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Innovations: Narrowing down to focus areas

It’s time to switch gears, in line with the vision of seeking transformational change, well beyond a modest incremental pace. Identification of specific focus areas is the key.

Air Marshal J.K. Singh (Retd.)

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Innovative ideas have always been in demand. These testing times may have just about provided an opportunity to examine new pathways. Pathways — that may lead to transformational change in innovations and entrepreneurships, as envisioned by the current leadership.

There have been greater efforts to inculcate the culture of innovations and entrepreneurships lately. Introducing suitable policies, establishing central coordinating agency and mobilising resources, are all part of such efforts. The process was initiated earlier when the decade commencing 2010 was declared, the “Decade of Innovation” by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This was carried forward by including the innovation in Science and Technology policy in 2013, with an aim to broadly link science, technology and innovation to socio-economic priorities. Subsequently, the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) was set up in 2016, under the aegis of NITI Aayog by the present government. Besides promoting the innovations and entrepreneurship, the AIM was envisaged as the umbrella organisation to ensure the alignment of policies between Centre, state and sectoral innovation schemes.

A very sincere approach, with several initiatives at all the conceivable levels, has resulted in innovative culture gaining traction. The annual assessment of the Global Innovation Index, being jointly evaluated by the Cornell University, French Business School INSEAD and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), ranked India 52nd in 2019, out of a total of 129 countries. The ranking is based on 80 indicators covering such factors as education spending, scientific & technical publications, intellectual property claims and mobile application creation. India has been steadily improving its position since 2015 when it was ranked 81st. The current ranking marks an improvement of five positions over the previous year.

The competition is inevitably going to get stiffer, as India jostles to get into the league of most innovative nations. Revisiting the strategy to negotiate the steep climb ahead will help in consolidating the advantages accrued so far. Besides drawing appropriate lessons from success stories elsewhere, country specific strengths will have to be exploited to the hilt.

One of the effective ways to accelerate the ongoing efforts would be through augmented focus in carefully shortlisted areas. Concerted effort in select areas will place India in a lead position globally in specific technologies or products and create employment opportunities by encouraging manpower intensive manufacturing industry. Selection of a narrow bandwidth of focus areas, culled out of the broad themes already spelt out by NITI Aayog, will pave the way for achieving specific targets in a finite time. Impetus to innovative startups, to establish technological lead in specific sectors and promoting manufacture, would also be in sync with the strategic national objective of self-reliance.

 There are lessons from countries, which have successfully combined their strengths with innovative approach to get enviable outcome. Israel is one of the fine examples of a country, which very cleverly identified a handful of sectors a few decades back, with a clear objective of establishing a globally commanding position. The objective was achieved emphatically and consequently Israel’s domination in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, communication and Electronic Warfare Equipment cannot be challenged easily, in near future. Israeli’s were also quick to realize the future of 3D technology and today at least two of their 3D industries feature amongst the top ten in the world. Similarly, Switzerland is another leading country in innovations, consistently scoring high on innovation scale. Switzerland has less than one quarter of the Indian R&D budget but files nearly fifty times more patents than India annually.

 The challenges in this area for India are obvious with an unfavorable population figure, since the assessment is based on the patents per million. Competition has already been recognised by NITI Aayog, as a proactive tool to encourage widespread participation in the innovations drive. The scope of competition may also include number of patents claimed by an institution. All the laboratories and technical institutions will have to be exhorted for focus on claiming patents as never before. A generous incentivisation scheme may also help motivate all the stakeholders. The endeavors of agencies excelling be suitably acknowledged. The shortlisting of technologies for critical attention may commence with the AI, where India has made substantial progress and is in the reckoning to be amongst the leading nations. This may have to be supplemented with few more core technologies for all out national focus.

