Articles

2050 Projections of India

Many of you, might have read reports of 2050 projects of India and its being a superpower.

Yes it is a great ego massage for most Indian elites and middle class. It is a great opium to hide all our current inadequacies; to postpone all hard decisions.

First of all, there is no great scientific validity to such projections. Assume a growth rate and allow the computer to do the calculations. The more you want a better result, more you increase the growth rate of India and assume less for others !

I am no longer amused by these projections and our elite and middle class going "gaga" over it. I am angry now a days by these.

Yes, there is no point in going into such a long period of more than four decades in this era of twenty first century when things move very fast. In a decade, so many unforeseen changes take place. Let alone 2020, by 2017, India and Indians can do so much.

India can totally eradicate poverty – not by the definition of the Govt.’s Below Poverty Line (BPL) – which is Rs.11 per day per person in rural areas and Rs.14 per day per person in urban areas (which is a “mathematical” calculation to buy raw rice and wheat worth 2200 calories in Fair price shops (Public Distribution System – PDS) ! What about kerosene or firewood. Other item to push the food inside ! No cloth or habitat.

I never believed in BPL statistics ! (see my book “Empowering Indians” the part “Preface & Overview” – I placed 700 million Indians as poor in 2001 !

Well my expectation of income for Indians within a decade is Rs.80 per day per person in now poorer areas and Rs.100 per day per person – that not as per capita calculations divided as total income divided by 1129 million Indians; but at the hands of bottom 20% percentile !

It is not difficult to achieve if we empower all Indians (women included as many employment data assume women to be at house – a convenient way to put less pressure on employment generation ! I want all Indians to have an income earning opportunity.) It is possible. Read my books and practical experiences in many parts of India.

But it will require less of control – inspector raj and more of facilitating and knowledge intermediating governance. (See other parts of website).

My request to all of you is to think bold – for a newly defined India – Forget the 60 years which has past !!

 

 

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Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Knowledge Sharing of the Future

Current period of human history (the economy in particular) is dominated by IPR’s. IPR’s are sold at a very good premium. Copyrights held by music, media and publishing industry fetch enormous amount of money. The court cases all around the world for enforcing the IPR’s are large in number. Even many basic science researchers give special attention to patentability of their findings and patent first before going for publishing the scientific papers. Scientists are taught not to share information between each other during their researches as it may affect the ownership of the invention. Most of them keep a diary of their work, as if it is a day-to-day accounting which may be audited by a tax person (in their case it could be a court).

At the same time, there are also public activism especially in the phamaceutical sector for breaking IPR rights for public good – to provide cheap drugs for patients suffering from HIV/AIDS or such serious epidemics. Counter queries are about the costs of doing discovery and how to recover the cost for the drug companies investing on R&D.

In the economy (domestic and global) being increasingly governed by technology and knowledge, more than 90% of the patents in all commercial sectors are held by companies or government of developed countries. With IPR’s protected globally and through the WTO regime, most other companies and laboratories in the world are blocked in those sectors. No longer “reverse engineering” which helped companies and countries during the 1960’s and 1970’s is possible. In the agriculture area where genetically modified seeds are patented, these issues are much more difficult.

Even in the field of art and culture, there are many questions against copyrights. Professor Joost Smicrs, the author of “Arts Under Pressure : Promoting Cultural Diversity in the Age of Globalisation”, a professor of political science in Netherlands argues that our democratic right to freedom of cultural exchange is slowly being taken away from us. He questions the very process of personal ownership of a melody, an image, a word. He has given some alternates even while recognising the fact  that artist has to earn and the financier has to get return on investment. He himself points out that the organised monopoly industries will oppose these charges as by owning IPR’s they are able to shape the art world and earn huge money.

As of now, there are no easy solutions. IPR’s came about to protect the inventor in return for his disclosure about the invention for the public so that the knowledge is available in the public domain – which could be used later after IPR expires.

More importantly, it makes other think of new paths. That is the benefit to the society, as knowledge about new inventions are known through the benefit of invention is reaped by somebody for a limited period. If that provision is not there, the inventor will not disclose and it will be his personal secret. Lots of wasteful effort will have to be done by others to “break open the knowledge”. In many cases, the knowledge may die with a person. In India in earlier centuries, the artisans kept personal and family secrets and many knowledge bases got lost over time.

Therefore, IPR’s seem to serve public interest by keeping the world knowledge known to all so that further inventions can take place. In another way, it is also like keeping the rights over land, house, ornaments, etc. Unlike those physical assets, IPR’s are for a fixed period only.

But a few serious questions are as under :

(a) Do copy right constrain cultural freedom and lead to monopolies as referred to above ?

(b) What is the solution for getting inexpensive medicines especially when the affected persons are very poor.

(c) Will IPR’s strengthen the existing technology leaders and lead to a technological oligarchy.

As I see it next two three decades will be dominated by IPR regimes. But I expect that 2050 world may come up with new models, many of it spearheaded in the developed nations themselves by intellectuals and other activitist.

Let us keep a close watch. As of now, Indians have to master the IPR game and create wealth. 

