Innovating for India
Encouraging innovation is the first step to win the future of a country. Innovation is a crucial way to leapfrog into the center stage of global business leadership. Ingenuity, freedom, flexibility, the willingness to question conventional wisdom and defy authority — these characters of India make her the ideal country for innovations.
But pinning our hopes on innovation has far more urgent reasons. India's future growth will have to come from new industries that create new products and processes. The only durable strength we have — the only one that can withstand the gale winds of economic crisis is — innovation.
Path breaking science and spews out new inventions and patents are not innovations. The real innovations should be powerful and profound, and often in the realms of design, consumer use and marketing. In fact, the application of technology in service of a consumer need or business objective is what true innovation always has been.
India believes that innovations can fuel economic growth. In recent years, India is witnessing a spurt in activity from first generation entrepreneurs, some innovative startups that have emerged as hot businesses today. Their ventures attract others to take that plunge of chucking a full-time job and starting up a business. Flipkart, an online e-commerce store is one such venture creating waves all over for their cash-on-delivery service to more than 6 million registered users. Another compelling startup success story flows from BITS Pilani graduates as redBus.in, an online bus ticketing service to organize highly disorganized bus services in India.
Shampoo sachets originated in India more than two decades ago, creating a market for a product that the poor had never before been able to afford. Indian ingenuity has produced a startling number of world-beating innovations, none more impressive than the Tata Nano, which, at $2,000, costs roughly the same as a high-end DVD player in a Western luxury car. Its innovation is reducing the use of steel by inventing an aluminum engine; increasing space by moving the wheels to the edge of the chassis; and relying on a modular design that enables the car to be assembled from kits proved conclusively that you could do more with less.
Many other examples of ingenious innovation are already in the market, including a low-cost fuel-efficient mini-truck, an inexpensive mini-tractor being sold profitably in the United States, a battery-powered refrigerator, a $100 electricity inverter, and a $12 solar lamp.
Moreover, medical innovations are widespread. An Indian company has invented a cheaper Hepatitis B vaccine, bringing down the price from $15 per injection to less than $0.10. Insulin’s price has fallen by 40%, thanks to India’s leading biotech firm. A Bangalore company’s diagnostic tool to test for tuberculosis and infectious diseases costs $200, compared to $10,000 for comparable equipment in the West.
Late last year, India’s government unveiled a handheld computer that will cost only 2,250 rupees (about $40). “Aakash” has a resistive seven-inch touch screen, like Apple’s iPad. It comes in a rugged plastic casing, has two gigabytes of flash memory, two USB ports, headphone and video output jacks, and Wi-Fi capability.
Even the financial sector has seen innovation. Just three years ago, there were only 15 million bank accounts in a country of 1.2 billion people. Indians concluded that if people won’t come to the banks, the banks should go to the people. The result has been the creation of brigades of traveling tellers with hand-held devices, who have converted the living rooms of village homes into makeshift branches, taking deposits as low as a dollar. More than 50 million new bank accounts have been established, bringing India’s rural poor into the modern financial system.
Now is the time to unleash more brilliant innovations like these. E Week 2013 will focus on fortifying India’s innovation to enhance productivity and erase unemployment from the society. The flexibility and scalability of the platform, supported by a growing ecosystem of entrepreneurship, gives students a strong competitive advantage to innovate, discover, and invent their own solutions—fast.
E Week 2013 will play the role of a catalyst bringing creative and effective innovations to the society. This platform will recognize and promote creativity where innovative ideas can be proposed, shared and disseminated. This will be a national register of innovations which helps any individual to accentuate his/her remarkable innovations and convert them into viable business opportunities. It will also help these remarkable innovations reach a larger audience, who could take advantage and replicate the benefits of their respective communities.
Awe-inspiring innovations have always pervaded the Indian economy. It is one of the reasons why there is more dynamism in the Indian economy than those who look only at the macroeconomic data believe. Sometimes it is important to stop looking at the forest and focus on the trees.