People’s incomes are going down, which is what we have to think about when we talk about innovation,” said Om Prakash Bhatt, Chairman of the State Bank of India at India Economic Summit. “We have to look at the numbers and quality of life. Millions are living on less than one-half a dollar per day. We do not have inclusive growth in India, which means we do not have sustainable growth.”

saurab2Public-private partnerships have the potential to drive growth, particularly in the agricultural sector, but government’s role should be limited. “Government needs to create a healthy environment for entrepreneurship, but should not be restrictive. I believe in the power of entrepreneurship and in giving people economic freedom,” said Sriram Raghavan, Chief Executive Officer, Comat Technologies, India, and a Young Global Leader.

A series of innovative public-private partnerships in rural development are being rolled out across the country and 250,000 villages will be connected to broadband by 2012. “If we keep moving forward, we can create stable livelihoods in rural areas,” said Arvind Mayaram, Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Rural Development of India. “We expect these partnerships to be business relationships so that the model is sustainable and scalable.” At the same time, many villages are thriving by providing services. “When you combine village entrepreneurship with connectivity, you have a robust model,” he added.

India’s potential is “huge” according to Ben J. Verwaayen, Chief Executive Officer, Alcatel-Lucent, France, and a Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum. Consider that 15 years ago, voice telephony penetration was just 1% compared to 70% today. “India started to grow when it combined talent and connectivity with the world. We need the same Internet penetration as we have seen with voice.”

The government needs to reconsider its policy on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) if India’s agricultural potential is to be unleashed. “Subsistence farmers need to get to a profitable level. India has great soil; it’s a very fertile country. The issues are technology and business models. We need to understand the science and create a framework for genetic modification,” commented Ellen Kullman, Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, DuPont, USA and a Summit co-chair. “It will take technology and partnership with government.”

Key is creating opportunities in rural areas, which means creating mechanisms to fund entrepreneurship. At the same time, simplicity is all-important, according to Elisabeth Comstock, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, General Electric Company, USA, and a member of the Global Agenda Council on Innovation. “Simplicity in a product is a virtue that creates business models and new opportunities for people [in rural areas] to create services,” she said.

Quality education key to sustainable and inclusive growth

Quality education is the key to inclusive growth and empowerment of a large section of the population,” emphasised Dhanpat Singh, financial commissioner and principal secretary, Technical Education, Govt of Haryana.

The socio economic balance to improve human lives can only be achieved through sustainable education. Singh further felt that “We have to search for alternatives to socialism for creating a more equitable society. A balance between profits and welfare needs to be struck to attract corporates in Education sector. Sustainability should be given due importance, he iterated.” The Haryana government is very committed to spread technical education in far-flung areas of the state, benefiting thousands of students”, he added.

Arun Grover, Vice Chancellor, Punjab University, in one of the Education Summits held recently had stated that serious steps are required to raise India’s very low Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 20% GER is 84% in US, 59% in UK, 55% in Japan and 28% in China. Further the Higher Education spending in India which is just 1.1 % as compared to 3.1% in US, also need to be raised. He called for higher education institutions’ collaboration with the Private sector in research, faculty development, infrastructure creation, student scholarships and governance.

“To achieve this, the higher education system should be made robust and useful to attract investments and the Govt should aggressively engage with the industry to invest in existing institutes, setting up new institutes and develop new knowledge clusters”, opined Grover.

The recommendations of the Report prepared by the NR Narayana Murthy Committee on Corporate Participation in Higher Education highlights  the  call for upgrading 75 ‘top of the class’ universities and higher education institutions including Institutions of National Importance ( INIs), central universities, deemed universities, state universities and established private universities, by setting up schools and Centres of excellence( CoEs) and training and learning centres at a typical cost of Rs 175 – 200 crores per institution, create 20 ‘world class’ universities and higher education institutions by private sector or Public – Private partnership investments via universities of innovation at a typical investment of Rs 500 crore per institution, develop 20 new national knowledge clusters.

Appropriate Climate Responsive Technologies for inclusive Growth and Sustainable development.

Technology is deemed to be the most essential component of strategies to mitigate climate change. Without any concerted effort from the part of public and private sectors and whole-hearted participation by common people, any effort to reduce greenhouse gas emission will not produce the desired result.

