We’ve witnessed a number of revolutions and today as we stand on the brink of an artificial intelligence uprising, unquestionably, technology will be at the fore. While entrepreneurs around the globe are changing the way business is done, India still lags behind when it comes to innovation and leadership in technology. There’s a reason why the US has been a front-runner in innovation for the last 5 decades. They are the world leaders in technology-led innovation, the reason they have high-wage job creation and thereby national security. Today, they devote nearly half of all the global R&D spending, estimated at about $1 trillion.
Recently, China has propelled to No. 2 in R&D spending while India is left far behind, spending only $36 billion a year, roughly 0.9% of our GDP. This is just about 1/10th of what China spends. India can spur more innovation by not only increasing its funding in basic research but also by channeling more of it to our top universities that teach science and engineering.
Industrialists from across business verticals are looking to jump onto the bandwagon of the Fourth Industrial Revolution not wanting to get left behind in implementing technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things, machine and deep learning in their factories. A recent study published by the World Economic Forum states that the world is on the verge of the industrial revolution “that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.” Undeniably, it will impact job scenarios across the world – disrupting erstwhile, well-established businesses, bringing sweeping changes to labor markets, and changing business models on the foundation of emerging economic theories.
India’s output today is roughly $320 billion. We want to take it to $1-1.2 trillion in the next 15-20 years. More than 65% of India’s workforce lives in rural areas, with relatively inadequate access to basic amenities. Water is scarce, sanitation is rudimentary, daily life is led through primitive means. These basic issues will have to be addressed or at least enabled through various initiatives. Innovation and technology, two of the binding powers of the revolution will propel this. India’s IT industry has played a key role in putting India on the global map by becoming one of the significant growth sectors for our economy. In addition to fueling India’s economy, technology advancements have also positively influenced lives of people through an active direct and indirect contribution to various socio-economic parameters such as employment, standard of living and diversity.
Technology has played a significant role in transforming India’s image from a slow moving bureaucratic economy to a place of innovative entrepreneurs and a global player in providing world class technology solutions and business services.
Firstly, India provides a potentially huge market access. Second, there is the very appealing demographic dividend with our youth representing approximately 20% of the global workforce by 2020. Third, there is a rising middle class, our next big spenders. India is expected to become the fifth largest consumer market in two decades. Within this context, any form of consumption, entrepreneurship, startup or industry, can be viewed as a scaling opportunity.
As per a UN report, unemployment in India is estimated to be 17.8 million in 2017, there is also the need for 10 crore additional skilled personnel by 2022 with 30 crore of the existing workforce requiring further skilling. The government is persistently working toward bridging these gaps because livelihoods generation is critical for nations and is directly linked to socio- economic development.
Now, with a new industrial policy finally on the cards, the government is viewing to promote and develop frontier technologies, innovation and enhancing competitiveness of domestic products. We all know that this is only possible when our workforce is skilled and our products give a tough competition to the already cheap Chinese goods that have infiltered India to the core thanks to our free trade agreements.
Finally, I’d like to add that Indians have always been risk-averse. However, over the recent years we have seen how the cream of the crop from big corporations have shifted to exciting entrepreneurial ventures. This is a good sign because an imperative element of innovative evolution is entrepreneurship. Being an entrepreneur comes with its shares of letdowns and victories that entrepreneurs need to be able to comprehend.