Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Innovation, again

This week's Economist carries a chart showing patents issued per million people in a few selected countries (only the online edition carries it). The Economist calls it "inventiveness". Of the 82 countries studied, India and China ranked 58th and 59th respectively.

I had griped earlier on this blog about the lack of systems of innovation in India [here and here]. A fellow blogger, Samir, even posted in defense of innovativeness of Indians in response.

However, now as then, my position is that innovativeness of a society as a whole has only so much to do with individual talent - indeed, if one was to create a graph similar to the one above but replacing 'patents' with 'patents earned by individuals outside their native countries', the Indians and Chinese would lead the pack! It seems that "systemic innovativeness" can only be spurred on by a social politic that values innovation, a legal system that protects it, and a market that needs it. Till the first two of these factors develop in India, "first-degree innovations" on a wide scale will be hard to find.

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