Potential, Promises & Performance

Most of us Indians including the tiny ones born in

the economic liberalisation era (i.e. 1991 or later)

are often frustrated by what is happening in India.

 

We talk about 540 million youth under 25, and 620 million Indians under 30 years, 770 million under 35 years.

Yes; a great youth energy.

 But about 90% or more of them don’t pass by school education. Those who pass by do not always a good education which can help them create wealth and therefore earn money for themselves. They swell the unemployment enrolment registers (not those 90 – 94% who are school drop-outs – because they don’t have any hope from the formal organised sector employment which is only 6% - our employment exchanges deal with half of it i.e. in Government sector).

There are several other items about India.

 

*      Potential                Very good

 

*      Promises                Hit the roof

 

*      Performance          We need to search for individual small items !

 

Unfortunately the above three statements are true in almost in all sectors of India – science & technology; business; trade; sports; education – and what not.

If Indians learn to scorn at promise right away when â€œbig persons” make it and work towards potential, India will perform.

Media and youth have to do a lot towards it. Don’t respond to S

MS’s supporting the hypes of promises. Use performance as the yardstick. Prove on ground -  then take our applause – not by speeches and promises. Use the Youth Vote to create a performing India.

 

 

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GOVERNANCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS

 

1.    There are always many worries about governance in India. Thousands of crores of rupees are allotted to rural development, social justice, sports, road, pollution removal in rivers, forest development, education etc. Near unanimous general feeling is that very little reaches the destination. Most investors or potential investors say that India is one of the difficult places to do business…. In legal systems there are complaints on police, enormous delays in justice… the industries and services controlled Govt. as public sectors perform inefficiently and those which try to do well are often stymied.

2.    What to do ? There are hundred of solutions – reams of papers ! In this paper written at the invitation of Indian Council of Social Research (ICSSR), Y.S. Rajan gives a brief description of how Govt. agencies works not on written down procedures alone but several other officer order, Dear Secretary letters etc. which are too many since 1960’s and accumulate one over another.

3.    He has introduced an important concept of System Time Constraints in governance and need to keep it in tune with dominant technologies of the day. He states that like Raj Krishna’s Hindu Rate of Growth (which has now been broken by Indian economy), Indian system time constants which he calls as India – time – rate – of – interaction is about 7 to 10 years for any well accepted idea to fructify into a level for action of that order. That is why Indian governance is so bad, frustrating.

4.    He then gives some drastic solutions to change it with logical reasons. Since those who are in the current system have made it what it is now (and have been selected by it) the cybernetics of it can be changed only when a substantive part of it is changed and given new algorithms (i.e. procedures) to work on. He has given practical suggestions.

5.    He states any intermediate tinkering won’t help. Heroes cannot do – it needs a system overhaul. Now read the article.

 

 

 

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University, R&D & Actions

This note was sent to a very senior and influential person, on

request to YSR, regarding out-of-box ideas for Indian S&T

and education in mid-2004.They are still valid……..

 

This note only covers the issues of R&D and related activities in the Universities in physical, life sciences/technologies and allied disciplines and those relating MBA types of professional courses. Does not address humanities even those subjects such as psychology, sociology, linguistics etc. Some of the humanities aspects looked at from NBA point of view may get embedded in MBA researches just as business economics & economics – technology interaction would get added in Technology & Science & Society types of researches. This is done to maintain a focus on one major sector. In India there is a major need to orient humanities to make them relevant to Indian context and also to make them path breathing. But it is ridden with more passions and also mostly they are govt. funded.

Now straight to the paper.

Preamble

There are about 300 recognised universities in India including about sixty (60) deemed universities. Not all of them are same size.  About two hundred of these are conventional universities. Arts/Science/Commerce etc  departments in their university and also affiliating large number of colleges. The other 100 would be as under with speciality disciplines :

40 Universities                Specialise      Agriculture

40 Universities                Specialise      Engg & Technology

1 University                    Specialise      Journalism

4 Universities Specialise     Law

16 Universities                 Specialise      Health (Medical etc)

10 Universities                 Specialise      Open University (against mostly same subjects as Conventional University)

 

About 30 are Central Universities in addition to IIT’s, IISc ( Bangalore) & few National Institute of Technologies (about 20).

These receive Central Government grants fully. Most others are State Government funded or private.

Except for IIT’s and IISc, most of the Central Universities (except for those who have old traditional funding) are struggling for funds.

Ministry of HRD by itself or UGC (University Grants Commission) or AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) have very little money to disburse. They spread thin. Even large budgets available with DST, DBT for grants-in-aid to Universities are mostly “grabbed” by CSIR laboratories, TIFR (and such elite basic research laboratories including Astronomy ones) IIT’s and IISc. Very little is left for even Central Universities. State Universities & others – large in number.

To summarise, Educational Institutes/Universities which teach to train 85% students in higher education in science/technology/professional courses get only 15% of total funds even for their regular operations and “elite” institutions which train/teach 15% get 85% of total funds. It is not correct to assume that the other 85% students are of poor in quality. A simple arithmetic will show that large bulk of 2 million professionals in USA, Canada are from “ordinary” Indian colleges/universities (elite ones being only about 100,000 as their number per year is low). Also most Indian industries including ISRO, BARC, DRDO depend on the products of these ordinary Universities/Colleges.

