Innovation Ecosystem in India

Technology and Innovation Report, 2021


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Country-Readiness Index

Mains level: Frontier technologies

According to UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2021, India is the greatest outperformer among developing countries to use, adopt and adapt frontier technologies than their per capita GDPs.

Q.What do you mean by Frontier technologies? Discuss their potential for path-breaking technological change that will profoundly affect markets and societies. (250W)

Technology and Innovation Report, 2021

  • The report critically examines the possibility of frontier technologies such as AI, robotics, and gene-editing widening existing inequalities and creating new ones.

What are Frontier technologies?

  • Frontier technologies include AI, IoT, big data, blockchain, fifth-generation mobile telephony, 3D printing, robotics, drones, gene-editing, nanotechnology, and solar power — the ones that take advantage of digitalization and connectivity.
  • Frontier technologies are essential for sustainable development, but they also could accentuate initial inequalities.

Country-Readiness Index

  • The country-readiness index released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) under this report.
  • The index analyzed the progress of countries in using frontier technologies, considering their national capacities related to physical investment, human capital, and technological effort.

India’s performance

  • India’s actual index ranking was 43, while the estimated one based on per capita income was 108.
  • This meant that India overperformed other countries by 65 ranking positions.
  • It was followed by the Philippines, which overperformed by 57 ranking positions.

Global performance

  • China was at position 25; both India and China performed well in research and development.
  • This was reflective of their abundant supplies of qualified and highly skilled human resources available at a comparatively low cost.
  • The Philippines has a high ranking for the industry—because of high levels of foreign direct investment in high-technology manufacturing, especially electronics.
  • The United States, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom were “best prepared” for frontier technologies, the report highlighted.
  • Most of the best-prepared countries are from Europe, except the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and the United States. Some transition economies, such as Russia, also perform well on the index.

Major takeaways of the report

The report urges all developing nations to prepare for a period of deep and rapid technological change that will profoundly affect markets and societies.

  • Developing countries should align science, technology, and innovation policies with industrial policies.
  • New technologies can re-invigorate traditional production sectors and speed up industrialization and economic structural transformation.
  • It is up to policymakers to reduce this risk and make frontier technologies contribute to increasing equality, says the report.
  • Low-and middle-income developing countries and the least developing countries cannot afford to miss the new wave of rapid technological change.

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