A sharper focus on research and innovation should top the list of priorities of the next government at the Centre.

It is only through attaining a global leadership position in the technology arena – be that in artificial intelligence (AI), climate technologies etc. – that India can make a bigger mark for itself in the world stage and reduce dependence on other nations for critical technologies.

Despite the impressive strides made by India in digital public infrastructure, the country still has a long way to go on the innovation front.

Although India has significantly improved its position in the Global Innovation Index (GII) from 81 in 2015 to 40 in 2023, the country still lags several of its Asian peers on the GII scale. The GII 2023 ranking saw China occupy the 12th spot and Hong Kong (China) the 17th position.

Singapore and the Republic of Korea were ranked 5 and 10 respectively. Other Asian nations that were ahead of India in the GII 2023 ranking were Japan (13), the United Arab Emirates (32), and Malaysia (36).

As on date, India does not have a single home-grown AI company that has come potentially close to redefining the world of artificial intelligence. India also continues to be heavily reliant on the West for latest climate technologies.

Govt agenda

So, what steps should the next government take to provide a fillip to the innovation agenda?

* A strategic roadmap on how India can figure in the top-10 in the Global Innovation Index to start with and progressively improve its ranking thereafter,

* Ensure that the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (NRF) which was approved by Parliament in 2023 lives up to its promise.

* Set out the areas where greater use of sophisticated AI technologies would be encouraged so that deployment of the tech leads to significant manifest improvements in the quality of life of average citizens.

* Invest more in promoting education related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines, and;

* Scale up India’s start-ups so that they can contribute in a bigger way to the innovation agenda.

At the end of the day, it does not sound right that India, which is already one of the world’s biggest economies, is not one of the global leaders on innovation.

The next government at the Centre working towards correcting this anomaly would, thus, be fitting.

The writer is a current affairs commentator. Views expressed are personal