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HVK Archives: Industry, R & D together may increases local share in global market

Industry, R & D together may increases local share in global market - The Financial Express

Shivaji Sarkar ()
March 23, 1998

Title: Industry, R & D together may increases local share in global market
Author: Shivaji Sarkar
Publication: The Financial Express
Date: March 23, 1998

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) director
general R A Mashelkar in an exclusive interview said that the
nation needed to do a proper networking of universities,
laboratories and industry to become a technological giant with a
view to capturing the major share of the world market. The
government should help in creating such a network and the
industry should realise that but for such a perspective policy,
they would not be able to withstand the onslaught of the MNCs. In
the next century, the protection to domestic industry could come
through a strong knowledge base developed through an intense R&D
activity.

What should be the priorities of the new government to have an
S&T that could re-orient our economy?

As we look back, we find we have achieved a lot. There were
green, white and blue (space) revolution. Now we have to add
grey to it. Yes, India is rich in grey matter. The possibilities
are immense in software. It can become a giant in software
exports. We should orient the policy to capture at least 10 per
cent of the world market share against a tine fraction at
present. We can't be satisfied with giving routine software. We
have to innovate and develop new techniques and technology.

Do you think what we have achieved enough in other areas?

We have to continue our green revolution. The challenges are too
daunting. We have to meet 3 50 million tonne foodgrain demand by
2040 AD and that too from less arable land, less ecologicval
damage and far less utilisation of fossil fuel.

It will put constraints on technology. There has to be a balance
of old and new as well as there has to be a confluence of
technology. Biotech, space and in fotech have to come together to
create the new techniques and technologies.

Should the aim of having new technology be only to increase food
production?

No. We must have technology to increase production at per capita
level. Our production level has increased. But we are seventh in
the world in per capita production. It has to be "Evergreen
revolution". We shall have to develop techniques for improved
storage of foodgrain. Our losses are enormous 30 per cent. Our
aim should be to provide make milk, fruit, vegetable or foodgrain
available at low prices so that all sectors of economy grows and
inflation remains under control. We must have technology
intervention to bring down the cost as a Punebased firm has done
by selling purified water at Rs 3 a litre against Rs 10 to 15
charged by others.

Do not you think integration with the global market has its
pitfalls particularly in the WTO and IPR regime?

We should not be afraid of taking up the challenge. The WTO time
for review on IPR has arrived. Present patent is not suitable for
protecting community knowledge. We should work on TRIPS plus i.e.
TRIPS as it is plus equity and ethics. We also have to develop a
system of petty patents. It is simple and less expensive.

What do you mean by bio partnership? Is it legalising bio-
piracy?

No, it is not legalising bio-priacy. The aim of a technology
regime should be access and benefit. Patent process is
expensive. Fighting legal battles are more difficult. We shall
have to reach an understanding. We should not get locked up in
wrangles. We should take small steps at mutual development.
Instead of being antagonistic, we should be positive looking. We
should be able to negotiate. Let us take the advantage of
turmeric victory.

Don't you think we need some additional focus as well?

We must concentrate on space, defence and atomic energy, which
will remain in the area of denial. In the area of space we have
tremendous opportunity. Our costs are 1/ 5 to 1/6 less. We have
developed capabilities in launch. design and generation of
commercial data. Our offerings will be very competitive and the
whole world will move to us. Recently, when I was at the south
African sattelite tracking centre in Johannesburg, the scientists
there said "Indian satellite, IRS 1 C is the best". We have to
build the brand name.

How do you think the indigenous industry can have the strength to
compete in the world market. You had said that for technology
buying when we negotiate for Mark III we negotiate for Mark II
and get Mark I?

There are no free lunches. The competition will continue. We must
give support to the local industry. We must have a blend of
global competition and development of local industry. It has to
be a five-pronged strategy - buy. make, make to buy better, buy
to make better and make it together.

Till 1991. we believed that technology was available on a
platter. But buying is not easy and not just in strategic areas
but in all other areas. We have to decide to invest where we want
to have intrinsic strength. Technology negotiations depend on our
ability to understand technology. The IPCL wanted a certain
technology from Japan and the US. They did not give it as they
did not want it to emerge as a possible competitor. The IPCL had
been trying to develop the technology but they did not set up the
pilot plant. Had they done it, the threat that we were on the
threshhold of developing it could have done wonders. It is a game
and we have to play it.

Can we do it without developing a proper system and without
bringing the industry and scientific institutions together?

We have to build knowldge network between our institutions. Team
India is the message for becoming not merely a technological but
an economic giant. Our networkings are weak. Tech transfers do
not happen. It has to be developed in partnerships. That is where
the Technology Development Board has to play a crucial role.
Heavy funding is needed. It has to be a robust fund. We have to
put up a strategic group with leaders of industry, S&T to prepare
a document. The university, CSIR labs and industry all have to be
networked. I have stalled a beginning in the CSIR system. This
has to grow at all levels to create an unbeatable knowldege
basen.

Do not we have Tech 2020? You often say we must a S&T road map.
What is that?

That only provides the basis. We have to have to have the road
map based on five factors resource, labour, scale,
differentiation, technology. Our exports can grow when we are
strong in these areas. Resource and labour contstitute 80 per
cent of the exports. Product features add value to it.

This differentiation is just about 5 per cent in our case while
Singapore has 80 per cent. This comes from knowledge based
exports. We export zirco sand at 1 cent a kg and import
stabilised zirconium at $ 1.50. We sell guar at Rs 10 a kg and a
German company after modification ion markets it at Rs 150 a kg.
In all such areas, we can add value.

Where did we fail?

Our planning had been top heavy. It has not helped us. We have to
take power to micro entrepreneurs, where production, trade,
consumption can be localised and can be more competitive. India
is a country of contradictions. The small and big have to be
strengthened. We have also failed in giving incentive to
technopreneurs.

They are Innovative. A couple of Ahmedabad, Dev Rekhas are making
high speed jet printers and. is exporting. He developed in
association with some textile mills. If we help such Dev Rekhas,
India can be prosperous. For them we shall have to have a system
of petty patents. In bio research and herbal drug export, by
such a method we can create a billion dollar export market.

Yours is a good suggestion. But our funding at the GDP level Is
just 0.80 per cent against 3 per cent in the West. How do you
think we can match it?

In fact, if you add the Industry input into R&D, then it comes to
around 6 per cent of the GDP investment in the West. The
government must step up funding to at least 2 per cent of the GDP
by 2010 with the active participation of the Industry. Unless the
industry invests, we can't increase actual funding. Industry has
to take the lead.

The government should investment in perspective technology.
Funding In basic research is dwindling. How can we have high
technology without high investment.

The National Research Council is still awaiting government nod.
Industry can't invest in vbasic sciences but they must invest in
creating the differentiation. A strategy for fundding has to be
evolved. In the 21st century, stress will be on production and
efficency through superior technology.

Won't such a technology regime be too inhumane?

We have to have three essentials - compassion, passion (total
Intensity of feeling) and innovation. Every body has to
participate as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir did. Even a
child and a housewife is Involved to solve the silliest of
traffic jams.

The government must revitalise the university system and the
scientific insitutions to create the most essential network.


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