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PM posits Innovation as a solution to poverty

The way to eradicate poverty is not through removing corruption, nor is it through equitable distribution, it does not rely on proactive action to on the farm sector. What it needs, according to the Prime Minister, is innovation.

The way to eradicate poverty is not through removing corruption, nor is it through equitable distribution, it does not rely on proactive action to on the farm sector. What it needs, according to the Prime Minister, is innovation.

Speaking at the release of the National Innovation Council’s first report the Prime Minister described innovation as a “game changer”. Till now, he said, innovation has only been used to benefit the rich, but its power can be harnessed to benefit the poor too.

That is the job of the National Innovation Council set up under the leadership of Sam Pitroda, widely credited with bringing the telecommunication revolution to India. The PM called for an inclusive model for innovation.

“Innovation has a critical role to play in the processes of India’s economic and social growth and development,” Manmohan Singh said after releasing the first report of the National Innovation Council that was set up last year.

Pointing to the “diverse and unique challenges” India faces, Manmohan Singh said: “It is only through creativity and innovation, by coming up with novel solutions appropriate to the Indian condition and Indian context, that we can meet these challenges effectively.”

“Indeed we see innovation as truly 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 in our country,” he said while noting progress in the activities of the National Innovation Council.

The problem with such a theory lies in its over reliance on technology to address all kinds of social issues. It is model that has been tried with little success in the US, innovation too has its cost.

Social issues can only be tackled with socially aware policies, and innovation can only work in tandem with them. Innovation can hardly be taken as a silver bullet for all of India’s problems.

Manmohan Singh also launched a portal that will serve as an information repository for innovation in the country.

“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,” he said.

“We wish to change this state of affairs,” he added.

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

National Innovation Council was set up by Manmohan Singh in 2010 under the chairmanship of Sam Pitroda to discuss, analyse and help implement strategies for inclusive innovation in India and prepare a roadmap for 2010-2020, which has been designated as the decade of innovation.

Pitroda said the fund would have participating from various multilateral agencies and corporates and operate on the lines of a private venture capital fund.

“The government’s contribution would be just 20 percent. Our target is to create a Rs.5,000 crore fund which would help innovators translate their ideas into businesses,” said Pitroda.

He said the government plan to connect 2.5 lakh panchayats with broadband to provide a platform for innovative ideas in rural India.

India, Manmohan Singh said, 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.

Describing India’s freedom struggle as “a social innovation in peaceful resistance”, Manmohan Singh alluded to the activities of the National Knowledge Network which seeks connect all colleges in our county.

“It also proposes to launch a meta-university, which would provide a student the opportunity to pursue another discipline of study in another college that is part of the network,” he said.

“This would enable a student of astrophysics in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, for example, to take up a course in comparative literature at the Jadavpur University,” he said.

“Such creative reconfigurations are expected to create ‘new minds’ conducive to the growth of innovation.”

Source:-Northern Voices Online, Nov 15, 2011

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