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Into the Age of Innovation: Has India Begun to Crack the Code?

culture of innovation

The crowd at Madras IIT burst into laughter when on September 30, addressing the Singapore India Hackathon Prime Minister Narendra Modi said something to this effect, “Kudos to you for not being fatigued even after 36-hours of work to find a solution to particular problem. Among many things you have solved, I particularly liked the technique of cameras which detect who is paying attention in a gathering. I am thinking of recommending it to the Parliament, where I feel it has a greater utility.”

That’s a cool way to appreciate young innovators and promote a culture of innovation not just among the students but also among general public. But on a serious note, there are some good measures taken from the Modi government to make the field of science and innovation a ‘cool’ thing. The Hackathon events which are improving in their performance by each passing year are one example in that direction. What India has achieved in the recent years is that it has evolved a top to bottom eco-system for scientific research and innovation. It can be summarised in four instances broadly. PM Modi while speaking on promoting a culture of innovation has touched upon these elements.

  • Atal Innovation Mission is working at a primary level to enthuse the young minds with scientific temperament and innovation.
  • Hackathon like events and Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship give further platforms for the young innovators and researchers as they grow.
  • Further, the market space and institutional support for harnessing the innovative skills of the youngsters has been provided through Start UP India scheme.
  • With institutions like ISRO achieving newer milestones frequently and PM at the forefront, applauding and supporting the scientific community with various initiatives, a public mood has been created to root for innovations.
The Seed

Any mission for that matter needs a strong foundation to begin with. Creating next generation innovators starts with schooling. Here comes the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) which was started in 2015. AIM will provide grant-in-aid of Rs 20 Lakh to each school that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ‘Atal Tinkering Lab’ (ATL).

See a couple of media reports to understand how AIM has already been showing a sign of accomplishment. The young minds are provided with the opportunity to work on the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and they have proved that they are using the tools made available to them to the best of their ability.


Apart from this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi always makes it a point to inspire children to develop curiosity through gestures such as selecting some kids to watch Chandrayaan soft landing in ISRO headquarters.


The Plant

Once you fill the young minds with interest for science and technology, there should be an avenue to streamline their knowledge in the next stage of graduation and post-graduation. Hackathons and research scholarships etc are helping the youth to grow further.

Of course, hackathons have happened before the Modi government as well but the scale at which the present government is conducting this exercise certainly enthrals the student community. In Smart India Hackathon, the involvement of government departments has increased significantly under Modi government. For example, in the year of 2017, 29 departments were involved, 42,000 engineering students participated and 600 problems were solved.

The particular hackathon that the PM addressed on September 30th morning is only two years old. The Prime Minister himself has explained the importance of such international collaboration in his speech.

In order to attract these meritorious students into research Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme was launched in 2018. It offers direct admission to students in the Ph.D porgrammes in the IITs, IISERs and IISc with attractive fellowship of Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 per month. In addition, a research grant of Rs 2 lakh per year is provided to the selected fellows for a period of five years to present research papers.

The Tree

If the innovations are backed up with market opportunities to achieve their potential, naturally such a system will produce more innovators. In India, Start Up India scheme enables the innovators to become a market force and achieve the intended objective. Beyond assisting technological companies to take shape, creating a business atmosphere also plays a role in making particular country that of innovators. Say for example, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has formed International Solar Alliance with other countries. The innovations and technology related to the field of solar energy naturally gets a boost.

Even if you just look at the Start Up ecosystem under the Modi government, all this positive surge mentioned in the below infographics will tell you how the ecosystem has been thriving.

The Branches

Since you have a Prime Minister who often talks on subjects like artificial intelligence, who stands firm with the scientist community through thick and thin as the country famously witnessed in the instance of PM’s gesture towards the ISRO chief, an atmosphere of being supportive of science is visible among the common people of this country. They no longer debate whether we should spend on space technology or not, instead they firmly stand with nation’s premier institutes in their earnest efforts.

All these put together gives us a picture of positivity that India is truly entering into the age of innovation, the element, that more or less decides a nation’s leadership position in the globe.


Also Read:

A Perfect Sync Between ISRO and Government – What it holds for India’s future

Jai Vigyan Jai Anusandhan: Taking Science to People