India needs innovation to address poverty: PM

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 12:51

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
on Tuesday said the country needs creativity and innovation to
address the problems of poverty, health and environment.

"We have made innovations in areas such as space
technology, atomic energy and automobiles. But innovation in
our country has focused mostly on the needs of the rich and
not adequately on solving problems of the poor. We wish to
change this state of affairs," Singh said while releasing a
report of the Innovation Council of India.

Innovation, Singh said, can be "a game changer to move
from incremental change to radical change. And therefore, it
is our resolve to build an enabling environment for innovation
to flourish."

The country, he added, needs models for innovation to
address problems in areas such as poverty alleviation, health,
rural communications, agriculture, animal husbandry, green
energy and so on.

Noting that innovation has a critical role to play in
India`s growth and development, the Prime Minister said, "The
set of challenges that we as a nation face is not only
diverse, but also unique. It is only through creativity and
innovation, by coming up with novel solutions appropriate to
Indian context, that we can meet these challenges
effectively."

The country, he added, was currently witnessing
innovation in rights-based delivery through the Right to Work,
Right to Information and Right to Education, while a Right to
Food Security was on the anvil.

Speaking on the occasion, Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee announced that the government would provide Rs 100
crore for the India Innovation Fund, which would fund low-cost
innovation.

India`s diversity, Singh said, is an advantage and
innovation will happen if people with diverse talent come
together for a common endeavour.

Demographically, India is a youthful nation, the Prime
Minister said, adding, "The young are restless, impatient for
change and innovative. We need to fully exploit these
advantages."

Recalling the tradition of innovation in the country,
Singh said, "We were the first to realise the vision of
universities at Nalanda and Takhshila. Our freedom struggle
that we won without arms was a social innovation in peaceful
resistance."

Singh also welcomed the initiative of the council to set
up a "meta-university" -- a collaborative platform where a
network of universities would offer students the opportunity
to pursue various disciplines of study.

Pointing out that venture capital funds do not cater to
solving problems of the poor, Mukherjee said, "I propose to
make an initial contribution of Rs 100 crore to kick start the
Indian Innovation Fund. The fund will pioneer low-cost
innovation."

Innovation, he stressed, could significantly help in
raising productivity of the informal sector, which suffers
from various problems.

"Our informal sector, where the majority of our workforce
employed has low productivity and low skilled activities.

They could benefit from innovation if they would exploit the
existing knowledge base, including product design and
connectivity with markets," the Finance Minister said.

The government has taken various initiatives like tax
concessions for encouraging scientific research, he said,
adding that the first multi-disciplinary meta-university will
be rolled out in 2012.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 11:18

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