Innovation , Technology and Global competition

A semester end project in ‘Managing Product and Service Development’ brought me to this website. After a tiresome search of patents, designs and copyrights I was able to zero upon the perfect patent (United StatePatent number: 4856534) which elucidated a perfect example of robust design, awesome prototyping and perfect validation. I got curios about the whole patent process and decided to delve a bit deeper into uncharted territory aka globalization etc.

The ever reliable Wikipedia says :

” A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to an inventor or his assignee for a fixed period of time in exchange for a disclosure of an invention. The procedure for granting patents, the requirements placed on the patentee and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a patent application must include one or more claims defining the invention which must be new, inventive, and useful or industrially applicable. In many countries, certain subject areas are excluded from patents, such as business methods and mental acts. The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent or exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the invention. “

Hmmm…that was a bit complicating….so what it basically means is that if you do/make something which no one else has done/thought of before then the law certifies that you are the only owner and any one who uses your ideas either for commercial or non commercial reasons has to have a license/permission from you. Sounds pretty simple, right? In fact this is far from simple. If you are a regular surfer of the B & T print/ television media, buzz words like intellectual property rights, copyright infringement, damages are constant occurrences. All of them deal with patents.

An interesting discussion in my room the other day :

Guy1: Arre aa Kraazy four movie ka lafada kya hai ? kuch case wase hua katte na ? kaiku ?

Guy2 (me) : The music director copied the music for a song from an another guy’s composition.

Guy 1: but what’s the big deal ? Anu malik did it then..Pritham does it now…. They use their creativity and improve on the original…

Guy2 : but they never acknowledge the contribution of the guy who originally came up with it.

Guy1 : The real creativity lies in hiding your sources right ?

Guy 2: do you know the story of the smash hit ‘ Bommarillu’ was a lifted from a novel by a lesser known author. [Link] When the original author saw the movie in the theatre (which incidentally happened to be one year after the movie released) he was appalled (un cited sources say he had a mild stroke or two) and moved to court for damages but the damage was already done.

Guy 1 : how can you be sure the story was copied ? Couldn’t it be that the story writer of the movie came up with the same stuff ?

Guy 2: it is highly impossible my friend. No two people can ever think alike. The nature of the human mind is such. Each of us is differently wired.

Guy 1: I don’t agree.

Guy 2: ignorance is bliss….

Coming back to patents

Patent data are frequently used to measure innovative activities, because patent-based indicators reflect the inventive performance of countries, regions, firms, as well as other aspects of the dynamics of the innovation process.

The graph from the WIPO shows how different countries in the world rank on the innovation scale (derived from number of patents filed in a year) and the investments spent on R & D. The larger the number of patents the greater the competitive edge a country has in attracting business, talent and money.

Agreed Indian born companies have hit it big with all those headline grabbing Mergers and Acquisitions. It is humbling for the world that companies born out of India are taking on the world competition heads on and, delivering. It shows a near perfect integration of systems, services and cultures.

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”- William Pollard

Our country is being hailed as the new economic power etc etc. We hear our politicians/youtube videos promising a developed nation by 2050. Are we that close to being a developed nation, when we are grappling with basic problems of roti/kapada/makan for all ?

Innovation and R & D are the keys to our promised land. We need to cultivate a culture of Brainstorming, Research, Creativity, Innovation right from the roots of our education system. The entire system needs to be reworked. My appreciation for the American education system is because of the real world application of class room learning. What matters here is how you can do a thing not the degree on that shiny visiting card. I remember the time when I worked with American construction workers during the renovation of our apartment they used to mock me by saying “So you are a engineer eh ! but how come you don’t know how to drill this hole exactly?”

All of us who have been in the JNTU system have learnt a course in our first year of engineering : ‘ Programming in C’ and the night before the exam had a one night stand with the dog eared of yeshwan kanitkar preparing chits. The other day I happened to hear a C programming class in session for the first year engineering students at my university. Unlike our instructors who taught us pointers, arrays, lists in isolation the lecturer took the example of a program which had all these concepts and deconstructed the program explaining the different aspects and it definitely gave the students the bigger picture. If I had suggested this to my instructor in MGIT (one Mr. Koteshwar Rao) he would have definitely scoffed at me saying ” You are asking me to teach you how to run when you can’t walk properly in the first case.”

“Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure.” – Albert Einstein

Majority of the bright minds at IIT/MGIT/IIM’s are lost to MNC’s who offer them lucrative opportunities; it is not like they are betraying the country by not staying back but they feel trapped in a vacuum without a live lab in the country to exploit their knowledge. We need a culture of Technology transfer, public private partnerships, venture capital and national incubators. We need more specialized organizations like the TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT BOARD (TDB) to foster desi- innovation and entrepreneurship.

“We live in an extraordinary time. Our thinking styles are severing us from our families, our religions, our ideologies, and nature. We are caught up in a pace of social and technological change that makes our work, business, and education sources of anxiety and unfulfillment. At the same time, thinking about our thinking and observing our observations can bring us a new world in which work becomes a place for innovation, and in which peace, wisdom, friendship, companionship, and community can exist. Let us design this world together.” -Fernando Flores

As more and more trade barriers go down and the world becomes flat a country must innovate in order to be a favorable destination for business. The current edge that we hold is our skilled man power but this is an edge which might not last for long (considering the number of Chinese students studying advanced degrees at my university) We have to make Innovation a way of life.

Our ability write code in précis and the ability to bend vowels and consonants and sound like a native of Chicago may no longer bring business to us(as the dollar worsens against the rupee the situation becomes more grime when companies have to resort to further downsizing ). It is a stark reality we have to be prepared for. Instead if we were known as a nation of innovators the afore mentioned situation might never arise in the near future at least.

“I once knew a chap who had a system of just hanging the baby on the clothes line to dry and he was greatly admired by his fellow citizens for having discovered a wonderful innovation on changing a diaper.” – Damon Runyon

4 thoughts on “Innovation , Technology and Global competition

  1. so gald this topic came up….and im more glad its on your blog dude….really aches when i think about it…..RND is indeed our answer…but it will never happen…India wont progress beyond this point. Because:
    1)Passion doesnt come first
    2)Selfishness prevails like righteousness(one fucker will never share with the other fucker wht he has learnt)
    3)When one fucker is making progress there are a million other fuckers to discourage him(i had this happen to me once, no one LIKES to apprecate the other person)
    4)No one considers achieving small things like writing a tic-tac toe program as something…how should i put it…”great!”(“whts so great about tht?”)
    5)They dont realise learning even the dumbest thing is useful…
    6)THE MOST IMPORTANT THING…NO RESPECT FOR THE “GURU”….A TEACHER HAS BEEN REDUCED TO SOMEONE WHO IS UNDER PAID…KNOWS LESS THAN A STUDENT AND HAS FANTASTIC ABILITIES TO INFLICT MENTAL TOTURE….

    One can never make progress in life without a guru…i envy you people doing an MS right now….realise the oppurtunity given to you and follow your Guru…he will guide you…

    If you are nodding and agreeing to what i just compiled on top, then you probably had people who had done this to you…but realise if u let it…it will make you exactly tht….

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