Innovation as a tool for achieving inclusive growth in India

In this essay…

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.”

– Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein says through this quote that problem-solving skill needs innovation. The number and nature of challenges have been increasing in the contemporary world with respect to time. For example, Terrorism, Climate change, and Cyber securities are few among many challenges. These kinds of challenges can’t be eradicated through conventional means. It demands an understanding of the problem and innovative new means to get rid of them.

Science and innovation have also the potential to transform Indian society. Inclusive growth in India along with sustainable growth is a demand of the time. NITI Ayog also aspires in its report “Strategy For New India @75” that India should be among the top 50 countries in the Global Innovation Index by 2022-23.

In this article, we are going to discuss the following things – What is innovation, and why it is needed? How is Innovation a tool for inclusive growth? What are the associated challenges? How the government of India is making India innovative? What should be done?

Inclusive growth and its needs in India

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Inclusive growth is economic growth that is distributed fairly across society and creates opportunities for all. For example, no community should be left behind in the progress of the nation. There is a need for participation from all communities. Women, the Dalit community, the Backward community, and the minority community are equally important in the process of weaving the future of the nation.

Former managing director of IMF, Christine Largade estimated that women’s participation in the workforce equal to the men has the potential to increase India’s GDP by 27%. The economic fruit of inclusive growth can be understood from the fact that India spends only 1.6% of GDP on health and 3% of GDP on education. Apart from economic gain, the increasingly diverse nature of threats in Indian society also demands the need for inclusive growth. For example, the population controlling strategy needs women’s perspective in this field to realize it.

Inclusive growth can also be an antidote to the increasing communal tension in Indian society. For example, Rajya Sabha TV presented a case study of the city of Firozabad. Glass bangle industries in Firozabad have been losing competition due to the Chinese dumping of cheap glassworks. Largely people employed in this area are from minority communities. People have been losing jobs. Sachar committee just presents this reality in its findings. The misconception is being built among the community on the basis of deemed “ignorance” of the concerned community.

Along with it, In order to make policy robust, there is a need for inclusiveness. For example, disaster management preparedness and mitigation also demand inclusive planning. The perspective of women, weaker sections, Divyang (Person with disabilities/PWDs), and Transgender would make the program more inclusive. Apart from this, in Andhra Pradesh, the Chenchus tribe left the home given by the government just because the doors were not in the direction required by their tradition. It shows lack of inclusiveness can cost policy also.

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Innovation as a tool for inclusive growth in India

Innovation acts as a catalyst for inclusive growth in India. Innovation can contribute to inclusiveness, not only as a driver of income growth but also through innovations that are specifically aimed at lower-income and excluded groups (“inclusive innovations”)

Upliftment of the poor: We have the successful model of the Chhatisgarh government regarding PDS (Public Distribution System). It is an inspiring model due to innovation and cooperation in the field of technological development. Chhatisgarh government uses (e-tracking system) for the transportation of grain. To keep eyes on the date of delivery the (scientific warehouse) to preserve grains for a long time. Along with it, the government of Chhatisgarh used (digital weighing machine) to remove cheating, a collection database for future improvement, and different digital grievance mechanisms to collect the grievance.

The consequence of the innovation led to the increase in public coverage under PDS as suggested by the NSO report. It indicates that the use of innovation in delivering government services makes policy efficient and successful. Due to efficient government services, benefits trickle down to the bottom.

Upliftment of women

Innovation has given the platform for women on social media – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, etc. It has given an opportunity to women to raise her voice and represent themselves. For E.g. recently, the #Metoo Movement, started by Tarana Burke, gave a social space to women to express their suppression and subjugation through the misusing power by the senior officials. Women had successfully addressed their pain and shook the corporate system.

In a small village in Tamil Nadu, women were struggling for cheap and hygienic-sanitary napkins. It is the innovation of social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham who made cheap and hygienic-sanitary napkins to solve this taboo. Apart from this, innovation was brought in legislation, Prevention of sexual harassment at workforce act 2013, in which “She Box” is made available to receive complaints at workforce would definitely ensure inclusiveness.

Elderly People

For senior citizens, through the use of ICT and AI, the IRCTC website has helped the Indian railways in successfully managing and reserving the seats for senior citizens in a transparent manner. It gives concession, 40% for male senior citizens and the 60% for female senior citizens. Through innovative ideas like Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), elderly people now easily get a pension in their bank account directly and also reduce the chances of leakage and corruption.

Youth
The emergence of new job opportunities through the innovation of making videos on youtube. Many youths are accepting YouTube as a job profile and giving them full time to work on it. It has been making them monetarily healthy. Some channels are informative and break the communication gap. It increases inclusiveness in society.

In the age of digital technology, youth is accessing information for their development. It is giving equal opportunity to youth either sitting in Delhi or Dispur or Chennai or Kolkata or Ahemdabad. It makes the competitive exams fair due to the equal accessibility of information. Equality of opportunity along with equal accessibility ensures the inclusiveness of all youth irrespective of society and the space from which they belong.

