I just read an article written over a year ago, which suggested that an Indian innovation ecology was still a long way off, and may perhaps not manifest at all. The author articulated many different barriers to a culture of innovation:
They [critics] point to India’s lack of a robust innovation ecosystem — an optimal mix of inventors, entrepreneurs, mentors and investors underpinned by a supportive financial system, friendly government policies and conducive cultural attitudes. Tellingly, Nadathur S. Raghavan, a founder of Infosys and now also an investor in start-ups, recently said that India is held back by a financial system that is reluctant to invest in unproven ideas, an education system that emphasizes rote learning over problem solving and a culture that looks down on failure and unconventional career choices.
Analysts also note that India’s corporate spending on research and development is significantly lagging. In fact, the rate and scope of outsourcing-driven success may itself be hampering R&D. “The ease with which a company’s core business grows can mask the need to invest in innovation,” said Scott D. Anthony, managing director of Innosight, a consulting firm in Watertown, Mass.
Neither has the Indian government traditionally done much to encourage innovation. Although it has recently begun to show some interest in reforms that would favor entrepreneurs, it still engages in protectionism, often stymies new enterprise — especially in manufacturing — with thickets of red tape, and has been known to eschew foreign investment. Up to now, “India has embraced foreign direct investment far less than China has,” said Harvard Business School Professor Tarun Khanna.
Some of these factors have begun to change, but the challenges still remain, as we discussed at Design Public last year in Bangalore. Can the long standing problems and social attitudes be overcome? Your thoughts welcome.
Read the rest of the article here.
Hat tip: @ekta_ohri