With the best talented Indians no more get opportunities to practice engineering and technology related jobs in their home country while advanced technological innovations keep happening routinely elsewhere, India would keep maintaining its status at the most as a technology user rather than a technology inventor. The nations which supply technology to India keep doing it for a high price! India would move to 2G and 3G technologies, when other nations move to 4G and 5G. Effectively, India would never ever overtake any nation in technology even while its leading citizens wish otherwise!
What really keep India going is its vast natural resources- its people, its minerals and its fertile lands. But without enough technological self sufficiency, India would be forced to discount its wealth for higher margin technology which it has failed to master of its own.
What are the areas where India is lacking in skills? I think the following areas in this context:
- Equipment design and engineering
- Equipment manufacturing
- Machine tools manufacturing
- Mining, mineral exploration and processing
- Production of special alloys and materials of construction
- Aviation equipment , avionics and spares
- Computer chips and hardware
- Electronics and communication
- Advanced construction technology
- High speed rail rolling stock
- Medical engineering equipment and diagnostic equipment
- Precision machine tools and equipment
- High resolution optical glass and equipment
- Energy conversion and production equipment
- Fuel cells and bio fuels
- Waste recycling and reuse
- Water and waste water technology and engineering
- Alternate building materials and low cost housing
- Innovations and inventions
- Fundamental and Industrial research
- Food production, processing, storage and distribution
- Technology for rural production and development
- Health care
- Education and employment generation
- Practical and innovative management
- Effective organizational management
- Town and city planning and management
- Sports and recreation
- Travel and tourism
You might add many more. It is not that in all these areas India has not achieved any thing. But the point I want to make is this: India is not a market leader in any of these areas! India remains an average performer.
It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Unfortunately, opportunities do not get converted to comparable benefits in India.
For example, India has a huge demand for rail transport for both passengers and goods. But Indian railways keep lagging behind to en-cash this great market opportunity to the advantage of the service provider and the users.
India's need for electricity is growing in geometric proportions. But India is lagging behind in implementing its energy fulfillment plans.
India has tremendous potential for business by equipment and plant suppliers specializing in pollution control water and waste water treatment and engineering, etc.But such companies do not have the confidence to enhance their business organizations with more people because their potential customers do not have the requisite level of understanding to realize the benefits of such technologies.
Indian political and bureaucratic leaders keep dilly dallying with decision making, especially when some aspects of it is a matter of some commercial advantage to some private players. This is because, India does not have proper systems to evaluate project proposals with regard to their commercial potentials coupled with the lack of guidelines on profiteering.
Indian contracting and public purchase procedures are too complex and difficult to adjudicate or arbitrate. This is because of the lack of knowledge and competency of the people who draft and interpret such documents.
There are many contradictory laws in India. There are also many areas where there is an absence of any law. Both are not conducive for development as it gives enough opportunity for nuisance creators to take the shelter of law to create irreparable damage to both public and private investments.
Land reforms is another area of concern.
Conflicting interest among various governments and government departments create another major problem coupled with the perceived scare the decision makers have on various kinds of inquiries that might give them sleepless nights some time in the future. This forces many in the bureaucratic and technocratic chains to adopt safe actions to 'pass on the ball' ( passing the files with irrelevant suggestions and opinions to unconcerned authorities) indefinitely. Irresponsible or technically not-so-capable watch dog agency authorities could make the situation worse.
Environmental regulation is another area which make things much more complicated. Some people when posted to the regulators become so biased and over reactive that they start behaving as if every action is environment unfriendly. The Indian media is known to make things worse by irresponsible reporting of the issues involved.
One example which come to my mind is the 'environmental controversy' centering the western ghat areas of Kerala in the inhabited areas around Munnar. The over enthusiastic environmental scientists of the country preferred to keep these areas out of bounds to human habitation by disallowing any commercial development in these lands owned by people living in those areas for decades. These areas are not prone to environmental hazards such as the high mountain regions of northern Uttarpradesh, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal or Jammu and Kashmir. Yet for some, the environmental issues could well become useful tools to banish some regions from the rest in some convenient manner as they deem fit. Here, science and technology become biased and lose their rational outlook and reliability.
Division of power among the union and states according to the Constitution in a fractured Indian society is another thing which causes developmental imbalances. To offset this, the nature of Indian bureaucracy needs overhauling.
There are many such issues which need to be addressed in India. It is difficult but not impossible. If the head of state wants it to happen, it would definitely happen.
That is what a good majority of people of India are now hoping. They earnestly hope that Mr Narendra Modi has the will and capacity to do it!
What do you think?