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India Ranks as 66th Most Innovative Nation

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mcgrathdylan
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Innovation wanted
mcgrathdylan   7/16/2013 2:22:28 PM
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Sad to see that India still lags so many countries in innovation. Seems as though there are many issues to be overcome.

On the bright side, nice to see the US move up from 12th to 5th.

junko.yoshida
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66th?
junko.yoshida   7/16/2013 2:24:06 PM
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India coming in at such a low ranking was quite a surprise to me. Sure, I understand a number of issues on India, as Sufia laid out on this article...but this really doesn't give much confidence in India, if I were an investor.

Aside from the government's initiative on "innovation," what other "pro-India" arguments are there, I wonder, as far as investment is concerned.

docdivakar
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Re: 66th?
docdivakar   7/16/2013 5:07:11 PM
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@Junko & @Dylan, I am not at all surprised by this. In my one-on-one discussions with powers that be at the local government and with educational institutions heads, I have brought home this point umpteen times over a period of a decade or more. The fact that the Indian Patents Office (IPO) formalized its patents policy only a couple of years ago and that the guidelines and documents were released even later speaks volumes on where the priority on innovation stands. But the fault also lies with the Cornell report's methodology in gathering the metrics.

Indian populace by nature are very innovative. But sadly the govenment's so called IT & BT initiatives favor companies like Infosys & Wipro mentioned above which largely provide a service at a lower rate; their model of innovation is really how to provide a service at a lower cost which is replicable by other lower cost countries! In one of the lectures I gave couple of years ago at Bangalore, I asked the audience to name one product developed by Infosys that is well known to any one computer-literate. Not one hand went up.

I personally know of many innovations where people from ordinary walks of life have innovated neat things driven by high cost of imports, found alternate ways to do things more efficiently using machines or methods. I doubt if Cornell's report gathering process had boots on the ground to gather these metrics. On the same token, I would place blame also on the Indian government initiatives -it needs to place proper emphasis on smaller & individual enterpreneuers, not the big service type companies like Infosys.

MP Divakar

junko.yoshida
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Re: 66th?
junko.yoshida   7/16/2013 5:28:24 PM
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@docdivakar, as usual, thank you for contributing a very well debated. thoughtful take on the whole issue.

I like the fact that you actually asked your audience during your speech in Bangalore if they can name any memorable product from Infosys. You made your point very clear.

You mentioned that you personally know of many innovations where people from ordinary walks of life have innovated neat things driven by high cost of imports, found alternate ways to do things more efficiently using machines or methods.

I would definitely like to know more of those -- obviously, unless you are local, you won't find those examples...

 

docdivakar
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Re: 66th?
docdivakar   7/16/2013 9:02:07 PM
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@Junko: regarding products (more like lack of!) from Infosys, it was an eye opener to the engineering & MBA students in the audience. Every one there knew MS Word, Excel, Power Point etc., but could not name a single thing from Infosys. The point about innovating new products and sustaining them finally found home.

There are many examples from India on frugal innovations -ChotuKool fridge, Jaipur leg... efficient cataract surgery (Aravind Eye Care), refrigeration without electricity (MittiCool)... more recently Tata Nano (the cheapest car) among many others to name a few. The Indian government rightfully made innovation as the key to sustained growth and formulated a national imperative back in 2010. If Cornell's reports are to be fully trusted, then the results are obviously disappointing.

I have come across the same argument about India's lack of Nobel laureates. There is indeed an acute lack of basic / fundamental research for a country of its size and population. But the work force to do such research leading to Nobel awards often makes it way to Western economies. It would seem the ecosystem which exists today in India for fundamental research needs to be scaled 100X!

How ever, the same is not true with literature. With 18 different languages and thousands of literatary works, I can say that India's contributions have been largely ignored by the Nobel committee. Those of us who are proficient in Indian languages and English can confidently say there have been hundreds of works & authors in literature have been ignored for the Nobel award. But that is another topic... sorry for the digression!

MP Divakar

suntan
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the ranking parameters are questionable..
suntan   7/16/2013 6:17:35 PM
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before we talk "innovation", we better get a clear definition on what it truly means.   For this article, I assume we are talking the real "innovation", not the "talk innovation".   Basically,  I don't find the listedparameters used for the ranking having anything to do with innovation.   For one, in the history of Electronic designs, more innovations were made by people taught in classes that were very large by today's standard, maybe class size doesn't matter after all ? if that parameter is invalid as a yardstick, maybe other parameters are qeually not applicable ?

