Viewpoint: Unleashing India's R&D Potential

23 AUG,2020 | MEDC


 

Covid-19 could be a unique opportunity for India to substantially enhance its innovation potential. Given the country’s innate strengths in information technology, analytics, and data science, there is a real opportunity for the large number of engineering and medical graduates in the country to come up with some innovative solutions to the many issues facing the nation today. The focus has to remain on value addition and a gradual upward movement in the global value chains. India has much to offer the world as far as the potential of its human talent goes. Innovation has to occur in a logical and consistent policy framework, and an honest appraisal of our strengths and weaknesses will provide the guiding light for it. With zoonotic viruses such as SARS and H1N1 on the rise, there is huge scope for expanding diverse scientific fields to make affordable medication for global use in the coming years. India can play a pivotal role in this noble effort. It is not just about the money, but rather, about the goodwill that will inevitably accrue to the nation by genuinely serving millions around the world and enabling them to begin their lives anew. In the long run, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will also go some distance in optimizing the efficacy of our demographic dividend, and channelizing it into socioeconomically productive avenues. For now, the key is to restart economic activity without lifting the lockdown, or lifting it to the minimum extent possible, as the spread of infection continues to remain a major public concern.In the post-Covid-19 world, there need to be regular course corrections to research agendas, with larger and more collaborative industry-academia partnerships showing the pathway. Accelerated regulatory clearances and the right kind of support from the government, will enable a lot to be achieved in this regard. Vaccines remain a pivotal tool for reducing the high morbidity and mortality rates associated with Covid-19, and the race to develop them is acquiring nationalistic overtones. India should strike while the iron is hot. The pandemic highlights the world’s interconnectedness, and we now have a golden chance to reframe our policymaking processes to benefit from the ongoing global uncertainties. Covid-19 has also reiterated the fact that healthcare and the life-sciences are the next logical areas for India to focus its research endeavours. The government needs to seize this moment to redirect its efforts into innovatively tweaking the R&D system to ensure that India produces the right antidotes for a crisis-ridden world.

*Photo Credit: Google

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