Paper Title : Reinventing India as an Innovation Nation

Speaking on the Indian decade of innovation (2010-2020), Dr. Mashelkar said that he was confident that India would be taking the first definite steps towards a position of global innovation leadership in this period. There was a time when Indians were only copying global models of innovation, a trend that he attributed to the pre-1991 protected economy, unhelpful Intellectual Property laws and an inability to monetize knowledge. “India has so far been good at creating products that are first to India, not first to the world. Increasingly, however, we will see more and more ‘first to the world’ innovations,” Dr. Mashelkar said.

“There is plenty of good news that suggests that things are changing in India — and for the better,” Dr Mashelkar pointed out. He referred to the Indian Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (2013) that clearly reflects the growing realization about the seamless linkage between science, technology & innovation. He also drew the attention of the audience to an article he co-authored with the late CK Prahlad (Innovation’s Holy Grail, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2010), where the two introduced the concept of ‘Gandhian Innovation’, which was focused on getting more from less for more and more people, an idea that caught the imagination of the world as MLM (More from Less for More). According to the renowned scientist, “In the decade ahead, India will become a leader in MLM, which will be achieved through not only technological innovation (Nano), but also business process innovation (lowest cost mobile cell phone calls), workflow innovation (Aravind Eye Care) and so on.”

The IMI Kolkata Distinguished Lecture series has earlier seen lectures delivered by luminaries in the ranks of Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank, and renowned author Gurcharan Das.

The Distinguished Lecture was chaired by Dr Bakul Dholakia, the Director-General of the IMI Group of B-Schools with campuses in Delhi, Kolkata and Bhubaneswar. Giving his remarks on Dr Mashelkar’s lecture, Dr Dholakia said: ‘Institutional framework, policy initiatives and innovation in policy formation is the key to tap the potential of India’s youth. The problem with the impact and effectiveness of a new idea is the difficulty in discarding with the old and to this effect, the new Government has taken a step in the right direction by discarding the Planning Commission and coming up with the initiative of NITI Ayog for advising the Government on social and economic issues.’ He concluded with the thought that great minds like Dr. Mashelkar, having the rare combination of huge technical knowhow and plethora of experiences, be on the board of NITI Ayog so that our nation can reach new heights of innovation!

About Dr. Raghunath Anant Mashelkar

Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, is among India’s most celebrated scientists. He has been awarded the Padmashri, Padmabhushan and Padmavibhushan by the Government of India.

Dr. Mashelkar was Director-General of CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) for 11 years. He is the former President of the Indian National Science Academy and the UK Institution of Chemical Engineers. He was elected as Fellow of Royal Society, London, and as a foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences. In 2008, he was elected as the foreign associate of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the first Indian to have received this honour. He was also elected foreign fellow of US National Academy of Engineering, International Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering, UK, and Fellow of World Academy of Art & Science, USA).

In the post-liberalized India, Dr Mashelkar played an important role in shaping India’s science and technology policies as a member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the PM, and of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet. He is one of the first ever scientist to provide molecular level interpretation of volume phase transitions in super swelling polymers. He made an invaluable contribution to the intellectual property movement in India. As the first Chairman of WIPO’s standing committee on IT, Dr Mashelkar strongly advocated that traditional knowledge be treated at par with industrial property systems, which led to the creation of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). He fought successfully in changing the International Patent Classification System to include Indian traditional knowledge.

Dr. Mashelkar did his bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering in 1966 at the University of Bombay. He later went on to do a PhD. He has made some path-breaking contributions in transport phenomena and thermodynamics of swelling, superswelling and shrinking polymers, modelling of polymerisation reactors, and engineering analysis of non-Newtonian flows. Dr Mashelkar is currently the President of Global Research Alliance, a global network of publicly-funded research and development institutes. He is also the Chairperson of India’s National Innovation Foundation, and has been appointed the first Chairperson of the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research.

About Dr. Bakul Dholakia

Dr. Dholakia, the current Director General of International Management Institute based out of IMI Delhi is among India’s most noted economists who have been awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2007 for his contributions in the field of Education.

As a visionary leader, Dr. Dholakia has worked on numerous government committees including the Rangarajan Committee on Pricing and Taxation on Petroleum Products and the Expert Group on Pension Fund constituted by the Government of India. Prior to joining IMI, he served as the Director of Adani Institute of Infrastructure Management and Gujarat Adani Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhuj. He is respected for his bold stance on the Autonomy of Higher Education Institutions.

With an experience of over 45 years, including 33 years in IIM-A, Dr. Dholakia is endowed with an in-depth knowledge, understanding and practitioner’s perspective on quality management education in India.

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