An interesting read impelled me to find out where India stands vis-a-vis rest of the world with respect to innovatio.  Some of the facts I managed to find did massage the patriotic side of my ego - the fastest supercomputer in Asia is owned by an Indian firm; in the field of satellite imagery India is the 2nd best in the world; more than 300 MNCs have set up R&D centers in India; and Indian Americans account for 26 per cent of tech firms founded by immigrants as a whole.

But, in a country where -  more than 800 million earn an income of less than Rs. 20 per day, only 14 in 1000 people have access to PC, internet penetration is less than 0.5%, less than 7% of labor force is employed in the formal economy and more than 70% of population is still rural - do these innovations really matter to the common masses?

The concept of innovating for the BOP segment originated in the west. Everyone knows that one of the prominent think-tanks behind the concept of BOP, Prof. CK Prahalad, who was recently voted as the "World's Greatest Management Thinker", is of Indian origin. One also knows that India boasts of BOP innovations such as that of HLL, ICICI, Jaipur Foot, Aravind Eye Hospital.  But the question that makes me ponder is in the "Inclusive Innovation" landscape where do we stand today?

Today when one thinks of advancing social innovations and fostering grassroots entrepreneurs, the names that flash are the likes of  - Ashoka Foundation, Acumen Funds and Skoll Foundation. Sometimes I wonder why even the most optimistic eyes can't find one such Indian venture philanthropic firm incubating social enterprises through their financial capital and business acumen. 

Some might argue that it is only those wealthy likes of Americans & Europeans who can afford to get into this philanthropic space. Well, in a nation which today boasts of Ambanis and Mittals, who are constantly raising up in the ranks of the world's richest (As per Forbes Rich List, India has more billionaires today than any other Asian country), is there a lack of high net worth individuals? Or is one claiming that for those with the entrepreneurial zeal to create such fostering organizations it is tough to raise capital in a global world?

(More on this in the coming posts..)

~ Santosh


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