Climate change is the most serious  challenge human society has ever faced and everybody including business houses has already realized the gravity of the issue. Reduction of carbon footprint from the industries and other relevant sectors not only helps to improve the environment but also results into increase in profit from the business. With the ‘save environment’ actions gaining momentum among common people, it is now high time to explore novel technologies and share knowledge among the stakeholders. There are a number of activities those can be taken into consideration. Some of those are  too simple and some are more challenging.

Pattern of investment and time required for adaptation of technologies varies from sector to sector. However, they all necessitate action with firm commitment to succeed and continuous improvement. Generation of employment and livelihood opportunities, poverty reduction, removal of regional and social disparities, agricultural and industrial growth and environmental sustainability are key elements of inclusive growth.

Inclusive growth is a strategy where the growth will be achieved through certain instrumentalists so that the benefits reach the largest section of the society and that  the maximum number of people are able to derive benefits from the developmental projects. But  there is a big question mark – whether Inclusive Growth can be attained without compromising Sustainable Development?

The World Commission on Environment and Development has defined ‘Sustainable Development’ as balancing the fulfillment of human needs with the protection of the natural environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future.

In a developing country like India, inclusive growth means more and more governmental schemes and support to attain the desired rate of economic and human development. The challenge in our country is to foster economic growth, wealth distribution, development of the underprivileged and the deprived section of the society by way of providing education for all, increasing agricultural production, adopting suitable post-harvest technologies and industrial development.

The relationship between overall economic growth and rising of carbon-dioxide emission is a much debated issue now-a day. Growth of industry and agriculture will undoubtedly uplift the GDP of the  country and GDP is directly linked with carbon emission. A higher GDP leads to larger disposable income and higher living standard of people, who will be more and more dependent on energy intensive gadgets and machinery and which in turn will increase the total emission of the country.  Appropriate climate-responsive technologies can play the decisive role in balancing the conflict  between inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Appropriate Technology is considered as  the key-enabler to achieve sustainable livelihood, reduction of drudgery and improvement of quality  of life for the underprivileged section of our society within the limited natural and financial resources,  at a lower cost and with less impact on the environment. With larger participation of the so far  excluded section of the society through participatory approach of planning and development, it has  now become extremely crucial that they are sensitized about labour-intensive, region-specific, eco friendly technologies and renewable energy sources so that they can adopt those in their process of  sustainable development.

To chalk-out a strategy and programme for reduction of greenhouse gas emission in India, sector wise information and details about use, consumption of fuel and mode of reduction of the same  have to be studied.

The following are the key sectors responsible for major greenhouse gas emission and the corresponding available technologies/methods aimed at reduction of the same. Some are research papers and report on validation through practical field level application is not readily available. However a study-based project can be undertaken to find out case studies where such technologies were validated. A compendium of technologies for sector-wise reduction of greenhouse gases may also be formulated:

Generation of employment and livelihood opportunities, poverty reduction, and removal of regional and social disparities, agricultural and industrial growth and environmental sustainability are key elements of inclusive growth. Inclusive growth is a strategy where the growth will be achieved through certain instrumentalities so that the benefits reach the largest section of the society and that  the maximum number of people are able to derive benefits from the developmental projects. But  there is a big question mark – whether Inclusive Growth can be attained without compromising Sustainable Development?

Engineers can play a vital role in this challenging scenario of sustaining inclusive growth

Engineers can play a vital role without compromising with the process of sustainable development by establishing the concept of “Land to Lab and Lab to Land” in true sense.For this the following steps may be considered:-

  • To create an action forum for development and transfer of appropriate climate responsive technologies.
  • To create a national level database in the areas of energy, Environment, Housing, water supply, Sanitation, Roads, Rural industries, Food processing, Nutrition, Agriculture, soil conservation etc. So that people in need can directly communicate with the experts in those fields.
  • Selected success stories of technology transfer towards community development should also be included in the database.
  • To develop technology development centres, technology extension centres in every district which will cater to the need of the people of that locality. These centres should be well equipped with up-to-date technologies, expertise so that these are easily accessible by the policy makers and beneficiaries.
  • To create a pool of professionals from technicians, engineers and scientists who are willing to work in the villages for developing technology- culture and technology temper and thus assisting the process of participatory planning and development using technical tools.

