Changes India Need!!

WUC Action Vertical– “Opportunities”
Category- “Professional Jobs”

Innovation drives everything we do, but never solely for innovation’s sake. India actively seeks and applies the best possible solutions and methodologies for enterprises toady, making sure to holistically factor in people, processes, and business issues. Innovation is a key ingredient of success in every industry. To succeed, businesses must continually surge forward and produce new and better ideas. Information Technology (IT) is ideally suited to be a company’s INNOVATION CHAMPION. And yet, something seems to stand between the universally shared desire for Business Improvement through IT Innovation and its translation into action. Leadership can assume its rightful status as a key driver of business value through Innovation and propel the Organization forward. Similarly, as they globalize, INDIAN COMPANIES are also approaching ESSEC to gain insights into the European market. That’s why ESSEC teamed up with IIM-AHMADABAD to jointly run an EXECUTIVE PROGRAM titled “GLOBAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM ON LUXURY MANAGEMENT.” This program trains Indian and European Professionals on how to effectively capture a slice on the booming Indian Luxury market, which is expected to zoom from $3.5 billion today to $30 billion by 2015. Prof. Ashok Som, who runs the INDIA RESEARCH CENTER, quipped that following ESSEC’s Lead, other French academic institutions like IEP AND HEC are also ramping up their India- focused research and Executive education programs. The JAWAHARLAL NEHRU PROFESSORSHIP OF INDIAN BUSINESS AND ENTERPRISE, That was recently inaugurated by the JUDGE BUSINESS SCHOOL, at CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY has been set up with a fund of £3.2 MILLION, a contribution made by the GOVERNMENT OF INDIA to celebrate the CENTENARY of Former PRIME MINISTER JAWAHARLAL NEHRU‘S ARRIVAL at TRINITY COLLEGE in CAMBRIDGE, where he studied for a degree in NATURAL SCIENCES. In addition to teaching and conducting research on INDIA-related topics, Prof. Jaideep Prabhu, the INAUGURAL HOLDER OF this JAWAHARLAL NEHRU professorship, will also oversee the CAMBRIDGE CENTRE FOR INDIAN BUSINESS (CCIB), which was formed as a result of a £550,000 contribution by the BP GROUP. The CCIB will initially focus on contemporary research themes relating to India in today’s business environment such as a TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION, EMERGING GLOBAL ECONOMIES, the link between economic development and knowledge economy and entrepreneurship.
Against this geopolitical backdrop, I expect academic institutions like ESSEC AND CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY to act as the KNOWLEDGE BROKERS between the declining EUROPE and the rising INDIA. IN 1814, FRANCE established EUROPE’S first chair in Sanskrit, at the COLLEGE DE FRANCE, to BROKER EASTERN PHILOSOPHY to the WEST. A few decades later, CAMBRIDGE started welcoming its first INDIAN scholars and students. More than a century later, things are indeed coming back full circle!!
India is increasingly becoming a top global innovator for high-tech products and services, but the country can do much more to reach its full innovation potential, especially by bringing the benefits of innovation to the poor, says a World Bank report released on 4 October, 2007. Innovation in India must be thought of as improving practices across the entire economy. While India is emerging as a top global innovator in sectors such as biotechnology and information technology, less than 3 percent of the Indian workforce is in the modern private sector, while roughly 90 percent remains in the informal sector. “The disparities in productivity levels across firms within manufacturing sectors is wider in India than in China, Mexico, the Russian Federation, and the Republic of Korea,” said Mark Dutz, World Bank Senior Economist and editor of the report. The report also stresses that new domestic R&D and knowledge needs to be better converted to commercial use. Of the top 50 applicants for patents in India between 1995 and 2005, 44 were foreign firms. Only 2 were private Indian firms. Actions are needed to promote commercialization and to strengthen links among industries, universities, and public R&D laboratories.
India has one of the largest systems of higher learning in the world, with some institutions of world class quality. But, India’s small numbers of high-quality institutions are not enough to meet the country’s growing demand for skilled personnel. To maintain its share of global knowledge services, India will need 2.3 million knowledge professionals by 2010. Instead it may face a deficit of 0.5 million workers. The higher education system therefore needs to respond adequately to the economy’s rapidly changing needs. To achieve this, an increase in the fiscal and managerial autonomy of universities and colleges, and the encouragement of greater private participation in higher education, is recommended.
The report – Unleashing India’s Innovation – emphasized how creating and commercializing ‘new to the world knowledge,’ as well as diffusing and absorbing existing knowledge can help India to sustain faster growth. One of the unique features of this report is its focus on inclusive innovation – that is, knowledge creation and absorption efforts that are most relevant for the needs of the poor. Some of the recommendations were-
  • To spur broad innovation efforts, more needs to be done to increase competition, build stronger skills, improve information infrastructure, and provide more public and private finance for R&D and its commercialization.
  • In-service training is another important means of imparting skills.
  • Encouraging stronger competition among enterprises is particularly important. More intense competition among enterprises and suggests removing nonessential regulations in product, land, labor, capital and infrastructure markets is called for.
