Building Infrastructure for Innovation in India

Conversations with India Series – Building Infrastructure for Innovation in India

His Excellency, the High Commissioner of India to the UK, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee and Dr Sam Pitroda, Chairman of the Indian Knowledge Commission, joined Professor Gerry George in the first “Conversations with India” seminar at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on Wednesday 21 May 2008.

sam pitrodaThe first event of its kind, the evening was well attended by Indian business people, senior staff of Imperial College and the College’s Alumni with an interest in India.  The discussion was a celebration of Rajiv Gandhi and his significant projects including economic liberalisation.  Speaking at Rajiv Gandhi’s former university (Imperial College London), on the anniversary of his death, Dr Pitroda reflected on the great successes achieved since introducing privatisation and globalisation.

“India’s continuing development relies on skills, education, knowledge and on the valuable processes of change across and within industrial sectors. Collaborative networks with global partners, like the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, will unlock India’s next millennia of technological innovation and help India become the workforce of the world.”

As an example of technological innovation underpinning the country’s development, Dr Pitroda reviewed the rapid growth in telecommunication infrastructure in the past 20 years. He described ‘a revolution’ that had nurtured new technologies and business models that were only found in India.  During this period the number of landlines increased by over 2000%, mobile connections passed 8 million and digital networks and other data services became increasingly available.

The High Commissioner said that one of the most impressive legacies of the Mr Gandhi’s programme of change, alongside growth of 8% in the economy was the ‘liberalisation that started in the minds of Indians’.  He sees this in the growing self-confidence of Indian business people on the international stage as they collaborate and compete in the global market place. He described this liberalisation as:

“A fresh wind that allowed entrepreneurial growth by blowing away the stifling culture that existed before. This change brings us today to Imperial College’s premier business school as we begin this conversation about, and with India, and the rest of the world.”

Dr Pitroda and the High Commissioner welcomed the new Centre on the exciting journey the nation is on.  They invited the Centre and Imperial College to make  “a significant contribution to this journey in the coming 20 years and beyond – as it has since the 1950’s with the establishment of IIT Delhi.”

The next seminar in the ‘Conversations with India’ series is in September and will involve broadcaster and author Sir Mark Tully and Ramalinga Raju, Chairman of Satyam Computer Services Ltd and E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year 2007. The discussion will be on the opportunities and challenges faced as India’s healthcare infrastructure expands, specifically related to rural service provision.  This event will combine the business school’s strengths in entrepreneurship and healthcare systems innovation management and provide an interesting topic for the ongoing ‘Conversations with India’.