Thursday, November 10, 2016

Innovation Leads to Growth - Why We Need to Redefine Our Education Sector?

Ashwini Sharma
Assistant Professor 
The NorthCap University, Gurugram 


Innovation is one of the most common yet most important word in today’s global scenario with any organization to sustain in the market and move on to the ladder of success. It is a fact that the organizations which do not focus on innovation will sooner or later perish. One of the finest examples of innovation is TATA NANO. This car being the lowest priced car in the world with innovations at every stage from design to manufacturing. Another example is the solar panels on the roof top of buildings. These solar panels initially occupied space on ground resulting in underutilizing the land. Going further, Gujarat mounted the solar panels on the canals to cater for generating electricity from sun and simultaneously preventing the evaporation of the precious water flowing in the canal. We can find thousands of the innovative products and services and ideas. Not sure about it? Consider the following from different cross section of industries; iPhone, Cloud computing, D2H service, home security system, space saving furniture, folding bicycle, LED displays, blind man walking stick, coconut tree climber, bicycle washing machine. Innovation!!!!

The word ‘innovate’ is a Latin word meaning to change or renew. Innovation is a thinking of doing the things in an unconventional way and happens when the unquestionable is questioned. It has different meanings for different industries such as for manufacturing industry; innovation can happen when the need is to improve upon the product, processes, systems, working environment, material handling or to reduce the cost of production.For a service industry it can be the improvement in quality of service such as computerized railway booking system, banking system which has made people comfortable doing the reservation and banking operation without being physically present and standing in long queues. The mobile phones initially did not have camera. It was innovation when an idea to incorporate camera with the mobile phone came. Today it can be seen that virtually every mobile is with a camera at a starting price of as low as Rs. 2500. But after a while these innovations when liked by the customer become the need and become a regular feature and people associatethese with the standard product. So what next? Answer is obviously further innovation such as maps with GPS etc. From the above discussion one thing can be concluded that innovation is a never ending process and it can be done anywhere and anytime and to anything, the only requirement is getting the idea to improve. 

Indian Education System

Indian education system needs to be redefined for nurturing the talent such that the students thinking should not be merely to get the mark sheets, rather it should be driven by creativity and inner desire to become what they dream of. The author who is an engineering faculty in one of the top private university in north India would like to share that most of the students opting for engineering do not even know what exactly it is and they are studying engineering because somebody in the family told them to do so. Interestingly when the country is looking for the bright engineers who will be responsible for taking the nation forward, are struggling to find out why they are doing it. It is the need of the hour that talent and creativity should be nurtured right from the beginning i.e. from the school level. 

One solution to do this is to take initiatives on ‘Project based education’. A project when assigned to a group of students results in very good understanding of the particular area which may lead the student to go further in the same direction. If the projects are of choice of the students a great outcome can be expected. The projects compel the students to think deeply and find out a win-win solution which caters to the need of society. One such initiative has been taken by the author at The NorthCap University, Gurugram one of the leading universities in North India to put its students through real life situations to meet the challenges. The projects decided by the students with the help of faculty right from the first year of engineering resulted in to a very satisfying outcomes of original thinking right from low cost sanitary napkin making machine, dual flush toilet, multiutility load trotter, low cost PUG welding machine, low cost coconut opener etc. The students have gone through the various challenges from design to manufacturing and finally testing. These students are now ready to take up any challenge which is the prime requirement of any organization i.e. to take initiative and challenges. The author noted that the students who were assigned projects or chosen projects by themselves and worked upon them are more successful and confident than those who did not. Now the author has taken this concept right down to first year of engineering. If this can be started for the students right from school days it will surely result into innovative thinkers in their chosen field of interest.

Last but not the least, it is the responsibility of teachers of today to understand the talent and nurture it further beyond school years in such a way that the talent becomes world-class. If it is not done now we can imagine the toll on a nation which does not designits defence products and simply buys it from outside.We are not able to produce the truly world-class medical equipment and lot of the them are being imported, we are not able to take competitive manufacturing advantage compared to China and consequently the global marketsare virtually captured by Chinese products. The answer or key to all the problems is innovation as India has the world’s largest young innovative talent pool available!

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