 

krisi
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link
krisi   7/16/2013 9:29:21 PM
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could ypu post the link to the list so we can check where other countries are listed at? i am curious about canada

stippu
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stippu   7/17/2013 12:13:54 AM
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Hi Kris

Here is the link

http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2013/article_0016.html


And incidentally, Canada ranks 11th - just missed it to being among the top 10

stippu
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Innovation
stippu   7/17/2013 12:48:18 AM
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Yes, when you talk of innovation from India, usually, the mitticool fridge comes up and  for those of you know are not aware of this -it is refrigerator which is made of clay and keeps fruits and vegetables fresh for almost up to a week. Mitti or clay is a natural coolant and this property of clay has been used well to make a natural refrigerator. In this device water is poured into a chamber from the top which percolates downwards between the 2 layered walls. During this process the water evaporates by convection and keeps the storage chambers cool. And the Jaipur Foot is a rubber-based prosthetic leg for people with below-knee amputations and it was designed and developed in 1968!

Am sure like Divakar says there must be some really good innovations but somehow they are not able to breakthrough.

There is a Nasscom group which is supposed to foster innovation in It products, and the National Innovation Foundation of which Anil Gupta is the Chairman-- but these are so miniscule if you were to consider a large country as India.

There was this oerson who was trying to develop a machine to pick cotton and he struggled for 10 years till Anil Gupta;s Honeybeen network team helped him out, I think.

There is no real/actual ecosystem for the entrepreneurs to take advantage of and thereis lies the demise of their idea and spirit.

 

docdivakar
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Re: Innovation
docdivakar   7/17/2013 3:12:23 AM
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Sofia, yes there are many cool innovations that have not seen any publicity at all. For example, before Dr. Ashok Gadgil (of UC Berkeley / Lawrence Livermore Lab) popularized "Darfur Stove," there were versions of it in India for efficient burning of fuel. I can go on to cite other examples where circumstances (like export restrictions by US) forced Indians to innovate and in the process improve what they were seeking to begin with in the imports!

It is worth noting that India also ranks well below China and even Saudi Arabia when it comes to Global Competitiveness Index:

http://bit.ly/dN63V4

That should serve as a rallying call to action for the Indians -some thing along the lines of what US did when the Russians sent Sputnik up to the heavens! Only time will tell in India's case.

MP Divakar

Sanjib.A
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Re: Innovation
Sanjib.A   7/17/2013 12:29:09 PM
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Did this study consider the patents filed by the multi-national/ global companies, who have design & development centers in india but the head quarter is in some other countries such as US, countries in Europe or is it based on the patents filed by the Indian companies alone?

stippu
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Re: Innovation/patents
stippu   7/18/2013 12:51:32 PM
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Sanjib: you had asked a very good question.

Here's the reply from the GII 2013/WIPO analyst :

One has to be very careful with patent-related metrics. Not all inventive activity of multinational company filing a patent in its headquarter country, must necessarily emanate from this country alone. A patent filed in the US by a US multinational, for instance, might draw on research & development and other inventive activity and innovation in locations outside of the United States.  Design & Development is also often important, but not the most technologically-savy component of invention and innovation. Hence attributing the patent to all countries where parts of the lesser innovative nventive activity took place would also not be right.

 The GII has two  patent-related metrics

First, it measures "resident patent filings in a country". If no patent is filed by residents in India in the above example then nothing gets attributed and the result is 0 patents. If however an Indian subsidiary of a US multinational files for a patent, then usually this is counted as a resident patent filing. And then we have 1 patent.

 Second, it measures patent families. In practice, companies file patents in multiple jurisdictions on the same invention . Usually, the first patent is in the most important market or its headquarter. And then the company also often files in countries where the patented technology has a large potential market or a range of potential imitators with the necessary technological skills. It is not unlikely that the above-mentioned firm would file for a patent in India via its Indian subsidiary as well, in which case it is counted in the GII. It all depends a bit on the product and firm in question.

