Opinion: Knowledge Pilgrimage for Innovation and Growth

Innovation and the effective use of science and technology are much needed for growth, said The Honorable Vice President of India.



During a recent event in Chennai, India, themed, “Listening, Learning and Leading,” Honorable Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India, stressed the importance of lifelong learning for personal and professional growth. Science and technology, education, youth development, and culture are valuable for national growth, he stated.


I was honored to have been invited to this function which included leading personalities in all walks of life such as space science, agriculture, cinema, academics (including students) and politics.


The need for sustainable agriculture and utilization of technology to deliver important goods to the public have become very important in the current liberalized, privatized and global economy (LPG), stated the Vice President.


It was pleasing to note that the focus was on the need to interact with students and scientists. During his two years in office, the Vice President has delivered 61 convocation addresses, stressing the importance of education. Mr. Naidu termed such interactions as “Knowledge Pilgrimage.”


Government programs such as the direct assistance to farmers need to reach the masses swiftly and delivered effectively through technology. Noted agricultural scientist Professor M.S. Swaminathan made a clarion call to enhance farm productivity and the quality of farm products. This factor needs to be considered by the Indian cotton sector, as the yield is less than the global average yield. Cotton yield/acre in China and Australia are three times that of India – a fact worth noting.


The Honorable Amit Shah, Home Minister of India, who released the book on “Listening, Learning and Leading,” emphasized the importance of listening and learning, which are needed for leaders.


In my opinion, these traits are much needed for scientists these days, as conducting research in isolation and satisfying intellectual curiosities are not sufficient. Translation of ideas from lab to supermarket aisles are needed for economic growth.


The “Make-in-India” initiative promoted by the current Modi government has given a greater push for many industries to focus on research to develop value-added products. Chennai-based Carborundum Universal Ltd., Aruppukottai-based Jayalakshmi Textiles, Bengaluru-based Resil Chemicals and Coimbatore-based Kanaka Lakshmi Textiles are a few companies that are going on a high gear to transfer their R&D efforts into the marketplace.


Additionally, the Indian government is promoting the start-up culture as a way of generating employment. Chennai-based WellGro United is a good example of taking an Indian-made product to a global scale through marketing collaboration with Lubbock, USA-based E Innovate, LLC in releasing “Towelie,” an oil absorbent nonwoven mat.


Industry-Institute Interaction (3Is) needs to be a priority, which is well practiced by institutes such as Ichalkaranji-based DKTE Society’s Textile & Engineering Institute.


Professor Sridhar Narayanan of Chennai-based Great Lakes Institute of Management, who attended the event, stated that technology is much needed for national growth. More importantly, it should help the people in the lowest rung of the society.


This scribe has been undertaking “mission-linked” applied research for 20 years at Texas Tech University that has resulted in the translation of laboratory research such as “Fibertect” military wipes and “Towelie” oil absorbent to market.