Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India said, India will have to encourage creation of new Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) focused on manufacturing.He said, "Putting entrepreneurship at the forefront of the economic agenda is the need of the hour."
Speaking on the occasion, the President said the Indian economy today needs to generate 115 million non-farm jobs over the next decade, to gainfully employ its workforce and reap its ‘demographic dividend’. Given this context, encouraging and promoting self-employment as a career option for young people will be of paramount importance. He said “We need to focus on “inclusive innovation” projects which are initiatives that directly serve the welfare of lower-income and excluded groups. India will have to encourage creation of new SMEs focused on manufacturing, while spurring grassroots innovation and growth. Putting entrepreneurship at the forefront of the economic agenda is, thus, the need of the hour."
The President said many of the advanced nations have capitalized on their educational network to assume leadership positions in the area of innovation, start-ups and research. India with an educational network of over 700 universities and 35,000 colleges is optimally placed to capitalize on its intellectual seed capital. In the conference of vice chancellors of central universities in 2013, he had called upon them to consider setting up innovation clubs that would act as a platform for exchange of ideas between the students and faculty, and grassroots innovators. He has reiterated this call in the conferences of heads of other central institutes of higher learning held subsequently. In the last three years, innovation clubs, incubators and hubs have been set up in around 85 central higher educational institutions. In the Visitor’s Conference held in November last year and the Governor’s Conference in February this year, he had requested the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities and Directors of NITs, IITs and IISERs as also Governors, who are the Chancellors of State Universities, to work on innovation as a theme in their respective educational institutions and facilitate transformation of ideas into innovative products and services.
Highlighting the issue of low levels of investment by Indian firms and businesses in R&D, the President said our current investment levels in R&D are a fraction of what world class companies spend. The major contributor of R&D expenditure is the Government. Without a substantive stepping up of these expenditures, we cannot expect to be at the higher end of the value chain. He called upon the private sector and institutes of higher learning to devote a larger part of their resources for R&D to enable innovation and job creation across the economy.