Innovation Found Corpus: Structure & Challenges: Civil Services Mentor Magazine - January 2014

Innovation Found Corpus: Structure & Challenges


Innovation today is increasingly going beyond the confines of formal R&D to redefine everything. Today innovation can mean new and unique applications of old technologies, using design to develop new products and services, new processes and structures to improve performance in diverse areas, organisational creativity, and public sector initiatives to enhance delivery of services. Innovation is being seen as a means of creating sustainable and cost effective solutions for people at the bottom of the pyramid, and is being viewed as an important strategy for inclusive growth in developing economies.

Realising that innovation is the engine for the growth of prosperity and national competitiveness in the 21st century, the President of India has declared 2010 as the ‘Decade of Innovation’. To take this agenda forward, the Office of Adviser to the PM on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations (PIII) is working on developing a national strategy on innovation with a focus on an Indian model of inclusive growth. The idea is to create an indigenous model of development suited to Indian needs and challenges.

Towards this end, the Prime Minister has approved the setting up of a National Innovation Council (NInC) under the Chairmanship of Mr. Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the PM on PIII to discuss, analyse and help implement strategies for inclusive innovation in India and prepare a Roadmap for Innovation 2010-2020. NIC would be the first step in creating a crosscutting system which will provide mutually reinforcing policies, recommendations and methodologies to implement and boost innovation performance in the country.

India has a long tradition of innovation and a significant pool of qualified people, both within country as well as the diaspora, presently engaged in innovative activities. This talent pool has to be leveraged to drive the innovation agenda. Further, there is also a need to capture the multiple innovations happening in various domains such as government, R&D labs, universities, and across sectors, to give an impetus to the innovation process in the country. NIC will act as a platform to facilitate this engagement and collaboration with domain experts, stakeholders and key participants to create an innovation movement in India. The aim is to herald a mindset change and create a push at the grassroots level so that more and more people in education, business, government, NGOs, urban and rural development engaged in innovative activities are co-opted and are part of shaping the national level innovation strategy.

Innovation Challenge

The first challenge launched by the National Innovation Council was a call for proposals launched in October 2011 to reduce the drudgery of the working class population. It was an acknowledgement of the collective
failure to use our scientific and technological manpower to address problems of the average working class citizen. The challenge was to provide decent conditions of work to labour including ideas that would improve the design of work implements, processes, and models that improve work conditions. This went with the caveat that proposals should not be labour displacing.

468 proposals were received in a period of four months and finally six proposals were shortlisted after several rounds of screening. These six proposals, as detailed below, were awarded by Shri Sam Pitroda, Adviser to PM and Chairman, National Innovation Council along with Shri Jairam Ramesh, Hon’ble Minister for Rural Development and Kumari Selja, Hon’ble Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation at a function on 4th April 2012 at PIB Conference Hall, Shastri Bhavan.

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