Hence a need to orient them towards major societal/economy/technology/industry oriented research so that the 85% of our students annually have challenging tasks to do. This will produce many entrepreneurs/innovators as well.

Policies

Today national laboratories like CSIR are competing with Universities for research funds in addition direct funding. They get from Govt. through their departments. IPR product per unit money of investment is still better in Universities. We need to increase the funding available to all Universities.

Thereafter the policy to make CSIR and other national labs like CMTI, CPRI lab to doa  few select major projects (like ISRO, DAE/BARC do) from the direct money they get.

All basic research institutions to be made autonomous from Minsitries/Departments. Let them do world class (such a selection to be done carefully) and limited in number (about 20% of govt budget). Let them not compete with any other fund except foreign funded in addition to the good money from Central govt.

Applied labs like CSIR/CMTI/ICAR/ICMR to concentrate on concrete product/process/services oriented commercial research to be funded by Govt. & partly they have to get  even survival fund from industry. Make them autonomous or attached to group of industry as JV’s. No need for huge CSIR, ICAR HQs.

Even DRDO can shed life sciences labs in this way in order to work  closely with industries.

These applied labs should be funded by Govt. (Central/State) directly – they should not compete for any other govt. funds except from private sector or industries (even PSU’s).

If these measures are done, funds of DST.DBT etc. for extramural research can be entirely focussed for Universities/Colleges (even IIT’s have to be dealt with like CSIR labs and let Ministry of HRD fund as they do and they should be barred from getting from DST etc (other govt. departments). There could be uproar from the elite bodies but 85% of university system will receive a short-in-them-arm without trying for additional budget.

Implementation

Most of the Universities (except IIT’s, IISc) even Central/State/Deemed suffer under plethora of regulations sent by UGC, AICTE, local departments of education etc. They should be freed from these and management professionals. Some Acts of certain Universities will require changes.

Industries (preferably in local areas) may be encouraged to put their QA/testing/R&D labs/consultancy seeking calls/even pilot plants in nearby colleges/Universities.

15% for R&D labs

125% for other industrial/society oriented projects

(even rural development, rural market development activities)

This will build synergies.

In addition Central Govt. can establish a Mission to build within the universities, competitiveness, capability, creativity & innovation. (The word university includes affiliated/autonomous colleges in Universities – not just university department – we need to remove this “caste” system). This Mission will have about 100 professionals from multiple fields – who visit institutions, talk to faculty, staff, students & industries with new solutions – all these processes will challenge the teachers also.

This Mission should be for 5 years and subsequently wind down.

For entrepreneurship by educated youth, B.Tech, M.Sc’s, B. Pharma’s, MBBS’s, MBA’s (including those from IIT’s) should be supported special fast moving seed funds and facilitated to work with industries (including small/medium/big industries) which are ready in incubate new students – entrepreneurs can be given tax concessions. The incubating host industry also can be given some tax benefits.

Govt. may outsource some percentage of their jobs (in manufacturing, IT, services sectors etc.) to new qualified students – entrepreneurs. This will also reduce pressure on direct jobs – encourage self-employment.

Note: The students  throughput  from all the Universities will be about 5 million per year for S&T, professional etc. Of this about 1 – 2 million could be oriented for entrepreneurship research etc., others will be simple graduates. They have to do jobs with others as per the norms of other employees.

The term R&D is being used here in the context as doing something new or adopting something new in the local context, some innovation etc. but all ending in deliverables (not open ended basic research for which we are having them above with 20% fund). It is not always necessary to have breakthrough technologies), some basic research may, some day, emerge a world class or breakthrough. To begin with, let most of the Universities learn to do something useful with their teachers and students so that they develop self-confidence instead of scrounging for crumbs left over by CSIR, TIFR, IIT etc. That will be a major social revolution of immense economic value.

As regards shortage of good teachers etc. in colleges/universities, the solution is to amend rules to allow :

Persons from IITs, CSIR, DRDO, ISRO, IIM’s go on part time basis to teach/reach in ordinary colleges.

Allow industry experienced person (instead of insisting on Ph.D’s) to teach/research part or full time in these colleges.

Use technologies of e-learning.

Allow tie up with foreign institutions/industries in an easy way.

IN SUM, THE MISSION IN THE UNIVERSITIES FOR COMPETITIVENESS, CAPABILITY, CREATIVITY, INNOVATION WILL TARGET A TENFOLD GROWTH IN THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY WEALTH CREATED BY THEMSELVES AND IN COLLABORATION WITH OTHER R&D GROUPS DURING THE PERIOD 2004-2009.

After this period, the Universities/Colleges have to learn to do of their own and face competition from everywhere. THIS WILL RESULT IN MORE OF INDIAN PRODUCTS DESIGNED FOR INDIAN CONDITIONS THEREBY KICKSTARTING ENOURMOUS EMPLOYMENT AND SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY LED ECONOMIC GROWTH.