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Innovation: The Indian Way!

Those of you who subscribe for the daily, Times of India, must have read Chetan Bhagat's article today 'The Great Indian Social Network'. A few others (like me) who don't subscribe for the said newspaper will also have read it online. For those who haven't, he laments the lack of innovation in any field in our country while at the same time admonishes the legal framework that one has to endure in order to get clearances from the government for any enterprise. He also praises Mark Zuckerberg (he's apparently still more famous than Julian Assange) for banking on innovation and a supportive US legal framework to become the world's youngest billionaire. I completely agree with him. It is the second and third generation 'losers' (in his words) who get everything to go their way. Our system is definitely nepotistic. A variety of people are favoured. The rich, the so called 'backward castes', the rich, the friends and relatives of people in power, and of course, the rich. This is true everywhere you look, so I'll refrain myself to the education industry (Yes, its an industry!) today.

Let's talk about innovation. Hardly any innovation comes from existing big players (in any industry). It is always the start-ups that bring innovation to the field and the big players that buy them out. So when you read that India is supporting these big players while strangling the necks of start-ups, and still wonder why there is no innovation happening in our country, I'd say, stop thinking, the answer's already there! But the problem is, nobody even wonders all this. Everyone's busy living up to expectations, meeting goals and impressing others. There is no self-made agenda. 99 percent of the work force only work because they fear losing their job. Also, 99 percent of the students (of any age) only go through the charade of studying for fear of being reprimanded by their parents. I have spoken to so many students and nearly every one of them seems to hate the prospect of attending classes or picking up books and studying. What concerns me the most is the fact that these "students" ridicule those precious few who do like to seek knowledge. The worst part is, neither the teachers nor the parents instill the desire to seek knowledge. Instead, they instill the fear of the consequences that follow poor performance. Moreover, this only applies to those who do not belong to a "backward caste", nor are rich enough to buy their way into schools and colleges.
This being the scenario, in order to equip himself with what precedes innovation (a desire to seek knowledge, no strings attached), a person should overcome all the unfair competition and the fear of failure and risk being labelled a loser by a majority of his peers and still be motivated and dedicated enough to seek that knowledge. Only then is there a chance of his ideas leading to an innovation. No wonder hardly any innovation is taking place in our country.
The unfair competition is set to stay for a long time to come as I don't see the government increasing spending on education and removing the need for 'management quota' seats and at the same time removing caste based reservation in the admission process to colleges. While these two stay, more than half the seats that could otherwise accommodate deserving candidates are gobbled up. As though this is not enough, it causes a further negative effect. People who take up admission this way, are undoubtedly, not of the same calibre as their peers who get in on merit. This rubs off on some of those who do get in on merit but find it hard to keep up their dedication and live up to the expectations of their new peers at the same time.
The fear of failure is set to stay as well. Its the poor who fear the failure, and that's what drives them to do better than the pack. But having grown up with the fear being a part of their conscience, these people do not put a toe out of the box (read no innovation happening from these people) and stagnate once they attain a certain level of stability. This is such a serious problem that I'm unable to think of even a hypothetical solution.
The risk of being labelled a loser is probably the easiest to overcome. But even this is really difficult since its teenagers that I'm talking about. There is little maturity here. But, this is a very simple obstacle indeed and I'll leave it at that. The dedication and the motivation also come with maturity and are no real obstacles.
Now that we know why there is suffocatingly little room for innovation in our country, we need to do something about it. That is up to you! Follow in the footsteps of one Mark Zuckerberg and even you could be a billionaire CEO at the age of 26! That's what India needs more of.

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