President Patil wants an exhibition of innovations in Rashtrapati Bhavan



New Delhi, 18th November, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am really very glad to be here at this function where the work of
grassroots innovators, young creative children and traditional
knowledge holders has been recognized. I congratulate them for winning
the awards. I am not only impressed with the exhibits but also
inspired by the “Innovation Exhibition”. Now it is a challenge for us
to undertake mass production, which is basically very important. World
attention is focused on the out come of the Copenhagen Conference. I
think our grass roots local innovations can be useful in not only for
national problems but world problems and answers for our 2nd Green
Revolution and climate change. I have no words to congratulate NIF. My
hats off to your innovative idea of launching NIF. The works displayed
reaffirm, what has always been known, that the people of India have a
tremendous capacity to intelligently use their creative minds for the
welfare of society. It also shows that innovation need not necessarily
be the product of formal systems.

We have witnessed tremendous changes that have taken place in the
field of communication technologies in the last over two decades.
This, in turn, has had a great impact on the way our people conduct
business and trade. It has affected our professional lives and
influenced inter-personal relationships also. The ICT Revolution has
opened new paths for improving the lives of people, for enhancing the
efficiency of public service delivery systems and extending the
outreach of media, among others. It has provided a powerful gateway
for the dissemination of information.

Opportunities offered by such technologies need to be utilized to a
greater degree to improve standards of living and working conditions,
including at the grassroots level so that benefits reach the very base
of the pyramid. India is a vast country, and only when every level of
society feels involved will our vision of an inclusive society be
realized. Some signs are visible. There are instances when fishermen
in small villages or farmers in remote areas of the country have been
able to link up with information systems to get a better understanding
of the weather, of market conditions and factors impacting
agricultural production, their health and finances. Such examples are
important indicators of the potential of technology to percolate
information to people at the grassroots level and help them in taking
informed decisions.

India has already stepped into the knowledge society and is one of its
leaders. In the new age, a nation’s ability to use existing knowledge,
create new knowledge and use its knowledge capital will determine its
ranking in the emerging global order. We need innovation more than
ever before. We have reached a stage where we either innovate or
perish. This also means that knowledge and information will carry the
highest premium in the world. The observance of the next decade as the
Decade of Innovation in India is a recognition of this reality. I am
pleased with the decision that whenever and wherever any proposal is
submitted for consideration to the Union Cabinet, it must contain
specific information on how it will advance the over-arching goals of
equity, better accountability and innovation. Such steps give a boost
to innovative approaches to governance. Innovation and technology can
be used for effective implementation of welfare schemes, as delays and
leakages are amongst the biggest drawbacks of our governance system.

It is a fallacy to think that innovation is a high-end activity that
takes place only in sophisticated laboratories. Innovation is a wide
ranging term that could mean a technological innovation, a fresh way
of management or a different way of doing the same task, but which
would result in better performance. Innovation is also the result of
what happens in the “laboratory of life” and the experiences
encountered. It could also be the result of accumulation of the
collective knowledge of a civilization. India is home to a rich
reservoir of traditional knowledge, as through generations our people
have acquired knowledge and practices based on an understanding of
nature and environment, over a prolonged period of observation. It is
important that this knowledge is preserved and when used, due
recognition and recompense given to the holders of traditional

Necessity sometimes is also the basis of invention. I am told that,
and it is very redeeming to hear, about Mallesham whom I have just met
and who is being honoured today, whose innovation for the aasu process
in Pochampalli saris was triggered by the pain of his mother.
Sometimes, limited resources for innovation and of end-users can
result in outcomes and products that are not only cost-effective but
effective per se. The Jaipur Foot designed in India has won global
recognition for being an inexpensive and quick to fit prosthetic leg,
and has benefited many people.

Even in management terms, we have to just look at the Dabbawala system
being run in Mumbai where five thousand semi-literate people, work as
a team to deliver at a nominal cost, lunch boxes to about 2 lakh
office workers using only a basic colour coding method. This unique
system in the world had evoked much interest in many countries, and
has been given a six sigma rating of efficiency. These illustrations
point out to a singular conclusion that we have the brains in the
country. We have to nurture and encourage them.

In the next few decades, India will have the largest population of
young people. They have to be prepared to take on the reins of the
destiny of the nation. For this, providing them quality education is
critical. India’s emergence as an innovative economy and a potential
supplier of world class skills would require an education system that
encourages creativity and a capacity to think in a novel fashion. This
area deserves high priority and Government’s efforts would need to be
supported by teachers, educational institutions and all stakeholders.

The event today is being held at the Indian Agricultural Research
Institute which brings to mind the success we achieved in securing
self-sufficiency in food, as an outcome of the first Green Revolution.
New challenges have since arisen. The World Summit on Food Security is
currently underway in Rome to look at the worsening global food
security scenario and high food prices which is resulting in an
increase in the number of people suffering from hunger. In the context
of a growing population, changing weather patterns, limited
availability of land and water resources, the question of food
security would have a fundamental bearing on the well being of the
people of the world. I have repeatedly emphasized the urgency of a
Second Green Revolution in the country, in which advances of Science
and Technology, along with innovative approaches are employed to
enhance agricultural production and productivity, as well as expand
the availability of agricultural areas.

The outlay for Research and Development in National Plans must go up
manifold. Quality of research has to be upgraded and institutions and
agencies receiving funds must be made fully accountable. The results
of innovation should be harnessed to become products and services for
the betterment of society. This translation is often unpredictable and
long drawn, requiring substantial efforts. There is the issue of
patents and knowledge-sharing, which calls for building of capacity
and skills to handle this process. The Government should embark on
laying down a National Innovation Policy to bring about the much
needed coordination among various initiatives in research, education,
agriculture, medicine and business.

Institutions like the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, the
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Indian Institute of
Science and the Indian Institutes of Technology; organizations like
the National Innovation Foundation as well networks like Honey Bee
should continue to work with local communities. These institutions and
networks should keep in touch with one another and coordinate and
expedite mutual activities where it is going to be helpful to achieve
better results. This would be important not only for nurturing early
stage innovations but also for making available technology and
advising those working at the field level. This would contribute in
enhancing mobility of knowledge. At the grassroots level, Panchayats
play a very important role. Kiosks in villages can become information
and service providers for those living in rural areas. Methods for
supporting local knowledge-based entrepreneurship should be evolved.

Also, our research institutions should join global knowledge networks
and thus, keep themselves abreast of worldwide advancements in the
field of Science and Technology. I would even suggest that we should
tap into the knowledge base of the Indian diaspora. It was a proud
moment for us when Dr. Venkataraman Ramakrishnan was awarded the Noble
Prize for Chemistry this year. I had the occasion to interact with him
during my visit to the United Kingdom recently. I am aware that he has
maintained contacts with institutions in India. There are many other
persons of Indian origin who could have done commendable work in the
field of science, research, technology and business around the world.
Our institutions must connect with them.

To build structures of knowledge there are many building blocks in
which numerous stakeholders contribute in many different ways. The
National Innovation Foundation provides an institutional platform for
the knowledge-rich people living in villages and remote areas, to
learn from each other as well as from innovators in formal scientific
and other institutions. NIF also provides technical as well as funding
support to potential innovators for various incubation activities like
proto-type development, design and optimization. I am told it has
mobilized over 1.4 lakh innovations and traditional knowledge
practices. I would encourage NIF to continue with its work and efforts
to support grassroots innovation and traditional knowledge.

In the end, I once again congratulate all the award winners and I
would encourage institutions such as NIF and other stakeholders to
continue with their good work.

Thank you.

Jai Hind.

Anil K Gupta