India is currently facing a rare
window of opportunity to emerge as a major manufacturing hub for domestic and
global markets. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India’
initiative is aimed supporting the National Manufacturing Policy, which plans
to create 100 million jobs by 2022 and raise manufacturing’s contribution to
the GDP from 16 to 25 per cent.
The government is also trying to
drive other initiatives like ‘Skill India,’ ‘Digital India’ and ‘Smart Cities
Mission.’ Another big ticket item called ‘Start-up India’ is being fine-tuned
to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. Investor outreach
programs are underway with several countries so that enterprises can access
the best practices, tools and strategies.
These are essential for Indian
businesses to gain competitiveness in design and development of quality
products at affordable prices, and eventually become a part of global supply
To help build the talent pipeline,
the new Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is overseeing over
70 skill development schemes run by more than 20 ministries / departments as
well as giving a fillip to the network of Indian Institutes of Technology and
Indian Institutes of Management. These are being aligned to the 25 sectors of
‘Make in India’ with sector-specific skill councils.
Private sector participation
While government's initiatives to
skill the youth are a welcome development, increasing private sector's
participation is imperative. Corporates should thus partner with universities
and other educational institutions relevant for their industries to create
commercialisation paths for deserving projects.
Young innovators must be encouraged
to go on exchange programmes and get special internships or grants which help them
fuel their research and learning. Our universities too need to encourage
entrepreneurial mindsets so that students can challenge the status quo, think
differently and come up with innovative solutions to solve present and future
Incubation centres in universities
across the world support and encourage business activities. This leads to
fostering entrepreneurial mindsets which in turn leads to new job creation and
overall economic development. Creative energies of the youth need to be nurtured
to outgrow the mindset of a controlled economy.
India's space program 'Mangalayaan'
is a shining example of its innovative capabilities. The country ranks among
top middle-income economies in terms of innovation quality along with China and
Brazil. A recent report says India has made significant progress in
institutions, knowledge and technology outputs. But its ranking dips in human
capital and research, market sophistication, business sophistication and
Aiming to strengthen the eco-system
of innovation and further improve India’s ranking in Global Innovation Index
(GII), the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has decided to set up
a task force. Innovation is widely recognised as a central driver of economic
growth and development, and GII aims to capture its multi-dimensional facets.
Making a mark globally
India’s ranking in GII 2016 jumped 15
places to 66th position. The country retained the top rank in
information and communication technology service export for more than last
three years. India is a top-ranked economy in central and south Asia, and shows
particular strengths in tertiary education and R&D, including global
R&D intensive firms, the quality of its universities and scientific
The annual rankings are jointly
published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property
Organisation. It surveyed 128 economies around the world 92.8 per cent of the
world’s population and 97.9 per cent of global GDP, using 79 indicators to
determine both innovative capabilities and measurable results.
India also over-performs in
innovation relative to its GDP. It ranks second on innovation quality among
middle-income economies. As per the report, “India is a good example of how
policy is improving the innovation environment.” The country moved up across
all indicators within the knowledge absorption sub-pillar. It has also
exhibited a solid performance in the GII model’s newly incorporated research
talent in business enterprise where it ranks 31st.
There are other bright spots too.
India has one of the world's largest educational systems with 1.4 million
schools, 35,000 colleges and 600 universities. Over half of the population is
under 30 years of age and 10 million people join the workforce each year.
However, there is a need to update the education curriculum, to revamp the
examination system which is currently a test of memory than test of analytical
skills, and to improve the quality of teaching and teachers.
Blending skill development with
education system is required on a priority basis. Hence linkages between
universities and businesses need to play an important role in innovation and
entrepreneurial dynamics. Research-linked scholarships, paid for by both the
government and the private sector, are a crucial requirement.
The private sector must step up its
involvement in furthering STEM (science, technology, engineering and
mathematics) proficiency much more. STEM education programmes and activities
will promote these subjects particularly to young people and help create talent
to secure the future success of businesses in aerospace and all other sectors –
particularly manufacturing. The country needs strong business models whose
cornerstones are trans formative change and sustainability.
Seize the momentum
India is among the countries with the
most acute talent crisis globally. By 2020, the shortfall of engineers is
expected to range from 1.5 to 2.2 million, posing a risk to national economy.
Policy makers must realize that possession of significant human resources in
science and technology is both a national economic priority and technological
By 2025, India will have nearly 25
per cent of the world's total workforce and organisations like the National Skill
Development Corporation will be useful in creating opportunities for youngsters.
Such indicators point towards economic upswing in the coming years. With focus
on skill development and local manufacturing, India can achieve double-digit
GDP growth while ensuring that it becomes self-sufficient in developing
We are on the cusp of the fourth
industrial revolution where all sectors of the economy and people’s lives will
be transformed in significant ways in the years ahead. India has a unique
opportunity in this time of immense change. A smart pro-active strategy for
innovation and entrepreneurship supported by dynamic leadership from the
government, private sector and the academia can help elevate the mission to
‘Innovate in India.’