innovation ranking

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) The government on Friday announced that a team would be set up to advise on how to further improve India’a ranking in the global index of countries in the sphere of innovations.

“I am announcing that from the department (of Commerce) a team would be formed that would look at repositioning India in the sphere of innovations,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here.

He made the statement while releasing the Global Innovation Index 2016 Report at an event hosted jointly by the Niti Aayog, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and Industry chamber CII.

“This team, which will include members from both the government and outside, will not reinvent the wheel, but will go into the report, identify challenges and weaknesses to India’s innovation and what the government can do — where it should step in and where it should step back and away,” Sitharaman said.

India has this year improved its index ranking by 15 places over last year to 66th place in 2016, following five previous years of decline in position, the report said.

“I commit myself to the government’s assistance and facilitation to improve India’s innovation ranking next year,” the minister said, adding the composition of the committee would be announced in a few days.

The Global Innovation Index ranks innovation performance of 128 countries based on 82 indicators.

The 2016 report said India showed weakness in the indices of business environment and education.

Noting that India ranks first in its region and second among BRICS emerging economies in innovation, the report co-editor and Dean of Cornell University in the US, Soumitra Dutta, said India needed to improve in the areas of branding and investment in the areas of R&D and in human capital.

“Branding currently emphasises India’s strength in frugal innovation or ‘jugaad’. Instead, the country should reposition as a leader in innovation, knowledge and technology,” Dutta said.

Referring to “jugaad” in her address, Sitharaman said that “in a country where resources are scarce, you have to adapt to ‘jugaad’.”

Refuting observations about Indian innovation being capable of only “jugaad”, the minister said: “I am sorry. No, that was only a survival technique.”

Citing the example of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, she asked: “Isn’t that frugal? Keep your expenses optimum, but also come out with something that is going to make a difference.”

In his address at the event, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said India was becoming a centre for innovation and in the last few years over 1,500 multinationals had relocated their R&D centres to places like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Gurgaon.

“India needs innovation for providing things like drinking water, sewage and improved seeds and productivity in agriculture. India needs innovation to satisfy the needs of a billion people,” he said.

Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Francis Gurrey lauded India’s efforts in innovation, particularly being a vast and diverse country, pointing out that the top ranked countries were mostly small compact economies with much lesser complexities and issues.



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