Eight India Innovation Summit 2012 – Notes

. 7

I attended the 8th CII India Innovation Summit held at the Leela Palace on August 30thand August 31st 2012.  I have attended the conference two years back and it is interesting to note that CII maintains a remarkable standard of professionalism in conducting this conference. Kudos to the present CII chairman Mr. L. Krishnan and his team. It was a packed audience for the whole of two days and that does tell about the entire engagement levels brought about by the conference.
It is always heartening to see accomplished industry veterans, accomplished professionals and budding entrepreneurs (some even less than twenty five years of age) sharing their experiences in a single stage.
In this short note I have tried to distil the key take away of the forty odd wonderful sessions. Please note it is impossible to re-create the magic brought about by the individual speakers.
 Made in India’ is *not* a taboo
‘Made in India’ is to be taken seriously.  It is something to be proud of. Low cost *does not* translate to low quality. India has lessons to offer for the world. Be it HealthCare, IT, Manufacturing, Biosciences any other field, India can create for the world. There were strong opinions for and against this, however the mood was optimistic and it was felt that the progress was being made in the right direction. Some note worthy examples were
·         The cost of bringing down the Hepatitis B Vaccine from Rs 800 to Rs 10 per dose by Bharath Biotech
·         Nano Car – No one ever thought a 2000$ car can be made
·         Animation can be as good or better than Hollywood – Wait for the upcoming movie Delhi Safari on October 19th
·         GE’s portable ECG machine

Foundations *remain* the same

The following fundamental values were repeated through-out by all speakers in some form or the other and possibly numerous examples were given for each of these values
·         Passion
·         Commitment
·         Excel within constraints
·         Do something different each day
·         Follow  your heart
·         Making creativity count (i.e accountable creativity)
·         Do not be afraid to fail
·         Do not re-invent the wheel (Copy and Adapt is alright)
·         Do not afraid to tread a path where no one has gone
·         Enlist the right set of people
·         Lack of belief is the barrier
·         Money is a side effect, be obsessively focused on purpose
·         Be Aware – There is always a story
·         ‘And’ is possible
·         Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Juggad and Low cost innovation

Juggad, a term originating from here is nothing to be ashamed of. It is applying logic, resources and common sense to solve a problem in a unique way keeping the local context. A vehicle powered by a motor used for agricultural can be considered as Juggad. Low cost innovation on the other hand is ‘Juggad’ by design!!. Developing a vaccine for ten rupees or making a $2000 car is not juggad. They are frugal innovation built in the purpose. The entire world is looking at India for low cost innovation and taking the lessons, work done here to their markets across the globe. Here is a view of how Bosch is looking at India.
“As a group, we have said that is strategically important for us to be in the low-cost vehicle market, and there are two reasons for this: Firstly, you cannot just transfer technology X, from Europe to a low cost vehicle. You need new engineering, the intelligence to make things simple, and adapt it to low cost markets. Secondly, this is valuable for our engineers, who could down the line bring these ideas back to the low end of the European market. “– Bernd Bohr, Bosch”
TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is a battle everyone is fighting to stay relevant and it cuts across industries

Invest in Humanities, Fine Arts and Basic Sciences

Everyone stressed the importance of investing in children in the above subjects. It was felt that we are disconnecting from our roots and creating a factory of individuals who are more mechanized in their approach towards life. We are not laying the foundation for critical thinking in our students at earlier years and are churning out mostly machines. The ‘Right Brain’ skills which need lot of horning are not nurtured enough in earlier years, thus leading to lot of gaps in all corners of all industries where skills are needed, people are available, but people with skills are not found.  We are preparing our people to clear textbooks, but not making them ready for market. Though isolated pockets of efforts are made by individuals to correct this, there needs to be more systemic correction. It was cited as an example with ample evidence on how a taste for music acquired in the early years can help the individual to be better grounded in shaping their personalities. The most glaring example of lack of originality came from Dr Krishna M Ella of Bharath Biotech when he said that as a country we have never developed or launched a new molecule. The underlying message is that find avenues to keep nurturing the ‘Right Brain’ skills, the earlier the better, otherwise we run the risk of creating a copy-cat society.

Lack of political will

This is something that I guess everyone was saying and not saying. While the customary acknowledgements were made in the support given by the governments, it was blatantly evident that there was no correlation in the speed at which the governments are functioning and the speed at which the industry is expecting the government to function. Here again, pockets of excellence still exist. An example was given of a state where infant mortality was the largest five years back , but in a span of five years , it was brought down to better international averages. It just goes to show what political will can do. However the mood was sullen on this aspect and I somehow came out with the feeling that these guys somehow seemed to make things happen bearing the governmental apathy.

