Design in India needs designed thinking and evidence-based policymaking

Telecom Tiger, December 3, 2018

Speaking at CUTS International’s Roundtable on “Design in India to maximise 5G opportunities”, Yaduvendra Mathur, Additional Secretary, NITI Aayog stated that in order to shift from manufacturing to designing in the ICT sector, India needs to adopt designed thinking and an approach of policymaking – that emerges from practice and is evidence-based.

The Roundtable witnessed detailed discussions on the way forward for India to move up the global value chain from ‘manufacturing’ of ICT equipment like mobile phones to ‘designing’ of such equipment, in the context of 5G ecosystem.

By illustrating the transformative change from the erstwhile Planning Commission to the NITI Aayog, Mr Mathur highlighted that India needs to get out of the capture of the past approaches wherein policies were drafted and then practiced on the ground. Evidence-based policy making requires collection and management of on ground data which then feeds into the policy framework to make it effective. He emphasised that evidence based policymaking is crucial for devising optimal regulations and sub-optimal regulatory provisions can kill innovation and start-ups.

Vipin Tyagi, Executive Director, C-DOT reinforced this view by stating that policymaking needs to catch-up with rapidly advancing technology. He further stated that for India to increase its global competitiveness in the evolving digital space, core innovation through Research and Development (R&D) needs to be encouraged. This would require investments, market access for start-ups and generation of fundamental innovation capabilities. To that end, commercialization of Intellectual Property Rights and subsequent protection will play a key role. Moreover, ensuring security and safety are fundamental to the success of the technologies of the future.

Furthermore, highligting the opportunity that 5G posses, Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International stated that it is imperative for India to invest in ‘innovation’, if it wants to reap maximum benefits from the upcoming 5G-ecosystem. Consequently the focus needs to the focus needs to be enlarged from ‘Make in India’ to ‘Design in India’. Arvind Mayaram, Chairman, of the CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition and Former Finance Secretary, MoF GoI highlighted four critical areas for leveraging the 5G opportunity that included policy to map out India’s vision, regulation to determine how fast we grow, finance to support high-risk research and innovation and market that will determine India’s ability to support the emergence of new age markets.

The roundtable also saw the release of two research reports namely (1) Standards Development and the 5G opportunity by CUTS International and (2) Linkages between IP Protection and Start-ups in India by CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition (CIRC).

From the detailed discourse and vigorous discussions, consensus emerged that India cannot afford to lose the immense opportunity of leapfrogging in the development process by leveraging the upcoming 5G technology. To that end, India needs to create a self-sustaining innovation ecosystem.


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