Innovation, the status quo and create breakthrough solutions.


Innovation, as an approach to
development, is progressively becoming the real driver for change in the world,
as it intervenes across sectors, providing accessible solutions to ever evolving
consumer needs.  Countries around the
world have already depicted the role of innovative solutions in improving standards
of living, while catalysing national growth rates. For instance, since the
1980s, South Korea has vastly improved its economic status by promoting an
inward transfer of foreign technology while developing its domestic capacity to
digest and improve through innovative ideas like reverse engineering and
foreign licensing–followed by significant investments in R&D. This paper provides suggestions to allow a similar innovation-driven
path for India, one that will allow it to maintain a balance between economic
development and social well-being.

 

India is increasingly becoming a top
global innovator for high technology products and services. With all the right ingredients – massive population strength,
an history of ….. It has the potential to innovate in a way that can disrupt
the status quo and create breakthrough

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solutions.
However, the country is still underperforming relative to its innovation
potential— with direct implications for long-term industrial competitiveness
and economic growth.

 

Despite
pockets of innovative activities in both the formal and informal sectors,
innovation remains concentrated in a small segment of the economy. With about 25%
of its population living below the national poverty line, India is largely a subsistence
economy, with significant spatial variance across and within states. Roughly 90 percent of the workforce is employed in the informal sector,
which is often characterized by low-productivity and low-skill activities. Though
India has the benefit of a younger population — with more than half of the country’s population under 25
years old— only 17
percent of people in their mid-20s and older have a secondary education. While
their youth is an advantage, their inexperience combined with a risk averse,
imitation prone mentality is a major disadvantage. Moreover, another
critical input to encourage innovation, domestic R spending, has never
exceeded 1 percent of India’s GDP.

 

Historically,
the trajectory of innovation has come to reflect the priorities of the
developed world, with technologies traditionally being developed by well-educated
engineers, in multinational firms, funded by large R&D budgets. The socio economic landscape of India (and the myriad of
problems associated with it) necessitates the call for a new model of innovation, one in which new applications
and processes can induce the production of better goods and services, with the
same or fewer inputs—to meet the needs of all sections of Indian society. To
harness its innovation potential, an approach that can prove invaluable for
India in the present hyper-competitive market setup is that of Frugal Innovation.

 

An
increasingly relevant concept, frugal innovation is already inherent in the
Indian society through the system of ‘Jugaad’,
a word which itself has connotations to improvise, hack, make do, and mend. It
implies resourcefulness, given the constraints of any given situation, whether
they are financial or simply of resources available at the time. Thus frugal
innovation can be interpreted a context sensitive solution to a problem, one
which allows adversity to become inspiration for further innovations.

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