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India and Innovations in Higher Education - Harsh Sadawarti, Vice Chancellor, CT University.

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India and Innovations in Higher Education - Harsh Sadawarti, Vice Chancellor, CT University.

January 05, 2019

What is innovation in the knowledge economy?


Innovation is generally described as a new idea, device or method, and is often viewed as the application of better solutions to meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or prevailing market needs. Innovations take place in terms of the provision of better products, processes, services, marketing methods, technologies, a model of business, or organizational structures whose outreach and availability to markets, government or society is greatly advantageous. Thus, innovation is something often new to the firm, new to the market or new to the world. Innovation is original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that breaks into the market or society.  

To thrive, the knowledge economy relies on an adequate institutional framework, good education, strong communications infrastructure and a supportive financing environment. It is also characterised by technological dynamism and covers sectors, such as business or heavy industry, not necessarily associated with cutting-edge innovation.

The term ‘knowledge economy’ may conjure up images of Silicon Valley, hi-tech start-ups and ‘digital natives’ living their lives online via citywide Wifi. But those are just some aspects of a concept that includes a wide range of activities that foster growth.

Depending on the stage of development of a particular country, innovation can be mostly the result of absorption of globally available technology, processes and products (innovation by imitation), rather than pushing the global frontier (innovation in the sense of invention).


How does the innovation in India look like to you?


I have had a chance to be associated with the education sector for over two decades. The education, in fact, is the engine for development and progress of the country. Several landmarks have been established in this sector in the country. The products of education in India have created an indelible mark globally.   

Innovation is vital for progress. The adage of ‘Innovate or Evaporate’ holds true for all sectors.  The Knowledge Society is no exception. The higher education essentially requires innovations in curricula formulation, delivery mechanism, collaborative tie-ups with academia and industry, outreach mechanism and other activities. 

India lacks in innovation and quality in education and to make a difference we have brought together the Vice-Chancellors and Directors of various universities,

Several principles of sustainable development are embedded in India's education policy. It is perhaps the only country where the highest court has mandated environmental education at all levels of formal education, which includes a compulsory undergraduate course. However, the challenges of implementing this requirement effectively are hampered by lack of inter‐disciplinary competence among staff and students and traditional methods of assessment in HE. India has examples of successful community‐based initiatives but these often have resource implications. Many efforts to develop learning opportunities in this field have emerged primarily from academic and student interests and priorities rather than from formal policy initiatives.

When it comes to research funding, China spends almost five-times more than India. While China spends 2.1% of its GDP in R&D, India spends 0.85%, which is even lower than Brazil and Russia. This becomes more significant because close to 75% of India’s R&D costs are government sponsored. Further, where China attracts 17.5% of the global R&D spend, India receives a mere 2.7% of such funds.


How can India build itself as an innovation nation?


My philosophy of leadership is very simple. It is: Leading by the example of translating your vision into action. I believe that real education motivates you to keep your vision in front of you all the times.  I believe strongly that the world is full of great ideas but success comes only through action. Innovative leadership is very much needed because it will make the difference in due course in higher education

With India working on transforming its education system, embracing most innovative methodologies and modern technologies appears to have become a significant norm in the country. India’s innovation agenda is a work in progress and universities need to cooperate in promoting such innovation goals of the economy. But for this, there is a dire need for more thought and policy leadership.  

As the education segment of the country is in a transition stage, with a large number of schools adopting the finest teaching-learning practices from across the world, our latest issue has tried to find out the practices that are improving and enriching educational experience in the Indian schools through the cover story “Rehashing School Education Practices Through Innovation”.


What are the most important parameters looked at by GII while assessing innovation and its strategies?


The Global Innovation Index (GII) aims to capture the multi-dimensional facets of innovation and provide the tools that can assist in tailoring policies to promote long-term output growth, improved productivity, and job growth. The GII helps to create an environment in which innovation factors are continually evaluated. It provides a key tool and a rich database of detailed metrics for economies, which in 2018 encompasses 126 economies, representing 90.8% of the world’s population and 96.3% of global GDP.


What are the important steps required to be taken to market one’s idea?


There are innovative persons in every field. The first step in the marketing of one’s idea is the Idea Conception and Evaluation. Then comes the task of determining the target market. To gather market intelligence, special efforts are needed. Meaningful market research always pays. The other step that can influence the idea marketing positively is making a looks and Acts like a Prototype.  For marketing of the idea, a business model should be pursued.  The potential target for the market should be identified which should guide the marketing of your idea. A well thought of deal structure should be aimed at. 


What are the key points to be kept in mind while balancing one’s innovative aspirations and managing regular studies?


In any organization the management and administration design new programmes, hiring faculty and staff, delivering curricula and fostering tie-ups with academia, research organizations and industry vis-à-vis carrying out innovative ideas.  The following points are important for striking balance between one’s innovative aspirations and managing regular studies. Knowing strategically when or not to take risks is often useful. An experienced business leader does that. One must know how to decide whether or not it is opportune time to continue to develop and invest in new professional programmes. One should keep in mind that building on strengths should go continuously. Making regular assessment whether the ongoing and contemplated programmes and policies are still impacting or not. If there is a dilution of the impact, the change is required to be brought in.  Self-introspection is true feedback and should, therefore, carried out on regular basis. Learning from past experience always matters. Failures must be taken seriously as it teaches us good lessons for being successful in future. Reprioritization in the innovative programmes should be held regularly to avoid duplicity in approach, rationalize the use of fiscal resources and manpower and to make the need-based programmes.


What should be the focus points when it comes to building a startup firm?


The focus should be on ensuring holistic development, involving ICT in higher education for taking learning process to the next level and inculcating sportsmanship for character building.  As digitisation is turning very important from an education perspective, and the growing importance of skilling youth and training the teachers appropriately for refining the education practices with best pedagogies,  will strengthen the programmes. The corruption is a termite that can kill business. Fair dealing and supportive approach are vital for start-ups. The leadership by example can change the management scenario greatly.

There is a need to infuse entrepreneurial objectives as a mission for universities besides their traditional roles of teaching and research. Universities need to adopt policies that integrate economic development of research as an academic function itself. 


What are the key areas a young entrepreneur should focus on while building their business?


It takes a blend of right strategic logic and relative thinking to ensure that a brand or business is doing well. However, to alleviate some of the common pitfalls that many businesses face it is better to know what you do and what you don't do. The Dos and Donts become the guiding force. One should stay focused on the target and remember that people work for people, not companies. Passion is contagious and should be nurtured well while being an entrepreneur. Running a business well is different than being good at a trade or profession. Continuous efforts are often required for the sustainability of a business. Challenge ones own self is often vital to keep improving. The concept of an information society, born under the precepts of neo-liberal globalization should be followed. It implies that the “technological revolutions”   will decide the course of development and social conflicts would be things of the past.  


How should a young aspirant willing to seek admission in …….. university prepare themselves?


Even if one has an aim that you want to be a student of a particular university, it is always best and wise to apply to at least three universities, as an alternative plan. The academic requirements must be carefully checked and gone through to know about the probability of one’s being accepted to the university. One can also contact the concerned department or the Admission Cell of the University. Usually, one can apply online through the website of the university directly and submit the required documents or send them by post.  The field of study must be checked clearly before filling your application details. .Some universities will require a letter of intent. The examples available on the Internet on how the letter should look like may be gone through. It is better to be original and honest in writing and share all experiences that are connected to the academic requirements and one’s future study programme. All documents have to be in the official language of the respective country and authenticated.



Harsh Sadawarti

Vice Chancellor, CT University, Ludhiana

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