Innovating India

Any nation or an enterprise is judged by its innovativeness on long run. India’s engineering talent and IT power has created a place in global technological fraternity. However, innovations are being taken up as priority in almost all sectors, and companies- small and big too. According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, some 70 per cent of corporate leaders say innovation is among their top three priorities for driving growth.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is moving ahead towards establishing the first “human colony”on moon. It is examining the possibility of establishing a robotic set-up or unmanned mission on the moon. And as some claim, the moon has plenty of sources for energy.

Scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have demonstrated that they are capable of developing an indigenously-developed anti-ballistic missile shield that could protect not just Delhi, but other major metros and key installations from any nuclear attacks, whether it come in from Pakistan or China.

Simultaneously, a small innovator such as Bhanjibhai Mathukiya from Junagadh, has created an affordable mini tractor of 10 HP for the small groundnut and orchard farmers in Saurashtra. The innovation has been short-listed for the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad’s ‘Metamorphosis’ event. According to Mahesh Patel, chief innovator at the Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network who has been incubating the small tractor, a non-exclusive rights of the invention have already been taken up by an Anand-based company, with many others showing interest. The tractor will cost about Rs 1.6 lakh and the banks will feel comfortable in financing the tractors to petty farmers. Perhaps the target cost would have been Rs 1 lakh.

And interestingly, school children studying in eighth and ninth standard are trying to use Papaya leaves for driving away mosquitoes, and are creating about 150 different colour combinations using vegetables to develop ink to be used for permanent and non-permanent marker pens. School children are grouped under Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science (IRIS). The project got support from Intel Education who has collaborated with the Confederation of Indian Industry and Department of Science and Technology.

And there are individuals like Kranthi Kiran Vistakula, who has the passion to innovate that made him take a break from his studies in MIT to work on an innovation, active heating/cooling jacket, claimed to be the first of its kind. The US as well as Indian Army is showing keen interest in the project.

And Devesh Ashok Kulkarni, an innovator from Mumbai becomes the nominee for the best 2007 invention. Kulkarni has developed a car jack that can be integrated with the car chassis. It uses engine power to lift the car body. It will avoid the unnecessary and tedious hassle during the change of a punctured tyre.

Of many innovation awards instituted, the EMPI-Indian Express Indian Innovation Awards were representative of innovations in organizations this year. Recipients were:

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS): It started an adult literacy programme around 2000, using an in-house developed software that can make the people literate in just about 35-40 hours training without any instructor.

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC): After the implementation of AWATAR (Any Where Any Time Advanced Reservation), a web enabled ticketing application, the KSRTC transformed into a profit making Rs 1000-crore turnover company.

Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Government of Maharashtra: The department started a cleanliness competition at the taluka, tehsil and district levels with the winners getting lots of prizes and publicity. This resulted 7,000 villages in Maharashtra free from open defecation.

Multi-Commodity Exchange of India: The contribution of MCX on the Indian commodities market has been innovative application of technology through IT, speed of implementation, and domain knowledge in the commodity segment
Keggfarms: Set up a new distribution model that raised chickens in independent nurseries, and developed ‘Kurolier’, a coloured bird, which provides more meat and eggs, as a substitute for chicken in regular diet.

Midas Communications: Its wireless product corDECT and DSL flagship DIAS, today connect over three million members of the rural community.

Tata Motors: Tata Ace, with a capacity of around 0.75 tonne has achieved last mile connectivity and more than a lakh of these vehicles transverse roads of rural India today.

As we move around and think over for a while, we find the results of innovations in products and services everywhere. See the varieties in breads, biscuits, cookies, and candies. Watch at the man who comes for the meter reading and provides us with bill and collects the cheque too. Try to look at the cell phones or for that matter any thing you had been familiar with, you can notice the new innovations.

Innovation is certainly central to a company’s strategy and performance, but getting it right is as hard as ever. Indian companies must shift its priority on design. I strongly feel that our education must emphasise on innovation and entrepreneurship from quite an early stage.

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