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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 21 October 2020

India’s innovation horizon

  • Innovation rearranges existing elements into permutations and combinations that benefit society.
  • In his Brahmaphutasiddhanta, Brahmagupta’s marvellous take on his innovation of zero was, “A debt minus zero is a debt. A fortune minus zero is a fortune. A debt subtracted from zero is a fortune. A fortune subtracted from zero is a debt. The product of zero multiplied by a debt or fortune is zero.”

  • The Indian innovation of zero fundamentally reordered history.
  • The novel coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity for similar reordering for posterity.
  • India is a fertile ground to be a technology-led innovation garage.
  • In terms of Internet usage – we are fastest growing country
  • 700 million users and the number projected to rise to 974 million by 2025.
  • JAM trinity has 404 million Jan Dhan bank accounts with 1.2 billion Aadhaar and 1.2 billion mobile subscribers.
  • There is a potential to add over $957 billion to India’s GDP by 2035 with artificial intelligence (AI), according to a recent report by Accenture.
  • The founders of Twitter had set out to make a platform for people to find podcasts;
  • Instagram was first intended to be a sign-in application;
  • CRISPR, or the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, which is the transformative gene editing tool, was partly being researched for fixing problems in the yoghurt industry.
  • October 2020 saw two disruptive events that were organised by the Government of India for collaborative knowledge creation.
  • Vaishvik Bharatiya Vaigyanik (VAIBHAV) summit - inaugurated on October 2, more than 3,000 overseas Indian-origin academicians and scientists from 55 countries, and about 10,000 Indians participated to ideate on innovative solutions to our challenges.
  • The Prime Minister articulated this spirit of knowledge sharing while inaugurating the summit; he called it “a true sangam or confluence of great minds” where “we sit to form our long-lasting association for empowering India and our planet”.
  • The concluding session has been planned on October 31.
  • This has been concomitant to the Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE) 2020 summit, which was from October 5-9.
  • It was to charter a course to effectively use AI for social empowerment, inclusion, and transformation in key sectors such as health care, agriculture, finance, education and smart mobility.
  • Innovation needs risk capital in terms of resources and psychological security for researchers.
  • It needs an environment where it is safe to fail.
  • The government has been actively facilitating collaborative and light touch regulatory practices to promote innovation and incentivise risk-taking.

  • Walter Isaacson once cited this: “Advances in science when put to practical use mean more jobs, higher wages, shorter hours, more abundant crops, more leisure for recreation, for study, for learning how to live without deadening drudgery which has been the burden of the common man for past ages.”
  • Steam engines made us understand thermodynamics, flights made us understand aerodynamics.
  •  There is ‘in-deed’ merit in relentless focus on innovation as it essentially augments ease of living for citizens, dematerialising and democratising products and services.


  • Recently, the government diluted the “offset” policy in defence procurement.
  • The experience with the procedure in the aerospace industry since 2005 seems to offer useful lessons in redesigning defence offsets.
  • What is an offset policy? And how is it expected to boost domestic capabilities? What lessons can we draw from a similar system in the aerospace industry?
  • Developing country buyers often lack an industrial base and research and development (R&D) facilities (which take a long time to mature).
  • Large buyers such as India seek to exercise their “buying power” to secure not just the lowest price.
  • They also try to acquire the technology to upgrade domestic production and build R&D capabilities.
  • Initiated in 2005, the offset clause has a requirement of
    • Sourcing 30% of the value of the contract domestically;
    • Indigenisation of production in a strict time frame,
    • Training Indian professionals in high-tech skills, for promoting domestic R&D.
  • However, the policy has been tweaked many times since.
  • Defence Ministry had signed 52 offset contracts worth $12 billion via Indian offset partners, or domestic firms.
  • The duration of these contracts extends up to 2022.
  • According to the recent CAG report, between 2007 and 2018, the government reportedly signed 46 offset contracts worth ₹66,427 crore of investments.
  • However, the realised investments were merely 8%, or worth ₹5,457 crore.
  • Reportedly, technology transfer agreements in the offsets were not implemented, failing to accomplish the stated policy objective.
  • We are unable to verify the claim as the government has not put in place an automatic monitoring system for offset contracts, as initially promised.
  • On September 28, the government has diluted this policy further. Henceforth, the offset clause will not be applicable to bilateral deals and deals with a single (monopoly) seller, to begin with.
  • With the introduction of the offset policy in 2005, things changed dramatically.
  • For contracts valued at ₹300 crore or more, 30% of it will result in offsets, implemented through Indian offset partners.
  • As aerospace imports rose rapidly, so did the exports via the offsets, by a whopping 544% in 2007, compared to the previous year.
  • By 2014, exports increased to $6.7 billion from a paltry $62.5 million in 2005.
  • The offset clause enabled India to join the league of the world’s top 10 aerospace exporters; the only country without a major domestic aerospace firm.
  • Exports plummeted after the offset clause was relaxed, primarily when the threshold for the policy was raised from the hitherto ₹300 crore to ₹2000 crore, in 2016.
  • The offset exports fell to $1.5 billion by 2019.
  • Reportedly because of the CAG’s critical remarks in its latest report tabled in the Parliament, the government has virtually scrapped the defence offset policy.
  • Thus, India has voluntarily given up a powerful instrument of bargaining to acquire scarce advanced technology — a system that large and politically ambitious nations seek to exercise.
  • India needs to re-conceive or re-imagine the offset clause in defence contracts with stricter enforcement of the deals, in national interest, and in order to aim for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’, or a self-reliant India.


  • Virus still around, PM cautions nation
  • Punjab formally rejects farm laws
  • Govt. increases poll spend ceiling by 10%
  • FDI blooms in COVID-19 gloom
  • Soldier was helping herders, says China
  • WII scientists anxious about potential funding cut
    • A recommendation by the Finance Ministry to divest the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) of its status as an autonomous body of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has triggered anxiety among scientists at the organisation.
  • Two AMU doctors ‘sacked’ over speaking to media in Hathras case
  • Kaleshwaram eco-clearance violates law: NGT
    • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has held that environmental clearance (EC) to the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) was granted ex post facto, after completion of substantial work, by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) “in violation of law”.
      • Be cautious of reinfection: ICMR
  • Feluda tests to be available by Oct. 31
    • The Feluda test, a coronavirus detection test developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and to be commercialised by Tata Sons, will be commercially available in laboratories this month.
    • The test, which still requires a nasal swab to be collected and sent to a lab, promises to be quicker than the gold-standard test because it does not need the expensive RT-PCR (reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction) machine that can set back a lab by at least ₹25 lakh.
  • China opposes India-Taiwan trade ties
  • Quad group should eventually become formalised: Biegun
  • Hybrid model of ‘smart’ fence being tested along the LoC
  • India replies to UNHCR chief’s criticism
    • Enactment of laws is a sovereign prerogative, India said on Tuesday, responding to criticism of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
    • Sharif’s daughter booked for holding anti-govt. rally
  • China’s super rich got $1.5 tn richer during pandemic: report
  • Thailand shuts down news site linked to ex-PM