A country that is so rich in arts, culture and heritage, which has contributed so much to mankind right from the zero to medical innovations during the Charaka period to arts and architecture to engineering from the Chola period to Tanjore paintings that involve a lot of technical intricacies, has not contributed anything substantial in the last whole century.
We have the brightest minds, an array of academic institutions, exposure to the globe and the resources needed to innovate.
Despite all that, India lacks Innovation…. Why?
There are many reasons why India Inc. lacks innovation, but after giving some deeper thought and analyzing content from various sources, I have come up with these Top 5 reasons for Lack of Innovation
1. Obedient society
Questioning conventional thoughts is treated as a crime. Even though people like quoting Abdul Kalam’s dream about the future, reality is far from it…
Right from schools to colleges, asking questions is termed as ‘disobedient’ and the entire thought process is tailored to accept whatever is told. When a student thinks out of the box, the teacher handles it with an iron-fist approach and labels the kid ‘disobedient’ and in many cases ‘thinks too much about himself’.
We need to change our perception of respect and obedience. Although it is present in our ethos, we need to accept a ‘questioning mind’ and nurture it in order to promote research & innovation.
2. Red tape
A corrupt and chaotic governance spoils the route to innovation. The Intellectual Property of India is notoriously famous for its bidding process of recruitment of absolutely unskilled people for the job. No surprises about the fact that there is a major barricade on the road to innovation.
When a research scholar goes to the IP office with a proposal, the bureaucrat at the office premises is one that came to that position through political influence or by paying a hefty bribe for want of a ‘Government job’ and has no clue of what to do. This demotivates research scholars to such an extent that they prefer switching careers as ‘Technical Consultants’ for MNCs and start minting money with their wonderful ideas which are basically Indian but given ownership to elsewhere.
3. Rote memory testing exams
While the schools have standardized their examination system, colleges still have the old-fashioned essay type answers. Where is the scope to innovate with this kind of knowledge testing mechanism?
It is not uncommon to see students curious about the electronics and design of tablets and other electronic gadgets but the Professor is so ignorant that he covers it up saying ‘Stick to the syllabus and score marks’. If you have watched “3 Idiots” movie, you will understand exactly what I am saying…
Venture capital firms are just picking up. The very few ones favor projects recommended by influencers among the Capitalist groups or Political groups. A transparent funding mechanism is needed to streamline R&D which is the soul of innovation.
The typical Indian attitude towards failure is another major handicap. When one venture fails in a particular domain, it is looked upon as a major issue and it blocks the way for even troubleshooting what went wrong in the venture. The best innovations happen after a dozen disasters and the Indian mind cannot even understand this concept.
Everything including the media has become a paid industry. We get to hear only paid news and that sidelines even the most genuine happenings in the realm of technology. The Educational Institutions and Research Academies have no schemes to stimulate scientific temper and the quest to innovate.
The Government of India makes so much of noise for National awards for films, arts, sports etc. but when it comes to research, the importance given to it is so trivial. We needn’t be like Norway or Sweden and we cannot be. But, we could at least accommodate scientific research as a key area to play a role in the International community.
For all the talent that we have and the resources that we are blessed with, we could position ourselves in a much better way provided we give innovation it due share of recognition.
Your comments are welcome!