Dr. R. A. Mashelkar
Director General, CSIR
I’m very happy to be amongst all of you. This idea of building global brands from India is indeed a great one and I’m sorry I’m not personally with you today because at this time I have to be in Washington to attend the National Academy of Science US meeting and I really apologize. I wish I were with you. Let me address this issue of let’s say building Indian brands, as well as branding India by becoming a little anecdotal. I remember couple of years ago I was involved in the interview for National Innovation Foundation. We were trying to select chief innovation officer for National Innovation Foundation. I looked at the CV of a young man who was being interviewed and I was very interested in seeing that he said his expertise was branding, branding different products. So I gave him a challenge, I said young man tell me you are an expert in branding how would you brand India. He was confused because he had branded a scooter, soap, but how do you brand a nation. I said look let me help you. United States of America as a nation brands itself as land of opportunity. How do you brand India? Pat came the answer. India is the land of ideas. Now here is the good news and here is the bad news. The good news is that India is a land of ideas, but the bad news is that it is America that is the land of opportunity and therefore the first issue that I would like to put before you is how do we make India a land of opportunity and that land of opportunity should not be for a select few, but for everyone. When we talk about development we have to talk about inclusive development, when we talk about growth we must talk about inclusive growth. Now you find that today if one looks at the world there is a new expectation that is coming up. You find e.g. there was a word called history of science now people talk about geography of science, they talk about the scientific research getting shifted to countries like India and China. There is a new atlas that is being drawn. You can clearly see why this is happening. That is because of the presence of a great talent pool in India of scientists, of engineers, of technologists. Do you know my belief in India is so high I remember 4th Mar 1995, almost 11 years ago, I had given what was called as the Thapar Memorial lecture and you know who presided over it? The then finance minister and the current Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. You know what was the title of the lecture? It was India’s emergence as a global research and development platform- the challenge and the opportunity and 11 years ago nobody believed me. They said what is he talking about and today you find there are more than 150 companies who have come and set up their R & D centers and these are not small. Not 10 people and 100 people. Like GE’s R&D center in Bangalore is 2400, Intel is 2800. All of them are expanding. In the top 100 R&D centers there is an investment of 1.1 billion dollars that is being made, but the recent study of TIFAG of DST shows that in the next 3-4 years, 4.7 billion dollars has been planned. That’s of investment in creating new R&D centers. Why is this happening? I think it is a very simple thing; Jack Welch put it very nicely. When he was asked when GE R&D center was being set up, when he was asked why are you here? He said I get the best intellectual capital per dollar here and I believe therein lies the answer. But one thing that bothers me very frankly is today all these companies are creating intellectual property here. I recently did an analysis of the patents that are being filed by these companies from Bangalore and so on and you know what you find. Out of their total global patent portfolio, in some companies it is 5-10%, but in some companies, it is 60-70%. That is coming from India and therefore I have this very interesting phenomenon of Indian IQ being used for creating Indian IP not for us, but for them so as to say. And my friends the biggest challenge is going to be how do we make Indian IQ create Indian IP and that can be done only if you have the faith that Indian IQ can be used for creating IP for ourselves. That means investing in innovation, in research and development, believing research and technology is the future engine of growth and whenever we have done it we have not been let down. You just look at e.g. space research. What do you find? What is their budget? Half a billion dollars. Now look at General Motors R&D budget, it is 8 billion dollars. But for that little budget of our space research organization, we design our satellites, fabricate our satellites, launch our satellites, not only our own, that of Germany and Korea last year. So therefore, dollar goes much and therefore that intellectual capital per dollar being highest here, what Jacquel says is absolutely right and whenever industrial leaders have believed in this Indian talent, the results have been spectacular. Look at Ratan Tata e.g. I like to put it this way that the wheel has turned a full circle in 50 years. Fifty years ago it was British Foris Oxford, which was being sold as Indian Ambassador, on Indian roads and today it is Indian Indica, which is being sold on London roads, and there are so many other sort of brands that are coming up. Why did this happen? That was because of Ratan Tata’s strong belief in his team. Do you know how much he invested? 