Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President after presenting the Gandhian Technological Young Innovation Awards 2019, in New Delhi on July 06, 2019.

New Delhi | July 6, 2019

“I am very happy to be here today at the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Awards 2019. At the outset, let me congratulate all the brilliant youngsters who are being felicitated here today for their outstanding innovations.

I am convinced that innovation is the watchword for the 21st century. Every nation today has a choice to make. The alternatives are either to innovate and stay ahead of the curve or remain stagnant. With technological advancements ushering in rapid changes in every aspect of our lives and a growing agile talented pool ready to take on newer challenges, India is poised for a major leap forward.

At the same time, there are a number of formidable challenges like poverty, pollution, climate change, diseases, not-so-profitable agriculture, and low-efficiency industrial processes. These require creative solutions, affordable solutions and sustainable solutions suitable for our country context.

I am happy to note that BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council), an autonomous body of Department of Bio-technology has taken several initiatives to promote innovation in the country.

It has conceived of one of the most successful programs for promoting Student Innovations for Advancement of Research Explorations (SITARE) in collaboration with SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions).

I see that a considerable amount of effort has gone into selecting the young student awardees of BIRAC- SRISTI Life Sciences Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards. I applaud your hard work and commitment to the cause of innovation.

I have noted with great interest the efforts that SRISTI is making in highlighting the creativity and innovation at grassroots through the Honey Bee Network over the last 30 years.

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation once remarked that the future of India lies in its villages.

Development will be a distant and unfulfilled dream until we realize that the development of villages is an essential precondition to the development of the nation.

According to census 2011, nearly 69% of our population lives in rural areas. Quite rightly, the present government has been focusing on the welfare of rural people. Past governments have also done their best.

Since agriculture is still the main stay of the rural economy, we have to constantly innovate and reinvent our agricultural practices in tune with the realities of diminishing natural resources and changing weather and rainfall patterns.

Some of your innovations will be path-breaking and transformative, some would bring about incremental and gradual change. However, what is important is that each of your innovation is able to solve real problems.

All the innovations exhibited here today fill me with great optimism that our country will achieve faster economic development and technological advancement in the near future.

I found the Anti-Pesticide Dermal Gel created by Ketan to be of great utility.

I have always been troubled by the risks undertaken by farm workers who often spray chemical pesticides without any safety gear. I hope that this gel will prevent or at least significantly reduce the adverse effects of the pesticide spray.

As we all are aware, India has recently seen a steep rise in non-communicable diseases like diabetes. I am impressed that a low-cost insulin pump for those who cannot afford costly has been invented.

We need to harness science and technology to address various challenges faced by mankind and improve the lives of common people.

I am happy that the Government is doing its best to promote innovations through a variety of programs and schemes. I hope that these initiatives serve as launch pads for young, budding inventors and scientists.

Dear Sisters and Brothers

As you are all aware the government has identified 117 Aspirational Districts for their overall transformation by adopting a mass movement approach.

I call up on all young innovators to be part of this mass movement to transform aspirational districts by coming up with path-breaking ideas to improve health & nutrition, education, agriculture, and water resources, financial inclusion & skill development.

I am happy that Biotechnology based programmes have been initiated for societal development, particularly for the benefit of vulnerable sections of the society- farmers, women and the underprivileged.

We need to step up Biotech interventions to make agriculture more viable and sustainable. These interventions must also focus on allied sectors like animal husbandry, dairy, fisheries and integrated farming system.

There are other vital areas such as health & nutrition, environment & biodiversity conservation which require innovative Biotech interventions for the benefit of society.

I am glad that the Government has announced plans to establish National Research Foundation to fund research and innovation projects.

We have a huge demographic dividend waiting to be realized. We can realize it if the youth of our country constituting two-thirds of our population, acquire the skills and knowledge that is required in the 21st century.

Trained and capable youth should become the drivers of innovation in India. We need to initiate steps to make them realize the opportunities offered by advances in technology and innovation by enhancing their skills and encouraging them to explore the unchartered territories. We must reorient our education and training systems to foster out-of-box thinking and problem-solving approach.

Making good use of government schemes such as Digital India and Atal Tinkering Labs is the need of the hour for India to emerge as a global innovation hub in the coming years.

