Food for Thought: Sneak Peek from Aditya Dev Sood’s book “India’s Innovation Path”

A chapter from Aditya Dev Sood’s book “India’s Innovation Path” will serve as a background note for CKS’ positioning on innovation in India at the upcoming Design Public Conclave to be held on the 29th and 30th of November in Mumbai. His highly compelling writing will provide an introduction to some of the topics that will be discussed at the Conclave. Here are some of the excerpts from the book that I found really intriguing:

My intention in writing about innovation in India is not merely to fix its meaning, once and for all, nor is it only to understand and speak to these different ways in which the term is being used. I would also suggest that a particular way of thinking about innovation may be better than other ways, and that such a way might serve larger collective and public interests of people in this region and in other similar regions of the world… One of my main goals in writing this account of innovation in India is to show how forms of innovation have in fact grown more and more systematic and complex over time, and that this process has a characteristic shape and contour in a country such as India.

It is striking that neither management studies nor engineering is able to offer any account of the inner dynamics of innovation. Rather, they tell us only about the physical, organizational and social elements, resources and conditions might be necessary for innovation. This is to say, these accounts of innovation operate almost exclusively from the outside of people’s thoughts, impressions, sensibilities and consciousness. This is necessary, but not sufficient. In order to understand innovation in subjective and interior terms, we must have recourse not only to sciences of the interior, such as psychology and cognitive science, but also applied disciplines which teach subjects how to organize ideas, to synthesize thoughts, and how to move them along, from abstract concept through prototype and on towards a solution. The name for that still-emerging discipline is Design.

The absence of an established culture of innovation is intrinsically linked to many of the most intractable problems facing India as a nation. These include poor delivery of government services, inadequate systems of personal identification and the absence of widely available financial services for rural poor, health and sanitation failures. This list can go on. Cumulatively, the inability of India as a nation, society and economy to adequately provide for its own population no longer reflects a failure of implementation, but rather of a failure of innovation, for there are not immediately-available, off-the-shelf solutions that would make it possible for these grand challenges facing India to be redressed.

Find the complete Chapter here.

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