1760 crores. That is the highest investment in backing up an indigenous design and who did it. There were 700 young Indian engineers who had never done auto design in their life and Ratan risked that sort of money in them because he believed that they will deliver and today there is a new brand, that has been created and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if India emerges as a dominant player in the small car manufacture in the world. Our brands become global brands. I’m just giving one example. There is another issue I want to raise with you. Same Ratan, by the way after the success of Indica, you know what has he gone for. A 1-lakh car. And why did he go for that. Very simple. He himself told me. He said that once while driving in his car, he saw in the rainy season, he was driving and in the midst of the rain, on a scooter there was a family of 5 with an infant. He said come on can they not afford a small car. If I can make it affordable. But it has to be a car. It can’t be a glorified version of a rickshaw for example and I’ve seen that. In Tata motors I was there about a year ago and I have seen the way that project is moving. Can you imagine that would be an Indian brand, not only would it be local or national, it can become global. There in lies the answer about India’s position. India’s position has to be such that we look at products, processes and services, which fit a particular price performance envelope. Let me give you a very touching example. You know there are 4 billion people in the world and 50% of them are women and many of them have menstruation cycles. But their income levels are less than 2 dollars a day. So they can’t afford those expensive sanitary napkins e.g. therefore you have to create a sanitary napkin whose price will be a fraction of those created by multinational companies, but whose performance will be identical. That’s a big challenge in innovation. We keep on innovating to increase the performance and we keep on increasing the price, but here is an issue where the performance has to be the where you have to meet the super absorbing demand of absorbing something like 300% of body fluid in per gram. That means 3 gm per gm. How do you do that? Not in an expensive way, but in a creative way and I’m very happy to say that there is a product in the market that has come now, developed by Sriram Research Institute which matches the performance level of Procter and Gamble and other companies but the price is just 1 rupee. Can you imagine just 1 rupee. Most importantly it can be manufactured in decentralized way. In our millennium Indian technology leadership initiative programme we had launched this project about 200$ computer and it has come and I’m sure if you produce a few million, it will come to 100$. So what am I talking whether it is a 1 rupee sanitary napkin or a 100$ computer or a 2000$ car, imagine the level of innovation that is involved and can they not become global brands? Of course they can become global brands. That is what is required. What is required is self-belief. Self-belief that we can do it and that we can be the best in the world. I have seen that repeatedly that in my own life I have seen that when I was in the National Chemical Laboratory I changed the paradigm. I said we would not be National Chemical Laboratory; we will be International Chemical Laboratory, what we do is create research ground and we create knowledge as a product. Ok? I should be able to export that product anywhere around the world to multinational companies and so on and then people said oh my god, come on look at their budgets, what are our budgets, I said that is not the issue, it is the size of the idea. It is not the size of the budget that matters and do you know the patent that we created on polycarbonate, we actually licensed to GE. General Eletricals who had 40% of the world market share. By the way in that polycarbonate business, with billions of dollars of R&D budget. But why we could do that there was a belief that we had created within the laboratory. You know what I had said; I had said the beauty about the flights of imagination is that there is no limit to the fuel, no limit to the height, which you can reach. There is no limit to the distance to which you can land excepting the limits that you put upon yourself. I got all those limits removed and our scientists started believing that yes they can think ahead of the best companies of the world and they did it. Why I’m giving you these examples because these are real, they have actually happened. They are not hypothetical and let me end by saying that all that we need to do is to say that I in India will stand for innovation, not for inhibition and not for imitation and what is a good definition of an innovator. Innovator is one who does not know that it cannot be done. That is the belief that we have to have and you will find that Indian brands will become absolute global brands. Indian brands will fulfill the need of the have-nots. Billions of them so as to say and India can really position itself as not only an innovative nation, but as a compassionate nation. Thank you.
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