Some Little Known facts

·         India has 633 districts and a budget of 1200 crores per year is available for each district. Imagine what accountability, trust and governance can bring about with that kind of money.
·         Karnataka runs the largest e-procurement portal in the world and 1,65,00 crores of money was handled through the portal last year
·         An Indian Institute of Nanoscience  is being setup
·         The biggest biotech park is coming up in Bangalore
·         Centre for Indian Music Experience is on the anvil
·         The budget for Metro phase I is around 11000 crores and each year it will save the exchequer around 1100 crores. The Managing Director of BMRCL Mr Sivasailam remarked that this is a small project !!
·         The budget for Metro phase II is 26000 crores. He mentioned here that this is a slightly bigger project !!

Familiar faces

·         Professor Sadagopan  – Director IIIT Bangalore
·         Dr Gopichand Kattragada – Managing director GE India Technology Centre
·         Kris Gopalakrishnan – Executive Co-Chairman, Infosys
You will find the above people, generally present in any conferences of significance related to Innovation and Project Management in Bangalore. The depth, clarity, passion, humor, and consistency they bring about in their speeches and the sessions they chair are laudable. The underlying theme of their talks generally center on that we have everything in here to ‘rub shoulders with the best in the build’. Their quest for excellence in anything and everything they do is visible

Opportunities to make a difference

Education and Healthcare are primary areas if focused properly can change the direction of this country. Energy and Biosciences are fast growing up. I do not think anyone doubted our abilities in IT and we seemed to be considered as leaders here. It was felt that we need to supercharge bringing about IT in other areas

Interesting Session

The banquet session on the first day was the best. Clearly it floored me. All speakers spoke from the heart without opening any slide and the flow was amazing. This was one session and probably the only session which got standing ovations. I will see if I can get a video to share , but the way in which the speakers shared their achievements, failures,  hurdles they had to cross, apathy they had to face from the environment around them and nudging along their way to be what they are stuck an emotional chord with the entire audience. I have briefly summarized in the table below the speakers and what they do. You probably can explore further if you wish. Please note that these are people who have taken the ‘road less traveled’
Brief Remarks
Mr Aroon Raman
Managing Director – Raman Fiber Science and former
Mr Ramji Raghavan
Founder Chairman – Agastya International Foundation
Dr Gopichand Kattragada
Managing Director – GE India Technology Centre Pvt Ltd
Mr Anil Srinivasan
Classical Pianist and Founder Rhapsody Music
Ms Manasi Prasad
Classical Musician and Project Director Centre for Indian Music Experience

Interesting Speakers

Though most of the speakers were engaging, the following people stood out in terms of connecting with the audience and the messages that they were able to drive home in the short time they had
Key Note
Dr Krishna Murthy Ella – Chairman and Managing Directory, Bharath Biotech International Limited
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Imagination + Knowledge = Innovation
Dr. V.Sumantran Executive Vice Chairman , Hinduja Automotive Limited and Vice Chairman, Ashok Leyland
Innovating to a cost advantage
Engineering => Combination of Brains and Materials. More the brains, less the materials.
Dr Lalitesh Katragadda – Country Head, India Products Google
Nine Rules for Visionaries 1
Mr K Ramakrishnan – President Coffee day group
BEAN there  ; Done that
CTRL +C, CTRL + V, Adapt
Vidyashankar and Sivasailam – IAS officers
Transparency and Public Accountability
Committed public machinery can make a large scale impact
Aditya Nath Jha
Delhi Safari – Creating India’s Answer to Bollywood
We are ‘world class’. Make no mistakes on that.
Sundi Natrajan
Funding Innovations
It is easy to start an enterprise now with very little capital
Mr Vivek Sahadevan Nair and Mr Deepak Ravindran
Less than twenty five years of age and their raw enthusiasm was infectious
1Nine rules of Visionaries
·         Hire the best
·         Everyone can contribute
·         Share
·         Everyone must understand your vision
·         Morph ideas
·         Speed Matters
·         Data, Data, Data drives decisions
·         Users come first, always
·         Let passion bloom (20% time is the kindling)

Interesting Links to follow through

A ‘crack’ on patents

Professor Sadagopan answered a question on Patents and Intellectual property in his own trademark way.  He said that he used to travel from Dehradun to Delhi in a train which was generally crowded. Each station people use to say ‘Darwaza Kholo’ (‘Open the door’) to get into the compartments and after some struggle one or two persons get into the compartments. However the same persons who get into the compartments remain mute to the ‘Darwaza Kholo’ appeals to people in the subsequent stations!


It is easy to sit at my own seat and think life is difficult, but it was gratifying to come out and see that people are surpassing bigger mountains with constraints that are larger than I face. Though I am still dozing I would like to conclude by a quote which was shared in the event
“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter’s evening. Some of us let these dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who hope that their dreams will come true – Woodrow Wilson”