India can become a superpower of solutions for the world if steps are taken to set up at least 30-35 “centres of excellence for innovation in rural areas”, according to H Harish Hande, Chairman, Selco India.

‘Superpower of solutions’

Speaking at the meet the press programme organised by the Mangaluru Press Club on Friday, the Magsaysay award-winner said that many developing nations are eyeing India to solve the problems of poverty in their countries.

“If we can come out with 30-35 centres of excellence for innovation in rural areas, we can emerge as a superpower of solutions,” he said.

Nearly 30 crore people in India don’t have electricity – the country has made excellent technological advances but also has the poorest people. The country, which has seen both sides of the world, can take advantage of that by becoming a superpower of solutions with such “centres of excellence for innovation in rural areas”, he said.

Citing examples of problems in rural areas, he said blacksmiths still use blowers for their work. For that they either have to employ somebody or do the work on their own. This puts pressure on the blacksmiths’ income generation also.

However, Selco come out with a solution for this. There are many such problems that require solutions. If solved, it will help improve the financial health of the poor in rural areas also, he said.

Referring to the farm revolution in Karnataka in the 1970s, Hande said it took place because of institutions such as RUDSETIs, ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) and regional rural banks and not just because of IITs or IIMs.

Skill development

On the skill development initiatives of the government, Hande said that it may create a threat of monopolisation in future because it focuses on creating a lot of workers.

Skill development programmes prepare people to work for companies. But at the same time, there is a need to understand the fact that these people can also become entrepreneurs or innovators.

The focus should be shifted from skill development to knowledge development, he added.

Urging the need to have centres of innovation in all ITIs, Hande said even if 40 per cent of the money under skill development programmes is kept for innovations in ITIs, it will help create a lot of entrepreneurs and innovators.