My dear sisters and brothers,

I am happy to note that this the award has very appropriately been named the Gandhian Young Tech Innovation (GYTI) Awards.

Mahatma Gandhi was the pioneer of voluntary action and social innovation in modern India. If experimentation is at the heart of innovation, then the Mahatma was an experimenter par excellence—from experiments with truth to experiments with education, from rural upliftment to communal harmony, his life was a ceaseless struggle to find creative solutions to familiar problems.

He disrupted the status quo and invented the most powerful weapon ‘non-violence’ when everyone else in the world believed that violence is the only way to display and use power.

To institutionalize the idea of Khadi, Gandhi established the All India Spinners’ Association. This organization constituted the beginning of voluntary action in India for livelihood promotion.

Along with his fight against the British, he set out to combat poverty, exploitation, socio-economic injustice, and deteriorating moral standards as also social evils like untouchability and inequality.

My dear young friends,

India is a vast and diverse country. We cannot have a uniform programme that is applicable to all diverse contexts.

Every state, every village, has its own individuality, its own traditional crafts and industries and its own very special set of developmental needs. The people in villages have a certain unique set of skills and capabilities.

When we plan for development, these factors must be taken into consideration. In essence, the plan should capture the aspirations of the people and leverage their strengths.

Dear sisters and brothers,

Today, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

We have plans to make India a five-trillion-dollar economy by 2025.

The engines driving this growth would be startups and digitization. It has been estimated that there are nearly 20,000 start ups in India.

Let me remind you that today, India has the 2rd largest start-up ecosystem in the world which is expected to witness year on year growth of 10-12%.

The ecosystem for innovations is becoming stronger every day. Various ministries of the government of India have set up numerous incubators and innovation hubs to promote innovation and entrepreneurship through start-ups.

The government has ambitious plans to promote innovation based entrepreneurship in the country.

It plans to launch a television channel focused on nurturing and supporting startup activity in the country as announced in this year’s budget.

The channel to be set up under Doordarshan will be designed and managed by startups themselves. The initiative will go a long way in promoting new businesses and enable matchmaking with venture capitalists. Aside from funding, the channel will also provide resources for tax planning.

In the world’s second-largest startup ecosystem, this could be a great way to raise awareness about entrepreneurship among youth in smaller towns and cities.

Along with the government, organizations like SRISTI have a great role to play in moving our country to a higher growth trajectory powered by the dreams of millions of young people, who want to create a New India.

I’m very happy to note that SRISTI has created a database of more than 200,000 engineering projects called as techpedia.in.

I compliment all the institutions which have shared information through this platform. I’m very happy that today SRISTI is also launching a database of 4.5 lakh abandoned US patents in open access for free use.

Dear young friends,

I would like to remind that despite all the technological gains, a lot of needs of the economically disadvantaged communities have remained unmet. We must keep a sharp focus on those needs and come up with affordable and scalable solutions.

We need many more frugal innovations to foster inclusive and sustainable development.

My dear brothers and sisters,

The awards today are quite appropriately named after Mahatma Gandhi because you have focused on innovations that make an impact on the lives of rural people in line with Gandhi Ji’s apt talisman to keep the poorest of the Indians in view while designing policy or programme. In many ways, Gandhi Ji fostered innovation.

He showed the world the value of social innovation and conducted what was perhaps the first Social Innovation Design Competition in 1929 through the AkhilaBharatiya Charkha Sangh Worker’s Samiti to come up with a Charkha that must be light weight, easy to move and operated using either hand or one’s leg.

I urge all the young innovators present here to focus more on social innovations, to develop and deploy effective solutions to tackle social and environmental issues.

We need to ensure that clean water is available to one and all. We also have to provide quality low-cost housing, harness clean energy, make healthcare affordable and provide livelihoods to the less fortunate and empower women.

As we grapple with the problems of climate change and try to mitigate the catastrophic effects of global warming, let me remind you of Gandhi ji’s notion of trusteeship.

All our innovations must be founded on the strong principles of conservation and judicious use of natural resources. We are not the inheritors of this earth and all its resources, we are merely the caretakers and it is our duty to pass it on to posterity.

I compliment the department of biotechnology and BIRAC once again for this partnership with SRISTI.

To my dear young innovators, I offer my best wishes for more success as you make continuous progress on your exciting journey.

I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.

Thank You! Jai Hind!”