 

Hope this clarifies

Sanjib.A
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Re: Innovation/patents
Sanjib.A   7/18/2013 11:30:15 PM
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Sufia, thank you for the information! In short, if an Indian national working for an US/Europian multinational subsidary innovates something but does not file patent in India, instead files the patent in US or Europian country which is owning the subsidary company...the credit for innovation does not get counted for India, right?  

stippu
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Re: Innovation/patents
stippu   7/19/2013 9:53:16 AM
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Yes, Sanjib, you are right. So all the patents filed abroad by engineers working in MNCs are not counted 

Sanjib.A
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Re: Innovation/patents
Sanjib.A   7/19/2013 1:48:11 PM
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Okay, thanks Sufia!

I would not like to say that if those innovations patented by the Indian scientists, engineers on behalf of MNCs having head quarter outside India, were counted, would have improved the rank. But I believe Indians are innovative (though they are actually shy to claim it).

Sufia has already pointed out some of the criteria where India scored low, which are political inefficiency, instability, poorer quality of education, bad grasping power (??)...etc. True. Apart from all that, I believe many of the innovations get un-noticed due to lack of awareness about protecting one's invention (patenting) and moreover the willingness of the Indian companies to encourage and support innovation.

  

prabhakar_deosthali
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Jugaads
prabhakar_deosthali   7/17/2013 6:03:57 AM
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In my opinion the reason for India getting such a lower rank in Innovation Index is that Indians are shy of publicity. They are shy of filing patents for the innovative ideas and averse to defending them. They are lazy enough not to publish their work in international journals

The innovative creations are popularly known as "Jugaads" in India. And I believe a book has been written on this.

In the era when there were restrictions by Western world  on giving access to the latest technology to India ( computers, Nuclear reactors, weapons and such other technologies)  there have been may be millions of "jugaads" created by Indian farmers, technicians, engineers, scientists, doctors,many of which may not have been documented well.

If all of that goes into print and patents , may be India will jump many positions up in the Innovation index.

 

 

stippu
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Re: Jugaads
stippu   7/17/2013 12:03:21 PM
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There were two schools of thought when I spoke to a few people about innovation – not just for this article but generally at seminars/press conferences I attend. Publicly,  representatives of companies ( foreign ) would invariably say that Indians are very talented and the software engineers are extremely good. But off the record, ( if I were to specifically ask about innovation or products coming out of India) a few would say that they don't think Indians are innovators but would always commend them for their diligence and hard work ( you have to keep in mind that these comments/people are usually in IT since I cover that beat here in India).  They feel that Indians do not question and that they look more guidance and specs. And, asking questions is something foreign to them. This was one school of thought.

The other school of thought was that the above was  wrong – maybe it would have been true 20 years earlier but not now. But the catch here is if they were to think out-of-the-box, then where would they be headed? There is no ecosystem to help them take their ideas or their entrepreneurship  forward. And, once that exist, which are very few - well, those are only for the very lucky few or the priviliged/blue-eyed kind of guys. The rest of the crowd struggle for years on end and finally give up.

 

 

Susan Rambo
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Re: Jugaads
Susan Rambo   7/18/2013 8:50:14 PM
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I like the Jugaad spirit of Indians. Isn't it about finding a solution by compromising. It's a compromise that works. Sounds like politics. The art of the compromise.

Charles.Desassure
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Innovation...
Charles.Desassure   7/17/2013 2:44:39 PM
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Thanks for this article.  It is wonderful that India is ranked as the 66th Most Innovation Nation. But let's not forget, that innovation without money doesn't lead to success.  But this is good news for the Country.

docdivakar
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Re: Innovation...
docdivakar   7/17/2013 5:16:59 PM
@Charles.Desassure What you say below is not at all reassuring!  NO it is NOT ok to be in the 66th place for a country like India! As a person of Indian origin I feel that placement is unacceptable.

When this survey is done again in a year or two, I fully expect India to move up a few notches.

MP Divakar

 

stippu
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Re: Innovation...
stippu   7/18/2013 12:38:04 AM
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I guess Charles means well but I don't agree with it too. India is supposed to be loaded with IT talent on one hand and on the other hand, people here try to do their best when lack of funds  and government support is just not forthcoming – they try to make things better for themselves in any small way possible.. so why cant big things happen? If the infrastructure is good and the ecosystem, nurtures growth I  would like to see India move way up from the 66th position. Countries like MoldovaRep, Armenia and Chile are ranked above ( not that I have anything against those countries) is not encouraging.. especially when we call cities like Bangalore the Silicon Valley of India.

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