TECH TALK: Letter to Arun Shourie (Part 5)
7. Change the way we fund Research in India
There is plenty of government funding which goes to various institutions across India. While there is some commercialisation which happens, that is not good enough. Can we look at alternate models which would encourage innovations to make their way out from the labs into the market? There are plenty of problems waiting to be solved from the low-cost energy to connectivity in rural areas, from creating business process maps for SME sectors to creating rural hubs. We need funding which has a get-it-to-market focus. We need funding which concentrates on creating public goods which private investors and entrepreneurs would not be able to do. We need to focus on disruptive innovations which can help us leapfrog. We need to make R&D stand for research and deployment.
8. Start a Weblog
My last suggestion may sound odd, so let me explain. India needs the collective intelligence of many to move ahead fast. There are many people who have sound, practical ideas. They need to be encouraged to communicate. Your blog will send out the message that you are listening. By sharing your ideas (even though they may not be fully formed), you will garner the best wisdom and learnings that exist in people. Your blog (and it has to be written by you) will become a magnet for people to start coming together to build the New India.
This is what I wanted to tell you that day in Bangalore when you couldn’t make it. Is this all that needs to be done to transform India’s technology space? By no means. I have put a few ideas which came to my mind. I am sure there are others who can improve on these ideas and even suggest many better ones. My focus has been on the market within India. This is a market beyond the IT services and outsourcing we are doing so well.
I believe that IT and Telecom can continue be transformative tools in Indias future development whats needed is the right vision to see it through. Unfortunately, we are still hobbled my some short-sighted policies which stifle growth in the domestic segment. I feel that unless we may adequate attention to building out India’s digital infrastructure, we will not do much to impact the millions of domestic businesses and hundreds of millions of Indians outside the major metros and big towns. For the first time in our post-Independence history, there is a positive momentum. If we can give it the right catalytic push, India can unleash its entrepreneurial energies across the board and ensure that growth and development happen in a balanced manner. And you, Sir, as the Minister responsible for IT and Telecom, can make it happen.
PS: The full series is available here.