Innovation can be defined as a process of transforming an idea into a good or service which has a value. It involves application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater values from resources so as to convert them into useful products.
Since the advent of humans on Earth we have been innovating for our survival and hence able to achieve possibilism from determinism. From discovery of fire to ploughing the fields for agriculture, from invention of tools and machines for Industrial Revolution to the currently ongoing Information Revolution and in future Artificial Intelligence, every day we extend our limits of creativity to create something new. This capability of human beings to innovate has influenced every aspect of our lives be it social, economical, political, environmental or psychological.
However everything comes with a cost. There is no doubt our lives have become more convenient and comfortable due to the application of our creative mind but they have impacted our surroundings for instance automobiles are causing air pollution, infrastructural development has resulted in cutting down of trees, oil exploration in high seas has destroyed marine life etc. . Besides the environmental aspect, our economic landscape has also taken a blow in terms of lesser employment opportunities due to increase in automation and advent of new technology such as artificial intelligence which aims to replace humans with computers.
But this should not inhibit us from discovering new ideas rather it should act as an inspiration to find solutions to problems, hence contribute towards sustainable development. In this quest for new innovation the most basic ingredient for any nation is quality human resource with a conducive ecosystem for ideas to flourish. This quality human resource can be developed by encouraging out of the box thinking with risk taking ability having strong public and private financial backing. For the ecosystem there is a need for state of the art infrastructure, better implementation of government policies and international collaboration in science and technology. The best example is The European Organization for Nuclear Research i.e. CERN which runs largest particle physics laboratory with thousands of scientists from different parts of the world working round the clock conducting numerous experiments.
From AB de Villiers innovative cricketing shots to Apples iPods to Amazon’s delivery drones, every new invention has changed the way we live and the way we perceive our world. Superfast trains, aeroplanes and the latest concept of Hyperloop by Eon Musk all of these modes of transportation are bringing the world together. The internet has changed the whole landscape of communication arena. Innovation in defence technology has enhanced safety and security of various nations. Development in space exploration has enabled us to dream of a human settlement on other planets such as Mars.
Considering the case of India, since ancient times we have provided world with new inventions in fields of mathematics, health (Ayurveda, Yoga), astronomy etc. After independence we have adopted new technology and methods of development to improve our socio-economic life. Green revolution is one of such example where agriculture growth reached new heights as a result of adoption of High Yielding Variety seeds. The success of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in space technology also indicates how we as a nation have innovated our own ways.
However we still have a long way to go. Our poor educational system with archaic curriculum, gender inequality, lack of secondary and tertiary educational infrastructure, poor teaching staff, insufficient funds for Research and Development and majorly our inherent inability to take risks has impeded the rate of innovation in our country. The current government’s initiative Start Up India, Digital India, MUDRA Bank etc. are positive steps in building a conducive environment for innovation.
One important thing related to innovation is Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). It refers to the assignment of property rights through patents, copyrights and trademarks. These property rights allow the holder to exercise a monopoly on the use of the item for a specified period. Also Intellectual property (IP) contributes enormously to national economies and dozens of industries across economy rely on the adequate enforcement of their patents, trademarks, and copyrights, while consumers use IP to ensure they are purchasing safe, guaranteed products. In India implementation of various laws related to Intellectual Property Rights has been lax. Patent or copyright infringement and piracy in India is not uncommon. It is also the fact that India has poor performance in Research and Development and poor IPR protection regime plays some part in this. Better implementation of laws and integration of various departments dealing with Intellectual Property Rights will provide an incentive for entrepreneurs to innovate.
Besides all the positive impacts of innovation on socio-economic development of a nation it also brings out danger and challenges for the same. There are instances where innovation may spell out doom than possibility and the voices of those in these positions are often given inadequate attention. For example although automation will be the driving innovative theme moving ahead but it will detrimental to traditional manufacturing sector which is a major employment generator specially in developing world. Automation will result in increase in efficiency, in productivity, and, potentially, in the standard of living for average consumers. As products become quicker and easier to make, people will start having more money available to spend on other things. But there’s also the question of how we ensure that our society doesn’t leave behind those whose livelihoods will be negatively impacted by this changing environment. Another challenge is rapid degradation of environment due to unsustainable implementation of latest innovations. The need of the hour is to innovate in a way so as to benefit not only present generation but also the future generation.
In the end emphasis should be given on importance of innovation for the survival of our planet given the extreme challenges we are facing. To tackle them and find solutions we need leaders. As Steve Jobs once said “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”, lets strive to become leaders, let’s innovate!!