5th Competition Awards Function

18-11-2009    Dr R A Mashelkar

 

What a wonderful day this has been. May I request you to start with applause for innovative India ! You know I have always said the “I” in “ India ” should not stand for inhibition. The “I” in “ India ” should not stand for imitation. The “I” in “ India ” must always stand for innovation. “I” in “Industry” must stand for innovation, “I” in every “Institution” must stand for innovation and “I” in “I” in every individual must stand for innovation. That is what I said in the morning. Very briefly when I spoke I didn't want to exceed my four minutes in the morning when the President was here. I mentioned about not just National laboratories but nation as a laboratory. The Whole Nation, 1.1billion people experimenting, because this 1.1 billion people just don't have a mouth to feed or two hands, two legs, each one has a mind-a creative mind. You know I always believe enormously in the power of human mind. I always believe in the power to achieve, always said that there is no limit to human-endurance, there is no limit to human achievement, excepting the limit that you put on yourself. Just look at this, look at Mount Everest . Looked impossible to climb it, isn't it? Impossible. Then in 1953 we had Edmond Hillary and Sherpa Ten Singh climbed the Mt. Everest for the first time and they demonstrated that it can be done. And once it has been done you know it has been done so many times! Some people have done it 5-6 times, an individual! Ladies have gone up there, people with disabilities have gone up there and somebody was complaining on the other day, this is to Anil, he said there is problem about litter there on Everest because so many people have gone.

So, I think somebody have to prove it once that we can do it and then everyone else does it. Today, the great advances that have taken place, you know in Science and Technology, the way we are able to commute, the way we are able to compute, the way we are able to do anything, I mean you can just see the power of human mind that has done. The other important point is National Innovation Foundation cares for the creativity, the individuality of every one in India, not just a select few, not just the scientists who are enrolled with rich equipment, rich funding in laboratories and we try to look at every individual and his capacity to innovate. And here I must say a few words about Anil. Anil has been personal inspiration for me, I call him modern Gandhi, the way he actually does his Shodh Yatras, the way he walks in villages, the way his commitment to creating the innovative India , identifying the innovative Indians, celebrating success is absolutely amazing and it is that one power that keeps on driving sort of all of us. Each one of you he knows, your names, he knows what you have done, he can stand up and give half an hour lecture on what you achieved, and so its not just about you, the hundreds of thousands that he is talking about and he is setting the world on fire, creating greater and greater move in us by doing more

and more experiments. For example his recent experiment Techpedia. He always kept on saying that you know there are young people, undergraduates in colleges-final year they do a project work, there is so much creativity that is locked up there and we don't even know what they do! And within six month, he creates miracle through Techpedia! I don't know how many of you have visited Techpedia, I spent two or three hours on the other day just going through what Techpedia lists? And there are more than 100 thousand projects that have been listed there and incredible thinking in many many many of those things that we don't normally think about like the black box of a car which might turn in accident, a whole range of things. So the power of young mind you know, he is exploring, its the same thing about the young students that he talked about, Dr. Kalam giving those awards, every year the Ignite program, this is the third year, and some of these he was describing I mean they are absolutely breath taking. So I think the issue is that we don't have to prove to anyone that India is second to none as far as Innovations are concerned. And we don't want to judge, to be judged by the standard indicators-research papers, patents, this, that and the other and the noble prizes, etc, etc. I think what we have to ask ourselves is, are we making a difference? Many people ask me to keep on talking about innovation, what is the definition of an Innovation? What is the good definition of an innovation? There are many by the way, but the one that I like is successful implementation of new idea. It is a very simple one. Successful implementation of a new idea. Now this puts lot of challenges for you. First of all the idea cannot be mundane, it has to be a new idea, something that has not been done before. The other one is it employees implementation. Ok? Now you saw lot of ideas that are implemented here. You have an idea and you make it work basically that is being what is demonstrated here. But remember the word is “successful implementation”. And what does successful implementation means? Its not just demonstrating it here, but like out Hon'ble President kept on saying, is it mass produced? Is the society reaping the benefits from it? Is it produced on a scale? Which is commensurate with the 1.1 billion population of this country? Not just benefiting 10 people or 100 people, millions of people and I think that is the big challenge that is there before Anil, me and all of us, the Ministry, Dr. Ramasami and the rest of you. And therefore I am seeing this particular movement on taking forward now by actually normally enhancing the inputs that National Innovation Foundation will have but also creating other enabling mechanisms by which we are holding hands with other organizations which will help us move it forward. Like Council of Scientific Industrial Research, we have an MoU with them, like Indian Council of Medical Research with whom we have MoU, like IARI-who have been our gracious host today, and people like that and eventually it is the meeting of these informal systems of innovation and formal systems of innovation that is going to matter in trying to take it forward, making these products manufacturable.