As for manufacturing centric innovative startups, these may include manpower intensive industries like food processing, textile and apparels. As per rough estimates, only about 1/8th of the employed population in India is working in manufacturing sector. India being the second largest producer of food grains, fruits and vegetables; food processing should be one of the natural choices for any startup. However, currently, share of food processing industry in employment is limited to a modest 12%. Dairy industry should be of particular interest, since it is under threat from market invasion from countries like New Zealand. The encouraging upsurge in export of dairy products in FY19 with an increase of 126% as compared to the previous FY is only indicative of the untapped potential. India is ranked 36th by value of dairy product export and is way too far from leading exporting countries like Germany, New Zealand and Netherland. Apparel is another area with huge market and an extremely favorable ratio of job to investment. Several countries in our region like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar are exploiting the apparel industry very gainfully.

 A dedicated institute for honing the innovation, as a separate skill set, may help cultivate right kind of human resources. In addition, the concept of Public Private Partnership (PPP) be utilised to integrate the corporates in the national innovations campaign. Selection of areas for innovation along with the seed funding could be the share of government and remaining funding, driving the R&D and ownerships including IPR of the product may remain with the participant corporate. This, in a way, may also offset the long overdue funding support of R&D by corporates.

As a country, we have given a candid account of our intentions so far by encouraging innovations and entrepreneurships. However, it is time to switch gears, in line with the vision of seeking transformational change, well beyond a modest incremental pace. Identification of specific focus areas is the key, to convert the push into shove, to maximise the outcome of initiatives.

Air Marshal J.K. Singh (Retd.) was the head of Engineering and Logistics of the IAF, as the Air Officer In charge Maintenance at Air Headquarters. The data used in the article is from open sources. [email protected]

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Defence

A SALUTE TO THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF KARGIL BRAVEHEARTS

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o commemorate the 23 years of victory over Pakistan in the Kargil War of 1999, the Indian Army on Monday organised a motorcycle expedition from New Delhi to the Kargil War Memorial at Dras (Ladakh).

The 30-member rally was flagged off by Lt Gen B S Raju, the Vice Chief of Army Staff from the National War Memorial, New Delhi on Monday.

Over the next six days, the team of 30 serving personnel who have embarked on this expedition will endeavour to replicate the indomitable spirit of the Kargil brave-hearts by rekindling the spirit of fortitude, courage and adventure synonymous with the Indian Army, said the Ministry of Defence.

The bike rally would pass through Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh before culminating the expedition at the Kargil War Memorial, Dras on 26 July 2022.

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Defence

2 ARMY OFFICERS KILLED IN ACCIDENTAL GRENADE BLAST

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Two Army officers were killed in an accidental grenade blast along the Line of Control in the Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch, the Defence Public Relations Office said on Monday. During the treatment, one army officer and one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) succumbed to their injuries.

JCO Sub Bhagwan Singh

Captain Anand

“Last night, an accidental grenade blast occurred in Mendhar Sector, Dist Poonch, when troops were performing their duties along the Line of Control. The blast resulted in injuries to soldiers.

During the treatment, one officer and one JCO succumbed to their injuries, “said PRO Defence Jammu.

According to the Defence PRO, the blast occurred along the Line of Control (LOC) on Sunday night, when the army troops were performing their duties, thus injuring them. All the injured soldiers were immediately evacuated to Udhampur via helicopter.

As per the reports, one officer and one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) succumbed to the injuries.

The Indian Army expressed grief over the death of two officers.

The Indian Army tweeted, “General officer commanding (GOC) @Whiteknight_IA and all Ranks salute brave hearts Capt Anand and Nb Sub Bhagwan Singh who made the supreme sacrifice while performing their duties on the LoC in Mendhar Sector. We offer deepest condolences to their family members.”

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Defence

MAKE IN INDIA PUSH: IAF TO INDUCT COMBAT AIRCRAFT

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Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on Sunday said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to induct Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and Light Combat Aircraft MK-1A and MK-2 along with the 114 multirole fighters. This will be done to bolster India’s combat capabilities through indigenisation under “Make-in-India” in the future.

