Mr @NarayanMurthy complains too much!!!
Making money is good. Making a lot of money is even better. But while doing so, if one does not invent, develop new heuristics of compassion, collaboration, creativity and connectivity then it is perhaps not so good. I will pass the issue of how many earth shattering ideas came out from his company or how much investment did he make in creative and innovative ideas of students or scientists? That is a relevant argument but I will ignore it fur present. I accept that while his brother in law makes a big contribution to MIT which Mr Murthy admires so much but he has no obligation to invest in futuristic research at IITs and IIMs. Granted. To say india did not produce any idea worth its name is to pass a stricture against all those who valiantly developed technology at CFTRI CSIR to make powder out of buffalo milk without which white revolution would not have been possible. We would not have saved more milk in flush season to supply in scarcity season.
But let us talk about non monetary processes of institution building for creating or reinforcing a creative, innovative ecosystem in the country. When Techpedia.sristi.org was created, idea was that no student should do what others have already done. There should be a premium on originality and innovation. A connection should be made between the problems of informal sector, msme/ small entrepreneurs and even public systems and the final year project of the students. Mr Murthy has given jobs to thousands of young engineers of our country often for doing highly repetitive tasks. After all, That lifted the lives of these employees and their families up and brought prosperity to the country. So what if there is not a single product or service that I and you use in every day life which did not get prioritised in the process. I will ignore that. But what about the project ideas those students had done in their final year before joining the Infosys. Is he saying that not one of them had the talent and potential worth investing in as intra-preneur? Let him spend some idea browsing through the database of 180,000 technology projects pursued by over 500k students from all over the country. Could he not find one idea which he could have mentored and nurtured?
Let him see a project by a student from IISc which was recognised by Dr R A Mashelkar with Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award last year. This student realised that when a ray of light passes through cancerous cell, which have mores sodium ions than potassium, it refracts more and less of it goes through. Same ray whiles passing through a normal cell having more potassium ions than sodium, passes through more and refracts less. Using this simple but profound heuristic, he developed a technique for non invasive detection of cancer at an early stage for which not many methods exist in the world.
Now this student will be easily hired by an international Lab, this work done in india will be supported there and we will give credit to those institutions for having made a breakthrough.
Who is responsible for such neglect of highly valuable ideas? Of course government, experts, academics and every body under the sun except corporate leaders who invest practically nothing in the brilliant ideas of youth.
How long can this blame game go on? UNICEF invites a walker with adjustable legs conceived by shalini, class 8 th girl and fabricated and designed by NIF team with the help of local experts for an international conference on assistive technologies in Denmark because even in USA such a walker dies not exist. The company which is commercialising it has given few lakh rupees as licensing fee to this create student. She gets royalty on each piece sold on the market. It will make life of many elderly and physically challenged people easier. SukhwAnt and … Converted a Dot matrix printer into a Braille printer. School students are proud that their idea was also showcased at the launch of global innovation centre at New York. Which high net-worth individual has invested in these ideas in the last twenty five years of honey bee network, exceptions apart? BIRAC -a company set up by Department of Biotechnology has come forward to invest 15 lakh each on 15 innovative ideas of tech youth and one lakh each in hundred other ideas through a partnership with Sristi. I hope private sector will follow suit instead of nay complaining about what india does not do right.
I agree that Mr murthy has no responsibility for Indian failure to produce any breakthrough ideas ( which is not completely true) in the last sixty years. I also agree that his company has also no responsibility to spot, sustain and spawn talent even in the field of ICT and computer sciences, forget other areas of social and humanitarian concerns. We want less government but would not share the burden of empathetic governance. Thanks, Mr Murthy, fir telling us how actions are built. During next visit to MIT, pl find out how much investment it gets from industry for doing whet it does so well. Indian tragedy is the habit of blaming every body else about what is wrong with us but not to do anything or enough ourselves to remedy the situation. Mr Murthy may be complains too much, no?
But he is a honourable man and has generated so many jobs.
views expressed in this column in DNA are my own and have no bearing on any other institution with which i am associated. This column is provoked by his convocation speech at IISC