Now clearly the number of innovations that we have done, you find some of them can be routinely taken without much difficulty, because they have no great demands like the mechanical innovations for example they can be easily skilled up and taken forward. They can be made little more sophisticated by getting let us say a Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institution or an Indian Institute of Technologies' design team or whatever they have. That's not an issue. The big challenge is huge number of innovations are herbal based, okay? Because people look around the nature what they have and they try to use it in order to do something by which a disease could be cured or animal disease can be treated and so on and so forth. Now these are more difficult, why? Because there is a regulator sitting there, which is saying that any human being, before he takes anything or tastes anything, it has to be proved and it's a long process. Takes 5 years, takes 10years, takes 12 years, for example, some of you have might have discovered something which you may believe is good for cancer, good for diabetes, good for arthritis or what have you. Now it cannot just be put into the market. It has to go through processes. For example, first it has to be tested in animals, okay? To test its safety, toxicity, etc, the so called regulatory epoxy. After that it goes to Phase-I clinical trials where healthy volunteers take it and see whether there is any toxicity. After that is satisfied it goes to Phase-II where limited number of patients try it and then after that it goes to Phase-III, alright and that phase-III means hundreds of people who have that particular disease, trying it. So these processes are extremely lengthy and we have found that there are some excellent clues, there was finding with typhoid today, I mean it's a bioflavonoid apparently. You know which seems to be working and if it is a novel compound that's a great news! But we don't know whether it is novel! Firstly we will have to find out its structure, that means partnership with National Chemical Laboratory or Indian Institute of Chemical Technology or some chemistry department and having found the structure, we will have to synthesize it in few kilograms in order to be able to take those trials forward. And therefore these partnerships become important. The initial screens that we require for these, we cannot sort of put them on our own, we have to use the existing screens, until our budgets improve, which are going to improve now, in a sort of time to come. Why am I mentioning this? The journey for mind to market place, the journey from concept to commercialization, is not easy. It depends upon the kind of innovation that you have. And that has to be done in exactly a team India fashion. It cannot be done by an individual innovator or just by National Innovation Foundation, we must all come together.

