Speech by the Hon'ble President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

05-01-2005    Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam

Dr. Mashelkar, Dr.Ramamurthy, Prof Anil Gupta, Dr Saxena and all other friends who have assembled here to greet our innovators from various parts of the country.

My greetings to all of you.

When I was thinking of what to talk to you, I recalled a lecture I had given to the students recently, then I was trying to understand, as to how do the innovations emerge, how do they develop?. Innovation normally is market driven or it is circumstances that make people invent something for their use. For example you see most of the innovators

(we are honoring) today are from different walks of life. They have conceived of an idea which they have evolved into a product. For making innovative products with improved performance, many of these innovators were not aware of alternative technological options. An innovative product makes a leap in the benefits to cost ratio in some area of endeavor. Innovation is a systematic, organized, rational work done generally in many stages and may sometimes may have hi-tech implications also.

Thanks to the hi-tech media, all of us know what is the creativity. In the process of creativity there are lot of idea or action chains. I am not going to discuss these in detail but, I may add that creativity can definitely lead to discovery, it can lead to invention or it may lead to innovation. Now with this introduction, I must first congratulate the award winners. I am extremely happy to be here for the second annual award function of National Innovation Foundation. It is a matter of great happiness that National Innovation Foundation under the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India is involved in recognizing, respecting and rewarding unaided innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge experts at the grassroots. The foundations efforts to bring green grassroots innovators into main stream are indeed praise worthy. Here is my suggestion to all my friends here, Dr Mashelkar, Prof Ramamurthy and Prof Anil Gupta. When I visited Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, I found the craftwork of the tribal people had tremendous potential. In almost every house, I have seen they create their own products for various applications - ranging from dresses to vessels, protection, safety, security, etc. Every house, more or less has a small hand loom weaving system and they weave beautiful colors and change their dresses every season.

So when I was talking to Prof Anil Guptaji, I advised that we have to move ahead state wise, and find out what kind of innovations are where, how we can use the innovations and then convert them into products. Here, when I see so many innovators sitting here who have come from various parts of the country with traditional knowledge and also newer technologies and innovative ideas, we need to have a system, to convert these innovations that you are awarding into business solutions. A business solution with economic value to it, now how to do that??

Here I suppose a mechanism, of micro venture fund that you are launching is likely to help. Also our Technology Development Board can try to utilize some of the innovative ideas to convert them into a product. It should go to the industry then only the benefits will come to the innovators and to the nation. I am sure you are all planning to do that, that is quite important. Some times we appreciate innovations, we value them, and we celebrate these. Celebration is a fantastic thing to do but at the same time we must see how to increase the value addition. Hundreds and hundreds of new products need to be built for meeting the national requirement or meeting the needs of common people. This is my suggestion which I would like to give to NIF.

Invention is a manifestation of originality, originality in thinking, and originality in conceptualizing and natural inventiveness of the mind. This quality, I am firmly of the view, is latent in all of us. Only a few ideas may blossom forth, may be because of the circumstances, environment and tradition. As far as I can see the mind and its ability to imagine knows no limits. What is required is a natural effort to exercise it in the positive direction. Originality or inventiveness are not exclusive property of any class, society or nation. Human beings are endowed with limitless abilities, manifestations of which are in the history of the mankind. It is not necessary that only those who have modern education can only innovate. Many innovations have been unrecognized and are unknown. I find the prime purpose of the National Innovation Foundation holding this contest is to recognize such unsung heroes of our society.

Innovation opens up new vistas of knowledge and new dimensions to our imagination to make everyday life more meaningful and richer in depth and content. Often we find that innovation by themselves may apparently look small or even insignificant. But the impact these could have or their potential for impact may be absolutely amazing. I do not have to catalogue those for you, for all of you are fully aware. They cover all facets of life, today as it is evident from the innovations that are being honored today.

India with its billion people population, 30 per cent of whom are in the youthful age group, it is a veritable ocean of talent much of which may be latent. Imagine the situation when the entire sea of talent is allowed to manifest itself in path breaking innovations! - even thought process or philosophies underlying these are aimed at enriching our life in general. Our country can surely be a torchbearer of progress for the entire world.

I congratulate the National Innovation Foundation for saluting the work done in this field and wish them greater and greater successes in days to come in identifying more and more green grassroots innovations throughout the length and breadth of our country and simultaneously may I hope that such commendable efforts would be made by other institutions particularly by schools and universities. With this I would like to congratulate particularly all the awardees who have come from various parts of the country- my greetings to them. It is excellent what they have done. Innovation is market driven, we should not leave it at this point, I am sure National Innovation Foundation is aware of the need to link innovation with markets so that these can help improve the performance of the entire system. .

Here I have a specific suggestion. Suppose you have 50 awardees, Prof Ramamurthy, Dr Mashelkar are present here, they have number of laboratories all around the country-they should help in attaching each innovation to a university or a laboratory and also an industry. You have to build these linkages . Unless industry takes over these innovations, it will remain where it is. So I am sure you all will do it- and to some extent you are already doing it, as I understand.

As I said earlier, an innovative product makes a leap in the benefits to cost ratio, in some area of endeavor. Innovation is a systematic, organized, rational work usually done in many stages like testing, analysis, experiment, etc. If we ask our innovators here who have assembled here whether they want to analyze test, and experiment their work, it is obvious that they will need a lot of help from us. They have done a good job. I want to take some examples of innovative technologies. From what I have seen just now, nearly 20 innovations are very unique. How do we add value to these? , What do we see in an innovation in optical communication field, an example from the higher technology level. It is the advantage of speed vs cost of an innovation, in flexible manufacturing systems it is choice vs cost and in web enabled process, it is customer satisfaction vs cost. In E-mail, it is speed ; a message is instantly delivered to any part of the world through the internet. These are all different levels of innovation. What I have seen here today are innovations, that are home grown, and have come as a part of necessity faced by the innovators. Now the time has come to give a better a shape to of all these. Finally, I would like to conclude that in the indices of competitiveness, if you see, India is at a very low level at the moment and out of 60 countries we are somewhere in the 50s’ and innovation is the only solution to get out of such a situation. The innovation may come through the laboratories, may come from the experience at grassroots. All of which, if integrated and encouraged and supported, will help in emergence of such a consortium - a consortium of customers, users and the bridging institutions, knowledge building institutions, and industry to support the innovators. Then only all the innovations will get a valuable benefit from formal research system and the nation will get due credit out of it.

And finally I would like to conclude that for the nation today what is needed is a combination of technology and leadership. Using the technology to bring economic prosperity. A developed India – is what most of us need today. India has to become developed in 20 years time. It has to be powered by innovations and consequent economic strength. We will have to work for it. It is only economic strength, which can get to the goal of developed India . Economic strength has to be powered by competitiveness and competitiveness has to be powered by knowledge power, then knowledge power has to be powered by technology and technology has to be powered by innovation and business. Here, today we have assembled to celebrate innovation.

Business has to be powered by innovative management and management has to be powered by leadership. What are the characteristics of a leader - a leader should neither be a commander or nor a superboss, that he or she should be a facilitator and above all the nobility of the mind is the hallmark of a leader. I am sure that National Innovation Foundation will take a lead to bring the grassroots innovator in the mainstream by establishing number of GIANS run by innovative and high quality people all over the country, so that thousands and thousands of innovations come up which will be made business propositions for economic prosperity of the nation- I wish you all the best.

Particularly, I am very glad that the National Innovation Foundation has taken this innovative initiative to bring out the thoughts and ideas of innovators before the country.


Jai Hind