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The IAF chief further said that the forces are fully in sync with the Centre’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat push which has resulted in the “quick induction” of platforms such as the light-combat helicopter and aircraft and radar systems.

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Defence

SEARCHES FOR SURVIVORS ON, ARMY INDUCTS RADAR

Ajay Jandyal

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The Indian Army on Sunday inducted radars to trace survivors under the debris which was laid after a cloudburst struck the area near the holy shrine of Amarnath on Friday.“Xaver 4000 radar has been inducted and has been operational at Amarnath since late noon for finding any survivors under the debris,” said Indian Army officials. Earlier, Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha on Sunday visited a base camp in Pahalgam and met pilgrims.“The security personnel and administration have carried out an efficient rescue operation. We pay condolences to those who lost their lives. Efforts are underway to resume the Yatra along with repairing the path. Pilgrims should come, we will provide them with all facilities,” Sinha assured.

Rescue operations underway at cloudburst-affected areas of Amarnath, on Sunday. ANI

The Amarnath yatra was temporarily suspended on Friday, till further notice. 

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Defence

LET TERRORIST TALIB HUSSAIN NOT A MEMBER OF BJP: J&K BJP CHIEF

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Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina on Monday said the most wanted Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Talib Hussain who was apprehended from Reasi district is neither an “active member of the BJP nor a primary member”.

 Speaking to ANI, Raina said, “Hussain is neither an active member of the BJP nor a primary member. There was a letter circular, on the basis of which it is believed that Sheikh Bashir, who is the President of BJP Minority Front of Jammu and Kashmir had appointed Hussain on 9 May.” He termed the reports fake which claimed that one of the two most-wanted LeT terrorists, who were overpowered by locals and handed over to the police, was in charge of the party’s IT cell.

 The BJP leader further said after that Hussain had circulated a letter himself and resigned from the membership of the party on 18 May. “A couple of years ago, Hussain along with with his three colleagues used to come to the BJP office as a media person. He had also interviewed me many times, he used to call himself a reporter for a YouTube channel named ‘New Sehar India’,” Raina said.

 “As a journalist, Hussain clicked photos with us many times in the BJP office. Pakistan terror outfit wanted to target the head office of the BJP of Jammu and Kashmir. It has been done through the targeted medium and carried out such incidents,” he said. “It is too soon to say more on this matter as the investigation is going on. Not only the BJP, but all the offices of other political parties need to be more alert now,” Raina added.

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INDIAN NAVAL SHIPS SAHYADRI, KADMATT VISIT SINGAPORE

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Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri and Kadmatt, under the Command of Rear Admiral Sanjay Bhalla, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, visited Singapore from 1 to 3 July as part of the deployment to South East Asia. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Indian Navy personnel engaged in social and informal exchanges as part of a cross-visit to improve mutual cooperation. The visit was aimed at consolidating ties and enhancing mutual understanding.The visit of Indian ships helped enhance maritime co-operation and bolster India’s strong bonds of friendship with Singapore that would further contribute towards security and stability in the region. The ships’ visit coincided with Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day on 1 July. “Indian Navy’s South East Asia deployment INS Sahyadri and INS Kadmatt under Command of Rear Admiral Sanjay Bhalla, FOCEF in Singapore from 1 to 3 July. Professional and social interactions with Singapore Navy to enhance mutual cooperation and understanding and consolidate interoperability” read a tweet shared by the Indian Navy. It added, “Coinciding with Singapore Armed Forces SAF Day, 01 Jul 22, the ships’ visit strengthens maritime cooperation, bolstering India-Singapore bonds of friendship – contributing towards security and stability in the region.”

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26 Indian Air Force sorties and four Indian Navy Ships transported substantial quantities of these items from Singapore to India till the end of June 2021.

This was followed by the 5th India-Singapore Defence Minister’s dialogue, which was held via virtual conference on 20 January 2021. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh discussed furthering cooperation and engagement with Singapore’s Defence Minister.

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