I was very delighted to see for example, just to give you an example, what difference some of these innovations can make. You know there is a disease called Psoriasis, which is a skin disease. Very very difficult disease. Takes thousand dollar per injection and takes 20 such injections, so 20 thousand dollars. Its an entire body injection under the skin. Now there is an indigenous innovation of someone from a village, who said you know these are the leaves, you take 10 leaves put them in water, take that extract and it clears it out. The partner in our program called New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative, I am just describing the journey now, what it has taken, which I have started from CSIR. LUPIN which is a private industrial enterprise came in along with 3 laboratories. They looked at that. Now you cannot say just put 10 leaves, you need to know how much amount, what are the active ingredients. They were analyzed and then you have to find out the mechanisms by which they work actually at a cellular level, at a molecular level. There is a huge study that was done. For filing a PCT application, which is a Patent Cooperation Treaty application, and having done that then they went to the Drug Controller General of India with documentation which has 1700 pages. It took about one-two and a half year to get it clear, then it went to phase-I successful, then to phase-II, successful, then went to phase-III and it is being currently evaluated now. Within next 6 to 8 months we will come to know, whether we are successful or not. You know the difference it will make based on that individual's knowledge, that traditional knowledge is fantastic! I just give you the comparison. The comparison is that this 20 thousand dollar treatment that I talked about took about 700 to 800 million dollars for development, you know, how much this is going to take? 10 million dollars; that one took around 12 years before it could move from molecule to market. This will be done in five years. But most importantly that treatment is 20 thousand dollar and this treatment will be available for 100 dollars! Now just imagine if this validation is done for this and this journey we have to be followed for everything that we are doing, everything where we have been, so you can see the amount of money that will be required, the amount of effort, the patience will be required but see the difference that its going to make. A scientifically validated herbal therapeutic which is precisely defined would be fully proven and will not be available like in America for 20 thousand dollar but 100 dollars. An American is going to say why should I pay 20 thousand dollars for treatment? I will come here and take the 100 dollars treatment. The point I am trying to make here is that the store house that we have, has all such potent leads, actually, we do not know what breakthroughs we might have, as a result of that basically and that is why we have to complete this journey in practically everything that we have, it's a tough journey but we are determined to do that, alright? Because it is beyond an individual sort of innovator. There is one more point I want to make. Actually people are watching us very closely, I mean Anil is a hero by the way around the world, you may not know, u know, there is a report that The World Bank Institute has created recently on innovation and the number of pages that they have devoted to what Anil has contributed, which means what you have contributed is fantastic. They are recognizing that this grassroots innovation is something to be printed. I happened to know that because I was one of the referees. And because they praised Anil so much I closed my eyes and said its great. That is the importance people have for him. The second thing that has happened and I am very very proud to mention that, this Honey Bee movement, I called it a movement, as a matter of fact, you know looking at, and the mapping the minds as Anil puts it has caught the imagination everywhere around the world. Because they say if that can happen in India , it can happen anywhere, isn't it-Africa, Latin America , so on and so forth and what are we doing about this knowledge? So I am very happy to tell you that 7 ex-presidents came together, Wolfensohn, the World Bank President, he came in and myself. And all of us met in New York last year to create what is called as a Global Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation Partnership (GIKIP), it is a long name. Now these 7 ex- presidents, include Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, our own president, it includes Mary Robinson of Ireland, Tanzania's former President and can you believe when we launched the person who was sitting next to me, as a founder President, this was done on some 27 th September, I didn't realize that in the month of October two weeks time from then he will get the peace noble prize, Mr. Martti Ahtisaari of Finland. So people like that have come together and actually copied the movement that Anil has done and created global indigenous knowledge movement. When we began giving these awards and recognizing all of you, we did not at that time realize that this is going to be a great impact at a global level. And you know what is their argument? their argument Mary Robinson put it beautifully, she said the whole world has to become sustainable. We are looking for sustainability and sustainability is going to come from grassroots because at grassroots you look at mother nature, you try to see what is around, rather than doing something synthetical, creating something that is artificial, and therefore this is a part of the sustainability movement, that's the way she must be looking at and you can quite really see how it is going to sort of places. The other thing and Anil mentioned about that I always keep on talking about innovation not an exclusive innovation which can benefit just a few but an inclusive innovation which can benefit everyone, isn't it? And that inclusion is very important because that is going to make a difference. I mean I can pull out my blackberry and very proudly say you know this is a great innovation and I have access to it. But whats the use? If there are 4 billion people whose income levels are less than 2 dollars a day, they don't have access to it then it is not inclusive. Now in India you will find, just last month one and a half crore mobiles were sold. And who did they go to? They went to fishermen, they went to vegetable vendors, they went to rickshaw pullers, not just to us. And what difference it is making to their lives now? Can you see? A rickshaw puller, you know, I mean he is able to book or somebody can book him on his mobile, vegetable vendor today for example he is able to do what they call as Toyota model of inventory, because the knows all his customers, he ask them what is the vegetable you want tomorrow, how much and he stores exactly that. A fisherman today basically, because the phytoplankton in a sea tells you that this is where the fish density is maximum from satellite that is tracked and a message goes that, if you go here you can do three or four times more productive fishing. His income levels go up and while he is going back on his mobile he has