Lack of entrepreneurship & innovation in India – root cause in education system?

There is an article on Forbes.com by Sramana Mitra where she debates about the lack of innovation & entrepreneurship in Indian IT industry and also lack of any enthusiasm from the upcoming engineers to venture into innovation.

She has made few very good points on the topic and I agree on most of the points with her. In her post she mentions of the incubator programs that are run within the IITs that promote entrepreneurship within the aspiring engineers and guides them whilst they are still pursuing their studies. 

One point that made me think further as a reason on lack of entrepreneurship was the fact that the increasing width between Tier 1 engineering colleges (IITs) and Tier 2 (NITs) and Tier 3 (regional universities and others) colleges. To really find out further information, I actually visited the websites of each of the IITs in the country and have a look at their incubators and obviously left me impressed with the level of work that is being carried out in there. Myself, being an Alumni of a NIT, (National Institute of Technology), considered only next to IITs in India, I could not stop myself compare the work done in IITs as against some of the top notch NITs in India and I actually found a significant difference in there !

Within none of NITs (of the ones I visited) I could find any similar program as IIT incubation programs and I really wondered what kind of innovative programs are being run in these institutes ! If this is the state of the Tier 2 engineering colleges in India then I really wonder how and where you would find entrepreneurs coming out !

In India, the IT service industry is still the most powerful in terms of job availability and obviously most of the curriculum of the Tier 2 & Tier 3 colleges is more of providing service oriented engineers rather than innovators. As correctly mentioned in one of her posts, generic requirement of an IT engineer is to earn a well-to-do job so he / she can buy a car, a house and so on .. !

On the point of innovation, I guess its more to do than just what culture you have in your degree college etc., Its more in the root of primary, high school & college education than those 4 years in the IITs or NITs or your engineering college.

Education in India, right from primary college is more of a culture of “learn-what-is-told”, rather than “learn-on-your-own-with-experiments”. Teachers teach you from pre-defined set of books all those years and you are expected to answer in the exact way as mentioned in the books, anything extra and you would lose your points in exam. The education culture does not encourage thinking, innovation, experimenting but eventually discourages the student to do so.

There is a great change required in the education system in India to make the education to promote experiments, innovation and unless this happens from ground level, I guess, there will always be a shortage of Indian scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs !

As Obama said, “The world has changed, we need to change too”. I hope India is listening.

5 comments

  1. Swapnil, agree with you to a certain extent. In fact having studied in a Tier 2 university (Pune University is reputed though), the only sparks of brilliance were from individuals who took extra efforts from their own interest to explore unchartered territories. Again this was often restricted to projects & white papers only, due to lack of infrastructure and funding. While these creative minds would probably be be 1 in 10 in IITs, it is about 1 in 100 in others institutions.

    The education system itself has been born from a history where agriculture is the primary occupation and all other jobs have fierce competetion due to the increasing population. In such a scenario, the education sytem did and continues to do well to improve the overall literacy levels in the country. But to take it to the next level we need to innovate & change with times.

    Today we have vast opportunities is diverse fields. This has opened new avenues & career opportunities for all of us. We are no longer limited to the standard set of mechanical, civil and computer jobs which were considered niche for a long time. This also means that eduated parents are more willing to let their children find their own career path and not limit or restrict them in any way.

    Having observed the education system and teaching methodology outside India (by virtue of being in IT and travelling abroad), we now are more aware of the ways and means to help develop this ‘innovative’ thinking in our children. While the entire education system cannot be overhauled overnight, we can certainly do our bit to ignite the minds of our next gen.

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