  • It is also recommended to make it easier for enterprises to take risks, and reallocating resources when new ventures don’t turn out as planned.
  • The easing of remaining limits on small industries, restrictions on foreign direct investment, and barriers to import competition is also suggested.
  • It is recommended that new ways be explored to leverage the entrepreneurs and technologists of India’s Diaspora.
The Indian consumer base is far from being homogeneous and is divided into distinct classes. According to NCAER’s data, India’s truly rich and cosmopolitan middle-class is less than 10 million-strong. The actual “consuming middle class” is estimated to be about 150 million. These pragmatic consumers aren’t necessarily enamored with glitzy foreign products. Rather, they rather seek to acquire goods and services that are simple to use and priced low. The onus is, therefore, squarely on multinationals to adapt their innovation models to fit the Indian socio-economic context so they can produce and sell products and services that meet three criteria:
a) They must be hassle-free
b) They must be sold at low-cost
c) They need to be produced in large volume.
Western firms can learn from Cisco, Nokia, and Microsoft, which are diligently de-Westernizing their business models to win in India in the long-term. These exemplars have completely localized their innovation value chains in India by building grassroots ecosystems (as Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential program has done). And they are also shifting their decision-making power from the West to the East, as Cisco did by opening its second world headquarters in Bangalore.
The ongoing economic crisis is only going to accelerate the emergence of India and China as the next economic superpowers. When they do reemerge from the crisis, Western powers will desperately need access to both Asian giants’ markets to reboot their local economies. I hope that policy-makers in US and Europe will shun populist protectionism and forge trans-national Innovation Networks with talent-rich India.
The global economic slowdown will paradoxically affect India’s innovation potential. I believe the deepening recession will force Western companies to outsource even more of their knowledge work to India as they desperately seek to streamline their cost structure. This is exactly what happened after 2000, once the dot-com bubble burst: IT outsourcing and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) to India really took off. But this time around, I suspect we will see an exodus of high-end work to India, not just low-end BPO stuff. Expect ailing British banks to outsource their middle-office and equity research work to India’s knowledge workers while Big Pharma farms out their clinical trials and even drug development to Indian contract partners. This will give a big boost to India’s nascent Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) market.
India’s explosive economic growth is fueling demand across industries, ranging from IT to manufacturing to retail, for a huge number of skilled professionals. Unfortunately, while India produces over 3 million graduates each year, the percentage of those graduates that are employable by the industry is fairly low. Two studies, one by McKinsey & Company and another by Duke University, showed that fewer than 25% of the 500,000 engineers graduating in India are of comparable quality to the 70,000 engineers produced in the US — and therefore “employable” by the industry. Unfortunately most of these initiatives take a quantitative approach that merely aims to improve the supply-side of the Indian labor market. I personally think that the issue (and therefore the solution) lies on the demand-side, and requires a qualitative solution as well.
Why? Because employability is only half the problem. Even if they do find qualified workers, companies can’t take their Indian employees’ loyalty for granted: attrition rates in Western IT providers’ Indian offices run as high as 50%, due to lack of engagement by their employees. In a global workforce study conducted by Towers Perrin, a whopping 56% of Indian employees said that they feel disengaged at work – the highest percentage among all countries surveyed. These disgruntled Indian employees feel a big disconnect between their personal aspirations and their day-to-day professional activities.
However resourceful it might be, the Indian government can’t afford to take a top-down approach to igniting and coaching the minds of the 550 million-strong Indian youth. It needs to enroll the help of creative entrepreneurs worldwide to accomplish that mighty goal.
Fortunately, some entrepreneurs are already responding to this call. Take Dr. Ravi Shankar (Ravi) Gundlapalli, who, after 12 years of working as a supply chain professional (Ravi has a Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics), decided to become an entrepreneur in the education sector with a global mission. Ravi’s extensive field research in India with individual students, colleges, employers, and trade associations shows that most of the 3 million graduates that India produces each year are not receiving adequate career-based education and orientation. So Ravi is launching a new startup, Turning Point Global (TPG), which aims to address the employability and talent management issues faced by the Indian economy. TPG’s vision is to “ignite the Indian students’ minds” with career planning and career success principles that are aligned with the students’ own genius and career aspirations. It reminds me of Dr. Abdul Kalam predicted, “the ignited 550 million youth of India will make the most powerful resource on the earth, above the earth and under the earth — and no force on earth can stop them.”

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