already sold it, alright! He does not have to sort of waste. Our farmer for example, Why I am saying all this is that this is the importance of inclusive innovation, the moment you give this power to the let us say the people who are resource poor, if I can use that word, they become powerful, their income levels increase, their knowledge increases about health issue, education issue, this issue, that issue, etc. Now these inclusive innovations are very important and to my mind all the grassroots innovations are inclusive innovations because they have been done by people on the ground. What we need to do is to give support to these innovations by getting these formal systems and that's why Anil again I want to congratulate you for getting the scientists tomorrow to sit here and talk to them about how they can sort of working together. See this has been one problem as an old man I can say this in India we are not really team India, we are not being team India, you know many times people say one Japanese plus one Japanese is equal to 11 Japanese. But then somebody asked me what is one Indian plus one Indian? so and I said two, no they said zero, why? Because they neutralize each other. So I think the issue is how do we all get together, that is the basic issue. You ask Anil although I was the Director General of CSIR, and also the Chairman of National Innovation Foundation it took how many years inspite of my wearing the 2 hats? For CSIR and NIF to come together? Four years it took. Can you Imagine? Despite my being there ok! Similarly ICMR and so on! I remember you know we have this great traditional knowledge, because we have to also talk about traditional knowledge, community knowledge. I remember I am a great admirer of Ayurveda by the way. It's a great sort of system of medicine of which we should be very proud but I found that traditional medicine and the scientists never talk to each other. The Vaidyas and the scientists never talk to each other, the vaidyas and the doctors never talk to each other. Infact they fought with each other. I got them together created what is called as the golden triangle-Traditional Medicine, Modern medicine, Modern Science, picking up clues from Ayurveda and then validating them with scientific presence. Created a huge network- 19 laboratories, 25 universities, Arya Vaidyasala, Kottakkal, etc. I still remember going to Arya Vaidyasala, Kottakkal, talking to Dr. Warrier you know, and then finally our signing it, Dr. Waliatan was there at that time, he brought us together and he said, the day we signed it, he said that this is a holy day for me because two rivers are meeting, the river of traditional knowledge and the river of modern knowledge. River of traditional knowledge being Arya Vaidyasala and river of modern knowledge being CSIR. And I asked myself why did it take so long for these two rivers to meet? And you can see the spectacular results that are coming out of that sort of partnership. I think that the simple point that I am trying to make is that grassroots innovation movement is something that is spectacularly successful as we can see, but in order that we give a true meaning to the innovation which is successful implementation of a new idea, not just implementation of a new idea; that impact must be felt by a large population, by a large scale and for that we require this extra effort and that can be done only through Team India . Team India where all of us basically sort of partner together and therefore tomorrow's meeting is as important as what we have done today. Finally, I was absolutely delighted to see the enthusiasm of the President by the way. While I was sitting there, I don't mind sharing it with you because that should be a public knowledge, she asked me I mean she was so fascinated by what she saw, her immediate reaction as soon as she saw was that I want this to be in Rastrapati Bhawan. You know, it was absolutely incredible she said I am going to test it out when she was seeing so many cooking innovation for example, that you have created. Then she said we have an exhibition in February and March and you heard because then 5-6 lakh people will sort of come there and basically see. And while she was sitting here she asked me who is the minister who deals with it? I said Prithviraj Chauhan, Minister of Science and Technology—Oh! I am going to talk to him in the afternoon. And while going out she talked to Dr. Ramasami and she said, you know I am so fascinated I am going to talk to the Prime Minister. I want to congratulate all of you because what you all have done is a magic! What you all have done is something you should be proud of because in a space of 10 minutes you have charmed, you have impressed, you have inspired the President of the country. That is the power that we have and you can see what difference it is going to make. I think the challenge is really with us because while going while praising also she has given us this challenge. Because her very first reaction as soon as she saw the first device was about mass production because she is always thinking in terms of how can I make a difference to the entire India ? At the end of it all were leaders, all of us; we have to believe in “Bahujan Hitaay Bahujan Sukhai”. It must be for benefit for all and it must create joy for not just a few but for everyone. So I think this is a spectacular day today. Congratulations Anil to you , to the entire team which has worked so hard, the Honey Bee network, the new signals that are now coming up whether through Ignite program, whether it is Techpedia, those hundreds of thousands of entries that are coming up. I am seeing a great churning up basically that is taking place and we are riding an exciting sort of wave. I have always believed that India will lead the world, there is no question about that and there are many many signals going to sort of happen and I am quite sure it is this innovativeness, this intrinsic ability we have it in our genes, by the way. You know people have suddenly coined this word “Frugal Engineering”. There are meetings that are taking place in frugal engineering. I was invited to speak, by the way, recently in Delhi . But I am telling that look frugality was in our genes. Did your mother throw away the food that she cooked for you. No she did not. She created something out of it the following day. When Nano came, suddenly the word frugal engineering came, the word Gandhian engineering came. We are experts in getting more from less for more and more people and that is going to be the buzz word from the 21 st century. More from less for more has been interpreted by the corporate world in different way. Get more productivity by using less financial resource, capital resource for more profit, more value to the share holder. What we are saying is while you are doing that can you get more from less for more and more and more people of this world? Its not just Value for Money, its Value for Many. Can you do that? Grassroots innovation is capable of getting not only value for money but value for many and that should be the movement that we should be taking around. So thank you very much for sort of a great day. I think self congratulation is an order. Let give ourselves a big applause!