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Farmers

For farmers, agriculture residue had been one of the major challenges to farmers as well as the environment. Innovation has solved this dilemma. Graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi found a unique solution. Farmers can use Parali (Agricultural residue) to make ropes, mattresses, and winter clothes for animals. Additionally, farmers would get additional income by selling agricultural residue. Thus, innovation is helping farmers to include in the process of inclusive growth.

ISRO’s innovation sent observation satellite which helps in the prediction of Monsoon and mapping of regions. It helps farmers to make informed decisions by anticipating events. For example, if stats suggests that monsoon is supposed to come late in a particular year. Accordingly, farmers can plan to sow seeds so that they could utilize rainwater instead of groundwater. It is on the line of sustainable agriculture which protects the environment.

Others

Innovations like RTI (Right to information) helps in getting first-hand information from the government to anyone. It gives an opportunity to the people to know and become an informed citizens for political participation. To make it more inclusive, the government of India has made it free for the people belonging to the BPL category. Due to the development in innovation, taxation become easy and effective. It helps in increasing the tax base and redistributing more among the people of society who lack resources.

Innovations like Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) make people aware of the sustainable development policy and help in mobilization of masses if any wrong happens there. Innovation like using e-portal by the government makes them easy in reaching the masses for effective governance. For example, ‘My government App’ helps the people participate in the policymaking. Thus, it makes the policy inclusive.

Tribals make mat using Water Hyacinth and it reaches to market. People purchase and money percolates to the tribal society too. Today, street vendors are using Paytm methods like BHIM and Paytm. Their participation in economic growth leads to inclusive growth. It was possible because of innovation in the field of ICT (Information and Communications Technology). Similarly, the election commission of India launched the mobile app, cVigil to make common people vigilant and their participation makes inclusive growth in democracy.

Cog in the wheel: Challenges

Samuel P Huntington in his book “Political Development & Political Decay” claims that today democratic countries are facing ‘democratic decay.’ In order to make growth inclusive, people’s participation is increasing but at the same time, the state’s capacity is also decreasing. Another problem is the ‘digital divide.’ A survey suggests that about 70% of the internet facilities are available to some of the major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. It indicates that innovation has helped in achieving inclusive growth in large cities and not pan India perse.

Under the Saubhagya Scheme, it was promised to get all houses electrified by March 2021. But PIB in his press release claims that still, some districts affected by Left-Wing-Extremism are lagging behind. It would pose difficulties in accessing electricity equitably. Almost one-fourth of the Indian population can’t avail the fruits of innovation. RBI report 2019 suggests that nearly 23% of the Indian population lives below the poverty line.

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Apart from these, budget spending in the field of innovation has been low. Survey 2019-2020 suggests that the government of India is spending 0.65% of the GDP on innovation which is very less than the leading countries like – China, the UK, and the USA. Another facet of innovation can be understood through the study done by prof Muralidharan who suggests that making Aadhar mandatory has impacted the poor people significantly because it has led to a 10% exclusion error and a 17% increase in the cost of production.

Full Throttle: Govt efforts

The government of India has taken proactive steps in boasting the innovation in India. For E.g. Atal innovation Mission has helped in creating the attitude of scientific temperament among the students even during school days. It is further assisted by the government. The Delhi government has increased the budget on education started happiness curriculums to stress out the student.

Similarly, Vigyan Jyoti Scheme creates a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue STEM in their higher education. Kiran scheme is launched with the objective to promote women in the field of science and technology. These initiatives can lead to the promotion of women in the workforce and thus, inclusive growth in India. To make India’s growth more inclusive, the government has come up with innovative ideas like Eklavya residential school, a pace school similar to JNV for tribal students to build scientific temperament.

Other innovative efforts are made by the government by giving e-Rikshaw to poors. It is environmentally sustainable as well as economically viable for the people standing at lower strata. ‘My Govt App’ initiative of the government of India attracts people in policymaking. To make India’s growth more inclusive, the government has come up with a PM-Kisan scheme, Minimum support price, and Fasal Bima scheme. Digital Saksharta Abhiyan is providing ‘digital literacy.’ NPCI also added financial literacy in the class 6th textbook.

Digital Library ensures accessibility to all students irrespective of places where he/she. It ensures equality of opportunity to all students and easy access to knowledgeable books. Apart from the digital library, the government of India has also launched ‘you tube’ channel (CEC UGC) where teachers and professors of prominent universities teach students free of cost. All these initiatives help India to bring many other stakeholders together and make India’s growth more inclusive.

However, the Indian government’s efforts to keep ‘technological cooperation’ in foreign policy may make our dream true in near future. Indian-Australia deal 2020 where both signed for ‘Comprehensive strategic partnership’ where technological cooperation was one of the factors that may be the right direction for achieving inclusive growth through innovation.

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