I read an interesting article by Vivekh Wadhwa about why China produces 7 times more engineers than US, and why it still can’t be innovative. Can resources (infrastructures, manpower etc) can create an environment that inspires creativity? It certainly does not seem so. The cultural factor should also be considered. The Government and the Society should be able to recognize and appreciate innovative ideas and creative people.
For example, in China and for a large share in India, innovation is not what is appreciated; instead it’s the art of copying. The shortcut! Why waste significant amount of time and energy and face the prospects of failure, when you can copy and paste a tested and proven model. This helps students submit their dissertations faster, get applause easier, for corporations to gain on competitors faster. But it does not help the nation grow! If you look closely, in our country, this non-support to be different you can found right from our childhood, at schools, at homes, at colleges and later on even at work places. Hence you have parents who refuse kids to choose careers (that are unconventional), schools who refuse to beyond the out dated syllabuses, corporates that do not invest in research and developments and Governments that do not any vision or clue about it!
Another thing that holds back innovations or innovative startups are too much Govt formalities and corruptions. Now innovators are people who think, and since not everybody is perfect, are not people interested in running from office to office, carrying paper works and kickbacks! These matters piss them off, and they decide to go elsewhere. Even our Chambers of Commerce has nothing to do with assisting them. We know how prevalent this is in India. But China is not better. Corruption, redtapism have played a major role in preventing innovation.
One area where India and China differ is that, China invests Billions into research and development and its promotions. At present, it’s second only to US in filing patents and by 2015 could overtake the US. India is sleeping on this end. But nevertheless, China is not going to be an innovator. And that is the lesson that I wish my readers to note. Due to corruptions and due to lack of sense of “originality” China is wasting this money by giving it through corrupt practices. Also because China focuses mainly on quantity of the patents and not the quality. And by giving extra ordinary benefits to those who create more patents, the focus shifted from the quality of patents to producing more and more patents.
The objective of comparing China and India with the US on innovation is to make us think, how this will help us develop our local economies. The above cases teach us that , for innovation to happen we need a free mind to float fearless, avoid clutters on the way- so that they can concentrate on what they do best, create a positive environment where they are support financially and emotionally when they win and fail (like in the US). And not be indifferent like India (where no money, no infra and road ahead is littered with corrupt Govt agencies, unwanted processes and procedures, unreachable subsidies, preventive taxes, etc), nor be doing it the wrong way like China (funds for research in the wrong way, wrong incentives, preference to quantity not quality, copycat promoting attitude, and lack of opportunity for free thinking).
As private investors, businessmen and entrepreneurs in India, how can we make things better? I suggest we create private institutions that will invest into innovators and incubate them. And profit from selling them out when they succeed. Where do we get the capital for it? From investors, like any other business. It does have its complexities and not as easy as said. But there are ways. There are people doing it.
Do you have any better idea, or wish to share your views. Please do comment.