Monday, March 30, 2015

Why innovation should compliment “Make in India” program?

Recently, when I was flying to the US for a job assignment, I walked down the memory lane and was thinking about the path I had chosen and what could have happened had I chosen a different path. I am happy with my present job, and the path I have chosen is similar to most of the guys from a social background like mine - finished engineering, then an MBA, joined an MNC and life is sailing smooth. I am sure, had I chosen a different path, life would not have been as smooth as the present one. It would have been a roller coaster ride. I am not sure, how my parents would have taken that. This would be the thought everyone at my age would have had.

These days I am seeing lot of youngsters rejecting the plush offers from corporate entities to pursue their dreams. They were definitely not running behind money unlike most of us. A recent article I read mentions that there are many successful people who have changed their field of work not once or twice but around 12 times to do what mattered the most for them. The only thing common among these people is they did not do different things, they innovated ways to do things differently and they shook the entire market by delivering more value to the consumers.

Time is ripe now for people who were waiting at the sidelines to plunge into business. The Government of India is setting up a start-up fund to the tune of 10,000 crores to promote a better start-up ecosystem in India. One thing that we should focus on is innovation. Entrepreneurs should focus on disruptive innovation like what Steve Jobs did to the music player. Music players were always there but iPod changed the way we listen to music. Though India is not known for innovating new products, Indians are known for the so called ‘Jugaad’ innovations where one somehow manages to create stuff with very little resources but the creation turns out to be a very efficient one. We cannot call our Mars Mission as Jugaad innovation, but we did it at the fraction of the cost that had put other space powers to shame. Almost every engineering college hostel would have seen hundreds of Jugaad innovations. From making an omelet using iron box to boiling milk to wearing helmet while chopping onions, we have seen it all.

But these folks once they get placed in an MNC just become one among the herd and all the innovative ideas end up in the cubicle. No one thinks out of the cubicle. A friend of mine once told me that when he approached his boss with an innovative idea, his boss said, “I am the boss here and do what I say.” Now that friend is his own boss. We need such bosses and such guys to take our nation forward. I am very confident that, a nation with 1.2 billion people can generate millions of ideas and those ideas need to be put to use to create innovations. Such ideas not only propel a country’s economy but will be the core driving force for humanity to prosper in future.

 The flagship “Make in India” program of the Prime Minister is aimed at generating new jobs and increasing the GDP growth and I am sure it would attract investments into India in the form of technology and money. But it would make our nation a contract manufacturing hub. We had an edge few years back when BPOs were the sunrise sector in India as majority of the population can converse in English and the outsourcing companies had a cost advantage. But today, countries like Vietnam, Philippines attract such projects and they are cost-effective compared to India. In the future, Make in India might also become less viable for countries that manufacture in India because of the currency appreciation when the economy takes the upward trajectory. It is not only better but a necessity to encourage enterprises and start-ups to innovate and it is the responsibility of the government and the people to create an ecosystem where innovative people thrive and innovations disrupt innovations.

This article is written by Kshitiz Harsh. Follow him on Facebook here.