July 24, 2014

Will Modi Government Reverse India’s Slide in Innovation Rankings?

By Ashley Mergen

Mounting evidence suggests the previous administration in India did not fulfill its promise to achieve a “decade of innovation.” Most recently, the Global Innovation Index (GII), a UN-sponsored “ranking of world economies’ innovation capabilities and results,” found the country backsliding 10 spots to rank 76th out of 143 countries surveyed. Adding insult to injury, India is positioned well behind its BRICS-nation counterparts, each of which enjoyed improvements in their innovation scores.

In a country rife with innovative potential and talent, the issue at hand is actually in the capacity (and political will) to seize that potential and cultivate it into viable and sustainable economic growth. Intellectual property (IP) rights, which incentivize risk and protect jobs in research and resource-intensive fields, are at the core of innovative economies.

Over the last few years India has caught heat from business groups—including the GIPC—for the previous administration’s uncompromising stance against updating the nation’s IP infrastructure. As the GII and the GIPC Index evidence, the Indian economy and innovative environment would benefit substantially from adopting a system which embraces IP protections, in turn helping India establish itself as a mecca for research and development.

In a recent Livemint interview with experts discussing India’s GII ranking, Adil Malia, president of human resources at India’s Essar Group, gave us a startlingly simple definition which could help diagnose some of India’s economic growing pains:

“Innovation essentially means a break from established patterns.”

It’s so uncomplicated, yet so true. The new Modi government has given the Indian people and international watchers hope that patterns will be broken—both in innovation of policies and innovation in business—which in turn will usher in a new era rife with innovation, investment, and IP.

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