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PM calls for more innovations for poor

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday urged India’s innovators to develop more ideas and products for the poor while setting up a fund for ingenuity that serves the lower 500 million in the country’s income ladder.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday urged India’s innovators to develop more ideas and products for the poor while setting up a fund for ingenuity that serves the lower 500 million in the country’s income ladder.

Addressing the National Innovation Council, the Prime Minister said the country needed to invest more to meet challenges in poverty, health, agriculture, green energy and rural communications.

“In recent times, we have made several 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 the problems of the poor,” he said.

The government pledged Rs 100 crore as seed capital to the India Inclusive Innovation Fund, which it expects to eventually grow to Rs 5,000 crore. Businesses, venture capital and private donors are expected to contribute nearly four-fifths of the fund.

The fund, which will remain autonomous of the government, will back enterprises that serve and employ the poorest 500 million customers in a commercially viable manner.

“The fund will therefore function as a for-profit entity with a social investment focus and seek to provide its investors with reasonable financial returns,” said a report released by the council.

All enterprises that receive investment will have to demonstrate that they meet social objectives and deliver sound performance, the report said.

Sam Pitroda, chairman of the council, said: “The core idea is to innovate to produce affordable and qualitative solutions that address the needs of people at the bottom of the pyramid.”

But Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee warned that setting up a fund would not alone meet the problems of the poor.

“Venture capital does not cater to solving the problems of the bottom of the population. Our government is committed to give them their due opportunity,” he said.

Source:-Indian Express, Nov 16, 2011

 
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