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India should focus more on original innovation

Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi:  Stressing on the importance of technological innovation to boost economic growth, Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor today said that India should go beyond “frugal invention” and focus on undertaking more original research.

Tharoor, a former Union Minister of State for External Affairs, also said in the context of regional cooperation that India has not been able to achieve much through SAARC because of Pakistan.

Speaking at ‘The Growth Net’, a discussion on initiatives for and challenges in the path of robust growth, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said that government should push for investment in research and development.

“We have not gone beyond ‘frugal innovations’, though it has led to Indian companies doing some serious research in coming up with products that not only have improved on the existing ones but also cater to international markets,” said Tharoor.

“What we don’t have enough of is original innovation, that is, coming up with products which are simplified versions of more complex and expensive things. So more of R&D investment, integrity and incentive should go into government policies,” he added.

Talking on bilateral and regional trade, Tharoor said that the South Asian neighbourhood has failed to take significant strides in this area due largely to political reasons.

“We as a country are living in the middle of what the World Bank has described as the least economically-integrated region of the world and that is largely due to political reasons,” he said.

Opining that “Pakistan’s chip on the shoulder has been a major obstacle for India in getting SAARC to bring consensus on several issues,” Tharoor pitched for the country to move to meaningful sub-regional integration within SAARC countries like Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Offering a suggestion for increasing workers’ productivity, he said that they should be made partners in business to target sustainable economic growth.

“Workers should essentially be given incentives to be more productive; give them direct co-relation to the productivity and allow them to share it,” he said.

Emphasising the need for producers to have viable markets, he said, “What worries me most is the decrease in commodity prices. Even as the finance minister talks of decreasing energy prices, the fact is that we are more of producers of commodities than consumers.”

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