Indian Innovators traces the journey of 20 dynamic individuals, who
have created cutting-edge products with global mass appeal. The
innovators come from diverse backgrounds - from those who hold a
PhD to those who have had no formal education! Despite
the differences, what unites them is their passion for innovation, the
grit with which they have fought adversities and their vision for
a better world.
Each story celebrates the triumphant spirit of these determined
individuals in a society that places little incentive on innovation.
These brilliant innovators, with their determination and
farsightedness, are fast breaking the status quo in the Indian
Akshat Agrawal holds a degree in Mechanical
Engineering from IT-Delhi and an MBA from the US. During
his IIT days, he was engaged in the design and fabrication of
an artificial knee joint for above-the-knee amputees. Akshat is currently a Director at Alpha Beta Classes, an innovative
start-up in online and offline education that aims to improve
access to quality education for millions in India.
A discussion with an acquaintance in the US veered toward
Indian engineers. My acquaintance stated that he respected
Indian engineers, but didn’t believe that any significant
product-oriented research was taking place in India. There
were no path-breaking, scalable products with global appeal
coming out of the country, he said.
Over a period of time, I have realized that he is not alone
in that belief. Many others are also skeptical about India’s
position on the innovation map of the world.
Undoubtedly, India lags behind several Western countries in innovation. According to the Global Innovation Index
2012, prepared by INSEAD in association with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), India was ranked 64
among 141 nations surveyed. However, there is a growing
tribe of men and women in the country who are devoted to
product-oriented research with exemplary success.
In the process, they are also shattering the stereotypical
image of Indian innovation, that of "jugaad’, that is, modify-
ing or adapting Western technology to meet the demands of
the price-sensitive local market.
Economic growth in a country usually leads to growth
in innovation, as there is greater demand for better products
and also greater competition to supply those products. As
more players try to benefit from the existing opportunity,
they are compelled to innovate in order to differentiate their
products from those of their competitors.
Thus, economic growth leads to innovation and.
innovation, in turn, leads to further economic growth.
Unfortunately, our society does not encourage creative
thinking to the same extent as in the West. Choosing an
unconventional path is less likely to be appreciated. This
attitude inhibits the process of innovation in our country.
In order to foster an environment for innovation, it is
extremely important to highlight the success stories of
innovators. ‘This would help them garner much-needed
attention and appreciation and also motivate the next
generation to follow in their footsteps.
This book is a small effort in that direction. It chronicles
the journey of a few innovators who toiled hard to make
great products from scratch, despite facing greater challenges
as compared to their western counterparts. This book is a
celebration of their indomitable spirit.
The men and women featured in this book are from
various parts of the country, belong to different age groups,
have different educational backgrounds from PhD degrees
to little formal education, and have worked in a variety
of research areas. What unites them is their passion for
what they are doing and their undying faith in their idea,
despite numerous challenges. ‘They represent a facet of new
India — the India that refuses to accept defeat and is hell-bent
on proving its potential.
Their stories also provide useful insights into the process
of innovation — the challenges involved and the institutional
support available in the country.
This book is a salute to the spirit and willpower of these
innovators, and it will surely bring about a change in the
innovation landscape in India.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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