Imagining India as an Innovation Society


A few weeks ago, Sunil Abraham and I met up with Sukumar Ranganathan, the editor of Mint newspaper, to think and talk more about our upcoming event, Design Public. What would it take to transform India into an innovation society, we asked. There were a cascade of answers.

We touched on the behaviors, practices, priorities and values of contemporary urban Indian culture, all of which would have to change. Imagine people respecting a scientist or researcher more than a property developer, Sukumar said. I mentioned the flow of capital and the inter-relations between government and industry, across which we would need many more kinds of inter-connections and new forms of institutional bridging. Sukumar mentioned our education systems, which actually inhibit new thinking, collaboration, and creativity. He began talking about how Indian industry thought about innovation — more in terms of R&D than new product development, and how an entire generation of Indian management needs to understand India’s innovation challenge in a different way.

Music to our ears, really.  It is in order to begin redressing the diverse misconceptions around innovation that persist in India, and to help provide a basic framework for innovation thinking in the country that we have planned a training workshop on Innovation on the 19th of March as part of the Design Public Event. We’ll be working through the three stages of innovation, explaining the Innovation Cycle, and even providing one-on-one consultations for those with specific and present innovation needs or challenges.

The following day, Sukumar will be moderating a public conversation on that topic we’d come up with in his office: How should we imagine India as an innovation society? And therefore, what will we have to do to change ourselves to bring this about? It’s going to be a spanking and sparkling conversation — do connect with us if you’d like to join.

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