Infrastructure Development both Rural And Urban- An imperative for Inclusive and Engineering growth

What are the Principles???

The principles of Infrastructure development , where engineers have a pivotal role can be discussed in which all stakeholders specially engineers have to put their best foot forward and analyse . These are- sustainability, Transparency, Social inclusion, City-wide expansion consistent with urban growth, User participation, market orientation ,local empowerment, public private collaboration , Engineering education,  Engineering  in poverty alleviation etc.

So what does it take to build reliable Infrastructure ????

Very simply it calls for a mix of political will , well channelled investments and technology innovation.

Historically, investment in infrastructure has provided a Philip to strong economic development. The U.S and Western Europe are examples of solid infrastructure helping to lead the world economy by encouraging innovation, allowing sustained development and inclusive growth. Our counterparts in South Asia including China , Japan and South Korea have an edge over us in terms of infrastructure, public amenities and overall quality of life. Therefore for India to get there and ensure sustainability, it is important to focus on building reliable, economical and robust infrastructure and hence the need of – strong political will – leading to radical reforms in the sector.

What are the Challenges????

Apart from being a 62 year old democracy with over a billion people, India is a land of vast, disparate geographic and socio economic conditions. The country’s demographic make up is in a state of flux, with widespread migration from rural to urban areas. According to a UN state of the world population report, by 2030, 40.76% of India’s population would be living in urban areas compared to about 28.4% now.

A host of infrastructural problems plague our urban and rural pockets: bad roads, traffic congestion, unreliable and crowded public transport, erratic supply of electricity and water are a few…..

India’s Urban awakening: Report Published by MGI

India will have

5 times the number by which GDP will have multiplied by 2030.

590 million people will live in cities, nearly twice the population of the US today.

270 million people net increase in working age population.

70 percent of net new employment will be generated in cities.

91 million urban households will be middle class, up from 22 million today.

68 Cities will have population of 1 million plus, up from 42 today. Europe has 32 today.

700-900 million square meters of commercial and residential space needs to be built-or a new Chicago every year.

2.5 billion square meters of roads will have to be paved. 20 times the capacity added in the past decade.

7400 kms of metros and subways will need to be constructed. 20 times the capacity added in the past decade.

Issues such as lack of access to healthcare, education, banking facilities, internet and mobile connectivity also increase rural migration to urban areas.

How then , do we enable a system that will provide a better quality of life irrespective of these challenges ???

What is the way out  ?

Key is creating opportunities in rural areas, which means creating mechanisms to fund entrepreneurship. At the same time, simplicity is all-important.

Investments and resources earmarked for projects must be channelized properly for successful implementation.  These are effectively done through PPP, BOT, BOOT models.

Information and communication technology (ICT) should be used to enable solutions over a common platform and help in efficient planning and management of public utilities such as power, water, broadband, internet telephony and transport.

A case in point is the development of ‘Lavasa City’, India’s first complete e-city.

Technology can help reduce the disparity between rural and urban India. Common Service Centres (CSCs) are an example of how technology can be used for extending services like primary healthcare, banking and education to the rural population.

Better planning, foresight and judicious use of technology will help to achieve inclusive growth, sustain it and get closer to becoming an economic super power.

Rural Electrification schemes, Accelerated Power development resuscitation  programmes, PMGSYSs and SARDPs are examples of good governance and improving infrastructure in rural centers.

Saurabh Sanyal

The approach paper to the 12th five year plan has focussed on science, engineering and technology and has proposed that the funding allocation from 0.9% GDP in the 11th five year plan be enhanced to 2% by the end of 12th plan. This obviously means that there would be greater thrust in improving quality of engineering education and services over the next five years thereby giving a more effective role to engineers.


Colonel (retd) Saurabh Sanyal (ME ’90) is a professional with over 32 years of experience in armed forces and corporate . A keen sportsman and an avid golfer, he is currently the Head and  Executive Director of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries.